EFTROU Season 1 Episode 8 is 1 hour, 17 minutes, and 58 seconds (1:17:58) in length
[0:00 Music Plays]
[0:13 Intro plus EFTROU Podcast Disclaimer]
Chavonne (C): Hello there! I’m Chavonne McClay (she/her).
Jenn (J): And I’m Jenn Jackson (she/her).
C: And this is Embodiment for the Rest of Us. A podcast series exploring topics within intersections that exist in fat liberation!
J: In this show, we interview professionals and those with lived experience alike to learn how they are affecting radical change and how we can all make this world a safer place for those living in larger bodies and in marginalized spaces.
C: Captions and content warnings are provided in the show notes for each episode, including specific time stamps, so that you can skip triggering content any time that feels supportive to you! This podcast is a representation of our co-host and guest experiences and may not be reflective of yours. These conversations are not medical advice and are not a substitute for mental health or nutrition support.
J: In addition, the conversations held here are not exhaustive in scope or breadth. These topics, these perspectives are not complete and are always in process. These are just the highlights! Just like posts on social media or any other podcast, this is just a glimpse. We are always interested in any feedback on this process if something needs to be addressed. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org And now for today’s episode.
J: Happy February and welcome to Episode 8, season 1 of the Embodiment for the Rest of Us podcast. In today’s episode, we interviewed our close friend and incredible support person, Jess Kennard (they/she) about their embodiment journey.
C: Jess Kennard MA, LMHC, ATR-P is a clinical art therapist and eco-arts facilitator working on land belonging to the Tiwa speaking people in what is also called Albuquerque, New Mexico. They practice expressive eco-arts therapy which combines various creative modalities with the healing potential of the natural world. Jess’s work focuses on clients healing their relationship with their body to belong to themselves more fully.
J: They strive to model anti-oppressive practice, radical consent, fat-positivity, and environmental stewardship through their life and therapeutic work. Jess also leads dream exploration groups, expressive arts workshops, and one-on-one creative well-being sessions in addition to their private practice.
C: Visit Jess’s website jesskennard.com and @thesacredthird on Tumblr and Pinterest for more information. … Before we begin, some parts of this episode’s audio are on the quieter side so you may need to adjust your volume accordingly throughout. And with that, away we go.
C: Hi, we are so pretty excited and filled with joy to have such a thoughtful human being with us today on the podcast. We cannot wait.
J: [whoops, claps]
C: Yes! [laughs] Today we have our dear friend Jess from Albuquerque. Someone whose perspectives we adore and get so much from. There’s so much insight coming your way, we just know it. Let’s start! Jess, how are you doing today?
Jess Kennard (K): Well, honestly, I’d like to honor my body in answering that question, umm, and questions like that and the truth is that I’m really tired today.
C and J: Mmm
K: I had my 18 year old sister-in-law move in with us from out of state this past weekend and it’s just been a lot of work trying to get her settled and grounded and feeling comfortable and at home, while also working at home full time [laughs]. So it’s just been a lot, and–.
K: A lot of excitement too, which always makes me tired.
J: Hmm. I have to recover from excitement, too. I feel that.
C: Same. [laughs]
K: Yeah, I feel like I’m getting a little taste of parenthood.
C: Oh gosh. It–which is just constant fatigue.That’s what it feels like.
J: I love that you already began by answering how you are today by talking about how embodied you feel and–
J: As we sit in our bodies today, well, I would love to start talking with the centering question along those lines about the themes of our podcast and how they occurred to you. Can you share with us what embodiment means to you and what your embodiment journey has been like, if you’d like to share?
K: Yeah, you know, I think of embodiment as a partnership. Umm, and not in the sense that your body is something separate from you at some in some other way, but just that there’s this kind of reciprocal relationship of listening and responding that goes on when you’re really, truly embodied. And it’s, I mean, I guess it’s about inhabiting your physical form to whatever degree you can or want to.
K: Oh, it’s about having a felt sense of your physical being in relationship with and also independent from, like, your emotional being, your mental being, your spiritual being. Umm.I think, I don’t know if either of you have read her book, but Christine Caldwell wrote the book “Bodyfulness” and it’s essentially, umm,If mindfulness were a practice that you did with your body, through your body, for your body, about your body, It would kind of be like bodyfulness. Just really having an awareness of the different sensations and processes and all the bubbling and gurglings and you know, ticklings, and all the fun things that come with being in a human body. Umm, and using that information to really help you move through the world.
C and J: Ooh.
J: Oh, I have never heard of that book.
C: Me, either. I love the idea of bodyfulness in– as a contrast to mindfulness or in addition to mindfulness, so that’s really, really good.
J: Yeah, that was making me think of saying mindfulness as mind-fullness and sitting with that. Second, with like, it always feels like mindfulness is talked about as, like, how can we get empty? But I’m just, like, yes, but I think it’s about getting full, but I’ve never really phrased it to myself like that before. It gave me some chills.
J: I like chills. This might be the earliest I’ve ever gotten chills, I get them every episode.
K: Yeah! That’s being embodied, right? Like that’s part of Christine Caldwell’s kind of idea of bodyfulness. It’s this idea of having awareness and being able to respond to messages from your body and being able to even give messages to your body. So not just, you know, we think of, like, embodiment. And, I think a lot, like, about, you know flooding ourselves with emotion during an ecstatic dance class, right? But it’s also about listening to the prick behind your neck when you’re walking down the street at night, or knowing where your fingers are when you’re chopping carrots on a cutting board. Like all of that is embodiment, right?
J: Oh my gosh, I can’t even explain the chills that I have right now it just keeps going.
C: [laughs] Right?
J: Gosh Jess, that was incredible.
C: Wow, I hadn’t even thought of that. This is incredible.
J: Me, neither. The, the subtle–it’s like the in-touchness of the subtleties. I was just thinking, like, of, like, touching my own fingertips and like how subtle that can feel. But also, I find that really relaxing with clients, for example, to keep regulated. It’s just kind of like rubbing my nails on my own fingers gently, but it’s, like, in any situation in any kind of context. As you were bringing that up, the relationship we have with ourselves and the bidirectional signaling, and actually I was almost hearing other levels, not just these two levels, but a really expansive reaching–reaching in a lot of directions, kind of feeling. Umm, yeah, this is what I say all the time, but I would like to journal about that, about the fullness. The fullness of embodiment, because we often talk about it from a place of what’s missing, but I’m really getting that searching for what’s there. It’s such an important exercise. That’s what I’m getting right now.
C: Absolutely yeah. Oh wow.
K: It’s awareness. It’s also this concept of interoception which is really [unintelligible] in the interpersonal biology field and from a field is understanding our own interception of what’s going on internally.And it doesn’t actually stop internally like those body messages. It happens externally as well. Umm, as our, no, as our living energy, as a field resonates with other living energies like there is an interaction beyond the surface of our skin. Just as there is interaction happening beneath our skin. Right? So…
J: Ooh this yeah this reminds me of positive embodiment, right? Which is about how we are interacting with the world and how we absorb the world and how we’re act– interacting internally and how we send that out into the world.
J: I still have chills like they have not stopped. [laughs] It’s so…so as we’re talking about this interaction between what’s going on inside with what’s going on outside, that reminds me of your embodiment journey. Would you like to share what that is, what that has been with us, or is continuing to be?
K: I mean, it’s, it’s a journey,it’s, I guess I don’t see…I see a journey as not ending, as maybe like, kind of cyclical, is the right word, but…just like constant. And if I think about it, you know, I think about being a kid and…’cause as a kid, I was really into being outdoors, to spending time in nature, to dancing. I loved eating. I know my grandfather would sit me on his kitchen counter and cook up all kinds of interesting things and feed them to me. And the joke was kind of that he was just like trying to see what I would eat and really would eat anything. So eating a lot of different things, so as a kid I just had this natural kind of sensitive environment, but I think we’re, I really think we’re born with it and it just gets disrupted. Are there various other signals that start happening around us? You know, I, I will say probably, I–there were probably things that started disrupting my own experience of embodiment from the get go ’cause I, I have experienced a fair amount of trauma in my life and, umm, and it, it’s in my lineage and it goes back; many members of my family have dealt with trauma. It’s just part of our story and that really interrupts the embodiment. That blew that feedback loop and I think it probably started causing minor disruptions, like, from birth, umm, and nearly over time. I just started having more and more difficult time understanding my own, like, internal cues of hunger, of emotions of pain. It has taken my adult life to kind of reorient and come back to what was my original sense of embodiment before I was exposed to so much stress. And so what that looked like growing up is, when I was thinking about this is that it ended up being things like having bruises all the time on my body because I had no real sense of where my body was physically. Umm, you know, I’ve had really intense body dysmorphia, uh, throughout my life because of what messages I received about my body from other people that really interrupted my sense of, of how I took up space in the world. So I think that my own kind of mental health healing journey has really helped reorient me to the embodiment, especially, umm, in creativity, and like, pleasure-based movement, like being in the outdoors, dancing again, like, all the things I was doing when I was a tiny little kids, walking around the crate and like, pretending to be a ballerina.
K: When you know you’re embodied is when you’re doing that.
J: Oh oh. So I was sitting with that, I was thinking about Interoception and how it’s different for everyone. I’m thinking about neurodivergence. I’m thinking about trauma blocks and barriers. I’m thinking about, uh, manipulation by others and these sort of like transferring of energies between people and how amazing it sounds and feels. I think to do something that makes us feel more connected with ourself in our bodies. I was hearing like toddler me and teenage me and like the things that I would do in those moments. Like I love hiking because that’s what I did with my grandfather when I was young and and it wasn’t like a normal walk, like just walking. We’d be pointing at stuff and talking about things and like what’s around us and let’s feel this leaf. And I would play with his walking stick and it was just like I got to be with him in a very special way during that time. And also like as a teenager, the first time, remembering feeling that I wanted to not be as perceived, like really noticing that I was perceived and I didn’t want to be perceived, like all of these teenage level puberty changes. And also that like, I like to do weird, quirky things, something I’ve totally come all the way around about like I just like, sometimes I want an interpretive dance to, like, a drip from the faucet.
C: I love it. [laughs, clears throat]
J:That’s what I genuinely want to do, but I used to repress that before because it felt like doing that in a cla– like an art classroom. I actually stopped taking art in the eighth grade because I was doing that to a drip in the back of the room. I was just like, oh, I’m getting my creative energy and someone pointed it out and so I never did it again until maybe I was 30 or so. So I’m just, like, kind of sitting with all those things. I’ve never really thought about it as expressing my embodiment.
J: Through, you said, pleasurable movement. We talk about joyful movement a lot but pleasurable movement, like it would be the quirkiest and strangest things. There’s that movie, Garden State, and Natalie Portman’s character is like, do something that’s never been done before. She’s like, “errr”, it makes a sound like does this, I don’t even, I can’t…Sorry!
C and K: [laugh]
J: [laughs] Sorry, I can’t imitate that well! But I think about that’s right, that came out around the time that I was 30. And I’m like, yes, like something that’s never been done before, just to, like, have a weird movement or talk to myself or whatever feels like is that expression to myself. I don’t want to repress those things anymore, I was just sitting with all that while you were talking. It was incredible to listen to.
C: Yeah yeah, I was also the, the kid who wanted to be a ballerina, so like I just pranced around the house and I didn’t come back to doing that– I’m a prancer now but, like, I just like to dance. I just have to dance, to get excited and shoulder starts moving, but–
C: I didn’t–I can almost pinpoint when I stopped dancing as a kid, and that was when I felt like I was being more perceived within, you know, in my family, within this whole environment than the people you know, the community that I was in and how I stopped moving because I didn’t want to be seen. That’s really, it’s really something.
J: And oh, I love what you said that, that not wanting to be seen even more than perception. I like from other people like not wanting to be seen by myself because I was internalizing those things being thrown at me. Go home, umm, pretty violently. That’s a little–I used the “threat” word thrown there on purpose like it felt like a violence. And just like how to reconnect sometimes, like the idea of reclaiming or reconnecting feels really energy intensive to my brain.
C: Yeah. Mm-hmm.
J: It feels really daunting.It feels really hard to get to or towards and I’m just hearing right now. Like anything that’s expressive to me works. I saw on Twitter the other day I may have sent it to you, Chavonne. I’m not sure, but there’s this whole thread that was like a dad joke, is this category, but a mom joke?
C: [laughs] No.
J: Is this other category? And It’s all like naming the animals in the neighborhood. The mayor and then telling everyone that you see the mayor. And I do that all the time. I’m just really like, I’m like, I’m like, oh, the longboat Brasher. I gave him a peanut yesterday [laughs], like telling everyone what I’m doing with these creatures that live around and, and just realizing that I’m not because I’m so not used to being seen by myself like noticing what I’m doing that I’m I’m not realizing the moments in which I’m embodied. And that I’m just really I’m sitting with that. Another journaling thing for me. That was really powerful. Wooohooo! Can you say that again?
K: That journal is gonna be thick!
J: I have color coded notebooks for everyone listening. I’m showing her. If I can’t sleep, I come in here in journal. That’s what I do, so I do it a lot. I can’t sleep a lot.
C: [laughs] Oh, that’s awesome, I love it. Mm-hmm.
J: So Jess, as a human being in a pandemic, how has that affected your embodiment practices?
K: You know, I have an interesting relationship with this word practice.
C and J: Hmm.
K: Heavy like the word exercise. And heavy with expectation. And so one of my teachers talks more about devotion.
K: I think of how I’m devoted to embodiment. Ooh, it feels more free, maybe even looks like something you said earlier. Oh, it’s slipping my mind, but you said something clear earlier that reminds me of this. You know, OK? So this fricking pandemic, oh my gosh.
K: What it has done to bodies and…I haven’t been limited in terms of enjoying my devotions to pleasure movement. I’ve been hiking and walking in the Bosque and which– listeners who aren’t from New Mexico, is this beautiful cottonwood over forests along the Rio Grande River. And being in my own gardening and working in earth there and planting things and bringing them to life and being in my stock tank pool and plunging, which is really important embodiment practice. It’s all in there for me.
K: What has been a real challenge is being confined to inside, being confined to my house in the sense of not being able to connect with other bodies. That’s been really, really difficult, and it took me a while to notice how difficult that is because I’m actually an introvert, and so there was kind of this at first this idea, like no problem, I’m gonna break all, break [laughs], make all the breads and, you know, do all the online dance classes and grow all the vegetables and hike all the trails and do all the things that people were checking off their pandemic playlist in the first, like you know, three months or so. And then all this it just started sinking in that something really important was missing. And I think it’s that physical space connection with other humans. I think that the part of embodiment, I don’t think we can be embodied as moving without the presence of other bodies.
J: Woo Hoo Hoo.
K: I don’t know what y’all think about that but for me, that’s, that’s more important than I ever thought. Having been through the last, when are we at? 18 months now.
J: Yes, maybe.
C: About five years, 18 months.
J: A lifetime, like, what is time?
C: Right, right? I definitely don’t know. [laughs]
J: [laughs]I don’t know, I never…
K: What is time? H,onestly like I’m an ADHDer. I have no fucking clue of time. Actually, I learned more about time since being in the pandemic. Learning more about my neurodivergent brain.
J and C: Mm-hmm
K: But also yeah, what the fuck is time anymore?
J: Both/and I, I feel the same. Also an ADHDer and I feel like, I find because I’m not running everywhere all the time. I’m only in my house, even when I lose track of time. I am a room away from where I’m going to be. I’m not on the other side of town. I’m not, oops, I’m in a meeting I can’t really move, being in two meetings at the same time, like none of that is happening. Right? At first in the pandemic I was like, oh, I’m gonna attend all of the things I’m gonna watch 2 webinars at once, I don’t even know why I had that idea. Don’t try that. It’s not worth it. Well, like just being like why do I do torturous things like this to myself when what I really need is space. I have found more space inside of time now. And more attention to myself, not just attunement like interoception, inside and proprioception outside. Not just those like technical like what’s going on things, but also time when who gives a fuck about what’s going on that other time. I’m sitting on a porch, had an hour pass kind of time, like that’s all so precious to me now. It used to be a very anxious space for me. I hadn’t really thought about that till you brought that up.
C:Ooh, what’s really fitting, you know, and we can see your answer the idea of embodiment devotion rather than an embodiment practice looks like. It, it makes embodiment feel a lot more spiritual to me or to actually really appreciate part of it and well, first, my first reaction was like, oh, I like that my second one was like, oh, I grew up in a Christian house and I’m like oh too much rigidity, but I like the idea of devotion without rigidity, just the solution to having embodiment in my life. I am an introvert as well, and I thought that I was gonna rock the shit out of COVID and I have not.
C: I don’t like people anyway, I’m going to be fine. But like you said, the first three months I was gonna take all the classes and do all the things. And three months later, I had done none of those things. Well, I had a baby, but even if I hadn’t had a baby, I think after three months I would be like, OK, I’ve, I’ve had enough of this. But I think that there’s something about being an introvert and the difference between I don’t want to see people because I don’t want to see people and I don’t get to see people because I can’t. Cuz I want to see the people that I like. I want to touch the people that I like and in this town. I still miss hugs so, so, so much. I never even realized how much of a hugger I was before this. So I think that’s from the biggest part of, I am an introvert, I’m very clear on this, but I never realized that I was an introvert who needed…I just wanna hug someone who doesn’t live in the same house. [laughs]
J: So, the three of us got to hug each other with our other friend Denise, who will be on the podcast in the next episode in July. And I’m still living off of those.
C: Yeah, I rode that high for weeks. [laughs]
K: It was definitely one of the highlights of my year.
C: So yeah, this is something that I, I really think I’m gonna have to sit with. I-II can think about embodiment in reference to others like feeling like I am witnessing myself, I’m witnessing my body even if I’m with others but I’m trying to see how that fits some kind of my own definition of embodiment. I really, I really like that, so I’m going to have to noodle that a little bit [laughs]
J: Yes! And it also is reminding me, like how valid it is when we’re in a room with people and we can feel that they’re withholding something from us, and how that makes us feel up. Sitting around with someone, and even though nothing is being said, the joy that’s already shared between people before a word is uttered or comfort of sitting with your partner on the couch like both of you reading different things, but everything is just feeling calm. I was thinking about all of those things. My partner always says who we are is who we are to each other and that’s what I think I’m going to put at the top of my journal about this because I’m, I’m like yes, if this embodiment, body image, like all these kind of words feel so internal and so isolating because they’re so internal, like even the conversation itself feels isolating, I’m just really sitting with right now. Like I need to expand the shit out of my definition of embodiment, like, that I, like, who I am in this, in this situation is something I think about, about talking and like my brain and productivity. But, like, really being like who am I in this situation in terms of my embodiment, am I OK with that? How does it feel, what can I shift? Like, I’ve never thought about this in this these terms at all.
K: What you said about internal, right? Like, like an internal process, body image. Bodyfulness. Embodiment, it comes, I think, from the individualism that we’re exposed to in this culture, right? Like this is something we do. By ourselves, for ourselves, with ourselves, and yes, it is also we are doing it all the time with other people, whether we realize it or not. And lack of acknowledgement about mutual embodiment, embodiment with other living beings with other non living beings, right? Like…that’s a missing link, you know, and I just…It’s not that I don’t think that it’sn ot important or dumb or isn’t part of the experience of embodiment, being with one’s self. I just, I see it as part of the experience.
C: The definition feels really expansive in a way that I haven’t thought of embodiment.
J: Mutual is one of my favorite words of all time, to imagine being in a space where there is a common holding of space and sense of each other. It just sounds incredible.
C: Mm-hmm. Whew
K: You know, the other thing about the pandemic, you know, that has kind of…So there’s been this, like, sweet embodiment like I talked about with being in my garden and, and being in my stock tank pool which, me and water, like my body in water is such an important way that I experience embodiment. So that was a joy that actually came out of the pandemic.
J and C: Hmm
K: But I think it’s also really important to talk about is the rhetoric that we’ve been exposed to throughout the pandemic, expectations around movement, expectations around eating in specific ways. Fear around their bodies changing.Umm, and that has been a real shit show. And just…
J: Yeah, I felt that, that my laugh was like a deep feeling of that.
K: You know, I’ve had to really be careful about the behaviors cropping up because of like, well, I need to move my body. You know, I, I have a history of, of compulsive movement, so for me, like there, there was kind of that fear, and I, I actually, I did injure my knee like this during the pandemic because I was freaking out about movement so much in getting exercise right. Umm. Out of fear of being sedentary. There’s such a, you know, I’ve I’ve been fertilized around being sedentary like as it’s…that is the worst thing that a person could possibly be on this planet, yeah?
K: I think is totally, this is my brain just making connections, but I think totally related to this lack of, uhm, respect for inanimate parts of this earth. Right? That don’t, that aren’t sentient, right? Like, how you know things are sentient without movement? Like…[unintelligible] Like the moving, functioning, mechanistic beings that can, I don’t know, do stuff? Uhm, and this idea of like being sedentary is like, well, you’ve lost your value. If you can’t do [unintelligible] imagine you know, like, that people who are experiencing that. Ugh! Just mourning, as part of their life, like, let’s do…we’ve got some way of feeling unvalued right? Because you [unintlligble] It’s not moving enough, right?
K: Yeah, I don’t know. There’s just there was a lot of messaging that came through during the pandemic. I’ve been having to like, like fight off with like what are they, like waffle bats.
K: [unintelligible] Like like it’s OK if you sit and stay put for however long you need so that you’re not in pain anymore.
K: But when the message is like everything otherwise, ignore your pain. Get rid of the pain so that you can move more, right?
J: Ooh, that reminds me of productivity culture, like, get your shit together. No more burnout. Go take your three day weekend so that you can get back to producing.
C: Right? Mm-hmm.
K: And that’s like productivity culture is the antithesis of embodiment, yeah? Ignore cues from your body. At all costs. Only cause that matters or the only thing that matters is, is the profitability of you as a result.
C: Because fuck capitalism. [laughs]
J: Yes, exactly.
C: Yeah, in all that you were talking about in terms of people comparing themselves to sentient beings, it plays into ableism, too, right? And, which we talk about in terms of embodiment, like, if you can’t do because of your physical ability or lack thereof, you can’t do certain things that you’re not as valuable and that’s productivity culture, right ? Like, all plays into this whole, again I’m just going to say fuck capitalism. Which was just where I was going with this. [laughs]
K: This podcast is turned into a “fuck capitalism” podcast.
J: Umm, I welcome that.[sighs]
C: Jess, do you have a daily embodiment devotion process? I’m trying not to say practice. [laughs] You don’t really use that word practice. So how do you daily, seek embodiment, if that’s the word I’m going for? Sure, we’ll go with that. [laughs]
K: And so I don’t like, my part of my devotion is to not hold myself to daily.
C and J: Hmm.
K: That feels like to me, it feels regimented, it, it slips into my disorder, which I try to get away from.
C and J: Hmm.
K: And so, umm, what I can say is that there are things that I do on a regular basis. You experience embodiment to enjoy embodiment, umm, and I think you know, like I’ve said, one of them is being in my, in my garden, being with plants and the earth and, and another one is, umm. You know, while I was in grad school, I discovered dance. I hadn’t danced for a long time and there are so many reasons why I fell out of that type of play in my life and when I was in grad school, I did an assignment where we…Hmm….I don’t know how to say this, nontraditional program.
K and C: [laugh]
K: We were in one of our projects, guided to, to someone who’s living, to learn about their approach to life as a way to find both empathy and experience alternative perspectives around things and come to terms with, you know, having embodying, really like, umm, goodness and maybe not such goodness at the same time. And so I chose to study Gabrielle Roth, who is a dancer, and uhm, well, created a practice or meditation uhm, called 5 rhythms and so that’s, uh, that’s a dance. I mean, I guess practice, but not in that time. It’s a dance meditation. Ecstatic dance. And what I really, really enjoy about 5 rhythms and Gabrielle Roth philosophy, which is totally not perfect and you know, lots of things in there that I have to kind of just brush to the side, but for my own self, umm. But it’s something that I can apply no matter how able I am to move. No, I can do as much as lay on bed and listen to music. That, that works through these, these different rhythmic experiences and it’s not movement at all per se. I can, you know, engage with it through art making.
K: I can engage with it through philosophy, just in conversation with people exploring, umm, what these things mean, or through writing, and oftentimes I am engaging with it through movement. I’ll put on a playlist that carries me through these different rhythms. And it brings me just like no matter how I do it, It brings me, it’s really nice, like so much pleasure. So much relaxation and release and enlivenment. It’s a favorite of mine.
C: Ooh. Oh, I’m so excited to look this up after. I’m really pumped about this.
C and J: [laugh]
C: And I like that it sounds like it’s really accessible for everyone, in that you don’t have to do specific types of movement. It’s really what finds what’s most accessible, what’s most pleasurable for you? Is that correct?
J: Yeah, yeah, I wouldn’t say, I mean there is a 5 Rhythms community and I wouldn’t say that the community at large is particularly accessible, uhm?
K: It can be very expensive. The way that I’m related to the practice books and taking classes and listening to her recordings. I’ve really taken it to heart which, what she teaches is that you can, you can explore these rhythms in infinite ways. And so I have even practiced, how can I, how can I explore these movements just through my hands? How can I explore these movements, sitting down or lying on the floor, right, changing my relationship to my body? Acknowledging the privilege I have of my able bodiedness. And also recognizing that it’s important for me as somebody who is committed to helping and serving people of all abilities to be able to really understand how this type of you know, exploration works regardless of who’s doing it, you know?
J: I love this exploration of infinite ways. Made me think of infinite embodiment. Even as I explore that and also people, like, there’s, there’s all, there’s not one way to do it. There’s the right way for you and there’s the right way right now so that can have endless possibilities. But just saying, thinking that as infinite embodiment that it can be in any way that works for someone anyway, it’s expansive with someone in any way that is the pleasure and joyful and enlivened experience that you described. Feels so much more important than what is. Embodiment is something that I’m sitting with right now like to be able to talk about embodiment versus being able to experience embodiment as you were describing that I was like, yes, to be able to. There was also like swaying in my seat while listening to you, like, being able to, like, engage in that. in conversation. It’s something I do, like, while watching TV. It’s, it helps me get engaged in TV. If I’m feeling understimulated as well, like dance to the theme song as something is starting and I was, like, almost like dancing to the theme song of what you were saying. I was like, oh yeah, infinite possibilities. That was really, like…
K: Lighting my body up! I love that! What lights my body up?
K: That’s my journal topic. [laughs]
J: Ooh, what lights your body up? [laughs]
C: I love it! Oh my gosh, that’s so good.
J: When you, when you were both talking about ability and thinking about being able bodied, I was also imagining, as I was thinking about rhythms, even someone who was deaf, being able to feel the vibrations of rhythms and how that like…I was just, like, oh like even sensing them in a hard surface or, uhm, you know what is this show? So I’m going to, you’re going to hear about my reality TV loves here, but “Dancing With The Stars”. They’ve had two actors who are deaf on there.
C: Nyle DiMarco!
J: Yes, and Marlee Matlin, right, was the first one.
C: Oh, I just know Nyle DiMarco because of “America’s Next Top Model”. That’s my reality TV obsession.
K: Oh, I just remembered Marlee Matlin on “The L Word”.
C: Yes, Oh my God, that show was so fucking hot.
J: Thank you for reminding me that I wanted to rewatch it. I was just thinking about that the other day, so…
J: Their description, they’re beautiful descriptions of what it feels like to feel rhythm, what it feels like, when their foot is off the ground, and they can’t feel it anymore. And then to come back in contact with it. I’m just like OK again, I have chills, but I’m like thinking about, umm, how we don’t, we tend to, and I’m just realizing, I tend to not talk about these things and even the way I talk about it. It’s not accessible like this like what if you just came in contact with the vibration and then you left it. It’s also reminding me of there’s, like, these YouTube videos of a table with like, it’s like a flat white surface. And they have some sand on it and they turn on different kinds of rhythms and then they show how the sand changes shape to the, to the song. So even think about someone who could not hear that there’s a visual engagement there, and I’m just realizing that I need to make sure that I keep these kinds of references close at hand, but I’m not always talking about the traditional ways of interoception, feeling what’s in our bodies, connecting with our bodies, because I also can see how these non traditional ways go around our usual way of thinking about things and therefore it can feel really therapeutic really healing. Umm, yeah, and I just have constant chills. I’m, I’m, I’m gonna, like I’m so lit up right now. I could tell, uh, I could say a bunch of examples. And you know with ADHD. I’m thinking about ADHD. It’s really hard to sense our internal signaling sometimes if the environment is too activating. If we’re in a hyperfixation space, right? I have no concept of what’s happening with my body, nothing. I’m just thinking about, like, how could vibration and rhythms even support that like again? I’m just gonna, I’m about to go on a search that’s all I’m saying. [laughs]
J: So thinking about the second part of our podcast title and also really engaging in this conversation, we’re already having what does the rest of us mean to you and how do you identify as the rest of us? We’d also love for you to identify your privileged identities in context here also.
K: Uhm, I mean rest of us means, I think, really, what rest of us means to me is outside of the. What is the word? Like, I’m thinking hierarchy but like there is a hierarchy of bodies. And at the pinnacle of the hierarchy bodies is what we see whenever we see embodiment in media, right? This idea, like, who is an embodiment practitioner and who is representing this concept out in the world? Who’s on the cover of the yoga magazines and the Breathe magazines? And the, you know, who is being invited onto talk shows to talk about it or podcasts like whatever, right? Is who is representing embodiment, who is represented in the loudest conversation about embodiment.
C: Oh yeah.
K: The rest of us is who is not represented in that conversation, that loudest conversation about embodiment. So that’s to me, people who are working class and poor. People who are non white, people who are, you know, larger body sizes. People who are in bodies that are, that are disabled by our society, right? People who are dealing with chronic pain, chronic illness. Right? Elders, you know, really thinking about children. What I mean is that we don’t teach children that their bodies are their own. Some parents are now, some teachers are now,, but as a rule of thumb or norms. That’s still not a norm. Teach children that they have autonomy, have body autonomy, wich is essential to embodiment.
K: Survivors of assault. All kinds of survivors of violence, period. Violence is, Is something that permanently impacts your experiences.
K: Never in the question. I’ve never ever read anything about embodiment that talks about what it’s like to live in an environment where there is constant violence outside or inside. How that impacts a person’s ability to listen. So how do I identify? You know, so, I’ll name my privileges. I’m white. I’m affluent, right? I’m traditionally educated through academia. I am mostly able-bodied. I am–I identify as a small fat person so I get to experience a lot of thin privilege. I have the privilege of some traditional beauty standards. I have passing privileges as a cisgendered woman which is a subject [unintelligble] because I actually don’t identify that way. So what experiences that shape my experience of embodiment outside of those privileges? Being a complex trauma survivor.Being in a body, while it is privileged by some thin privilege, is not generally accepted as a thin body or [unintelligble]. I do have some chronic pain issues that definitely impact my experience,that limit my ability to use my body. I’m queer. That definitely impacts my experience of embodiment. I’m thinking of, what I said about being embodied with others. Remembering very vividly a moment walking down the street with my date at the time. In San Francisco, in the like Queer neighborhood, and walking down the street. Not super late at night. And just like being young and in my early 20s and wanting to make out with my date. And making out with them and then just all of the shit that we heard that was thrown just for being in our bodies together in public, even in a place that is notoriously accepting, right? The fear that I feel like, to be clear, in some places the fear for my body. The discomfort even…it’s not even fear of violence in the sense of physical violence, there’s…when you’re living outside of societal standards, your body doesn’t check all the boxes. There’s a discomfort. There is a dis-ease. That can be experience of just, like, I know it should be OK here, but I just don’t feel 100% OK and so I cannot fully be in my body And it’s highway robbery. [laugh] It’s so messed up. This is, yeah, I mean it’s when everything comes as far as [unintelligble]
C and J: Hmm.Yeah.
K: Hmm. I’m thinking about the fucking Texas abortion ban.
C: Y eah. Mm-hmm.
K: It’s making me sick because [unintelligible] And what the fuck is happening in 2021? People’s rights over their body and just being left and right and…Not that it never stopped, but…
C: Not like it ever stopped, but it feels like the times that we’re living in, the pandemic that’s been going on for 18 months and all of the you know, all of the violence happening toward black and brown bodies by police, like It just feels like yet another fucking thing.
C: A word that I use a lot with my clients is weary. Like, I just feel weary and it’s just another thing, yeah?
J: It’s pretty incredible. The layers of stress, pressure, awareness, uh, maybe feeling subjected to things we did not give permission for, yeah, from so many directions. That were asked to just act like it’s normal even pandemic things like here’s this whole fucking situation and everything about it sucks and will change the way you live your life. And like, let’s also keep going exactly as it is. Just an assault on the body.
C: Yeah, and it’s something you said just in another interview week that I can’t remember who it was. So I apologize. Might be Nikki Haggett. When we talked about the rest of us–if you feel like, like you aren’t able to fully take off this armor, right? This body armor, even if you are in a safer place, I think if you have to feel that way, that means that you are the rest of us in some way.
J: Hmm. All embodiment, everything we’re doing is contained in some way.
C: Yeah. It doesn’t feel safe to be all the way yourself.
J: Yeah, chills again, not the good kind, in the pit of my stomach.
C: yeah. So you do something called expressive eco art therapy. Can you explain what expressive arts are and ecotherapy is and how they relate to bodies and embodiment? I’m so excited just to learn something. [laughs]
J: Yes! I got my notebook. I’m ready to learn ’cause I really want to learn.
K: [laughs] This is a short answer! Expressive arts is just, it’s just an inclusive term for the creative urge in all of us, right?
K: So human beings are just. [unintelligible] In in certain ways and we share it with all beings that are procreative, right, like that are creating out of themselves. If there is this really, primal like, urge to create something new to put ourselves out into the world, not just through offspring, but through our imagination, through storytelling, through music through visual expression and imagery and so that’s expressive arts. All those things. It’s poetry, it’s painting and sculpture. It’s, it’s dance and movement in theater, it’s…I mean, all of the creative things. Yeah, so I mean, expressive arts is essentially like it’s an umbrella term that encapsulates the multiple creative modalities that exist out in the world. And it’s really a term that’s used with therapy. So the reason that I call myself an expressive eco arts therapist is specifically because I follow expressive arts therapy as a field, like that’s in alignment with how I work with my clients, though on a professional basis. So I incorporate a lot of different, uh, forms of creativity into therapeutic work that is more expansive than what traditional art therapy is, which is usually relegated to visual arts. And for me, because embodiment is so important, It would just feel inauthentic to work with people using visual arts only when I’ve been a writer my whole life, I’ve been a dancer my whole life, I’ve been, you know, in close kinship with the natural world my whole life. You know, I’ve been interested in drama and theatrics my whole life, so that’s more where I veer towards professionally speaking, uhm. The other part of that is eco therapy, which is really a modality or field of, um, using one relationship to be more than human or meta-human world, umm. to support therapeutic processes. So it looks different to all kinds of people, umm, and depending on who you ask, it’s been a very like…I mean, all these fields, like the field of psychology in general is very colonialist and based in settler politics and is very White/cis/heteromale-oruiencted and so I call myself these things with the caveat that I draw a lot of my understanding and inspiration of how things work purposefullly from alternate resources. And so ecotherapy or expressive arts therapy means just being in relationship with your natural creative Self which is part of and cannot be separated from the larger world of nature. And that includes, that’s not just like, oh, I have to be out in the national wilderness, like, no. I walk out my door on the concrete I’m, I’m still part of nature right in that space. That concrete is interacting and is part of nature in that space and is expressing something also. So I guess how does it relate to embodiment? It’s a form of it, not related to it. That’s how I practice with my client. I practice eco arts therapy, expressive arts therapy, a mouthful, it’s just a way to describe how I work with my friends, which is in a deeply embodied way, if that makes sense [laughs]
J: Not only does it make sense, but I’d like you to be my expressive eco arts therapist. I need that..
C: I need a session! I just…this is so cool. It’s just so cool.
J: But the idea that we could just be on concrete and be creatively embodied. Something Chavonne and I have talked a lot about is I don’t always notice when I’m being creative, but I forget that it inherently has and literally has within it the word create. That creating is creative and that there isn’t one way to create. Doesn’t have to look a particular way. The result doesn’t have to be like…it doesn’t even have to be a result. It could just be completely process. I, I was just, like, kind of picturing myself outside with the sun on me just for a minute like how that might feel how we like. Might pace around a backyard or front yard like in an apartment complex, just like, just to have a shift in how we’re thinking and feeling in our bodies like to create movement to be connected with ourselves. I, I have never put something into words like that before. So that feels amazing.
C: This is really great.
C and J: [laughs]
K: I feel like we have literally been talked and logiced and cronologued? I don’t know if that’s the word, I’m making it up right now.
K: By capitalism and colonialism and imperialism, like this is something that has really ripped human beings out of of embodiment with the earth. And creativity is our natural way of expressing embodiment. It is something we are all born with, is not something you have to learn. Creativity is not about being a fine artist, right? It’s about expressing yourself through this flesh suit you have.
K: Whatever it looks like. However, your particular model works, right?
K: And knowing that you’re one of many, that you.. just as you have many parts in your body, to your body that you can express with, like the natural world is expressing herself, their self, himself, whosever selves through each of us as parts, right? Like we are parts of the body, of another body, that is this beautiful incredible blue planet that we live on.So. That’s my elevator speech. [laughs]
C and K: [laugh, sigh] Ugh, that’s so good!
J: I love it so much.
C: Yeah, we’ve talked a lot about big and small picture perspectives in this conversation. What do you think we can all do to make a difference with what we have learned today?
J: You know, I think that there is nothing we can all do. I think there’s something each of us can do, right?
K: In our own lives. And I think the first thing, the most important thing, actually, that we can do is to just, like, get with our own self for a moment and just connect to the fact that we already are fucking embodied.
K: It’s not something you have to search after or pay someone to access. It’s already there, it’s clouded over and covered up with all kinds of bullshit that we’ve talked about today, right? Messages from media, capitalism, including settler politics. Like all of this shit it covers it up, but underneath those layers it’s already there. I think just connecting the fact that you are embodied, right, and, and asking yourself what do I like about being in my body? What don’t I like not being in my body? Right? How can I find pleasure? Let’s see. How can I believe my pain? How can I connect to other bodies, how can I express myself using my body? Start there. Keep it small. It doesn’t…it’s not something that you should have to work hard for. I think it..
J: [snaps] Yes!
K: I guess yes if there’s something that all of us can take away, remember that you already are enough.
C: Oh, I love it.
J: Oh my goodness. So this reminded me of my favorite quote of all time.I used to have it on my personal email, it’s there now, it’s everywhere, George Bernard Shaw. “Life is not about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself.” And it just landed in a different way for me that the Ultimate Creative Act is actually inward, creating ourself. That’s an act of creativity. I just knew that that quote, like, it’s like great, I’m like trying to find myself. But I’m already here!
J: But also that, like, we have all the past versions of us within ourselves and we also have all these for future versions to come and we can create each [voice cracks]
C: Yeah, yeah
J: And every one of them– I can tell I’m excited ’cause my voice cracked, there’s like–but this, like, creating ourselves, remembering ourselves, just really feels like a creative act to me. That’s mind blowing for me, mind-blowing.
C: Ooh. Yeah.
K: Like “You Are The Missing Piece”. That kids’ poem.
J: I don’t think I know that. Oh yes!
K: Oh, this little wedge goes looking looking for themselves everywhere. Looking at all these other shapes that it might fit into to become whole. And then finally finds a shape that it feels like “I’ll sit perfectly in you” and that kid is like, “What?! No way! You already your own piece!”
K: You know, like, the moral is that through a little bit of self understanding and life shaping itself, the piece recognizes, it’s already whole.
C: Yeah, ooh.
K: There’s a lot of lies and bullshit and messaging out there that you are not whole.
And that is not true.
C: Oh wow. Ooh, I have to dance for a second. [whoops]
J: Right?! My, my chills are back and Shel Silverstein is one of my favorites. Everything is always like, wow, but as an adult when I look at this I didn’t get that symbolism as a kid. And soon as soon, as I said, no, I was like oh wait, I just pictured the wedge, I know exactly what you’re talking about. This, like, constant sort, like, self determination, is described as a journey outside of the self and not about creating it all just about decision making moment by moment in a super stoic and logic away and I’m just hearing that right now and the context of all of this as it’s a creative act it.This is blowing my mind. I’m always trying to affirm in Chavonne how creative she is. She’s a wonderful creative mind
C: [laughs] Thank you.
J: But I don’t really affirm it in myself.
C: yes! You do not!
J: My partner’s, like, “but you’re who I look to for creativity” and I’m like, “You do?!” But I love creating things. I actually love that. So this is like…Oh, OK…I have a lot of, like, sensations and feelings in my body. I would like to, like, yelp. I’m gonna have to do it after this episode.
C: [laughs] I was going to say, you just did.
J: But I mean, like a go out into my backyard and a full-on scream. My partner will love that. He’ll be like, “Yes!”
J: Oh my gosh, OK, I don’t want it to end, but I’m gonna ask our final question.
C: I know!
J: OK, I don’t, I don’t want it to end and and we will, OK.
C: We’ll just have to have you on another time!
J: Okay, thank you so much for being here with us, Jess. As we finish up this episode today, what would you like everyone listening to know about what you’re up to, how they can find you, and what direction do you see your career and or work taking in the future?
K: So I am intentionally not on social media.
C: I love it. [laughs]
J: I support you and I don’t know how to do that?
C: Same. [laughs]
J: I support you.
K: Act of embodiment for this neurodivergent brain!
K: I’m like if I’m on social media, I’m not in my body. It had to be a choice. It’s my choice. I think social media is awesome and I a lot of people use it for really important things and I’m so grateful for what I learned on it but not right now, yeah. But I do have a website.
K: And it’s just my name, jesskennard.com. Uhm, and right now I work as an expensive eco art therapist under, you know, like, a mental health professional licenses and art therapy. You know certifications and all that jazz, umm, in the state of New Mexico and maybe one day I will be licensed also in California, but maybe one day I will venture into the coaching realm so I can work with people regardless of where they’re at in a different capacity. But, and also I hope to be up and running some art therapy workshops and classes that would be open to people regardless of where you’re at.
K: We’ll see, I don’t I, I don’t know where I’m gonna be in the future. I, I’d like to move more into other than visual arts in my work so we’ll see what that looks like.
C: I’m so excited to see what comes next.
C: Oh, wow.
K: Might include dance parties.
C and J: [gasp, laugh] Yes!
J: I just want you to know I’ve already signed up.
C: Yes. I’m so there.
K: [laughs] In my mind, that’s what happened.
C: Yes. We can eat chips and dance.I’m really excited about this. [laughs]
K: Dance party! And for anyone who knows about chip club!
J: I can’t wait to hug you all again.
C: I know. It’s going to be the best. Thank you so much for this. This has been so affirming and we love this and you and we love you. We feel so held in here. You’re amazing.
J: We love you!
C: We’re so lucky.
J: [Yelps] Oh, I’ve already started!
[All laugh and yelp]
K: All three of us are talking at the same time!
C: [laughs] I know, just jumping over each other with excitement.
J: We record each of us separately so we can all be heard.
J: OK so we’ll catch you listeners next time!
C: Yeah, thank you for being with us.
K: Well, thank you so much. Thank you!
J: Thank you for listening to season 1 of the Embodiment for the Rest of Us podcast. Episodes will be published every two weeks wherever you listen to podcasts.
C: You can also find the podcast at our website, embodimentfortherestofus.com and follow us on social media, on Twitter @embodimentus.
J:: And on Instagram @embodimentfortherestofus. We look forward to being with you again next time in conversation.