EFTROU Season 2 Episode 6 is 1 hour, 33 minutes, and 13 seconds long. (1:33:13)
Chavonne (C): Hello there! I’m Chavonne McClay (she/her).
Jenn (J): And I’m Jenn Jackson (she/her).
C: This is Season 2 of Embodiment for the Rest of Us. A podcast series exploring topics within the 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 and more welcoming place for those living in larger bodies and those historically marginalized who should be centered, listened to, and supported.
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!
J: 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.
C: In addition, the conversations held here are not exhaustive in scope or depth. These topics, these perspectives are not complete and are always in process. These are just highlights! Just like posts on social media or any other podcast, this is just a glimpse.
J: We are always interested in any feedback on this process if something needs to be addressed. You can email us at email@example.com And now for today’s episode!
C: Welcome to Episode 6 of our second season of the Embodiment for the Rest of Us podcast. On today’s episode, we have an incredibly special and moving conversation with Michelle Phillips (they/them) as we take a journey into liberation as embodiment, and embodiment as liberation. What started as a connection in the Facebook group Clinicians of Color, became an expansive private message conversation about embodiment and liberation and it was a no brainer to ask Michelle to come speak with us.
J: Michelle Phillips, The Liberation Strategist, is a mental health and spiritual care practitioner with over 15 years of experience in transformational and holistic care. They have been on a journey of walking with individuals toward a deeper understanding of themselves on every level of wellness – spiritual, somatic, mental, and emotional.
C: Michelle is the founder of Liberation Strategies, an agent of liberatory change which provides liberation coaching for individuals, nonprofits, and organizations. Compassionate and grounded in helping people realize their own power to cultivate change, Michelle creates space for clients to transmute their grief toward joy and liberation.
J: Michelle is an intuitive mental health clinician, coach, consultant, and facilitator. A native of Decatur, Georgia, A current resident, and a provisionally licensed clinician in Washington State, they hold a Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Seattle University in Seattle, WA. In addition, Michelle is a 2020 National Board of Certified Counselors Minority Fellow for Clinical Mental Health Counseling.
C: Michelle is a parent, a partner, and a step-parent to two Cairn Terriers, Adler and Dempsey. Michelle loves being outside in forests, gardens, canyons, mountains, and at the water’s edge when not working. They love learning more about herbs and plant relatives while hiking and walking in gardens. They also love singing, a deep and soothing balm for the soul.
J: You can find Michelle’s current written work in the most recent issue of the Feminist Press’ Women’s Studies Quarterly Journal on Black Love. You can find links to this work and to Michelle’s social media, website, and portfolio in the show notes for this episode. Thank you so much for being here, listening, and holding space with us dear listeners! And now for today’s episode!
C: The second season is so fun and exciting and that continues today with Michelle Phillips (they/ them) who’s joining us from Seattle, someone whose support work explores the full spectrum of liberation and being human, there’s so many things to discover in their wisdom. Hi, yay!
[J and C laugh]
C: Without further ado, how are you doing today, Michelle?
Michelle (M): Thank you for asking. Oh my gosh, I’m doing well today. It’s uhm, cloudy with a little bit of sun breaking through in Seattle, so it’s always nice at this time of the year.
J: I love that.
C: We’re so glad to have you here. Thank you so much. We’re so honored.
M: Thank you for having me.
J: Yes. There’s something about that–I, I picked a fidget that looks like a heart today and I was just holding it to my heart. That felt really good.
J: As we, as we start our conversation today about being aware and awake in our bodies, I’d love to start with asking our usual centering question about the themes of our podcast and how they occur to you. Can you share with us what embodiment means to you and what your embodiment journey has been like, if you would like to share that with us?
M: Thank you. So embodiment, you know it’s…I feel like it’s, it’s almost this buzzword, it’s around, it’s around so much. Like so many people are talking about embodiment from so many different angles and lenses and, you know, all the things. And I, really, for me and I was kind of reflecting on this this morning, you know, it’s like the word, you know, embodiment. It’s, it’s almost like you, you, you naturally think like to be in a body, right, to be in the body and I was thinking like for me maybe it’s like it’s like being with the body, right? So it’s like being with like being in relationship, right, with, into one’s own body, right? And uhm, and that can mean so many different things for so many different people and so many different bodies, right? But it really feels like, uhm, it feels like such a call and such an imperative to be in right relationship with one’s own body, and, and what that means. So I’ve just been so grateful to, to just reflect on that. And, you know, I have, you know I have really been on this journey for I feel like my whole life, you know? And I, as you know, as someone who has, you know, kind of slowly moved up and down, you know, in the shape of my body over the years, like, like you know it’s, it’s been, it’s been a real, a real journey. And I, I was thinking about recently, I had an art teacher in 3rd grade. Her name was Mrs Emerson. And Mrs. Emerson was an excellent art teacher and one of the things that she absolutely would not allow you to do was to, umm, start over if you messed up, right? So can you imagine like all these third graders like, I can’t have another piece of paper, I messed up, right? And Mrs. Emerson would not, and she would say like, oh, if you mess up, keep going like you’re just getting started like now it’s about to get good, right? And I’ve wanted, I’ve found myself in places where I…can I swap my body out? Can I have a different one, like, ah, can I start over, you know? And it’s like, you know, for, for better and worse, right? For better and worse, this is the body I have. This is the one I’m given, and so I’m 45 years old. I don’t know if you all know that, but I am 45 and I can really say that I’m grateful for my body now and I wouldn’t know what to do with another one, right? So somehow I’ve come into a relationship with this body and I, I, I don’t want to change it out anymore.
C: Wow, that is, umm, I’m going to sit for a second.
J: It’s very nourishing, to listen to that.
C: Yeah, how empowering for those little kiddos for you, for everyone to just say, I, I just, I’m just going to keep going. I don’t need to keep starting over, that’s, that’s really beautiful.
J: Wow. I loved playing around with a phrase like for better or worse and really getting that when it’s for better and worse, uhh, there’s a depth to that that I was feeling that I just don’t hear when the OR is present more than hearing. But I was feeling I could feel the end of that this idea of I don’t know what I’d do with another body that really like struck me like I really felt that land over here. Uhm, I don’t either. I don’t know what I’d do with another body.
J: Uhm, and considering that all the versions of my body and myself, the being in this body, all exist here in this ongoing journey. Being in another body would be without those or like if I was just imagining it like a Freaky Friday scenario showing up in someone else’s body suddenly. It would be really confusing and disorienting to not have that relationship to just step into it. So, so I really loved that exploration of, of depth and I really heard you honoring yourself and your body in your comfort or, uhm, consideration of yourself.
M: Yeah, you know, it’s, it’s interesting because you know, I, I feel like there’s so much in our culture, particularly diet culture, right? Like that’s, that’s the, the exacting demand, right, to, to, you know, kind of cut off this relationship with and like we’re going to do something different with this body. We’re going to change the shape of this body. We’re going to like, you know we’re going to do something different. We’re going to be in a different way with this thing that, you know.I mean, the body. It’s the same. The same, it’s the same it’s, you know there’s such consistency, right? And so yeah, it’s, it’s really, it’s been a journey, right, to, for me to understand that. You know, I don’t get a do over. This is the one that I got. And how do I get the one that I got to be the one that I want?
J: That gives me instant chills, instant.
C: It really does. It’s such an idea of partnership with your body, you know, and when you’re talking about diet culture, I was when you were talking about it before I was thinking of like that idea of Last Supper eating. You know, like this is the day my, you know, my diet starts tomorrow. I’m going to eat blah blah blah blah blah do this and da da da da da and then tomorrow it’s a whole thing, whole new thing, that’s not, that’s not how it works. Uhm, the body is the body. The body endures, you know. Yeah, it’s really sitting with me.
J: That was beautiful. Bodies are gonna body. It’s a thing to be in awe of not a thing to be resistant or in friction with or about.
C: I love that.
J: It’s a thing to be in awe of, the true awe of awesome. The presence of awe. Ooh, I’ve like had constant chills listening to both of you. Really lovely.
M: You know it’s, it’s so, it’s so interesting because you know I have, I, I have done so many things with my body. Like I have just, you know, and, and that relationship of being with that, that body that has moved up and down the scale you know and has been in different shapes at different times. Been larger then smaller, then you know all these things. Like at each of those checkpoints I have made significant requests of my body. And you know, as I age, age I’m learning that my body is less responsive to those demands. It’s like my body is like I see you, and we don’t wanna do that, right? We wanna do that, right? And you know, to, to, yeah, it’s, I could, I could go on and on and on. You know, that I feel like this is the, the culmination of, of a lot of things, umm, from my body journey.
C: Yeah, and I, that makes me also think like embodiment isn’t just about the sizing and the shaping of your body for a lot of people. You know the level of ability in your body. Like you said, your body doesn’t respond or even more severe, becoming disabled for some people, or for those of us who decided to give birth, you know, biologically that’s a huge ask and a huge demand on your body. Uhm, there are lots of things, lots of aspects of identity that play into embodiment, not just your physical form, absolutely. Thank you.
M: Absolutely, and, and what you can see and not see you know as some. I also struggle with, you know, some chronic conditions and you know all of all of it is included, right? It’s like, you know, we can’t separate out these things. Yeah, they’re all happening at the same time, so yeah.
C: Mm-hmm yeah.
J: Uh, the space, I’m looking out the window at the snow to find spaciousness in my mind, this, the, the space in that, for how can a right relationship transform as life transforms? And how can we also be in right relationship when things are not in our control or unknown? It’s like what transcends the physical and the embodiment of us as well? First journal topic of the episode for me.
[J and C laugh]
C: So many journal topics, always.
J: I, I actually hadn’t considered the not-body parts of embodiment like what actually is not like, it’s in our body, right? But it’s not, not about the body in embodiment. There’s just something there. I don’t know that I have words for that exactly. But whatever transcends that, it definitely feels like there’s some sort of space there that I haven’t discovered or explored. Thank you for that.
C:Speaking of the pandemic as a human being, how has the pandemic affected your embodiment practices and ways that might challenge your process? Has there been anything that feels like it connects you even further? What lights you up about what you do and when are you feeling most embodied?
M: [laughs] I’m sorry, I have to laugh because the pandemic for me has been all about embodiment like 100%. And if you are, I feel like if you’re a person that has any sort of relationship with, uhm, your body in, in any kind of way, right, it really got turned up during the pandemic, particularly the early parts of the pandemic, right? You know, before testing, before vaccines, you know, I feel like I was so deep in my body because I’m literally trying to figure out if I got COVID or not. So I’m listening, I am listening to the blood flow in the back of my right calf like, is that Covid? Wait, hold on, you know like I’m literally listening to this chatty body, right? Like just, oh is it, Is it here? Is this it? Right? So I had completely 100% , well, maybe not 100%. But I was really, really in my body in the top of the pandemic. Like listening for all the signs and symptoms, right? Because this, you know, and when I say listening to the body, this is part of, you know my embodiment practice, right? So when I’m, you know, when I’m in the scan of my body, like what is happening here, what is that is this pressure, is this cold? And I’m getting really curious about all these different things. Umm, like it really, I feel like it really married well with what was already a, uh, developing embodiment practice. So that, that’s kind of where I was at the top of the pandemic, you know, and it, it, it’s, it’s getting a little bit better now. We got some more information. We cannot, you know, we’re, we’re settling, we’re not so much in the limbic system, right of like, Oh my God, like you know peril. You know, it’s, you know, we’re, we’re, I’m not going to say we’re coming out of the pandemic. I’m never one of those people, but we’re still in it. But we’re, we’re in a different place, and so we can be in less fear, you know, less, you know, activation of the nervous system. And so, but that I feel like it was, it really deepened my practice. You know the, the whole pandemic did come and it was exciting for me to get to work with other people in, umm, you know, so, so how, how do we get into the body? How do we, how do we listen? How do we like, how, what embodiment, what is it? How do we do it, you know? And so it really started to kind of develop, umm, you know, more with more speed, more vigor during this time. So ’cause we’re all focusing on our bodies like, like never before. And now it’s like, oh well, also, like how do we can, is there anything we can do to support our bodies? Additionally, like, what can I do for my immunity? Like what can I do for my, you know, I got clients you know using the neti pot, right? You know, it’s never one of before, it’s like, OK, you know, let’s, let’s drain the, the nasal passages. How about that? Let’s try that. You know, so, so it’s been, it’s been really fun to, to be able to have a place, like a playground to kind of practice some of these things, and I feel like the pandemic gave that to, to me.
C: Wow, that is, I love that answer. It’s, I mean obviously this pandemic has just been awful in so many ways. But it, it’s, it’s good to hear someone saying that it–what, what it’s given them in a positive way, to. We don’t always hear that, so that’s, that’s really great. I hadn’t thought about that because when I think of all the good things that have come about, I feel really privileged saying it, but I also think even if there isn’t a huge amount of privilege, we’ve all been given that opportunity to kind of hone in on what’s going on in our bodies and what doesn’t feel right, what does feel right in our bodies, umm, in terms of the virus, yeah.
M: I mean, no doubt there’s grief. I lost my sister at the top of the pandemic, right? So not from COVID, right, but during this container of grief, right?
J and C: Oh, I’m so sorry.
M: And so it has been a demand, right, with all of this grief. Like grief lives in the body and I, I keep trying to tell people about grief, and I’m like they don’t understand what it is and I’m like it’s a feeling and humans feel feelings in the body so I’ve had to start calling it heartbreak. I see in your body.
C: Oooh. Yeah.
J: Yeah, I just felt that immediately.
M: Heartbreak, right? Yeah, that grief, heartbreak right to be able to land its presence in a body, right? So there’s, there’s been loss, right? We’re so, we’re, we’re not practiced at this, that we’re avoiding the grief, but the grief has to live in the body. We have to be in relationship with the body, with the grief, right, all there together, right? Yeah, so there’s been sucky parts of the pandemic for sure. Yes indeed for me. [laughs][All laugh]
C: Right, right.
J: Oh many, many.
M: Right, yeah, right. And, and right like it, it’s not even an ask anymore. It’s an imperative, right that we’re in this embodiment practice, because we can’t grieve unless we’re in relationship with our body, because that’s where the grief is happening.
J: Right? And in many layers.
M: Many, many, many layers.
J: Oh, an imperative of embodiment. I love that playground. I heard a lot of invitation there and especially if we have not been or have been dipping our toes and walking away from embodiment for it to have some real…to go from surface level looks or the moments of invitation that don’t feel that important. To be in a space of this is important. Yeah, this is, it’s a, it’s a priority. I was hearing in what you’re saying, right, uhh, connected, value driven, who am I in this body, kind of.
M: Yeah, yeah, and it’s so, it’s so basic. Like, you know, the, the checkins, right, with, with friends, with families, with clients, right? It’s like, you know, what? How are you eating? How are you sleeping? How are you hydrating yourself, right? Like you know and and you know…and I have a practice that I use particularly with my clients, but you’d be surprised like how many people will just sit and talk to you for an hour having to go to the bathroom.
J: I would do that. [laughs]
M: Yeah…go use the bathroom. There’s literally nothing that is so urgent like you don’t have to sit through my session having to pee, go pee, take care of the body, the body, the body, the body, the body. Be yeah I’m like listen buddy and so for anyone listening like pushing my thoughts to the side in the air like no, no, no, no, I’m busy, I’m busy, busy, I’m busy, busy, will pee after, will pee after, right? Not, not now, body, and the body is, like, I have to pee and I’m, like, no. And, it’s like I have to pee, what? A trusting or invitation to trust from the body to keep telling me and you have to pee.
J: Yes, yes, yes, yeah.
M: I just sit, you know, go go, go, take care of yourself, go get the tea, go get the blanket. Oh, we want to get the sweatshirt. Go get the sweatshirt, go bathroom, go to the bathroom. You need to stretch, go stretch, right. What does the body need now? What do I need now? Let the body respond. What does the body need now? Then let the body respond, it’s like embodied questions, embodied choices.
M: Because this is, this is, so we talk about it. We’re probably going to talk about this later. We talk about decolonizing the connection to the mind and the body, yes, right? Right, so talking about the mind, if you ask your mind, what do I need? OK, so now the mind is talking. I need to take the trash out. I need to respond to these emails. I need to pick my kid up from the school. I need to go do this. I need to, and it’s ad nausea. If you ask your mind what you need, right? But say you pose that same question to your body. What do I need? And you just let your body answer the question, you know. What you’re going to get. I need to put some socks on. I need to stretch. I need to go to the bathroom. I should probably take a probiotic. My back is itching. Yeah, you know. It’s like I should stand up and fold at the waist. Right, I could really use some fresh air and maybe a turn around the neighborhood.
J: I thought you’re going to say turn over ’cause that’s what I’m feeling. But it’s like maybe we’re a little hungry.
M: Right? Or maybe we’re hungry. That’s all right. Maybe we need, maybe we need food maybe. We need water, right? And so these are the things that will arise when we let our bodies answer the question, what do we need? And if we take care of all of those needs. Like if we just said OK I’m gonna take 30 minutes, 15 minutes, and I’m gonna give my body whatever it is asking for. Right? ’cause that’s the meditation that I give to my clients, right? But just just sit down and do everything that the body is asking for. Right, sit down, take some breaths. Go do it. Come back, sit down, take some more breaths, go do the next thing and the next thing and the next thing and the next thing.
C: Yeah, this feels like a really nurturing and self loving way to answer what you need and what needs to be done, especially for people who struggle with, kind of saying, being able to prioritize what they need from people who might be neurodivergent, right? I’m gonna do this and then I’m gonna sit down and I’m going to do this. And then I’m gonna sit down, That feels really expensive, yeah?
M: And, and it’s, it, I, I use it, particularly when you say neurodivergent, right? Like just people who have felt, what’s the word? I’m not comfortable in, and I’m putting quotes around this majorly, “meditation spaces”, right? You know people who have like, been traumatized who like who cannot sit, you know, with a downward cascade or eyes closed, and you know, be left alone in their minds and things like this, or, or you know people who have racing thoughts, right? It’s, we’re so separated from our bodies, like we can’t even come into those situations thinking that we can have, you know, some type of “right” meditation experience, right? ’cause we’re so separated from the body so we can’t even get there so the practice has to be attending to the body. First attend, attend, attend, attend, attend, attend, right? And then we can attune, right? So, I, I, you know, I’m ADHD as the like you know, like the rest of us, right, right? [laughs] And so the, I, that is my practice, right? Right, breathe, attend, breathe, attend right, go do the thing, right, ’cause we have to get it out of our body seems to workout this energy, you know.
C: I had to write that down [laughs]. Attend then attune. That’s, that’s incredible.
J: Me, too. And earlier you were talking about what if we’re not in a capitalist narrative, uhm, outside of that space. So in that space attunement is asked to come first, why can’t another–it’s a shameful phrasing. Why can’t you just attune, says the professional getting paid money to the person who doesn’t know the answer to that question. Uhm, no space for attending. So as a dietitian in the traditional model of things, I am told to say why aren’t you attuning here? Are steps A thru Z very easy to attune? But I actually can’t follow them. My ADHD, divergent brain, it can’t, I can’t do it for myself. Attend and then attune. See ourselves as we are and then ask what we’d like to tune into from the body is very, very powerful.
M: Yeah, you know, part of this, part of the attending is about attention. And in the capitalist frame, our attention is being paid for. People are paying for your attention. They’re paying for my attention. It’s being paid for. To the tune of millions and billions, right? So to the degree, right, that the system can get us to not pay attention to ourselves and our bodies, right? Then we will purchase anything that we, right, believe will help us, right? We’re out here, we’re searching, right, right? They need us to not pay attention to ourselves, right? The algorithms and social media are designed, designed to take us further away from ourselves, right. So our attention is being, is being paid for, so, so we can’t…we, we, it is…we can’t pay attention to ourselves when somebody is paying a million billion dollars for our attention. No, right, so. This is why the practice, right, is so important. It has to be prioritized because we need to be able to pay attention to ourselves so that we can attune to what it is that we need. Right, so why you can’t pay attention is because your attention has been paid for and you gotta snatch it back from capitalism, right? So what does the body need? Start paying attention. You gotta pee, go pee. You need some water, go drink. You know I’m saying this is how you take, you reclaim and disrupt capitalist notions on your attention.
J: I don’t think I’ve ever considered that attention and attend are the same. You know? We’re not…even in attendance. It’s something I would, I was just thinking, in fact, we’re like, we’re in attendance outside of ourselves, you know, head only, thoughts only, logical spaces, survival spaces.
M: Mm-hmm. Yeah, so this is really about anti oppression. This is about liberation. Right, this is how we liberate ourselves. By paying attention. By attuning.
J: Hmm. You’re really great with segues I have to say, you have an instinct for what’s coming next, not just because you’ve already seen it, but also there’s something in…it’s very connected, it’s really beautiful.
J: You were just talking about liberation and in mentioning liberation, I’m, I’m already starting to hear the answer to this question and so I want to pose it. How does one’s sense of embodiment impact their own liberation and efforts towards collective liberation, and, and which structures and systems get in the way? Again, you’ve already named them, but these things just feel important to name.
M: Uhm, you know it’s one of the things. I did want to, umm, just kind of presence. And I, I think that, you know, we, we start talking about the body and, you know, sometimes we don’t often or always make the segue with spirit or spirituality. And I truly believe that the bodies is all we have and it can get us there, right? But so, so much of this, this structure of capitalism is, is when we’re talking about decolonizing the mind and body connection, we, we have to talk about the, the role of spirituality. Particularly because there’s so much cultural and spiritual appropriation in the conversation of mind and body connectedness right in this discourse in this narrative, right? So you know, I, you know, as a, a person, you know, for so long, right, caught up in this, this way of thinking that I, I needed something outside of myself to get, you know connected to myself and you see how ridiculous this is starting to sound, right? Right, so I needed something outside of myself to connect back to myself. And you know, having been on a spiritual journey for a long time, often the things that were, you know, seen as available to me, were you know these yoga classes. You know, often taught by white women, right, these meditation spaces often topped by white folks, right? You know, all, you know, these wellness centers, you know, that we have that largely are, expand across Indigenous lands, right? Until you need to go there, right? On this year, settled and colonized ones, like, so I gotta go to you know, don’t get me started right on these places, right, but these, these are the places I needed outside of myself to connect back to myself, right? OK, so, so when you start talking about how there’s so much appropriation of Black, Brown and Indigenous medicines, right that are stolen and sold back to us at prices that we cannot afford absolutely, right. This is spiritual extortion. Like you’ve, now you’ve now stolen something. You’ve repackaged it, rebranded it, and now you’re like selling it, right? This is capitalism, right? So, and convinced me that I need it. And not only that, I need it, I need you to certify me in it. So that I can teach others. Come on. You feel me. Wild, right? You see how like so now we’re so far, now I’m so far, ’cause now I don’t have the money for this class. I don’t have money for the athleisure, you know, athletic wear that I need. Like you know what I’m saying, like I’m so, I’m so far down this road, so far away from myself, right, with the goal of trying to connect with myself, right? And these are the things that capitalism convinced me that I need in order to do this, right. And so as a young person, I had to give up, ’cause I’m Black, I’m queer, I’m larger bodied. You know, I’ve got a chronic condition, you know, that affects my bone, joints, and movement. Like, how am I, how am I, you know, gonna jump in to you know, this way of being, right? and how am I gonna not be harmed, right? You know, so so, so you give up and you think that embodiment, mind body connection, the only people that get to do this are, you know, you gotta be white, thin, straight, rich, able bodied, and those are the people who get to continue to be in the discourse who gets to be mindful, who gets to have a mind body connection, who get to be embodied, right? And, and so I don’t even know where the question was that you posed to me, but I had to, like, bring. I had this like named. I was like wait so we, we don’t talk about capitalism, but there’s this, there’s this element that, that is so insidious around the use of spirituality. Only right it, that has been co opted and extorted right that continues to separate people from themselves and I, I had to put that in there. And if you want to repeat the question now, you can ’cause I had to like bring the two together.
J: Yeah, uhm, you’ve already touched all of the things, I think, and I will repeat it. It was a question about liberation and how that is towards collective liberation and what specifically gets in the way. I mean, you are describing that and in repeating that, what else comes to the surface for you.
M: Yeah, so you know I do this work one on one and I, I, I do some groups, but you know, like how do we get like many, many, many people together, right, with the, the intent of, you know, being embodied, being in relationship with our body? What would happen if, right, if everyone, if we all said OK, capitalism, I see you over there. I see you over there and right ’cause you know, I can’t say, you know, I can’t be, I can’t imagine an anti capitalist frame for myself fully, right? Because I live in this country, right, and I do business in this country and you know what I’m saying. So, but how can we like hold, how can we present the oppressive system in the rooms, right? So like we see you right, and this is how you’re showing up in this space, and we’re going to turn over here, right? And we’re going to be in relationship with our body so that we can because we have to do this work first so that we can be in authentic relationship with other bodies, right, without harming them, right? So we talk about the collective. It starts with us, right? So that I can be in community with you, right? Like, I, I have to do this work, right? So that I can show up fully as myself, right? For those I love and care about. The people I work with, right, and, the, the ripple impact that you know we want to see in the world.
C: I’d never thought of spirituality as one of those structures and or how spirituality is co opted, extorted as a way to further…I’m losing my words, I know what I’m saying in my head, I don’t know where I was going, to further the…not the mission, the, the grasp, I guess, of capitalism.
M: Yeah, yeah. Capitalism, yeah, absolutely.
C: Never seen it that way. That’s really, really powerful. I mean obviously makes sense, but, and one thing you said is that it’s ridiculous that you thought that, I’m like, it’s, it’s not that ridiculous, but we’re taught to think like…I, I mean, maybe it’s ridiculous that we shouldn’t be doing, but it’s not ridiculous that you’re one of the people doing it. We’re all taught that, we’re all taught you need to…I need to become a yoga teacher. I need to learn how to do meditation. I need to buy this sports bra, whatever. Because otherwise I cannot practice what I need to feel embodied. Like, I mean, it’s not, it’s not ridiculous.
M: Oh, absolutely yeah, yeah. I mean it’s ridiculous that, that, that the system, right, is set up that way. Sure, yeah, but you know that those, those ideas are what was available.
J: Uh-huh right?
C: Absolutely yeah, yeah.
M: And so and that’s why I’m so grateful that there’s so many people talking about this work now. you know? Doing this work actively right now.
C: Absolutely. I love the idea of that individual liberation is what’s necessary to lead to collective liberation. That’s really powerful.
J: How can we find space to not co opt each other, to not steal from each other, to not extort each other in ways that we may not have even consciously been aware of to both notice it, and a word that was coming up for me when you were talking, Michelle was disrupt. An intentional disruption of the same old way, it’s always going inside this system to even have a chance to look outside it, try to feel what it’s like outside it for milliseconds even it feels a disruption would be really powerful. Like in a harnessing your power way, not in a performance way, and to think about kind of our word of the day. I was like, ooh the brand of spaciousness shows up in spirituality all the time. Your [unintelligible] mindful exercises, meditation, uhm I was like yeah it’s so branded, it’s so stolen, it’s so separate from its origins. We can do anything in dietetics, taking food from other cultures and saying this one, usually the blandest and not even the most important one is how we define health. Now we got it from these people, but it’s ours now, right, even the idea of like the Mediterranean diet, which is actually based on the Black and Brown people south of the Mediterranean. But we always hear it talked about as the white people in the north of the Mediterranean. There’s not even co-opting, in stealing, it’s so insidious. I think that’s a word you used earlier because we’re not even talking about what we say. We’re talking about in the end, it’s so diluted, it’s so misguided, it’s so confused, and therefore confusing. I was, I was just kind of sitting with what spaciousness as not a brand, as a feeling, as an embodiment, and not a way to do it, there’s no rubric. There’s no order of things. There’s, there can be, I was really hearing today attending comes before attunement. I don’t mean like that. I mean like there isn’t a list out there, that’s like these are the 10 things this is all we have to offer you, why aren’t you doing them? A really ableist and human doing kind of stance, right? How to do it, how everyone else can know you’re doing it. That’s nothing to do with embodiment.
C: I like the use of the word stolen rather than co-opted. I say co opted a lot, but stolen really hones in on the violence that is perpetuated against the people that are, the people whose cultures are being…I was gonna say co opted. [laughs] I can’t think of the word, but you know what I mean? Like there’s the violent, the inherent violence of the word stolen like I am coming in, I am telling you, thank you, I like this, so it’s mine now. You know, like, it makes me think of my toddler, who’s like, I like this toy. It’s mine now. [laughs] Like there’s nothing kind about it. He’s like this is my, you know…umm…
J: The colonization of the toddler, I love that.
C: [laughs] Yeah, the colonization of his stupid dinosaur toy. Yeah, umm, from his, from his brother, yeah. But I mean there’s inherent violence to the word stolen, and I think that’s really important to note.
M: I think, I think you’re right, and I, I think, you know, I’ve had experiences where, and I can’t name, name the the place that I was at, I shouldn’t, right? But I was at one of these, you know, wellness centers in who…they sort of like, you know, that, that span across all of the Indigenous lands with the main lodge and the yoga classes and the treatments and the da da da da. And I was in a yoga class in one of these things and I remember openly weeping in this yoga class because like there was just no evidence that this practice had ever been associated with a Brown person ever. Like the, all there was no Sanskrit used for any of the, the asanas right there. You know, there was no altar. You know, there was no association of lineages. There was no, like, it was completely erased and it was just like come to tree pose, eagle pose, like. I mean literally and I just remember being in the and I was weeping like almost to the point of wailing at how? Like the grief that this practice was no longer tethered right to its origins, and how there are so many bodies in this space that had paid all the monies to be in the space to do all that, you know. And it’s just like there was just no evidence. And I just was weeping, right, because these traditions are, are stolen, right? And, and as you say, and, and so separate, right, from, from source, from the source, their source, right? But yeah.
C: And then gatekept, right? And then there’s gatekeeping, so you can’t access it ever again.
M: And so it, and if you can, no, we’re not going, we’re still not going to let you, even if you can afford it, yeah.
M: Right, and, and even if you can afford it, you’re not gonna feel good up in here anyways, ’cause they’re gonna be side-eyeing you and like treating you like you don’t belong anyways. And it’s like I actually, you know, what? I don’t belong and I’m actually gonna leave now. Now it’s telling myself ’cause I don’t belong here, right? I’m gonna go.
C: Right, yeah, yeah, absolutely.
J: Wow, when you say stolen, I’m realizing that I can feel how much truth is missing.
J: The authenticity’s just gone. It’s, it’s a feeling of like the void that’s there, which is not a nourishing feeling, an embodied feeling, something to attend to. It feels like something to run from, that kind of void. So I really get that and I feel like I can hear what it might feel like, and I also know that I haven’t felt that maybe being a larger bodied person in a yoga class, maybe, uhm, but I wouldn’t say that, I didn’t know that at the time. But really getting that when we talk about, like, ancient wisdom, how long things have been around before Western science is like this is ours now, right? I’m like this is thousands of years old, millenia and you’re like this is ours. And also but we have to wait to see if it’s backed by science.
C: Right now it has to be “evidence based”, right.
J: Yeah, yeah. What a fucking elitist thing. I’m just sitting with that, right? It’s one of the three things I’m supposed to always have in my clinical mind with me in a session, I’m like I always have to have elitism with me in that modality, in that projected or regimented space. Makes me mad. It’s such–you’re talking about being violent earlier, Chavonne. It’s such erasure. It’s stolen and then erased, right? Right, it’s so violent, it’s so intentional. Uhm, it’s so in the direction of someone in power just getting to have that because they say so. Not honoring anything that happened before. It’s such a what is the word my brain is looking for? Well, the word that’s coming is like truncating, but that doesn’t, that’s not even the, the word, I mean, but it’s just so severe. It’s so abrupt. It’s the kind of, it’s the kind of violence where the person or people who don’t have the power also can’t see it coming. That’s how violent it is. Or even if they can, do they have choices?
M: Right, right.
J: I’m purposely using they because I know that that’s not my experience or my lineage’s experience and a lot of bias and privilege has kept me from considering that before, so I’m feeling really honored to have that conversation in my mind now. To attend to it and see how that shows up in my body.
C: I’d like to talk about the second half of our podcast title. What does the rest of us mean to you? How do you identify within the rest of us? We’d also love for you to share your pronouns and identify your privileged identities and context here as well.
M: OK. OK, so what does…well let me start with identifying, positioning myself. So, so my pronouns are they/them and I recently acquired we. And I really hold those as part of my non binary gender identity, but also an ancestral practice and so those are the pronouns that I use. You’ll often hear me talking about, so what we doing now? And I’m really talking about all of we. So yeah, I love that, yeah. And then, so that’s, and then the identities that I hold that are definitely ones of privilege. I, uhm, I am able bodied, neurodivergent, but I think I’d presence that, a little bit earlier. Uhm, I, uh, have, uh, I’m educated, have a masters degree. Uhm, I am, you know, I, one of the things that I, I say, when people talk about this that I have to present as a privilege is I am a Black person, identify as Black who was raised in an all Black environment, right?
M: No, I was, I was born and raised outside of Atlanta, GA and so I, I grew up, all the people that were on my street were Black. I went to Black schools. I had Black teachers. I went to a Black church and everything that was around me for the 1st 18 years of my life was pretty Black. Uhm, by the time I got to high school there was some, there were some white kids there. Uhm, but I hold that as a place of privilege because, uhm? As I have grown up, you know, I’ve met so many Black people for whatever reason that may not have had access to Black culture. And, and so I, I find myself at this being able to identify that as a privilege. I speak English. Uhm, you know, I have health insurance. I’m housed, you know. Like you know I, I count those as as valuable as all of those other identities of privilege that I carry. And so you know the rest of us. You know, we talk about intersectionality. Ah, you know, this is like everybody else down at the intersection you know, like with, you know, all of the, the competing identities and we were, you know, kind of talking about this, you know, who’s, who’s left out of you know this new sort of like wellness and lifestyle culture as a mechanism to obtain a mind body connection. Right, who’s who’s outside of that, right? Poor folks, Black folks, Brown folks. Indigenous folks. You know what I’m saying? Like disabled folks, right? Like you know. So you know that that’s the rest of us, right? It’s, it’s, it’s everybody else you know, kind of, not you know, positioned in that sort of global north, you know, what we think of as like Western dominant culture and. And we are the majority. We are the majority.
C: Mm-hmm. Absolutely.
M: Uhm, yeah, so that’s, that’s the rest of us.
C: How do you identify as the rest of us? Well, you said it earlier and just like a few things earlier, I just wanted to bring it back into context.
M: Yeah. Oh yeah, just…Are you talking about just like you know, blackness, queerness, nonbinaryness?
M: Those things, neurodivergence. Yeah, uhm, those, those things are the ways in which I position myself, and, and, in, in the rest of us. Uhm, most, most definitely. Uhm, I’m an older parent. I feel like that’s something.
C: It is. [laughs]
M: I mean, I, I feel like that, but I don’t know if that’s true, but yeah. Yeah, I mean like if it’s not a thing, let’s make it a thing. Let’s make it a thing, it feels hard.
M: Uhm, you know? Yeah, and umm, let’s see, uhm? Yeah, you know. And like I’m, I’m a Black person who loves another black person. And you know, like, on days that feels like, you know, the struggle worth fighting for. You know, it’s beautiful, I feel honored every day that I get to choose this person. But there’s so much in this world, right, that doesn’t support, uhm, that particular union. And so, uhm, it’s something that I work really hard at, my relationship, and I’m very intentional about it.
C: Thank you so much for sharing.
J: Yes, and you know in the way that we ask this, it’s about identifying and I loved your language of positioning myself, where am I among this mix that’s everywhere, right? What are all the things that overlap here? Intersectionality, I, I love that word. Position-ness. Everything has a direction, everything, and I feel like it doesn’t get spoken about a lot. And I, I really appreciate that, thinking about, what is our position, where are we going? Yeah, which ways can we go, which ones are limited? I just love that I, that I could get a strong visual with that.
M: Yeah, I mean it’s true. And, you know, a lot of times when I work with more than one person…so if I’m working with a couple, like this, this, this conversation comes up more often than not because, you know, there’s always the interpersonal dynamics. But once you have more than one person in the room, right, then we have to talk about the system that’s in the room, systems, right? So then we have to talk about patriarchy is, you know, where patriarchy in relationship to this conversation right here, right, that we’re trying to have, where is misogyny, right? Where is capitalism, right? Where is homophobia, transphobia, trans antagonism, like, then we have to start positioning. Then, you know, then, then we become like chess pieces, right? So we have to then begin to talk about positionality, right? Because then, as clinicians, right, I need to position myself. You know, like, hey, this is where I am. This is where my lenses are and the, and these are the positions where you are. And then let’s, let’s get a clear picture of everything that’s happening in the room, so that right we can be back in that. Like that tethering toward collective liberation, that we can be in once we’ve authentically positioned ourselves in space, right? Right now we can talk about how to free up this relationship, right? ’cause now we know what’s happening, right? So yeah, it’s this, it’s this, it’s like a critical piece when you start working with more than one person.
J: I can hear how positionality is very…decolonized. But the things are said out loud that the stolen doesn’t become forgotten. That it’s, I’m just going back to attended to. I love this so much that it’s, we can attend to it if we know where it is, what it is, where it’s going.
C: Absolutely, absolutely.
J: I also have to say that the facial expressions that we all have during this has been incredible. I’m just, like, I, I love all of them, right, I can see us feeling it.
J: The engagement. People listening can’t see that, but I am for one appreciating that.
M: That’s great.
C: In, in many of your writings, you’ve said one moves from grief to liberation. Umm, what embodiment practices do you recommend for folks moving through grief and toward liberation? Also, what is liberation coaching? I’d love a little bit more of an answer for that if you don’t mind. So I understand it.
M: Yeah, so you know we were kind of talking about this a little bit ago. Like just grief. I mean, I feel like we gotta start there. Like what is grief. Ahh! [laughs] And a lot of people are talking about grief these days, right? And you know, it’s, I don’t think it’s quite as, you know, buzzy as embodiment, but you know, people are finally getting around to the conversation of grief, you know, particularly in the pandemic as you know. We present like…many of us have lost, many…and you know, have just managed, you know, the, the grief, not just the loss of person and personhood, but just like loss of ways of being. And the grief, the grief of that, the grief of not being in embodied space with friends and family, right? So there’s, there’s so, so much there. And you know, and, and I can get back to that, but to answer your question about liberation coaching, that really came to me as something that I could do to support myself [laughs] while in Graduate School to become a counselor. And then I became the counselor and I never stopped doing it. But you know, it’s really a coaching space and it’s set up a little bit differently than you know, a traditional sort of like private practice for mental health, you know, in, in, in that, in a lot of ways. And, you know, first being, you know, this is a resource. Come as you need. So I don’t, like, people come as they need to come. And they have access to my schedule and we do the work. Sometimes we work very closely together. Sometimes it’s spread out, but it’s really a space, it’s kind of like this loving, challenging space to help people move themselves out of a place of stagnancy in a particular area, right? And, and it has a lot of it, has come to move toward grief, and I’ve also started working a lot with couples and like relationships. And, and so, uhm, it and, it has supported me and it was like…I had this coaching practice in Graduate School where I was seeing clients and and you know my name was kind of being passed around and you know I was like bit busy, right? As a graduate student and it was, it was, it was so exciting. And, and now the work has really expanded to like I’m taking this work, work to organizations. And I end up doing facilitation, right, and, and providing, you know, strategies for liberation like this is just like it is about moving you through. But it is like to for the express purpose of getting you free, right, and free as you design as you feel it in your body, right? Like, you know, you free when you feel free, right? Because you’re already free. You came to me free, right? I’m just gonna help you feel free in your body, right? And that’s what liberation coaching is, right, is like let’s just get you feeling free, right? You want to set some boundaries. Let’s set the boundaries that feel free and feel light, right? Let’s do that, right? So that’s what, that’s, you know, that’s a little, I mean, that’s like a, a tiny little nut of what happens. You know, ’cause I’m doing a lot of things in that space and, and exploring a lot of different modalities, doing a lot of embodiment work, and a lot of boundaries. Whew! Boundaries, right? And so when we talk about, you know what? What, like, how can I get like I can get free? For like at the end of grief, like if I actually grieve, I can be liberated, like how, how does that work? ’cause that’s, that’s the question that people come to me with, right? Like how are we doing grief and liberation at the same time? They don’t even sound right. Right? Uhm, so so grief, right. We were talking about that like grief is a feeling, right. It has ancestral implications, emotional implications, spiritual implications, but at the end of the day, right, it’s a feeling we must feel, feelings in our bodies. As humans, that’s our only option, right? I can’t think through grief.
J: Ooh, we try but we can’t. I try.
C: Try to logic. [laughs] Same.
M: Let me, let me, let me try, try. Right? Yeah, yeah, right, and in some ways we can perform grief, right? We mourn publicly. We can have, you know, these rituals and different things that we do, right? But you know, on the, on the whole grief is a feeling and humans feel feelings in our bodies, right? So that’s how we get back to this embodiment practice with grief, right? So we have to be in relationship, right, with the body to be in relationship with our grief. And I wish it were another way.
M: I really do, right, because there’s the pain like the heartbreak that is, that is, it’s painful. Right, and so when we do grief work, we have to make space for the body to feel the heartbreak. Yeah, so how do we make space for grief? Don’t nobody want to hear what I’m about to say.
C: I already know I don’t want to hear it.
J: Yeah! I was– [laughs]
M: Yeah, yeah. Nobody wants to hear this. Don’t go here. OK. See.
J: I can already tell, yeah.
C: I already feel the tension in my body being like, nope, nope, nope, nope.
C: No, no, I like felt myself physically move away from the, from the screen.
M: Right? All the contraction, right?
J: Yeah, yeah.
M: So, yeah, how do we make space for grief? You know what you have to do first? Yeah, stop working.
J: Ugh. I knew you were going to say something like that.
[J and C laugh]
M: You gotta stop pretending to be busy. It’s for play-play. This busyness. It’s for play play. It’s not real, right? Not real.
C: So funny.
J: I believe you and also, fuck.
M: Yeah, so my clients come to me in deep, deep grief working 16 hours a day. Hip out, right, completely exhausted, right? Pain in the body. Well, what we gonna do? What I’m gonna do with you when, when you’re busy for 16 hours a day?
M: Right? You gotta stop, you gotta stop pretending to be busy. You manufactured all this sense of urgency in your life ’cause you don’t want to grieve, it’s OK. It’s OK.
M: That loving challenge, right? Oh, so how, how, how are we going to have you work less so that you can grieve? So that your hip can stop hurting so that that sciatica can stop killing you at night, OK? Right, come on, let’s do it. It’s OK, it’s OK. Right.
J: Wow. To create space we have to create space.
J: Imagine that.
M: And so then we have to tackle all these structures in your brain that make you feel like you’re so important.
C: [laugh] Sorry, I–that’s a deep laugh, a guttural laugh only because it’s so true.
J: Yeah, that hit. Yeah.
M: Yeah, that somehow the world will not continue to revolve without you, such that you must work. These long– you see, it’s, it’s fallacy. It’s, it’s in the mind, right? So this people think that, like literally this, this is the grief work is figuring out, right, how to make space for grief and it and these are boundaries. Because they guide our behavior, right? So in the presence of my grief, because I want to honor my grief, right, in the presence of what I think I need to be doing, I’m going to do less, right? I’m not going to respond to emails outside of these hours.
J: Ohhh, that one got me right in my “oh, I do that” spot. [laughs][J and C laugh]
M: Yeah, I’m gonna line up this, you know, care, this child care, I’m going to do these things that I need to do. I mean if somebody comes to me, right, like having lost like two very close family members, right. It’s, it’s figuring out how, how, how do we move everything, everything off the schedule, right? I’m gonna challenge you on everything you think is important because nothing is more important than this grief, right? And so now that we have the container, right, we develop a relationship with the body so that we can be in relationship with the grief. Yeah, right, so now we’re back to what do I need now? What does the body need now? What is my grief asking for? What does my broken heart need, right, and when? We move it through. We move it through. We move it through. We move the grief through the body, toward liberation.
J: Holy shit.
J: I think of the body as a container. I’m just realizing a major point of unlearning I need to do for myself. I’m like, oh, it’s all contained here like that kind of container. I better keep it contained. That’s how that word has been showing up for me related to my body and hearing what you have to say. It’s like a container of space. Why do you have, why does it have to already be prefilled. What if, it, it’s for, it’s for movement, it’s for movement toward something.
M: Yeah, and, and we’re, we’re moving the grief through the body. The body isn’t designed to contain, like the grief forever, right? We want to move it through. We want to compost, right, to make space for when the grief returns because it always is coming back. Right, so we just want to keep, we want to keep the, the, the grief able to move through the body. Right, well we can’t do that if we’re ignoring it, if we’re working. Like busyness is the number one strategy in grief avoidance?
C: Yeah, absolutely.
M: Right, so we just want to keep it, keep the body limber, you know, kind of emotionally limber right, to to be able to to hold it when it comes. Right, and it’ll go away because it’s, we don’t believe this, right? We, you know, we think that if we, we have those five years of tears stored inside of us, that if we start we’ll never stop, right? We’ll never stop. That’s what clients believe. That’s what we believe, right, is to be true. Right, and you know you feel better, lighter after you’ve had the good cry, right? But why do we fight it, right? You talking about this toddler down here. Maybe what’s coming through?
C: It’s funny, ’cause Jenn and I texted this morning about something and I use the term ugly crying all the time, but I’m like maybe it’s just a hard cry. Maybe it’s OK to not be afraid of this guttural, this, this real reaction to something. I just need to get it out and instead of seeing it as ugly, instead of saying it is vulnerable. Well it is vulnerable, but instead of seeing it as something that I have to avoid, just get it out. That feels really–oh, my stomach hurts. In a good way, but like really, I don’t feel good, like I really don’t, because, I’m just being honest, just being honest.
[J and C laugh]
C: [sighs] It feels really powerful right now.
J: Oh, grief is uncomfortable.
C: Like I need to go hard cry, not ugly cry but have a hard.
J: Yeah, it’s uncomfortable, but it’s necessary.
M and C: Yeah.
J: I avoid it because I have told myself it’s not necessary. Because as you so lovingly pointed out, and also was like a dagger to my being, is that, I think I’m really important. [laughs]
M: Yeah, we all do, it’s OK.
J: We are human beings who are meaning making machines. It’s an automatic, especially with neurodivergence, my ADHD brain is like let’s make meaning about the silence in the room. There’s not even anything there and I’m like ooh meaning, let’s find it, you know, it’s like a constant choose your own adventure game, constant, but I never get to plug my batteries. And about that right? It’s just always, always, always. So, OK. I love the word strategy, that you use in grief avoidance. Because something that I, when not embodied about something, have trouble accessing as a business strategy. How did I get here? What happened? You know, it’s like kind of feeling like it happened to me, but I was the one doing the whole way through. So I was just sitting with, if I’m not busy, what if I have more choice? I didn’t know this is where you were going to bring up boundaries, but now it’s like, duh, to my brain.
C: Yeah, yeah, same.
J: And I’m like, oh, I’m very–Chavonne and I talk about this all the time, I’m pretty new to boundaries, like actively trying to do that, but like trying to not trample them not, you know, treat them like a speed bump instead of like the boundary that it’s supposed to be. I’m like, oh, no problem, jump over that boundary. And on the other side of that I’m like, why is it so chaotic over here? Why am I so stressed out? Where’s my body in this? I can’t feel any, saying it’s like, oh that was all over there, but I was supposed to treat it like a boundary instead of pretending that I can just leapfrog it and be like oh it’s fine, too, over here, which is a lie.
M: Yeah, yeah, that’s the recipe for resentment. So right, you jump over your own boundary. Anything that happens over in that land. The chaos of resentment. That’s resentment land. Then, like, you’re mad at somebody that’s not yourself when it needs to be yourself, ’cause you left over your own. But yeah, chile. It’s hard out there in that world. [laughs][All laugh]
C: I don’t like this.
J: We love to resent. I love being busy resenting, we love that blaming.
C: I do. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
M: See if you had just done XYZ, see, I wouldn’t be–[laughs] I’m sorry, wait, what?
J: Yeah, and it’s like it’s like a thing that cements me over there in the place where I’ve voided my own boundary. Shit. I’m thinking, shit, a lot.
J: First of all, this is ringing extremely true, uhm, in the core of me, true. Yeah, tapping into what being me actually is and how I keep myself from that condition, practice, almost devoted to, like, intentionally keeping myself this way.
C: What’s also coming up for me is that fear, like, but who am I if I’m not on that martyr shit? Like I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. I’m just being honest, so, yeah.
[J and C laugh]
M: Yeah, yeah, I mean I do. You get to grieve, you get to grieve that, too. You get…but it’s going to be some work, right, to grieve that, too.
M: It’s who am I now that I’m no longer, right, doing this, the thing I do all the time, right? Like you know, there’s an identity crisis in grief as well, so you know we don’t get there.
J: Oh! I love a crisis. Love it. How else can I be important unless I’m in crisis, right? Listen to me, I’m in crisis.
[M and C laugh]
J: Attend to me, not me attend to myself, but come attend to me, I’m in crisis. Pay attention to me, no processing, let’s think and talk and spew this stuff at each other. But I’m not going to process anything. That gives me chills. I just realize how much I’m not processing. I just, I just really got that in my body how much I’m not processing things. Your sharing is so generous, it’s not just authentic. It’s so generous. That–I forgot the French word for that beautiful, intentional pause. That’s like what shows up for you there? And I’m like I love a crisis. And you’re like what shows up for you there? And I’m like I don’t do any of that,right? That’s like, it’s, it’s, and it’s not thoughts, although they’re coming out as thoughts ’cause we’re recording a podcast. [laughs] But I’m feeling…and that, well, it’s, that’s true, but I’m feeling that in my body, like oh, I don’t like to go to this spot. Oh, I don’t like that one either. I’m, like, feeling, like, we don’t go here in this place in my body. Whatever this is, I love that invitation of we, like me and my body, mind and body. The non dualism of the connection that’s always there. Yes, I, I was like I, I just heard myself use we and I’m like ooh I get what that invitation is about.
C: Oooh, I love that.
J: It’s delicious and–
C: So juicy, yeah.
J: And we’re talking about grief and boundaries and things that make me feel icky like things are crawling on me kind of stuff, yeah, and it still feels like delicious to my body. Like, oh, let’s yeah, let’s remember this. Let’s go here again.
C: Yeah, yeah, that would be amazing, yeah.
M: Yeah, just well, I’m just, you know, just leave you wanting more.
C: You do. I want all of it.
M: [laughs] Like let it, let it, let it sit out there and you know it’ll all kind of–digest as it needs to ’cause you know, I know we’re coming, you know, toward the end of our time here at the end.
C: Uh, we are. fine.
J: Another thing I don’t want to do, but okay. Fine, fine. Let’s be done.
[J and C laugh]
C: Fine. Whatever. [laughs][1:25:23]
C: Umm, we’ve talked about a lot of the big and small picture perspectives in this conversation. What do you think we can all do to make a difference with what we’ve learned today?
M: You know the thing that comes to me is belief. Believe your body, right? Believe your body. You know, and it makes me think of, you know, Maya Angelou. And she says, you know, when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. Believe your body, believe your body the first time. Right, the first time that you feel that, that quickening, or that, you know, I, I should go to the bathroom or I should call someone, or, you know, believe, believe your body. Believe, like, let’s believe our bodies. Like if I could leave that as our message or the final message right is to just believe your body because your body can’t lie. Right, we can lie. We can lie to ourselves. We can lie to each other, but your body will not lie to you.
C: Right, wow. [sighs]
J: That fuck was I love that so deeply. And I could like hear my brain fast forwarding about the inconvenience of believing my body the first time.
M: That’s right.
C: Yeah, totally.
J: Wow. Let’s be inconvenient with ourselves. That feels very not capitalist. Capitalism hates an inconvenience.
M: That’s right, that’s right. It’s so spacious.
C: Yeah, absolutely.
M: It’s inherently anti, anti oppressive, right? Believe your body, you know, whatever it takes, right? And for some of us, it takes a lot, you know, ’cause you know, some, some of us, right, depending on your tradition, have been taught to any you know, the devil is a lie. Anything happening in your body is a lie, right?
M: But I would just say believe your body. Let’s, let’s, let’s do what we have to do to believe the body.
J: Yes, a core of white Western global north capitalism and colonialism is, listen to what we say. Don’t feel what you’re feeling. Don’t be who you are, right? You don’t know what’s going on in there, we have the answers, right? Fundamentalist bullshit, it’s the phrase that’s sitting in my mind. This is the way we’ve always done it, a lie, so let’s do it this way from now on. Yeah, that brought up some rage feelings in my body.
M: And we get to just say I believe you body, I believe you.
J: Wow, what an affirmation.
C: Yeah. Mm-hmm.
M: Well, I’m avoiding ending and I’m gonna stop.
J: Michelle, thank you so, so, so much for being here with us today and as we finish up this episode, what would you like everyone listening to know about what you’re up to and how they can find you? And what direction are you feeling in at this moment? What position are you in? What direction are you in career, work, future?
M: You know, I’m really, I’m, I’m, I’m working on writing. I’m writing about grief. Umm, you know, trying to further articulate, you know this, this message of grief and liberation such that it can reach a wider audience. So some of that is pushing through some of those access issues, right? We talk about, and, and getting into that space. I have a piece that’s being published right now through the Feminist Press that’ll be available soon. But really, thinking about writing, thinking about how to continue to universalize the messages that you know are coming around grief, around embodiment, you know, and those types of things. My digital home is at liberationstrategies.com. You can also find me on Instagram at Liberate with Michelle. Uhm, and those are kind of the places to, to find me more about, you know just what I’m doing and mainly what I’m thinking. But yeah, so that’s that’s really, you know it for me, just continuing to, to work with clients as they come as they need. Uhm, writing and yeah, just figuring out how if my body wants to, to produce anymore. So, I’ll be doing that. [laughs] So thank you all, just this time, it just felt so sweet, so, so yummy and generous and generative. I feel very, very grateful to have been asked to join you today.
C: We are so honored. I, I feel like I have a million things to say and nothing to say, like I’m really just sitting with that right now. And it’s just a really tough and tender place to be as Jenn loves to say, tough and tender. And I’ve been saying it a lot now so it’s just really beautiful. Thank you really, beautiful, such a gift. We really appreciate it.
J: Yeah, tough and tender, the real peanut butter and jelly of life.
[M and C laugh]
J: It’s really what it is.
C: Yeah, that sounds good, sorry. [laughs]
J: This is amazing. No, it’s, this is amazing. I, I appreciated the rawness, yes, and am appreciating the rawness of today. I feel very raw but in a very connected way.
C: Correct. Absolutely.
J: Uhm, not just with myself, but with each of you. It feels really special. Really, really special. It’s very, it’s feeling very–I believe it if that makes sense when something is about to end. It’s like I, I don’t believe it anymore on some level. Umm, that’s the busyness speaking, right? Just jump into the next thing, that thing doesn’t matter. But I really feel, I still feel, yeah, the presence of it and with each other. So thank you for that.
C: This is such a gift. I couldn’t say enough about it. Thank you. It’s wonderful, thank you so, so much. You’re amazing, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.
J: yes! [sighs]
M: Thank you, thank you, thank you all, you’re amazing.
J: Thank you, thank you, thank you.
J: Thank you for listening to season 2 of the Embodiment for the Rest of Us podcast. Episodes will be published every two weeks-ish (because let’s be real here) wherever you listen to podcasts.
C: You can also find the podcast at our website, embodimentfortherestofus.com and follow us on social media, on both Twitter @embodimentus
J: And on Instagram @embodimentfortherestofus We look forward to being with you again next time in conversation.