13 minutes | Aug 10, 2021

Mini-episode: How my podcast guests are like octopus

As a podcaster for justice, I stand with my sisters from the Women of Color Podcasters Community. We are podcasters united to condemn the tragic murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and many others at the hands of police. If you like what you hear or read or would like to see photos of Leslie, visit my Fertile Ground Communications website.This week on the Finding Fertile Ground podcast, I reflect back on the last 13 months. My little podcast is now one year, one month old after starting on July 6, 2020.  I’ve interviewed over 70 amazing individuals. I’m grateful to my guests for letting us have a little glimpse of their lives. As I describe this podcast in a nutshell, it’s about people who have gone through a shit ton in their lives and have survived, resilient, on the other side.I recently watched the documentary “The Octopus Teacher,” about a man who befriends an octopus in the ocean. Craig Foster is a free diver, who dives without a wetsuit or oxygen. He is able to hold his breath for up to 6 minutes. The movie, and the friendship he develops, is miraculous and exquisite.At one point the octopus has one of her arms bitten off by a pajama shark. She retreats into her den, traumatized, stunned, and in pain. Eventually she comes back out, with a tiny new arm. Over the course of three months, the arm completely regenerates itself. Watching this exceptional part of the story, I realized: the people I have interviewed on my podcast are like octopus. (For you word nerds like me, the plural of octopus is not octopi; it is octopus.)So many of them have been deeply traumatized in one way or another: from political strife, racism, illness, sexual assault, homophobia or transphobia, childhood abuse, xenophobia, body shaming, anti-semitism or Islamophobia, substance abuse, death of a loved one, or sexism. They have grieved losses and hurts deeply, but found a way to rise up again.They have regrown their arms and regenerated their hearts. For whatever reason, they have developed backbones and resilient spirits, and they are stronger than ever before. I’m fascinated by this incredible resilience, and I’m aware that it does not come naturally. Some people seem to have higher-than-average levels of resilience, while others need to actively cultivate it.How can one person experience horrible abuse and hardship as a child, not knowing love and affection, yet emerge as a positive, upbeat, and resilient person? While another person could feel slighted as a child, but overall have a good life, yet they end up feeling cheated and sad? I’ve discovered that I love interviewing Black women. I find that they are so real, honest, and direct, and in spite of the fact that they have no real reason to trust me, a white woman, they are incredibly open and authentic. I guess it’s because of all they face in life…they simply have no f-bombs left to give. I admire that quality so much.For more information about the people I mention in this episode, go to my website and look for Finding Fertile Ground podcast tab.
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