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.
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Each week I alternate this Finding Fertile Ground podcast with my other podcast, Companies That Care, which is about business leaders making a difference in the world. On both of my podcasts, I strive to highlight voices from historically excluded populations…the people who don’t always get a platform.
My little podcast is now one year, one month old after starting on July 6, 2020. In the past 13 months, I’ve interviewed over 70 amazing individuals.
Some of my guests are going through tough times.
Skye Leybold, my second guest who is living with metastatic breast cancer, recently discovered a breast cancer tumor on her thyroid and a new tumor on her liver. Skye feels like the universe is playing whack-a-mole with her body and spirit. That whack-a-mole continues, but her spirit is strong.
Nono Osuji has been living with lupus, which has morphed into chronic kidney disease, and now she’s at end-stage kidney failure with only 8% kidney function. Her only chance is a kidney transplant. She is trying to find a kidney donor in Texas. If you know someone who could help, please have them fill out this application. Nono still has one ounce of hope left to be able to live to see 40
Please keep Skye and Nono in your thoughts and prayers.
Other guests have been doing all sorts of new things!
Kris Gowen, the woman who sang karaoke across the country after her best friend died, has picked up and moved to Toronto! She landed her dream job in her dream city – now director of monitoring, evaluation, and learning at Camp Ooch & Camp Trillium, which provides programs for children with cancer.
Olive Bukuru Kabura, my very first interview guest, is pursuing a graduate degree and working on her practicum with Beauty Out of Dust. This web-based non-profit program supports education, healthcare, and business loans for children and families in need in Burundi. She is also polishing her immigrant story to share at a live event in September for The Immigrant Story nonprofit.
I recently watched the documentary “The Octopus Teacher,” about a man who befriends an octopus in the ocean. 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.
So many of my guests have been deeply traumatized in one way or another. They have grieved losses and hurts deeply, but found a way to rise up again.
They have regrown their arms and regenerated their hearts. They have developed backbones and resilient spirits, and they are stronger than ever before.
I’ve discovered I love interviewing Black women. 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.
Deborah Douglas, author of Four Hundred Souls: a Community History of African America, 1619-2019, said,
“Hurricane Katrina is easily a metaphor for America's attitude toward Black women: rejected, neglected, and never protected. But Black women's persistence and their insistence on survival and restoration are a metaphor for their attitude toward America.”
And Sister Maya Angelous famously preached,
“You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt But still, like dust, I’ll rise Out of the huts of history’s shame I rise Up from a past that’s rooted in pain I rise I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.”
My podcast was inspired by a conversation with a Black woman, Jackie Capers-Brown. I learned her mom had died when she was a child…and later Jackie’s son died as well. We bonded over the song “Rise Up,” and our shared love of the word “resilience.” Reflecting on how much I resonate with the word resilience and how fascinated I am by stories of grit and resilience, I decided to start this podcast.
And 51 episodes later, it’s perfect that my most recent episode was also with a Black woman who has endured great trauma and triumphs. Lisa Marie Simmons’ childhood was marred with abandonment and abuse, but her natural resilient spirit got her through the worst. Now she uses that childhood trauma to create beautiful music and writing. My new friendship with Lisa is a precious gift. Last week she even dedicated a song to me at one of her shows, “What a Wonderful World.” I realized no one has ever dedicated and sung a song to me before.
I asked Lisa about a grit and resilience story that inspires her. She is inspired by the resilience of Black people in America…and the fact they’re still in America and thriving in so many ways.
Many of the Black women I've interviewed have thanked their ancestors and are daily aware that their lives and successes are their ancestors’ greatest dreams.
I feel incredibly fortunate to have participated in these intimate, honest conversations in the past year. These conversations have inspired me through the pandemic and give me hope for the world. My life is so much richer for these connections with real-life resilient octopus.
Next week I interview Amber Taggard, owner and founder of The Organizer Chicks on the Companies That Care podcast. Amber is a professional organizer, time-management coach, and public speaker with an M.S. in Clinical Mental Health. She is passionate about using her counseling psychology background to help people improve their mental and emotional health by creating peaceful and productive physical spaces.
I love to hear from listeners. If you’re inspired by this episode or any others, or have an idea for a guest or topic I should cover, drop me a line.
Contact us if you can use some help with your writing, editing, communications, or marketing. With 30 years of experience in the environmental consulting industry, I am passionate about sustainability and corporate citizenship, equity & inclusion, businesses that use their power for good, and doing everything I can to create a kinder, more sustainable, and just world. We help organizations and people discover what makes them special and help them share that with the world.
Fertile Ground Communications LLC is a certified women-owned business enterprise, disadvantaged business enterprise, and emerging small business.