Episode 4

Published on:

27th Jan 2021

Lindo Bacon - On Radical Belonging - Part 2 - 015

I’m joined again by researcher and former professor Dr. Lindo Bacon (they/them). In this very special follow up recording, Lindo and I reflect on our experience of recording part one. We talk about the power of letting go of perfectionism, connecting with each other from a place of vulnerability and the gift of feeling into our bodies during conversation.

About Lindo: For nearly two decades Lindo has taught courses in social justice, health, weight and nutrition. They are also the author of Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight, and co-authored Body Respect: What Conventional Health Books Get Wrong, Leave Out, or Just Plain Fail to Understand About Weight. Their newly released book, Radical Belonging: How to Survive and Thrive in an Unjust World (While Transforming it for the Better) , takes their inspiring message beyond size, to shaping a culture of empathy, equity, and true belonging.

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Podcast Artwork by Gemma D’Souza


Find out more about Lindo’s work and books on their website

Lindo’s new book Radical Belonging: How to Survive and Thrive in an Unjust World (While Transforming It For the Better)

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adrienne maree brown’s new book, We Will Not Cancel Us

Full Transcription

Gem: Welcome to Queers & Co., the podcast and self-empowerment, body liberation and activism for queer folx and allies. I'm your host, Gem Kennedy, my pronouns are they/them and I'm a transformational practitioner and coach living in the UK.

Gem: Hi, everyone. Welcome to Part 2 of the episode with Dr. Linda Bacon. If you haven't listened to Part 1 yet, I'd highly recommend that you head there first and hear that. Otherwise, this may not make much sense. If you've already listened to Part 1, then I won't keep you any longer and I'll let you get straight to listening to Part 2.

Gem: Hi Lindo! Thanks so much for joining me again.

Lindo: Oh, it's great to see you again, Gem.

Gem: Yeah, and it's really nice to actually see you as well, rather than just to hear you because before we both said that was a bit disconnecting.

Lindo: Right, right. Definitely, I think it's gonna be... it's so much easier to feel present when you can actually see somebody.

Gem: Yeah, absolutely. And what we were talking about in between when we recorded the first episode, which was towards the end of December - I think was the 22nd of December actually - and this is kind of like a reflection part, I guess, where we had this experience and it's about what has come out of that. I found it a really interesting experience. I don't know how it's been for you.

Lindo: Yeah, it has been quite a learning experience. I know right after we talked, I had felt a bit of disconnection in our conversation, and I felt awkward with you running the podcast for other people, because it just didn't feel like I was fully present in it. It just didn't feel like it was as powerful as it could be. And I felt a lot of shame for that. And so I contacted you and asked you not to run it and let me just be thoughtful a little bit about what was going on. And what was your experience when I contacted you and said that?

Gem: Yeah, cos it was at the end of the recording wasn't it that we talked and you'd said that you were feeling a bit disconnected? And I think my immediate thought was, "Oh gosh, I've done something wrong. They're not keen on the questions that I was asking, or I kind of messed up in some way". And you were really reassuring that that wasn't the case, it was just that you weren't feeling it that day and you'd had a lot going on. And, I think for me, I had lots of thoughts. So I guess if I'm being really vulnerable, inadequacy was one that came up because I've read your books and I really enjoy your work and I've found it really helpful in my own work, and then to have that opportunity to interview you felt really exciting. But then for that outcome where there was that kind of disconnection, I thought, "Oh, I've done something wrong. And maybe I shouldn't have sort of put myself forward for it, after all."

Gem: But actually, in the conversation that we had just after we'd recorded, what came up for me was so many things around what it means to be vulnerable in conversation with people... we've never met each other before but the fact that you were able to share that that was what was going on for you was really, really insightful for me. And I think I remember you saying to me, would I have said anything if if you hadn't brought it up? And I remember just having such a strong sense of no - that would have been so rude. Like I couldn't say, "Oh Lindo, I didn't think you were feeling it today" or "What was that about?" But I had such a strong sense while we were recording that that energy was just like, not there. And we were just saying before we started recording now that when you listen back to the episode, you can't really tell. It's not clear but actually being in the conversation, there's something about that intuitive connection between people that you get a sense of... I felt really strongly that this wasn't feeling good for you. And so I learned a lot. That was a very long answer

Lindo: I did too. Yeah. And it's also interesting to me to watch the kind of perfectionism in me, that there's something I want to portray to people, and I only want to be seen at my best, and the protectiveness of not letting... I don't know if vulnerability is... vulnerability is not the right word here because I am vulnerable. I mean but something about not letting what I see as my best self forward is just problematic. And you know, like, the reality is, humans are messy, right? And we're not always fully present. I mean, that would just be exhausting if we were. And sometimes there's a protectiveness that our bodies do for us that's kind of necessary and valuable, and how we can just celebrate that shutting down that happens sometimes as a way of just protecting ourselves so that we can put our best selves forward. All of that is just part of being human, and why can't I just accept that and roll with it? And it's nice to get this beautiful opportunity with you to just kind of acknowledge our humanity and yeah... and the act of doing this just makes me feel such love for you and makes me feel our connection now. So it just feels so clear to me how important the vulnerability and just sharing our humanity is to connection, to happiness, to belonging, to everything.

Gem: Totally. So yes, so many things there. I think I remember when you got back in touch with me and said you'd listened to the episode and we could rerecord it, but you think it's fine to go out as it is. And I remember thinking, like feeling a really strong sense of not wanting to not put out what we'd recorded if it was okay with you, because it felt like such a waste to have spent an hour together and then to just be like, oh we'll record it again and that'll go in the bin. And it didn't feel good. And so then there was something about... and I felt actually felt nervous to suggest it, but something about reflecting on this experience that felt really useful, and actually more important than having an "perfect" podcast. And because that when we met that was a snapshot in time and I remember you saying that you'd recorded like 15 in the last couple of weeks, 15 different podcasts, which first of all, must be exhausting and second of all, how could we possibly expect ourselves to be entirely switched on for all of that time? Like it's not realistic, is it for every podcast to be as good as the last. People are only seeing us for a snapshot of that time. But yeah, there has to be something about putting things out into the world that are okay, and not having to be perfect all the time.

Lindo: Exactly and I'm thinking right now about a huge transition I made in my public speaking. Originally, I was trained as a scientist about how you get organised, you get your point across to people. And in all of that, there's no mention of the audience and connection with them. It's talking at them, right? And as soon as I made the transition in my speaking to stopping that process, to just going into my talks with the ideas I wanted to get across, but without the clear sense of this is how you do it, but instead just looking at the audience, seeing the reaction and throwing in stories to kind of illustrate the point so that I can make it real for people. All that just totally changed my speaking. And from then on, the audience was always the first thing that was in my thoughts. And now, obviously on a podcast we can't do this, because I don't see them. And I'm not making that connection. But number one, I can see you and number two, I can also drop the idea that there's something I need to get across and figure out how to just be really present with what's going on for me emotionally in the moment. So I'm not trying to prove anything, but I'm just being and somehow that allows for something else to happen in the conversation that becomes very powerful. So this has been my practice with podcasts is to try to get my mind blank when I go in and instead just be there in the moment and allow things to come up. And that's been really quite powerful because I've really been connecting with the questions that I get much better. And I think it makes for so much more interesting than if I were to come with all these points I wanted to make.

Gem: Yeah, definitely. And that idea of sort of spending an hour in someone's company and I mean, I guess you get the very typical questions that anyone's going to ask you about your book, or the things that you would expect when you're doing that kind of work. But yeah, that idea of showing up. And we mentioned actually, I think I said in the email about the importance of being able to show up as ourselves, and I think that's something else that I learned from our conversation, because I noticed at the end, there was... I don't know, there was just something about like modelling that ability to show up as yourself that is contagious. You showed up as yourself, and you weren't kind of what's the right word, you weren't covering up how you were feeling or ignoring it was there. And then just having been able to do that, and then say at the end, "I'm not really feeling it today". It's felt really empowering for me to know that is okay. Even though I think if someone had asked me before, I would have known that was okay. But just actually to see it being done in a context maybe where we have all of this like professionalism that we have to portray to people. And I feel like I'm blabbering a little bit, but actually being able to show up as yourself is something that, yeah, I think is really powerful. And it's definitely something that is a work in progress I think for a lot of people, certainly for me.

Lindo: Yeah. And that blabbering was beautiful. I think it brought across another point that I have to trust the person asking me questions that, this isn't just about me, like you're setting the stage and have things to offer as well, and how much fun it is to just be in dialogue and to see what comes because whatever I say is dependent upon what you set up. And particularly right now, I feel so connected to you. And the conversation is definitely something that's happening between us. It's not something I'm imposing. And that's great, too. And what that means is every podcast I've done has taken on such different directions, even if some of the questions were similar that doesn't mean that the podcast itself was similar. Because there's something about the energy that happens between two people that transforms a moment. And I think that's always beautiful to note.

Gem: Yeah, absolutely. I've been thinking a lot about the title of your book, Radical Belonging, and there's so many ways in which that's shown up just in this experience of recording a podcast together. And the ways in which it's felt, at times, like my belonging maybe would be threatened as in I wasn't good enough or I might be cast out for asking the wrong questions or doing the wrong thing. And this isn't from you. I just mean like society in general, those kind of anxieties that we have. And then there's something about connection and moving through shame, moving through fear, all of those things that you talk about in the book that have felt... Yeah, it almost feels like a microcosm of the things that I've read about in the book that we've kind of experienced together.

Lindo: Right. Yeah, that's so good, and so important. And, yeah, just to bring this out even more clearly, many of us have our personal insecurities coming into any kind of social interaction and so it's helpful if all of us are conscious of that, and how important it is for us to try to create a sense of safety for the other person because even if we're not doing anything wrong, the person might not feel safe because of their past history of social rejection or because of their need to want to be liked and valued. That's just so human. And how to make people feel safe in the world is just so important.

Gem: Yeah. It's funny because I almost notice when I'm being really present, when I come to a point where I can feel you stop speaking, I can still feel that urge to come up with a good question, think of a good thing to say, but actually, I'm really just enjoying just being here. And just allowing things to settle. And I'm sure that people listening will also relate to a lot of what we're talking about that kind of yeah, I guess it's even harder at the moment with COVID and most people being... or a lot of people being locked down because there's even less opportunity for connection. And especially as someone who's part of a marginalised community, there's even less opportunity for connection, because even in our local communities, there may not be people who are accepting of non-binary, queer, trans folks, folks in any other marginalised community. It just feels like a powerful place to be to be in conversation with people that you have, yeah, like a shared something with.

Lindo: Definitely. And I want to just grab on to that point you made about how to be in conversation with someone, and to let up on this thinking about the things that you want to impose on the conversation. And actually just hearing the other person, right, and letting go of trying to formulate what you want to say. So that your response then is just spontaneous and based on what you heard, as opposed to (what you) believe is important to bring to the conversation. Like how important it is to see people, to hear them, and to be reacting to that so that you don't get caught up in reacting to like your idea of them.

Gem: Mm hmm. And I think quite often in these kinds of conversations, where there's sort of active listening going on, an exchange of ideas rather than there being a particular agenda, one of the things I found really useful earlier to check in with when we were talking was what's going on in my body. And I got like a really warm sense in my stomach and around my chest and shoulders, just felt maybe like being cocooned. It felt really warm and fuzzy. And I love that. Being present in conversation with people and being able to not only feel like you... because often we feel like we have to be so in tune with what they're saying so we can formulate the next thing as you're saying, but also actually having time to step back and notice what's going on in our bodies, what is our response to that not just on a thinking about what we're going to say level, but also in our body, like what is our felt sense of what they're sharing?

Lindo: Wow, that's really beautiful. And as you were saying all that, I gave myself permission to just kind of relax into my body and feel it. And yeah, it's a beautiful feeling. It helped me to just dip into my body. And I wonder too, if this is just a beautiful note to end on that, you know, leave people with this idea of how to just form a connection with someone in the moment. I mean you and I started out as strangers not too long ago and somehow, we've come to this place where the two of us just feel relaxed in our bodies, relaxed in our thought processes, able to just kind of speak from the heart and how good that feels. And thank you, Gem for giving me that today in my day.

Gem: Yeah, thank you. Thanks for allowing us to have this space because I think it's it's felt full of learning in all sorts of ways. So I'm really appreciative of your time and your energy.

Lindo: Yeah. It's mutual.

Gem: Thank you. Does that feel like a good place to stop, Lindo?

Lindo: It does to me, is there more that you wanted to do?

Gem: No, I feel like I'm almost just bathing in this really like... I don't know, I can't really explain it. Like a golden kind of good feeling. And yeah, strange as that might sound.

Lindo: No, it's not strange. And you might want to keep that in the recording.

Gem: Yeah.

Lindo: Yeah, no, I think this felt really good.

Gem: So there you go. I hope you enjoyed listening to both parts of the episode, and that you're able to let go of perfectionism in some way in your life too. It's definitely something that I am very conscious of in my life.

Gem: There won't be a new episode next week because I've decided with this series to release three episodes a month and then have some space for rest and integration as well. But keep a lookout for the next episode which will be out on the 10th February. Until then, take care. Bye!

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About the Podcast

Queers and Co.
A podcast for queer folks and allies on self-empowerment, body liberation and activism.
Hi, I'm Gem! Join me as I chat to queer folks and allies about self-empowerment, body liberation and activism. My guests are at the forefront of change-making, working in areas like fat activism, sex positivity, intersectional feminism, drag/cabaret, LGBTQ+ activism and children's rights.

I'm a transformational coach, activist and founder of the Queers & Co. zine, podcast and community. Through my work, I support LGBTQ+ folks and allies to reclaim their personal power and take up space so that they can impact the world in ways they have only dreamt of.

Find out more about my work: www.gemkennedy.com
Find out more about Queers & Co.: www.gemkennedy.com/queersandco

About your host

Profile picture for Gem Kennedy

Gem Kennedy

I’m Gem. I'm the founder of the Queers & Co. zine, community and podcast, as well as a transformational coach and activist. I’m also queer, fat positive, an intersectional feminist and Mum to two free-range children.

I help LGBTQ+ folks and allies to reclaim their personal power and take up space so that they can impact the world in ways they have only dreamt of.