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Shelby Intro:

To belongs to commit to a face that has previously made us feeling we do not belong and so it's a commitment to continue to try to create safety wholeness healing structures that support everyone in an ongoing creation that has historically not.


Arielle: To give you a little backstory Shelby Forsythia, is the author of Your Grief Your Way and Permission to Grieve and her original podcast Coming Back: Conversations on Life after Loss of which I was a guest, way back in the day, and a newer podcast called The Grief Book Roundup. She helps grieving people reclaim their power and peace of mind after devastating loss, her combination of practical tools and intuitive guidance has been featured on Huffington Post and O Magazine. I know that you will get something from this conversation that was very very inspired and on time for me.


Arielle: Hello everybody Welcome back to the Belonging of the USA Stories from our Neighbors Podcast and so excited today to have Shelby Forsythia joining us and welcome Shelby. Where are you? I don't even know where you are right now.I'm in northern Washington State, almost in Canada recently relocated from Chicago.


Arielle: I knew that there was some connection that we had left so I was on Shelby's podcast a bunch of years ago, like 2017Okay, my first interview. Yes, you were so special. So, I know you have this incredible they work out. Yeah, that has helped already people that I've sent it to so we'll do a plug for that and put in the show notes you wanted to say what the title of it is, yeah, it's called the agree sure way and it's a non-religious daily devotional that takes you through 365 days of the year it's very practical and very comforting and like a grounding way, it's not Zen up in the clouds like, you know, let's get you to the mountaintop while you're really feeling so low in your life and it's also not religious, which is a big deal because most of the grief devotionals that exists in the world have a very heavy religious slant IE, God will get you through this hard time which not a lot of people can subscribe to. In the aftermath of loss, it's it's really, it's one of a kind, I'm really in love with it. And I hope you're getting, I know from you know I've sent it to a couple of people who are going through some loss, I mean, I think, honestly, right now we're all going through a big, huge loss of business completely shifting our reality. In the past year of having to come to terms with that, what that means and how it in some ways there's a lot to celebrate about it, I think for a lot of people and in other ways, it's just a complete downward spiral. Right, it's, it's both and. So, and I think that somebody with the grief journey looks like. It looks a lot more like incorporation as opposed to disowning or having to choose between two or it's like, oh, both are true, and that's okay. It's annoying sometimes and it's really frustrating it can be really painful because it feels like stretching, how do I hold these two truths or even three truths or five or 12 truths, all at once in my body. Yeah. Grief is a very forced expansion process.


Arielle: And I think it’s, so I also wanted to talk to you because I feel like what is happening this year is like this turning point for our collective recognize as a world and as a country with all of the collective. Shame, trauma, grief. You know all the stuff we just have been throwing in the basement, and the nine for years, it's sort of all had to bubble up because when you can't leave the house and you can't travel and you can't sort of do much to hide from yourself, eventually it comes to the surface so I feel like that is collected process we're going through and belonging to that reckoning is a part of. For me what belonging to the United States means right now so I'm curious for you what the phrase, is that phrase belonging in the USA, what does that evoke for you.


Shelby: The first thing that comes to mind is, in order to know where you are, you have to know what you're not. And in order to belong, you have to know what it feels like to not belong. And yeah, not a finger point for those that are listening and can't see our gestures on camera. And so, belong in the USA, to me, is an intentional commitment. Participation in both democratically emotionally, mentally, physically, all the things in a country world society ever evolving collective that has at times, made me, and especially others feels that they do not belong. And so, to belong is to commit to anything that has previously, previously made us feel like we do not belong. And so, it's a commitment to continue to try to create safety wholeness healing structures that support everyone in circumstance and ongoing creation that has historically not, and so it's kind of its kind of the same way I tell my clients to see grief is as a long-term relationship. It's something that evolves and changes over time. Just like a marriage would evolve and change over time, or even like a career path would evolve and change over time. Yeah, but it's it’s a commitment to not to sticking with it out of any kind of, for me, any kind of pride or patriotism like I'm proud of this thing so I'm sticking around, it's like no I really care that this thing gets better and survives. That's why I'm sticking around. Yeah, that's a workaround way of for me what it means to belong, especially right now because I'm very quick to jump on the train of like America sucks at the moment, we're recording this in February of 2021 America sucks at the moment and I have friends that live in other countries and they're like why does your country not do this for you? Why does your country not do this for you? Why don't they seem to care about XYZ? And then, you know, listening to marginalized voices people of color indigenous people, women queer folks, etc., who have been screaming about this for years and I'm raising my hand white person here. And finally, tuning in to that radio station. There are so many ways we could have been better already. And there's very little shame in belonging to the USA right now. And so, also belonging to the USA is like, how do I carry the shame and also the dedication to making it something that I am no longer ashamed of because I don't know that you can fully erase that. But something that certainly looks, feels, operates, better than it does right now.


Arielle: I have tears in my eyes and that is so beautiful. And yes, and I think it's true. I mean, what was going through my head a little bit was this idea of like pride right national pride. But I think you're right it's not. We can't be. We can't be honest with ourselves anymore, and be proud of who we are as a country, but we've done, but we've represented, not just within these marginal estimate, not just within our own borders but in the whole world What was you know sort of this collective destruction, as we're sort of saying don't look over there. Look over here. Look at, look at baseball look at, you know look at pop culture, look at Hollywood and ignore all this stuff that we're just putting behind the curtain, it's like this Wizard of Oz and we've all been or spell that’s been casts and that have, you know, let's say the white supremacy culture which any one who lives here is participating in because that's basically what we have to grapple with. We're all in that spectrum of white supremacy, despite being in this country. And actually, probably in this world I mean colonization, it's all wrapped up together. So I love also that frame and it's so what I'm about what my series about having to recognize the ways in which you don't belong but also the ways in which so many people have felt they don't belong and been told they don't belong and, you know, sort of not belonging so I want to sort of tease out from what you just said so. You mentioned you're not feeling like you belong.


Arielle: What have been, What is what leads you to say that as a woman of a certain age, I don't know how old you are, I think your younger generation


Shelby: At the time we're doing this interview is 28. And, you know, I think, I think it kind of falls into three different categories and they inform each other and yet they're all very separate things dichotomy is true. So being a woman is the first one being a queer woman is like the second layer of that and then being a criminal who's grieving, there's a layer on top of that because to quote unquote succeed or belong or as a human that is being directly spoken to at all times. The United States has to be by mail. The history. And, and so it's, there's been a looser and not belonging to different levels of census but that's kind of like to directly answer your question, those are the three categories that I would say, have not always belonged, and for so many different reasons. Yeah, and some feel much heavier, and more threatening than others. And it's at the point now we're sort of entered into like a joking space like this is just what it is to be a woman in America, like haha isn't that funny that we make jokes about it and also the very reality that I don't go running at night, like it's. Wow! do we ever make humor out of the things that are the hardest for us to live inside of well and I haven't, you know..


Arielle: I'm a mother of a 10-year-old daughter now and I, I know that since she was a really little girl. I have, because I've known so many women. So many people who have been abused sexually abused, raped all those sexual assaults have just been a beam of light from preadolescence on hearing those stories. So, as a mother of a girl I think I've been on like Red Alert, since she was born on, I could cry almost and it terrifies me. It's my number one fear out there, and when everything sort of really came to a head and sort of white consciousness I'll say in this past year around Black Lives Matter, One of the parallels, I could make this to bring it down to my daily sort of level of threats here was that idea of being the mother of a daughter, and the conversations you have to weave into that narrative of raising a girl in the society and saying, you can't just, I mean you don't want to have those conversations, and I'm not saying it's the same thing but it's the only parallel sort of thing that I can say, okay, it's a little bit like on talk that we have to have with our daughters if we're trying to raise them to, you know not, nothing can prevent it right but to at least be aware that it's a possibility, and also not terrified. Too much right if this really scary fine line. And it's just something that I've reckoned with a lot in my own head, because I am an idealist, which is I think again part of my white privilege that I even can be a part of my idealism and optimism is like, oh, whoa, here's this thing that I wish wasn't this way but it just is. It just isn't as a woman in this country, we still have to be afraid of x y z and I also by the way, as a person, I mean I live in New York City, in Chicago, and other big cities and I'm a crazy woman who walks through another night by herself on armed and discuss a plan of like acting out a crazy character.


Shelby: But isn't it wild you know that we that we come up with these things for us. I was a florist for a while and so kind of design flowers on the side and I have a couple of knives, they're like Swiss Army knives and they always come with me when I go around, and it feels like. Yeah, it's like you're you must be armed in order to enter the space, but on top. Can I tell you a related story to that? My own mother. Okay, well I was raised in the south, in a church going, family, and I remember ones that like this picnic for the church to something outside. We saw this group of girls was about my age of probably about eight or 10 at the time, and they just come back from vacation at the beach, and they had this spray-painted T shirts and they had their names on them because they were twin sisters and I was like, Oh my gosh. Those are so cool. I want one of those shirts and my mom said to me and “said no. never put your name on any articles clothing because a stranger could come up to you pretend they know you pretend they know me take you away, etc., etc.,” and, and from that day forward I have never owned an article, holding a coffee mug a keychain, anything that has my name on it, no vanity plates on my car, like it has it's such a small moment in the world that I remember growing up as a young girl. And simultaneously, it has informed the way I've operated for the next 18 years of my life and beyond. And now it's the thing that when I see people out in public with their names on things, I'm like, I don't care. Okay. like it's one of those things. Most that I you know, when I see them, they don't appear to be in a state of crisis or as if they're with somebody that they don't want to be with, you know what I know about what you're wearing, or what you're holding or what's on your keyring. Yeah, it feels like a secret society of information that keeps getting passed on and I'll say something to your point as well is that something I'm very grateful for and something that simultaneously breaks my heart because again we're talking in this conversation many things can be true at one time. Is that my experience as a queer person growing up in the South, not being accepted being physically threatened, kind of, a lot of things through that lens have been the doorway with which I have attempted as best I can, as a white person to comprehend and empathize with what it's like to be marginalized in another way in this country I.E, black indigenous another person of color because let's not race. Asian people in their experience in this country, as well as others in the world who are here or even are perceived as such, they're like I'm white, but they're perceived as something else. So my queerness has been the doorway through which I understand that, and it's frustrating to know that if I if I didn't have that would I be as capable of this kind of empathy it's frustrating that I need to experience my own kind of not belonging to understand somebody else's instead of just believing them from the outset that what they say is true and that they are being cast out or pushed aside or marginalized in some other way. So, it's like, thank you for this doorway of experience in my own life, I'm a queer woman mostly interested in women and people who are assigned female at birth. I have been threatened and not belonged in my own ways because of that. And also, it's hard to reckon with the reality that that's how I'm understanding or the lens through which I can comprehend the experience of what it's like to be black, indigenous not listened to NOT BELONG physically threatened gaslighted yes gaslighted having experienced or even told that you were wrong or going to hell or that you're not as worthy, or correct or worthy or capable as as male, white figures in our society are straight. So, it's like both of those things can be true, I'm grateful that I have that lens and that is a lens that I'm able to see through that way and it's also frustrating that I have to have that in order to, to get there because I'll admit, I've been to.

Up until this.

It's like, it's like I cared, but from a very far distance. It's, and I think this is true of many white women in in the United States and beyond other countries because you speak about, you know colonization as a worldwide event which yes absolutely.

And, yeah, and I don't want this to turn into a conversation about white guilt either, because I don't think that's what this is for. (chuckle)


Shelby: I have a therapist for that.


Arielle: But I don't I think there's a huge difference between like well it's what Brene Brown talks about which I'm sure you're familiar with her, I mean the difference between guilt and shame and guilt is actually an activating energy right, you feel guilty about something. The next step is to take action right so it's actually in like the stages of something. It's not the seeds of grief but in the stages of like reckoning I think guilt is a part of it so I don't think it has to do a conversation about white guilt but I think that there is a piece of not guilt but ownership of truth right ownership of privilege, which is different from guilt and acknowledgement of suffering and pain, and ignorance right I mean that's the thing that I have been saying for years and I sort of love to acknowledge is how little I know, and how much I'm learning all the time, and how my entire programming my entire childhood to adulthood, even though I have, you know, in so many ways very open minded. Parents gave me a lot of exposure and experience. I was still growing up white in a white supremist society that was trying to keep me from seeing, trying to keep me blind and on top so I wouldn't try to stir things up. So, I wouldn't have that empathy, so I wouldn't want to pay attention, and tell other people what I was seeing it's like the Emperor's New Clothes on steroids, is what our society is. And I think, you know children do notice things and that's why I think our education system is so so, so controlling and so, so, so fixated on like sort of the single story and, And the way in which, what's acceptable what's not and keeping people, very, very structured, and focused and competitive. Because if we're collaborating and if you're empathizing, and if you're loving one another, you're not going to want to beat someone else out or be better than. That's a tangent, but it does relate to childhood, which is what I want to ask you about is, you know, you don't belong. When you didn't feel a sense of belonging, where you felt other. Where did you feel the greatest sense of belonging, because I think that also holds the key to a lot of this reckoning. I don't want to,


Shelby: I don't want to paint the picture that I grew up feeling like I never belonged all the time.

It's very much a thing that emerged after I came out of the closet, which was in my late teens, into college and beyond, but places I found belonging.

Were definitely with artsy people with musicians with painters. And there are a handful of teachers, educators who made me feel as if this is a this is a safe and good place to be. The same can be said for relatives, even for as long as it lasted my, my nuclear family which was a stable kind of foundation of my relationship and even at times, until I started to question what religion was for myself my church. I think there's this myth of places where we belong in places where we don't belong and that being very static. Whereas I use this for myself first and then I started applying it to my clients as well as the sense of, we are throughout our lives constantly moving through, between, into different circles.

And those are circles of belonging, their friend circles, they're how we identify ourselves whether it's by our career or our role in the household. Like mother caregiver, productive, etc, but at times there are times when we feel like we don't belong and in reality, we're in the middle of a Venn diagram we're making our way into the next circle of belonging. And so we're never entirely absent by the system by the by the narrative, although it feels that way because we're being pushed out of the thing that we used to belong to what's happening when that happens is we enter into the place that we belong next, and so it's fascinating to me because as I felt like I was being ousted from my church, and my childhood home both by my own will. This is a place that no longer fits me and I don't feel fully seen and accepted here and also like you're probably going to hell and we're gonna fight you on it. I was entering first people as that was, I was also simultaneously entering a space that was welcoming queer affirming behavoir will show up for you we've got your back. We want to provide a place that feels like it's embracing to and look, you're not alone. There are other people who are also having this experience within there. So yeah, removing this pressure for belonging to be a static experience and allow it to be an evolving one so there have been many places I felt like I belonged. And some of them are just now, more true than others.


Arielle: Well, and like, I mean I think everything is a spectrum, everything is any if we're not growing, we're dying right like there's this way in which we're constantly learning and moving and hopefully learning. I also want to go back a step because I want to address what you said too about. We got sort of a to the white guilt thing about this concept that you, that you feel frustrated but you have to, you know frame your empathy or acknowledgement or understanding of what marginal other marginalized groups of people go through, through your own experience, and I would, I want to just like push it that a little because I feel like that is what we all have to do, no matter what our identity is, we all have to come at it. Empathizing for one another, it isn't one way it's a collective empathy that we have to have, there's no sort of pain Olympics or what is it, you know, that's a great phrase I like that they're oppression Olympics which I know I heard from my friend LaSheena first, so I know she credits it to somebody else but that's he touted to me and it's like, no, we even honestly and this is where like I feel like people might hate me for saying this, like, even white men, right. there is a way in which being the oppressor, consciously or not, is oppressive. {Shelby} Yeah, because you're going to hold on to that stronghold {Arielle}: dehumanizing other people dehumanizes you. And so, there's only room for looking at your own experience, and sort of trying to use that to be more understanding and hear other people's stories, but I think the biggest point that you've done clearly in your life, even at such a young age, is to look and self-reflect and look inward and pay attention to your story so that you even notice those things and I do think that the more, and this could be not true, but maybe the more marginalized your identity is or the more you've been sort of pushed into a box of other theory, the more that forces you to notice, and be uncomfortable in our society, and grow. And the more on top you are in our society, the less likely you are too had to go through the status of self-reflection than everyone else goes through and you know as you were saying maybe you were aware of what was happening in let's say the black community as an example but weren't actively maybe engaging with that and now maybe you are more I don't know what you're doing but just that awareness can be sort of slow but I have no doubt that probably for you. Your queer identity has allowed you to be much more expansive and understanding of that experience right, so I think it's just like these stages to and steps of growth and understanding. We have to understand ourselves first we have to understand our own story first with a huge part of what I do is helping people through conversation understand their story because until you do that you can't really understand someone else's story. You don't even have like those beginning tools. So, to me, that process of understanding yourself and your own story is very liberating.

And the next question I want to ask you is, how do you personally define freedom.


Shelby: Oh, I like that question.

Nobody's ever asked me that before so I'm going to take a minute with that.

It's a big question. It's interesting because, for me right now in this moment in my own life, freedom looks a lot like listening and paying attention. Okay so I'm aligning freedom with the idea of truth here it's like when you know the whole story, you can actually create manufacturer, allow for freedom for all. Because to be free, implies that there's also a way to be oppressed or trapped or held down for not free in whatever sense that means. And so, to, to be free or to create things that are free, is to name and identify the trap the oppressor. The thing that's keeping you down, and to either find a way out, make away out destroy the thing that's keeping you there, it's something is trapped, and something needs to be released, but in order to do that you have to listen a lot you have to pay attention a lot. You can't.

You can't speed your way into freedom. Freedom is a very intentional process. I'll say that, yeah, that feels good right now.


Arielle: I love that. I mean I think that, you know, sort of the mantra of the United States, right, and by the way, I simply don't call it America because as everyone who's ever. All the people listening who have heard me say this a million times, America is north and south so I, I don't like to use that word, but the United States is the land, land of the free, home of the brave. So built into our national identities this concept of freedom that has never been true for everyone. It's not even aspirational because the people who were always free are only free for oppressing other people right being regrowing their freedom, slavery they were growing their freedom on violence and murder and genocide. So, I think you're absolutely on to something saying just like similar to the belonging question you have to define it by what it is not to, in order to get to the answer. {Shelby} Yeah.


Arielle And how it feels right, because I think it's also about feeling so when and where do you feel, or have you felt the most free in your life?


Shelby: I feel free in spaces where I get to flow, which for me looks a lot like writing for endless amounts of time, usually coffee shops, so I'm feeling a little sad. I'm feeling a little sad restricted right now, but that's not my reality because in those moments. I am exactly where I want to be doing exactly what I want to be working towards exactly what I want to create the world conversations like this help me feel very free, because I am reminded that there are other people in the world who are interested in the nuance and the depth and the multi Kaleidoscope facets of everything, something that makes me feel not free is watching or listen to the news which is very dichotomizing to cover conversations like this are very free. Anything that looks like. Like learning or growth. And I know it's learning and growth as it's happening because sometimes, we go through things and then we're like, we look back or like wow I really grew but it didn't feel great at that time, or that's not how I was expected, I was going to grow, or I felt like nothing was happening and now I'm realizing there's actually growth there. But times when learning and growth is happening, and I'm aware that it's happening, feels really, really cool. And then bringing in the human connection as well whether I'm connecting to myself or connecting to or connected to another person.

Yeah, that feels that feels a lot like freedom, which is funny because I think, I think if you asked. Maybe the United States as a whole what freedom looks like it would be a very different answer than that it would be a lot of external or outward measurements of, you know if you have a house do you, how much money do you have, are you in a job that you love, the picture is fascinating. I think when you ask people what freedom looks like for them, they often come up with these not smaller answers but they're but they're much more personal and much more. Yeah, they're, they're less out there. This might also be me speaking as an Enneagram 4 which is theory I'm internal processing all the time.

So I'm bringing my humor to this as long as I can, I kind of think about think about myself and others all day, and I there's absolutely no sarcasm in that there's a reason why I study grief as a human experience and work with people who are grieving, because I get to study myself other people and then a universal experience all day every day for the rest of my life I'm like this is so cool.


Arielle: And I and I with you and I mean I love that too, I mean I was an actor for years and I was, I interviewed somebody recently who was also an actor and just the act studying acting. The best actors are really just the students of humanity right it's like studying what it means to be human, what it means to really participate what it means to listen what it means to embody another human being, no matter whether they're villain or no hero and the loving like I remember learning in all the years of my active trading you can't play crazy. You can't can't play evil, right, because people who are crazy quote unquote are labeled that way or people who are villains, they don't necessarily, they're not walking, waking up and thinking of themselves that way.


Shelby: No, oh my gosh there's a wonderful podcast about this called Learning How to See by Richard Moore, and two other people in the religious sector but it's it's comes out of the center for actually contemplation and they talk about the seven or eight different biases that people have, and people have biases in two directions when they should have three people love to see themselves as the hero or the victim, but never the villain, and it's like an even to your question asking, is a villain ever really a villain, {Arielle}absolutely {Shelby} my favorite TV shows my favorite movies, my favorite series are all things where the hero is multi layered and complex which we know to expect the victims are multi layered and complex which you know expect with the villain is as well. And so, honoring even, you know, again, we're talking about layers in the cloud so seeing all these lenses is, people might read me for saying this but erasing the labels of bad and good. There is everything happens on a spectrum of course and people can not intend to do harm and do harm people can definitely intend to do harm and do harm. Now, but the humanity that's underneath that.


Arielle: That's how we become so polarized because we haven't been able to see the gray and, and we haven't been able to see. We just finished watching a movie Lupin, it's a French series it's amazing and it's exactly this, it's this. I'm not gonna, I don't want to spoil it for anyone, an ordinary spoiler alert, but it's like just this, to me it's a hero story, but he's, it's sort of a vengeance story also. So, the hero is seeking vengeance, so there's an element of bad acting on his part right, doing things that aren't necessarily moral to get results.

But that's why these absolutes are just going to get us in a hole every time because there are no absolutes I agree with that sort of analysis, because it is the human experience is multi layered multifaceted and we are not. I mean we we can judge each other I judge myself and other people all the time it's one of my I'm an ENFJ so I cannot...

{Shelby} God Me too I don't know that I've ever met another one.


Arielle: And so that you know is having that awareness of myself as that allows me to not take that too seriously that I think what you said earlier about sense of humor is really key to all of this, we take this so seriously that we can't see beyond the surface, that's what I wanted to say to the same might be on the surface of things. And that is what I have learned over my 15 years of interviewing people for my legacy films, right.

You take the top top CEO of this huge company. Go back to the beginning their childhood, what happened. Right, I mean I look at our former president even and I taught my daughter this.

She says all the time he had a really rough childhood. And it's like, yeah, that doesn't excuse anything, it doesn't mean that you get to do whatever you want, because, you know, A lot of people have to get to destroy the world out of that. Yeah, sad about that but it's just recognizing, not as an excuse but as an explanation and as a way into empathy, because if we don't have empathy for one another I fail and that's what I call “radical empathy”, if we don't have that, then we are dis serving humanity, if that is an absolute I guess I feel, is this absolute love and empathy that is just baseline that I am striving for. I achieve it all the time but that's sort of my holy grail, and added to bat through what I call revolutionary listening, which I think you also participate in in your work, which is listening, as if you have dropped your own identity, enough to be completely like I think of myself as a big ear to be completely present with this human on the phone or in front of you, zoom or whatever to really get your story going here there's and make that space holding space is holy, even though you and I are on different parts of the country right now, I feel so present with you. I also want to say those questions those first questions I just asked you were all the questions that I asked every audience at every screening that I've had. I mean, I've seen sort of the spectrum of across the country how people answer what is freedom. And you're right.

It is often very personal, but I've been doing this since 2017. And the answers have changed, and I do think they've gotten more introspective, as sort of the external became more atrocious, churches, yeah, great like I'm with you I have been on a newscast for years. And I think that the more you take in that toxicity, the less empathetic you okay.

That may not be totally true, but it forces you into this black and white thinking I want to ask you this, and I don't know when did you move?


Shelby: July 2020 So, the pandemic actually relocated from Chicago to Washington State. So, this is an interesting question, {Arielle} especially during the pandemic and especially for some of the move during the pandemic, but it has to do with the concept of neighbors and being neighborly.


Shelby: So, how did you relate to that idea of being neighbor, and how is that manifested for you in this new transitional period or not have preface this by saying I'm not state farm so I'm not a good neighbor.

Okay so I'm, I'm a neighbor who very much like home is a very intentional place for me and I treated as a sanctuary and simultaneously it's kind of like my own little kingdom where I do what I want.

I went so far when I moved in here at Washington in Washington state, to put little postcards on people's doors, introduce myself, let them know I was an author and an audiobook reporter, put my phone number in there because I know I'm loud at times.

I said if you, if you ever get any of my mail delivered but essentially, I said if I'm allowed to ask, please.

That was the subtext of that as you can text me anytime.

Maybe I have a good neighbor in some senses of overdraft. We'll check it out the good bad dichotomy. But the joke was worth having. I think there's like logistics to being a good neighbor, like, you know, don't make loud noises after 10pm, or 8pm and people have children.

And then there's also things of like kindness or kind gestures. I've had to I've got let go from two jobs at the beginning of the pandemic one is a florist and one in the restaurant industry. And because both of those industries are not doing well right now in the pandemic and so I've taken on a lot of gig work, and I've been driving for Instacart in addition to doing grief work publishing books and taking clients on the side so like it's a whole thing I've almost always had three jobs throughout the course of my life, but even when I go deliver people's groceries and roll the pandemic safely mass social distance struck on people's porches, I'll like bring the recycling bin up because it's empty and the recycling truck already came and it's really windy here so you might lose it down the street, if you don't get time. And also, I'll admit there's a flip side to that where I have friends here that I made, after I arrived that I haven't seen in almost three or four months because I just, there's like neighborly burnout. Or, I think there's another podcast that called the compassion fatigue, there's the compassion fatigue podcast or something similar, I hope I'm not butchering the name it so I find myself oscillating between these spaces, of feeling like a quote unquote really good neighbor and feeling like a quote unquote really bad neighbor, I think, I think being a good neighbor is like allowing my own humanity and not trying too hard to pigeonhole myself as whether or not I'm a good or bad neighbor, but then allowing other people's humanity. So, my next-door neighbors, I ended up buying a used car from one of them. I don't know what he did to his car I'm not a car person, but he had this really loud car, that when he rubbed it up in the parking lot, everyone. Or at least I knew, and when I was recording podcasts, I'd have to stop production wavering believe begin that we're taking a deep breath and be like, this is something that brings you freedom and joy in your life and it's an inconvenience to me for what, five, whole minutes, but it was very funny to watch that play out. It's like my humanity, you know the agitation I'm in the middle of recording session blah blah blah. But then also his humanity of like this is my joy, this is how I like my life is a part of my daily experience and like how much room can we make for each other, and that he doesn't know that I feel this way about him so here's the public broadcast.

I love you so much, I bought a car from you. I trusted you with my money. And also, your cars is really loud.


Arielle: Like right there, like all relationships is and maybe that's what the bottom line is, and what you're talking about which is just being thoughtful and relational people not creating necessarily this lave this construct of neighbor. And in that construct and you have to have these labels of good or bad or, you know, perfect and, you know, I've learned through my numerous studying about white supremacy over the past several years and longer perfectionism, in itself in this dichotomous thinking is part of white supremacy right it's part of what was oppressed because we are always striving for this idea that no one can attain and I think actually, maybe, particularly for white women, it shows up that way because we're told we're both on top of things, but we're also still in a marginalized category of woman so it's like this nuanced, or the university perfect right. A perfect mother the perfect neighbor or the perfect cook, the perfect all, you know, all of it, and again not to victimize us because I think we still obviously have a ton of privilege, but this concept of being relational, and I do use I do Zen tarot readings also. So, I do use a lot of present philosophy in my life, but not sort of out there much more practical and I think one of the things that I've learned from that is this concept of being in relationship with and in relation to versus these contracts of specific relationships, so I think what you're saying is, let me. Notice how I'm behaving towards myself and my neighbors.

So, what are some of your daily practices that keep you motivated centered and showing up how you do show up.


Arielle: Yeah. The first thing is self-forgiveness for knowing that I will not always maintain the same strength of connection to my center, it feels, oftentimes, as if I'm like this astronaut connected to a spaceship and I'm doing work on the ship out in space and so sometimes I'm tethered very close to the ship and sometimes I'm very far away and it feels so far away that I might never come back. So, like today you're seeing me in a, in a moment of not a great connection to myself yet hasn't really happened, might happen tomorrow might happen later in the day, I feel, I feel in tune to myself, my body this conversation. And also, the answer to your question that I think you're actually seeking and what I want to give you is that over the years I have like finely tuned a morning routine. That puts ground underneath my feet when literally everything else is shifting and the pandemic has made it far more pronounced. I get up at 430, I'm a morning person.


Arielle: I love my eyes are bulging right now.


Shelby: It scares a lot of people I tell them that early I get up I also didn't sleep severely early like 8pm So like I have constructed my life in a way that honors. When I at my prime, I have always woken up really really early and love that.

And I write on paper, not on a computer in silence for about 1520 minutes or so and it's kind of like a brain dump it's like here's the things I'm worried about here's the things I want for my future here's the things I have to do today here's the family member that I'm struggling with or really proud of. Here's the news I received yesterday that it makes some kind of whatever it's just like I'm waking up in this field, front and center, it's like get about conducting that and getting it out doesn't really do anything with it other than Tasha Silver talks about this in one of her books about surrender, giving things to God, not because you can't handle them but because they're above your paygrade. And.

And sometimes, especially during the pandemic of things like money, interpersonal relationships, what my career is going to look like what my work is going to look like, even the motivation to write my next book, which I'm kind of actively not actively working on.

I'll just make a list of things that I'm really stressed out about and circle it and be like, I surrender this, it's above my paygrade. You can worry about this for the rest of it I'm going to get done what I need to get done as a human here on the earth. And this is kind of how I've learned to interact with God over the years, religion, notwithstanding. After that happens, I will read a book that I really want to read, like 20 or 30 minutes every book that I'm studying for something in my work could be right now I'm reading a book on the Enneagram which is why it's so top of mind for me and why come about being for this, what's book. It's called the Road Back to You by Ian Cronin and Suzanne Stabile to be on I'm actually taking a workshop with Suzanne on grief and Enneagram later this month which I'm super stoked about a friend invited me and I was like this is so cool. I've never seen anything like this. So, it's kind of like the weird niche I'm diving into at the moment. Other times it's memoirs, other times it's, it's more self-reflective stuff, other times it's just really neat fiction that just like escapist fantasy for everything which is wonderful. And then I'll work out, I've started dancing in the pandemic, which is something that I've always wanted to do but I believe what I was told as a child that I was not graceful, which I've learned is a lie.

So I started dancing, and so I'll either workout or dance, and like stretching my body a lot and I had this guest on my podcast recently that teaches yoga, and she said this phrase so beautifully she said, yoga reminds me that I have seen, and working out and like dancing is like oh my god I'm a human living in a body and it's not all happening between my ears because that's where I spend most of my time is in my brain, sometimes with my grief in the heart space but most of the time in my brain and I forget that I have fingers that get called, or like legs that move, or, or feet that have toenails that could be painted, it's just like, I forget that there's something attached to the rest of me, as opposed to just a glass jar with a brain walking around in the world, especially during the pandemic when it's like what is time, what is really I haven't seen another person in a long time as well. So that's like a whole weird thing. And then after, after I work out after all the anxiety and the I attached to my body again then I meditate for 10 minutes I'm like 10 minutes silence laying on the floor, usually we do like comes and usually Gigi sits on top of my chest, and we just lay there on the floor for 10 minutes and do nothing. And it's, that's the one time that they were were nothing that's required. I'm not requiring anything of myself so the self-pressure but nobody else is requiring anything of me from the outside as well as the external pressure it's literally the time of my day where I put no expectations on myself and nothing is expected of me, other than to lay there for 10 minutes.


Arielle: Or maybe the term that you're most free


Arielle: Yeah. Although I love the feeling of being in your head so much that it can feel so like you're not.


Shelby: Sometimes I'm not free, it's literally like I go into my head when I'm assaulting myself and I'm like, oh my god this loud, but other times too I'm like y'all show up it's okay this is your time to be loud so have. So sometimes there's Shiva involved, already in your head. Yeah, and that you know and then I'll listen to the news or a podcast that I love, which I also curate, I'm not done a news fast I like that you said that, but I've noticed for me, especially this year too.

I felt detached from the news for most of my life and for that reason I feel unanchored or uninformed. And now I've kind of not turned in the total opposite direction I'm obsessed with the news but it's kind of like I've let just enough and about 16 minutes’ worth a day in small pieces so I'm thinking 16 minutes like a 20 minute podcast and sometimes growing on Instagram because I get my news from social media, or sometimes talking to my group of friends from Chicago that keeps me very up to date, especially because two of them are political and law folks and they're like, here's what's happening I'm like thank you for putting this into English words for me.


Arielle: Well, and when I say new stuff, I mean I literally don't watch like news channels or, but I do read articles and have lots of conversations and we listen to a ton of podcasts and mostly I read a ton of books because what I've noticed and this is what I love to think about it, I think it was Martin Luther King, who said, We're talking about the long arc of history.

Yeah. And just that, you know, I don't know if you read the Chalice and The Blade.


Shelby: No, I've not yet


Arielle: got to read that but it's got to do a workshop with the author and it's about the history of basically patriarchy and how we have to stop being dominated society and move back to a partnership society. And so, the myth of the dominator society is that the partnership society never existed in the first place what it actually did for what many years before patriarchy became the norm, but this book was written in like the 80s, it was recommended for many years and I read him I was like, unfortunately this is all completely true. You know, 40 years later, 30 some years later. So, I find that the Daily News, blah blah blah, the sort of what I want to call a shitstorm that's constantly being thrown in people's faces. Ultimately, like, a 911 happens they're gonna know, the election happened to them and no there's not going to, I don't live under a rock, but as a very highly sensitive person that I am highly intuitive. I also know there was a period of my life where I did nothing but take in really dark, depressing information and news for way too long and it led to a breakdown. So, you know, I've found my balance of. I love to get news from friends, like I have a good friend in Chicago who see as you may be a guest on this podcast, so this is a trauma therapist but like when the Capitol got stormed.

She texted me and said, we had a conversation about it you know and then he sent me an article and I read it, so I like I feel like I have my really loving sources of information and sounds like you do too. And that is, you know, I think we all have to date. And pay attention again to how we can receive the reality around us without throwing ourselves into an absolute downward spiral, because that doesn't help. It doesn't help if we're all completely paralyzed by fear, or grief, all the time to some help.

Shelby: Right, well and you'll notice in my is that the news comes after everything I have to do for myself and I've noticed that to be true because I'm mornings, like today where I wake up and the first thing I do is look at my phone I am not in a good place, and say what the end of day two right I mean, {Arielle} that same with the end of day. {Shelby} Yeah, I won't. After reading. I think it's Arianna Huffington spoke wirelessly or something like that, and a combination of Gretchen Reubens book, Better Than Before, which is about human habit change based on what others expect to be expected yourself but started leaving my phone in the kitchen starting at like 7pm or 730, and like that's where it lives, and until the morning. And so, it's twofold, it stays in there so I don't check my phone at bed but also like when I get up in the morning I have to get up and walk all the way to the kitchen to turn off the alarm sounds like you have to get out of bed, in order to make this happen for yourself because I used to have a love affair with the snooze button for as early as I love to wake up I have a love affair, but it's also being in relation being in relation to you relate to you right, this idea of how do I feel when I do this thing.


Arielle: Okay, well, I would like to feel better. So, I mean I think we're all as humans are constantly just trying to do things to feel better, because it's so hard to be. It's just hard to be in a human body. For all of us, there's no time and that's not really true.

So, this is a big question for you, and I think you're probably going to have a lot to say about ready so what are some solutions you see or employ in your world, to shift this us versus them paradigm.


Shelby: I think, employing a tactic that you're very much using which is asking more questions.

So, for for you to say a statement to me, and for me to interpret it is for me to only see it through my lens or worldview. So, when I'm in conversation with somebody, whether I'm coaching them as a grief guide whether we're doing a workshop together, whether we're just getting social distance coffee, whether we're texting, whether we're emailing each other. Unlike. More information is so incredibly helpful, and we talked about Bernie Brown at the beginning of this, but she talks about relationally phrasing things as if I'm seeing it like this. Is that how you're seeing the story, the story I'm telling myself which I use in my head is x y z. And I can't tell you how many times I've been off the mark in terms of how people would describe their own experiences and even today I was texting somebody and they use the phrase and I hate this, and grief and I hate this and not great as well. I know how you feel. And I have responded lovingly. I was like, I appreciate you expressing the sentiment that I'm not alone because I know that's probably what you're getting at. But if the past because this person I have a history with each other. I said if the past has taught us anything, while we may feel similarly, the things that we, how we frame those feelings, how we express them and how we experience them is totally different, and they responded oh my god you're right, I'm so sorry for setting that, which I think was just beautiful, A, A, because they heard me and they interpreted that make the bed and they didn't see it as like, well, how dare you blah blah blah. But simultaneously too because it's like okay now I get to have my feelings and you're good to have yours and we can see that they're both true for each of us. So, for me I guess I'm asking more questions is paramount, and kind of the other side of the coin of that is shutting the hell up and listening. {Arielle} I'm just nodding, by the way everyone who's listening, I just like the whole memorization where like I'm just my head is just like up and down all the time if you could see me.

Shelby If any, if this if this year has taught me anything, is that there's so much, I don't know in the world. And it's not that's not a bad thing, It's just a true thing, and where? Where can I learn more how can I learn more, where are my friends learning where are the people who I'm influenced by learning, even if they're not political friends even if they're just on social media.

Follow me. Where, where is the world looking right now where's the world not looking right now and of course these are all more questions that are invitation to listen so it's kind of like the two are married together and competing and turns out rope it's like ask more questions and then when you do. Shut up and listen. I really like that show from the Princess Diaries friend Lilly had this TV show. Show was called Shut Up and Listen and she like to call everybody to this public radio show produce nice cool, sometimes I have that in my brain where the gong will bang, like, this is literally with shut up and listen I'm like okay this is my time to just show should be present and listen, and also to listening so more questions will see asking more questions during the back and forth, can come answers, clarity, boundaries, more truth, kind of remaining open to what the listening will tell you don't listen with an intention to find the answer you're looking for.

Arielle: Right, and I mean that's part of what I call revolutionary listening it's like, it's a completely different paradigm of listening when we are expecting ourselves to have so many people don't even have the basics of listening, which is just not waiting for your turns you can say what you're thinking right, but like, let's say we've gotten beyond that to this other place of real, true curiosity, where you're dropping your thoughts but then to allow yourself to consider ideas, thoughts, I mean and I, for me the pandemic has been huge for that because I've had a very different response level anxiety level, I think, I mean I was having heightened anxiety, like six months before the pandemic for other reasons. So, this pandemic in that way has been like a resting period for me that I needed to, for my nervous system. So, I like my anxiety is gone, and yet I have friends and people who have been so over the top, anxious and I've had to do a lot to notice a some judgment but also just to be like, Wow, to really ask and get curious and be loving and try to understand where they're at. That is so different. And that's just true for all human relationships right and I think it's funny that it's beautiful that you could do what you did with your friend over, or your person over text because I always think of this was a Second City sketch that I studied which I consider you know and I got to read all these old sketches, but there was this form, that I'll never forget seeing, which was, because here's what email was like early email days, and the person likes that. It's coworkers and the person sends an email and it was like, Hey, how's it going, what do you, you know, what do you want to have for lunch and I'm making this up and the other person's like, interpreted, how are you doing, like what do you want. (Angry voice)

And so, there's so many ways the ways in which we communicate, are just not.

We have to be set we have to be careful about interpreting from the negative feedback loop that we often are on in our heads right, or we're constantly playing the victim in our own heads I think that's very human.

So last question. During these really challenging times and it sounds like you've been on the journey of transformation. For the past few months, definitely in terms of your book coming out and remove what religious spirit the most and find inspiration


Shelby: To get back to reading rediscovering reading as a pleasure activity after my mom died and finding companionship and not alone this only grabbed somebody out there feels the same way, or has gone through a similar experience in their last point, I'm seeing reading through a different lens. Now, in the midst of the pandemic in that I've been checking out a lot of audio books, and I feel kind of reminiscent of like the introduction of mass radio to United States where I'm like, I'm chopping vegetables in my kitchen, I'm making a bed, or I'm taking a shower and there's someone in the room is talking to me, and I've never thought of reading as a cushion over a bomb for loneliness or isolation. Maybe because I never really got all the way there after my mom died, I was like I felt alone but it was because I felt alone and I freaked out because I wasn't surrounded by people, and now there's a very real loneliness of not being surrounded by people. And so being spoken to about something people are passionate about or a world that they have created or characters that they love so much. In another human's voice, it feels like. I mean, even going back to ancient art storytelling it's like I am, I'm sitting around somebody's campfire I'm doing something for hands that I love to do and I'm listening to somebody tell me a story, and it feels intensely restorative to me. I get to see more of myself but then I also just get to see more of humanity as a whole and art do the same thing, question mark. {chuckle}

And I've been told. Of all the things that I've produced. I think my podcast is the thing I've gotten the most feedback on because in grief, it's so hard to read, or focus on anything but you can certainly lie there and listen, and people are like I literally go to sleep every night listening to this thing that you've produced because that's what I have the energy for and it's so comforting to have another humans voice in the room right now, even if they can't be there and I have been channeling that energy hard.

That's been some points really flowing through that and a lot of hot showers,


Arielle: So soothing. And what it sounds like what I'm hearing also assist this idea of like, nurturing, you know the things you're talking about filtering or too many names are tree itself and I think that whether you were lucky enough to be very nurtured as a child or not, you know, listeners, learning to nurture ourselves, is a huge part of growing up and finding out what soothes us and soothes our soul and spirit, accessibility, rounded and feeling alive.

That is what I want to focus on like what makes me come alive what makes me feel the most alive, especially in this time of, quote unquote, all the time uncertainty and precedent and all those things.

Mortality is up for us.

I feel like it's this amazing beautiful opportunity that we never had as a collective, in the past 100 years of reckoning with our mortality, on a collective scale and that is just, that's why I think that's part of why I wanted to invite you on here too because I feel like that's what you do every day is you help people to reckon with mortality because that is a fact that is one of the things that connects us all as humans. There is an expiration date.

If you want to call it that and, and I try to live my life every day with that awareness of death on my shoulder so that I can live better. So, I thank you so much for being here. They'll be grateful to you for our connection.


Arielle: Thank you so much. This was really a joy. we're going to put all of the all the ways you can get in touch with Shelby, the show notes on her podcast book.

All the links, look for them there and I'm actually going to also sell the, he will tell us the names of those books that are most have the most nurturing do happen to are they have a reading list.


Shelby: Oh I love that yes, so you can find all of my work and books that shall be If to your grief your way is a day by day, permission to grieve, caution there are swear words in the first two chapters, but help to develop a framework for giving yourself permission to grieve in spaces where you feel like you don't have it, the books that are nourishing to me right now. Forever and always, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, listened to the audiobook it's tremendously funny her intonation and voice. The memoir I'm listening to right now about the black woman married to the Sicilian man and then he dies.

And this exploration of Italy cross continental love and etc. etc. is called From Scratch. That Enneagram book I'm exploring right now is the Road Back to You, asterisk that there is a Christian slant to the whole book, which I kind of have to bypass in my own way so caution marker there. The other book I'm reading right now which is connecting the two natural spaces as a book that a very dear friend gave me called Plant Magic, and it's Wiccan, Pagan, kind of, of the Earth, there's a lot of rooms and signs and symbols that I don't understand. But it's about how the healing properties of plants and flowers changed throughout the year so there's an entry for every month of the year you can find the plants that grow locally to you and what their flowers do and the symbolism of them. So, it's just beautiful and connecting to the natural world. Now those are the four books I'm reading right now, but they're always more. You can follow me on Goodreads. I also have a new podcast coming up called Grief Book Review where I'm reviewing my favorite books about grief and loss.


Arielle: Amazing, thank you so much, I will have all those in the show notes.

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