This is Under the Umbra: Using Empathy and Collaboration to Navigate a World of Shadows. In each episode, Electra and the co-hosts explore ways to think about and plan for difficult relationships with people and systems in a way that stays grounded in values and centers community. I invite you to try out focusing on Empathy and Collaboration as a realistic and compassionate model for interpersonal interactions. If you find yourself Under the Umbra, let’s find our way back to the light.
In this episode, we’re discussing the reason for the show, the meaning of the name, and a bit of introduction of the values and identity of the host.
- Descriptions, Depictions, and a New Model for describing and planning for challenging behaviors and systems
- Total Solar Eclipse as a metaphor for challenging relationships and institutions
- The values that support the show
- The intersectional identities of the host
- Outro and Credits, Disclaimer, Farewell until next time
Find the show's home at UnderTheUmbra.info
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This show is brought to you by Bridge to Becoming, LLC. Music is by SoulProdMusic
and used with permission. Under the Umbra Podcast logo is by Lo Carter.
Script for the show content
(not the transcript, yet)
This is Under the Umbra: Using Empathy and Collaboration to Navigate a World of Shadows.
In each episode, Electra (that’s me) and the co-hosts explore ways to think about and plan for difficult relationships with people and systems in a way that stays grounded in values and centers community.
Do you, like me, feel unsettled by the way our behaviors and relationships are described and shown:
In one depiction, behaviors that are clearly harmful are just laughed at helplessly or handed to us as entertainment… when it isn’t funny or exciting because it’s real? OR behaviors that are harmful are pointed at and described but in lurid and jarring detail, almost wallowing in pain and fear, even though you know it’s more complicated than Us versus Them, and it feels helpless or overwhelming to see human beings being reduced to stigmatizing label or stereotypes? OR, the worst one, where people don’t seem to see the harm at all; it’s all normal life; and you almost want to grab someone by the face and point their eyes right at what they can’t see. They say “That’s not abuse.” “That’s not racism.” “That’s not corruption or misuse of power?” “This is not who we are.”
So then, do you, like me, feel safe and seen when listening to call-in advice, deep dive journalism, and true crime shows that clearly name harm and abuse, while simultaneously treating all people with compassion and understanding? You listen to the podcasts, re-read the novels, re-watch the TV shows, share the articles, over and over and over because it’s a tiny community of realism. It’s not so much a Happily Ever After, as a sense of “Yes, I see what you see. It’s real and it’s complex. You’re not alone. And we’re all valuable.”
But how do we name what we’re looking for, what we’re comforted by, what we want to share, when so many genres and personality types and interactions and relationships and systems have these heavy-laden labels. Alluding to Audre Lorde’s famous observation: these are the Master’s tools. They can only recreate what we’re trying to get away from.
We try out phrases like “Personality Disordered,” “High Conflict,” “Co-dependent,” “Emotionally Immature,” “Crazy-making.” We also have phrases like Thought Leader, Genius, Star, Life of the Party, Manic Pixie Dream Girl, Mastermind.
Descriptions can be overused or twisted by the people or systems we’re trying to describe.
They can inaccessible and nitpicky jargon.
Or, descriptions can be self-identifiers of neuodivergence that we use proudly in our introductions.
Are the words we choose contributing to call-outs, pile-ons, and deflection,
or do they provide paths toward harm-reduction, boundaries, and stronger relationships?
Do labels create more Aliens and Monsters, or do they keep us grounded in dignity and respect for all involved?
I don’t think there’s a perfect way to get around these problems, to create a model to talk about what we see and experience. But, all models are wrong, and some are useful.
And I have a new model that might be useful!
I invite you to try out
focusing on Empathy and Collaboration
as a realistic and compassionate model
for interpersonal interactions.
If you find yourself Under the Umbra, let’s find our way back to the light.
Ok but what is an Umbra?
In 2017, I was lucky enough to be under the path of a total solar eclipse. Not all humans get to do this, BUT humans of every epoch have experienced this.
- Regime change, fairy realms, land of the gods, Upside Down, the Matrix; you realize that your perception of the world was just a perception and you can think of it differently. What else can you think of differently? What else is possible?
Example of cloud:
- Cool, wind change, no direct light-and-dark boundaries but silver-gray, change in smell and humidity
Actual description of Eclipse:
- Lead up with shape of shadows which means everything you thought about light and shadows was different than you thought!
- Twilight everywhere so no East-West sense of direction, temp drop, people are acting weird but in different ways
- Oh sh+t the sun really IS the source of all life on the planet and access to it controls our life, health and death!
- everything is still “normal” even though everything has changed
- As it starts to come back, you understood what happened and that it’s over but your body doesn’t quite trust that it will return, and you see things differently
- Connection to humans throughout time and how your sense of what’s possible has changed,
- Also metaphor for being in relationship with an empathy-challenged non-collaborative person or system.
[caption id="attachment_35" align="alignnone" width="300"]
The plastic chair does not have crescent-shaped cut-outs on the back; it has square or circle ones. All fields of light are replications of the shape of the sun, and right now, that shape is a crescent as the moon is in the way.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_36" align="alignnone" width="300"]
All fields of light are just replicas of the shape of the sun![/caption]
So, using that metaphor, In each episode, I and my co-hosts explore ways to think about and plan for difficult relationships with people and systems in a way that stays grounded in values and centers community.
So then, who am I and what are these values?
Let’s do values first, actually. Here is the grounding and centering statement I do before recording and working on each episode.
I strive to be grounded in and in integrity with my values and intentions while recording and interviewing. My values and intentions for this show are
- Empathy, Collaboration, Compassion
- Community, Mutuality, Pro-social,
- Curiosity, Complexity & Nuance, Humanity, Neurodivergence,
- Education, Accommodation, Useful Tools,
- Harm Reduction, Reducing destructive conflict and enabling generative conflict
I honor the dignity and humanity of the people that I talk to and about.
May the ideas and experiences imparted here help others to increase their ability to maintain relationships, maintain boundaries, and reduce harm to themselves and others.
I’ve done work around this and I think to keep it short I’m just going to read a list of identifying categories rather than a resume or CV. Experiences will come out in the show episodes.
- European settler colonialist White, in United States of America. DNA test, turns out, I’m 100% whitey mcwhiteface
- Born here, native English speaker.
- I’ve lived on the East Coast, West Coast and in the Midwest, and I now live in Oregon.
- Also have had access to international travel for leisure, and 3 years living in Japan (another imperialist / colonialist / economically “developed” country)
- Middle-aged cis-female and female presenting, widowed demisexual. Awkward wallflower at the queer dance.
- Able-bodied passing but with invisible illnesses; self-diagnosed as disabled but not officially labeled by The State;
- Have had consistent access to housing & nutrition & supportive family throughout my life, and consistent access to healthcare in adulthood.
- Fluctuate between straight-sized and smallfat but experienced vicarious fat-phobia because of my husband’s denial of adequate healthcare and death which was blamed on the O word but wasn’t, and care deeply about anti fat oppression, anti-healthism, and its intersection with white body supremacism and xenophobia.
- Neurodivergent: Autistic, ADHD, Anxiety, cPTSD
- Affluent class level of support needs and “tastes” but low-middle class access to resources
- Because of self-study, I’m aware of some aspects of extreme wealth and affluence but don’t have networking or community access to give any lived experience
- Very educated: completed K-12, bachelors, and two post-graduate medical-oriented degrees, and qualify for state licenses. I also self-educate a lot.
- Christian-passing from a fringe Protestant religion in childhood but I am something like Animist, with a non-hierarchical and imminent (versus transcendent) sense of spirituality
There are, of course, more but I think those are the relevant ones.