“The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.”
These are words from David Foster Wallace, and his essay, This is Water, which came to mind during our conversation with Jenna Guzman-Lowery, a trauma therapist and newly-appointed city council member in my city of Redlands, California.
Jenna grew up in the Great Y Circus, and is a former acrobat and aerialist. (She can still do handstands.) She works with traumatized children. She rides a mean moto-bike, and when Bria and I met her one afternoon in October, she rolled into my house with a knot of dark, curly hair piled on top of her head and a camera in hand; Jenna is also an incredible photographer (she took many of the photographs that grace this here website).
As it would turn out, Jenna is also a deeply compassionate and inspiring activist, whose platform, Unity through Community, won her the District 4 city council seat — with only a handful of months of campaigning under her belt.
When Dead Hearts Club was born, Bria and I knew right away that we didn’t want to have a podcast about vulnerability without immediately opening up a conversation about social justice and the explosive polarization so many of us are seeing and experiencing in our current political climate — but this episode isn’t about politics. This is personal — it’s a conversation about liberation, and the surprising, delicate overlay of trauma and access to resources. It’s about how we understand ourselves and what community and deservingness mean, in (and out of) a political and social context.
This conversation is about how we try to find common ground, especially with people we struggle to not just agree with, but find any understanding with at all, especially on topics like race and equality. Jenna is an incredibly gentle guide into profound consideration of what radical healing might actually look like.
Initially, I planned on editing out (as I usually do) the little bit of conversation that always centers us before we start, but this time, I actually think it’s important that, in true DHC-fashion, you get to hear where we begin and the vulnerable nuggets of tentative, tender territory we all sort of… slid into … together. I also left in the short meditation we did as we began (and I got fancy and added some music for you) so that, as you listen, you, also, can ground into your body, and your heart, and practice whatever your version of love and belonging is, so that you can listen with your whole being.
We hope you love this conversation. It means a lot to us, and is one I think we all need to be having.
Mentioned in this episode:
+ Yvette Simpson, a news anchor from ABC, and her powerful stance on Centrism: “Unity is great, but freedom is better.”
+ Forgive Everyone, a company whose proceeds are donated to help people coming out of prison find housing, employment, rehabilitation, and mentorship. Jenna wears a t-shirt from their shop during our interview.
+ The New York times op-ed we draw from as we talk about the exit polls from our recent Presidential election.