January 12

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EP 40 | Laura Cathcart Robbins: What it Feels Like to be the Only One in the Room

By Kim Strobel

January 12, 2021


Laura Cathcart Robbins is a writer and the host of the popular podcast, The Only One In The Room. In 2018, she attended a much-anticipated famed writers’ retreat led by two powerhouse authors, Elizabeth Gilbert and Cheryl Strayed. To her dismay, she left the retreat feeling unseen and hurt by their dialogue. She was one of two black women at the retreat, making her feel alone—or like the only one in the room. 

After the retreat was over, she felt inspired to write about her ‘only one’ experience in The Huffington Post. The article went viral and comments began flooding in from people from all races, ethnicities, creeds, and nationalities who had felt ‘othered’ in their lives. 

This led her to go on a mission to educate others to change their perspectives on how we see, hear, and interact with one another and how to be conscientious of our differences. Laura hopes to make you think twice before judging the person standing next to you at a party, in the pick-up line at school, or in a crowded subway car. 

Tune in to hear about: 

Listen On: iTunes | Google Play | Stitcher | Spotify

  • Laura’s experience at a famed writers retreat.
  • The isolation of onlyness—and the antidote. 
  • What it feels like to be the only one in the room, and how we’ve all been the only one in the room at some point. 
  • How to create opportunities and cultivate your biggest gifts from your onlyness. 
  • The difference between visible onlyness and invisible onlyness—like addiction, divorce, infertility, or having a child with special needs. 
  • How to authentically tell your story and use it to initiate change.
  • Social injustices and exclusivity.

“Once you understand an injustice or an exclusion, should you not then be obligated to consider how things feel for them?”  Laura Cathcart Robbins, The Only One in the Room 

Helpful Links

Check out the episode on Youtube as well.

About Laura Cathcart Robbins Laura is a freelance culture writer and host of the popular podcast, The Only One In The Room, living in Studio City, California. She has been active for many years as a speaker and school trustee and is credited for creating The Buckley School’s nationally recognized committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Her recent articles in the Huffington Post on the subjects of race, recovery, and divorce have garnered her worldwide acclaim. She is a 2018 LA Moth StorySlam winner and currently sits on the advisory board for the San Diego Writer’s Festival and the Outliers HQ podcast Festival. Laura is also a founding member of Moving Forewords, the first national memoirist collective of its kind.

About Kim
Kim Strobel is Chief Happiness Officer at Kim Strobel Live Events and Retreats. She is a teacher, consultant, motivational speaker, happiness coach, and mission-minded person whose passion is helping others overcome their fears and discover their joy!You can follow Kim’s journey on Instagram at @KimStrobelJoy and in the free private She Finds Joy Facebook community.

welcome everyone to today's show i am so excited to share with you laura cathcart robbins she is a freelance culture writer and host of the most popular podcast the only one in the room living in studio city of cal california and i was just recently interviewed for her podcast so i can't wait for that episode to go live as well yes she has been active for many years as a speaker and school trustee and is credited for creating the buckley school's nationally recognized committee on diversity equity and inclusion her recent articles in the huffington post on the subjects of race recovery and divorce have garnered her worldwide acclaim she is a 2018 la moth story slam winner and currently sits on the advisory board for the san diego writers festival and the outliers hq podcast festival laura is also a founding member of moving forwards the first national memorist collective of its kind laura it's an honor to have you on today's show oh thank you kim i'm so excited we get we get each other double today yeah this is just going to be so natural for us we're coming off of me being interviewed for yours yes what a fantastic interview too yes and yeah i mean i just it's so it is we were having this we talked for an hour and change on my podcast and then just before you hit record we were just flowing into another conversation yeah i'm so excited that you asked me to be on your show thank you so much yeah well and thank you to sarah dean our mutual friend sarai hello miss we love you sarah runs the shameless mom academy she has the shameless mom podcast and yes really that's how i hooked up with you laura i saw that you were the well i i saw that you had been featured on sarah's podcast and i really liked the episode and listened to it i started to research i was reading your articles on huffington post and then i'm looking back and i'm like oh my gosh she was the keynote this past spring for sarah's shameless mom academy and i was one of the speakers yes yes so you know the stars just aligned for the two of us to meet and there's a thousand topics that i could talk with you about because this flows very naturally to the two of us but i want to understand the story behind your very popular podcast called the only one in the room where where did this name come from where what is this mission that you're on kind of take us back and and give us the trajectory of what led up to that thank you for that um i i love talking about this because it was it is the story of my life um and it's also the origin story of the podcast so the the story of my life goes in cambridge montessori school which is where i spent my childhood in cambridge mass i was the only black kid in my school for a while in the entire school and then in my class after that um until i left there and you know in in almost every space that i've inhabited i have been either the only one or one of two um black people in in the room at my office at on a film shoot in in public relations which is what i did before my kids were born um in recovery rooms where where i often sit here in los angeles on the tennis court like you name it probably i'm the only black person there um in the spaces like i said that i inhabit and which is why i created that board um at the the school that my children attended which was a primarily white space at the time to have some some body kind of pulling to bring more inclusion bring in more people bring in more diversity which just means numbers and then figure out how to you know make these people that we're bringing in feel at home we don't want any singletons which is what i know i was called there was a name for what i was i didn't know that so fast forward to 2018 when i um attended a writing retreat with two of my literary she-ros elizabeth gilbert who we all know her you're right wrote eight pray love but she also wrote my favorite book a book that sits on my desk consistently while i'm writing called big magic and it is one of my favorites too i love that book and i use it while i'm writing i refer back to it when i need inspiration i love it and and then cheryl strayed whose book wild was also i was like well someone can write this honestly about heroin about you know trouble with their parent about you know promiscuity like all these things and she was so honest and raw with her writing i didn't know that was possible before i read wild and so these two women are besties and do this thing called brave magic um they've done it more than once and it's a retreat it's a three-day retreat at different places this one happened to be in the santa cruz mountains um here in california where i live still a plane fight flight away from me um i could have driven it but it would have been like a four or five hour drive so i flew rented a car drove up in amazing vistas up in these mountains very windy you know pine tree-lined roads you could feel how fresh the air was which is not something we get a lot of in los angeles and you know i arrived at this event and the check-in line was 200 people deep like women were standing online to check in and there's a lot of you know we call it black people call it kiking um uh jewish people call it kibbutzing yeah but it's just like that chatter you know conviviality you walk in and you can see everybody's energies up everybody's excited so i got in the back of this line and the memorized memoirist group that you mentioned that i'm a part of called moving forwards it's a group of women that i'm in we're in all different places around the country i hadn't met them in person before but a few of them were coming to this event so i was really excited to see them they're all white as well um but so was everybody in line and eventually i saw that people were kind of turning around and looking at me okay now i want to stop you for a minute what about what year is this 2018. so this is 2018. yeah you're on a what writing retreat there's 200 people in line yes and you are the only person of color i'm not the only person of color there were uh there were some brown people there i don't know where they were from they were there was one woman that i met from korea um and another that um she was japanese american so there were there were 11 people of color at this event out of 600 people um but their i was the only black one so i i went through this amazing retreat i got you know i filled notebooks i got so much writing done i learned so much so i had this very dual experience of being totally geeked out at being so close to these literary sheroes of mine and and the and the feeling of 600 people all focused on the same thing all you know it was very communal the feeling there yeah and at the same time i had a very single experience a very solo experience because i don't know how i can put this so it doesn't seem judgmental but there's there was a lot of privilege there and i know that word is so overused but you know these were all basically all white women a lot of them blonde like you um but women of who who lived a certain lifestyle who could afford to take three days away from their families who had pashmina shawls and louis vuitton you know pillows to sit on when we did already know what i mean and um and and so there was this level of privilege that wasn't just socioeconomic privilege it was also the privilege of i i don't think that anybody if i hadn't written about that when i got back i don't think anyone there would have taken too much offense at the fact that they there weren't any black people there i don't think it would have been noticed no it didn't feel like i would it was acknowledged while i was there and and so i had this very solo experience things would be said and it's hard to to quantify what was said i do have this one example um if you like that yes i would i want to know yeah i i need to understand yeah what what this feels like and some examples because i think what you said is so very true is that if you are not a singleton you are not even aware right of it because like i'll give you an example every december with my education consulting company we would do the strobel summit which was a series of free online courses from people that i was connected with around the country and i i i told you i um had joined a business coaching group at the time that was mostly people of color yeah and i'm sitting there and one of the ladies stands up and she says i'm just going to be frank with you i'm tired of going to conferences and watching one white woman after another white woman after another white woman get on the stage can i please see someone who looks like me also sharing information and valuable wisdom and immediately i was like oh my gosh for the last three years every single speaker i've had on that as was white be two reasons right i live in the midwest i live in a city where there was one black family and i'm not exposed very much to that so i don't have a ton of connections but i'm also not even aware that this is an issue until now right right and so once i understood it was an issue now i can proactively expand my experiences yes so okay so take me back so here you are nobody else is having the same experience as you it's not even really acknowledged no it's not acknowledged and so there's kind of a breakout it's not an official breakout group we're we're in between sessions we're in the hallway there's a proverbial like the water cooler except for it's coffee so everybody's kind of getting it's a coffee station and i'm standing there um with one of the women from my writer's group who i was really excited to see and the there's a a circle of women most of them are moms i think and they were talking about one of them was saying she was how proud she was of her son who had argued his way out of a a traffic ticket he got pulled over argued his way out and she's like he's going to be an attorney and everybody in the group is like nodding like of course oh my god that's amazing and i get flooded with tears and i have to walk away because there is no way in hell that i would ever be proud of one of my kids for arguing their way out of a ticket i would be horrified i would be terrified for their lives if they talked back to a policeman you know and laura i want you to speak on that even more i want you to go even deeper because a lot of my listeners may not even understand your adverse reaction to that so yeah the reason you would be upset with your child for doing that is be is why okay so there's there's something that people are talking about now um that black people have been doing for years and it's called the talk and so it's like you know it used to be the sex talk right have you had the talk yet with your kid and you would tell them about at one point they said the birds and the bees and now it's just you know the talk is about sex in the black community that is not the talk the talk is what do you do if you are pulled over and every black woman or every black parent has to have this with have to have this talk with their black child um especially if that child is a boy if you have sons like i do i have two sons they're now 21 and 22. as soon as they are old enough to ride in a car without you and even before that they need to know exactly what to do if you're pulled over in order to save their lives because one wrong move can get them killed and and you we've seen it on television licensed gun carriers narrating what they're doing pulling out their weapon to show the policemen have gotten fired on and and killed so everything the talk is you put your hands on the wheel where they can see them you say yes ma'am you say no ma'am uh yes sir no sir you do not do anything unless you were asked you tell them everything you're gonna do before you do it you make every movement as slow as possible i am reaching for my registration is it okay if i open my glove box you ask for permission before you do anything they tell you to get out of the car you get out of that car you do not resist in any way it doesn't matter if you weren't doing anything what matters is you stay alive so so yes to hear this conversation taking place with such kind of fervor and glee seemed so blind um to to my presence and to what it might look or feel like for me and there were things that were said on stage that weren't as acute um you know jokes about you know i'm sure no one's been arrested blah blah blah but then a few people look over at me and i and i you know and and and truly i was uncomfortable even though i haven't been arrested and and also just to clarify or just to to say every encounter i've ever had with the police has been wonderful police have always been amazing to me they've always been a safe space i have much respect for the policemen in my particular neighborhood i know my patrolmen so i don't have this judgment against the police but i have an awareness of what's been done to people that look like my sons in this country so i have to protect them but i've never been arrested and but i was still uncomfortable when that was mentioned in this kind of off-handed way because if that had been my story and it would be my story probably more likely than it would be the woman sitting next to me because black people are arrested at a higher rate period you know whether we've done anything or not we are profiled it's it's we have laws against profiling in certain states because black people are profiled we are pulled over um eight times more often than our white counterparts so to say something like that on stage as a joke and not to be considerate of the one black person in the audience feels insensitive and um so that's that's where i was and i i i got back from that experience hi from everything that i learned and like i said being in front of these two women and my notebooks full of writing and very kind of um off yeah i was off my emotional axis like i was emotionally off balance because i was confused by the kind of i i guess i want to say devastation that might be too dramatic but i i felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me like i had gone there to have a communal experience and i ended up partially having one but also having this very solo experience like i said and so i wrote about it um [Music] he wrote about i got back on thursday i wrote it on friday a beautiful writing teacher that i have jessica sensen enriquez who does an amazing personal essay class online um she read it and said here are the editors i want you to pitch this to like she read it on saturday and i pitched it on sunday and half post put it live monday morning at 9 00 am and it went viral oh wow and i never had anything go viral before i didn't know what the impact of that would be that people from all over the world would be messaging me and commenting and finding me to tell me that they understood what it felt like to be other to feel like you're alone in a room full of people and so i um i i saw that a lot of those responses that i got were hashtag the only one in the room and i had never heard that before either i was like oh that's dope the only one in the room and that's like they all know this all these people and i thought it would just be black people but it was white people it was you know people in every not every different country but so many different countries socioeconomic you know situations ages abilities disabilities um gender preferences gender orientation like they all understood what i was saying and that was like i'm getting emotional just thinking about it it made me cry so this podcast was created as a space for people to share those stories and i just i got goosebumps all over in my body because i was thinking of what you know it makes me think of the pain that you did have to endure and then the beauty that came out of that like you suffered but your suffering now has created this outlet of connection to understanding that the feelings of isolation happen for many different reasons but also just understanding that you know it just it makes me think back to our ancestors your ancestors like all of the hard things that people had to endure so that we could have some of the freedoms that we have today but specifically for you and a a black woman in understanding this education piece that i will tell you many white people do not have the education lara and i am including i'm including myself in that when all of this began to even be brought to the forefront i have had to listen to podcasts and read books because i know i am making mistakes too and the only way i learn is if someone can kindly call me out on that and show me because it's not like you said no one else was even aware that this was happening no so i also want to know if you communicated that to elizabeth gilbert and cheryl strait i i didn't directly um they they both posted about it afterwards but it was kind of like um like cheryl straight posted she had she had been off social media for a week and when she came back on her inbox was flooded as well have you seen this have you seen this have you seen this and she she just talked about like in general um striving to create a safe space for for everyone elizabeth gilbert did a little bit more of the same um about a year ago though so after a year it passed since i wrote the article um she was interviewed by the atlantic and the reporter asked her point blank about my article and what impact it had on her and how she was moving forward and she gave some really interesting responses um and the the reporter asked her if she had tried to contact me and she just said you know we haven't been in contact neither of them ever tried to contact me but um yeah it's it was it was interesting she said that she i think i think one of the things she said is like it the article my article was of god like it was god speaking to the world through my article about what needs to change so it was complementary right right yes um but that sense of ownership i think is so very important too you know and just that's what i i my learning in all of this has really been you know and it's like we don't need to rely on people of color and put another heaviness on them but the best way that i know to say it is help me learn but help help me learn um in a way that doesn't you know also shame me while i'm trying to learn so to say exactly exactly and you know a couple of the analogies i used i loved your analogy that you gave us in your pot and when you did the only one in the room a few an hour ago of of a panic attack a panic attack feeling like you're sitting standing on a train rail and a train's coming at you 300 miles an hour and they're letting you know that it's going to stop one inch from you so but you can't move you must stay right there and then what that's what it feels like so one of the things that i use to help people kind of understand what i felt like was you know being in a room of right-handed people and you know just not realizing that all the scissors are made for right-handed people all the desks are created for right-handed people the way they all shape is everything is created for right-handed people it's not that i don't like the left-handed person i just don't ever think about them it wouldn't occur to me that they're going to have to make extra efforts or not be able to write or cut or do the things that i take for granted so there's my privilege right i have right-handed privilege that is a great example my husband just a couple weeks ago he's a lefty and he was saying i don't know how but we were talking about school desk and he's like kim i had like permanent um like scabs on my arms because of how i would have to try to hold my arm like he's like it was a major pain going through school no it is and you make the adjustments right yes you make that you quietly you know like you were talking about with panic attacks you quietly make these adjustments um because you don't want to call attention to yourself and that's that's not fun i don't always want to be the one on black over here on black but you know at the same time and i also i don't want to think about it all the time either i want to be a friend among friends a worker among workers uh you know appear among peers but there's that and the other analogy i use especially when i'm talking about education is you know would you send your female child to an all-male institution where everyone including faculty including admin including all their peers is male and would you be comfortable doing that and what would her life look like if you did that where she didn't have any affinity and that's the thing that i was missing there was affinity there was no one for me to look across the room at and be like girl you heard that too right like you know i i had no one to do that with there neither would that female child being sent to an all-male institution and you know maybe that left-handed person does maybe they don't but those are the ways without shaming people i can get them to kind of refocus um like not i'm not a bad person for not noticing that left-handed person as a right-handed person with privilege right the right privilege i'm not but once i know am i not obligated to then consider how things might feel for them yes i am i i love that and that i um you know read white fragility back in the spring and i did a podcast episode on it because again we it it's not understanding the education behind it that is causing the problem and so it's like once we can call attention to it do we have the bandwidth to expand ourselves enough to go oh you're you're right like i did not understand that was never on my radar but i'm now understanding those things need to be on my radar you know i have gone through life thinking like i'm not a racist i mean i i don't intentionally ever treat a person of color differently but you know what i have learned lara i've learned that racism isn't individualistic i've learned that i am a racist because i have benefited from a system that gives me privileges that people of color do not have i am a racist because i have this thing called unconscious bias which is unfortunately deeply embedded in my cellular body which says when kim goes down an alley and four white guys are coming down i might feel a little shaky but if there's four black guys coming down there's something in it and i feel a little even scared to admit this in this day and time but like there there's something that goes off in me that is different that i'm now able to identify that's unconscious bias so kim how do how does kim little midwestern kim who grew up in tel city indiana with one black family who was amazing and and loved but how do i become more aware of how i navigate my world and my business my friendships going forward right like there i feel like i as a white woman have a personal responsibility to let my hackles be raised and know that that's my new learning so that i can change the way that i understand how the world works for others and try to do my part in that and so when you're leaving this retreat laura i want to know there was you there there was an affinity there that you did not feel there was no one for you to look to when these kind of things were being done or said that no one else knew were hurtful but did was there a part of you that felt less than once again in your life because of the color of your skin that's a good question um you know i don't even know if i don't even know if i felt less than at any point um even while growing up i definitely felt different then but i don't know you know i have to just give credit to my parents here yeah my parents were hippies first of all they still are and um you know my my parents have been raised during jim crow um they had my mother had been beaten by the catholic nuns um and called a savage a black savage uh my my father had also been beaten at his school they were both raised in chicago i was born in chicago and um he had been beaten up by white kids when he went through the wrong neighborhoods they had both been refused service called the n-word multiple times so they were very young um i mean to me they were young when they had me my mom was 19 my dad was 23 turning 24. and they um or he was already 24 and they they made this decision even though they got divorced when i was four but to raise me in such a way that i would not be as impacted um that i had a chance you know to just be me before i started adjusting and altering myself for the world and the first place they decided that i should be raised was copenhagen denmark because there there is such a freer society than chicago was at that time i don't think either of them realized what a homogenous society it was i was really the only one right there so we were there for just about we were under there there for under a year um i turned five in cambridge which is where i talked about going to school um cambridge mass that was the next place but they made this decision that this might be a good place to raise laura so she wouldn't be as impacted by the things that we were impacted by so they found this very kind of progressive montessori school for me to attend and even though i was the only black kid there was a black female principal um named jackie i don't remember her last name and so i i was kind of i walked in feeling you know equal to my peers because i didn't know any better and i wasn't ever told that i was anything different until much later i didn't hear anything that felt or seemed racist my hair was definitely different but people liked it you know they wanted me to wear it out because i wore it in two braids down my back they always wanted me wear it out so they could dig their fingers in it yes um but i didn't like want their hair you know what i mean i just i just knew it was different and that's again i have to give my parents so much credit and i do for that is amazing it was amazing so considering the anger and resentment and atrocities that they had been through that could have so easily seeped into their child and instead they became proactive in a really big way and so they intentionally put you in the circumstances in situations so that you you knew yourself of your own value yes yeah so i you know i walked and there were certain things that i wish were different about me but not race like i never wished that i was anything other than black but i did wish for like longer swingier hair sometimes um sometimes i mean for i wish for boobs for a really long time i finally i got them so late i got them when i was almost 17. i thought they weren't coming um but they can't believe it or not i have the same a similar story i didn't really until one month before my 17th birthday and so like i went from nothing to everything and me too i mean not but yeah very close to that yeah i definitely wished for different things but i didn't wish like oh i wish i wasn't black or i didn't feel like if i were if i were something else my life would be better it that that wasn't my that wasn't my line of thinking then so i didn't feel less than as i was leaving this um retreat but i felt acutely different felt that difference that difference was glaring and i knew that once i was back in a more diverse space or in a space with more black people that it would disappear do you know what i mean yes so so is the is the better word maybe so you didn't feel less because honestly you you were raised with confidence in who you are so you even put in a situation where you could have easily been made to feel that way you had enough of a core value system about who you were that you did not walk away with feelings of less than is the better word invisible did you explain in business yes absolutely okay and tell us because i know your entire podcast is about how people feel like they are the only one experiencing whatever it is and i love that in your podcast as i listen through you know you had um rebecca gehart on there and that was a very very very hard vulnerable conversation where she discussed that she had been in a car accident that had killed a young person and she felt like the only one who had ever done that or endured that or caused that kind of suffering and so i think it's really important for our audience to understand that your podcast is not about being the only black person right is the fact that we all have felt invisible at times or many of us have i should say because of a situation or a circumstance and for someone like you who throughout your life maybe has had that feeling can you explain what invisibleness feels like yeah that's boy that's hard um and thank you for that and thank you for mentioning rebecca's because that is the stories that we tell are stories of being other they're not necessarily stories of race but they certainly can be yeah you know we've had a few of those stories um but you know we we've had we've had so many different things um from people who are self-partnered from people who were raised in a cult you know from you know it's it could be anything that kind of sets you apart and like you said makes you feel alone in a room full of people which is our tagline um being invisible is exhausting you are always fighting to be seen and when i do diversity work i'm fighting for others to be seen not just black people you know i we raised our prices for our our school lunch burgers two years ago um they were 60 cents in this package that we offered and then they became a dollar and i i knew nothing about this and it was not discussed with our committee beforehand i was furious like how are how are you justifying this to our families for whom that 60 cents was a stretch you know these are the same families who don't get prom tickets because they're too expensive and okay we can give them free tickets that's the solution no we have to get them a dress we have to get them transportation the boys need to be able to buy a corsage all that stuff costs money you know parents can't participate in the the parent association gala because they can't afford a babysitter you know all these things have to be considered these are only one stories where no one's going to say anything about it so i'm fighting for the people with abilities i'm fighting for people with different gender orientations to have safe spaces on the campus i'm fighting for all these people to be seen and their value understood you know in the same way that i fight for my own you know i i and it is exhausting it really is i i'm not stopping i'm not gonna stop no i don't i don't know what i'm gonna do actually in the future i don't think i'm gonna stop i haven't stopped i have no plans of stopping but it is to to get people who only look at something one way for a very long time to expand and see all these other things is really like pulling those hands apart and then they go right back together so you have to pull them apart again like no you know this this this woman here i mean this this four-year-old who's coming in with two male parents you know needs to be able to talk about that and what about mother's day how are we going to do this for her good yeah can we change it to parents day you know it's it's like these little things and it's expanding how we look at our our different populations so that everyone is included that's why on my instagram i call myself an inclusionist that's all i'm doing all the time is trying to make sure that everybody's perspective and point of view is included the individual i i can't do anything about you know right if someone is seen and valued it's up to them whether or not they participate the way they but but i need to create that space just like i needed to create it for myself that space was not created for me at brave magic ah yeah you know i'm i was listening to um i think her name is catherine zeta she has a podcast called manifestation babe and i've really really been enjoying it and today when i was running i was listening to an episode and i forget who she accredited this to but she talked about the gift of being able to see multiple perspectives and that so many of us right we have one perspective and as soon as somebody tries to shift that we like you said we can we um we contract right we yes and and um because it feels uncomfortable and so we try to like we're like going back in and she said for her she feels like one of her best gifts is that she can hold multiple perspectives at the same time and i was like you know what isn't like i i myself think wow how quickly we judge with like everything in our cellular body that says this is the right way to to be an act and we we don't just take a breath and say can i create some space for this other way of looking at this situation and so what you're really doing is it's like visceral in you i can see it when you're talking viscerally you are on a mission to make every human being [Music] feel safe and included yeah i mean it's it is i obviously i won't achieve that one one of our guests i don't know if you heard this one was gloria allred and she's amazing are you familiar with her no i'll look it up she's a women's rights activist attorney and she she's i mean she's done amazing work she's changed precedence she's made laws um she has put bills into congress and had them pass his law and you know one of her first stories and in her book and one of the reasons we were able well i i want i really wanted to get her on the show so it wasn't but anyway yeah i like worked to get her um was going into save on drugs with her daughter um and you know her daughter going for the little cash machine toy and like why is this on the boys aisle mom and then looking over at the girls aisle and seeing the easy bake oven and like all the other ones and like but don't boys like to bake like when they that's how you get to be a chef right like being confused and glorious sued them and made them change it just to toys and you know so she she has been she has been literally like not fighting um as in physically but she has been arguing for that point of view with every gay rights um lgbtq rights women's rights um you know certainly civil rights on all fronts on a legal front for her whole life basically since she was like 22 years old and i don't i'm not doing that you know like i'm not taking up every cause and going to the point where laws are changed but i am doing my best to first of all open my own perspective i'm always i'm always open to upgrading my technology we had um this guy named dilon who's amazing i love him i've since gotten to know him so much better and delo's trans he's transgender and i i was using all the wrong words i interviewed him i pre-interviewed him so i thought i had them all right i had everything wrong i had the wrong terms for things and he set me straight very gently yes um and i learned so much and you know i think when people are called things like racist or people get things wrong like that with language and they get frustrated we go on the defensive and we want to defend our point of view i'm i'm not i'm not transphobic you know i i think what you said implies that i am and i'm not and i want to make that point before we can go on but that's not the point the point is that that there was something that i said that wasn't appropriate you know for it to describe what he is or where he is and i can learn from that upgrade my technology around it and come back to him and have a conversation that includes the way he needs to be referred to i absolutely love that you're making me think to back to when i was in vermont i spent two and a half weeks in october kind of in a in a remote cabin up in northern vermont working on my book and then the last four days my husband joined me and we we went to stove vermont because i love snow skiing and all of that and they weren't it was not snow skiing season yet but like there were all the fun little pubs and just cozy fireplaces and my husband and i sat at a bar and had a drink and um well a couple of drinks but there was a black couple next to us and i you know i'm just kind of listening to them and overhearing their conversation and somehow i got up the courage to introduce myself and we started talking about the upcoming election how important it was to all of us and the one guy ended up saying hey you know we're not we're not a couple so to speak he said i i'm a gay man and he said not only my gay man he said i'm a gay man who was in the military and what i loved is see i i i want to know more i want to understand and so i said are you comfortable with me asking you some questions it's my natural tendency to be curious and von said absolutely and so he just like went on to explain what it was like to be a gay black man in the military um you know that the hardships of it but also you know his ability to navigate it was such perseverance and it was such an enlightening conversation and i felt like he schooled me on many things when it came to we discussed racism we discussed um gender inequality and what i loved when we were done is i said von the biggest gift you have given me is your ability to share and educate and converse with me on these topics and you did so with grace you didn't do it with any kind of shame on my end as i'm trying to learn like he did it with such kindness and such grace that i walked away like you said with a with a software update right like i had new language and new understanding so that when i talk about these topics i can bring some of that to it and it was it was just wonderful to engage in conversation and for him to have the courage to talk about those things with me oh i i'm i love that first of all girl i need von's number he used to be a guest on my show let me tell you what he is he is interesting he is yes all of his contact information um he is a performer he's theatrical he is um what is it see i'm gonna lose the turn but what is it when you um like do a drag queen shows and you dance and yeah like at one point he got up from the bar and showed my husband his booty shake versus mine and my husband liked his better that's great yeah so please but i love this sister up yeah he was so kind like he was so open to conversing and and helping and i sometimes hesitate to say that because i think now that all of this has really come to the forefront now we white people are like relying even more so on you you know people of color and black people to to help us and it's like now you even have a bigger responsibility because now we're really asking for your help and i think there's a heaviness to that but i loved that the way he navigated the conversation not that the conversation was about me but it made me feel safe to learn from him yeah and i i really i was actually going to bring that up and i'm so glad you did because there there is i actually one of the articles i wrote was was about that was about i'm i'm really tired of of explaining what what what it's like to be me right now i know you're waking up to this i'm glad but i can't be the one and that's just where i was in that moment that was um right after george floyd was killed um so that was you know the beginning of june i think i wrote the article the first week of june and that was another um viral article on huffpost and you know since then um i've come to a different place and i think a lot of my my black peers and i i i won't speak for anyone actually i don't know where anybody else is but from what i understand from what i'm reading and that type of thing i feel like i'm in a place where i have re restored enough to be able to be someone who can take a few moments and have that conversation the other thing that's happened as a result of the awareness around um the killing of black men in particularly and then brianna taylor who was also um you know uh a kill this year and and and and uh yeah i can't even talk about her murder but um the awareness that came about as a result of it is that there are all these resources now where people can i can say here's what i know but you can also go to this website and check out these books there are so many lists of books to read if you're curious about how to upgrade your technology around this and to be more expansive in how you and and and really you know consider it as an interesting word right um when i when i i consider myself to be a considerate person but consider it really means that i am considering how you feel right that's what makes me a considerate person and that just seems very basic as far as civility right you have to be kind considered blah blah it's a it's a box that we check with but to really look at that word is really what this is asking from us is just to consider how everyone in this scenario feels and for me that includes you know you if i'm talking to you as a white woman how it must feel to to kind of wake up around this and feel like you want to know more to do better but don't have a person to ask or don't know what the right thing is to even begin to ask right a lot of people don't know where to start yeah yeah and are afraid of saying and doing the wrong thing um because it's so emotionally charged it is and you know i'm gonna say this because i am just a straight shooter and if i'm wrong i'm wrong but i feel like a lot of people a lot of white women in the coaching realm got on this bandwagon because it was like uh girlfriend this is happening and if you're not going to acknowledge it and talk about it we're coming at you so you better you better have a podcast episode on this or you better interview a black person or you better do something and my issue with that is the intention behind it is the intention once again to save yourself as the white woman or are you really willing to put in the work which means you take the time to read the books you do your research and find the podcast like for me and i told sarah dean this recently i sent her a marco polo because i was like you know what sarah dean you didn't just have one podcast episode that talked about this issue like you are on a platform and a mission to make this constantly be in the forefront of your listeners and i applaud you for that you know but even for me i have you know i'm reading austin channing brown right now i have a podcast i'm listening to um i can't just always reach out to the and say hey you now now i'm going to add this to your list help me as a white woman understand this because you now need to carry the burden of that as well mm-hmm i well yeah go ahead no sorry yeah no so like i appreciate that you have explained that you know that that you didn't even have the mental fortitude because one you're experiencing all the emotions of what has happened for years but is being brought more to the forefront um and you are discussing this as you said like on your podcast and in your your written articles that are going viral you're bringing this to the forefront but it's not easy work and it's not easy work for you lara no it's not and um thank you for mentioning what sarah dean is doing again because i think it is really important to acknowledge that she started way before 2020 um and she continues to do so i actually had her on my podcast kind of in the middle of all this also in june um yeah what it was like to be white and what it was like to be a white woman and and to talk about the resources that she had found for herself as a result of wanting to educate herself more around this issue even though she had been talking about it for years there was there was a deeper dig there to be done and she was willing she had her shovel she was willing to go yeah you know for all my listeners if you go to sarah dean's podcast shameless mom you that's a great way to educate yourself because she has brought on so many people to help us understand that here's what else i love about sarah dean guess i don't know if you know this or not laura but if she asks um a person of color to come on and do an episode she pays them uh yes she pays yes because you know now everybody wants to talk to you all because we we need to and so she's like hey i understand you're getting tons of requests i value your time and i just it's just another layer to her that shows her integrity right it makes me love her even more i know you know let's just call this the sarah dean we love you podcast yeah and i had another thought about something you said and now it's completely left my head but um i just i just think i just want to thank you for for you know oh i know what it was you were talking about um the obligation of kind of blackening up your whatever your store your your podcast your platform your brand you know there has been a rush for people who want to advertise on our show now which is great i'm taking it right yeah making it um but but there has been this this obligation to include so that you don't get um so that you don't have to suffer repercussions but not because you were genuinely interested or one is genuinely interested in amplifying those voices or promoting you know um this mindset or awareness around the issues that are facing the black community in our country in particular i mean and so there there there's going to be some fallout for that and i think the test will be in six months who's still amplifying those voices who's still upgrading their technology around this who is still pursuing it or who will have gone on to the next trend because it is now a trend trend that might continue for a little bit longer because we have a a black south asian female vice president elect um which is i'm not i haven't even processed that yet you know did i see a picture on your website of you with kamala yes you did oh my gosh i have to go there i mean i just i'm like oh my gosh so the woman i'm talking to today you know i i have all of this just honored to even be in your same space after researching you and hearing your story and knowing your work and then i popped up your website real quick before you and i jumped on for this and i'm like holy there's her and kamala oh god that was so great she so she is really good friends with one of my really good friends and when she was running for attorney general here in california they did a very small fundraiser at their home and i went and was able to speak with her and hear her and then when she was running for senate they did another small fundraiser at their home and my mom and i my mom and i went both times um and what a thrill for my mom you know to for someone that did grow up in that jim crow era to first see obama and then now see a black female south asian woman um who speaks for all of us but really just represents so much possibility like she said in her acceptance speech oh yeah i have to show you so i posted i made this quote after her exception you guys can't see the video here but there's a question with ambition lead with conviction and see yourself in a way that others might not see you simply because they've never seen it before pamela harris like she everything she said during her speech was so potent you know and i told scott i said my husband i was like there is not she there wasn't a tremble to her like she was stepping into that light and she knows the work ahead of her and my golly she is ready to do it she is and i think it was chrissy teigen tygan sorry chrissy tygan that posted um i just love her but one of the things she posted is she was like for the black community today is like unhooking your bra taking off your weighted blanket and taking out your extensions all at the same time and i was like oh my god yes a weight just so many weights from so many i didn't even know i was carrying you know as as a as a person of color as a by poc as a black woman with black children and black parents that are still alive you know which i'm so grateful for for ever all of us to be able to just be a little bit safer that's it it's a little bit yeah that's him is breathing room you know yeah i have many friends who are you know they're in same-sex marriages they they were concerned they were worried i mean and they are like some of them have said i i had my first night of really good sleep in a long time i feel like we're going to be safe yeah and this is important and that's another whole episode that we we are shouting out to kamala and and joe biden and yes um you know my you know being a former teacher and being in the education consulting business um and knowing that jill is an educator my husband's like he came into my office this morning because he knows i go big with everything in my life he knows that i fully intend to be sitting on oprah's couch someday discussing my book you know he's like this is my wife this is what she does uh and so he comes in he goes so next on your list is jill biden you're going to work on the education system with jill biden i was like oh yes yes and shout out to dr jill biden dr jill bye i have an educator in the house yes what a really good news for us all yeah yeah so i've loved everything about this conversation i knew we would go off on several tangents because let's be honest we could go away together and talk nonstop i think for the next week or so there's so much to talk about so much goodness i absolutely love see my favorite thing is when someone can take an atrocity or something in their life and and and do what elizabeth gilbert talks about you know turn that into big magic big magic and talking about her book i have to tell you that's one of the reasons i went to the remote cabin because in big magic elizabeth talks about if you have an idea and it's trying to attach to you and you don't act on it it will go attach itself to someone else i love that story i was like yes grab it yeah so i've had the idea for five years and i'm like it's gonna it's gonna go attach itself and someone else is going to write my book so but i love that you have taken this idea of invisibleness and explained multiple perspectives on what that can look like in today's world and that your mission is to make sure that everyone feels like they have a place yes yes so powerful lara thank you thank you so much so i always end this by asking this one question since the title of the podcast is she finds joy and for any of you listening you're going to want to screenshot this episode send it to your friends you're going to want to look up the only one in the room podcast but i want to know laura cathcart robbins how are you personally reaching for more joy in your life well i don't know if my answer would have been different pre-covet 19 but boy i am first of all i'm you know i we didn't really talk about this but i'm 12 plus you're sober so i have this gratitude about being able to be present for my family because i wasn't for a while um but it's a great story in itself oh my goodness we didn't even get there we didn't even get that's another podcast we can do follow-ups we do both of us both of us yes i am so grateful for the ability to be present i find so much joy in my morning cup of coffee i mean it's almost afternoon now but i find joy in my spoon that i use every day i've to be able to have conversations with my sons i i don't have them and my mind is somewhere else anymore i'm in i want to know everything about them i want to soak it up talk to my parents all the time i want to soak them up my partner scott who i love who has been with me for the last 12 plus years you know i really i i i don't always make the time that i need to make friends i want to um just state that but because of the work-life balance we work together and we we we don't i consider that to be kind of our time together and it needs to be separate but you know we go away together and it is just the joy that we find in being in one another's presence and i think i had all that joy in my life before but i wasn't able to be present for it it was there but i didn't have access to it and now that i have that access i'm just so grateful for the ability to to just sit there and and so because these things bring me true happiness that feeling of safety that we talked about in your episode on the only one in the room i get from being present for these people that i love so much and the other thing which some people think is funny is my bed really brings me joy no i know i love my bed she eats it he has to clean i my sheets are ironed and i love a fresh bed i am so excited to get into it when it's fresh you know what there's as a happiness coach i have to tell you there's a word for this that you're describing right it's savor what we know is people who savor their experiences and that's what you're talking about you are savoring you are fully immersed in the moments of them that leads to greater levels of happiness and so you are a savior you are savoring the ability to feel completely connected to those that are most important to you including your sheets i need that t-shirt yeah savoring is happiness flavoring savoring is joy i love it yeah i love it and i also want to make sure that we tell people exactly where to find you and i want them to hear it from your mouth so find more of you thank you well the best way is our website the onlyonepod.com um that's the onlyonepod.com spelled out i'm on instagram at laura cathcart robbins i'm also at the only one in the room um lc robbins elsie robbins on twitter and we have a facebook group for our fans the podcast fans call the roomies um and um if you go on facebook and ask to join i will admit you um and i'm laura cathcart robbins on facebook okay and we're gonna drop all of those links into the show nuts show notes too because laura sent me those all right what a pleasure and an honor to be here with you yes thank you so much kim till we meet again

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