The Wayward Podcast Episode 17: Wayward Inclusivity with Rachel Miner

WILTON MANORS, FLORIDA - JANUARY 29: Sweetheart candy hearts are seen on the shelf at the To The Moon Marketplace on January 29, 2019 in Wilton Manors, Florida. William Newcomb who works at the store said, 'they stocked up early on the heart shape candy after learning that the Necco company had filed for bankruptcy protection and went out of business.' The Sweetheart candy was being made by Necco since 1886 and is in short supply after the company went out of business as Valentine’s Day approaches. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
WILTON MANORS, FLORIDA - JANUARY 29: Sweetheart candy hearts are seen on the shelf at the To The Moon Marketplace on January 29, 2019 in Wilton Manors, Florida. William Newcomb who works at the store said, 'they stocked up early on the heart shape candy after learning that the Necco company had filed for bankruptcy protection and went out of business.' The Sweetheart candy was being made by Necco since 1886 and is in short supply after the company went out of business as Valentine’s Day approaches. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) /
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RABAT, MOROCCO – FEBRUARY 25: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex hold hands during a visit to the Moroccan Royal Federation of Equitation Sports on February 25, 2019 in Rabat, Morocco. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are on a three day visit to the country. (Photo by Hannah Mckay – Pool / Getty Images)
RABAT, MOROCCO – FEBRUARY 25: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex hold hands during a visit to the Moroccan Royal Federation of Equitation Sports on February 25, 2019 in Rabat, Morocco. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are on a three day visit to the country. (Photo by Hannah Mckay – Pool / Getty Images) /

When The Wayward Podcast talks about inclusivity, they’re not telling you what to do. They just want you to know what it means to them and how they’re practicing being better at being better.

We were very fortunate to hear Rachel Miner back in Kim’s closet for another episode of The Wayward Podcast. Her last visit talking about happiness was a real treat. This episode is all about inclusivity, what it means to each of the ladies, and how they’re learning new ways to approach it.

The term is broad and detrimentally undefined. Much like the topic of prejudice, inclusivity covers a wide range of recognizing and paying respect to the differences we have that make us wayward beauties. Is it about trying to pretend the differences don’t exist? Or is it about pointing them out and saying, “I don’t care that this thing is a thing.” Or is there something else?

Sometimes when we try really hard to do the right thing, it ends up being the way-wrong thing. Unfortunately, we never know for real what is happening in another person’s experience unless they help us understand through their own eyes. Some of us try harder to get that from others and some of us inadvertently disregard it. Sometimes we do both.

On this episode of The Wayward Podcast, we learned a lot about how working hard at inclusivity can accidentally cause barriers we didn’t know about. And we also learned a few ideas about simple things that can wipe all those missteps away. Not just our own missteps, but those of others, at the same time.

And in addition, we heard about what it is that really gets in our way of understanding more deeply. How many times have we given energy to the defense of our missteps to avoid our own upset? When you examine it, the number may be much larger than we thought.

One wayward perspective that could be more discussed, is how the person who wants or needs inclusion plays a role in the situation. Our wise friends talk not only about how we can be more inclusive of those who require, request, or simply appreciate it, but also how those on the receiving end participate in the dynamic.

When we are able to look within and see that our own fears might prevent us from being better, we find the chance to finally grow. And sometimes we can find that small motions we make can leave a huge positive dent. The trick is to strive to see through another person’s eyes, rather than assessing them through our own.

Before I go on, please be aware that the rest of this post is packed with spoilers. If you haven’t yet listened to “Wayward Inclusivity,” you can head over and give it the half hour before going forward.

Don’t forget, if you need or want any assistance enjoying the podcast, follow along to the end of this post for a link to transcripts and translations of the shows. If you feel ready to go, let’s talk about what inclusivity really means, and how to get a good experience with it from any angle.

NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 22: Actress Marguerite Moreau of the film ‘Caroline and Jackie’ visits the Tribeca Film Festival 2012 portrait studio at the Cadillac Tribeca Press Lounge on April 22, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 22: Actress Marguerite Moreau of the film ‘Caroline and Jackie’ visits the Tribeca Film Festival 2012 portrait studio at the Cadillac Tribeca Press Lounge on April 22, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images) /

Alternate realities

One thing I found very interesting in the talk on this episode of The Wayward Podcast, was the perception of what inclusivity really involves. In her recent, previous appearance on the show, Rachel briefly discussed her use of a wheelchair due to MS.

I found myself making the “uh-oh” face at myself as I listened, because like both of our hosts discussed, I was raised to — and always thought I was doing the right thing by trying to — see everyone as equals. While that is a beautiful perspective, it doesn’t always lend to inclusivity.

Briana pointed out that in her mind, not thinking of everyone as the same was non-inclusive and she could easily see that this was actually a counterproductive misconception. The reality is, that thinking makes the process almost impossible.

More from Supernatural

Kim brought the thought home through a story that found her sitting in a theater of people from a different racial background than she was. It was then, through that experience, that she realized her friends had an entirely different perception of the same experiences. She knew that it was important to pay certain respect to that fact if she was to truly understand others.

What they both had learned was that the only way to truly be inclusive is by first recognizing that all people are not seeing through the same eyes. “No one is getting the same sensory perceptions,” Rachel pointed out. Kim’s use of race as an example was so smart. It’s something we all have some understanding of, especially with our history in this country being still so fresh, as history goes.

As Briana talked about, segregation took place in our society so recently that many who endured it are still here to talk about their experiences. And here we are now, moving into many fresh topics to understand, such as gender identification. Rachel brought in this topic as one that is of importance to her.

She attributes a lot of her learning to her time with fans at Supernatural conventions, as does Kim. They both mentioned that their interactions with so many people of our wayward nature has offered them the opportunity to experience humans of all races, orientations, and other life circumstances that might vary from their own.

Rachel shared a story of having misidentified someone. She found that taking the simple step of apologizing and correcting herself made a world of difference because it was a first for that new friend of hers. This is a reason she is a huge advocate of the reality that simply putting aside your taboos and asking what may feel like a wayward question can spare a great deal of discourse for you and the other person.

“Taking that essential lie off the table is the first thing,” Rachel says. She’s talking about how we’re not supposed to notice that a person is having a different experience. She explains that she sees this in children very often. “Why don’t your legs work?” The child asks the question, the parent is embarrassed and shushes them.

Unfortunately, the secondary — and likely more lasting — lesson learned is that it is wrong to notice or ask about what seems wayward about a person. And if that child were to require a wheelchair in their future, experiences like those breed the shame they might assume is meant to come with such a difference.

It could be about physical differences, cognitive behaviors, the company we keep, even having a serious allergy or being vegetarian. I embrace what’s wayward about me and if you notice it, I’m happy to explain. Many people are.

Kim shared that she has learned through her daughter, that not everyone is experiencing life the same way she is. She has often referred to her tendency to assume that her perception of something is the only one to work from, and she is often working to remind herself otherwise. Her daughter has been a shining example of this through her experiences as someone currently diagnosed with ASD.

A person who sees the world through autistic eyes truly experiences things very different ways from someone who does not. While this can be said of any person, it happens to be something I understand quite well. With more than one daughter living life with some of these alternate perceptions from my own, I have learned to understand and nurture them through assessing with empathy.

I can notice a situation now and say, “Oh, my daughter might be upset by x,y,z,” and better know how to help her with that, as a result. This is not because I look at a thing and think, “that would bother me,” it’s because I can look at it, understanding her thought process differences as I do, and think, “that will bother her.” This could never happen if I maintained the thought, “we are all the same.”

GRAVESEND, ENGLAND – JANUARY 13: A steep uphill climb in the Junior Womens race during The National Cyclocross Championships at Cyclopark on January 13, 2019 in Gravesend, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)
GRAVESEND, ENGLAND – JANUARY 13: A steep uphill climb in the Junior Womens race during The National Cyclocross Championships at Cyclopark on January 13, 2019 in Gravesend, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images) /

I can’t

Another of my favorite points from this episode of The Wayward Podcast was the fact that responsibility also lies with the person who has the need. Rarely addressed, and coming from that angle myself, I agree that no one can help you if you do not allow it.

And even more true, certainly not if they don’t know you need it. The inner struggle of acceptance is one we all understand. Many of us just can’t accept that there might be a thing we can’t do. Wrap your head around that irony for a sec.

Yes, one of the most rarely enjoyed phrases in any language. Whether it’s being said to us or by us, it seems to have a permanently attached level of disappointment and sometimes even anger. But my mother always said to me, “I can’t means I don’t want to.” And as an adult, I now finally understand that.

But, over my years, I have also come to realize that statement only applies to some things. Yes, I can actually push myself to do things that I could also walk away from. Can I actually take one more second of that thing? I don’t want to. However, if you want me to go biking in the mountains, well there’s something I literally can’t do.

Rachel said something in passing that I understood so hardcore. I wished I could just jump in there and give her a huggie. She said that every day, multiple times, she is annoyed beyond belief with the fact that she can’t always make her hands do what she is telling them to. She thinks, “This should be a simple action!” Same, Rachel, same.

Have you ever heard of “drop foot?” Sometimes it means that you lift your leg to take a step but your foot isn’t where your brain says it is. Then you fall down the stairs and bruise your back muscles, sending you into a state of full-body inflammation. Then your wayward blood tells your cells to attack each other and destroy your own eye. Leg! Why have you betrayed me?!

Kim said she has held the belief that anyone with an unmet need might be constantly “in simmering discontent.” That has prevented her from approaching people — asking what she could do, or asking about their situation. She didn’t want to make anyone angrier than they already might be.

Rachel understands that, having mentioned how the very appearance of a person in a wheelchair can put people on edge. They worry if their hotel will be good enough, are they going to be sensitive enough, will this person leave here angry or yell at them? I have seen that as well and in extreme cases, that natural hesitation can even lead to danger.

When I wore a heart monitor for a month, the leads and device were visible. During that time, at both a huge amusement park and a prominent museum in Washington, D.C., I was looked at like, “what is that device? (is it a bomb?)” When I detected people’s panic at my appearance, I offered up that it was a heart monitor. Do you know what happened? I was escorted around security.

No questions, just a sense of fear. “She must be suffering, fragile, sad.” (I wasn’t). “Don’t bother her, she has a heart monitor!” What if I had been lying? I had an overwhelming understanding that this probably happens a LOT. Who else got past security that day? The unwillingness to ask about my obvious difference became a danger to everyone there.

But this also demonstrates how easy the situation changed from me being a potential threat to me being someone to pity (though unnecessary). The simple explanation of my appearance made it all very different.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 25: A man in a wheelchair holds onto a bicycle seat as he is pulled up a hill in central Birmingham on January 01, 2019 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 25: A man in a wheelchair holds onto a bicycle seat as he is pulled up a hill in central Birmingham on January 01, 2019 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images) /

Maybe I can

Having been in situations like those, though, I know what it means to have to say, “I can’t.” And almost without fail, I have attached other words to that — “I’m sorry.” Why? Because I associated my lack of ability to a disappointment or burden to others. Rachel has said that this is her biggest worry — being a burden to her friends.

They all had a healthy laugh reminiscing of a time when that was a reality in her mind. In the streets of Chicago, her chair stopped working and her friends ended up pushing her around the town to their destinations.

Like Kim said, “Sometimes the thing you’re afraid of, comes true.” Or, a new thing could happen that you didn’t even think about. Rachel is a generous soul. Kim admires how she moves along without judgment whenever possible.

She used an example of her friends inadvertently suggesting a place for lunch that Rachel happens to know doesn’t have an access ramp. She doesn’t assume they’re disregarding her needs or not thinking of what she will require.

She maintains this view because she says she tries to come from a place of empathy in all her thoughts when she can. She noted that since she has not always used the wheelchair, she finds herself thinking of going to the place without the ramp, as well. Then she realizes, “Oh darn it, I can’t get in there.”

Like anyone else, she has times when she’s frustrated with her situations or her environment, or the fact she can’t make her hands behave. But that knowledge coupled with her concern about putting her friends in a position to have to help her sometimes keeps her from things. Kim doesn’t like that and they talked about a Supernatural convention where the stage had no access.

Kim remembered that when she realized it, she was so angry. Apparently, something went down because that was when Rachel realized that sometimes you do need someone to speak up for you. Sometimes you need to be the one to speak up for yourself.

Rachel has spent more than one convention not attending extra events because she was not willing to have to ask her friends to bring her on and off the stage for the bathroom, for example. Add that to the feeling of knowing you’d have to get someone involved, almost like having to ask for permission to go potty.

She knew she would need help and instead of what she considered to be causing a burden, she just avoided situations that would require asking for help. She was limited now, she could take it.

Accepting that she had her differences has been hard, as anyone would understand. But Kim threw down that day. Rachel doesn’t want to miss out and her friends don’t want her to. The fans wanted to know why she didn’t come to a thing. She had to look it all in the face.

She did want to go and it was ok to say, “if we’re going to do that, I’m going to need help.” If no one knows, they can’t have the opportunity to reach out and say, “Hey, we want you there, so what can we do to make it easier for you?” So maybe after accepting there are limitations for you, keep in mind that “Maybe I can, but I am going to need help,” also exists.

BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – FEBRUARY 19: A Indiana Hoosiers cheerleader performs in the game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Assembly Hall on February 19, 2019 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – FEBRUARY 19: A Indiana Hoosiers cheerleader performs in the game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Assembly Hall on February 19, 2019 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The golden rule

Along with pointing out that we are all unique in our own wayward, beautiful ways, Rachel reinforces that it’s important to also know there are many things that we all share. No matter what the situation, there’s a reason they call it the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

The only thing you can know is how you would feel if someone said or did a thing to you. Be it positive or negative, this golden rule can be a good tool. While differences are certain, the knowledge that some things are simply human can guide you in the most critical ways. No one wants their feelings hurt, but asking “can I make this easier for you?” is rarely a way to cause pain.

“What would I want if that was me?” It’s a tricky question because if you were you in so-and-so’s shoes, the experience may not be the same as it is for her in her shoes. If you say “all redheads XYZ,” and one person has natural red hair while the other has dyed theirs red, the two people will perceive the statement in different ways.

One is a redhead, and one just looks like one. If you don’t know which is which, how can you assume the way the statement will be perceived? At the same time, how do we navigate society without walking on eggshells?

Briana talked about how she has many comedian friends and likes to crack some bold jokes, herself. She has seen how the inclusivity mindset is penetrating thought processes significantly in comedy.

She recalled a time when someone used an accent that wasn’t their native one, and the crowd did not respond the way they might have five years ago. But we don’t always realize a thing until we’ve been told, “Hey, I don’t think that’s funny. That offends me.”

Briana says that when she sees something like that happen, or if she is told the same directly, she doesn’t think of it as “being schooled.” She welcomes the opportunity as a chance to grow and apologize, if necessary. Kim said she’s been schooled before.

She noted her tendency to defend herself, “But I didn’t mean it that way, you just didn’t understand!” They hashed out how that might be a reaction that is born of self-defense. No one wants to say, “Oh, that was insensitive of me.” Kim suggested it’s a story our brains create because we believe we hurt someone and well, we don’t want to be a-holes.

And we don’t want to think someone is trying to control our actions. But how can we know if we’re not told? And what do we do if we are told we’ve hurt someone? Kim calls it confidently failing — a term both Rachel and Briana like.

We can be sorry. We can say so and ask what we can do differently. Then we can try to avoid “next time.”

Rachel says she is sometimes guilty of asking cliche questions that are not PC, but her intention is in a good place. She truly just wants to know, she wants to be helpful and understand. Unfortunately though, sometimes a person is simmering in discontent like Kim worried.

Sometimes they will take out their frustration on you. But the higher odds are that you will learn, they will appreciate you asking, and the world will be a better place. We don’t have to be defensive of our lack of knowledge. The truth is that we are all still learning.

Rachel thinks it happens in a lot of cases because we are coming from a place of our own vantage point. When we hear, “Hey, you said something that was hurtful to me,” we hear “you” not “me.” That’s where defensiveness has room to blossom- thinking it’s about how you are affected over the fact that you have affected another.

Rachel talked about how if she is sitting and listening to Kim tell her a sad story, it may not be the time for Rachel tell her about her papercut. Sometimes people just need you to listen and while we think saying, “Oh yeah, I totally get that because XYZ,” may be validating, it can also be a disservice if the timing is wrong.

I do it, myself. I’ve been doing it all through my post right here, today. When I add my own story into this discussion, it isn’t to take away from the stories that were being told on The Wayward Podcast. That’s not my intent. There, that is my defensive statement — I’m not trying to hurt anyone.

If Rachel says, “I know what you mean, look at my papercut!” Kim loses the comfort she was seeking because Rachel is now asking for it from her by sharing her pain. It’s tricky business, this inclusivity.

It’s not about saying, “I have pain, so I understand yours.” While doing that is a loving gesture, when it comes to inclusivity, it’s not necessarily part of the process. The idea of inclusivity is to drag everyone upwards. We can try to help take away their pain, not take away from their pain.

Here in my post about their podcast, maybe there is a little room for my story. I am adding my thoughts in to show that I believe I understand and hoping it will provide a little more detail through added examples. As Rachel put it, we all have our own set of hurdles. If I was sitting with a friend, listening to their story, giving them the floor is often much more valuable for them.

If we can “find a way to stop stonewalling that energy,” as Rachel put it, we can be like Briana tries to be. “I want to be better at inclusion. I encourage all of us to want to be better,” she says. They don’t want us to take this podcast and say, “This is how Rachel, Briana, and Kim say we should act.”

They just wanted to share their experiences and feelings, and have us take those into our hearts when we go forward making our own choices in this wayward world of ours. They want us to carry on and bring everyone with us that wants to come. Up, up, up, my friends.

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Are you someone who has a need or desire for inclusivity? What is the number one thing that makes it harder for you? The number one best thing? Let’s have the conversation in the comments below, or send us a tweet!

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