The Mindspace Podcast #9: Purpose, Politics, and Well Being with Kim Manning

welcome to the Mindspace podcast I’m
Joe Flanders thanks for tuning in I’m recording this intro the day after the
midterm elections in the US which is obviously an important moment for
Americans and many people all over the world for many of us the results seem to
reflect a troubling level of polarization in the US but they also
reflect a high level of engagement with a political process which i think is a
very encouraging sign no matter what side of the spectrum you’re on this
topic of political engagement is the theme of the podcast today it’s an
increasingly important issue for me personally because I think that
engagement is an important aspect of the resilience of communities but also the
health and well-being of individuals I did a deep dive into these issues with
kim manning someone who lives and breathes these issues every day kim is a
professor at concordia university here in montreal and the principal of it’s a
Simone de Beauvoir Institute after many years of research and social justice
work Kim recently made the jump into politics she’s currently running to be
the federal Liberal Party’s nominee in the writing of nutriment in Montreal and
as you’ll hear she has a lot to say about how her sense of purpose and her
commitment to her values has been transformational both for her and for
her community in our conversation we talked about her personal experience
with a gender nonconforming family member that inspired her to become an
advocate for the transgender community we talked about her role in supporting
Bill c16 and confronting its critics including Jordan Peterson the U of T
professor who became pretty famous for all of his critiques of the bill we
talked about all the excitement and all the challenges of her political campaign
and how her family her sense of purpose her meditate
in practice and even some Zumba classes help her maintain a modicum of balance
in her crazy life to find out more about Kim and her work you can visit
kim manning CA that’s k IM ma n n ing dot CA now over the years working as a
psychologist I’ve really come to appreciate that mental health is more
than just the absence of disease it also involves the promotion of the positive
aspects of life including gratitude compassion purpose and meaning and this
intuition is increasingly supported by the research in positive psychology if
you’re interested in this work I would highly recommend working with an act
therapist that’s acceptance and commitment therapy or developing a
meditation practice of course so these services are available at mine space and
at presents and more information is available at mine space well being calm
and presence meditation dot CA and now here’s my conversation with Kim men okay Kim welcome to the podcast
Thank You Jo how you doing today I’m doing great thank you okay good let’s
start by you just giving us a little intro into what you do and how you got
into doing what you do all right well first of all thank you for having me
it’s been really great to reconnect with you after a few years of heart and so
it’s fun to fun to get a chance to talk in this context so I’m currently the
principal of the Simone de Beauvoir Institute at Concordia University I’ve
been teaching at Concordia since 2004 and I was originally hired to teach
Chinese politics so my background is very much focused on not so much
contemporary Chinese politics but looking really at the Revolutionary era
1940s 1950s so many of my my sort of formative years in graduate school and
prior to that were spent in China both doing research and language study the
last few years however things have taken a bit of a turn and my own work has my
research and my teaching have shifted away from Chinese politics per se toward
a greater focus and expression of what is one form of social action research
here in Canada and that’s in part what led me to become the principal of the
Simone de Beauvoir Institute three years ago
what is social action research okay so social action research is an approach to
research where you essentially know what the problem is you know it’s been well
defined clearly understood as a pre-existing problem often social
problems and the researcher instead of trying to continue to define the problem
and maybe a new theoretical understanding of the problem actually
enters research with the intention to transform so it’s a very different
kind of approach from the idea of the researcher is an objective external
outsider and there are many many different forms of social action
research and in in our in my own approach and in the work of the folks
that I’ve been working with over the last few years there’s been a both a
highly personal dimension to the research as well as a real commitment to
activating new bodies of knowledge and new networks and also organizational
kinds of approaches to transformation and specifically the work that I’ve been
doing has been very much an ally ship with the LGBTQ and the transgender
community yes so I definitely I would love to hear about all that stuff but I
think for the purposes of this discussion maybe we can get into your
the personal side of that okay and this transform a transformative experience
you had over the last few years mm-hmm so I mean one of the neat things for me
about reconnecting with you is that when I took the MBSR course back in 2011 I
was literally just coming and I just applied for my first grant related to in
particular to parent advocacy of for on behalf of transgender children and and
so I kind of knew you in this sort of very this moment of transition for for
myself and I remember getting the grant that June and it was also at the same
time my family had moved to trauma as well for me it was a highly personal
shift that I was taking at that moment a close family member of mine who was at
that point in time very gender non-conforming and potentially
transgender and that really galvanized me when I was looking out at the world
and looking at the the very unwelcoming state of the world for for people who
non-binary not identifying as male or female or who or transgender in the
sense that they don’t identify with the gender that they were assigned at Birth
and and so for me that was very galvanizing and and really prompted me
to in a sense cultivate new allies and new friendships and and new ways of
trying to approach this problem so instead of trying to fix this close
family member of mine really approaching this as this is actually a societal
problem and and and we need to fix society rather than this particular
individual who I was close to I’m not sure that this will be necessary but it
might be I’m just wondering if you could clarify some of those terms you
mentioned non-binary right gender non-conforming yes transgender yes there
may be another one and I have a feeling the nuance there is important yes
absolutely so for individuals who aren’t non-binary
again they they don’t necessarily identify as feeling particularly like a
woman or like a man and their preference is to really not be classified as one or
the other and as you might imagine that’s still very very hard in our world
which you know as you can any almost any institution still requires an M or an F
on on all kinds of documentation so so that is a real challenge people who are
transgender the term transgender is a much larger wider kind of catch-all term
and it can sometimes be used in reference to non-binary people but it
tends to be used more more frequently in reference to people who who again who
who don’t identify you know when they were born the doctor said looking at
genitals saying okay well this is a boy or this is a girl and then as that
person evolved and grew in fact did not identify with that
gender so that that’s important now being transgender doesn’t necessarily
mean you have medical intervention or surgery or any of this it’s it’s it’s
really based on how you feel you are who you are inside and and I think that’s
really important for for folks to understand in my work we we also talk
about gender non-conforming or gender non-conforming expression or behavior
and and that can mean that you know lots of people can be done during
non-conforming in all kinds of ways it doesn’t mean that they’re transgender it
may mean that for example you know a eighteen year old guy going out to the
club likes to wear skirts and lipstick and and that’s a way of going to the
clubs and and dancing for the night it doesn’t mean they’re gay doesn’t mean
they’re straight doesn’t mean they’re trans it’s just a form of express
self-expression so they’re there they’re there are all kinds of subtleties and
and I think important distinctions in this world but what we’re finding I
think and and this is very interesting is that in this cultural moment there is
more space I mean we’re still living in a highly transphobic time a time where
you know it’s still very very difficult on multiple levels to be transgender but
things have changed enormous ly just in the last six seven
years since we first met I mean it’s it’s the world has shifted particularly
in large cities from from when I first started entering this this this fear so
that’s exciting it’s encouraging and yet there still remains lots and lots of
work to do and and you can see that you know for example in the United States
there’s been backlash underway with the Trump administration and
and all kinds of ways in which it’s become more difficult again to be
transgender so you mentioned that the approach that you’re taking yourself and
bringing to your research and presumably with your colleagues is to address this
issue as a societal problem and not like a pathology or aberrant behavior by
individual yeah maybe you can just speak to why that shift is important so yeah
for a long time as you probably well know given your clinical background
gender non-conforming behavior transgender individuals were largely
treated as symptomatic of some kind of mental having mental health issues right
that they needed to be treated for as if they were in some way mentally
incapacitated that approach in in part because of deep work by now several
generations of folks in the social sciences and sociology
in the humanities as well who have been arguing actually you know again it’s
this is not a pathology this is just this is just a part of human expression
right and we in the West have just been extremely limited and then our
understanding and our recognition of human diversity so I think that’s that’s
the first thing but but the second thing is because again I’m my my area of work
and my advocacy has been alongside of and in support of young people who are
transgender and gender non-conforming and what we have what is emerged I think
very significantly over the last again six seven eight years is a whole new
body of research and what that research is telling us is that young people who
have the support of their parents and their communities their religious
communities you know the the people who surround them but
importantly the family and the parents young people who are supported their
incidences of self-harm suicidal ideation and an actual attempts at
suicide drop dramatically one study suggested by 93 percent you know like I
mean really really dramatic this is very significant because in the past clinical
researchers have looked at trans people and said Oh 43%
you know risk of suicide wow something’s really wrong with you know this whole
population well again it’s not it’s not that’s not individually that’s not
internally generated that’s in response to the stress of living in a transphobic
a deeply transphobic Society so you get involved in advocating for this relative
of yours people just tell us what happened there and I think it was
transformative for you personally I’m curious to hear about how that happened
yeah so in many ways I mean there were a number of things that that personally
were happening for me over the last few years as I was supporting this person
who I’m very close with part of it was that I in my own research independent of
the social action research I was doing I was also completing a major book that
I’ve been working on for a long time on the Chinese Revolution and in fact my
editor at Cornell is waiting for that final manuscript I’m trying to find so
maybe when I take that leave you know when I’m finally an official nominee
that’s when all I’ll be it’s not gonna take long I just need need about a month
to to get that done so but part of it was finishing that book project and
really having the confidence to speak speak my truth to really lay claim to an
area that I’d done a lot of work in for a long time and really have the courage
just to to to really say to really define and lay out how I saw this
particular period and and what and what the contributions were that I had to
bring so that was happening at the same time I was also emerging as an advocate
for this person in my life who I’m close to and and and these were in some ways
reinforcing developments because I was needing to take risks to emerge publicly
and you know begin to hold press conferences go to schools give training
at schools support other people who were going through similar kinds of
experiences that I was going through why did you have to do those things oh I
didn’t have to but for me it in many ways it felt like it became there became
a point where there were other people around me who were who were emerging and
doing public work and someone that I’m very close to who actually there was one
particular moment who was very far away when things kind of hit the fan in the
media and this friend of mine was in South Africa doing research and and it
was at that moment actually that my husband and I said okay we we’re gonna
we’re gonna step out now we’re gonna step out and you know into a kind of a
public moment and it was actually my husband who wrote the that not an op-ed
but just a letter to the editor in The Globe and Mail kind of responding to
what was happening in that moment yeah what was in that moment you said when
things hit the fan well it was essentially it was a columnist with the
Globe and Mail had misgendered the the child of a friend of mine in the paper
and and was making light of not making light but was questioning the the
choices that were being made about how this child was being raised and
firmed and and so Jason my husband panda just a short but very clear piece about
individuals who who were advocating on behalf of family members particularly
young family members do not take this work lightly right and and it involves a
great deal of self-reflection and this is not a jumping on the bandwagon this
is not because it’s cool it’s Mazar not decisions that are taken lightly but
they were being presented in such a way that these are individuals who are
jumping on some kind of protons activist bandwagon as if this is you know a
trendy thing to do when it is anything but sure so you kind of develop this
mission in life or you become more active in advocating and then how does
that translate into becoming politically active and getting involved with the
Liberal Party so you know again different streams happening at the same
time so three years ago I became principal at the Simone de Beauvoir
Institute and for me when I came in to that role I you know and I think one of
the reasons I was asked to step into that role was because of the emerging
advocacy that I was doing and and the way in which my research had been
shifting when I came into the role at concordia though for me i really what i
really began to see was that I wanted to continue working alongside the
transgender community and I have continued to do so and I’ll talk a
little bit about that in a minute but I also really was recognizing how many of
the issues that I care about are so deeply intersecting you know that
there’s this it’s that that it’s the the idea of one of for example rights braced
approach which I have also been very active in in terms of addressing some of
the needs of the community in fact there’s so many other
issues in that compound how many different trans people experience the
world and in the case of you know my family and and the person who you know
I’ve been striving to protect in many ways there they have a lot of resources
and support that that many other people don’t so for me it became a kind of a
moving into a larger moving into a kind of a opening up the advocacy and and
really working my way into thinking about equity and how to make in my role
at at the Simone de before Institute how to use that role as a way to help the
university to open up and and become more affirming from a wider
understanding of equity right so I’ve been doing a lot of work around race and
and all kinds of other issues that intersect with this original advocacy
but but don’t necessarily always align just on that one hue to that one issue
so that was happening and then the other significant thing for me last spring in
particular was having an opportunity to work with some key members in the Senate
to try and get some major legislation approved which was Bill c16 and Bill c16
was written to protect gender identity and gender expression and the Human
Rights Code so it was expanding but well the Human Rights Code and the Criminal
Code you know under what can be protected
in in that legislation and for me it was it was about a six-week two-month period
where I wrote co-wrote actually three different opinion editorials and went to
Ottawa I think three times twice presenting two different Senate
committees on this issue and that experience for me
not-not-not only presenting and actually having an opportunity to to lay out some
arguments in front of people who’d been opposing the legislation and opposing it
for a very long time and and and these are some of those people were people I’d
actually written about in my academic work so this was a very very powerful
galvanizing moment to actually sit there and say this is why this is important
this is why this is how this law can help to change the way we look at other
people who you say are human beings and deserve respect and dignity but this is
how it’s actually going to impact them right so having that opportunity to make
that case was very powerful and also seeing people up close in my case you
know working with a senator originally from Alberta who who was so deeply
invested in getting this legislation passed and I you know I was on the phone
as he was preparing his speech and he is asking questions and wanting to get it
right and so invested in in really making us powerful of speech as he could
now is hugely moving you know or seeing jodi wilson Reybold our Minister of
Justice the moment when the legislation passed into law by a landslide and her
turning around and having tears on her cheeks right that that is extraordinary
just gave me shivers to actually see public servants that invested and trying
to create change and and so that’s really the moment when I began to think
about okay how how do how can I something I’ve long thought about but
never concretely in a way of could I actually make a move in this direction
that’s when I thought no this is this is something that this is this is where I
can make a major contribution at the risk of taking a detour or kind
of introducing a parenthesis here for a second because this is really the heart
of what I want to talk about yeah the sense of purpose that moved you into
this new role even though you you know have a great career and you’re active
and maybe even at the peak of your academic success making a major life
change with a family and all that but I just wanted to get your thoughts on this
so bill c16 if I’m thinking of the right legislation became a very hot topic in
the media yeah and if I’m again getting this right it was particularly a critic
of Bill c16 that made it very public and that’s a Jordan Peterson and so how are
you reading what he was up to and maybe actually if you could just summarize I
could summarize why don’t use some okay so I’ll do my best but definitely
correct me if I’m getting some of the facts wrong so Jordan Peterson is a
University of Toronto psychology professor and full disclosure a former
mentor of mine and a somewhat middling academic for most of his career I
believe he’s in his 50s now but very bright and had a very sort of up and
down no I’m gonna say that for reasons that aren’t totally clear he heard about
this legislation and decided he it was very important for him to fight it and
he fought it on the grounds basically of a free speech position and he claimed
that the legislation was coercive in compelling people to use the pronouns of
transgender individuals choice and so he felt that was unfair
and he has a very elaborate and abstract argument that it is a sort of an outcome
of a extreme left ideology that is making its way into law and he felt that
was really inappropriate so I don’t know if I have some of their summarize that
correctly but I’m very curious to hear your point of view on that okay sure
well yeah so first of all I’ve never met Jordan Peterson and I actually have not
read for example his most recent book or his academic pieces so all I’ve seen our
snippets here and there in the context of short media sound bites and some of
what he did in the Senate for example because he presented a couple of weeks
after me in the Senate and I will also say you know that he’s he’s somebody
with a strong Jungian background right and and I mean that the Carl Jung’s work
actually was hugely formative in my own psychology if you will and so it’s it’s
it’s somewhat not humorous but I bet but I see that there’s something about me
where I I think oh that’s the you know that’s interesting that that he could
end up there and I could end up here right and you know thinking about
meaning and purpose and you know all all of that so you know I think and I think
the other thing too that’s interesting here and I’ll you know a couple of other
parallels so some some of the things I’ve read about him are that you know
he’s been a big he’s done a lot of reading about Soviet propaganda and
ideology and he’s Chinese as well and so he’s extremely wary of these kind of
leftist movements and the overriding of the individual liberty I think and
that’s and that’s a core concern of his and quite frankly it’s a concern I share
and and it’s not one that I take lightly I
there and it’s not one that that I want to easily dismiss right I mean I’m a
student of maoism I’ve spent years studying maoism
and and I’ve and not just you know second hand I’ve interviewed people I’ve
read archival documents I’ve been steeped in that world and in the the
propaganda of that world and and and literally how people saw themselves and
others in the context of that highly ideological period in time and it’s not
something that I think we should be striving to reproduce in in any way
shape or form in terms of the way it does close down our capacity to engage
with one another to have dissent to be creative even as there was a certain
passionate expression and and there was an intention to create a better society
certainly and I don’t want to undermine that aspiration either because that
certainly was there but how that all came into being was deeply flawed in
part because of in part because of the increasing rigidity and fear-based
nature of the campaign’s that were that were underway this is something that you
know and I’ve talked about this before actually in the context of another
interview that I did a few months ago you know people would be surprised and
maybe Jordan Peterson would be surprised to know that that among my colleagues
and women’s studies we talk a lot about how do you maintain a classroom and how
do you create and maintain a classroom in which people feel like they feel
comfortable they feel like they can engage but where the idea of creating
safe spaces doesn’t mean shutting down the possibility for talking about
difficult topics right and I think that’s one of Jordan Peterson’s fears is
that that in effect that you’re saying okay
well this is a no-go zone and that’s a no-go zone and trigger warnings and you
know how is it there any way that you can have an engaged intellectual life in
that context and so you know we’re this is a constant and we do we do pedagogy
retreats every year at the Institute this this is a this is something you you
you return to and return to and return to again it’s one of the things I love
about the work at the Institute however you know we we have both you know
whether you think about in the context context of parliamentary rules for
example how Civic discussion takes place in the chamber how you refer to people
you know actually in that forum there are expectations about how you address
one another and in our daily life and guided by law we have expectations about
how we’re going to interact with one another so a professor cannot for
example call a student honey-pie because you know they think it’s a cute name
right there there there are actual guidelines about how we can refer to one
another and and and and there are forms of address that if repeated over time
and with malicious attempt you know intent yes can be seen as a form of
harassment for example but that’s a very rare situation it’s very rare and and
and we’re not you know that’s that’s we’re not what we’re talking about here
what we’re talking about is providing people with a sense of basic dignity and
respect which again is what we have codified for ourselves and each other in
all kinds of forms and changes over time and and that’s that’s the part of the
society we live in so to me this is actually a very reason
and not just reasonable it’s part of how we create a society in which we grant
each other dignity in the context of our
interactions so I’m feeling the passion that we talked about before and I I
really appreciate it and I’d like to dip into it a little more and thanks for
going to the Jordan Peterson thing it’s very controversial I know a lot of
people wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole
because it’s yeah so there was that turning point after your political
engagement and seeing how many people in the political arena care mm-hmm so what
did you do well I actually well again and this was the other thing that was
was extraordinary because I approached somebody in the Senate who who had been
I’d been working closely with and and he had said you know I’d really love to see
you step into politics and when one shape or another and I said well you
know I’ve I’ve actually been a little bit more to the left
yeah and he was like well you know oh I’ll introduce you to some people I know
in the NDP I don’t care which party I just want you to get in there and and
get involved that for me was also mind blowing because I didn’t expect that to
hear to hear that from you know from somebody who’d been committed to one
particular party for a long time so but I did take time I did think about okay
we’re we’re we’re do my values aligned and where do my values you know which
party is it that my values align with at this particular moment in time and and
for me both in terms of seeing the the MPs that I was getting to know the
members of parliament that I was getting to know in the Liberal Party and the
kind of work that they’ve been doing whether on LGBTQ issues whether on
housing I mean a whole on the environment on a whole array of pieces I I recognized that that this is a place
these are people with whom I can work and with whom I can work productively
and who I can help to realize a more progressive Canada and that’s my goal
that’s my goal and so ultimately I said okay I’m gonna I’m gonna do this I’m
gonna take out a membership in this party and here I go plug you know like
I’m gonna dive in right I’m gonna I’m gonna actually take take this leap and
and see see see you it you know but I you know again but let me backtrack a
little bit more to because it wasn’t just the people it so that was a big
part of it the policies that are underway but I have to say the other
piece for why now is is that it’s my writing that is opened up it’s where I
live it’s where my family and I moved to when we needed a good place a place that
was going to be accepting and and create room for us in our own diversity and and
so for me you know despite the fact that you know I’m an Anglophone i’m i i’m
originally from british columbia you know my second language is Mandarin you
know and and and well I’ve been working very hard on my French for a long time
you know it’s my third language you know despite all of these things I said okay
you know what now now now is the moment this is my
riding these are my people this is this is this is this is the
moment so you’re running for the to represent the Liberal Party in the
writing of bootrom oh yeah in the special election coming up my election
there’ll be a by-election and probably in two or three months okay yep and so
what are you doing to prepare and campaign for that race yeah so well
first of all I’m I mean really I’m preparing right now for
the investiture for the nomination to become the Liberal Party’s nominee here
in the writing so that’s that’s the first step and that is well that
actually and I’ve just passed the six-month mark really from when I
publish declared that this was something I was
going to do so that was late February it’s been a it’s been uh it’s hard to
know where to begin because it’s been such a huge project and nothing that I
could have anticipated when I started I knew what I wanted to do I knew that I
wanted to have an engaged participatory open process one that aligns with my
values that that places equity and inclusion at the heart of the work but I
didn’t know how do you how do you do that how do you do that when you’ve
never been a a candidate before I have never been involved in a campaign before
so even though I’ve studied political science and in particular gender and
politics you know most of my adult life I hadn’t the experience coming in either
the party experience or the actual campaign experience so we basically
started from scratch right and and have been building a team that that in a
sense has usually included between like a core team of between 10 and 15 people
depending on you know what various commitments those people have at any
given moment in time we have been onboarding then all kinds of other
people in in all kinds of different ways whether people have been for a you know
a lot of the early months we were hosting meet and greets you know one of
which you attended right where it where it’s an opportunity for me to to say
this is who I am and this is what I’m trying to do and you know could I have
your support would you consider becoming a member of
the Liberal Party and supporting my candidacy because in a sense I’ve I’ve
had two my own liberal party in the writing
right I’m I’m I’m new to the party and and that that yeah so it has meant that
I’ve literally had to start from scratch so early days with the meet and greets
but now a lot of my work is in the the neighborhood so first of all I mean the
writing itself is extremely diverse 25% is the neighborhood of Kumo right 25% is
the neighborhood of Mile End and a little bit of sort of northern plateau
and then 50% of the writing is coding edge and coating edge being of an
extremely diverse set of neighborhoods and it’s in its own right half of the
writing made up of immigrants than half of those immigrants are new arrivals so
a very from all over the world and and so for me this over the course of the
summer it’s been finding ways through connecting with community organizations
going to events but also trying to find ways of actually developing
relationships with people of getting to know people in a at a deeper level to
understand what their lives are like and what what kinds of you know both
both needs that they have what they’re looking for in terms of federal
representation but also what they bring to the table you know and that’s where
the the engagement for me has become so exciting because there are a number of
people who have gotten involved in the campaign including from codeine as
you’ve never been involved in in political work before and and so that to
me is extremely gratifying use this phrase before or like a few moments ago
you were looking for a party that aligned with your values I kind of have
the impression from watching you go that alignment is a huge thing for you and I
feel like it’s even I’m correct me if I’m getting this wrong
even in the sort of a signature for your campaign it’s like leadership with heart
or something yes like you’re you’re pursuing these ideas
but they’re not abstractions for you this is like the core of who you are
yeah and they’re very relationship based right right so that that’s a key piece
for me is because for me if for me good leadership is is yes it’s about
listening it’s about understanding but it’s it’s also about creating contexts
in which people themselves can become activators and can create new
possibilities for themselves right I feel like I am I am succeeding when the
people around me are fulfilled and engaged and self actualized if you will
and that’s tough it’s tough in neighborhoods like Coke Dinesh right
when you’re when you’re you know dealing with potentially difficult housing
situations when you’re you’ve been trained for one form of work and you’re
not able to get job maybe drop a job because of maybe language issues where
you’ve got family who are in another part of the world you know that’s that’s
a hard call right but if there are ways in which you can be bridging some of
these pieces that to me if people can really come into their own and feel like
yes I can I can make a good life here Wow
right so this of course is an area I’m very interested in I mean I do feel like
I can I’d love to talk politics with you and leadership even for hours but I
think I know more about well-being and I’m really curious about how that
alignment yeah that you have achieved so well what that does to your state of
mind you were chatting before we started recording and you know you had a hectic
day and probably a hectic week in a hectic summer and like you’re basically
always on the go it must be incredibly draining I must be incredibly stressful
but you’re smiling you’re excited it’s just unbelievable so
I should also say that your meditator and so there’s there’s going to be
probably a pretty high level of awareness of how your energies and your
moods are going to be evolving so maybe just speak to that a little bit yeah so
you know that one of the things for me well first of all so yes I am I’m a
meditator I’m also somebody who has developed a much deeper yoga practice
over the last three years particularly since I’ve begun my work as principal of
the Simone de Beauvoir Institute that embodied practice has been really really
key for me given the high level of sociality that is involved in my work
being able to meditate and practice physically in the context of yoga has
been really really key there was a moment 2016 when I became very involved
in a campaign on behalf of Homa hood far who was imprisoned in Iran at that
moment and I became engaged in some of the work liaison you know as liaison
iing between the University and and what some of the family were doing and trying
to create some real momentum behind a public push at that moment in time was a
period of about a month where it was very very engaged it was an emergency
right and and basically you know we’d been told that Homa had been taken to
the hospital that she’d collapsed we did not know if she was gonna survive her
ordeal but I remember going to the yoga studio you know still at that point in
time two or three times a week and that the yoga itself allowed me to replenish
and and maintain my energy during during what was in effect a crisis right like
that was a crisis it it it was nothing was more important in that moment than
getting home a home right now you know the the the alignment it’s easily thrown
there’s no question right and I think one of the really interesting things for
me so yes meditator yes yoga also I spent
many years 25 years I kept a daily journal right I’ve got boxes o journals
so might for me you know the reflection and thinking through and processing and
the Jungian connection I’ve got dream journals has always been really critical the the thing with the campaign is that
you you have these soaring highs and these crashing lows I mean you can
literally go from one hour feeling like oh we’re making great progress I yeah we
mate we may have a chance at this too we’re never gonna we’re never gonna do
this you know it’s we’re never gonna make it
so for me a key part of maintaining my capacity to continue at the pace that I
am is is finding ways to be able to ride these these peaks and valleys of
campaign life right and and and again you you can be feeling like oh you know
again very excited and things are looking really good and then something
happens and you know oh you know we’re never gonna get there kind of feeling
and so and that and that’s something I think that’s a part of anyone’s life
it’s just more exaggerated in the context of a campaign where the the odds
are so not the odds but the the pressure is so high right and you’re working with
a group of people who are all invested on a volunteer basis right and you’re
carrying them as well but they carry you too right and that’s and that’s one of
the beautiful things about doing this work is at least with the people that
that I have been working with from the beginning is this real commitment I
think to each other and to caring for one another and there have been moments
where some people have had to step back because of other things that
emerged or family or work or whatever education you need to go on and and and
that in making space for all of that and and making space for me when I also need
to recover to I think is really cute so alignment I think from that perspective
is is keeping that sense of perspective the other piece though that I would say
there are two other pieces that are really important one is that alignment
for me means alignment with that the work I’m doing now I see as a as a deep
commitment to the realization of strengthening community and I don’t mean
this in some kind of like throwaway line I mean that that’s the basis of my work
at Concordia right now and my hope is that regardless of the outcome of the
nomination or the by-election that the work I’m doing now will strengthen my
university work for example if I continue on without in that context
instead of in Parliament but if I have the the privilege of going into
Parliament then to me that that community building the work we’ve been
doing there’s already a basis and a really significant basis for Verve for
deepening that work the third thing I would say is that the for me a key piece
so over the course of the summer I have connected with folks some folks in the
Filipino community primarily who participate in Samba classes
church basements and community centers I became aware I was at an event at one
point became aware of some music coming from down in the basement I said what’s
going on Oh somebody said somebody don’t some but before maybe I can I can I come
and from that first class I began to connect with people these these these
Zumba classes are small communities in their own right
they’re extremely they’re they’re they’re communities that are extremely
supportive of one another they celebrate birthdays they mark the deaths of
relatives people visiting from outside lots of food often post that you know so
here you sweat your butt off for eat all this incredible Filipino food this but
but they’re very they’re they’re they’re truly strong community ties that are
forged in the context of that but it’s also intense exercise right and for me
dance has been another my whole life you know going dancing has always been a way
to connect with joy and sometimes euphoria right and for me these Samba
classes that sense of community the music it’s it’s been a breakthrough for
me personally and it’s it’s it’s changed me in terms of in the sense of taking
risks of yes I’m gonna screw up these dance steps or look silly
at when somebody pulls me onto the stage and I’m you know up there shaking my
butt you know but it’s a way for me to be vulnerable and and I think that’s
really key in this work of alignment and and being open to people and and really
being able to hear who they are and where they’re coming from
and and and how we can connect on the basis of that so one thing I’m seeing a
lot in my practice and working a lot with in my practice is of course it’s
very important to get cardiovascular exercise and you know maintain good
relationships with you know loved ones and you know there’s lots of
problem-solving to do at times around that and meditation has become something
that people do on a regular basis to stay sort of mentally fit but what what
has occurred to me in doing the work that I do is that in some ways that’s
not enough to solve problems it’s not enough to so
taking meditation example it’s not enough to undo the bad habits that we
have that we’ve developed or the met the it’s not enough to undo the mental bad
habits that we’ve developed it’s not enough to take care of the different
pathologies we have in our relationships or in our own minds or whatever that
there’s something missing from true well-being and that is having this
deeper sense of purpose yeah and I love this quote from Nietzsche who said he
who has a why to live can bear almost any how yeah and so that’s one of the
things that really intrigues me about what you’re doing is you’re very strong
why and I with respect to your comment about riding these waves these ups and
downs and the relationships you have with people you guys are all working
towards something very deeply important to you so I’m just wondering how that
what your take is on that and how the sense of purpose is affecting your life
and your relationships and your family life and your and your energy levels and
all that kind of stuff thank you thank you for asking that question
because as I have deepened into this work the the the question of purpose has
actually clarified for me and I think for me actually my whole life I’ve
always seen presenting myself for politics as my ultimate purpose as as
for me where I can be of most service and I’ve tried other ways to be of
service teaching and doing research and my parenting and there’s all kind of you
know being a good member of the community on all of these other things
have great meaning for me but for me ultimately what I’ve realized is that
for me myself because of my personality because of Who I am I feel like I can be
of greatest service if if I am in a role where I can be
working with people in in in a capacity as a member of parliament or a
legislature to be actually doing that work to me that’s my that’s my my
highest purpose I think at least at this moment in time and as I said you know it
may not it may not play out but but even in in the striving for that there’s deep
meaning and and truly for me you know whether it’s the Zumba classes or
whether it’s being in a mosque for the first time as I was in June I have had
moments of it’s it’s almost radical vulnerability and and that to me there’s
I that sense of aliveness and it’s it’s just a tremendous gift for me and I also
see how people respond so the more the more I’ve committed to this path the
more the people around me and the people who are coming to me I’m meeting an
extraordinary people in all kinds of communities so it’s like the more alive
I become the more I’m interacting and finding and you know opening up to these
other people who are extraordinary and doing extraordinary things with their
lives and their higher purpose is different from mine and Wow look at what
you’re doing and isn’t this extraordinary and you know and even in
my closest relationships yes this is hard right you know my kids don’t get to
see me nearly as often as they did before I started this journey right six
months ago and there’s no question it’s hard it’s hard on my husband too right
it’s hard on the kids and I could talk more about how we manage that whole
piece because that’s that’s whole other and I think it’s more of a
political question actually of how you you you do something like this and it’s
again reflective of the kinds of systems I want to change around around who can
actually go into politics who can who can make these sort of these these
attempts at radical vulnerability if you will but I will say that the more I’ve
invested in this work and and and committed to this work and the happier
I’ve become the more alive my relationship is with my partner you know
and with the other people around me I and and I know in some ways it’s that
doesn’t make sense since in some ways but it also totally
makes sense and and it just affirms for me that you know the guy I married 20
years ago you know is is really the you know my right partner in that you know
if the more alive I become and the more alive he becomes that that that there’s
that connection and and mutual support even three children in and several
houses and you know all that moves and all the you know the various drilled
eyes of life right so that’s really extraordinary – yeah that you talk about
feeling alive and all this work giving back in so many ways it you also use
word vulnerable quite a bit and I sort of get the impression that we all want
that alive feeling but it does require commitment it does require taking the
risk and it does require moving out of your comfort zone and making yourself
vulnerable and that’s not always easy for people but when you have that deeper
purpose it gives you the y-yeah to bare the how so
when one of the people who for me I mean I as I began my journey you know again
seven years ago and then three or four years ago when I you know the my book
and all of these pieces becoming an advocate coming into the public arena it
was only after that that I actually started to read Brenna Browns work and
for me Brandee Browns work really really for me
was this is what I owe this is what I’ve been doing that this is what I’ve been
moving into right and so it’s but her work is also inspiring because it’s it
reminds me of when times are hard and you’re you’re questioning yourself and
you know feeling badly because things are hard for whatever reason it’s it’s
it for me it’s a very inspiring model and a way to remember that you know
vulnerability that that vulnerability is actually or that sweet tenderness as
somebody said to me recently is is really the core of who we are and if we
can find ways not to protect it and shield it off from from the people
around us but nurture it in such a way and let it let it open let it let the
the light and the air in right that there’s that’s that’s that’s where we
grow right that’s that’s really where we grow well this has been a really
interesting conversation we have I think both of us some more mundane concerns to
get to do it then do children and partners needing us and that sort of
thing so one of the wrap-up but maybe you can just tell us how we might learn
about the work that you’re doing and that could be the academic work or
information about the campaign sure how do we find you so different pockets of
work but at Concordia I’m still there and until until I actually achieve
official nominee status and continuing to do work around transforming Concordia
into Canada’s first feminist universities so any any listeners out
there interested in that work get in touch and of course
the campaign work and and if anybody who’s listening would like to find out
more my website is kim manning CA send us an e-mail let us know how you’d like
to get involved we’d love you know this is this is where we’re growing very very
quickly now and we need all the support we can get so thank you and thank you
Joe for having me on and getting the opportunity to have this conversation
like I said I don’t I don’t get a lot of chance for reflection right now so this
is a way for me to also think about how this is all coming together and and why
it’s so important at this moment in my life the pleasure is all mine so thanks
a lot and good luck with all these projects and I’ll talk to you soon okay
thank you okay

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