From love and loss, to mental health and identity, Jackie Kai Ellis, once a contributor to Vita Daily, as well as a bestselling author, will be joined by a guest in each episode of her new podcast, You & I, as they explore answers to questions from listeners. We chatted with Jackie to learn more. —Vita Daily
Why a podcast, now?
I had been thinking about this podcast for a long time, but I hesitated, because I wanted to make sure that I could add something of value to the listener, something I felt was worthwhile. And I’m sure many can relate with feeling unsure about putting myself out there as a host of an advice podcast, especially knowing how sacred vulnerable questions can be, while not being an expert and also wanting to treat each question with the utmost respect. Though, after writing the advice column, I realized it was one of the things that gave me the most joy to do. I was always energized and inspired by it. I loved how delving into each question both changed me, and hopefully helped someone out there in a positive way. It was coincidental that More Good Media reached out to see if I would be interested in doing a podcast. The timing was perfect and I felt ready to be vulnerable, in hopes that others may want those very same vulnerable conversations I’ve grown so much from.
We understand that You & I follows sort of an “advice column” format; can you tell us about that, how it will work, how we can submit questions, and why?
The podcast follows my advice column, ASK JKE, where listeners can submit their questions about anything: life, loss, purpose, the questions that they struggle with in sleepless hours. Listeners can submit their questions through the website, youandipodcast.com, or via DM on Instagram @youandi.podcast. From what I’ve noticed, we all struggle, we all mourn, we all yearn and question. It’s what makes us so human. Though, so many struggle alone, thinking they are the only ones, ashamed even by the thoughts that everyone has probably had. It’s by putting these questions out there for discussion that will help the listener who is wondering the same thing, have compassion for self. And hopefully, there are some encouraging perspectives or solutions in there as well.
What types of guests can we expect to hear share their advice/experiences in relevance to submitted questions?
My hope is that the guests will be your neighbour, your best friend, you, the listener. I am not looking for experts. I want to ask someone who has gone through the same experience as the asker…someone who has asked the same question and come out with some wisdom to share. I want people to know that there is so much wisdom in our immediate community, if we just reached out, we could find that we are all not so different after all. The way this will work is that we will always tease the next episode’s question, and listeners are invited to write in their story for consideration as a guest in that episode. If they’ve gone through the same thing as the asker, they are one of the best people to speak to this story.
What’s your main aim with the You & I podcast? Subject matter you’re hoping to explore?
You & I was born out of a genuine hope that through the telling of our most vulnerable stories, we empower each other with the bravery woven in them, too. It’s through sharing that we know, in the moments where it matters so much, that we are not alone, and I want listeners to know that. I also want people to see how similar we all are, that we can see each other with compassion because we are all going through such similar battles.
In your opinion, how does vulnerability/being vulnerable espouse bravery and resilience?
I’ve found, in my own life, that fear only grows in the silence of our thoughts. Once we voice them in a safe space, they lose their power because we realize that we do not have to face our fears alone, and that sometimes our fears even sound silly when the clarity of voice is added to it. The same can be for shame, if we all realized we felt shameful of the exact same things, the power of it shifts to compassion. But it takes bravery to take the first step, and bravery inspires bravery. And with each time we choose to show up for ourselves, the more confident and resilient we become.
In your experience, how does sharing and openness help with healing and facilitate empowerment?
I’ve depended on my community for healing. In those times where I haven’t seen myself so clearly, when my own mirror is foggy from distorted thoughts and fears, a trusted, loving group with clear eyes has cleaned off this mirror and asked me what I see and what I want to see. But if I never shared, the connection and trust would have never been built over the many years. It also brings to mind the time I was writing my memoir, The Measure of My Powers. It was a very vulnerable retelling of my life, and though I hesitated out of fear of judgement, I decided to write it anyway because I knew that, in the process, I might be able to see and accept myself wholly. And if I got a little closer to accepting and loving myself as I truly am, that is the ultimate form of empowerment.