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Episode 010: A Conversation on Staying Soft During Hard Times with Katrina Jones

A Conversation on Staying Soft During Hard Times with Katrina Jones

Join Sarah Noll Wilson and Katrina Jones as they explore the challenges of maintaining curiosity, connection, and even joy during difficult times.

About our guest

Katrina Jones is the founder and CEO of Advancing Equity + Inclusion, a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Talent consulting and coaching firm. She helps organizations connect their programmatic efforts to comprehensive DEI strategies that help accelerate their progress in building more diverse teams, and fostering more inclusive, equitable, and psychologically safe cultures. Katrina has more than 15+ years of experience leading and managing functions in DEI, HR, and Talent at companies like AWS, Latham & Watkins, and Year Up. She believes that when we prioritize closing equity gaps, our workplaces can become spaces of learning and growth where everyone thrives.

Episode Transcript

Sarah Noll Wilson
Hello, and welcome to this episode of Conversations on Conversations, where each week we explore a topic to help us have more powerful conversations with ourselves and with others. I’m your host, Sarah Noll Wilson, and this week our guest is the brilliant Katrina Jones. So, let me share a little bit about Katrina. Katrina Jones is the founder and CEO of Advancing Equity and Inclusion, a diversity, equity, inclusion, and talent consulting and coaching firm. She helps organizations connect their programmatic efforts to comprehensive DEI strategies that help accelerate their progress in building more diverse teams and fostering more inclusion- more inclusive, equitable, and psychologically safe cultures. Katrina has more than 15 plus years of experience leading and managing functions in DEI, HR, and talent at companies like AWS, Latham & Watkins in Europe. She believes that when we prioritize closing equity gaps, our workplaces can become spaces of learning and growth where everyone thrives. And I am so, I’m so excited for this conversation and to meet you, officially, you know, formally.

Katrina Jones
Sarah, thank you. Thank you, I am so excited. And I just appreciate all the love. I appreciate the invitation and being with you right now is like a dream, because we’ve been connected on social, we’ve been in conversation, and it- this is the first time that we’ve met and it’s like, it’s like meeting the, I don’t know, meeting the Rockstar or the- y’know-

Sarah Noll Wilson
To me, I’m like, it’s like we’re on a first date and you all get to experience it, but we’ve been pen pals for a while, and we’re super excited to get on this date.

Katrina Jones
Yes, yes. I’m gonna call it it’s like the second date, because it doesn’t have the awkwardness.

Sarah Noll Wilson
True, that’s true.

Katrina Jones
It’s the first one where you’re, you’re trying to figure out like, oh, wait, I don’t know, do you- okay. No, it’s better, right?

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, no, it’s- and one of the things you know, so. So we actually, we were chatting for about a half an hour before this, just- but, but one of the things of how I was introduced to Katrina and her work and just who she is, was through Twitter. And and I don’t remember when, when I followed you, where that was, but our circles, our circles collided and we interacted and there was a moment, particularly, and I was scanning back through our direct messages. I don’t remember the post that you pushed against, but there was a post that I shared back in, like, early 2020, and you offered a really like, more specific language around how can organizations think differently about how they are treating their black employees, and showing up, and it just, it fostered this beautiful connection and, and somebody who I feel like always has my back and isn’t afraid to check in with me from a mental health perspective, and vice versa. So I’m so excited.

Katrina Jones
And I’m excited. And thank you for calling that memory back up, because I, I had forgotten. I was racking my brain too trying to figure out, “Wait a minute, how did we-?” And I just, I so love and respect your voice in this space and pushing people to have conversations, and to have conversations even and especially, especially when it’s hard. And your default is, oh, I don’t want to do this, this is uncomfortable, I want to, I want to back out. And you’re doing it, you know, bringing people into this and telling them how how to have these conversations, and how to push through when you feel uncomfortable and when it gets really hard and really difficult. Where that makes sense to, as like you talked about.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, there’s times when we lean in and we have the conversations, and there are times that it’s okay to protect ourselves and stay safe, right? It’s, I- right, and, and when we lean in and go, oh, hmm, I hadn’t thought about that. Or, or, or, you know, or tell me more, whatever that might look like. I think what’s, what, what is so beautiful about having you and even some other guests that we’ve had the privilege of having on the show is it literally, so many of those moments came from not necessarily like easy moments of learning from my perspective, and potentially even maybe not comfortable moments for, for you to speak up or, right, not knowing how the reaction would be. Katrina, why- what would you, what else would you want people to know about you? I mean, we have our formal bios, but what else do you want us to know about you?

Katrina Jones
Oh, gosh. One I should put this out there right away, I’m a Beyonce super fan. Love her, but it’s because I’m from the south. I’m from Texas, and our lives have been parallel in some ways. Not to say that I am Beyonce or anything like that, parallel in that way.

Sarah Noll Wilson
I mean you can, you can own it, you know.

Katrina Jones
I- look, some, some similarities, okay? But she’s, you know, she’s from Texas, she’s from Houston. She grew up in a predominantly black environment, opposite of me because I grew up in a predominantly white environment, but we have the southern roots, and I feel like I’ve watched her grow up, and I have grown up with her. And so it’s, it’s this really close connection of seeing someone whose work and whose talent you admire, and whom you feel like you all are, you know, have ties together in this weird, weird way. Something else I would want the audience to know is that I am somebody who appears, you know, vulnerable and willing to share on some in some spaces. And that’s been a journey for me, it’s been something that’s been really hard actually to, to get to and through and something that I keep pushing myself on. As much as I share. And sometimes I wonder, and question, still, am I oversharing? Am I sharing too much? There’s a lot that I’m not sharing. But I’ve made the choice to put myself out there more in part because I will see people like yourself who put themselves out there and who are honest about what they’re going through, and that invites me, it encourages me, it pushes me to say, you know, somebody else needs to hear what your story is, it will matter, it will have meaning to someone else, and so go, go and do that. And, yeah, I’m so glad to hang out, like, doing that. In a way that’s, one, true to myself, but also honors boundaries.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah. It’s- well, and sometimes in those moments, not only can it be, for me anyway, I’ll speak from my experience, it’s- it often is healing for me to share, and then I realized that can be healing for other people because they realize they’re not alone. And boy, do we- that is a real common theme, is that we often, often feel everyone’s got it figured out, or I’m the only one experienced this, or I’m the only one struggling with X, Y, or Z. And I mean, that’s something that we’ve heard just repeatedly throughout the work that we do, right, clients and personal relationships, and so I appreciate that, that you put yourself out there, because I’m- I am better, I am better because because of that.

Katrina Jones
Yes, yes, I hear that fully. And I have seen that, I experienced that as well. You know, we see people, and we see them in the shiny moments where everything looks perfect. Speaking of Beyonce, right, it’s like Beyonce on stage with the wind machine, and everything, the outfit is perfect, like, everything just seems like it’s working. There’s pyrotechnics, and you just, you just don’t see you just don’t know, what is in the background for people. And, you know, recently, I think we’ve seen a lot of that. And I’ve seen a lot of that. One of the things that I’ve seen is there have been a number of high profile black people in different professions who have committed suicide, and seeing that, and seeing, you know, the woman who was a Miss America or Miss USA, a person who was a mayor of a town in Maryland, there was someone here who was a government official as well, and it again, on the surface you would think these people have it made, they’ve got good lives, all that, and just, you don’t know what is going on with folks. You don’t know. And that sharing is powerful because it, like you said, it tells people, you know, you’re not alone, I am also dealing with this, it gives them permission, not just to you know, share their own story, but, but to also even acknowledge what’s happening for them.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, because I think that’s such a good point from the standpoint of, well, not just the standpoint but from a perspective of- I lost my train of thought as I was trying to clarify, but that’s okay. From, from, from the perspective of there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of suffering that happens in silence, and to the point that I caught my thought, is that you might not even realize that that’s what you’re experiencing. Right. You may not realize that the, we did an episode a couple of weeks ago and I had the chance to speak with Erica Reed about trauma and trauma informed leadership, and that you might not even realize that the reason you may be struggling with focus, the reason you may be emotionally irritable is actually because you’re dealing with some mental health challenges. And, and that point about naming it, like you said, of being able to see it and name it. So now, okay, so now what do I want to do with it?

Katrina Jones
Yeah, that, that is I- oh, that one hits. Right, right in the gut. Because I, I have definitely experienced that in the last few years of experiencing emotions. And it’s, you know, it’s strange. It’s almost like you’re in the ocean, and there’s this, I don’t know, bars or something that’s floating in the ocean nearby, and you can see it, but you can’t really see it clearly. And so it’s, it’s often the distance, and you’re still just going through the motions and doing all the things that you need to do, and seeing that and saying, “Huh, I should- What is that? I want to know what that is, I should be able to see that clearly.” But you, you can’t, you can’t. And when you realize that you haven’t been able to see that thing clearly, and you’re finally able to, to see it, right, to name and say, “Oh, that’s what that, yes, yes, actually.” And now I can go do something about it, I can go talk to people, I can go ask for help, if I need- you know, need to ask for help, I can do all the things that I need to do, not to fix it per se, but just to start to wrap your arms around it.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah. And that, you know, playing on that metaphor that the, the barge in the water is maybe, maybe it’s causing some some rough waves. Maybe it’s causing some waves that are- you know?

Katrina Jones
Yes, yes, yes. Because it will be, yes.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah. The other day my- a friend of mine said, “How are you doing today?” I said, “I’m riding the waves, she said, “Do you need someone to float with you?” And I said, “I don’t know, depends on the moment.” I said, “Some moments I’m, you know, I feel like I have a cocktail in my hand, and I’m floating on the water, and I’m taking in the vitamin D, and the next minute, I forgot how to swim. And you know, and so like, I appreciate that metaphor. And just for quick, quick context for our listeners, we, we know that this, this episode is going to air a few weeks after so, just for context of where we are in the world of recording this, it’s, it’s actually March 4th, and, and we know that we’re in, we’re still in an ever evolving and ever escalating, it feels like, time of uncertainty, and when, when Katrina and I connected about talking, and what would be some topics, all of them were brilliant, and many of them will probably explore in future episodes, but the, the, there was language that you shared that I want to share with the audience that inspired this, this talk, which is, how how do we remain soft when everything around us feels hard? It just- I want to leave that hang a minute. Because even just saying that out loud, it- certainly having a physical reaction to that, because things are, things feel so complex, like we were talking about before hopping on here, in a way that maybe a number of years ago, didn’t. And so I’m curious, you know, just, just to start from, from your own journey, and again, whatever you want to share from the standpoint of your, your evolution into prioritizing, focusing on how, how can we show up more emotionally supportive for ourselves ,and more emotionally supportive for other people?

Katrina Jones
Yeah, you know, so I, I am an empath. I’m going to share lots of things with the audience. I am an empath by nature, and it’s, it’s, you know, it’s a feature that has always been present for me, and when I think about, you know, my life, it was- when I was a kid, I was that kid who would be looking out for, and was hyper perceptive about the kid who was feeling bad, who was feeling left out, the emotions, and so that’s something that I’ve been, you know, navigating. I know it now as a strength. What- the work that I’ve had to do is to work with it, right, to not take on other people’s emotions, to be sensitive, and to be supportive but not to become, you know, the, and I’ll say this, a crutch, for lack of a better word for people, in a way such that I end up, you know, losing focus on myself and doing too much, basically. But for me, that journey starts from that place of being an empath, being hypersensitive, being really attuned to how people were feeling, to where literally, I can walk into a room, and I can pick up things. And, you know, it was helpful, and it was also sometimes really scary, growing up because I was so in tune, and sometimes in some of the environments that I was in, I was picking up on anger from people, and in response, I was always, you know, working to be, and to make things easier, right. So, setting aside how I felt, anything that was important for me to say, oh, you’re angry, and I just want to make things, you know, easier for you. I just want to- what do I need to do in this moment to be a useful and helpful engine, and so, you know, you’ll- your anger will be able to subside, and we could get back to a good place, or you could get back to a good place. It’s, it’s self sacrificing, right? Like, the years of therapy, learning, have taught me it’s self sacrificing in a way that’s bad for me. But, you know, the journey does start there from that place of empathy. And, you know, even in my profession as an HR professional, and sitting and being curious with people, and having to be, having to show up and be soft, and wanting to do that because I care about people. Yes, the empath kicking in, but I care about people, I want them to have a different experience. I want them, you know, to not default to the stereotypes of HR, of, oh, your HR person is X, they’re this crusty person and unhelpful, all of those things. I- you know, I-

Sarah Noll Wilson
Just check a box, and, you know. And some of them, some of them exist. There’s a, you know, there’s stereotypes happen sometimes for reason.

Katrina Jones
Exactly. But, because I care so deeply about people, and the empath I just, I, I stay soft and wanting to help, and wanting to support, wanting to be joy. And part of the work that I’ve been doing, actually lately is to be joy, but what do I need to do to be joy? Gratitude is a practice for me that helps to develop that. What do I do with those emotions that don’t fit neatly into joy, and even recognizing that those emotions that don’t fit neatly into joy still have joy attached to them, even some of the negative stuff, as, as weird as it sounds, and it’s- as weird as it sounds, some of, even the negative things there, there’s always learning lessons, there are things that I take away, so bad things are not all bad, and nothing is binary. But that’s, that is where it starts for me, is in that empathy and wanting to be supportive. Also, just genuinely being curious about other people and wanting to be a helper, longing to be like Mr. Rogers said, look for the helpers in the world. Wanting to be a helper, especially when people may not have anyone.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah. There’s- boy, there’s, there’s so, there’s so much to to explore in that. Oh, first, you know, when I was having the strong reaction, as you were talking, I was thinking, my God, are you describing my life right now? Right? You know, the self sacrificing, maybe sometimes having that that fawn response, right? From you know, like, how do I, like, almost that might come from a stress response of, okay, how do I appease you so that you don’t, right, lash out.

Katrina Jones
And let’s be clear that girls are socialized, women and girls are socialized to be, we will put our own feelings way in the back of the parking lot. We prioritize everyone else, and that’s what we’re socialized to do, because women are supposed to be nice and helpful and supportive, and they should always be thinking about everyone else to the deficit of themselves.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah. Sometimes, sometimes to the- boy, we could go down this path. This is a topic that’s near and dear to my heart. Because I will tell you that it’s important as we think about how do we, how do we take care of ourselves emotionally, is to understand that and we have needs too. And we- and as women, we have needs that aren’t being met. And I will tell you that often when I’m doing work, especially when we’re talking about how, in relationships, for example, when, when there’s a struggle, or a disconnect, is it often comes down to we have a need that’s not being met.

Katrina Jones
Yeah, oh absolutely.

Sarah Noll Wilson
I can’t tell you how many, how many women literally go I don’t even, I don’t even know what I need, and I, and I know that, because that that was me. I mean, and similarly have been on a therapeutic journey, and to reclaim, and even just listen to, it’s okay. It’s okay for me to think about, ask for, right, or protect, protect my needs. And so that’s such a, that’s such an important call out.

Katrina Jones
We have been, we have clearly been on the same highway, on the same, honest, the same, or very similar journey. So that’s also been part of my work is, is that therapy, it’s, it is the investment itself. And that is, you know, when I talk about staying and joy, and what’s connected to that, it’s definitely gratitude developing that practice. But gratitude is for me, it’s something that I need to do, to practice it, to identify, and I’ll tell you one of the things that I do, I actually make a list. And this started with a career coach that I had. Well, actually, let me, let me pause because it started before that, years ago, one of my best friends and I used to trade these daily thankful lists. And, gosh, man, this probably started back in like 2007, or something like that, because I moved and we were no longer in the same city, same state. And so we would trade these gratitude lists, and just randomly, like, here are the, here are the things that I’m thankful for today. It’s, and it stayed, it stuck. And it was something we would do, we’d done for years. And when- and some days it was really easy, because you’d be able to name 10 different things, right. And it would be, oh, you know, I got this promotion, or I got this, whatever, I’m doing this thing, I have a vacation coming up. And some days, oh, it was literally I, I remember there were times where I was making a list and it was I am alive, breathing. Okay, I’ve got lunch, I know where my next lunch is coming from. I’ve got on shoes, that, that’s, that’s what I got today. And it pushed me to think about, and this is why the practice is so important to, to develop gratitude, to be- and stay in gratitude for the big things, but the small things, because some days it is just, alright, I’ve got shoes on, like I’m warm, I’m comfortable, right? I, and I need to remember that, I need to not be stuck with gratitude as only, oh, it’s only gratitude when I’m going to, you know, the Bahamas. And you know, I’ve got this job making the salary and all these things, and I’ve got this, that this is gratitude, just existing sometimes, is where the gratitude comes from. But I started, I restarted that, I’d kind of gotten- gone in and out of the practice over the years, you know, kids, life happens, and all of a sudden you’re not doing that every day. But I’ve, I’ve reclaimed it and restarted it actually with another friend, and this is something that I picked up and also that my career coach encouraged me to do, to make a list of wins, and so now I actually track a list of both gratitude and wins, I can’t say I do it every day, but at least once a week, usually twice a week, I’ll make just a list on that day, whatever the day is, here are the things that I’m grateful for. Here are the wins that I’ve had, you know, professionally, whatever, however you want to term those wins. And, and once a week, we trade the gratitude list. And so it’s a beautiful, it’s a beautiful practice and I just, it helps me really stay in that space, and to also, it helps me when I’m working through really hard stuff. We were talking or what the last couple of weeks similarly had been really really hard for me, and this is- this helps me to come back to myself and it’s a way that I am prioritizing and also investing in myself. Right? Because that’s the, that’s the- how do we stay soft? Yes, we have to take care of ourselves. This is how I take care of myself.

Sarah Noll Wilson
And I- and that idea of, of, you know, by, by pausing to reflect on where am I at, and what do I have, isn’t, isn’t to minimize, because what I, what I hear in how you talk about gratitude, and that practice of gratitude that you’ve built, is that it’s not to dismiss or minimize or discount the challenges. But it’s also, it’s, you know, it’s, it’s like opening up the- because, you know, when, when things are hard, it can be really easy to be so hyper focused on that, and not that there’s anything wrong with that, so I want to be, I want to be really clear in everything that I’m saying is not like, oh, we should just think happy thoughts because that is so far from the truth-

Katrina Jones
Yeah, no, no. This is not the toxic positivity, no.

Sarah Noll Wilson
This is not, this is not, no, we’re not gonna tell you to put a smile on your face and just, like, push through it. But, but, but it helps you open up your blinders, just to see a little bit more. And, and it’s interesting to hear you talk about your practice of gratitude because when, that was one of the, that was one of the first practices and I didn’t understand it at the time, but when I was diagnosed with panic disorder a number of years ago, oh, wow. almost 10 years ago, Oh, it’s-

Katrina Jones
Is it an anniversary?

Sarah Noll Wilson
It’s an anniversary. Gosh.

Katrina Jones
Yeah, yes. You won’t forget it, not yet.

Sarah Noll Wilson
No, no. Yeah. So 11 years ago, yesterday. Is that true? Yeah. 2013, uh huh. So 11 years ago yesterday, I had, like, my first full blown panic attack. I thought I was dying, rushed to the hospital, right? Like, called Nick thinking it was last time I was ever going to talk to him. Yeah. So I just was, yeah. Hmm.

Katrina Jones
I got, I got the chills. I got scared.

Sarah Noll Wilson
You knew it was an anniversary too, like I hadn’t made the connection. You are a real empath-

Katrina Jones
No, because I- yes, ’cause I’m looking. I’m like, no, wait a minute. This is, yes. And happy anniversary.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Thank you. And yeah, no, it’s, I’ve come, I’ve come, definitely come a long way. But one of the practice was a gratitude practice. And just everyday writing three things. And and at the time, I was like, what the hell does this have to do with me not my shit every 10 minutes? But, but what it did for me was, and I’m realizing and talking about it, I’ve gotten away from it, and it would serve me to get back into it, so thank you for this gift, of reminding me of the power, and I don’t think even then I understood or appreciated how much of an investment it really was. So thank you for that.

Katrina Jones
No, no, no, and one truly happy anniversary, because as somebody who has a diagnosis, I was diagnosed with ADD, ADHD in December of 2020, and those, I mean, marking the occasion, and I’ll never forget it, because once I had the, once you have a diagnosis, you can go from there, you know, it’s so important to just-

Sarah Noll Wilson
You can see the barge.

Katrina Jones
Yes, you can see it, there it is. Okay, what are we gonna do about that? And the, the gratitude, it’s, it’s funny, because that was what happened with me too. I realized when I restarted it, that I hadn’t done it in a long- had completely gotten away from it. And, you know, forgot about the impact and how it did help and because- not because it was something you know, where I was just tunnel vision, or tunneling on, oh, these are- I should just be grateful to be alive. Absolutely right.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Right. Right. Right. Right. What do you have to be sad about Katrina? You’ve got a good life. Never say that to anyone.

Katrina Jones
Do not.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Especially someone who’s struggling with depression, not, helpful at all.

Katrina Jones
Do not. And it allowed me one to hold on to, and to see, like, the tiniest spark of hope, which is something that I just, I need to have, it helps me, it helps me to push through, helps me to bring joy to, to be in a place where I’m staying soft, and staying soft, and listening and supportive of other people. But I can’t do that without that, right, without that nugget of hope, without that little spark of hope to hold on to. And when it’s hard, it’s- I also really embrace that this sucks, right now. This just sucks. And so I’m still doing, you know, making the gratitude lists. I’m still trading the lists. And I’m also embracing, acknowledging that I’m in a really bad place right now. Okay. That’s it.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah. And just to be present with that and to ride that wave. Right? Like sometimes that’s the- I know that even from a mindfulness practice that that attention to you know, non judgmental- non judgmental curiosity. Those are the brain glitches that come come now in our world, right?

Katrina Jones
No, no, no, we got, we got through it. Yes. Non-judgemental curiosity. Yes. Speak on it.

Sarah Noll Wilson
And, and, you know, again, when I, when I think about, I was introduced to mindfulness and being present with what is, because, because so much of our culture has this desire to chase happiness, right? Like this, this- the, the positivity that sometimes- and just to be clear for people, because I know there’s, there might be some people like, yeah, but isn’t it healthy to have a positive perspective? And here’s what I would say to this and here’s what a lot of research would say is, having a positive perspective is healthy. It becomes unhealthy when it’s the only one you allow for yourself, or you allow for other people, like that’s when it becomes unproductive, and you know, I forget, I’m gonna forget the name, the, somebody, a psychologist, I’ll try to remember and put it in the notes, but she had written an article and said “Positivity is like ice cream. It’s, it’s good every once in a while, but if you’re just like shoving the ice cream down your throat, or someone else’s throat, it’s like, it’s too much ice cream. Like, it’s enough. I’m lactose intolerant now. Like we gotta, we gotta-”

Katrina Jones
Yeah, yes. Now I’m sick. Thanks.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah. “Now I’m sick.” And, and, that idea, that idea of, you know, you know, how do we stay soft when things are hard is being okay, that naming yeah, this is hard right now, and for, you know, for me it was the practice of getting curious about, literally getting curious about my panic, or, you know, or even, and now that transforms into whether that’s anxiety, or you know, exhaustion or, you know, trauma, or even just-

Katrina Jones
If you have depression, yeah.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Or even just saying, oh, we had a hard conversation, or you pushed me back on something that I wasn’t expecting, like, oh, that’s an interesting feeling. Like, instead of, instead of shutting down, or instead of lashing out, really just going and being present with, and going, what, hmm, that’s interesting. Like, that’s, I feel like that’s an internal phrase I have a lot like, “Oh, that’s interesting, Sarah.”

Katrina Jones
This, this is the barge, right, you’re, you’re you’re seeing the barge, and you’re saying, Oh, that’s interesting. Let me get closer to it. I think I might just-

Sarah Noll Wilson
Exactly. ’cause it’s just, I wanna swim a little-

Katrina Jones
I know, I can see it.

Sarah Noll Wilson
And like, what do I learn? What do I learn about it, and not, and not, and not, again, from that sometimes unintentionally dismissive, like, yeah, but you know, good things always happen and you’re gonna pull through it, but just like what am I learning about myself in this moment? What is, what is this teaching me right now, and, and that makes me- because I want to go back to, if it’s okay, I want to honor if there’s more that you want to share, but I want to go back to, you said something that I’d love to give some more space to, which is- well, two things, because you talked about joy, so we’ll start there, and then I’m, I want to explore that idea of how joy can be attached to even the hard times. But, so again, in the spirit of talking about the positivity there is, there is a difference between happiness and joy. And, and so I would love to hear your definition of when you talk about “I want to come from a place of joy.” I, I don’t interpret that as like, “Hey, how’s it going? And I’m gonna be the cheerleader,” and so what does joy mean and look like for you?

Katrina Jones
Oh, my gosh, I love that you asked this question. What joy looks like for me, what it means to me, is lightness. So, when I think about joy, and my standards, my definition of it is lightness. And I have literally been saying this to be joy- to be joy, to be light, because the two are the same. And it’s to be light in such a way where you’re rolling with things, you’re fluid, you are also bringing joy to people. Unexpected, unexpected joy, where you go, it’s not to be a happy person, to be the person that always walks into the room and like- like Norm, on Cheers, if you’ve watched That ’80’s Show where, “Norm!”

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah we, we really, really like to stress-

Katrina Jones
Fully, fully.

Sarah Noll Wilson
So what’s the, what’s the, I’m trying to think of the-

Katrina Jones
I have no – I have no idea. I would be really hard pressed right now to name what is the to-

Sarah Noll Wilson
I can’t name anything just the-

Katrina Jones
I don’t, but that’s the pop culture reference that I have is “Norm!” And everybody, no, it’s not that at all, is it- that’s, to me, that’s the opposite of joy. It’s, it’s just being able to seize it, to hold on to it wherever I can, to be it, for it to be this lightness, to be the spark of light, and to hold on to it. And, you know, part of it is a reminder as well, to be present, and be aware of when I’m getting away from joy, when the joy is getting away from me, because that means that I then need to go and do things to fill my cup, to do things for myself, that I need to find ways to come back into that joy, to come back into that light. So that’s the definition for me.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Isn’t that interesting to think about, you know, I’ve been on a journey of reevaluating and examining my relationship with rest. Right-

Katrina Jones
Who?

Sarah Noll Wilson
And, and, and, and, and sometimes, I think we can, we can think of self care or recharging, so that we can keep producing, instead of, you know, I love that language that your, your language of, I need to, I need to recharge so I can get back to my lightness. Right. Which is, is different and so much more powerful, for me anyway, as I hear that of, okay, so when I’m, when I’m moving away, or floating, maybe I’m getting pulled out, by the riptide or whatever if we’re playing with that metaphor-

Katrina Jones
Yes. We’re gonna stay with it. Yes.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah. It’s, you know, like, what, what do I, what do I need so that I can reconnect with that being- you know, that being present, that lightness, because when things are, are hard, when, when they’re, when we’re emotionally stressed, when there’s no like, the world we’re in there’s just so-

Katrina Jones
Like right now?

Sarah Noll Wilson
Like, right now.

Katrina Jones
Like right now.

Sarah Noll Wilson
It’s so complex on so many levels. And, and one of the things that I think- I just want to I don’t want to say this. It’s really important right now, I’m going to just step out, I’ve got a foot in our conversation and out, it’s really important for people to, to hold space, not only for themselves and others, and realize that just because something doesn’t feel emotionally stressful to you, whether it’s a world event, whether it’s things that are happening, right, and you know, that that doesn’t mean that it’s not exhausting or depleting or causing harm and stress for other people and, and so, you know, I, I know there are people who listen to this so that they can get tips from a leadership perspective is like, pay attention to what’s happening in the world, and then name and acknowledge that because it’s likely you have people who might be struggling because of that, even if you aren’t.

Katrina Jones
That is so important. Can I say thank you for that, because that is one of, that’s one of the revelations that came out of the racial justice reckoning 2020, is that leaders need to be aware, they need to be paying attention, and you can’t be in your own, you know, tunnel in your own lane, just, you know, completely shut off from everything that is happening in the world. And I would hear, as you know, I was in conversation with leaders, I would hear, “Well, you know, I can’t pay attention to everything all the time, all of that.” And I’m going to push back really hard on that because nobody’s asking you to be, you know, the the anchor on CNN, that’s not what, what the ask is, nobody’s asking you to be, you know, super informed and to spend an hour every morning, but whatever the way that you could plug in, I mean, it literally could be, and we have access to too much information for folks to say, I just, I can’t. Literally, NPR, national news stories they’re, they have a three minute briefing. I think the extended briefing is 10 minutes. What if you spent 10 minutes just with that, right? What if you spent 10 minutes? And what if you just said, you know, put that out there to say, I do my best to stay informed, I’m out here and I’m curious and I’m not going to, you know, catch everything, there are going to be things that I’m not going to be aware of, and please, if you are going through something as a leader, if you’re going through something, if your community is affected, please let me know. Let me so that I can be aware. No one says you have to be plugged into everything, you have to read and absorb and listen to all the things, but you can even just own that you’re trying, and you can say and if, if I’m not and if things are continuing on business as usual, and you need something, right, or you want to make me aware that this is happening for this community, please, I’m open. So staying open. You know?

Sarah Noll Wilson
I love, I love that, thank you for adding that, you know, really powerful practice because, and that’s you know, as we’re, you know, talking, we’ve been talking about being emotionally supportive for ourselves, but that’s a really important way we can be emotionally supportive for other people and again, maybe the ask isn’t like you said, to, to know all, but it’s just to recognize that, that it’s in the room and I, and you know, and that’s, that’s a such an important thing.

Katrina Jones
The ask is something that you do so incredibly well, and something that I really appreciate about you, is staying curious. That’s, that really is the ask, it’s how our connections started in sharing feedback. And you didn’t, your response wasn’t to double down or to dismiss what I was saying, your response was, let me sit with that. Let me think about that. How, what does that mean, you know, and sitting with it. I mean, that allowed us to build from there to build a deeper, more meaningful connection, because you sat with it, and then you spent some time with it, and then you had your own thoughts and awareness that came out of that. And that is the one thing I’ve been thinking about some of the hard conversations that I’ve had this week, a hard conversation that I need to have, at some point in time in the next probably two weeks. And one of the things holding me back from having the hard conversation is, there’s, from my perspective, there’s a lack of curiosity on the other side. And so I, you know, I’m challenged to even engage because of the lack of curiosity. And so how are we going to, what are we going to do? How are we going to be in this space and trying to bridge and trying to understand the other if there’s no curiosity, if you’re dismissive, if you’re going to shut down, but just that curiosity is just is the most, I’m not going to say the most, but one of the most important things that you’ve just got to, yeah, you gotta have.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Well, I mean, thank you, and I have lots of thoughts about all of this. And- my sister was at the Holocaust Museum a couple of years ago, and they had the opportunity to speak with a survivor of the concentration camps, and she was wearing one of my Chronically Curious shirts, and they had the chance to talk with them and, and the gentleman, and I don’t recall his name, but he he pointed at her shirt and he was like, curiosity is one of the biggest gifts of love, we can give somebody.

Katrina Jones
Oh my gosh. Can you say that one more time, can you say it?

Sarah Noll Wilson
I hope I’m capturing it, but yeah, that curiosity is one of the greatest gifts of love we can give someone, because- and, you know, and it- and we can give to ourselves too, right? Like that, that we, you know, we don’t know, there’s things we can learn and, and exactly like you shared that it’s, it creates these deeper levels of connections with each other, so when we talk about how do we have conversations with ourselves and with other people, so much of it comes down to our willingness to, to get to get, to get curious, and to get curious – again, about the hard stuff. And also to get curious about, Well, what do I need in this moment? And what, right, I mean, all of that comes down to that, that practice. It’s just, it’s fine tuning it, and focusing it. And, and so, you know, when you think about, How do I show up more powerfully for other people? It’s just, right? It’s even just, it’s an invitation to say, Hey, I – there’s things I don’t know, but I want to know, so help – I’m gonna do my work. And I’m still gonna miss stuff. So if I do, let me know and – and boy, there is a real – You know, part of it is, the article that I was fortunate enough to be able to write recently about how do we be more emotionally supportive versus emotionally dismissive. We are in a real – we are in a really hard time. And I don’t, you know, I’m not trying to be pessimistic or anything. I’m a realist of just -And so when when there are moments of dismiss, again, either to ourselves or to other people, it feels so much – like it carries so much more weight because, like, the level of depletion people are feeling now, or how quickly, right, depleted from this. It’s a real challenge right now.

Katrina Jones
Oh, that is so much truth. That is so much truth. When you are – when there’s a lack of curiosity there, and it’s, you know, it hits in that dismissive way. And there is such a tremendous emotional impact with it. I, earlier this week, was on a parent – all-parent conference, and the school was talking about diversity, equity, and inclusion. There were some hard questions that were asked, including a question that I posed to them. And the response to one of the questions in particular was incredibly dismissive. It started with, Well, if you ask that question, you must be someone who wasn’t here, you know, in 2016, when, and so even, you know, that start – the response and start was already dismissive. And that tone continued. And after the, you know, the forum, I just – I, you know, stepped back, I felt completely devastated in a way that was physical for me, you know, I was sad, I was just feeling angry, frustrated, sad, and almost – and I’ll name it, almost cornered, right? Because the dismissiveness had completely shut down, and shut down in a way that I felt like left me and my family with few options. And so that’s, it does – that dismissiveness does have that effect, where once you’ve dismissed, once you’ve said, Nope, not I’m not going to stay in this place of curiosity. You know, why are you asking? Why would you say something like that, then all of a sudden, the wall comes down. And that opportunity, you know, goes away. And if you’re lucky, you’re able to recover. But if you’re unlucky, it just, the wall keeps getting higher.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Right. And like, thickening –

Katrina Jones
Thicker.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah. I – Well, I’m so sorry that you experienced that. First, I just want to name that. And thank you, thank you for for sharing that. And that’s, you know, I feel like in all the conversations we’ve been having with the show, you know, so much of the theme is just, What does it look like to be even more intentional?

Katrina Jones
Yeah.

Sarah Noll Wilson
In the words we use more – and not just having good intentions. Let me clarify that, right? But really being intentional, so that you’re having the impact that you hope. And understanding that those aren’t the same things. And – and again, and, both to other people, right? And, like your experience, and that harm that that caused to you?

Katrina Jones
Yeah.

Sarah Noll Wilson
And also recognizing that – And also, how do we make sure that we’re having the impact to ourselves? You know, in the conversations we’re having, and because, again, there’s just that – there’s a real cost.

Katrina Jones
Yes.

Sarah Noll Wilson
There’s a real – There always was a cost.

Katrina Jones
Yes, yes.

Sarah Noll Wilson
But if – Yeah, it just feels like the waves – the waves are getting higher, faster.

Katrina Jones
Yes. And in this period, where everything is heightened, and everything feels, you know, some days it feels just catastrophic, and multiple catastrophes, in a way that is distinctly different from previous periods. Not for everybody. I’m not going to say that.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, yeah, exactly. Thank you for that.

Katrina Jones
Yeah. But it feels distinctly different, and also feels like there’s so many communities that are collectively in pain and, you know, feeling – dealing with these multiple catastrophes at the same time. And that, you know, that intention, impact and being curious – because that’s the – that through line, is that being curious about your impact, being curious about the impact to the other person, the other people, and also being curious about how you’re showing up about your impact on yourself. And staying with that, you know, how – What could have been a moment, and what could have turned that around would have been to reach back out to, let’s say, all the parents, or certain -and say, Hey, we want to ask how that landed for you. We want to ask how you’re feeling after the conversation. Do you have other questions? By the way, that did not happen.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Sure. I’m sure it didn’t.

Katrina Jones
But, but that curiosity to say, you know, I want to, for example, I want to check in, we had this conversation the other day, I want to check in and see how that felt for you, how that resonated with you afterwards, after you had time to think and process. You know, tell me. And thinking through your – through for yourself, how did that feel for you? And I think part of it is we also don’t go as deep as we need to, right? When we’re checking in, when we’re being curious with ourselves. Yes, we say, ah, it wasn’t great, but it – but –

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, yeah. It’s fine.

Katrina Jones
It’s fine.

Sarah Noll Wilson
We’re gonna just like, tighten it up and not process any of those emotions.

Katrina Jones
Keep going.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah, that – yeah, that – I mean, that’s – as we’re talking about this sort of bigger conversation about how to stay connected to our presence, and that lightness, is recognizing, when do we dismiss ourselves? Or when do we stop off? And that’s, you know, that’s, that’s always a trigger phrase, for myself and when I’m, like, talking to other people, is when someone goes, But it’s fine. It’s like, are we shutting down our ability to process?

What do you hear when someone says, but it’s fine, but it’s fine. It’s fine. It’s fine. How it’s playing? Yeah. What do you hear when someone says that?

Or if somebody is like, It’s fine, it’s like, I don’t want to deal with this. I don’t want to process this. You know, like, I’m shutting down my ability, like I’m shutting down getting curious with being – and maybe right now, that isn’t the time because it is a – Sometimes we are in moments where we have to compartmentalize and go, You know, it’s fine. I don’t have the time and energy, like I have to set it aside right now. But sometimes I think it can be used as – it can stop us from true emotional exploration. And true – like, being present with our emotions. And it’s like, you know what? It’s not fine.

Katrina Jones
It’s not. It’s not okay.

Sarah Noll Wilson
It’s not – that was not okay. I’m not okay. And I want to hear more, because I jumped in a bit. So I want to go back to that – you were making that point of, and sometimes we stay at the surface, we don’t go deep enough. So what does that look like for you? And when we think about people who are listening, what does that look like to get – to go deeper?

Katrina Jones
You know, that – Tell me – and this is probably another dated reference – There’s that – a book, there was a book titled, and I may butcher this a little bit, it’s okay not to be okay. So, some of this for me, and I’m going to stay with self, because that’s where I’ve had to talk about, you know, working through it. And staying even – in it, when it’s hard, is – As a black person, and a black American who grew up in the South, in predominately white environments, with a family and from parents, who are – our family has been here for probably centuries. You know, I grew up, like so many other African Americans, being told, you know, racism and racism exist, it’s out there, it’s gonna be hard. And you just have to have tough skin, thick skin, and you just have to, you know, withstand, you need to be able to withstand and let it bounce off of you, and let – and don’t let it impact you. And so much of my conditioning growing up was, Don’t let these emotions, these things that are happening to you, or that you’re experiencing, that are driving these emotions, don’t let it let it mess with you. You just got to be like Teflon. And as an adult, and working, you know, with myself and working through therapy – you mentioned mindfulness, I’ve also gotten into meditation, and learned about mindfulness and being present. One of the, you know, assignments that I’ve had and worked through and continue to work through is staying – getting away from, That’s fine. So going below that surface to go deep. And to actually say it. And when someone is asking, or I’m an I’m in conversation, to not say, you know, Yeah but it’s fine. It’s fine, we’ll figure it out. But just to be explicit and saying, That’s not – that wasn’t fine. That was terrible. And I am really angry. I will never forget, and this was a few years ago, the first time I allowed myself -and I’m saying that, using that phrase intentionally – I allowed myself to say, I am angry. Because – and it was in a meeting, and I was having, you know, feeling my internal volcano, you know, percolating and I was doing my best to just keep it inside because I didn’t want to show up and fall into a stereotype and all of these things that you navigate, again, as a black person in predominately white environments, you’re doing your best to let the stuff bounce off you, you’re doing your best to not play into the stereotypes. And so I was, I was angry, I was really pissed. And when I said it, it was, it was – it literally, I could feel the steam, like the steam valve open up, release a little bit, to let those feelings out, to say it out loud. And to say, I’m angry, that’s, I don’t care. In this moment, I am prioritizing how I feel. And I’m going to claim – claim and name the things that I’m feeling right now. That’s how you go deeper. And we have to really – How we support and help everyone and create the space for people to go deeper, is create a space where people can say that, they can name those things. They can say, you know, that wasn’t fun. That was terrible. And I am so angry. And I – Or, you know, I don’t know what to think, I just, I’m so confused. And part of the reason I think we are you not going deeper, and people are hesitant to – they’re not in spaces that are – allow for that. They’re not in spaces where it it’s either safe or okay to go deeper. And part of, in particular, white supremacist culture is yeah, you know, everything is fine. And you don’t rock the boat. You stay – Everything is even, you got to stay – And so you don’t, you don’t get to express that. You don’t get to express these high emotions and just – Think about who’s allowed to express.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Right, right.

Katrina Jones
Like, who’s, who’s allowed to be angry?

Sarah Noll Wilson
Exactly.

Katrina Jones
Who’s allowed to be angry? Yeah, we allow for, you know, a white man to be angry. No one’s going to tell them, hey, that’s not okay. You know, you’re disrupting – this is becoming a bad space because of your – We allow that, we have plenty of examples of seeing that anger and seeing that emotion, and people being able to express it and then walk. And then for others, you’re just – you’re not.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Right. Right. And sometimes be rewarded for it. You know, right? And – I, you know,

Katrina Jones
Yeah, yeah.

Sarah Noll Wilson
I allowed myself to be angry. Like, that’s still, you know, because I’m sitting – I’m sitting here going, I don’t know if I’ve ever said that. There probably been plenty of times where I needed to.

Katrina Jones
Yeah, yeah. I thought about all the times that I really needed to say that and to be where I was, and I was feeling it. And I wasn’t saying it. And because I wasn’t saying it, it was showing up in other ways, because I was. So I, you know, was angry. I didn’t say that I was angry or – and why I was. And so I showed up, you know, I either shrank, which, completely pull back. Or I did something that I didn’t feel good about later, because I was I was angry. And I wasn’t – I didn’t feel allowed. I wasn’t allowed to name it. I didn’t feel like I could. And because I didn’t, it shows up in all these other ways.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah. It’s, I mean, there’s such a – and it’s not just, I mean, it’s not just work, but I want to speak to that for a second, since I know that’s the world we’re in, and a lot of the people who are listening, is that our – and, again, this is something that has come up in a lot of our other conversations, and it will continue to come up is – because, you know, the the culture of corporate America, right, was very much defined by and defined for –

Katrina Jones
Built for –

Sarah Noll Wilson
Built for, right – white white men in power. And it’s, you know, like, I had a conversation with Dr. Wildermuth, when we talked about the masks we have to wear and talking, you know, about trauma, and how, you know – Erica was talking about how, she said people do all this work in therapy, that’s so great. And they make this progress, only for it to become undone in the workplace.

Katrina Jones
Yes. Oh.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Right? And just this, you know, just in talking with my colleague Gilmara about, we have to be able to have real conversations, and allow the space for emotions and, boy, you know, I’m going to be honest, like we’re going to have to – We need a part two to this conversation, because like, I feel like we’re, you know, we’re hitting on something.

Katrina Jones
Yes.

Sarah Noll Wilson
That’s so important, which is emotions in the workplace. Because we are humans, and –

Katrina Jones
Yes!

Sarah Noll Wilson
Like, when we aren’t – and when we say, like, expressing it, that doesn’t mean being harmful to people. It doesn’t mean being hurtful. But just being able to say, I’m struggling, I’m scared, and angry. And to have that space and to be equipped, right, I think I think that’s one of the biggest opportunities we have, particularly for those people who are in positions of power and authority, is to be able to hold space for – be curious about – Sit with, sit in, I mean, all of the things, with emotions, because it’s – You know, it’s like, well, I get the desire – I get it – to not have emotions in the workplace. Yeah, I get it. But they’re there. And when I have to suppress them, when we have to, you know, like – and suppressing looks different depending on who you are and who you’re with – Right?

Katrina Jones
Yes.

Sarah Noll Wilson
I may be able to express things differently than you could, depending on the group we’re with. And – right? And even then the flip side is, you know, I always talk about how, right and men are culturally, aren’t allowed to experience express emotions of intimacy. And emotions of love and affection. Not just, I’m not just talking romantic affection, I mean, platonic affection, right?

Katrina Jones
Yes, yes.

Sarah Noll Wilson
To their brothers, and you know, and their female friends –

Katrina Jones
Yes, fear, all of those.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah. And it’s just –

Katrina Jones
It’s a trap for all of us.

Sarah Noll Wilson
It – Yeah. And it’s such – and it’s just costing us so much –

Katrina Jones
It is.

Sarah Noll Wilson
– that, that I sit there and imagine, like – there’s a bit of me that goes, as I think, sort of full circle of where we started, of, If we were able to collectively build up our muscles around, right, that emotional intelligence – that being able to be present, to be able to be curious. Would we have to work so hard at being soft when things are hard? You know?

Katrina Jones
I, oh, gosh.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Maybe.

Katrina Jones
I don’t – I’m, I’m landing where you are. And I’m saying maybe, but my immediate visceral reaction was, No, because we make space for all of the emotions. And so because of that, we’d have these outlets, we’d be able to just express ourselves as-is without – we wouldn’t have to compartmentalize, to stuff things down. And we wouldn’t be suppressing. And correct me if I’m wrong in this – and I’m sure you know, but I think emotions are tied to the limbic system. Right? And so we wouldn’t always be tamping that down in such an unhealthy way that shows up negatively for us physically, right? Emotionally, mentally, right? And all these other ways. And I’m also thinking about how that’s primal to us as humans, right? It’s what separates us and makes us unique, and how damaging it is to to not make space for that, to always be tamping it down. And then how it would absolutely – I don’t know that we would need to make space for being soft because we would we would always be open to people’s full humanities. We would, like, that would be completely open. And, oh my gosh –

Sarah Noll Wilson
And the anticipatory anxiety, right? You shared your story about the conversation you may need to have, and that anticipatory anxiety, and, right – and you know, it’s literally why I wrote my book as my love letter to my fellow avoiders, is that. You know, and now part of that is not – that’s not just on on them. It is also largely on the other person as well, and how you receive it. And you know, and I think about the relationships, and whether they’re close relationships or even when they’re, you know – I mean, I’ll use our relationship as an example. Like when when you are in community with with somebody, with others who are able to, like, be present with, hold space for your full – I think, to use your language, and I love it – that full humanity of experience. It’s sort of just like this big breath of, like – it’s just this big relief of, Oh, I can just be me with you. I can just be with you. And that allows me to heal faster, that allows me to recover from those moments faster, right? To reconnect to that lightness faster.

Katrina Jones
Yeah, yeah. I don’t have to – So I’m an ambivert. So between an extrovert introvert. I love connecting with people, I am social, and also like being by myself, and I like to recharge. Part of that is because when I’m in these spaces where I’ve, you know, feeling like I need to armor up, to mask up, I need some deep recovery time and coming back to us and being in community – where I don’t, I can walk away from this and I can go to whatever my next thing is and just feel like, Oh, that was fun. That was good. I really get to feel every thing, and appreciate this and being with you. And I don’t have to worry, I don’t feel so I don’t – don’t feel heavy. I’m not going to feel heavy. I’m not going to feel like, Oh, let me go sit down somewhere. Like, oh, I need to, I need to catch my breath or anything. I’m literally here and just being. And it costs so much energy, it requires so much energy to do all of that when I can’t just be. It requires so much energy from people when they can’t just be, and it robs us, right? It robs – What would we not get if we couldn’t just be with each other? What are we –

Sarah Noll Wilson
What are we missing?

Katrina Jones
Yeah. I would miss so much of you, if I’d like –

Sarah Noll Wilson
Likewise. I mean, I – and the reason I bring us up as an example is, we, you know, have -Our interactions were virtual only.

Katrina Jones
Yes.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Right? So, so dispelling some of that – that myth of, like, we can’t build relationships virtually. No, you absolutely can. And also, just like, there were signals to me, and maybe vice versa, from, you know, what you’ve shared of, oh, this is somebody – It’s almost like, Can I be me with them or can’t I? Or do I need to – And that’s where it’s like that, Okay, like, I can just – and that doesn’t necessarily take years and years and years to build. It’s like, when you show up in that way – Like, I felt that about you. I knew I could reach out to you. I knew that – or, you know, or even – I remember, you connected, you noticed, you’re like, Oh, I can tell you’re struggling, like hey, I just want to, like what’s going on? Just even that act was – Oh, okay, like, I know, again, I can be I can be fully myself, and hopefully you feel the other way. And it is just so much – And that doesn’t mean that there may not be conversations, or there may not be moments of – but that’s not going to last a few weeks of ruminating. It’s just gonna be like, Hey, I know, I’m gonna have it. I know, it’s gonna be, like – I’m 99.9% sure it’s gonna be okay. And, you know, but hopefully we can get to that. And it’s just so much damn easier. Like, it’s not always easy, but it’s just so much damn easier.

Katrina Jones
But it is so much easier. It’s, it’s knowing that I can go to you and say, Sarah, I’m in a really like, funky place. Like, I’m in it, and I can talk to you about it, I can be honest about it. And I mean, literally, my heart has chills in saying that, because it’s life saving to be able to do that. To be able to go to folks, to come to you to say, This is a terrible time. Here’s why it’s terrible. One of the, you know, things that has sustained me through a period of really difficult grief and losing my mother has been people making space for me to just come and be, and say, I’m having, like – This is a really hard week or really hard day, or this – I know I’m in a bad space emotionally. And that people – like yourself, right – will open the door to that without trying to pep talk me into, Hey, you know –

Sarah Noll Wilson
Just put on a smile.

Katrina Jones
Yeah, she’s – she’s in a better place, and I’m sure she’s looking down on you, and she’s so proud of you.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Not helpful.

Katrina Jones
Yes. And I miss my mom, and wish I could hug her, and I can’t, right? And so, you know, you gave me a gift in being transparent and being vulnerable and saying, yeah, here’s what I’m going through. And it’s really hard, and it’s coming in a couple of different places, and it – when you did that, it just opened a conversation where I could acknowledge too, Yes, actually I’ve been struggling with this as well. And here’s why. And I needed that, right? I needed that, I needed to have – We need that, we need that outlet, we need to be able to, just to – like we’ve talked about, sharing our full humanity, being our full selves without pretense, without masking or anything, but just, this is where I’m at today. Or in this hour, and in this moment –

Sarah Noll Wilson
Right, right. In this moment, I can’t and I am choosing not to. And just for context, you know, just to share what you’re referencing, we were supposed to meet earlier this week, just as – like, hey, let’s actually meet each other properly. And I just – my mental health was really struggling. My, like, I was physically exhausted because of having to put down my dog the week prior, because of, you know, stress with work, because of stress – Thank you. Because of, you know, the war, because of just just average – I mean, like and, and, and, and – violence against, right, like, black people, and just everything. Right, like, and so – and what was so, you know, so beautiful is like, I also knew I could share that level instead of just being like, hey, I need to reschedule.

Katrina Jones
Yes.

Sarah Noll Wilson
But then your response was, hey, don’t – You don’t need to respond, I just want to make sure that you take time to rest and to, you know – I forget your exact message. But I remember the feeling of reading it, from the standpoint of, like, Hey, no need to respond. And, you know, and then checking in, and this idea of – I don’t know, like, there’s this image that’s coming up for me of – like, almost, you know, like, how do we lock arms around each other? Like, how do we, you know? And – yeah.

Katrina Jones
No, no, that – That’s how. That’s, you know, it’s – I see you. I see you. Because people – What is it that – Oprah said this on her last, I think her last show about people – what people want most in this world, and the thing that she had learned after sitting with in, you know, however many 10s of 1000s, hundreds of interviews, people want to be seen and to be heard. And in that, just saying, I see you, I know that this is a really tough time. And I just want to just say, hey, no, you don’t need to expend any additional effort here or do anything. You know, just, I’m thinking about you. We’ll catch up. But that’s – that allows people to recover, right? It allows them to, yes, to recover more quickly to come back, to cycle through what they’re going through to actually deal with it, to work through it when you have that, because when you don’t have that – I have to reschedule.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Yeah.

Katrina Jones
Okay.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Right. And in – I wrote in quotes and underlined. It’s not flippant to say it literally could be life-saving.

Katrina Jones
It literally, it is not at all flipped to say that in this. It absolutely could be life-saving. Yeah,

Sarah Noll Wilson
Katrina, I think you and I could clearly – clearly we could talk all day.

Katrina Jones
Yes.

Sarah Noll Wilson
And clearly, we need to have you back for us to explore lots of different topics. I want to honor – I want to honor the question that we always ask people, to give you the space to share. And I always invite the audience to think about, what is this for you today? But what’s a conversation you’ve had with yourself or with other people that transformed you?

Katrina Jones
Oh, and when I read this, saw this, it – I had to say, Oh, let me come back to that. Because that is – that is deep, that is – Oh, um, I’ve, you know, I’ve been in the space to, and I’m fortunate that I’ve been in a space to have transformative conversations with a lot of people as an HR and DEI practitioner. You know, one of the most – and it’s hard to name one because I feel like I’m always – I get to go deep with people in lots of different ways. And I think one of the most transformative conversations for me, actually, was with someone years ago that – there was an employee relations issue and I was, you know, working with the person and them, you know – As we were working through, the person starting to peel back the layers, and talk about some of the things that had been happening for them personally, which were directly contributing to how they were showing up in that particular environment. And it was as they started to peel back those layers, it’s like, I – you could see everything, and seeing somebody who, on the surface, people perceived as so difficult and hard and seeing that person literally soften, in front of my eyes as I was talking to them. That was – that was something. That was something. And it was transformative because, talk about gateways, and how you start to open up. It showed me, it was a moment that told me and showed me physically, emotionally, spiritually, like this is the power of acknowledgement, of owning what’s happening, what has happened to you. The power of it, how it is, I mean, we’re talking about transformative, how it can literally, you know, change someone right in front of your eyes. And it left me with this, this question of, What would happen if you did that for yourself? Right? What would happen if you were to start to name things, to own things, but to – and to peel back those layers? Well, what would happen for you? What would that mean for you? Because I saw how it changed that person. I saw how it changed that person coming out of it, I saw how they started to shift and, yes, they, you know, started to show up a little bit differently. But I could see that it was change -changing for them.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Love it. Thank you so much for sharing that. Katrina. If people want to connect with you, what’s the best place for them to connect with you?

Katrina Jones
You know me, you love me, from Twitter.

Sarah Noll Wilson
I do. Let me just like, I was gonna give a shout out. Yeah, follow her because you I – One thing I so – even if I may not always respond, but I always stop. And I always read. You share articles, you share, like, what’s happening in the news. Like, I feel like you’re my, my little source of a pulse on things that I may miss or not – And so if you are somebody who’s looking for, you know, resources, especially from the standpoint of diversity, equity, and inclusion and considering perspectives, you know, from a just like, all of those – all encompassing, I just, I feel like every day, there’s some like, Oh, this is an article, or you’ve introduced me to some amazing researchers, and different concepts. And so, connect with her on Twitter, you won’t you won’t regret it. I can tell you that. And if you’re, you know, and if you’re lucky, like me, you’ll you’ll get to know and love her and be loved by her as well.

Katrina Jones
Katrina underscore HRM. You can thank my perpetual curiosity, and also insomnia.

Sarah Noll Wilson
That sounds like – One ADHD brain to another. I’ve gotta –

Katrina Jones
Yes, yes. Yes, yes.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Well, Katrina, what – This is, you know, we were both hopeful that this would be a hell of a way to end the week. And it really was, and I am so grateful for you. And thank you for coming on and sharing. One thing I will just share with the audience. You know, we talked earlier about gratitude. So share with us what are you grateful for, feel free. And I’ll, in the closing show notes here. I’ll give you a way to do that. But just think about and share with us, and I’ll be sure to pass those along to Katrina. Katrina, thank you so much.

Katrina Jones
Thank you Sarah, I appreciate you.

Sarah Noll Wilson
Likewise, same. Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode of Conversations on Conversations. I just always sit in such deep gratitude and an overwhelming fullness in these conversations, and I hope that you get to experience that as well. Getting the opportunity to talk to Katrina and, you know, and we explored a lot of different topics. You know, we talked about that idea of, how do we stay soft when things are hard, and I already have a list of what part two and three and four need to be with her. I know for me, something that I’m going to hold on to this conversation was that story she shared about allowing herself to say she was angry. And that, obviously as a black woman, and in you know, working in predominantly a white company, that’s a different type of risk because of the the stereotype of the angry black woman, but as a woman, as a white woman, I realize that I don’t know when I’ve allowed myself to say I’m angry. But there have certainly been times – and the other thing I’m thinking about is, how – what can I do to make sure that it’s safe for someone else to be able to say, I’m struggling right now, Sarah. I’m angry. Or that didn’t feel good. And so that’s what I’m going to hold on to from this conversation, amongst many things. And we want to make sure this conversation extends beyond the show. So if something resonated, if something sparked a curiosity, if you have a challenge, or a different perspective, we want to hear from you. And we will, you know, we will record and share them on future episodes. So send us an email at podcast at Sarah Noll Wilson dot com. Or you can connect with me through social media, my DMs are always open. My responses may not always be prompt, but they will be seen, and we would love to – and so I want to hear from you. What are you grateful for? What’s on your gratitude list? And I’ll share those with Katrina. And if you like this, if you are moved by the work we’re doing, if you want to support this podcast further, please consider becoming a patron. You can do that by visiting Patreon dot com backslash Conversations on Conversations, where not only your financial support will sustain this podcast and our incredible team. But you also get access to some pretty great benefits like unique swag, and Patreon only content and events. And if you haven’t already, please rate review and subscribe to the show. These are ways that it helps us get more exposure and be able to continue to invite incredible people. You can do that on iTunes, Spotify, and other podcast platforms. And then finally, I’m going to sit in gratitude. And just – we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the incredible team supporting me and supporting this work. So a huge thank you to Drew Noll and Nick Wilson for the editing and producing of the show, to Olivia Reinert for working and helping us with transcriptions, and to Kaitlyn Summitt-Nelson for helping with marketing support. And final thanks to Katrina. There’s – What – I just – Wanting to be the joy. And that is something that I’m going to strive for for myself. Finally, my lovely listeners, my fellow humans, just a reminder that when we can change the conversations we have with ourselves and others, we can change the world, even for a little bit. So with that, please make sure you’re resting, you’re rehydrating, and stay well. Bye, my friends.

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