Series 2, Ep3: Beyond performance, with Jem Dobie


This episode is an interview with Jem Dobie (they/them). Jem is a sibling who's been through the Unmasking Unschool journey, and you're going to hear them talk in generous and vulnerable detail about what it's been like to transform their experience of their life, their sense of self, their relationships and the work they're doing in the world.

More about Jem:

The Feel Good Circus:
Jem Dobie & Rowan Berry
thefeelgoodcircus [at] 

On instagram:
On facebook:

Access Intimacy, by Mia Mingus:

Jem's favourite resource on boundaries, by Prentis Hemphill:

The 'Finding our way' series is a really important resource for Jem, and this episode, in which Prentis Hemphill interviews Kazu Haga, is where Jem first heard ‘slow is smooth, smooth is fast’:


[00:00:00] Hey, sibling, you are listening to the Unmasking Unschool podcast. This is for visionaries, creatives, and change makers who happen to be autistic, who are done with pathology paradigms, the masks and misinterpretations of the past and the burnout cycles that come from trying to fit in with what doesn't work.

You are here to create new aligned life structures, to innovate industries, to design liberatory solutions and create new culture by becoming yourself. My name is Louisa Shaeri. I'm an artist, coach, and founder of SOLA Systems. This is all about you getting unstuck, reinventing and elevating your sense of self, having the social context and frameworks to make a life that makes sense for how you make sense, so you can finally experience [00:01:00] who you're here to be in your fullness.

Let's deep dive into it. Sibling,

today's episode is a real treat. I've got an interview with Jem Dobie. Jem is a sibling who's been through the Unmasking Unschool journey, and you're going to hear them talk in generous and vulnerable detail about what it's been like to transform their experience of their life, their sense of self.

Their relationships and the work they're doing in the world before we get into it. I need to let you know that the sound quality is not as good as other podcasts. We had some tech issues and had to switch to zoom. Good old zoom. But if you need to read a transcript as you listen, you can find the link in the show notes of this episode. Enjoy.

Welcome to this episode of the Unmasking Unschool [00:02:00] podcast. I'm really excited because today I have a sibling who's been in the Unmasking Unschool program, has been such an example of why SOLA System exists, why I do this work, and what's possible, what's available, and has agreed to come on the podcast and share.

A bit about themselves, their journey, and so I'm going to welcome Jem. Jem, do you want to introduce yourself? Yeah, um. Who are you? Hi, siblings. Who am I? Um, I'm Jem Dobie. I'm from my pronouns are they, them, them. I'm a disabled autistic person. I'm from Leicester City. I run The Feel Good Circus with Rowan Thompson.

The focus is on the experience rather than performance. And that's just so exciting and such a big part of my life at the moment. Um, and I'm just hyped [00:03:00] on circus in general, like I love going to juggling conventions, I go to all the ones I can, that's like, and it's just coming through into the season, like in the winter there's not so many, and now I get to be in that bubble, in that room with everyone, yeah, doing what they're hyped on, and I love that so much.

Yeah, I'm really excited. Like, all the leaf buds are bursting and the little baby leaves are coming through and I love that energy and they're all so beautiful and yeah, I'm really excited to be on this podcast. I've always loved this podcast so much. It's helped me loads. It's meant a lot to me. Louisa's um, Louisa's coaching program, is a big part of my life.

I'm hyped to be here today, looking forward to it. We're gonna, we're gonna get into all of the circus stuff. Uh, in a bit. Um, but we've also had a chat about what, what we might talk about today [00:04:00] and sharing, um, some of what your journey has been, which for me has been breathtaking. You've really taken everything that I've offered, both in the program and the coaching and just run with it.

And you've become such an example for others in the program of what's possible for them. Um, and what they can look forward to, and what's, you know, the other side of some of the things that, um, they're addressing and moving through. And so if we can open some of your journey up for listeners of the podcast, I think it's going to be super inspiring.

And maybe we can start with where you were at in the beginning. I think from, From what I've understood or what I've been able to witness, from my perspective, some of the biggest areas that you've been able to change and transform what your experience of them has been, they've been work, and then [00:05:00] also socializing.

And I'm curious if you, if we could maybe start with where you were at before we started working together. So, socializing. I felt like there was rules that I had to abide by to deserve connection, for it to be okay to be around people. And those rules often led to me feeling really overwhelmed. I mean, not being able to be present with what's happening.

Um, me being really anxious, thinking about the past, thinking about the future. And me really trying to tightly control and manage myself so I could be acceptable. And thought that I had to control and restrict myself to deserve belonging, to be [00:06:00] with people, to have community, to, um, have a nice life. Um, I'm with work.

I had a business which I kind of, what I did do seemed to go very well, but there was some amount of being really visible or being really like legit and taking the steps to make it its full thing that it can be. I never took those steps and there was opportunities that I didn't take and I think, I think part of it was I felt really overwhelmed and like my sensory experience and I was too busy trying to do this performative being a good person or being who I thought I should be to be able to have the energy to be who I really am.

Yeah, and I think what I've realized is that All that energy I was using to kind of appear on the outside what other [00:07:00] people maybe thought I should be or wanted me to be was harming me, wasn't, wasn't, wasn't really good for me. I remember you talked about, uh, when it comes to, I don't know, socializing or just doing things with other people, you noticed how you were already, I think the word you used was pre compromising.

That you already had an assumption of where people wanted you to be or what they would expect. And you were already invisibly agreeing to some of that, that other people just weren't privy to, or didn't know, you weren't used to communicating that. And so, realizing like, oh no, the compromise is already a compromise of a compromise.

Yeah, yeah, I think it's been like, such a big thing to even be like, What do I actually want and that being such a hidden thing from me, and I think my [00:08:00] best option for survival has been often to be self negating and hide that and disappear it. And so then I started to have this realization, as you said, that when I was maybe compromising, I was compromising from this place.

So say if it's a bridge that we've got to put slats on and we're going to meet somewhere on it. When I started compromising with someone, they were on the bank, but I'd already put slats halfway or three quarters of the way. And then when we're like, oh, let's be fair and compromise, we'd compromise from there.

And starting to realize that, as you said, because I'd already compromised so much, my inherent way of being with people was such a big compromise. But sometimes having those boundaries, that labor that I was doing was invisible. As much as that was invisible to people and invisible to me, I'm starting to realize that I respect [00:09:00] that labor and I respect me as a caring, kind person.

That I've done compromising and to always compromise my place into a place of being distressed and overwhelmed and end up being burnt out and having meltdowns and just feeling like really crap a lot of the time and not having enough headspace to do what I want in life, because I'm so busy trying to appease everyone so busy trying to hold up this fallacy of a central norm.

That's actually harming me, but hold up that so people can feel comfortable as if it's a. given fixed state of reality that they are centered and normal and default and help people feel comfortable in that and I've spent so much of my life spending energy helping people feel comfortable about that and I think these boundaries have been about Not doing so much of that labor for people.

Like, I'll put some, a couple of slats on the bridge and see if someone else puts a couple of slats on the bridge, and maybe we'll, like, [00:10:00] meet in the middle. Sometimes, like, maybe I'll compromise more. It doesn't have to be exactly even. But if people aren't putting any slats on the bridge, it's becoming more unlikely that I'm gonna go all the way over to their bank, especially if it leads to that.

Um, I think like a phrase comes to mind that is with this being invisible, when we're very used to having privilege, when we're very accustomed to it, equality can feel like oppression. So I think this kind of narrative of like me and maybe other autistic people being controlling I think often it's not actually being controlling, it's actually advocating for ourselves and it's requesting people to put some slats on the bridge, but people feel, find that restrictive because they're so used to being able to stand on the bank and be like, no, you've got to do all the labour and do all the work and come to us because we're right and we're centred [00:11:00] and that's how it's staying.

And. I'm not living like that anymore. People that ask me to do that, people that repeatedly try to put my access needs and their preferences in the arena together, like put them at competition with each other, not recognising the difference between like an access need and a preference. And there's some gray area, but there's also some difference.

I think that's clear. Um, people that repeatedly asked me to do that aren't accepting of me arriving as my full self. I've got limited amount of my energy that I'm gonna put in to bridge that gap because I've got things I want to do in the in life, and I think I've got good things to bring to the world.

And I think the way that I make those gifts that I'm particularly well placed to give give is to be my full self and to arrive as my full self. There's so much in [00:12:00] what you've said that I think people can use to consider, okay, where am I, where am I doing that? Where am I pre compromising and invisibly, like, overcompensating for someone else's lack of understanding or just, they're not prepared to go that distance or to be that open to there being another way of being, right?

And other experiences. I'm curious about, you said, the respect that you have for yourself now. What helped you get to that? Because I know that that wasn't always the case. I know that your experience of being, for example, in school, in the education system, was one where you were, assigned a role that didn't allow you to respect yourself in that way.

What was that like for you? Where do you think you picked up the idea that your role, that your way of being with other people needs to be one that's full of compromise? Yeah, so there's a few things around school. I think I'd like to uh, try to articulate [00:13:00] how I feel about what my experience at school was, what was happening to me, and I think like there's like three main things that really stand out for me from school, and it's sad that these are what they are, and I think, I think I was being oppressed, I think I was being abused, and I think it was traumatizing, and I would describe it as oppression, Because I define oppression as the distribution of trauma.

So some people feel it more, so that other people don't have to feel it. So this kind of comes to what I was saying before about people being able to feel centred and feel normal and this normative fallacy and feel safe within that. And I was, I had traumatic experiences, so other people could feel it.

Avoid having difficult experiences and then it was abusive in a way like I feel like we were in a stage of education where [00:14:00] this is maybe like 25 years ago or something and a while before that, like it was okay to physically abuse kids to make them do what you wanted. And I feel like we were in a stage where it was okay to psychologically and verbally abuse kids.

So control them and make them do what you want them to do. Um, and I get some inkling that we're kind of stepping through into like, realising that that's not okay. But I don't really know a lot about that. But at the time, I think it was really, really normal. And to be bullied as a small child by groups of adults, And essentially, they didn't know how to provide the right space for me.

They were frustrated. They could see I had potential and I could understand topics, but I wasn't kind of succeeding at school. And for them to feel frustrated and then not to be able to do something, for them to fall short. And then not be [00:15:00] accountable, and instead placed the blame in my body, my small child body.

They placed it all in me, and they took no accountability for it. And they blamed me as the other, as the different. And the reason that it's traumatic, because it was too much to feel at the time. Like, I didn't have the resources to fully metabolise and process. All that difficult stuff that was happening, trauma initially was thought to always be this one big event.

But then it's been also broadened to acknowledge that it can be like a series of events, like through oppression, can build up and build up and build up if every day you're being having this stuff put upon you, that can be a really traumatic experience. So I carried it in me, I carried it in my body and It showed up in my relationships, in my experiences, in [00:16:00] my future interactions with things, in my range of experience, of emotion, of being that I thought I could have.

And, and yeah, so unfortunately, While other people were being supported to develop and maybe think about what they wanted to do with their lives, it really felt like the teachers, there was something that needed to happen first before they were willing to educate me, which was I had to be a different person, or at least pretend skillfully enough to them that I was a different person before they were willing.

to support me with becoming who I could be and give the gifts that I'm particularly well placed to give in the world, which is what I think education should be about. I feel like I had, for a long time, [00:17:00] this identity of being a rebel. It was offered to me. By the people oppressing me that that's who I was and I think that I was Mistaking survival responses trauma responses from my personality and who I am and I now don't like to define myself by where i'm positioned to that imagined central norm and As much as it was the best option I had at the time to be like take on board that identity and behave like it was who I am.

I've let go of that now and that is a coping strategy, not my personality. Thank you for sharing all of that, Jem. I'm sure it resonates with a lot of people. These, these experiences come up as [00:18:00] we go into the world and we assume that we're going to experience the same thing We assume that these, these rules and this kind of cage that we've created is like where it's safe to be, who it's safe to be, when we want to then deviate from that, because To be ourselves means to deviate from that.

That's when some of these patterns come up, right? And so, some of the work that you've had to do in this process of, yeah, I'm learning that. I'm learning the role that you're given. I'm learning this idea that you are not worthy of being who you are, accessing a learning that works for you, and then being seen in what you do have to offer.

In you becoming that, you've had to unlearn what you thought the world was or what you thought relationships should be or could be, who you thought you had to be. And you've been in a process of essentially renegotiating the terms of existence [00:19:00] from what felt good inside of you and what felt true to you.

What do you think's been helpful in doing that? So, some of the things that have been helpful are. I allow myself the amount of processing time, or I try to give myself the amount of processing time. Not that I'm told I should need, but what feels right for me. And this can sometimes mean before and after something, maybe I need some alone time, or maybe there's particular ways that support me to process.

And, Being aware of what kind of makes me need that process in time, like what uses up my energy and things that can be draining and things that can be energising, being more real about what is draining and what is energising. And boundaries have been so helpful, like, especially with people that [00:20:00] have known me a long time.

Because I think me putting all the slats on the bridge, me doing, like, a lot of over adapting, when you're used to that, and then I'm just like, oh no, I can't do it, I'm not gonna do that all the time. It's, I, I, I can see why it's hard for people to adjust and adapt to that. Learning how to have a soft no, Like having this kind of surging, really like big, no, and like learning to be able to just have a soft, no, I'm not doing that.

And, yeah, that's been really important, um, and prioritising. Prioritising has been a big one. Me having quality of experience in my life rather than quantity. I feel like I have this wide perceptual capacity so in any moment I'm like taking in a lot of input and this means that like I can just take loads from an event or an activity or a thing and I get so much from it [00:21:00] only if I can be present and I can only be present if I give myself the processing time before and after.

And so much more good stuff happens in my life when I allow myself that and at first I felt a lot of grief around not having the quantity of experience that, to be honest, I've been spending a long time being like, yo, I'm going to be a normal person. I'm going to be able to do all these things. I'm going to be able to do this and that.

And I'm just like training myself to like, um, be able to do it and having to like, let go. It feels like real grief. But as time goes on, I realised more that having all that quantity of experience if I'm always overwhelmed and never really present and not really fully feeling my experience in the moment, it just doesn't really count for much.

And so, yeah, quality of experience. I used to think I [00:22:00] liked variety and deciding in the moment and stuff. And I think, like, for some people that's really cool, and maybe I have enjoyed it to some extent, but I think quite a lot of it was not knowing what was right for me, and not knowing what I really wanted, and always kind of being in this emergency state, and just being like, Oh, shit, I'm just gonna have to deal with what's happening now.

I don't really know what my internal experience is. And Kind of having routine, having ritual, having things that are soothing for me and not routine that's like enforced on me by other people or not trying to be performative and have routine in a particular way but finding what works for me and having things to fall back on as my default what I'm doing allows me processing and sensory bandwidth to kind of do the things I really want in my life.

And it might be like not deciding what colour t shirt I'm wearing today, because they're all black t shirts. Or I might not be deciding what breakfast I'm having today, because I always [00:23:00] have the same breakfast. And sometimes I might change it, and sometimes I might do stuff, but sometimes the sameness allows the space for the really big, important things in life.

And all that performing, being normal, and having a variety of different sandwiches for lunch so people don't tease me. Like, that's just like, I don't have time for that, you know? I like, I'm 39, there's been so much life that's been trying to avoid people pointing out how I'm unusual. And I want to put my energy in other places.

And yeah, and then systems. Loads of systems, loads of like, um, ways of doing stuff. And one of the places that I get systems is Louisa's coaching program. Yeah, like all the material and the support there and the Discord channel [00:24:00] where I hear about other people's ways of doing stuff and the resonance and kind of what I take from that.

Um, The self coaching, uh, makes it work for me. That makes me be able to be my full self and do what I want to do. Like, uh, I have a thing like 'systems not shame'. With a system, you can be like, Oh, this thing isn't working. That's like, be curious and look for a generative way forward. Rather than this control, restrict, punish, shrink into a hopefully acceptable shape and size.

So yeah, those systems, systems not shame people. I love it. Can we talk about what all of that's been enabled you to do in terms of work, in terms of, you know, and I [00:25:00] mean really like when it comes to work. Like, what you're doing in the world that feels good to you, that is, um, the thing that you're offering, um, halfway through the service system, um, the Unmasking Unschooled program, you have, uh, people in the program have a one on one with me, where we focus on, specifically on this question of, like, there's something that you're here to do.

Are you doing it? Is there something that's, that's calling you, however vague it is? And our one on one was, was a, was one in which there was sort of a lot of things that you were, had a maybe around or that you've tried or that you've done a few things with. And I think one of the conclusions that we came to was constraint, reduce, focus on the one thing that has been a passion of yours.

And that is circus. [00:26:00] But it's not just circus. There's something different about what you're doing with that that I think is incredible and I want everyone to know about, especially because I think it's, it's such an example of where you've turned what have been difficult experiences in your past. into medicine, into insight, into a solution in the sense that, you know, what you experienced in a punitive education system where your belonging was conditional on meeting certain standards or expectations or learning a certain way or doing it correctly and this obsession with, you know, there being a right way, uh, and that being education and learning is about.

And what you're offering that is different. Do you want to talk about what you're doing now? Yeah. So, what I'm doing now, the [00:27:00] project's called The Feel Good Circus. And what it kind of comes from is this kind of feeling I get at juggling conventions. And being in the hall. Or the tent, or the field. I'm feeling like I can show up as I am.

It's this belonging through movement. Feeling connected to what I'm doing. Connected, feeling safe enough while around other people to feel connected to what my current experience is. And that being a nice experience. And being connected with those other people too. And that's magic for me. Circus is this broad umbrella of things.

There's so much that it's got beyond performance. And what I'm particularly interested in are the social and emotional benefits. And with the Feel Good Circus, it's like the focus is on [00:28:00] accessibility, especially for. autistic and disabled people. And what I really hope this means is just, this means that there's a space where people feel like they've been thought of, they've been considered.

There's like this warmth, there's a concept, um, access intimacy. And I feel like that it's really kind of informed by that idea, um, where people can kind of come in and feel like they can be their full selves. And yeah, come as you are. And I think circus is particularly good for this, especially maybe if people have had difficult experience in competitive sports environments or things like that, or they haven't felt like, it's been like, oh, you're not good at that, that space isn't for you, or that space is for people that don't have a body like yours.

The variety of equipment and activities accompanied by our approach Really create this like [00:29:00] space where Yeah, I think it's this way of being together that just means a lot to me and I really want to hold space for that and offer it to people and What's made sense for me is to operate from, like, my feelings of lived experience with being disabled and autistic and secondary and other in other ways and kind of really kind of zoning them, like, rather than this being a space that's, like, teaching people how to socialise in the right way or to, oh, let's teach autistic people how to socialise, like, Let's think how we, like, authentically socialize.

Let's think how we, like, turn up in a space and what actually works for us and, uh, and I'm excited and I'm interested about that and uh, and I want to explore it and I'm not saying I got all the [00:30:00] answers, but like It's really about this kind of deep dive exploration, interdependence, like learning from people, people that are like never masked, people that are just like their full self, the wisdom in that, like when people like show up and they're just like, no, I won't do that.

Yeah. I love that. And I'm just like, fuck that. I really learned from that. And yeah, I'm just super hyped. And I think, I suppose I could go on about it all day, but I suppose that's like a really good. Insight into like what I'm bringing to the world and it's popular. It goes well. Like people want it. Yeah.

And that's really, really nice. I want to ask you a couple of things. One is, you mentioned our approach, but it's also like this was a passion. This is something that you love doing, but there was a, there's a journey that you've been on to convert that into something that you feel [00:31:00] like. is a viable thing that you can do that is, is like, this is the work I'm doing.

This is something that is serious and real and impactful in the world beyond it just being something that you like to do. And I remember in our one on one and some of the coaching that we've done has been about the fact that you have had that sensitivity to notice and be very, almost vigilant around.

Where there's an energy of competition, of dominance, of coercion, of hierarchies, uh, of it being about getting it right, being rewarded, and really going on a journey to see that that sensitivity. In, in of itself and the lived experiences that, that, that comes out of also have value, right? Because you know the difference and you can distinguish between you can, you have that inner a compass for what, what doesn't feel like that [00:32:00] and therefore how you might hold a space that offers something that isn't that where people can tune in with feeling connected to what's actually going on for them in their own body, in own experiences.

And that be the foundation to then connect with other people, to then connect with the environment, to come up with the circus objects, and experience themselves being embodied, being themselves, and being centered, and being included, and being with other people. And so yeah, I'm curious about what that's been like for you to, to sort of name or claim that yeah, this is something that's.

valid, it's real, it's valuable. Uh, and also I think there were some thoughts that you had about I don't have the circus skills, like maybe, and maybe that being a reason why I don't get to do this. Do I have permission to choose how I [00:33:00] work and that this can be the thing that I do? And can I stay focused on something that's going to take time to build?

Yeah, and, and sort of all the ways that you, you'd internalize that your, your place in life was to just kind of do jobs you didn't like and not earn good money and not do the thing that you actually deeply care about. Can you talk about what that journey's been? So, I think if what you want is you want to go to somewhere where someone's an expert.

On being like on top of their game being like the best of throwing the most things in the air I'm going to train you to be like a professional and win competitions I don't think it's me. Um What I am an expert in is i'm an expert in not being the best and making mistakes and dropping a lot and loving it so much.

And if [00:34:00] you or your group or people that you provide things for, if you think that they could benefit from creative movement in space with other people, doing that in a way that's Not about how we're always externally perceived and it's about the experience and we can all have joy on not being the best that you don't have to wait till you're number one or in the top 10 or whatever to enjoy it.

If you've got people that You think my enjoy that I'm an expert at that, and it's therapeutic movement for me. Like if I've had a difficult day, it's that soothing stimulation that like feeling good. It's like regulating my nervous system. It's that feeling calm that I do for myself, and I think using it as a movement practice.

That's what I really want to drill into, and that's what I really want to be [00:35:00] a specialist in. So, I think kind of, for me, like, really meaningful social esteem is built on a foundation of self esteem. And I think having this connection and knowledge of myself. Allows for that to like to move through into that and I think that foundation is like the foundation But moving through into that kind of connecting in a wider way and so being coached by Louisa helped me have the confidence to kind of feel like I can practice things real time and uh, I didn't have to have everything perfect before I could go and try it and Like Then trying it real time and getting like positive feedback and learning and taking the steps to kind of do it in the world and like these systems of being like, what's the next domino?

What's the next thing I'm going to do? [00:36:00] And be like, I'm gonna try this, this and this, and then I'm gonna go out and try it. And I think what I have done before is get perpetually caught in, like, the dreaming and planning stage, because it starts to feel quite comfortable and exciting, and The kind of being vulnerable and visible, especially with the autistic experience of over adapting, especially someone that's like late identified and masked a lot, like being like, like a lot of my values being like seen to be in my pretense of normalness, to be like visible and open and be like, oh, this is what I thought might have, you know, Because, um, I'm just gonna like turn up at the British Juggling Convention and do it my way and do it how I think.

Yeah, so I think that doing it real time with the self coaching and the coaching from you, and I don't think I would have had [00:37:00] systems and had the bravery, like I had some of the self awareness from kind of being like, oh, I think I'm autistic and ADHD and some other things around my identity that were important for me feeling like my full self.

But having the tools to then be like, what am I gonna do with this now? Like, how does this mean that I'm gonna move in the world? What's like my sense of purpose? Like what am I particularly well placed to do at this moment in time? And I think, I think I'm like positioned like incredibly well to like share this in this way at this moment.

And. Yeah, and I'm going to keep on trying that real time and go out and experiment and be curious I feel like part of the education thing for me was I never saw that My role in the world was to be curious or to be the learner or to be like working things [00:38:00] out. It's like You come and you do this job and someone tells you the steps step by step do this And don't question it.

You just do that and I think stepping into this idea that me being curious, me being a learner, like I've been excluded from the creation of ideas and knowledge and developing, ideating. I have been excluded from that. And I think what I'm doing is I'm learning that, that oppression and trauma that I experienced from my formative years to teach me that I don't get to be in that role.

That wasn't true. That was people hurting me and that doesn't mean anything about me. I get to decide who I am and what my social role is. It's so good. My heart is exploding. In the role that you're doing, you're also completely [00:39:00] transformed that experience into A means of being able to offer belongings to other people.

Like, you know how to do it because you know how it felt not to do it. And I think this is also something that so many of us struggle with is converting what the vision is or the sense that we could do something more into, okay, but what are the actual tangible steps? And some of us do that thing of like, we, we take 100, 000 steps in our heads, try to solve all of it by thinking about it.

And others of us, it's like, I don't, I don't yet know and it's vague. I don't even know how to turn the vague thing into something tangible. And something that we are always practicing in the social system is just constraining down to what's the next step. But also being willing to practice, to learn visibly, to be willing to find our own [00:40:00] way and be the person who can model that for other people of like, no, this isn't about everyone has to start, be perfect, know all the answers, be right, because so many of us are actually caught up in that, in that fear of being seen, the fear of failing, the fear of getting it wrong, that it, it limits us.

Right. And so, yeah. Hearing you talk about that, I think it's such a good example of what it takes, but also what can come out of, Alright, I don't know all the answers. This is my best guess. This is what I'm going to try. And it's okay that I'm trying. Being able to conserve our energy for those leaps of faith and murder.

They're like, no, this is the priority. This is what I care about. This is what I'm going to focus my energy on. is also what makes that possible. Something that we haven't touched on is the significance of being around other people. who are on a similar journey. Do you want to talk about [00:41:00] the impact of what that's been for you?

Yeah, um, I think it's a really big part of it. I don't think we heal in isolation, you know, like we heal together, we heal in relation. And I think being in a space where I don't have to be like on guard or like feeling like I need to explain. or perpetually be misunderstood around my kind of sensory experience to be with my sensory siblings and there's like this like knowing that there's like this kind of visceral embodied lived experience I understanding of my experience.

That can release some of the work that I'm having to do, that invisible work, and free up the space and replace it with something that's like feeding me. Feeling [00:42:00] belonging, feeling validated. Can really, like, I can go out and I can be trying to live my life in the world, and sometimes there can be this, like, build up and it feels like It feels like trying to go about living my life in this metaphorical wind some days.

It's like, it's like, there's this like, pushing, this like, I did difficulty that's invisible and then I maybe jump on the discord or I go to the group coaching or have a conversation with a friend that I've met from it and it's soothing like it's okay to be me, it's okay to have my experience, it's, it's okay, it's okay to be doing this the way I'm doing it.

My humanity. is not up for question here. And it gives me the strength for when I go out and everybody doesn't get it so much. It's like this home base, this kind of like top up [00:43:00] on belonging and the safety that that helps me feel in my nervous system. And yeah, and I suppose maybe pragmatically, like other people saying how they're doing it and things like that, like I learned from.

Connection is how, isn't it? Connection is important to me, but it just might not fit some narrow remit of what people think connection and belonging looks like. What would you say is, is different about your relationship to socialising and working now? I think the pace, like I didn't imagine that seems like such a contradiction that I get so much more done when I give myself more processing time and I give myself more space.

and that I have better quality friendships and relationships. It's not this rushing [00:44:00] clamoring kind of scarcity kind of feel to it. There's like a calm centered momentum and it feels like that momentum is building. And so rather than feeling the scarcity, it's kind of Self propelling and I could have never imagined that would give me more of what I wanted.

Oh, there's a phrase that I really like. I think it's slow is smooth, smooth is fast and it's kind of like that. Like it's, it's all a lot smoother. I believe things are possible. Like, when I think of something and I'm like, I want to do that. There's not just an immediate, Oh, it's impossible. Oh, it's too much.

Oh, I don't get to have that. I don't get to do that. Like, I believe that through like the systems and the management that I implement to kind of move towards like respecting and being kind towards myself and my sensory experience, there's this real sense [00:45:00] of hope and possibility vastly beyond what I felt those feelings before.

I feel great, like I'm the happiest I've ever been. I feel loads more calm, loads more at ease. It's not to say that there's not difficulties in life and I'm not worried sometimes, but my general sense of well being, having engaged with the reality of my autistic experience rather than continuing to try to mask over it, Like, that journey has just made my life so much better.

This, like, sense of, like, belief and hope that I can make the life I want for myself and I've got the tools to do that. The journey's been really difficult, but I'm the happiest I've ever been and it's just so worth it. And how okay and calm and at ease and settled I get to feel so much of the time I [00:46:00] could never have imagined.

And yeah, how much good and happiness there is in my life and how much I create that for others has just increased so much because of the work I've done. Amazing. Jem, I'm so thankful. And if people are curious about what you're doing now, if they want to find out more about that, can you let them know where they can find you?

If you feel like you want to like, Be in a space that sounds like how I described it with the feel good circus, or you'd like to talk about the ideas or kind of think how it might work for a group you're in or something you provide or you've got an idea of someone or you just want to come as an individual to a thing, you can contact me.

The email address is [00:47:00] thefeelgoodcircus at gmail. com, on Instagram, Facebook, {at} thefeelgoodcircus. Yeah, and thank you very much Louisa for inviting me to do the podcast. It's been a really good way of reflecting on my journey and I appreciate the space for that. Thank you so much. We're going to link to all of the ways that people can contact you.

in the top of the show notes. So if you're, yeah, if you're curious, if you're interested, you want to see what Jem's Feel Good Circus is all about, open the show notes, go and click the links, go and explore. And Jem said they're open to hearing from you if you're, if you have any questions, if you're curious.

So Jem, I adore you so much. for being so willing to share so openly and vulnerably. It gives so much context, I think, for People who [00:48:00] are maybe where you were or what their journey could be. I think there's so much more to us than who we are when we are reacting to things that don't work. And you're such an example of what happens when we prioritize what does work.

And we start modelling that and bringing that in the world and create access intimacy. We mentioned that earlier. I'm going to also link to what that is in the show notes as well. Thank you everyone for listening. And I'll talk to you soon. So bye. Bye everybody. Ceasefire now.






is for #autistic-status visionaries, creatives and change-makers, who are seeking a more empowering way to see, know and be yourself.