In this episode, we’re joined by a returning friend, Kim Thai, a queer Vietnamese writer, Emmy-award winning producer, social justice advocate, and mindfulness teacher based in New York. We chat about community building, cultivating joy, and her latest work with Ganeshspace, a mindfulness organization that creates healing spaces for historically excluded communities and social justice education for all.
In this episode we talk about:
- Community healing and the importance of centering joy and liberation in our equity-centered work
- Reclaiming queerness and honoring indigenous practices
- Surrounding ourselves with people who uplift and nourish us
- Prioritizing happiness leading to ultimate self-care and joy
You can more of Kim at:
You can follow me at:
- Website: yellowglitterpodcast.com
- Instagram: @stevenwakabayashi
- YouTube: @stevenwakabayashi
- Subscribe to my weekly newsletter: mindfulmoments.substack.com
Steven Wakabayashi: Hello everyone. My name is Steven Wakabayashi, and you’re listening to Yellow Glitter Mindfulness Through The Eyes and Soul of Queer Asian Perspectives. This episode, we’re joined by our extra special returning guest, Kim Thai. Kim Thai, she her is a writer, Emmy award-winning producer, social justice advocate, and mindfulness teacher.
Her personal essays have been published in New York magazines. The Cut. Newsweek Self and Tricycle. She has appeared on MTV News. Dear White Woman Podcast and Authority Magazine, role for Fortune USA Today and the Associated Press among many others. She’s a founder of Ganesh Space and Mindfulness organization.
That creates healing spaces for historically excluded communities and social justice education for all. She is currently a student in Han’s Plum Village tradition and was given the Dharma name Ancestral River of the Heart to widen and deepen the insight from Buddhist teachings. As a queer Asian woman and proud kid of Vietnamese refugees, her personal mission is to empower people with liberatory practices to live with ease and joy.
Welcome back, Kim.
Kim Thai: Steven, that’s a mouthful. When you go all out.
Steven Wakabayashi: Yeah, it’s beautiful. I also did not know you have now a dorm. When did this happen?
Kim Thai: Ah, I do, I do. Actually, a few years ago I was attending your retreat. Virtually during the pandemic, we were still all kind of in quarantine, and I went to Palm Village as a typically annual retreat for activists, and I went and decided to make a further commitment, and I’m actually about to declare my intentions with the order of inner being coming up, which then I’ll start sort of the 10 year process of hopefully being invited to receive the lamp.
And being able to carry out the teachings in that tradition.
Steven Wakabayashi: That sounds amazing. But before we start, just like what we do with all of our episodes, I wanna check in with you. How are you doing?
Kim Thai: I’m doing well. I’m trying to think of when you and I last did our first podcast. Do you remember? It was like three years ago.
Steven Wakabayashi: It was a while ago.
Kim Thai: Yeah. Done a lot of vegan. But I’m doing really well. I mean, I am full-time up in the Western Catskill now and . It’s just, I’ve been trying to live a more slower and intentional life up here and so it’s just interesting to see what old patterns kind of still rear its head. But in this moment I’m doing really great and enjoying a clementine over here.
Steven Wakabayashi: Yeah. Now that you point it out, I think since we last recorded, you were still located in the city Yeah. In Upper Manhattan. And you moved pretty far away, a few hours away from New York Central. I’m just curious, like you mentioned, it’s just a different pace of life, but . How has that been going for you, just being out there in the wilderness closer to nature?
Kim Thai: Yeah. It’s been honestly such a, It’s very surreal that this is my life. Like sometimes I wake up in the best way where I’m like, whoa. I had been in the city for more than 15 years at this point, and really spent every single minute of those last 15 years grinding and hustling. And to be honest with you, my nervous system just couldn’t handle it anymore.
Right? And so it’s been beautiful up here and the days somehow seem longer. The pace just feels interesting, slower. My wife and I, Jess are just like, wow, we got so much done today. Like, cause I think we have the capacity to be more present because there isn’t distractions. But it’s beautiful. I mean, it’s cold right now and we’ve had quite a bit of snow storms, but .
I try to get outside every day. I try to connect with Nature Mother Earth every day. I’m just about a five minute walk from the water near my house. . And so it’s a beautiful, beautiful gifts and I’m trying to appreciate it in full as much as I can.
Steven Wakabayashi: It’s interesting how we need to get out of the hustle and bustle to sit and experience time. Where on the flip side, you have a lot of people who willingly and unwillingly have to work that corporate trap. Right. Totally. Are just tolling away, moving to metro dense cities where jobs are. And it just seems like when we either like you moving away for some folks moving back home or people when they go off on vacation, yeah.
They finally feel time as is. And the construct of just the days passing seems so much more fruitful like your clementine. Yeah, totally. When we can allow time to pass and we’re present with it.
Kim Thai: Time is a construct in every single way. I’m sure a lot of folks can relate that, like when you’re heads down working in whatever capacity it is that you’re doing, suddenly you’re like, whoa, what happened to the day? Right? . Like I definitely had those moments, and there is something here about the stillness and the invitation to be like, What you doing, right? . There’s a little bit of that that’s constantly reflected back at me now, right?
Like culturally. . I’m surrounded by everyone working their ass off, which I respect and I did for a long time and that’s not a judgment and a slight, but I think it’s just very different to be going from that to kind of almost the exact opposite. And I think the thing that’s been really interesting for me to observe is like when I was in the city, I know you go on retreats a lot, Stephen, and like I was always very like, I needed it. Right? Like when you’re in the city, And I would like always try to go like at least once a quarter or something. Right. Just to be like, lemme reset. Yeah. And so it’s been really interesting that the inverse has happened a little bit, right? . That it’s not necessarily like a temporary reset, it’s the baseline in which I’m living now, and there’s more of a sustained sort of recalibration of my nervous system that I feel now where I’m like, I don’t need to be rushing to that, you know?
And I think there’s always unfortunately, a false sense of urgency a lot in the corporate world in sort of typical nine to fives that so many of us have to kinda work through. And I think that just becomes like even more apparent where I’m like, what is the fire alarm about? You know what I mean? Yeah.
So if anything, I would say that this time being here has widened my perspective a lot more.
Steven Wakabayashi: Oh, that’s beautiful. Have you seen any of those insights? Because I know you’re still working with clients, right? And you’re still working jobs and projects, and I’m curious if any of those insights have percolated into any ways of working with others.
Kim Thai: Yes. Management. Totally. Yeah. I mean, I think for me, the big shift for me in the last sort of like month is I’m actually. Slowly letting go of sort of my big media work, which is really scary to say cause I’ve been doing it for so long and seeing, you know, if I can really transition, you know, I’ve been writing and I’ve been teaching for a while now, but if I really dedicate my efforts to that, what kind of seeds am I planting and sewing?
Yeah. And what will kind of flourish from that. So I think that’s, The biggest shift for me is . Sort of the juxtaposition, right? I had a client recently where they were like, startup mentality. Grind, grind, grind, grind. You know, 15 minute meetings back to back and like happening, you know? Yeah. Think there’s just such an interesting conflict.
Culture that’s happening in work right now, which I’d be really curious to hear your thoughts on where I think that there’s sort of the, this is how we work, this is how we’re supposed to work, and then it’s colliding with like, but we know better and I’ve seen that a lot in a lot of sort of my different projects and different clients in the past couple years where they’ll be.
Oh no, but we wanna be more mindful or we wanna be more inclusive, or whatever it is, right? And there’s sort of like that intention, but there’s also almost this automation that happens, right? . And so it’s very interesting to see how challenging culture shift can be. Even when leadership has the right intentions in mind, because I think capitalism’s so ingrained in us, right?
Yeah. And so I think for me, that’s sort of my next chapter of working with myself and my healing journey is like, how can I root that out as much as possible? Right? And like being a kid of immigrants and of refugees, like, you know, you have a certain mentality of like, yeah. I need to survive. You know, my parents came to this country, they shouldn’t have to worry about me.
Like, you know, all of that sort of like first gen baggage and sort of psychology that comes with all of it. And I think it’s our responsibility to evolve and to heal from that. And so that’s what I’m kind of working on, I think in this next chapter. And being here has really been the catalyst.
Steven Wakabayashi: I love it.
And to echo your sentiment on just the cultural shifts, I think a lot of us are realizing just the system of capitalism is just not working. . Or many communities, many people, you have those, you know, financial celebrities where they’ll go on and talk about how great capitalism is and how all these things they’ve been to accomplish with.
But as we look at what’s happening more and more, wealth inequality is increasing the number of people who have access to that which they speak of, that buffer is becoming less and less and less. We’re seeing prices skyrocketing for regular day-to-day products, homes, shelter, and I think a lot more people are becoming wide eyed.
Hearts open. To the realization that we need a new system that will not just allow us to get our worth right and be seen for who we are and the work we deliver, but also sustainable way forward that can accommodate our growing populations.
Kim Thai: Man, I really hope it’s in our lifetime, Steven. Like I really do.
Right. Like it’s so interesting, like everybody kinda talks about the end of the world coming, you know? And I’m like, yes, climate change is real. I’m not a, I believe in climate change. I’m not talking about that, but I’m just talking about global society in a general, like I think when you’re looking at it, what’s really collapsing is the sort of longevity of capitalism, like you said.
Right? And it’s. Conflicting values with democracy and supposed freedom, right? And the collapse of like Judea Christian values rooting and leading and prioritizing our society as we know it. So it’s really interesting and I think, you know, I live. In a really small town, it’s like literally a thousand people, which is wild, right?
Like I go into town now, Steven people know who we’re right. And I’m like, I love it. It’s so different,
Steven Wakabayashi: It’s kinda amazing, but kinda scary. Yeah,
Kim Thai: Totally. Yeah. But like I also think that fear of the scaries, because like I personally never have experienced anything like that.
Steven Wakabayashi: Well, so different from like city life, right?
Where you just, there’s so many people, you just blend.
Kim Thai: Totally. I didn’t even fucking know my neighbors. Right. Like before who lived right in the apartment next to me. And I grew up in a suburb in Texas before where you might know your neighbors, but you didn’t really, really get to know them. Yeah, right.
And so, It’s just a really interesting sort of way of living out here that was surprisingly aligned with this sort of, kind of new exploration for me of like, what is, how can I contribute to a anti-capitalist or post-capitalist world because, People will be like, we would love to sell you some mushroom spores.
Right? Like just got me some mushroom spores for Valentine’s Day. Cause I thought that was very romantic. We’re so like we’re growing some like mushrooms and some oyster mushrooms and things like that out here. And this woman who is starting a farm out here, she was like, oh yeah, I’m selling them. And everyone’s so open to trading out here.
Which is so interesting, right? Because we’re like, oh, how much is that? And she was like, well, you know, what do you got to offer? Like I’m open and like just does pottery. So she’s like, well, what if I gave you some pots to sell and could we get some like veggies that way from you? And so to me it’s a much more.
Interesting and conscious way of actually looking at value exchange versus it being so transactional. It’s a very interesting and new way of going about things, and I’m very at the beginnings of it, but it’s exciting to kind of experience a little bit.
Steven Wakabayashi: What you’re saying energetically feels less of this maximalist culture we have.
Right? Where it’s about how do we get every single penny, every single dollar for everything we do? . But it’s this notion of, well, I’m willing to give this for that. It’s almost an invitation for you to. Be giving onto them a piece of yourself, right? Versus . They’re figuring out, okay, well we’re gonna waive these, you know, things I’m gonna give you.
This mushroom should cost X number of dollars. And to me, I think it’s a beautiful exchange. What I’m hearing is a beautiful exchange of an invitation to provide onto one another without this need and desire to extract the most from one another.
Kim Thai: I think you just hit the nail on the head. I think the difference, the shift is, .
When you’re thinking about it from a communal lens . Regardless of whether or not you subscribe to the idea of socialism or communism, whatever, I think those are much larger discussions, but just looking at that value exchange, it’s suddenly rooted in care and respect. . Instead of being rooted in extraction and exploitation and that’s, Commerce has always been right.
Yeah. Like if we really wanna name it and say it and we should, right. It’s like based on oppressive systems and it’s based off of a lot of, still to this day, UNH honoring of labor from black and brown folks throughout histories. . So it’s just a different way of kind of being and. I appreciate that there are ways to kind of engage in that here, and I’ve been trying to find other ways to engage in that as well in my other spaces and seeing how, if that’s able to shift the energy with a collaboration or what the challenges are that come up with it too.
Steven Wakabayashi: I think that’s so beautiful. Which reminds me, we’re collaborating together later on this year for a conference that’s happening in New York City called the Asian Creative Festival. Yeah. Which is happening in May. Really excited to one, bring you on stage, but I think what interests me way more is also sharing with so many people your.
Especially for our Asian communities and Asian mental health, and I just wanted to just ask you like what are you up to in that field? Like what are you working on right now?
Kim Thai: Well, first off, I’m so glad to be collaborating with you in that way. I think. So much of the beginnings of me being of service for the API community started with our work together.
. So I just wanted to acknowledge that and thank you. Say how much you’ve done and contributed to our community and how much I’ve benefited not just as a collaborator, but someone who’s been in with you.
Steven Wakabayashi: Likewise.
Kim Thai: Like we said, we started this API healing space at once the Atlanta shootings happened, and just had it be a space for folks to be able to come together in community and share.
You know, and I think since then I’ve done. A lot and hope to do more, but just organizing on behalf of the API folks, in both a political way of getting out the vote and also translation services. And I’m hoping this year to particularly get out some mental health resources. Translated in some API languages that are particularly rooted in trauma-based resources.
Right. To get it out. . To our communities. So I’m working on that right now. And space. I’m really excited because we are starting a new programming pillar where we really. Uplift the South Asian community and so much of wellness as we know it has been co-opted and appropriated and my mission personally, but our mission as an org is how can we actually shift that focus and let the folks who.
Come from this ancestry lead and share their knowledge. And so we’re gonna be doing basically like a four South Asian by South Asian workshop series this year, and there’s one coming up on Earth Day. Or around Earth Day, it’s gonna be like an early May. It’s a queer and feminist look at environmentalism in India, both past and present.
And so, yeah, I’m excited about it. That’s led by our founding teacher, Misha Sharma, and I think the thing that I think is so beautiful about both of them that I think is super relevant to yellow glitter is. They’re both queer and identify as non-binary and people, and that is very stigmatized in traditional sort of Hindu culture for people who are not born as male. To be leading spiritual spaces and particularly like ceremony. And so I feel honored that they are hosting and reclaiming these ancestral practices and also sharing their knowledge with so many of us, particularly because there’s so much stigma within, not even just the South Asian community, but I would say the Asian community as a whole around leaning into mental health and looking at it in a way that might be very uncomfortable for folks who might be culturally not used to that.
Steven Wakabayashi: Beautiful. And we’ll be sure to include some of the links to our events that we’re talking about in the show notes. So if anyone’s interested, definitely check that out. And also, I wanted to highlight some of the articles that you’ve been writing that’s gotten some visibility and center.
Asian experiences. Could you share a little bit more about what you’ve been writing more about?
Kim Thai: Yeah, for sure. So I’ve been working on this piece that really is a bit of a call to action for the API community to prioritize our healing. And so I can only speak from my personal experience and observation, but I think the thing that is really interesting that when you start digging into the data, And the research, the Asian community, out of all communities of color are actually the ones that have the lowest sort of engagement rate with mental health resources, which is not surprising to me, but also still alarming.
And I think it’s so important, especially with everything that has happened. In the past few years for us to really turn our attention to this and the particular piece I’m working on right now really kind of looks at the two shooters who did the mass shootings in and around Lunar New Year. And they were both API, older Asian gentleman.
And so I think it’s a very worthwhile discussion that we need to have as a community. And I think the questions I come up with are how much were they suffering with and with what, and did they have the right resources to even work through this and that they even know that there were resources to deal with.
And so I think it’s very easy and culturally kind of viewed as shameful or as a weakness. To seek something as I think pretty commonly accepted now as therapy, but there’s still resistance in our community, and I think it’s really important to have that discussion on why.
Steven Wakabayashi: Hmm. A lot of these discussions on mental health, especially for our Asian community, does it come from someplace deep within for you based on personal experiences?
Kim Thai: I think for me, I mean, I’ve dedicated my life to helping others heal because it’s . Made such an impact on me. I think it’s something we’ve bonded over as friends and as space holders and as mindfulness teachers. I think it’s so important to acknowledge when things are challenging and I know for one, for me, After the Atlanta shootings, I was activated in a way that I had never experienced before.
Also, what a privilege, just to say it right, but I really went into such a state of fear and anxiety and paranoia, and I know I’m not alone. That having been to rallies and speaking to other folks in the community, particularly women, and I think when you have efforts. Folks are walking people home cause they don’t feel safe enough to be physically identified by our race because of our race.
That is taking a real mental toll on you psychologically, emotionally, and within your whole body, right? Physically, like literally physiology things are wearing down. And so I think what is so important is that we keep. Naming the violence that’s happening against our community as a white supremist act.
But I also think it’s just as important to make sure that we’re not just fighting for external resources, we’re fighting for Reeses. That’ll help us internally as well.
Steven Wakabayashi: Yeah. In terms of resources, I think you’re starting to point to a really interesting place. Just looking at the work that you’re doing with Gana Space, what, . resources in particular, do you think you’re starting to see a huge activation around that’s really benefiting and supporting the community?
Kim Thai: Yeah, I mean, I think a couple things come to mind. I think the biggest thing that we’ve just seen over time is being in space with folks. Are like-minded as you, right?
. Which sometimes translates people who might also look like you, who might also have the same lived experiences as you. It might be at the same intersections that you’re at identity wise, and like that in itself is affirming, right? Like I think it’s easy when you’re living in a very diverse sort of multicultural, City like New York to find another Asian person or another queer person or a queer Asian person.
But I don’t think everybody’s afforded that opportunity. And I think about the folks who join our community, who are kind of in the middle of the nowhere south and they’re the the only trans person of color around. And just being in space and being like, oh, wow. Not questioning me right now. You’re not asking me to justify who I am.
Like that is so affirming. That’s why we exist as a community. Right. And I think the other piece too, that there’s been so many more and bigger and better resources that have come through in the last few years has been just having therapists of. I think it really makes the world of a difference to have someone whose professional training and also has an understanding of sort of the deeper levels of internalized depression that you might be experiencing and allowing for you to understand and offering different reframes so that you can feel empowered instead of feeling like you’re constantly.
Being suffocated because it can be very easy to feel that way, I think in the world that we live in, especially for a queer person of color.
Steven Wakabayashi: Absolutely. And that narrative around, I’m just going through this alone or by myself. . Right. Like you had mentioned with the under resourcing for some of the folks who resulted in harm for communities looking at mental health, not as a band-aid.
But really as a call to action for communities to come together, to just be in presence rather than maybe having to do things. I think we sometimes forget the power and like you’re mentioning, it’s just like the power of just being in a space like you’re, maybe it’s your upstate experience, but just being in a community where people wanna be around, you wanna trade with you.
Totally. Or to cultivate life with you and just want to have you around and just sometimes we forget the power and the enormity that has versus maybe this need to be sometimes right or wrong, right? With some of the rhetoric that’s on social media or the need to be better or richer or somehow. And a status higher or lower than someone else.
Kim Thai: Totally. And I think my invitation to the listeners is allowing yourself to be surprised at who can support you too. Right. That’s one of the things that. I think, at least for me, I’ve gone into scenarios where I’m like, oh yeah, this person’s gonna help me, and then it winds up totally being a different person, or it winds up being something completely different than I expected.
It’s interesting, I mean, just to do a personal share, like, you know, when we started our work together, I never really anticipated for us to become as good a friend as we did, but like I. That many queer Asian folks in my life and it was a period of time where I was really looking for community in that way.
And I dunno if I’ve even shared this with you before, so breaking news on the Yellow Glitter podcast, just hanging out with you and you just being fabulous, Stephen, and being so. Authentically yourself and in all the ways that you’re, I think is awesome. And that was like very healing for me in a way that I totally didn’t expect, right?
Cause I was like, cool. It’s not just me. And I think that’s what community provides. I think that’s what we both try to do with our work and definitely what we try to do like in our space. And so, . I think it’s sort of, If you don’t have your people in your life, they’re out there. You just have to kind of find them, and you might be surprised at who they are too.
Steven Wakabayashi: Yeah. . Thank you. And likewise, I’ve really benefited and cultivated from our collaborations together. Loved whenever both our organization logos were next to each other. I’m like, yes, all for us doing this work together. And while I’m doing a bit of consolidation from my end, So that could be more intentional with the spaces and organizations I cultivate, i e taking a pause on mindful sites.
For now, I am still so grateful, and I think it’s wonderful to be able to still find intersections where we could work together. And it’s one of those things that’s like sometimes in New York City, there’s so big, there’s so many people. . But . It’s so just small world. And I always tell people, I’m like, yeah, New York, the special place in my heart is I meet amazing people just such as yourself.
Who really not just activate me my work, but just like help fulfill a big chunk of this warmth and this heart, this warmth and fluffiness. It just makes me really happy.
Kim Thai: Totally, totally. It’s just interesting, you know, I think when you start kind of leading with your heart with who you wanna connect with, you, Start benefiting so much, you know, and I’m a Gemini son, right?
So like I’m very extroverted. And Yil combined that with me being overly ambitious in my twenties, I just would network I would not stop. Right Steven? And it just got the point where I,
Steven Wakabayashi: some would think you’re Virgo in, that sense
would work too.
Kim Thai: Well, I like to tell people about it, you know what I mean? I want people to know that I’m making all these. But you know, it, it was just so interesting cuz it got the point where I was just sort of like, who are all these people? How am I spending my time? And I think that’s definitely like a post Saturn return thing that happens to most folks.
But it’s just really interesting for me to see me now, like who I really spend my time with. Cause back to this kinda full circle to where we kind of started our conversation, but. Time is valuable, and so like how are you spending it and with whom?
Steven Wakabayashi: I think that’s so poignant because in my other nonprofit, Q2 APO design, working a lot of the times with people trying to break into the creative industry, right?
And a lot of people are trying so hard to build up this Rolodex of all their contacts, going to all these networking sessions, finding all these people. And sometimes since we’re on the other side of it, now, we. Chasing after people who have the biggest title, the biggest companies, and their LinkedIn resume, we see that chase and a relentless pursuit.
Oh my. And I also work with them when they come out the other end a few years later and they’re like, I’ve had to cold down all these people realizing these were not my people. And sometimes a big part of the narrative is they’ve suffered harm. . Or they’ve been ostracized or just something really heartbreaking had happened with some of the people that they just amassed too quickly and let into their heart so quickly.
And my kind of lesson for a lot of people, The fact that when we ebb and flow in these relationship, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good or bad, but it just indicates that we are evolving, that we’re growing and developing, and sometimes it might feel like. The worst thing in the world and we’re like, oh, I’m losing losing, right?
All these friends. But in a way it’s like being maybe more intentional with the people that we are putting into our little playpen of friendships and close relationships. Or is it a matter of realigning what our values are and finding the people who have those. And I found that. Whenever I’ve had those moments of reflection at the spectrum of personalities and just saying, oh, these are really the type of personalities and values I want to cultivate.
Although some of it has not been the best in terms of, you know, you might get invited less to social outings or you just don’t have like a whole agenda of all these things to do. Right. But I’ve always come out on the other end with more satisfaction, more intimacy and . More alignment with the work that I want to be doing more of.
Kim Thai: I cosign all of that. Right. 100 emojis, like I think for. The word that I’ve been circling around and prioritizing so much in the last few years of my life is nourishment, right? . And it’s something that really comes from sort of the teachings and the Buddhist lineage I’ve been learning from. And when you think of the word nourishing, it’s like, Oh, you’re thinking about like, oh, cool food, right?
Or like, that’s the first thing that comes to mind for me anyways. Like what? What tastes nourishing? What’s gonna be nourishing? But in actuality, like you have to think about what you’re consuming on a wider level, which is anything from what you’re following on Instagram and what you’re watching and reading, and who you’re spending time with.
What are you listening to? What are you allowing? Narratives to come in. Right? And like it’s been an amazing and very powerful tool to just be like, is this gonna be nourishing for me? Yes or no? And sometimes it’s that simple and sometimes it’s not. But I do. Feel like real shifts start happening and real ease and joy starts kind of getting led once you kind of start asking yourself that question.
And I think the thing about relationships is that romantic, platonic business, familial yourself, whatever it is, there is always an opportunity. To heal something. Right? And so like, yeah, you said, I think if you are in a relationship where it isn’t aligned and it isn’t nourishing or to your benefit, then you’re gonna keep on getting hurt.
You’re gonna keep on getting harmed. You’re gonna keep on telling yourself short, you know? But if you’re able to prioritize yourself and look at it in a way where it’s. Hey, going and getting vegan with Jim some with Steven actually is an incredibly nourishing thing for me and is actually healing. Me because I thought I was alone in my queerness as an Asian person.
Like that is beautiful. You know what I mean? . So, but you know what I’m saying? Yeah. Just a simple act of that versus me just being like, oh, I’m gonna go hang out with one of my girlfriends, which is cool too. Like I’m not sliding on any of my friends. I love them all, but I just think if you can attune your awareness to.
Where are you feeling most conflicted and misaligned and distressed right now? And how can you surround yourself with people of where you want to be? That’s a power community, and that to me is when things really start changing because it’s not just an idea in your head, it’s a reality, and someone else is living it and living proof that you could do that and be that if you wanted to do it right? And if you could take the steps to get there.
Steven Wakabayashi: Boom, mic drop. So good. So good. I just wanted to also take a moment just uplift your work with K Space and the organization, and I’m just curious, what other things have you planned coming into the rest of the year?
Is there anything that you want to share with our community?
Kim Thai: Yeah, for sure. I’m really excited. We do a biannual talk series every year called Compassionate Conversations, where we bring together radical thought leaders around a particular topic and really kind of dissect it and hear from our wisdom and look at it and be in community together.
And last year our theme was, Joy as liberation. And so we had a conversation around trans joy for pride. . And we had a conversation around Black Joy for Black History Month, and our theme this year is about honoring our ancestors and reclaiming our spiritual traditions. Right. It goes in line with the other workshop I was telling you about.
And so what we’re really exploring this year for pride. Reclaiming queerness and spirituality, and I think it’s such a powerful topic and so many queer folks feel ostracized and have been pushed to the side and been marginalized because of their sexuality, because of different faiths and different folks of those type of faiths putting together that message.
There’s some really beautiful work that’s happening, I think across so many different faiths that are basically like, fuck that in that much like everything. Spiritual text is up for interpretation and that there’s power in reframe and there’s power in reclaiming and I’m really excited to have that conversation.
Even our space, which is named after Esha, the Elephant God, right. Who the remover of obstacle. . Something I learned fairly recently was there’s a whole story of gha being non-binary in South India. Right. And being they them, which you don’t even hear about. Right. And so the program for Pride is really much about the unearthing, right?
And looking at it and how can we, much like other sort of systemic oppression and other ways that are getting in the way of us, authentically being ourselves as queer people, as trans people across the whole spectrum of identities. Like how can we. Make a connection to spirituality regardless of what others might be saying, and how do we do it in a way that feels empowering and not traumatizing and not harmful, and how can we build community around that?
And so I’m very excited about our conversation around that with pride.
Steven Wakabayashi: I love it. Please definitely share with us links to register. Would love to share that out with everyone. And I second the events and the energy that you just bring and cultivate in your space. It’s just so centered on joy and gratitude and intentionality, purpose, and it’s.
I go into it feeling so much more uplifted and more energized than I would’ve gone in. And sometimes there are certain spaces and events where it’s just, you come out feeling, you’re like, oh, that just like took so much energy out. But your space is just, I feel like on the line, like the word that you mentioned was nourishing.
It’s just, I feel so nourished in being community with you and your folks over at kne. Excited to have you host that again. Yeah.
Kim Thai: Yeah. I’m excited. And you know, I think I’ll share one more thing, or our second compassionate conversation later in the year. Along the same theme is, Talking about we’re gonna be centering and honoring African healing practices in America.
Right. Which have been tabooed been oppressed, had been buried . Throughout history and outlawed in many parts of the country, depending on where you are historically. And so, yeah, we’re really, really excited to be bringing in different. Folks who are leading in that space and talking about it and how we can continue with that practice of honoring our roots.
And we’ll be doing that in September to celebrate Ocean, which are some beautiful deities in a tradition of African healing. So I’m. For that too, and to learn myself. That’s being led by, Linda LOEs and our team.
Steven Wakabayashi: Love Linda
Kim Thai: She loves you too.
Steven Wakabayashi: Oh, that’s exciting. That’s so exciting. And I think more than ever, history is so important to highlight, especially with what’s happening.
In our country and around the world in this fear that somehow history is arming us. I think history is what propels us forward and to honor people, but also bring them along for the ride. So I’m so excited for that.
Kim Thai: Yeah, for sure. And I also think we’re living in a time where people want to censor history, right?
. More than ever. And censor. Who we are and criminalize who we are. And so I think it’s so important for us to uplift those who have always been historically targeted and excluded, but even more so as a form of allyship to each other.
Steven Wakabayashi: Exactly. And sometimes people forget to name what’s in there too.
And sometimes in history you can name power. In history and teaching what had happened, but also helping to share the memories, the teachings, lineages, and I think it’s just so, so intentional and so needed, and I’m sure our communities are gonna definitely benefit from it.
Kim Thai: Yeah, I hope so. We’ve got a lot of other stuff going on, but those are the two that I’m really excited about and I hope that folks come out, either, you know, in person if they’re in New York City or online to join us.
Steven Wakabayashi: Awesome. Exciting, exciting. As we end our conversation today, I have a few quick questions for you. In the line of just lessons and takeaways, I’m curious if you had something that you wanted listeners today to take away from our conversation, something that you wanna just pass on.
Kim Thai: I think what’s coming up for me is that if there’s one takeaway, I hope that folks know that there’s always another way.
I think we’re so trained and conditioned to think things need to be. And you need to live, like, why? And here’s how to do it in the seaway, you know? And . The way to translate that is like, oh, cool. Like you mean in a white, cis like hetero, heteronormative, able bodied, skinny male sort of way. And I think that if there are moments of challenge or despair or feelings like.
Overwhelm or being stuck. Just know that there is another path and there’s probably someone out there who’s living it, and you can find them and connect with them. And you also have the power to live that way and to prioritize your happiness and prioritize your care and your joy. And so if there’s anything folks, get out of this, I hope they get that out.
Know that if they don’t believe that or if they can’t see it, that they get the support that they need in whatever form that may come in to see that it is possible.
Steven Wakabayashi: That’s beautiful. And taking the line of joy they just mentioned. What’s bringing you joy lately?
Kim Thai: You’re gonna laugh at me. This is very recent development, so I bought a banjo during the pandemic and I played it a little bit and then, It broke and I couldn’t get it fixed, and oh no, it’s been just kind of like lying around, waiting to be fixed for a while.
And last week my neighbor. Big Ed down the road. Yeah. Yes. That’s what he refers himself to. His son, little Ed, who I met,
Steven Wakabayashi: where’s medium Ed?
Kim Thai: Who I met at the library, had told his dad. I had this banjo and outta the goodness of their heart, they fixed my banjo for me, just cause good neighbors in a very capitalist form and transactional form.
I kept on trying to offer them money and they were like, chill out. They just dropped off my ban. A few days ago, completely unannounced, completely fixed, and in tune. Wow. And I. Jammed out for like three hours yesterday on my banjo. Oh, that’s awesome. And I am not like super musically inclined, but music is so much fun for me.
And yeah, it is a real biological regulatory way or a way to regulate your nervous system. And so I just find so much joy and practical use out of it from Sort of exercise too. And so I love it. I love it. I love the banjo. I love playing it. I love singing off key at the top of my lungs in the middle of nowhere here in the mountains.
And my cats hate it cause I’m so loud. But that’s probably what’s bringing me joy. And I’m hoping I can convince Jess that we can do some jam sessions soon. So
Steven Wakabayashi: Wait, whatever happened to your keyboard though?
Kim Thai: It’s still here. Jess is playing it. Jess is playing it
yet another Asian stereotype.
I’m all right.
Steven Wakabayashi: Well that’s so queet.. What was I trying to say? I was like, that’s so cute and sweet. And I said, queet.
Kim Thai: I thought you were gonna say queer. And I was like, sure.
Steven Wakabayashi: I was like, what? That’s so sweet of them. And maybe you give them little performance instead.
Kim Thai: I don’t think that would be much of it. I don’t think they probably would be like, we shouldn’t have fixed that banjo, but we’re hoping to bake some things for them and drop it off to them. And when I say we, I mean Jess.
Steven Wakabayashi: I have yet to try Jess’s pies. I must.
Kim Thai: Oh my gosh. She won the town cookie contest.
Steven Wakabayashi: heard. Wow. I must eat. I must be nourished. Jess..
Kim Thai: It’s vegan too and her cookies. So whenever you come up she’ll just gorge you with Beautiful Mountain.
Steven Wakabayashi: Yes, please. I’m ready to receive. And lastly, how can our listeners find you and get in touch with you and your work?
Kim Thai: You can find me on the Gram either at K six or follow us Space Space, or you can check out our website. Dot org and definitely different ways for you to engage there, either to subscribe our newsletter or donate or volunteer. There’s a lot of ways to be a part of our community and I hope that folks join and check us out.
Steven Wakabayashi: Awesome. And with that, thanks for showing up today, sitting in community together, and for everyone listening, thank you for tuning in. And we hope your day can be a bit more mindful, a bit more intentional, and a bit more nourishing.
Kim Thai: I love it. Thank you so much for having me, Steven.
Steven Wakabayashi: Yes, thank you. I’ll talk to you later.