podcasts

All My Podcast Friends

A funny thing happened a few weeks ago. I wrote my first fan mail.

I’ve never been a fan mail writer, although it’s possible I wrote a love letter to Devon Sawa in my confused middle school days and have since blocked it out of my subconscious.  I do remember writing J.K. Rowling a very, very long letter in the spring of 2004, after I reread the first five Harry Potter books as a coping mechanism after my dad died.

I never sent that letter. I never saw the point in reaching out to famous individuals who probably receive a ton of fan mail. What would be the point?

I changed my mind recently. It happened after I finished binge-listening to all the archived episodes of a podcast called The Girl Next Door. This podcast was recommended to me by a dear college friend after I put out a Facebook post BEGGING for suggestions for non-news-and-politics podcasts.

This podcast was PERFECT. It’s my favorite format – two friends with great banter and wonderful insight talking about interesting topics.  The hosts, Kelsey and Erica, are wonderful and hilarious. I felt as if I knew them both by the time I finished bingeing – I related strongly to Erica, who is a Rebel (a la Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies) and an adoptive parent, and to Kelsey, a minimalist and an environmentalist.  PLUS they’re both writers.

So, when I finished listening, I decided to send them a Facebook message thanking them for their podcast.  AND ERICA WROTE BACK IMMEDIATELY. Like, within minutes of me pressing send.

Now, these girls are not J.K. Rowling. But I still thought of them as celebrities who possibly would not even read my message. I have complicated feelings of jealousy and insecurity when it comes to published writers and successful creatives that I read about or listen to.

But – they wrote back!  Because, as it turns out, they are just people, like me, and they are happy and excited to hear from readers and listeners, just as I am when someone comments on one of my blog posts.

I ended up following up with an e-mail to both Erica and Kelsey, asking for some writing advice.  They were incredibly sweet and helpful.

Since then, I have reached out to two other podcast hosts: Sarah of The Mom Hour, who gave me advice about an intro to freelance writing course I could take, and Jess Lahey of #AmWriting – I sent her a personal message and got a very sweet reply that same day.

This really warms my heart. First of all, it’s a wonderful example of Shine Theory.  This theory was coined by Ann Friedman, cohost of my first favorite podcast, Call Your Girlfriend, and is all about women helping other women, because “I don’t shine if you don’t shine.” Secondly – I really, really need help and advice! I’m taking steps toward following my dream of being a writer, but they’re baby steps and I have lots of questions. Even just hearing from these women reminds me that they are people, just like me. And that the success they’ve attained through hard work is obtainable for me, too.

 

parenting · podcasts

So Many Podcasts

So I’ve been busily and happily listening to podcasts lately. This is interfering with my reading game somewhat, but c’est la vie – four years’ worth of archive episodes of The Girl Next Door weren’t going to listen to themselves.

Now that I’m done with the GND archives, I’ve moved on to some other podcasts, and the category I’m most into right now is parenting podcasts – more specifically, podcasts that talk about parenting but also talk about how to do other things (creative projects, working, self-care) while also parenting.

I’ve been doing some soul-searching about what I want to do next, career-wise, and I’m really interested in hearing how other people have developed their freelance careers or monetized their side hustles – WHILE PARENTING. Because that part is key; I have career goals, but my number one goal is being a present and peaceful parent.

I’m also motivated to listen to podcasts and audiobooks on parenting toddlers; Teddy is starting to have some tantrums, and any and all tips from podcasts and books have been welcome.  I’m really interested in behavior management and parenting theories, but the thing is – during the adoption wait, I couldn’t really consume parenting books. It was too hard. I was thinking about the adoption all the time, and trying to distract myself from the difficulty of the wait. Reading a book about parenting would have been a constant reminder that I was oh-so-ready for something that was not yet happening for me.

I’m playing catch-up now, and podcasts are a little easier for me to digest than reading entire parenting books. I love reading fiction so much that I rarely want to take a break from it to read nonfiction. Listening to nonfiction audiobooks and podcasts is preferable for me.

My new favorite podcast is The Mom Hour – just two moms talking about all things parenting and otherwise. Super fun.  Happy listening!

 

books + reading · podcasts · reading · snapshots

All The Things (April 2018)

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting and rethinking about the blog recently.  I have BIG plans in my head!

One thing I am always rethinking is how to do snapshots – brief mini-posts that are more like a “here’s a bunch of stuff I either like or don’t like or just want to blab about.”

For now, this is what I’ve got: a monthly report of all the things. By which I mean, all the things I’m reading, listening to – or whatever else is relevant.

Things I’m Reading: Behold The Dreamers, by Imbolo Mbue. Only a few chapters in. So good so far! Also I have 58 items checked out at the library, which is sort of out of control but also I needed them all.

Things I’m Listening To: You guys – my podcast diet is HUGE right now.

A while ago, I reached out to my social media community and got a bunch of recommendations for non-news non-politics podcasts. One of the best recommendations I got was for The Girl Next Door, a podcast that’s basically two next-door neighbors chatting about life, marriage, parenting, self-care, personality, self-reflection – a smorgasboard of my favorite topics.  I absolutely love it. And, I realized, this kind of podcast is my jam – two smart and insightful females talking about how they live and love and parent and create.

Well, it turns out that there are other podcasts that follow this same format. I have fallen into a rabbit hole of friendly podcasts focused on parenting, minimalism, and work-life balance. It is unending, and awesome. But also overwhelming.

I’ve decided to zero in on The Mom Hour now that I’ve finished listening to The Girl Next Door archives. I’ll report back!

Things I’m Working On: Publishing two blog posts a week, which I’ve never attempted before. I think it’s doable. We’ll see!

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podcasts

The Girl Next Door #mind

A few months ago, I got super burnt out on all my news and politics podcasts, so I crowd-sourced and got some recommendations for light, fun podcasts from friends.

SO MANY RECOMMENDATIONS. It was overwhelming! I still haven’t listened to them all.

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One of the recommended podcasts is The Girl Next Door, which is similar in structure to one of my faves, Call Your Girlfriend – two good friends chatting, usually with a topic or two on the agenda.  Unlike CYG, however, TGND (so far) does not seem to have a political or social activist lean, which makes it a good break from the other shows in my podcast diet.  (Don’t get me wrong – I WANT to hear about and talk about important political and social issues. But it’s nice to have at least one podcast that’s more focused on day-to-day living and happiness than the big picture of our troubled world.)

I’ve only listened to a few episodes of The Girl Next Door so far. One of the talks that really spoke to me was about “taking the temperature of your life” – evaluating how your life is going, how you’re feeling, what signs there are when you are NOT living your bliss.

I’ve been feeling a little off these past few weeks, so my temp is currently a little high – maybe around 100?  Here’s hoping it’ll go down with a little time and a lot of self-care.

 

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books + reading · creativity · podcasts · thought of the day · writing

Thoughts For Today #mind

Image result for elizabeth gilbert quotesRecently I’ve rediscovered Elizabeth Gilbert’s podcast, Magic Lessons, with which she coaches budding creative souls and helps them to take steps toward their artistic goals.

It is lovely.  I listened to the first season when it dropped in 2015, but I’ve been lazy about exploring the second season, which came out last year.  Now, I am savoring it, and am about halfway through the season.  I’ve found many takeaways so far.

Takeaway # 1: None of this was wasted.

In the first episode of Season 2, Liz talks to a woman named Jo who aspires to be a comedy writer, but has spent years doing social work and getting her PhD.  Their conversation is really fun and entertaining, and I got a lot out of it.

Jo sounds like she is in her thirties or forties.  She’s established in a career, and now is realizing that she wants to be a comedy writer.  She is thinking to herself – as I often think to myself – did I do it all wrong?  Did I waste all this time?

Elizabeth Gilbert, in her gentle, inspiring way, says no.  She says that none of this was wasted.  And when I’m feeling clearheaded and optimistic, I agree.  Every step I’ve taken has brought me to the place I am now.  It was not a waste to become a therapist.  It was not a waste to work with the people I’ve worked with for the past six years.  It’s all part of who I am now, and what I have to offer.

Takeaway # 2: You have to do the work that makes you come alive.

Image result for what the world needs is more people who have come alive

When people do the work that they are supposed to be doing, they are living in service to the world.

My job is pretty great.  I like it, and I’m good at it.  But lately – I don’t feel like it makes me come alive.  If I want to come alive, I have to do it someplace other than my day job these days.

Liz Gilbert talks about how the people who are most effective at their work are people who are doing what makes them come alive.  And I agree.  I am the MOST effective when I am in the flow – when I’m in a groove and feeling awesome.  There are skill sets, yes, and when I’m not feeling alive, I fall back on my skill set and I’m still a pretty great social worker.

But it takes effort.  And it’s never as powerful as when I have purpose, clarity of values, and flow.

Takeaway # 3: Life is a verb and people are always telling us to be nouns.  

I loved this.  Liz had a conversation with a poet named Mark Nepo, and he talked about the things we say to kids.  “You like digging in the dirt.  You should be a gardener.”  “You’re good at singing.  You should be a singer.”  Life is about DOING THINGS – it’s all about verbs.  And yet, we try to assign nouns to people.

That’s what trips me up currently.  I feel really drawn to writing, but I’m not a full-time writer.  SO WHAT?  Writing is a verb.  Just do it.

Takeaway # 4:  This awesome poem.

I am not that into poetry.  I never have been.

If I tried really hard, I think I could come up with a few poems that I love.  Mary Oliver’s Why I Wake Up.  Wendell Berry’s The Peace Of Wild Things.

I wish I was more into poetry.  Because I know others who find such spirituality and beauty in poetry.  But for me?  Unless someone specifically references a poem, shows it to me, explains to me what it means on a personal level – it all goes way over my head.

This all came up recently because Liz Gilbert talks about a poem that I discovered I really like.  It’s called “A Brief For The Defense,” and it’s by Jack Gilbert.

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It’s about (I think?) pursuing gladness in the midst of life’s ugliness and harsh realities.  Liz references it when trying to convince someone to pursue their art simply because it brings them joy and might bring others joy, too.

I’ll close with another Liz Gilbert quote, because I love every word she writes in her book Big Magic:

Image result for liz gilbert big magic quotes

 

podcasts · thought of the day

Thoughts For Today #mind #soul

BREAKING NEWS: Oprah has a podcast!

Her first two episodes were interviews with Brené Brown, which was smart, because Brené Brown is AMAZING.C-L2WozUMAA2ErH

My biggest takeaway from their conversation was this Brené quote: People always say to me, “I want to go into the arena, but I’m scared. Can I take a little armor with me?” But one thing I have found in my life is that the only thing you need when you go in is clarity of values and faith. As in, “This is the article I wrote. And if you think I need to lose weight or that I suck, that’s okay. I’m standing on my faith and my values. You cannot knock me over.”

Wow.

I often worry what others think of me.  I wish I didn’t.  It’s embarrassing to me, to admit this worry.

But according to Brené – if I am clear about who I am, what my values are, and why I’m doing what I’m doing – and if I have faith in a power greater than me (which I do, albeit in vague terms) – then haters can’t hate on me.  Or rather – they can hate all they want, but it won’t break me down.

That’s powerful stuff.

I don’t know if I’m completely clear on what my values are.  There are words swimming around in my mind as I write…  Honesty.  Authenticity.  Growth.  Love.  Kindness. Mindfulness.  Presence.  Balance.  Play.  I’m always glad when something prompts me to consider my values.

Listening to the conversation between Oprah and Brené also prompted me to think about faith.  Brené says, “My faith is the organizing principle of my life.”  And I had a little faith moment, with these words jumping into my head – I have faith when I allow the universe to fill me with faith and spirit.   I do not have faith when I close up and try to do everything all by myself.

Just wow.

Here’s the whole Oprah-Brené interview.

Counting My Blessings: I am grateful for a clean kitchen and an hour of writing practice.  

podcasts · snapshots

SNAPSHOT #recommendations #heartsoulmindbodyspirit

It’s been a minute.

Time for a snapshot!  But I’ve been getting bored with my snapshots lately, too.  So I’m going to try to mix it up this time around and make this post all about recommendations.

Recommendation # 1: Try a new podcast.  

My podcast diet is constantly evolving.  This month, two new additions:  1. Mom And Dad Are Fighting, a parenting podcast from Slate.  (Which I never would have discovered, except that I’m a proud Slate Plus member.  Holla!)  The hosts talk through parenting challenges, triumphs, fails, theories, etc.  It’s not about being a perfect parent – it’s just real people talking about questions they have and situations they’ve faced.  I started listening on a whim, and I’m enjoying it so far; today I went back to the beginning of the show and I’m now happily moving through the archive.  2. I also am LOVING Sam Sanders’ new NPR podcast, which is called (ahem) It’s Been A Minute.)  #mind

Recommendation # 2: If you’re trying to form a new habit, find a writer whose book inspires you to get going with it.  

A few weeks ago, I decided that I needed to read a book about cooking.  NOT a cookbook – I have cookbooks, and I still don’t enjoy cooking.  I have never liked cooking.  Before I met Tee, I ate hummus and pretzels for dinner almost every night.  (Happily!)  But now, I sometimes wish that I wanted to cook dinner, and that it was an enjoyable activity for me.

I decided that I wanted to read a book that would inspire me – a book that would make me want to cook something.  

My friend The Naturalist recommended An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler.  It is PERFECT – a good writer, writing about cooking in a way that makes me want to cook.  I can’t explain it.  I just hope it lasts!  #mind #body #soul

Recommendation # 3: Request books at the library way in advance.  

HOW DID I NOT KNOW THAT BRENE BROWN HAS A NEW BOOK COMING OUT?!  So exciting!  The book is out on September 12th – which is actually the same day that Gretchen Rubin’s new book comes out.  They both have been pre-ordered from the Baltimore County Public Library.   #mind #soul

Recommendation # 4: Let it flow.  

My creativity bug is continuing to bite, and it feels wonderful!  I’ve been working on a few different short stories – I’ve even submitted two to writing contests!  (I’m quite sure I won’t win a thing.  But I’ve spent a long time being afraid of rejection.  I decided that the way to get over this is to be rejected a LOT so I will be immune to it.)  #soul #mind

Oh!  I also participated in a writing group at my local library last week.  The other writers were really nice and supportive.  This was a big step for me.  #heart #mind #spirit

Recommendation # 5: Keep your sense of humor.

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