I can’t believe it’s come to a “Part 9” of my podcast recommendations – but here we are. Dream big, folks!
It’s been an entire year since I posted about podcasts and that’s simply because I haven’t been devouring them quite like I used to. Since then, I’ve gotten my own office, with a door, which means I spend more time working in silence, sometimes I listen to music, and sometimes I’m simply listening to new episodes from the podcasts I’ve recommended over the years.
I’ve slowly been finding new podcasts to listen to, and well, that’s why I’m writing today – just in case you’ve been looking for some good content to feed your brain. Here goes…
If you’re missing the kindness, wisdom, and poise from our former President (le sigh), this one’s for you. Created by the same people at WBEZ Chicago who brought us “Making Oprah”, this is “Making Obama” and it documents his story from his application to law school. Here’s the description from NPR:
Former President Barack Obama — along with key advisers, mentors, and rivals — tells the story of his climb from Chicago to the national stage. Season One of Making told the story of how Oprah built a media empire. Now, the story of how Chicago shaped the country’s first African-American president.
Right now there are only six episodes (I’m currently on episode 5), and that might be all we get – “Making Oprah” was only 3 parts, with a few bonus episodes. But nonetheless, each episode is around 1-hour, and is so interesting. Start listening to episodes here.
I just started listening to this one after I finished watching season 1 of “The OC” for the first time (read my review here). So, I’m only one episode in, but this is pretty comical. Here’s the podcast’s description:
A podcast following the journey of three jerks watching the mid-2000’s show The O.C. Super-fan JT tries to explain the show to his dumb friends, Russell and Jamie, who know nothing about it.
These guys go pretty deep – some of them are studying film, so they really discuss the actors, the body language, and even camera angles. But of course, they’re still talking about “The OC”, and it’s one episode at a time. From the looks of it, they have one podcast episode per “OC” episode, and it looks like they’re all posted, so you can binge away. Start listening to episodes here.
I had “Drawl” on my list of podcasts to listen to for months and am finally getting caught up – I’m so glad, because it’s wonderful! Before I go any further, here’s the description:
Drawl is a weekly podcast about Southern poets by Southern poets. Follow along as we feature poetry performances, conversations with poets, and lots of laughs in between. Hosted by Desireé Dallagiacomo and Donney Rose also known as Donney Rose & Desireé Dallagiacomo. Come thru.
I met Donney and Desiree when I was dabbling into the Baton Rouge poetry scene – and these two are so inspiring. They are both amazing poets and they also do an incredible job working with Baton Rouge youth, helping them to use their voices in positive ways. The podcast features a new guest each episode, and it’s making me want to pick up my poetry pen again! Listen to episodes of “Drawl” here.
Straight Up With Stassi
I love, love, LOVE “Vanderpump Rules” and I’ve had my ups and downs with how I feel about Stassi. She’s fashionable and fun, but is she someone I’d go to for political advice? Maybe not. But, this is a fun podcast, and she’s real about everything she discusses, which I love. You can’t fault her for being true to herself, plus, she features fun guests, friends and family. Here’s the scoop:
Love her or hate her, but you can’t ignore the sassy, quick-witted Stassi Schroeder, star of Bravo’s “Vanderpump Rules.” Never one to hold back on any topic, Stassi is here with a weekly podcast, “Straight Up with Stassi’, a biting and hilarious look at the world and everyone in it, according to the Queen Bee herself.
Listen to episodes here.
Ta da! It’s the 8th roundup of podcasts I’ve been listening to – I mean could you ask for more riveting content than this? I think not. Truthfully, I assumed that once I had my own office, I wouldn’t listen to podcasts very much, but it turns out that I really just like being able to listen to all of these awesome shows. So, here’s what I’ve been listening to lately:
The Vogue Podcast
The Vogue Podcast launched in late 2015, and promises the inside scoop from the fashion world, hosted by none other than Andre Leon Talley. I’ll be honest here, there’s only so much of him I can take, and for that reason, I haven’t binged on every episode. Instead, I look to see who the interview is with and I only listen to those episodes (horrible, I know). Some of the interviews have featured Tom Ford, Kendall Jenner, Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, and Anna Wintour, among many others. You can listen to episodes here.
I Don’t Get It
This was one that was recommended to me. Here’s the scoop from iTunes: For two well-educated young women, The Bachelor’s Ashley Iaconetti and TV producer Naz Perez don’t get a lot about this world. On the I Don’t Get It Podcast, these two millennials will discuss topics that boggle their brains. They’ll discuss things like dating in the tech age, current fads, pop culture phenomena, and everyday annoyances. You don’t have to be a fan of reality TV to enjoy the realness these two dish out. You’ll feel like you’re sitting with your best friends while listening to the I Don’t Get It Podcast.
I’ve only listened to the first three or so episodes (I enjoy listening to this when I get my grocery shopping done), but it’s laugh-out-loud funny. It’s silly, but it’s a good break from all the serious stuff. You can listen to episodes here.
I stumbled across this one as it quickly hit the top of the charts in iTunes, and that is often how I find new things to listen to! Here’s the scoop: A quasi-daily podcast from Slate that sets out to understand the real Donald Trump. Jacob Weisberg, chairman of Slate, along with writer Virginia Heffernan, and Slate chief political correspondent Jamelle Bouie will be talking to historians, psychiatrists, and other experts to help explain who this man is, and why this is happening, right now, in the United States of America.
I know I promised myself that I wouldn’t indulge in too much political news, so I have been TRYING to only listen to episodes that revolve around an incident in which I just cannot tear myself away from. At the very least, this podcast brings facts and a little humor to the situation, and offers a pretty nice Trump impersonation. You can listen to episodes here.
Missing Richard Simmons
This is another one that I kept seeing on the top charts, and once I got into it… I’m so hooked. Here’s the scoop: On February 15, 2014, fitness guru Richard Simmons disappeared. He stopped teaching his regular exercise class at Slimmons, cut off his closest friends, and removed himself from the public eye after decades as one of the most accessible celebrities in the world. Nobody has heard from him – and no one knows why he left. Filmmaker Dan Taberski was a Slimmons regular and a friend of Richard’s. Missing Richard Simmons is Dan’s search for Richard – and the deeper he digs, the stranger it gets.
So, this is a legit search for understanding as to why Richard has been missing. Each episode is very Serial-esque, with interviews of those who knew him, and clips from his career. It’s fascinating! The only downfall? It’s only a 6-episode series, and although the 6th episode isn’t up yet, that’s when Dan will attempt to meet up with Richard for the final time. BLAM. You can listen to episodes here.
And there you have it – that’s what I’ve been listening to! If you have any ideas on podcasts I should listen to, let me know, because I’m going to need lots more ASAP!
The word “minimalism” has been around for a long time – at least since the 70s, when it was used to describe visual art and music coming out of post-World War II, as it was pieces pared down to the bare bones.
I’m honestly not sure when we started using it to describe a similar, pared-down way of life (if I had to guess, it’d be 2014, but it’s truly a guess).I’d heard of minimalism, and knew a little bit about it, but it wasn’t until I started listening to the podcast, “The Minimalists”, which I simply stumbled upon after searching for something new to listen to (I often browse the top 150 list).
I’m only 7 or 8 episodes in, but I’ve learned a ton! Here’s the basic scoop on “The Minimalists” themselves, from their website: Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, known as “The Minimalists” to their 4 million readers, help people live more meaningful lives with less through their website, books, podcast, and documentary. As featured on: ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR, BBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, TIME, and The Atlantic.
Basically, these guys were each at a crossroads in their lives. Although their personal situations were different, they had one thing in common: they weren’t happy living the American dream.
I know the American dream is often described as a wife, 2 kids, house, picket fence… but it really means working your ass off in corporate America, so you can pay for the wife, 2 kids, house and picket fence – all of which you’ll never see, because you’re hunched over in a cubicle and you can’t even see the light of day.
That’s basically what Josh and Ryan decided they were not going to do. So they quit their jobs that paid six figures and got rid of basically all of their material things.
It’s drastic, I know.
Their original plan was to simply work in a coffee shop, because, hey, they love great coffee. But it turns out that “minimalism”, as a concept, was great enough for people to buy it (we just love consumerism), so The Minimalists made a popular documentary on Netflix, wrote and published two books, and have basically created a movement on minimalism that puts them on tour around the globe.
But even with all the popularity around minimalism as a way of life, people still get hung up on one thing: the stuff.
When really, that’s the entire point. True minimalism isn’t about living off nothing or living off a little or even living off a certain number of things (i.e. “How I Live Off 42 Items). It’s about only living off the things you love and not just keeping things around to have more, for the sake of having.
It about letting go of consumerism – turning away from the idea that buying material, superficial items will make you happier.
Because the fact is, we’re constantly swarmed with ads about how our lives will be better if we just buy these clothes or this car or this house. But in reality? All of those things have nothing to do with our true happiness, and they may actually lead to more stress, anxiety, and… debt.
So, minimalism is about clearing your life from the things that aren’t contributing to your happiness. Maybe that means cleaning out your closet; not so you can say you are a minimalist and own less, but so it’s easier to get ready in the mornings and so you have less laundry and cleaning to do, which means more time to do what you want.
See how that works?
Say you’re someone who likes to cook and loves kitchen gadgets. Minimalism doesn’t mean you have to get rid of those things – maybe there are things you don’t use much and sure, dump ’em, but it really means finding a way to cook more because it brings you happiness. So perhaps you cut out what’s taking time away from the kitchen in order to get back to it.
I am slowly going through my apartment, getting rid of the things I just don’t use, and putting it in a “donate” pile. Why? I feel like I’m constantly cleaning my place, and I hate it. So, I’m hoping that getting rid of some of the clutter will mean less cleaning and more reading and blogging.
I also have a habit of “stocking up” on things like toothpaste or candles, when really, how much of that stuff do I need at once? So, I’ve taken an inventory of things I have and am in the process of using it all before I buy more – it’s a nice surprise to see how much money I’m saving.
So, what do you think? Is minimalism for you?
For Christmas, I asked for an actual pair of headphones, as those awful earbuds were really starting to hurt my ears since I was listening to podcasts 8 hours a day! I got my headphones, and even though I have my own office at my new job, listening to podcasts has become a little bit of an out for me – a way for me to listen to fun or interesting things while I’m working on political things. And so, I’ve got another batch of podcast recommendations for you, if you’re looking…
Making Oprah – I kept seeing this one on the top charts, and finally decided to dive in. I have never been a huge fan of Oprah; I think she’s cheesy, and quite full of herself, if you want to know the truth. But this podcast made me understand just how important Oprah was to daytime television, and to the overall conversation in our culture. Here’s the scoop:
The inside story of a TV revolution. In this new WBEZ podcast, Oprah Winfrey tells the behind-the-scenes story of her iconic TV talk show, along with producers, staffers, TV executives, and ratings rival Phil Donahue. The three-part series chronicles the show’s scrappy roots in Chicago, its rise to daytime dominance, and the powerful sway Winfrey came to have in American life.
Yes, you saw that: “Three-part series”…I listened to it in about a day. But, there are several bonus episodes to prolong the goodness. Listen to the episodes here.
In the Dark – This is for my true crime lovers! No matter how much scary movies freak me out, I think I’ll always be a fan of crime mysteries. I hear about this podcast on another one, and it was one of those end-of-the-year roundup things. I made note of it and started listening last week, so I’m only a few episodes in. Here’s what it’s about:
Child abductions are rare crimes. And they’re typically solved. For 27 years, the investigation into the abduction of Jacob Wetterling in rural Minnesota yielded no answers. In the most comprehensive reporting on this case, APM Reports and reporter Madeleine Baran reveal how law enforcement mishandled one of the most notorious child abductions in the country and how those failures fueled national anxiety about stranger danger, led to the nation’s sex-offender registries and raise questions about crime-solving effectiveness and accountability.
When I was a kid, I was so afraid of robbers and getting kidnapped. And THIS was the case that scared us all – whether we knew it or not. It put laws in place that are still followed today. Now, I will say that some of the content in this podcast is difficult to hear. After all, an innocent child was the victim. However, hearing about the investigation is the part I really like – why, and how, did they miss so much? You can listen to episodes here.
Nerdette – I’m pretty sure I came across this podcast by searching for “Issa Rae” (sorry, I’m obsessed). There was a great episode where the hosts interviewed her, but then I started searching through other episodes and got to listening. While the show has great sound quality, and the co-hostesses are really good – the show is about lots of different things, which I enjoy. The “Nerdettes” are particularly known for their recaps of “Game of Thrones”, I haven’t listened to those episodes since I don’t watch the show. Here’s the overall gist of the show:
A safe space for nerding out about all the things you’re watching, reading, listening to and encountering in real life. Hosts Tricia Bobeda and Greta Johnsen talk to people about their obsessions: from science to science fiction, great lady nerds of history to Beyoncé. Because what the world needs now is not another superhero, but for the glasses-clad alter ego to make you a podcast.
The Minimalists – I’m honestly not sure how I came across this podcast, but I do know it’s ALWAYS on the top of the charts. I started listening to it around Christmas and have really learned a lot about the minimalist lifestyle, and have even started a “donate” pile in my apartment as I sort each corner of my place.
The hosts, Josh and Ryan, have really spread the word on minimalism, as they have a documentary on Netflix, two published books, and are always on “tour” hosting events around the globe. You can listen to episodes here.
What podcasts are you listening to? Any I should add to my list? I am always looking for more things to listen to, so let me know!
Man, Millennials get ssuuuuch a bad rap, but really, why? Several month’s ago, I started listening to the podcast “Millennial“, and I found myself really being able to relate to the concepts being talked about. Although I’ve never identified myself as a Millennial, I started to wonder, wait… am I one?
Oddly enough, there’s no exact date range to classify as a Millennial or not – many research groups and news outlets have different dates. The term “Millennial” was coined in 1987 by authors William Strauss and Neil Howe.
The term didn’t quiet stick, and this generation was often referred to as Gen X, Gen Y, or the Echo Generation, or even the Me Generation, or the Peter Pan Generation. “Millennials” has become a more popular term for this group of people as of late.
Generally speaking, a Millennial is someone born in the early 80s – the mid-90s. Technically, I fall into that category, as I was born in 85. Instead of age, Millennials have been categorized by their traits, their work habits, their political views, and the way they consume… well, everything.
On the negative side, Millennials are said to be lazy, narcissistic, and job-hoppers. On the other hand, they have been described as open, liberal, fans of equal rights for minorities and LGBT, self-expressive, and upbeat.
While Millennials have been pegged as job-hoppers and made fun of for their desires to find purpose in their work and make a positive impact, research shows that Generation X and Baby Boomers want that, too! Millennials still have goals to master work-life balance, become senior leaders, and become experts in their field.
Politically, Millennials are the biggest group of independent voters than any other generation. Typically, they support bigger government, they are split on abortion, but very passionate about allowing immigrants into the United States.
In general, Millennials are known as trendsetters and influencers, so business want to know exactly what they want so they can create just THAT. The one thing that’s really got marketing experts a buzz is that Millennials see right through advertising. They are more likely to buy a car than a house, they read extensive reviews before making a purchase, and they value authentic companies.
So, are you a Millennial? I took this Buzzfeed quiz and it says I’m 80% Millennial – because I will probably never own a house, never have a family of my own, the internet is essential to my daily life, and I before recorded TV binges over live television. Cheers!
On the Pew Research quiz, I got a 78 – how’s that for consistency? Consider how often you watch TV, use social media, your political views, how you were raised, what you’re looking for in a career, and how you view different societies of the world. I’d love to know if you consider yourself to be a Millennial.
I’m honestly not really into labels, but if you want to call me a Millennial, sure, go ahead. I certainly hold many of the traits and characteristics of a Millennial. Now that I’ve done a little bit of research, I don’t think it’s a bad thing.
A big part of this blog is me figuring out how to make the most of any situation. People say it all the time, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade!” But no one ever talks about HOW we’re supposed to make the most of it.
So, I’ve taken a look at some typical situations and attempted to figure out how to make the most of them, or at least try to.
How to make the most of your time.
In high school, I had a history teacher that asked us what we would do if we could do whatever we wanted in 24 hours. I don’t remember what I said I’d do, but I do remember calculating that in order to do everything I wanted, I needed 26 hours.
I’d say most people probably have that issue: there’s never enough time. And then someone snaps back with, “Well Beyonce has 24 hours in a day, too!” Yeah, she does, but she also has a staff.
Instead of wishing for more time, you’ve got to look at the time you DO have, and then figure out how you’re already spending it, what things are sucking up your time, and how you want to utilize your newly found free time.
Start by looking at the time you have: everyone does have 24 hours in a day, and 168 hours in a week. Take a look at how you spend your time – and subtract it from your 168 hours, just as you would a bank account.
Of course, there’s things you have to do – like work 40 hours. But do you always work through lunch when maaaaybe you don’t have to? I’m guilty of this, but even if you vow to take one lunch break a week, that’s an hour you could read the book collecting dust on your nightstand.
Once you track where your time is going, pick things you can remove – maybe your time is being taken by checking Facebook several times a day or watching too much TV when you’d rather be doing something else.
Even if there’s an extra 15 minutes here or there you can find – that’s time you can devote to something on your to-do list, or something you’ve been putting off. Cheers to finding hidden hours in your week!
How to make the most of your workout.
I know a lot of people made 2017 resolutions to lose weight or to work out more. But in the essence of time, why not just make the most out of your workout?
When I lived in Baton Rouge, I spent a few years really getting into fitness, and I worked out several times a week at a boxing gym. All I did was go to a boxing or kickboxing class for one hour 4-5 times each week, and it was the best I think I ever looked and felt.
Sure the workouts were tough as nails, but in one hour, I burned a ton of calories and got strength training. I even met some awesome friends while I was at it!
I take a similar approach to my workouts now that I live in Austin. I take dance classes several times a week (I took 7 last week), and even though it may not burn as many calories as the boxing classes, I’ve gained confidence, built physical strength, made friends, and get to express myself creatively – all while burning fat!
So, find a workout that’s going to work for you in more ways than one: maybe it’s something you love, maybe it’s a chance for you to see a friend each week, or maybe it’s just seriously intense (hi, pilates) and you’ll see results quickly.
Whatever you do, don’t just go to a gym and mindlessly do the eliptical, because that burns about 0 calories and you’re going to be wasting your time.
How to make the most of your weekend.
If you work Monday-Friday, 9-5, then you probably rely on your weekend to really get things done, or possibly to just party and let loose. I used to use my weekends to clean and cook, and while I felt productive, I also felt tired on Monday mornings.
So I started doing my household “chores” during the week. As shitty as it sounds, it’s not bad. I made a list of all the little things that need to be done: litter box, sweep, mop, trash, wipe mirrors, etc. Then I bought a dry erase calendar from the Dollar Tree and stuck it to my fridge and put one or two chores for each night of the week.
Of course, doing chores after I’ve worked all day and gone to a dance class isn’t really a party, but most of these chores take maybe 5-10 minutes, so if I want to watch TV, I can usually get it done on a commercial break.
It also helps if you spend just 5 minutes picking up before you hit the sack; then when you wake up in the morning, you’re not greeted by a giant mess.
So, if you get your chores done – or a majority of them done – during the week, you can use your weekend to do something more fun, or work on a bigger project you’ve been wanting to do.
How to make the most of your sleep.
I used to be a very troubled sleeper, and if I’m not careful, then I will have a shitty night’s sleep and that pretty much ruins everything.
Of course, different things work for different people but this is what’s worked for me. I started by finding an all-natural sleep aid that I like (it’s called Rest EZ and it’s from Melaleuca). It helps me relax when I’m ready for bed and helps me stay asleep without feeling groggy in the morning.
Secondly, I stopped drinking during the week, and honestly, I cut back on drinking in general. Date an abusive alcoholic and that’ll all but ruin drinking for you. Sometimes, a glass of wine seems like it will help you relax and sleep, but for me, it made for a lesser-quality sleep and often led to really weird nightmares.
Next, I set a bedtime for myself. Sounds silly, but it helps me get to bed in time to actually sleep enough to function the next day. I use the bedtime app that’s already on my iPhone, and it has a little alarm that goes off when I need to go to bed. If I don’t go to bed then, I am consciously making that decision to be tired the next day.
Other things you may consider doing: using essential oils to help you relax and sleep, making sure electronics and lights are off while you sleep, or maybe even investing in nice sheets or a more comfortable mattress.
Want to get shit done while you sleep? Get one of those facial masks that works to improve your skin while you sleep – I’ve also seen other skin creams you can apply before bed that work while you sleep; or maybe go to bed with the lotion socks or gloves on.
How to make the most of a shitty situation.
Whether you’re stuck on a bad date, had a terrible day, or are running late to something super important, there’s a few things you can do to make it suck less.
One thing I always try to do is figure out what I can immediately learn from the situation so it either doesn’t happen again, or I can prepare better for it next time.
Then, I try and put it into perspective: is this something that’s going to matter tomorrow? In a week? In a year? And react accordingly. Try not to beat yourself up over something small, or something that’s out of your control.
And finally, it sounds cheesy, but find the good in the situation – even if it’s something small. I spent the last 15 months of my life pulling data and dumping it into spreadsheets, but I got to listen to about 45 hours worth of podcast material every week and I kind of loved it. So, there’s that!
…And there you have it! If you’ve got additional tips for my list, feel free to leave them in the comments.
Let’s be real – I never thought I’d be writing a 6th installment of the podcasts I’ve been listening to. However, I listen to podcasts all day, every week day.
Sometimes, I listen to a podcast so much I make it through all of the archives and have to wait until there’s new episodes! Other times, I just like to find new ones and add them into my weekly rotation. You know what they say, variety is the spice of life.
This recent batch of podcasts I’ve been catching up on is a cheerful collection – no true crime this time. So, here’s what’s been coming out of my earbuds lately:
The Babysitters Club Club – If I had an award for the podcast I’m most thankful I came across, it would go to “The Babysitters Club Club”, hands down. I heard about it when the hosts, Tanner and Jack, were guests on another podcast I love, “What Should I Read Next?” On the show, they explained the scoop on their podcast – here’s the official dish from the show’s website:
One relatively small man, one relatively large man, and one HUGE idea: To read through the seminal works of American novelist Ann M. Martin in chronological order and initiate ourselves, in the process, into the arcane, mystical rites of The Baby-Sitters Club.
This podcast promises to take you on a journey. A journey that begins with Kristy’s Great Idea (the great idea was to form a babysitting conglomerate of sorts with her pals), and that ends with The Fire at Mary Anne’s House, which we haven’t read yet, but which we are deeply, horribly, shatteringly worried about because we have grown very much attached to these girls and we badly don’t want them to burn.
Jack and Tanner, men in their 30s, reading “The Babysitters Club” series, and discussing it in-depth, while drinking beers. It’s basically one of the best things I’ve ever heard. I started listening at episode one, and after listening to episodes at work, in my car, while soaking in the tub, and even while tucking myself into bed, I’ve had to ration myself so I don’t run out of the food stuff! I’m telling you – this podcast will make you laugh on your worst day, and bring in-depth analysis to the simplest of reads.
I’m ordering you to listen TODAY – here’s where you can find episodes.
Throwing Shade – I was listening to an old episode of “Bitch Sesh” (another podcast) and Bryan Safi was a guest, and he was absolutely hilarious! He mentioned he had his own podcast, “Throwing Shade”, so I immediately checked it out. Little did I know, this was voted as one of Vulture’s top 10 most comedic podcasts, and rightfully so, because I am constantly trying to contain my laughter within my cubicle.
As they say at the beginning of each episode, Throwing Shade takes a weekly look at issues affecting women and gays, and treat them with much less respect than they deserve. Trust me, this one is going to make you chuckle – check out episodes here (and they do have a TV show premiering next month!).
Insecuritea – If you were anything like me and obsessing over every morsel of HBO’s original series, “Insecurity”, then you’ll want to tune right in to the official aftershow podcast, “Insecuritea”. Hostesses Fran and Crissle – who have podcasts of their own as well – break down each episode bit by bit, and it’s produced with clips from the show, awesome music, and lovely analysis and next-episode predictions. So, watch the show, and then go listen to the AFTER show. Here’s all the episodes…
Happier – Hosted by happiness expert Gretchen Rubin, and her sister, this show features quick 20-minute episodes that help listeners live a happier life. I love that each episode is laid out similarly, and features a tip you can try at home, a study or a theory of some kind, and then a listener question. You can check out some of the tips I’ve heard so far, here. I am always using my notebook when I listen to this podcast so I can actually try the tips later. This is a good podcast if you’re someone who is seeking more happiness, and/or are often feeling bogged down by the giant to-do lists in life. Check out episodes here!
So, there’s what I’ve been listening to – what about you? I am always looking for more things to listen to, so I’d love to hear what you’re enjoying.
I’ve still been listening to podcasts like they’re going out of style, and I’ll have another roundup of my latest favorites for you in the next few weeks. But today I wanted to focus on one in particular, “Happier” with Gretchen Rubin. So far, I’m about 2o episodes in and I couldn’t help but take note of what I’m hearing because there’s so much good stuff in each episode.
Let me start by explaing who Gretchen Rubin is. She came into my life, and probably many others, when she published her book on happiness, “The Happiness Project”, which explored habits the average person could take in order to improve their general state of happiness. I really loved this book and got a lot of takeaways from it that I still apply to my life, years later.
So, when her next book was released, “Happier at Home”, I snatched it right up. But truthfully, it seemed like she was starting to make up rules about ways to live extravagantly, just to “be happy”. I took a break from Gretchen after that.
Until I stumbled upon this podcast, as it is always listed in the iTumes Top 100 list. So, I took a listen, starting at episode one.
The show is hosted by Gretchen, who is by now a “Happiness Expert” ontop of being a bestselling author. Gretchen’s sister Elizabeth serves as the cohost, and she’s also a TV writer living in LA (SO jealous). She serves as a good other half to the show because she’s more neutral to the rules of happiness, and she’s a regular person with a job, a husband, and a kid – so hearing her side of the happiness theories balances out Gretchen’s sometimes over-the-top approach.
Each episode is only 20 minutes long, so it’s easy to fly through them. The episode layouts are all the same: they begin with a “try this at home” tip, which is a little task that’s supposed to make your life happier. This is my favorite part of the show, as I like to see if these tips would make my life better. Here are some of the tips they’ve suggested in the episodes I’ve listened to:
- The 1-minute rule
- Set an alarm for bed
- Keep a one-sentence journal
- Embrace good smells
- Do a power hour
- Treat yourself like a toddler
- Give warm hellos and goodbyes
- Treat yourself!
- Make the positive argument
- Indulge in a modest splurge
- Stop reading a book if you don’t like it
- Dedicate space to shrines
- Imitate a spiritual master
- Have an exact space for everything
One of the best suggestions is the “1-minute rule”, which basically suggests that if a task takes less than 1 minute, you just do it. For me, this is simply picking up my kitchen or living room at the end of the day so when I wake up, I don’t see a pile of crap right when I’m getting my cup of coffee. It’s easy, but it makes a big difference.
The Power Hour, on the other hand, is setting aside one hour a week, or maybe it’s per month, where you do tasks that you’ve been putting off – such as hanging that picture that’s been leaning against the wall or changing that lightbulb which requires the big ladder.
“Treat yourself like a toddler” is an interesting one, which highlights the idea that we look out for children and make sure they have everything they need, but we often don’t do that for ourselves. For example, making sure we get enough sleep, are dressed for cold weather, or eating a nourishing meal. Basically, be extra nice to yourself!
Aside from these “Try at home” tips in the beginning of the episode, there is usually a happiness lesson that takes up a majority of the remaining time, followed by a listener question, which is always interesting.
You can check out the podcast here, I know I’m going to keep listening and collecting these tips in hopes of living a happier life… to some degree.
Several months ago, I heard this little tidbit on a podcast about the “As If” principle. The As If Principle started with philosopher William James and his theory on actions vs. feelings.
James believed that instead of our actions resulting in feelings, our feelings resulted in actions. This lead him to his conclusion: if you want quality, act as if you have quality.
Apply to all that matters, right? This really got me thinking (as most things do), and I’m not the only one. Psychologist Richard Wiseman took his thoughts to the next level and wrote a book on the subject, showing others how we can apply this principle to our daily lives in ways that actually work.
The book, “The As If Principle: The Radically New Approach to Changing Your Life“, talks about applying this principle to your life in even the small ways, such as:
- Smile to become measurably happier
- Wash your hands to drive away guilt
- Clench your fist to increase your willpower
- Eat with your nondominant hand to lose weight
- Nod while speaking to become more persuasive
- Act like a newlywed to rekindle your marriage
I’m skeptical. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard versions of this principle before, and in some instances, I do think it works. I think a big part of life is your mindset, and I know times when I’ve been frustrated at work I can just think of other things or tell myself that it’s okay, and it reduces my immediate stress level.
But it didn’t really solve any long-term problems. Eat with your nondominant hand to lose weight? Never heard that one, but I really suck at using my left hand for anything, so I would probably drop every single thing I tried to eat and would actually starve.
An article in “The Guardian” explores this idea – that thinking changes the situation – further, with examples from previous studies:
In one study led by Lien Pham at the University of California, students were asked to spend a few moments each day visualising themselves getting a high grade in an upcoming exam. Even though the daydreaming exercise only lasted a few minutes, it caused the students to study less and obtain lower marks. In another experiment led by Gabriele Oettingen from New York University, graduates were asked to note down how often they fantasised about getting their dream job after leaving college. The students who reported that they frequently fantasised about such success received fewer job offers and ended up with significantly smaller salaries.
On the other hand, there were many studies conducted surrounding feelings of confidence, strength, sadness, and happiness, where groups were asked to force smiles or frowns, or sit with great posture vs. slouching. Groups often tested feeling the same way they’d forced themselves to look.
I’m definitely not discounting this theory. Several years ago, I completed a “30 Day Breakup Guide”, and one of the days required me to wear something pink. Even though it seemed like a really simple task, I realized I never wore much pink, and wearing the one pink shirt in my closet helped me feel more feminine and bold that day. Ever since, if there’s a day I’m feeling particularly low and just want to wear black or my sweats, I’ll force myself to wear something cute in hopes it will life my spirits.
So, what do you all think about the As If Principle? Is it something you’ve already implemented? What methods work for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
I mentioned last week that I was a wee bit obsessed with the podcast “Millennial”, hosted by Megan Tan. “Millennial” is a podcast that discusses what most people don’t – how to maneuver your twenties.
Listeners follow Tan as she graduates from college, searches for jobs, waits tables in the meantime, buys a car, moves in with her boyfriend, all the while recording the podcast. During her first year at her day job, she discovers just how much she loves creating the podcast, putting her in a situation I know all too well: the double hustle.
She’s putting in a lot during the 9-5 job, but also putting a lot into her podcast after work. But if you had the ability to choose? Which one would you pick?
In episode #16 (during season two), “Double Life”, Tan explores the structures we often follow within society. We follow the traditional flow, go to school, go to college, graduate, and then we get jobs, day jobs that have regular deadlines and paychecks and all the feels of community.
But the side project just gives us that feeling (inside my bones, it goes electric-wavy when I turn it on…) that is sometimes not part of a 9-5 gig. Is it the typical “millennial” thing to do to consider quitting your safe, salaried job to jump into something just because you’re passionate about it?
The entire episode is dedicated to Tan weighing the pros and cons of quitting her job to pursue the podcast full-time. I won’t spoil it for you, because if you’re anything like me, this battle hit true to home.
And really, what does it mean to be a professional?
The ‘ole dictionary says a true professional is someone qualified in a professional, or someone engaged in a profession for which they are paid, and not a pastime.
Some say a you become a professional when you start getting paid for whatever it is you do. Or maybe it’s measured by hours: whatever you spend most of your time doing, that’s what your profession is. Hmph.
I know it took me a long time to start calling myself a writer. It was well after I’d been paid for doing it. I think, for me, it was more about what I had pictured in my head as a professional writer. I pictured tall buildings, lipstick, and communal coffee pots.
But today’s professional writer looks many different ways. Sure, there are scenes like the one I’ve invisioned. But many writers do so from their beds, sans makeup. There are writers who work in cubicles, from planes and trains, and those who probably spend a majority of their time waiting tables or tending bar, but hunched over in a coffee shop corner between shifts, typing.
I’ve written for money, for free, for fun stories and not-so-fun ones, and I’ve written from my bed, from planes, trains, coffee shops, offices, my car, poolside – oh the places you’ll go!
I’m not sure what clicked; what made me start calling myself a writer – perhaps the sheer fact that I’ve had nearly 1,000 stories printed with my byline; written nearly 1,500 blog entries, published four books, and simply remain curious about the craft of writing.
Truthfully, when I think of “professional” or “professionalism”, it comes across to me as an attitude; a way of being. You can do whatever you want as your career, your day job, your passion project, but it’s how you carry yourself through all of it that makes you a professional.
It should come as no surprise that I’m still obsessively listening to podcasts, particularly during my 9-5 M-F gig. This last month, I’ve really been crazy about some of these – thinking about them even after the podcast is over. It’s a little insane, but I just love hearing all of these stories. Here’s what I’ve been listening to recently:
Undisclosed. In short, here’s the description of “Undisclosed” from the website: “The Undisclosed podcast investigates wrongful convictions, and the U.S. criminal justice system, by taking a closer look at the perpetration of a crime, its investigation, the trial, and ultimate verdict… and finding new evidence that never made it to court.”
In the long, this is for fans of “Serial” – particularly season one’s case of Adnan Syed vs. The State of Maryland. “Undisclosed” was started by a woman named Rabia Chaudry, a friend of Syed’s, offering additional information on the case that “Serial” did not. Here’s the scoop:
“We started the podcast in April 2015 with a detailed examination of the State of Maryland’s case against Adnan Syed. We intended to revisit the case from the beginning, looking at all available evidence. Not only what was presented in Serial, but new evidence that we uncovered in our investigation. As attorneys, we pride ourselves on looking dispassionately at facts, analyzing those facts, and applying the appropriate law in our analysis. Our goal is to get to the truth of what happened on January 13, 1999.”
Ms. Chaudry has also written a book, “Adnan’s Story”, which will be featured in Blanche’s Book Club in the coming weeks.
In season two, “Undisclosed” covers the case of Joey Watkins, who is in jail for a felony murder that took place in 2000. If you’re missing “Serial”, you really need to plug into “Undisclosed”.
Millennial. Soooo, I’m pretty obsessed with this one. Like… listened to it day and night and whenever possible. I listed to all 28 episodes within just a few days and I’m anxiously waiting for a new one.
As explained by its host, Megan Tan, “Millennial” is a podcast about the things we don’t get instructions for – maneuvering your twenties. And no, I’m not in my 20s. I’m in my 30s. And I wouldn’t ever classify myself as a millennial. But I FEEL this chick so hard! Sounds weird, but you know what I mean.
She talks a lot about what it feels like when you graduate college and start job hunting; and once you find that dreamy job… it’s not so dreamy, and you start getting your side hustle on, and you fall in love with it, and then you’re working ’round the clock because you’re 9-to-5ing it and you’re 5-to-9ing it and then you experience burnout and…. YES, this is the story of my life, and apparently lots of people are feeling it, because hundreds of thousands of people are listening to this y’all.
IT’S SO GOOD.
Accused. Shocker, another true crime podcast (I can’t help myself). “Accused” is put together by the Cincinnati Tribune, and it covers the murder of Elizabeth Andes. Here’s the scoop:
When Elizabeth Andes was found murdered in her Ohio apartment in 1978, police and prosecutors decided within hours it was an open-and-shut case. Two juries disagreed. The Cincinnati Enquirer investigates:
Was the right guy charged, or did a killer walk free?
I’ll be honest, there’s not that many episodes, and I’ve already listened to all of them, but it’s well-produced, and it does a good job of looking into every lead up until the end.
Pantsuit Politics. I heard about this podcast while listening to another podcast, believe it or not. The concept is pretty simple – it’s hosted by two women, one from the left and one from the right, and they talk politics – and it’s civil and smart. Here’s a little bit about the hosts (from their website):
Sarah Stewart Holland (from the left) is a professional blogger and social media consultant. She has always loved politics, although her political opinions have changed drastically over the years. She worked in politics and on Capitol Hill before moving back to her hometown of Paducah, KY, where she is currently running for City Commission. She is happily married and the mother of three sons. Sarah likes her bourbon on ice, her romantic dramas with a British accent and her iPhone fully charged.
Beth Silvers (from the right) is a human resources executive and yoga teacher. After practicing law for six years, Beth decided to move into the business world. Her love for politics has been building for about a decade, and she’s loving the community that’s emerged around Pantsuit Politics. She’s married with two daughters and is addicted to cooking, M&Ms, watermelon, and bad reality shows.
Of course, they’ve covered all of the debates from this election, along with other happenings, but the podcast has been going strong well before this election season. In the off-season, they talk political news and often feature interviews. It’s good stuff!
I’m currently looking for new things to listen to, so if you’ve got ideas, put them in the comments pretty pleeeease!
Happy Friday! It should come as no shock that I’m still deep in podcast land; listening to as many episodes as possible to make it through my days in a cubicle. Thanks to other podcast listeners, and just general digging, I’ve managed to find some new (new to me) shows to keep me occupied when my usual podcasts haven’t posted a new episode yet.
Risk! I heard about the Risk! podcast from listening to another podcast (so meta), and I was pleasantly surprised once I started listening. Here is the “About Us” section from the Risk! website:
RISK! is a live show and podcast “where people tell true stories they never thought they’d dare to share in public” hosted by Kevin Allison, of the legendary TV sketch comedy troupe The State. The award-winning live show happens monthly in New York and Los Angeles. It’s featured people like Janeane Garofalo, Lisa Lampanelli, Kevin Nealon, Margaret Cho, Marc Maron, Sarah Silverman, Lili Taylor, Rachel Dratch, Andy Borowitz and more, dropping the act and showing a side of themselves we’ve never seen before. The weekly podcast gets around a million downloads each month. Slate.com called it “jaw-dropping, hysterically funny, and just plain touching.”
Dear Sugar. I believe I heard about Dear Sugar from another podcast, also. Most podcasts feature ads for other podcasts and I think this was one of those situations. I’ve just started listening to this one this week, so I’m only a few episodes in, but so far, I’m getting a more doctor-scientific-ish version of “Dear Abby” – type of vibe. Here’s the website description for the podcast:
The universe has good news for the lost, lonely and heartsick. Dear Sugar is here, and speaking straight into your ears. Hosted by the original Sugars, Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond, the podcast fields all your questions — no matter how deep or dark — and offers radical empathy in return. New episodes are released weekly.
The Moth. I heard about The Moth on the season 5 finale of “Girls”, when Hannah goes to a live storytelling event, ready to spill the beans about Adam and Jessa:
I didn’t realize it was a podcast, too, until I saw it on the top podcast charts. Here is the brief description from The Moth website.
The Moth Podcast features re-airs of all new episodes of The Moth Radio Hour, plus additional stories from our vast archive recorded over the past two decades. Episodes are released every Tuesday.
The stories are a mixed bag; they are all true, but some are hilarious and some are really sad. I listened to a few stories from middle school students during a “takeover” week. If you’re into stories, this is a goodie.
2 Dope Queens. A coworker recommended this one to me and I will be forever grateful, because it is so hilarious, I listed to all 13 episodes within two days. I am anxiously awaiting new ones! A little bit about the show, according to the website:
Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams are funny. They’re black. They’re BFFs. And they host a live comedy show in Brooklyn. Join the 2 Dope Queens, along with their favorite comedians, for stories about sex, romance, race, hair journeys, living in New York, and Billy Joel. Plus a whole bunch of other s**t.
What podcasts are you guys listening to? I’m always looking for new ones and I’d love to hear your ideas! Have a fantastic weekend, and stay safe…and dry! See you here, on Monday 🙂
Happy Thursday, y’all! With all of the podcasts I had loaded up on my phone (see them here, and here), it took me quite awhile to listen to them all – I go all the way back and start from episode 1. But, eventually I ran out of things to listen to and have discovered a good little set of things that can get me through the day.
Beautiful Stories From Anonymous People – To be honest, I’m not sure HOW I found out about this one. Once I was really desperate to find things to listen to, I looked through my trusty little notebook for possible ideas. And, sure enough, I found a list of podcast titles I was apparently saving for a rainy day. One of them was this one, and I am so freaking happy I listened to it!
Here’s the official description of the podcast from its website: “1 phone call. 1 hour. No names. No holds barred. That’s the premise behind Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People, hosted by comedian Chris Gethard (the Chris Gethard Show, Broad City, This American Life, and one of Time Out’s “10 best comedians of 2015”). Every week, Chris opens the phone line to one anonymous caller, and he can’t hang up first, no matter what. From shocking confessions and family secrets to philosophical discussions and shameless self-promotion, anything can and will happen!”
From what I understand, Gethard puts the phone number on his Twitter feed, and just starts taking anonymous calls. Of course, I love hearing all of the random stories from these people – but I think the show has been such a success because, it’s not often we hear real things anymore. Think about it; pretty much everything is scripted or staged – even the things we think won’t be like documentaries or Instagram. I think the fact that it’s anonymous allows the callers to be honest about things that have happened to them; it’s really relatable and inspiring. I listened to the first 15 episodes (which are a little more than an hour each) in about a week, and as I write this, I’m seeing there are two new episodes, so guess what I’ll be doing later?
Slumber Party With Alie & Georgia – This podcast was recommended to me by a coworker; we are both constantly looking for new material, so we are always swapping podcasts to fill our ears. Here is the official description from the website, “Alie & Georgia (Cooking Channel, HelloGiggles.com) are two best friends with a knack for entertaining. The notorious creators of the “McNuggetini” now invite you to their slumber party for some quick witted and intimate podcasting from a real life pillow fort!”
Of course, the schtick is that these are grown women hosting a slumber party, complete with wine coolers and candy. They have uncensored conversations with each other, but usually they will feature a guest on each episode and interview them. For the most part, the tone is upbeat, and it’s not too serious, so it’s a good one to work to (doesn’t require much concentration).
My Favorite Murder – Sounds sick, doesn’t it? This one was also recommended to me by the same coworker, but I have a feeling I would have eventually come across it, given that one of the hosts for this podcast is also one of the hosts for “Slumber Party”.
But, here’s what the website says about it, “Ready yourself for a murder adventure hosted by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, two lifelong fans of true crime stories. Each episode the girls tell each other their favorite tales of murder, and hear hometown crime stories from friends and fans. Check your anxiety at the door, ’cause Karen & Georgia are dying to discuss death.”
I will admit, some of the episodes are kind of creepy, but if you’re into true crime, you’d probably like this. It’s two women and they are basically talking about the cases we’ve all heard about, and how we/they felt about them. It’s not newsy, but it’s still based around facts. It’s interesting!
Got a podcast you think I should hear? Tell me! Leave a comment, email me at Holly@thebitterlemon.com, or Tweet me @OrangeJulius7 – Happy listening!
I know I’ve mentioned before that I started carrying around a little notebook everywhere I go. It’s about the size of a back pocket, but of course, it lives in a waterproof cosmetic case I take with me.
Sounds high-maintenance, sure, but I learned my lesson the hard way when I spilled coffee inside my work bag and said notebook was intact, though all of my notes and ideas were blurry and brown. I hung it in front of a box fan for an entire weekend in an effort to retrieve the part of my brain I’d moved to those pages.
For the most part, it worked. And ever since, I’ve carried the little notebook like its my shield. I jot down any random thoughts that come into my head that I don’t want to forget. It’s mostly blog ideas, book titles I hear on podcasts, or words I’ve never heard that I want to Google later.
Two of those phrases I want to discuss with you today, the first being “Marshmallow fiction”. I heard the term on the podcast, “What Should I Read Next?” and the two people talking about it offered no real context, and both seemed to know what the other meant by it.
I, however, have never heard this. If I had to guess, it’s a more polite way of describing “Chick lit” or “Beach reads”. Considering “marshmallow” – I’d say it’s got to be something lite, fluffy, and possibly sweet (like cute, not literally sugary).
Upon Googling the term, I was shocked to see there’s little-to-no info out there on said term. I’m happy I’m not out of the loop, but what the heck does it mean? I did find one little nugget from Writer’s Digest that used “marshmallow dialogue” and said:
Dialogue is the fastest way to improve a manuscript—or to sink it. When agents, editors or readers see crisp, tension-filled dialogue, they gain confidence in the writer’s ability. But dialogue that is sodden and undistinguished (marshmallow dialogue) has the opposite effect.
Pro dialogue is compressed. Marshmallow dialogue is puffy.
Pro dialogue has conflict. Marshmallow dialogue is overly sweet.
Pro dialogue sounds different for each character. Marshmallow dialogue blends together.
I also found the term “marshmallow fluff fiction” and Goodreads listed several books under this category, including “Wife 22” by Melanie Gideon, “Four Wives” by Wendy Walker, “The Friday Night Knitting Club” by Kate Jacobs, and “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger, among others.
…I’ll consider that a semi-answer, and it’s good enough for now.
So, I also want to know what the heck a “Vision Quest” is??
According to Webster, a vision quest is “an attempt to achieve a vision of a future guardian spirit, traditionally undertaken at puberty by boys of the Plains Indian peoples, typically through fasting or self-torture.”
An article in the Huffington Post explains that a Vision Quest has evolved with the times:
The vision quest continues to be a powerful way for adolescents as well as adults to acknowledge, mourn, release, welcome, and celebrate important life transitions of any kind, such as actual or symbolic births and deaths, career changes, divorce, marriage, menopause, birthdays, successes and achievements, children leaving home, recovery from addiction, etc. A vision quest can also be a deeply cathartic way to get away from it all and recharge your batteries!
On a deep level, we seem to inherently understand the vital importance of these “marking” rituals, and how without them, there may be a tendency to move into unconscious and even destructive behaviors. Especially in challenging times, these ceremonies give us the opportunity to turn changes into sacred initiations — empowering, humbling, strengthening, and enlightening us.
And a traditional Vision Quest involves 3-4 days surviving in the wilderness, while fasting. Uhmmm, no. Why did I think this was something way cooler? If this is not what people are referring to when they say “Vision Quest”, please let me know.
Last week, I wrote two different posts mentioning a podcast I’ve been listening to. And in one of the posts, I referred to the hosts as bros.
This term, “bro” was not taken very well by said hosts, who called me out on Twitter, saying it was a “patently ridiculous” way of describing him.
Wait, is “bro” a complete dis? I definitely never thought of the word as something negative; I thought it was just a way to describe someone as a true guy; a typical dude; you know, a bro. Obviously, I like the podcast, or else I wouldn’t spend hours listening to back episodes in order to catch up.
At first, I kind of thought the host was joking with me, but he kept at it, and it was starting to get a little weird. I said I didn’t mean it as an insult, and I definitely didn’t, but he kept on with the badgering. I stopped replying and started Googling – is “bro” an insult?
From Dictionary.com, bro means, “1. short for brother, 2. Brother (used before a first name when referring in writing to a member of a religious order of men), 3. a male friend (often used as a form of address), and 4. a young man, especially one who socializes primarily with his male peers and enjoys lively, unintellectual pursuits.”
Ok, so definition number 4 isn’t so great, but obviously this guy is smart, or else he wouldn’t have his own business, which runs successfully (or so I understand).
In 2013, NPR did a little study on the term “bro” in light of Ryan Lochte’s popularity (JEAH! I love him!). What they found was that a “bro” could be several combinations of jock, dude, stoner, and prep. See, the complex venn-diagram of broism.
On one hand, sure, I hate it when people leave mean comments on my blog (I often don’t approve them), or misunderstand what I’m trying to say. As a creative, it’s frustrating, and it’s easy to pop-off via social media and set someone straight.
But on the other hand, it looks bad. All press is good press, right? So maybe I used the wrong word, but he still got two free shout outs for his podcast – again, a podcast I really like. If his business is teaching other men how to succeed at life, is that something he would recommend his clients do, hound people on Twitter?
So, I didn’t mean to call him a bro in a bad way. But perhaps the truth hurt? Who knows. And I’m sure this blog post won’t clear the air any further.
To me, a word is what you make it; it’s the meaning put behind it. And most of the time, I’m lighthearted. In the end, I still think the podcast is worth listening to; but I learned my lesson about mentioning it.