Season 6 has been all about finding joy in the messy middle. In the season finale, I'm looking back and the 5 most memorable conversations I've had with guests over the last year. For each one, I'm sharing a bit about what stood out about our conversation, and, playing a bit of the episode so you can hear them explain things in their own words.
Dr. Jeff Speiss is the author of "Dying with Ease," and he joined me early on in the season. I love that he shared about what he's learned from working with people who are dying, and what we can all do to feel more joy while we are alive. He also talked how listening to someone in a difficult time is often the most profound gift you can give them. Tune in to our original full length conversation in episode 268.
Molly Knoderer and I went to high school together and played softball on the same team. She's a co-owner of Legacy Concierge Services, and an author. Her business works with finding care for the elderly, both in working with families and with aging people. I loved that she shared about overcoming obstacles and self doubt. And she also talked about some of the lessons she's learned about how to face hard times (like 9/11) from working with elderly clients. Listen to our whole conversation right here in episode 270.
Lan Cao, and her daughter, Harlan Margaret Van Cao wrote an amazing memoir together title "Family in Six Tones." As an immigrant from Vietnam during the Vietnam war, Lan Cao has interesting perspectives on belonging and family. She shared about how learning the syntax of English as a child gave her a framework for understanding complexities in life, and she talks about how that layered in to her understanding of her daughter as a high school student. You can listen to episode 274 by clicking here.
Erica Courdae is a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion consultant, and a life coach, and small business owner. She is also the host of Pause on the Play. I had the pleasure of meeting her in 2019 and was really inspired by her talk about "Imperfect Allyship" at She Podcasts. I loved having Erica come on to share what imperfect allyship looks like, and how we can all approach anti-racism in a way that leaves room for honest mistakes as individuals grapple with difficult topics in an earnest way. Listen to episode 283 here.
Sonya Renee Taylor is the author of "The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love," and Radical Executive Officer of The Body is Not An Apology, a digital media and education company promoting radical self-love and body empowerment as the foundational tool for social justice and global transformation. It was a true joy to have her on the show, and I loved that she shared about how she defines radical self love. And, I was inspired hearing her talk about she only "gives from her overflow" in regards to activist work. You can listen to this whole delight-filled conversation here on episode 287.
In this episode, I'm talking about the term "languishing," which is something that Adam Grant recently wrote about in the New York Times. His article was titled "There's a Name For The Blah That You're Feeling, and It's Called Languishing." When I read it, it struck me that languishing really is one of the predominant emotions that you find in the messy middle. It's languishing. Isn't full on depression. It's not boredom or anger. It's not any of those. It's just that vague feeling, that things aren't great.
Adam Grant describes it this way, "Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you're muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield, and it might be the dominant emotion of 2021." And, in reading this I felt similar to the way I did when I read about people naming the feeling of grief that was a predominant emotion at the beginning of the pandemic. It has also given me something to call the annoyance and mild overwhelm I've felt recently, and that I even did a podcast episode about.
This low-level funk made me feel that I needed to try and do something, anything, to find my way out and into something else. And so I signed up with Tami Hackbarth's "Deferred Maintenance" program and I tackled just one thing.
In this episode, I am sharing about a couple of parallel "paths" I've noticed in the past few months: those of Labyrinths, making mindful choices about what to do next, and setting boundaries to support those choices and new directions.
Your Unique Path
In December 2020 I took a week long course and became a trained labyrinth facilitator. The labyrinth has been around for centuries and is a helpful mindfulness tool, and a lovely walking meditation. It struck me that much like there are parallels between the center of a labyrinth and the messy middle of this pandemic.
Mindful choices on What's Next
This time in the messy middle has offered us a lot of time to think. I hear from other people that they are reflecting about what really matters, what things merit their time, what they really want to do when they can go back out in the world and do things with other people.
These two things (Labyrinths and honoring one's path) benefit from boundaries. A labyrinth without a clearly marked path is confusing, or, just a field. A life without boundaries is a free-for-all. So I want to mark things more mindfully, and make clear choices based on what I want and who I know I am. There is simplicity and beauty in knowing those things, and I want to honor them too.
What can you learn from your time in the Messy Middle of the pandemic?
Where has your path led you? Is it different than where you thought you'd go?
What kinds of boundaries could help define your path?
In this episode, Erica and are diving in to the important topics of racism in the US, and what it means to be an imperfect ally. I had the pleasure of meeting her at ShePodcasts Live, and I was deeply inspired by her presentation there on imperfect allyship and anti-racism.
Erica is an an entrepreneur and certified coach, and her work is focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), imperfect allyship, and imposter syndrome. I deeply appreciate her insights on how white people, like myself, can be better allies for people of color. I know from experience that it can be vulnerable to make changes and that there's an underlying fear that we may do something (with good intentions) that is more harmful than helpful. And, that if it's not right, it could backfire. And so many of us freeze and do nothing.
The truth is, action is what is needed. We can't continue to do nothing because of our own discomfort. And, the only way to make any change is to start trying it out, in small steps, and in little ways.
And that's what the heart of imperfect allyship is all about.
If you've been feeling deeply unsettled by what you've felt over the many acts of racial injustice that have been happening, and you know you want to do something (but you don't know what or how) - this is the episode for you.
Intuition can give you powerful information about what you want and what brings you joy, but too often we ignore it. What can you learn from intuition, and what can you discover from getting curious about what annoys you?
During the pandemic, it's been hard to find our joy. In this episode, I share how to change your perspective when the horizon shifts, and how to find joy in the messy middle. Also learn about how to craft an "easy week" to bring more joy to your life.
In this interview, I’m delighted to be joined by life coach Mackenzie Eason. She is a love and relationship coach who specializes in helping her clients break free from toxic dynamics, develop emotional mastery, clear up communication, reclaim their power, and cultivate unshakable self love. In other words, she’s the most amazing person to have on to talk about how we look at love, how we can learn to love ourselves, and how we can talk about Valentine’s Day in a very different way. In this episode we are talking all about how to love yourself first, and looking at how COVID and shelter in place has taken a toll on existing relationships.
Kenzie and I met through life coach training, and it’s a real treat to have her on the show. She fully embodies joy and love and she’s one of the most genuine and lovely people you’ll ever meet. I love that she’s dedicated her work to helping womxn through the breakups, and that she holds space for them to find transformation and joy on the other side of those hard times. I’m so excited to have her on Jump Start Your Joy.
Barron Steffen is a Siddha Yoga practitioner, a big band crooner, and a widower. He is also the author of the book, “The Final Gift of the Beloved: Her Disappearance - 13 Days,” where he shares the story of the death of his wife Dr. Seana Lowe Steffen and the 13 days that follow. It is a joy to speak with him, and it is an honor to have him share his journey of saying goodbye to the love of his life, and the peace and joy that came with that journey. Barron now focuses his life’s work on “The Yoga of Mindset,” a program that helps children and other people to give them the “tools necessary to live harmoniously among our thoughts,” and spread the art of mindfulness.
How do we welcome in a new year, after 2020 was full of so many difficult things? In this first interview of 2021, I'm so delighted to be joined by the five podcasters behind "The Best Parts Podcast:" Louise Neil, Nikki Baker Wulf, Laura Lively, Sara Doell, and Kim Romain. Their philosophy is that all parts of our lives are the best parts. I know that there is a really big desire to slam the door on 2020, and call it a dumpster fire. Instead, I want to focus on what is going on for each of us as we enter into a new year
That said, there's something that's really juicy about the middle of all of this, because:
One: I don't think all the problems that we've come up with and seen in 2020 are just going to end. We've already seen that that isn't true.
Two: Much of the turmoil that's been put into motion across the board is also going to stay in play.
In this episode, we’ll be looking at how to bring joy into your life, even when it’s hard. Many of us are sitting in the midst of extremes right now: feeling isolated and wishing for connection, being overwhelmed and wishing for calm. We are sad over the current situation of the world, and also want to feel joy. In this episode I’ll share how you can integrate these things in your life, by looking for the “and.”
Finding Joy in The Messy Middle
When we get into a place like the pandemic, and things have been difficult for a sustained amount of time, finding joy becomes a practice. And, it becomes more important than ever before. One way of doing this is to make sure that you become mindful of adding joy into your day, and scheduling in time (or taking the time) to do something that helps to connect you to joy each day.
This week’s podcast is a new solocast all about the courage and joy … and I also share some of my favorite things that might not seem to all match at first glance. Princess Diaries, Battlestar Galactica, and Brené Brown ?!?! Well, they all have a thing or two to say about courage, about facing our fears, and about being vulnerable and embracing joy.
In the season 6 opener, I'm looking at the Messy Middle, and how we are living in it right now. What is the Messy Middle? Why is it hard? Why do we long to know the ending, while still needing to lean into this time of transformation? Join me.