Series 01: For The Love Of Girlfriends | Episode 04
Friendship = Fun! with Annie F. Downs
Nobody has more fun with their friends than Annie F. Downs (the “F” stands for “fun!”). Author of 100 Days to Be Brave, Annie is a national speaker and lover of banjos, boiled peanuts, and Westward expansion (???) –we promise; it will all make sense. You’ll love getting to know Annie, plus you’ll learn some tips for navigating online dating, how to be a “show-er-upper” for your girlfriends, and ways just to have more fun generally in life.
Narrator: Welcome to the “For the Love Podcast” with bestselling author Jen Hatmaker. Come on in, and join us for a chat with Jen and friends about all the things we love. Now, here’s Jen.
Jen: All right you guys, thanks for joining us on The “For the Love Podcast! “It’s, me Jen. We’re super excited to have you be a part of our series on girlfriends. It’s been so interesting, so fun, so fascinating. So I’m super, super excited to introduce you to my guest today, and a lot of you already know her, of course, and she is the charming, the darling, the marvelous Annie Downs.
Hello, my friend.
Annie: Hi Jen, how are you?
Jen: You’re so awesome. I’m so glad you’re on. If you guys don’t already know Annie, you should know Annie, because she’s really fun.
Annie: It is what I wake up and think about first thing every day.
Jen: OK, like how can I have more fun?
Annie: You know, I think, “what’s going to be fun today? It’s the first thing.
Jen: I think you are that– that is your exact life. You all should follow Annie on all the socials because you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. Look at her.
Annie: You know that’s what I decide to tell people my middle initial, is for Annie F. Downs, because that’s where we are on all the socials. Is this just stands for fun. If you’re looking for fun, find Annie F. Downs.
We’re fancy, which you know is very true.
Jen: I mean, I know you’re fancy; you’re real high brow.
Annie: “I might’ve been born just plain white trash, but Fancy was my name.” Quoting Reba.
Jen: So you guys, just like snapshot of Annie…she lives in Nashville; like you’re living large there too. I really like how you live. I like your life. She’s a national speaker, she’s the author of several books. Your latest book was Looking For Lovely, and then Let’s All Be Brave before that. In fact, you’ve written for students too, I put your book, Perfectly Unique right in the hands of my middle school daughter when it came out. You’re so gifted in that space too.
Annie: Thank you.
Jen: Like, it’s not fair. I’m mad at you.
I mean, we’re in a fight.
Annie: It’s just that I still think I love being friends with teenagers. I mean, they’re not my number one crew; that’s not who I roll with on the weekends, but I just think like teenagers are still really fun–teenagers and college students. I still love being around them, so I want to write for them.
Jen: I couldn’t agree more. You know, I talk about teenagers all the time because basically I’m living with 10 billion of them.
Annie: Right? I love how you do that.
Jen: They’re fun, and they’re smart and they’re interesting and they’re so vibrant and…
Annie: You live right by a train track.
Jen: Hey, that’s part of this podcast. Part of this podcast, listeners, is that you will very frequently get a little train in the background.
Annie: Listen, I’m a big fan. Have you watched the show “Hell on Wheels” on AMC?
Jen: No, do I need to?.
Annie: It’s all about westward expansion and the building of the railroad. So talking to someone in Texas about the railroad feels like Cullen Bohannon is just going to swing in here. The star of the show.
Jen: What a weird show. Why’d you start watching that?
Annie: Right? Thank you.
Jen: Yes, that’s random.
Annie: It’s so random. Some buddies of mine in Nashville started watching it; like our little crew. We were sitting around at a barbecue a year and a half ago, and one of the husbands said “hey, is anybody watching this?” I kind of love westward expansion stuff. The first song I ever wrote– why am I telling you this—it was in eighth grade about the Oregon Trail.
Jen: Sure it was. You probably did It earnestly.
Annie: Oh yeah I really. I rewrote–what is that TV show—“Listen to a story about a man named Jed.”
Jen: Beverly Hillbillies..
Annie: Yeah. I wrote rewrote that about the Oregon Trail in eighth grade. So I just love Western expansion. I love like 1800’s west stories.
Jen: So, this may be the first and only time on this podcast you’ll hear someone say, “I just love westward expansion.”
Annie: I just think it’s interesting, the romantic side of the stories they tell—it’s just enjoyable for me to watch.
Jen: I wish that you could remember your song, and you could sing us a bar or two.
Annie: You know, I’m really thinking about it. I mean it started with, “listen to a story about the Oregon Trail…”
Jen: Sure, of course it did.
Annie: It’s something about setting their new life “a sail”. I do remember…
Annie: Because you rhyme in couplets when you write songs. That’s what I’ve learned. Who knew? Long before I moved to Nashville, I was a songwriter, Jen.
Jen: See? Listen, if this whole writing and speaking thing tanks, you could fall back on your music career.
Annie: That’s right, that’s right.
Jen: Obviously a singer/songwriter. Great talent. So, this is what Annie’s bio says; that she is a huge fan, by the way I love every word of this.
Annie: Thank you.
Jen: Bands with banjoes. Glitter, of course. Her community of friends. Boiled peanuts, which that’s a southern thing if you guys don’t know. And football games. And I love everything that is in there.
Jen: Everything you said.
Annie: Thank you. Boiled peanuts. It amazes me how many people don’t know this. I like didn’t know a life without them. I can’t remember a time…
Jen: Yes, yes. Our best friends here graduated from University of Alabama. And so they taught us about boiled peanuts and we were like, “Why are these peanuts soggy?”
Jen: It’s confusing
Annie: Yeah. Like you want me to suck on the shell? No.
Jen: It’s strange and weird, like it grows on you.
Jen: They’re strangely contagious.
Annie: Most things I get excited about are. Like Glitter is strangely contagious.
Jen: It sure is.
Jen: Like, I outlawed glitter in this house for a decade.
Annie: Oh you had to. Yeah.
Jen: You know where it goes? Everywhere.
Annie: Yeah. I mean, in fact, we have like an event coming up at the end of July, and like a byline on our budget is confetti and glitter, because I just want it everywhere I want it in everything.
Jen: I bet your team is thrilled.
Annie: Oh sure, sure, sure. The clean up team is real thrilled.
Jen: OK, so you mentioned in your bio, as I just said, that you’re just this huge fan of your friends and you do this so well. It’s so fun to watch you love your people and watch them love you. I was reading an article where you talked about when you first moved to Nashville.
Jen: Like you knew one person, three, four?
Annie: Like literally, I had a married couple that I had known in college but I hadn’t talked to in seven years. A girl that knew my sister in college, and a guy that I met through a mutual friend and had seen one time.
Jen: So I mean randoms. absolute randoms.
Annie: Oh absolutely. And they all surprisingly went to the same church. So I was like, “Do they read the Bible? They all go there? I’ll go there.” I was like, “Denomination is …don’t care Annie needs friends.”
Jen: Yes, exactly like what we did when we went after a church.
So you’ve got these really great tips that you tried, especially during that season, when you were being super deliberate about meeting new people. One that I like that you said is this very simple idea of saying “yes.”
Jen: When someone invited you somewhere, or you had an opportunity to be with new people–can you talk about that for a sec?
Annie: Yeah. Because you know what, Jen, I wanted to say no every time. I wanted to stay on my couch, I wanted to watch episodes of Reba. I just wanted time to pass. By week three of living here, this was in 2008, I was pretty tired of meeting new people and not having history with anyone. I kind of promised myself when I moved, I would, until the end of a year, I would say yes every time. So I mean, I would be like on the phone and someone would be like “hey, a handful of people after church are going to go out to Arrington Vineyards if you want to come,” and my head would be shaking no, and I’d go, “I would love it!” In my head, I was like, “I don’t want to do that. I won’t know everybody, I don’t know what this place is,” but I just I literally made myself say yes. I mean, I would cry and still say yes, because I knew that the only way that stuff works, the only way you make new friends or meet people is by going. You can’t stay home and expect to make friends and expect to feel a part of a community. You can’t complain about not making friends if you haven’t left your house in six weeks.
Jen: Right. You meet people by going and being with them; that’s how it works.
Annie: Like with meeting a dude, I can’t complain about meeting men if I haven’t gone anywhere new in a month. If all I’m doing is going to dinner with my same three girlfriends, and going to the same all-girls yoga studio, and working at my desk in my house, like, that’s on me right?
It’s on me that I’ve been to the same places this whole time and haven’t met anybody new. So that’s why I did it. I just like made myself say “yes” until I started having memories with people. And history helps you say “yes.” Once you have some.
Cause you go, “I love being with those people–I love being with those people.” So of course I’m going to go like, “no question.” But you have to try. There were people that I said yes one or two times that didn’t anymore. It’s not like I forced myself to be friends with everyone for the entirety of my Nashville life, but I had to say yes the first few times, every time, or I would have never found my crew.
That’s some really good advice. I like that in a thousand ways. Can we also talk, just a little caveat, ‘cause you made me think of it. About meeting guys when you’re single. So first of all I got married, just hold on to your britches, I got married when I was 19.
Annie: Oh, did y’all really? How old was Brandon?
Jen: 21. A baby. We were literal babies. Yes. I was a literal teenager.
Annie: Yeah. You were a teenager.
Jen: So obviously that’s insane.
Annie: Yeah, I think that’s beautiful.
Jen: I think that’s part of life. But I’ll tell you. I had a different path and I had to learn how to figure out life in a different way. But I was recently with a friend who’s single; and which is the dating app where you swipe?
Annie: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Tinder or Bumble.
Jen: You know what, it was Bumble. I was like, “please can I just have your account? Can I just write… can I just make decisions for you? Do You trust me to just swipe correctly?” You know what it is out there? Scary.
Annie: It’s interesting.
Jen: What in the world?
Annie: You know, part of the beauty of online dating, well for me, what I experienced with online dating is I realized I didn’t know everybody. I kind of got it in my head like, “I know everybody in this town. I’ve met everyone in this town.” Especially for people who live in smaller towns it’s easy to go, “I know everybody.” Then you get online, you’re like within five miles, there’s a 100 single guys–and I recognize four.
Jen: That’s true.
Annie: It doesn’t mean they’re all good dudes. It just means they exist. Sometimes that’s all the help your heart needs is like, “Oh there are single men in my zip code that exist that I have never seen before. I can sleep tonight.”
Jen: OK, that feels right.
Annie: But it’s also, I mean it’s also a little bit scary, probably, but it’s also fun, it’s everything right? It makes the world bigger and it makes you have too many options in a lot of ways.
Jen: Well that’s where your “say yes” sort of approach is smart actually, because you could just feel lonely, and stuck, and not meeting anybody, and this is too hard. Or you can be like, “Why not? Sure I’ll meet you for coffee.”
Annie: I swing back and forth, right? Like, I could spend a week in each, you know? But my like number one dating book, that I tell every single male or female that I know to read, is Henry Cloud’s How To Find A Date Worth Keeping.
Jen: Nice. I love him.
Annie: Because he literally says. I mean it’s brilliant. He’s like, “if you’re not dating someone in six months I’ll give you your money back.” But you have to do what he says. But pretty much what he is saying, I’m not spoiling the book, you still need to read it. But what he’s saying is like get your numbers up. If I meet one guy in 2017, the chance of marrying him is pretty miraculous, which God can do that. I mean I’m not questioning God, but if I meet 24, the chance of one of them being the right guy, or one of them being the right guy’s roommate, or one of them being the right guy’s brother, is much higher if I’m willing to put myself out there and get my numbers up and meet more men. That’s what his book is about. That’s why online dating can be good, is to be like, “I’m just getting my numbers up. I’m just getting coffee with a stranger, because maybe his roommate is the youth pastor at a church I don’t go to.”
Annie: How would I have ever known if I wouldn’t have gotten coffee with this dude?
Jen: Well, and honestly, that’s how tons of people meet; in some weird, unexpected way.
Annie: Oh for sure.
Jen: That’s great. What’s that book called again?
Annie: How to Find a Date Worth Keeping.
Jen: Listen, Henry Cloud knows what he’s talking about.
Annie: That’s right.
So back to your original thing the online dating thing can be, it is like a car. I heard someone use that example yesterday. A car is not dangerous by itself. How you use the car it what makes it dangerous or helpful, right? Either you’re driving it recklessly, or you’re taking your kids to soccer practice. it’s either help you or it’s hurting you. But the car by itself isn’t dangerous and I think that same is true for online dating. Online dating by itself isn’t dangerous. It’s how you using it that decides whether it’s helpful for you or hurtful for you.
Jen: Have you had some winners?
Annie: Yeah I have. I don’t do it currently only because I’m so limited in my time in Nashville, because I travel so much and I’m meeting men other ways, currently.
Jen: That sounds mysterious!
Annie: Doesn’t it? So sometimes it helps doesn’t it? Well I just find that unless I’m meeting men right now, I’m just not like in the middle of the searching today.
Jen: Got it.
Annie: So I’m not online currently but yeah I’ve definitely had success. You know what happened, Jen? When I was really actively like online dating and paying attention to following Henry Cloud’s ideas, I ended up dating two guys who went to my church.
Annie: Right? It’s just just because I was available and was just different. And one of them worked there and it was just real interesting, like, “oh I’m trying this online dating thing,” and I went on a couple of one-off dates that were fine. They’re never super fun. First dates are never super awesome.
Jen: Totally. I say that totally like I remember
Annie: When you were 16.
Jen: Like 18 years old.
Annie: The truth is the same can be true when you’re making new friends.
Jen: Yeah that’s true.
Annie: There are times where a first coffee with a new friend doesn’t go great, but next time you are all at a baby shower, you click immediately.
Jen: Great point.
Annie: Right and so you don’t shut that out.
Jen: You have assembled like a really phenomenal tribe. It is kind of this law of attraction, which is essentially what you’re talking about, that there’s just a way of living in the world that just draws people in. Whether it’s a man or a group of friends, it just doesn’t matter. It’s the sort of attractive way and you really, really do this well. Like this–don’t hate on this question—but when your friends talk about you, and they’re obviously always good.
Annie: I wish, yeah.
Jen: What would your friends, how would they describe you?
Annie: Oh that’s that’s a sweet question, I hope. You know, I think I’m a “shower-upper.”
So I think they would say that I show up, so I’m a “show-upper.” I think that’s one thing I think they would say that I’m fun. Like I think I’m one of the ones who kind of helps us decide what fun is going to look like and what fun is going to be.
Jen: That’s nice.
Annie: I think they know that I’m either all in or all out, and that isn’t always great.
Sometimes that can be irresponsible. But like if I don’t want to be somewhere, it’s pretty clear. Though, I try really hard to, wherever I am, I want to be there. I’m hanging out with you like right now, we’re hanging out. This is exactly where I wanted to be for this time. So I try, wherever I am, I try to make that exactly where I want to be either because it is, or I choose to figure out why it is. But in friendship stuff, I think my friends would say that if I’m with them, they know that’s where I want to be.
Jen: That’s a really great quality, really.
Annie: I mean there’s a lot of crappy stuff they can say about me too, Jen. Like I can be judgmental, I can have too much to say, and I would have to apologize a lot for things I say, and I mean there’s a lot– it all involves my mouth.
Jen: Hi, do you know me? People could say the exact same thing about me. I think it’s really great to be with someone for whom you know, they are here, they’re present. Like, “you’re listening to me, and you’re looking in my eyes,” and there’s such a difference between somebody who’s like three steps away from you and looking for somebody better to walk in the door. So that’s such a good quality. So let me ask you something. Let’s talk about your dream girlfriends. So if you could say, “Hey, can we be girlfriends?” with any woman, whether she’s, I don’t know dead or alive.
Annie: Oh ok.
Jen: Who would it be and what would you do? How would you hang out?
Annie: You know, I know this is… probably your other interviewees have said some more things but I think Adele would be super fun to be friends with.
Annie: Like wouldn’t she roll with us so easy?
Jen: So easy.
Annie: I just feel like she would step right in, like she could show up at an event that we’re all doing, or show up like at your house, a handful of us are there, and she’d walk in and we’d be like, well that’s a surprise, but yeah! Like that’s kind of what I think about her. So I feel like she’s a friend that we would like really connect.
Jen: Did you go see her in concert on her tour?
Annie: Listen I can’t talk about it.
Annie: No. I didn’t get to see her. I didn’t get a ticket in time. I thought I was going to get them and I didn’t get them and I missed it –but I have seen her live when I lived in Scotland. Civil Wars opened for her.
Annie: Right? It was Civil Wars opening for Adele in the U.K. I was dead. And their manager is a real good friend of mine and so he e-mailed me and said “hey, we’re coming to the UK do you want to come see the show?” I was like, “Of course I’d love to see y’all, I’d love to see…. And he’s like, “we’re just opening,” and I was like “that’s totally fine it’s just down the street from me” he goes and I said, “but who are you opening for, and he’s like.. “Adele”. I was like.. “Yeah I’ll be there.” He did that.
Really glad that it was Civil Wars, but also I’ve seen her live once and I just loved her, I thought. So she comes to mind. I think Lucille Ball would have been interesting, but you never know. To me it’s hard to know with people like Lucille Ball–what they were really like off screen? On screen she seems funny, but would we eventually have been like “OK, but who are you? Talk to me.”
Jen: Well, it was crazy to find out after the fact, in her life, that she had so much turmoil in it.
Jen: You know her marriage looked one way on screen So that is kind of hard to know, but she was just like a comedy hero of mine too. She really… she knew how to do it really early when a lot of women were not really succeeding in that space. That’s a man’s world. That’s right. She stepped in it like a boss.
Annie: You know what she also did that I really appreciate? She didn’t tell us that you had to be famous to be funny. She was a funny housewife. So she kind of gave people women permission to be hilarious in the lives they already had versus like I look at Amy Schumer and Amy Schumer is very funny most of the time, some of the time, think it’s too far, but most of the time I think Amy Schumer is really funny. But but she isn’t like a normal person funny. She’s a celebrity funny to me, because she’s a stand-up comedian.
Annie: Lucille Ball was like a really hilarious wife and mom. Yeah and I really liked that she felt like a normal person that was incredibly funny.
Jen: Totally. I love Mary Tyler Moore too. Was sort of that that everyday woman who was just so..
Annie: Maybe that’s Jennifer Aniston too. Yeah and Friends? Maybe that’s why we like her. Besides the hair. I still see her hair and I’m like I would I would still pick your hair every time.
Annie: That is fascinating.
Jen: Like over half of it.
Annie: Where did y’all go, did y’all go to, A&M?
Jen: We went to Oklahoma Baptist University. It was like a little Baptist College– it’s like going to summer camp for four years, like youth camp..
Annie: It’s kind of like you got your MRS degree there.
Jen: Everyone did. Sure. It was such a weird little microcosm of “hey the pool seems fairly deep, we should just fish while we’re here.”
Annie: I don’t blame anybody. You’ll never be around more single people in your life place that are making choices like than when you’re in college.
Jen: It’s so true. Every one of us was straight out of like First Baptist USA. Every person there fit that mold. No one colored outside the lines it’s like, “oh we’re all the same person– let’s just marry each other.” Anyway my Rachel haircut was failure, as was most of ours. Like, oh, you know, who could pull that haircut off? Jennifer Aniston. I still feel sad about it, but I don’t think she gets enough credit for her comedy. She is funny. Her sense of just comedic timing is really sharp and really developed. I think she is a really great comic actress and people don’t talk about her enough.
Annie: Who would you pick to be friends? Who’s your celebrity best friend or your dream best friend girlfriend?
Jen: Yeah that’s a really good question. So I I feel like, and this is so obvious, so I’m sorry for it, but I feel like. I would just be galpals with Tina Fey. Gal pals. Like chum around, laugh, almost like we could share a little tiny air of superiority that we’re funnier than everyone else. You know what I mean, like, “I wish everybody was as funny and smart as us.” Like see how already, I’m better?
Annie: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Jen: She’s such a smart writer; funny/smart is my favorite combo. That’s my favorite thing in any person to be funny and sharp. I just I love her, I love her brand of humor and I’m positive that we would love each other. And I don’t even care. I don’t even care. I wish that Michelle Obama was my next door neighbor. I love her.
Annie: Yeah, I can get behind that. I would love to actually know who she is.
I feel like it’s hard to know. I mean I want to be friends with her as well because she has great arms and great fashion. When she was released to dress the way she wants to dress on the budget that they now have…
Jen: Too much.
Annie: Oh my gosh, it’s incredible. But I also would love to just sit around a table with her and just like let her feel like she could be her. That’s one of the things that is sad for me about people who get “known” is sometimes even when they’re sitting at a table in a private house at a private room where no one can hear them, they still don’t let themselves be themselves. I would hope, I would want to be in a situation where Michelle Obama felt like this is actually where I can be me.
Jen: I know, I wonder if she ever can.
Annie: I don’t know, I don’t.
Jen: I mean when you’re at that level of fame and notoriety is that terrifying. Do you ever live again? Like I wonder, do you ever live a normal life again? I don’t know. I don’t know what that is like to be an Obama day in day out, or any past presidents.
Annie: Sadie Robertson was on my podcast a couple of weeks ago and when she and her boyfriend broke up. It trended across the U.S. on Twitter. What do you do with that?
Jen: That’s just not normal. And we’re not built for that. The human mind and psyche is not built for that sort of attention and that many eyes on your life.We can look at it and see that people who are handling it well and who aren’t..
Jen: I wonder too, but if any of these women that we’ve named are half as wonderful as we think they are, they could definitely be our new squad.
Annie: Hey guys give us a call. If you are half of what we expect you are. That’s all we really want. I promise you you’re going to be half of what you expect we are.
Jen: Or less.
Annie: Or less.
Jen: I’m going put our phone numbers on my web site. Right in the middle of the show—Adele, Michelle, Tina call us.
Special Note From Jen: Guys, just a real quick little break here in the show to talk about something super near and dear to my heart.
So you may know that my newest book is called Of Mess and Moxie and it comes out on August 8th. We’re almost there. I absolutely loved writing this book for you, and I hope that you will love reading it. I think this is my favorite book to date. My goals with this book is that at some point in the reading, it will positively make you laugh, hopefully out loud; it may make you cry. I hope it makes you think. I certainly hope that it inspires you, and encourages you, and gives you permission to live your wild and glorious life; in the place that you’ve been planted. It was just a real delight to write for you.
Hey listen; if you preorder it before its release date–any time between now and August 7th–you get a bunch of cool free stuff too. My team put together this amazing pile of goodies for you; it’s so easy. So if you’re ever going to buy it, you might as well get it now. Get the free stuff before it’s released. You can find out all the information on that, on the book’s website. It’s calledOfMessandMoxie.com, and all the links are in there and everything you need. You can get signed copies, you can get a really cool collector’s edition box set, and all the information on your pile of swag is over there too.
I can’t wait for you to have it. I can’t wait for us to talk about it. I hope that it serves you so well because it was a delight to write for you so,OfMessAndMoxie.com; go snag it!
Okay! back to our chat.
So let me ask you this question because you know I like I mentioned been married more than half my life. How old are you?
Jen: Yeah that’s what I thought. So, I was I was doing an interview the other day with another guest on this series, and she said she called it the “mommy swamp.” That some women who become mothers, just they fall into the “mommy swamp” and they go missing for a while. And so I know about the swamp and I felt like I was last in there for a while. But it’s interesting. I would love to hear what you think, as a single gal, and you have a lot of married friends.
Annie: I do, yeah.
Jen: I mean you’ve got friends kind of in every category honestly, but how do you manage being friends with the “Marrieds” when their life has a different set of demands on it and they’re less available or that shifts around? Talk to us about that a little bit.
Annie: I think the first thing that’s true is everybody can fall into a swamp. Like I’m currently in a book writing swamp where like people don’t know where I am and they can’t find me. And why didn’t Annie respond to my text. It’s like I’m really sorry. I’m offering everything I can offer to the thing that needs me to offer it everything. And so everything else just has to wait for a minute. So I think part of it is, recognizing that there are swamps for all of us no matter what your life places.
Jen: Great point!
Annie: People in seminary are in swamp’s, mamas are in swamps. People who have kids graduating, don’t you know. So that’s the first way that you do. Friendship, I think, is to remember that you are just minutes from falling into your own swamp, and you’re married mama friends may actually say yeah, “Annie hasn’t been around in a while. I wonder where she is.” And so that would be one thing is that it’s only a matter of time before it’s you that’s in the swamp. So that’s part of it. You know I do have it my probably my closest friend in Nashville is a mom. Most of my close friends are, but I don’t think it’s wise to be a single person with a life full of married friends.
Jen: Talk about that a little bit.
Annie: It just — it gets too comfortable for me–I’ll probably only speak for Annie. It gets too comfortable for me. It doesn’t make me meet new people and it makes you just, in a great way, you become a surrogate family member, and I love that. Like there’s a group of us–that are, it’s four, five families that all have kids six and younger. Probably between the five families, there’s probably 15 kids.
Jen: That’s stressful.
Annie: Then there is me and another single guy and his fiance. We run with them a lot too.
Annie: I love that crowd, but if that was my only crowd, how am I ever going to meet new people? There will come a time when I get married and start having kids and I could be a decade behind them. And if I made them my whole life and their kids are going to middle school and my kid is in diapers, it’s going to be a really–I’m going to feel lonely a lot. And so I think I’ve never done any of these things that I’m saying to you, I just think I can see enough into the future to go like, if that was my whole world, when seasons shift for me, they will move on as one boat and I will be in a different boat.
Jen: Yeah that’s right. You know it’s funny because my mom, see my mom is 66, and she just retired and she is super fun and super low maintenance, and smart, and spicy, and just everything that we love. So she consequently is like a friend to me, and my friends who are in their 40s. My mom is with us a lot, she comes to our happy hours, and we go to dinner, and we travel together and it’s awesome. But just recently, my mom has been spending a lot of time with her sister-in-law and my sister was like, “Mom what’s up, you’re hanging out with Cindy a bunch lately. What’s going on?” And she was like, “I just sometimes need to be with somebody in my stage of life, like you all are young and you don’t know what it’s like to have adult children, you don’t know what it’s like to be retired.” I was like, “oh, that’s true mom, like I don’t know how to enter your world.” I think it’s the same thing that you’re saying, that there is just something healthy about having a strong tribe where you’re at.
Annie: Yeah that’s right.
Jen: In your space.
Annie: That’s exactly it, because otherwise I become the single girl in our group of friends that is always talking about a new guy. But they can’t totally process it with me, cause they’re not feeling it with me. I’ll tell you though, those are my best friends in a lot of ways, but then I also have this really beautiful group of mostly single girls that like at the drop of a hat, we went to a movie last week. We just planned a trip to the beach for three days where we’re flying, you know stuff.
Jen: Tell me about your life.
Annie: That’s when we get to do things together and when things get really hard that’s where I go to. The girls who have felt this and are feeling this. I am great being friends of people who got married when they were young because that’s actually probably the majority of people who got married in their 20s or late teens as the case may be. You and you and Mary and Joseph, all getting married in your teens. There’s just something about people in your life place –you said it exactly right. Like when I taught school, I had teacher friends because we spoke the same language. We understood the same thing. They could feel my successes and my failures with me in ways that accountants can’t. But it’s also why you and I have this beautiful tribe of writer friends. Because you and I could talk about New York Times in ways that my non-writer friends won’t get.
Annie: Or how merch sells at an event, or how a speaking event goes so. So it’s actually, married and single to me is very similar to having people who have the same job as you that you’re friends with, or people who go to the same church as you that you’re friends with. You need to be with like minded people sometimes and you need to be with really different people sometimes. I’m so grateful for my groups of friends that I have these mamas that invite me over to eat , and the fun thing is these ones who are littles, turn into a teenager. So like one of my really good friends Alison, her oldest is like 11, and we’re both reading the same book we checked out the library, and we’re going to go get a smoothie and talk about it.
Jen: Love it.
Annie: So then you get to be like this other mom voice in their lives, like a big sister voice in their lives, as they grow up. I love them… that’s who I want to be. But if that was my whole life reading books with 11 year olds, that wouldn’t be very balanced.
Jen: I wrote a whole essay in the upcoming book coming out called “Bonus Moms,” and it’s that exact idea. Some of them are not mothers in the traditional sense of the word like you—but my kids have a slew of “Annie Downs” in their life.
Jen: And I love it like…. I want them to have an extra set of ears. I want trusted advisers in their life that are not me and Brandon. I find that that’s so vital and important and I love that that’s a part of your life. You’ve always really been good at that.
So I’m super interested in your new book coming out in the fall—100 Days to be Brave. You’re just a good and trustworthy leader in this space. Will you tell me a little bit about it?
Annie: You know what’s so exciting about this one, Jen, that might make me cry talking to you, is with every book. I don’t know if you do this, with every book I write. I picture the person I’m writing for. It just makes it easier. In fact, currently I’m working on a book that is due at the end of the summer that will come out next summer, a trade book and I have a picture of me and a friend framed on my desk– I can look at it right now–framed on my desk because I know everything I’m writing for that friend.
Annie: There’s a Barnes and Noble right there. When I was in there, I was in there between like the end of work and before you get dinner, or meet friends for drinks or whatever? I was in there, and the place was full, and it was raining outside. So the place was full of like mid 20s early 30s professionals walking around, like just perusing covers and I thought “man, that’s one of the people, that’s who I picture, right?” This is the person who goes, “yeah, I do want to be brave, OK.” The person who may not pick up another one of my books because of the section it would be in, would see 100 Days to Be Brave, and go “yeah I would like to be braver in 100 days. I like that.” You know? Whether it’s the person who goes to church and who is real solid in their faith and knows what they’re doing, I think for those people to pick it up they’re going to feel like like God meets him there. But then for the people who are not sure, and have a ton of questions, and things have been changed for them, I hope this will push them further. This probably isn’t the right marketing answer, so maybe delete it or something, but the truth is, I want that person perusing that bookstore to feel like 100 Days to Be Bravewas written for them.
Jen: Oh fabulous. I love it. I cannot wait. I better have a copy on my desk as soon as it’s out.
Annie: It’s beautiful, the cover is beautiful, and it’s just it’s really easy –it’s like, OK what I did is I sat down and split it up in 100 days. I did five at the beginning and five at the end so I left 90 in the middle. I did 10 groups of nine. So brave at work, brave in your family, brave in your health, brave in your pain. I can’t remember any others right now; work, family, relationships dating, friendships. So I did nine places that I think it’s really important in those nine places to be brave. We did 10 days on each of them.
Jen: That’s going to set a lot of people free.
Annie: Oh thanks. Yeah, I just I hope that they show up looking to be brave, and realize that Jesus was there all along.
Jen: I love that. My opinion is that, and of course I deal primarily with women, and men and women too, there is courage and bravery lurking in every person.
Annie: Oh girl.
Jen: So even the one who thinks “I’m the most scared person I know, or I am the most risk averse, or I am the least likely to take a step out onto the waters”, I’m like, “bull”!
“No, you are not the least likely. You have it within you.” So I love to put tools like your book in their hands and say, “here’s some real pragmatic steps into sort of a courageous life,” and then watch people discover they had it all along.
Annie: That’s it. I mean that’s the thing, I think day three is “you are braver than you know.” I mean that’s my number one take. That’s what happened after Let’s All Be Brave came out. So many people said to me, “I had no idea I’d already done brave things.” It’s just like taking inventory of the life you’ve already lived, and you go, “yeah, well we had to move across the country because my husband got a different job.” I was like, “you did not have to, you could have said no. You did the right thing, and you knew it was the right choice. But nobody tied you up, you made a brave choice. People go “no, no, no, I had to move.”
I think if people look back on their stories, they’d realize they were already braver than they know and the other big takeaway that I experienced when people started readingLet’s All Be Brave, the feedback I started getting, was people saying. “oh, I don’t have to have a brand new life to have a brave life.”
Jen: Oh yes, Amen.
Annie: I can be brave in the life I already have, and that would change things, because there are people who God says, “hey pack it all up and move across the world.” And that’s true and that’s real. But there are a ton of people who God goes, “Hey pack up this story you’ve been living in and end it.”
Annie: Oh that will be brave for me to break off that relationship, or change jobs, or change churches or change Sunday school classes. Change coffee shops, change what you know. There’s these little decisions we make in our everyday life that could really change the course of our future, that require courage, without having to give up your whole life you’ve had. Though, I do think the more steps you take, the more the more God goes, “OK can I ask you one more thing? Can I ask you one more thing?” Then all of a sudden you’re giving up your life.
Jen: He does that. That is how it works. I have always said if you give an inch he will take like a marathon.
Annie: But He’ll give you the world.
Jen: Oh right. I would never want any other life. I would never ever want any other life than the one that just says “sure.” Like Brandon and I said years ago, we’ve got this “yes “and we’re just going to put it on the table and it’s there permanently. Our “yes” is on the table, whatever the thing, Whatever You ask of us, whenever You push us and move us, the answer is “yes.”
Jen: We’ll see where that takes us. It has taken us to crazy unexpected place.
Annie: Such beautiful places.
It’s interesting to hear you say that, because everyone listening knows that you have suffered for the things you’ve said. We all suffer for things we say. I mean there are topics I don’t talk about, because of the suffering that it is inflicted on me or other people.
I’ve said yes. Dear World, you know it’s cost me.
Jen: Yeah, that’s exactly right, and there is a cost, but there’s such joy. That’s your message that you key in on, and I like it so much because I have found it to be true. Experientially that’s my life story too. There is cost here, so count it for sure. You will not regret it. I mean you really won’t, because this life that God invites us into. It’s real expansive, and it’s generous, and exciting, and it’s unexpected.
Annie: We only do this thing one time, right? It’s going to be really hard for like 90 years, and then it’s never hard again.
Jen: Yeah, that’s it.
Annie: So like when we wake up and it’s hard today, it’s like “oh yeah, it’s because I’m still here.”
Jen: That’s right.
Annie: There’s some beauty in this opportunity we’ve been given. But there’s also pain that we have chosen. A friend and I were joking the other day about picking a man to marry , as if that is how it comes down to, right? We aren’t picking the one that isn’t pain, we’re picking the pain we’re willing to feel. We’re picking the crazy that matches our crazy. So I want to pick the guy who takes—I want to pick the friendships that don’t hurt. I want to pick the church that doesn’t have issues. I want to pick the book that I totally agree with. I’m like “you’re living on the wrong planet, man, because none of that happens.” You’re not going to find a church you agree with everything, you’re not going to find a friendship that goes perfectly. You’re not going to find a mate that doesn’t rub you the wrong way, sometimes, they are gonna mess with you.
Jen: That’s not real life, right.
Annie: Right. I think that’s been a benefit. I think that’s one of the reasons I’ve stayed single longer than some of my friends is; I think the man I’d have married at 19, I’d have asked him to be my Savior. He would have suffered..and I think the Lord spared some of those beautiful college men that I loved from having to be my savior.
Jen: You loved them with all your heart.
Annie: You know they none of them are signing up to be my Savio,r and I’d ask them all to be. Now I just want a team mate who’s ready to get in the game and have a great time. I want to travel and not stay in a hotel room by myself all the time.
Jen: Men can be great hotel partners.
Annie: That’s what I’m saying.
Jen: I’m just saying, that they can do that.
Annie: I’ve heard.
Jen: I’m cheering you on in a thousand ways, girl ,I just love you and I love your life.
Jen: All right. Listen This is how we’re going to end this. These are the questions we ask every guest right here. The first one. What is the best and the worst advice you’ve ever received?
Annie: The best and the worst advice I’ve ever received. The best advice is when someone told me that we need to have permission to like whatever we like.
Jen: Oh, Amen.
Annie: Hobbies and friends and restaurants. I wish someone in middle school would have told me to like whatever I like, because I would have played the French horn all the way through high school because I loved it. But I quit because it wasn’t cool to be in the band, and I regret it so much. So now I try to really live by like “if I don’t like that restaurant we don’t have to go. I don’t have to go there.”
Jen: That’s right.
Annie: If I don’t like the way this friendship feels, I’m not married to this friend. We can figure out if this is right or if there needs to be more boundaries. If I want to go to—I have season tickets to our theater here in Nashville, like a Broadway kind of thing— and I sit by myself. I wanted to sit in the balcony and my other two friends who have season tickets the same night want to sit on the floor. OK, well I want to see the orchestra because I want to see the French horn.
Annie: I’m going to sit by myself because that’s what I like and that’s OK.
Jen: That’s so good.
Annie: It’s such a fuller life really learning to love how God made Annie. Enjoying the things that I like, it’s more full. So that’s probably the best advice is, like what you like.
OK. The worst advice, I mean I’ve certainly had people tell me not to save money–like there’s no reason to save. I think it is important to save money, so you can do what you want. People who told me to like, “yeah, just go ahead and buy that. Put it on your credit card.” I was like, “are you gonna come pay off my credit card?” So I would say financial bad advice is my least favorite kind of bad advice. People who go like, “Annie, come on this trip. Put it on your credit card,” Yeah, don’t tell me to put it on a credit card.
Jen: Yes. Good point. Okay, how about this one. Finish this sentence for us. You know I really love you if I ever do “blank” for you.
Annie: If I play board games with you I really love you because, I just I do not feel board games.
Jen: I call them “bored” games. B-O-R-E-D games.
Annie: Thank you. Thank you. It just is. I’m like, “can’t we just talk to each other? Can’t we just laugh? Can’t we just sit outside and look at the sky? I don’t know. There’s like 9 things I want to do before I want to play board games with you. If we have an hour and a half and you want to hang out, let’s get in the car and go somewhere. Let’s not like sit at your house and play Jenga. What are we doing?
Annie: So if I play board games with you, which there is a family in Nashville that we play board games all the time, and I hope they listen to this and I hope they go “oh my gosh. Annie loves us more than we realized.” Because it is like “what’s the game tonight?” I’m like like “okay, I don’t want to go home. So let’s play.”
Jen: Listen I might just suggest you may consider also never having kids because that’s what they want to do, and I’m like “Fix it Jesus. I don’t want to be your friend. I didn’t sign up for this. I don’t want to play Chutes and Ladders. That game sucks.”
Annie: I cannot believe you said Chutes and Ladders. I literally wrote an entire chapter of my new book about Chutes and Ladders.
Annie: It’s because I played with one of my friends that was five, and he was beating me and I’m not kidding you, I was losing my cool. I realized, because it’s so random–this is going to get way deeper than you want it to–but chutes and ladders is so random. He rolls a four and gets to ladder up 20, and I roll a six and I shoot down five.
Jen: Where’s the justice in that?
Annie: Right. I realized that I felt like my whole life was playing Chutes and Ladders with everyone–I’ve been able to keep doing the best I can do and I’m hitting chutes all the time and everyone else is hitting ladders. I realized like, all my life, I am acting like we’re all playing on the same board game and we’re not. That’s not how God created us. It’s almost like we’re all playing solitaire. You know, we’re all playing our own game of solitaire, because you know, here’s what I learned; when you play solitaire with a deck of cards, the amount of variety of how many different unique deals you can have from start to finish of the game, if you play the game with no human error, it’s eight times ten to the sixty seventh power.
Annie: That’s how many different varieties of one deck can give you of solitaire. That’s what our lives are right as each playing our own deck, helping each other out, but if you win it doesn’t have any effect on my deck.
Jen: That’s good.
Annie: I’m just doing the best I can with the cards God dealt me, instead of feeling like we’re playing chutes and ladders.
Jen: That’s good, I’m constantly battling against that scarcity mentality that says, “more for you means less for me,” or vice versa because we’re all playing with our own deck.
Annie: Yes, so you’re thinking I’m getting ladders and you’re getting chutes when the reality is we’re dealt really differently. The best thing I can do is sit across from you and go, “hey, did you see that you can stack that Queen on that King?”
Jen: Mmm, that’s so good.
Annie: The best thing I can do is help you play your game really well because it is not scarcity. It doesn’t mean I lose if you win, it means that my deck actually doesn’t change a bit.
Jen: Hey, nice job parlaying that into a really meaningful point.
Annie: That’s what the whole chapter is about so free chapter for everybody.
Jen: Yay! She’s giving out content for free! Okay, last point. This is a question first posed by Barbara Brown Taylor. She wrote this in one of her books. What is saving your life right now.
Annie: Oh man, what’s saving my life right now. You know what is saving my life right now is, the breeze, because we’re having a good warm summer so far, but there’s been a really consistent breeze. I have a crew there I eat lunch with all my days, and the four of us walked from the lunch restaurant to coffee and back, and nobody got sweaty because it was breezy the whole time.
Jen: You know what, that is a miracle–it’s a miracle.
Annie: That’s what I said to them, I said “I wish if the end of June is anything like August that would be dreamy.” I mean of course not, the breeze will stop up and the temperature will go up 45 degrees, but that’s saved my life. Having a little bit of breeze in the summertime is saving my life right now.
Jen: That is so legit.
OK. Tell everybody real quick what you’re working on right now and where they can find you.
Annie: Yes so the new book that comes out next summer is what’s got me head down in my computer. The 100 Days To Be Brave comes out in October which is really really exciting. The other main thing we work on is my podcast called “That Sounds Fun.” We spend a ton of time on that–it comes out every Thursday. It is, as you know, it is the most fun. Podcasting is the best. I totally love it. So those are things I’m working on. I’ll head back out on the road in the fall. I totally love the road. I love getting to meet people and travel and speak and get to have friends across the U.S. It’s like the greatest joy. So I mean, I don’t have a lot I can complain about.
Annie: It’s all, it’s everywhere you want to find me. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. Web site is Annie F. Downs, “F” as in fun, or fancy as you know, obviously. So AnnieFDowns.com. Then there’s a speaking tab, a podcast tab, everything you want to find is there, and then same on all the social’s, Annie F. Downs. Do you know why I have to do that, Jen? Because you know there’s a very famous quilter in Australia named Anni Downs.
Jen: A Quilter.
Annie: She rules the Internet, and so we added the “F” everywhere because otherwise people are looking for…next time you want to waste some time and search the hashtag #AnnieDowns on Instagram and see how many quilts there are.
Jen: Girl, I already have my phone in my hand, I’m looking this up right this second.
Annie: It’s amazing, because it’ll be like a picture of me a picture of me and one of my books; three quilt patterns. A picture of me and one of my books; 12 quilt patterns.
Annie: Thanks for having me, Jen.
Jen: Hey, thanks for being on. You guys follow Annie on all her socials, you will not regret it. You will be so glad, she is so much fun. You have so much life and joy and I love the way you love God and love the way you love your people. I just am proud of you and so glad to be your friend,
Annie: You’re kind.
Jen: All right Sister. Love you. Talk to you soon.
Annie: Thank you.
Jen: Okay guys, I told you you would love her, she is a lively one, that Annie Downs. Be sure to go follow her on social media, you will not regret it. Anything that we talked about today I’ll have over on my website, any of the books we mentioned, any of the products we mentioned or if you want to help us with our campaign to get our dream best friends on board. So anyway, thank you to my friend Annie Downs for coming on the podcast. And thank you for tuning in and listening. Thank you for tuning in and listening, we have so many amazing guests ahead, I just can’t even. You’re going to love them, you’re going to love the conversations, it’s going to be a really fun time in here. Anyway, thanks for joining For The Love, see you next time you guys!
Narrator: Thanks for joining us today on the “For the Love Podcast.” Tune in next week, when we sit down again with Jen and friends to chat about all the things we love.
We love you, our listeners, so we want to be sure you subscribe to “For the Love,” with Jen Hatmaker, via iTunes or your favorite podcast provider, so you don’t miss a thing. And if you have a minute, please leave us a review. To become a part of Jen’s online community, visit JenHatmaker.com and sign up for her newsletter. It’s full of all the things you love, including free stuff. We love free stuff! Thanks for listening, and see you next time on For the Love with Jen Hatmaker.