Women’s sports are having a major moment right now, with basketball superstars like A’ja Wilson leading the charge. Considered one of the best WNBA players to ever grace the court, A’ja is using her towering influence to encourage not only young black girls, but all women who have felt the need to change who they are to fit in. A’ja fought to be herself every step of the way in her journey of becoming a G.O.A.T. in the WNBA.
In this uplifting conversation, A’ja Wilson opens up about the challenges she faced as a young black woman trying to be her authentic self. From an anecdote about confronting racism in 4th grade to the influential women who instilled self-love during her journey to the top, A’ja shares her playbook for empowerment with raw honesty. She discusses the motivation behind writing her new book “Dear Black Girls” and the importance of defining yourself instead of letting others do it for you.
If you’ve ever felt the need to shrink yourself to fit in or been made to feel “other,” A’ja’s wisdom will inspire you to embrace all that makes you beautifully unique.
As we close out our For the Love of Facing Your Fears series, we’re diving headfirst into a topic that we will all face at one point in our lives (hopefully later than sooner); our very own expiration dates. It’s one of humanity’s most universal yet daunting fears, and we’ve got a compassionate and experienced guide to walk us through the kinds of things we might wonder about, and the beautiful unexpected moments that can accompany our final days. Hadley Vlahos is a hospice nurse whose life experiences and work have provided her with profound insights into the final chapter of our lives. Hadley opens up about her personal journey through struggles and grief, her entry into nursing as a calling, and her perspectives on the beauty that can be found even in our final moments. Her book, “The In-Between: Unforgettable Encounters During Life’s Final Moments,” encapsulates powerful stories from the bedside of the dying, some of which she shares with us, including the tranquility of the in-between and the serendipitous moments bringing peace to those passing. With over 1.4 million followers captivated by her TikTok narratives, Hadley’s perspective takes the edge off the many worries we may have about the end-of-life process. Join us for a truly poignant exchange that affirms life’s beauty—and its beautiful conclusion.
As we continue our series on facing our fears, we introduce a fear that many of us may not talk about comfortably, but in reality, we are all facing; the fact that we are aging. In case this is something that moves you into a state of deep denial, or perhaps you are employing a world of efforts (including for profit products and practices) to stave off the inevitable progression, or even if you are just taking it all in stride, we all are subject to what the world at large has to say about it and—mostly–it’s not positive. A pervasive ageist attitude infiltrates the media we consume, our own friend groups, and even what we tell ourselves consciously and subconsciously about aging. We come by it naturally, though–with deeply ingrained stereotypes and discriminatory practices that extend everywhere from the workplace to the bedroom. Our guest this week shares how she went from being an apprehensive boomer to becoming a pro-aging radical as she dismantles myths and debunks the portrayal of older people as societal burdens; with years of research under her belt, she dreams of an aging-friendly world. Ashton Applewhite is the author of “This Chair Rocks–A Manifesto Against Ageism,” and she makes it her life’s work to expose ageist behavior, and educate us all as to how we can stop giving aging a bad rap. Jen and Ashton take an eye-opening look at ageism as a form of bias as unacceptable as any other, and give us actionable steps to ignite “age pride,” keeping in mind that aging is an integral part of our life journey, not a condition to be cured or concealed. If you’re fretfully staring down the next decade of life with fear and denial, consider the possibility that being stressed about aging actually can cause the very things we fear about aging. Ashton sums it up like this; “If you learn about aging, you will be less afraid. That knowledge and information is going to confer all kinds of protection about aging as well as you possibly can.”
We all have things that scare us. And it’s not because we’re doing life wrong; fear, in and of itself, is a normal emotion. So then what do we do with it? That’s really what this series, For the Love of Facing Your Fears, is all about. Today’s guest will be walking us through some strategies on facing our fears in a healthy way by showing us what habits mentally strong people employ in their lives. Amy Morin is a renowned psychotherapist, a bestselling author and she’s devoted her whole career to the exploration of what it means to be mentally strong. Her TEDx talk, “The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong” has been lauded as one of the most impactful TEDx videos to date. Amy’s personal journey of loss juxtaposes with Jen’s recent experience of starting over again after 26 years of marriage–and they both discuss how fear played into their lives during these periods of grief and loss. Amy gives actionable, easy to employ behaviors that can set us on the course toward conquering our fears–no matter how debilitating.
Isn’t it fun to be part of the in-crowd? Where you can connect with people who are of like minds and spirits, where everyone seems to be headed in the same direction? But what if you start having nagging questions as an insider that don’t seem to get resolved, and even worse, are met with disdain or fear from other members of your group? This can be a scary place for so many of us. For the purposes of our conversation today–we’re talking about when it happens in religious spaces. For years, singer/songwriter Derek Webb was very much on the “inside” of what was happening in Christendom as a top selling, award winning Christian artist, songwriter and worship leader. It took a few disruptions to his own life that sent him down the road to evaluating his faith, his beliefs and how he wanted to move forward with the new information he’d gained. Now, decidedly an “outsider” who tries to still take up space in the Christian zeitgeist to potentially model a different way of living, Derek has gone on to record solo albums and also work with artists that aren’t typical to Christian music–like drag queen Flamy Grant—with whom, incidentally, he attended the Gospel Music Dove Awards in 2023 (and who also had a number one Christian song pop up on the charts), with the intention of making people who are Christian and LGBTQ+IA feel less alone. In this episode, Jen and Derek compare their journeys as “peaceful disruptors,” what it cost them and what they gained in the process.
Do you ever feel like you don’t have all the answers and information you need around your very own body? Are there beliefs or “facts” you might have learned that maybe aren’t actually centered around truth or science? Perhaps you’ve entered various seasons of your life as a female (menstruation, fertility, childbirth, hormone fluctuation, perimenopause, menopause) where you’ve felt like your concerns were dismissed or you weren’t given the tools, knowledge or treatment to help you navigate these season as well as you’d like. Whether you avidly seek knowledge about your body, or you’re bumping up against walls in what has been, historically, a lopsided research culture where male health has been more highly prioritized, we’ve got a guest today who is determined to correct that inequity with scientific and experiential information, research and active destigmatization. Dr. Jen Gunter is an obstetrician gynecologist and a bestselling author (The Vagina Bible, The Menopause Manifesto) who has made it her goal in life to “fix the internet” regarding information about women’s bodies and correcting the misinformation that runs rampant there; long held myths that cause fear, stress and even shame around our female physiology. Dr. Gunter debunks common misconceptions around our periods, our hymens (fyi, it’s not a “freshness” seal), synthetic hormones, menopause symptoms and more. Bottom line: you deserve to know about your body, and this conversation opens the door to finding true and accurate information that will help dismiss the fears you may have around all the seasons of your female health experience.
How often do you stop and think about how well your sense of smell is working? Or how well you’re hearing? When was the last time you really thought about your vision and how it’s impacting the way you interact with the world? We’re grateful today for a friend of the show who’s returning to remind us that when we tune into our body and senses, we can start to shape our sensory world to best fit who we are. And when we are comfortable in that world, peace is more easily attained. Gretchen Rubin has been studying happiness and human nature for over a decade. Her book The Happiness Project spent more than two years on the New York Times bestseller list, and she’s been featured in numerous media outlets, including The New York Times, Oprah’s SuperSoul Sunday, and Good Morning America. Her latest book, Life in Five Senses, is a thought-provoking exploration of how we experience the world around us through sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.
Wrapping up another amazing and somewhat wild year here on the For the Love Podcast. For this special episode, Jen is flying solo to share her thoughts on what 2023 meant to her, what pinnacles were met, what didn’t go so well, and the many things add to the gratefulness list. From celebrating long time friendships and new friendships, to milestones with her kids, to being in a relationship as a “girlfriend,” to going through perimenopause and becoming gluten free, Jen recounts the blessings and the challenges 2023 brought to the table. And she gives us a peek into the process of writing for her brand new book that you won’t want to miss. For those of you who are struggling to find things to be grateful about over the last year, we’re here for you too. If you’re sludging through the remainder of the year, digging out of it a spoonful of dirt at a time, we’re here to remind you to keep going. Everything you’re doing, every teeny little moment holds within it grace or hope or strength or outright joy, and every single moment matters. And you, our listener, matter to us. On our gratitude lists, you are at the top–and we look forward to more good, hard, and worthwhile stories to share with you. Thank you for making this show a vibrant hub and a soft place to land for us all.
In our ongoing pursuit of peace at the end of the year, Jen sits down with Father James Martin, one of America’s most beloved spiritual leaders and a New York Times bestselling author. Known for his thought-provoking books “The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything” and “Learning to Pray,” Jen and Father Martin talk about the premises in Father Martin’s new book “Come Forth, the Promise of Jesus’s Greatest Miracle,” which tells the iconic story of the raising of biblical Lazarus from the dead in a way we guarantee you’ve never heard before. If you’ve been in therapy for any time at all, you might have been advised to let go of things that don’t serve you, and lo and behold, this ancient story of Jesus calling Lazarus from the tomb has wisdom and inspiration for today, and promises to leave you pondering on what you might leave behind in your own tomb for a new life.
In our ongoing pursuit of peace during the holidays, we’re tackling something this week that we might forget others are facing during the holidays (or perhaps we are trying to trudge through ourselves); grief. Everyone’s grief journey is unique, but during a season where “joy” is being pushed 24/7, our grief can feel like it’s 10 times its normal size as we struggle to “show up” in the ways we usually do during the holidays. Our guests this week are here to remind us of several important things, including; it’s okay to grieve during the holidays, and it’s perfectly okay to take it slow, to pause, to rest. There’s no “right” way to grieve.
And that’s why we’re grateful to have some return visitors to the show, the hosts of the Good Mourning Podcast – Sal and Im. Sally Douglas and Imogen Carn met in 2019 after their mothers suddenly passed away just months apart. Because of their shared grief experience, they met in a grief group and decided to launch a podcast together. They know that grief is intense. It hits you physically, emotionally, spiritually. And even during the holidays, during what should be happy moments. The community they’ve created around the topic of grieving brings people together during what can be a really lonely time and reminds them, they’re not alone. There are others out there who know exactly what you’re going through. And it’s okay to reach out, to seek help, and to take care of your mental health.
Sal and Im give us coping tools, show us how to establish boundaries when we’re grieving and also remind us; the pain does lessen over time. This is your journey, and you get to decide the pace. It’s not a race. It’s a process. So, take it one day at a time. You’re doing just fine.
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If you’re not sure where to begin, I got you, friend. I’m always bringing you something new to enjoy.