A’ja Wilson on How Authenticity Is Your Superpower

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.

 

Ashton Applewhite Unravels Harmful Attitudes Toward Aging

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.”

 

The Vagina Bible: Debunking Myths and Misinformation Around The Female Body Ft. Dr. Jen Gunter

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.  

 

For the Love of Funny: Finding The Funny In Our Wins and Losses with R. Eric Thomas

We’re back with more of our For the Love of Funny series, and this week we’re asking the question; is it possible to find humor not only in our lighter moments, but also in our vulnerable and difficult times? Our guest this week specializes in wit through the written word–and he has found that it is possible to find joy, while being heartfelt and hilarious at the same time. We’re welcoming R. Eric Thomas, back to the show! Whether he’s writing about politics, pop culture, or celebrity craziness–Eric has a refreshing and hilarious perspective–which really helps when regular reporting on politics and news might send us spiraling into the darkness. Eric is also a television writer (Dickinson on AppleTV+, Better Things on FX), a playwright, and a bestselling author of several books, including Here For It: Or How To Save Your Soul in America and his newest work, a collection of hilarious essays called Congratulations The Best Is Over. Eric brings that laugh we need when the world seems bonkers, and helps remind us that we can find something to laugh at in almost every situation–we just have to be open to it. 

 

Yelled at By A Clown: How Nate Bargatze Found His Funny

We’re looking for laughs and we found them in all the right places, and we’re sharing the hilarity with a brand new series called For the Love Of Funny.  If you’ve hung out with us for any amount of time, you know that Jen is an avid devotee of all things funny. So we’ve rounded up some of her favorite funny people to not only bring us laughs, but to unpack the art and science of making people laugh. And for our very first episode, we couldn’t be more delighted to welcome “The Tennessee Kid” himself–Nate Bargatze! Nate’s known for his down-to-earth humor and deadpan comedy delivery, his highly viewed Netflix specials, and his favored status as a frequent guest on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon: (10+ times!). Surprise guest interviewer Tyler Merritt joins Jen as they pull back the curtain on Nate’s comedy journey.  Often referred to as the “nicest man in standup,” Nate talks about growing up in a performance forward home (his dad was a Christian magician), the origins of some of his funniest jokes (Yelled at By a Clown, anyone?) and the side of fame that isn’t so pretty–like his sister’s incredulity that anyone would want to take a selfie with him. 

 

Demystifying Therapy with Lori Gottlieb

If you or anyone you know and love has ever had issues with their mental health, you know how painful it can be. As we conclude our “For the Love of Being Seen and Heard” series, we just want to remind you that there’s no shame in admitting that you might need a little help. Maybe you’re feeling low, or more anxious than usual, or sad, scared, or just off—anything that feels different or keeps you from flourishing. Our guest today is here to encourage you to take agency over your mental health, and as a therapist herself, she’s here to help us shed those stigmas around seeking help from a therapist or counselor. Lori Gottlieb is a renowned psychotherapist, a bestselling author, and a leading voice in the mental health space. Her latest book Maybe You Should Talk To Someone leads us into her own experiences with the transformative power of therapy and gives answers to those who might have hesitations about beginning this process. Lori and Jen talk about: 

  • Identifying the stereotypes about therapy and debunking them, plus what to expect so that you can a get the most out of your time with a therapist
  • Developing an attitude that mental health is just as important as physical help and that seeking a therapist is on the same level as getting a check up with a medical doctor toward whole body health
  • Jen’s personal experiences with therapy – and how she processed pain and betrayal, plus what it looks like to be in active recovery
  • Becoming aware of and taking responsibility for our own patterns, actions and responses to life events as it pertains to our mental state and interactions with others

As Lori says, “one thing that therapy will teach you is how to be your real, messy, imperfect, fallible self, but also still love who you are.”

Seeing and Loving Your Body (and Yourself) With No Shame: Jessamyn Stanley

We’re back with maybe the most foundational episode in our Being Seen and Heard series–and it’s all about how we see ourselves. Were you taught how to love yourself when you were growing up? Many of us never grew up hearing anything about embodiment, and maybe we’ve treated our bodies as “the enemy” for most of our years. Maybe you grew up in a time where you didn’t see people that looked like you, or had your body type represented in magazines, on TV or in movies. Perhaps you even had shame about your body (or still do), and you bought into diet culture and were constantly worried about your size and the number on the scale. It’s hard to see ourselves as beautiful when we’re looking outside ourselves for what that standard of beauty is. Our guest today is doing the good work of helping people see themselves differently, and it’s giving them freedom to love themselves for who they are today. Jessamyn Stanley has become a powerful voice for wellness and body acceptance (she also dubs herself the “Beyonce’ of yoga” – I mean who can’t get behind that?). After attending yoga classes with a friend, Jessamyn fell in love with it, but she noticed that she didn’t see anyone who looked like her or had a body like hers–and when she moved to a different city and wasn’t attending yoga classes anymore—she craved a community to share her practice–except she wanted all kinds of people and body types to be a part of it. She began sharing her yoga practice on Instagram back in 2012 and was amazed by the overwhelming response from many who had never done yoga before because they had felt just like Jessamyn had–that maybe it wasn’t for “people like them.” Her fledgling Insta-yoga classes grew into an organization called The Underbelly, a unique and inclusive digital wellness experience that now draws thousands of people into its safe and accepting space.

Jen and Jessamyn touch on these topics:

• Jessamyn’s experience with being ashamed of her body as a middle schooler and also being bullied for being different, and how she looks at those years of bullying as a revelation that everyone is self conscious about their bodies–bullies included

• The realization we all have at the end of the day; all we have is ourselves–and if we can accept ourselves as we are right now–not who we thought we should be, or who we might be–we’ll enjoy the ability to be fully present and authentic in all of our encounters

• Debunking the long held notion that many people have about black women (and also that black women have been taught to believe)–that they are “stronger” and “superwomen,” and what it means to allow themselves moments of rest and self-care

• Key changes that could be made to empower everyone to have their own agency toward self care, by making it possible for anyone–no matter how much money you make, or where you live–to participate in wellness practices like yoga

If we can face the truth about ourselves, and not turn away from the fullness of who we are–including the ugly and complex things, we can begin a journey to a shame-free life that will change the fabric of who we are and what we bring to the world.

 

Facing the Challenges of the Sandwich Generation with Jenny Hutt

Are you smack dab in the middle of the Sandwich Years? That precarious time where you’re squeezed between the demands of caring for aging parents and still supporting children? We’re here for you, and we’ve got a friend to the show who is living it out in real time, sharing how she’s getting through it all. Jenny Hutt was the host of the Just Jenny Show on Sirius XM and is now hosting her own daily podcast–all while dealing with the long-term care of her father (and his recent death) and the launching of her adult children out into the world. Jenny and Jen discuss unique issues relevant to the Sandwich Generation:

  • Learning to re-calibrate your role as a parent in the lives of your newly “launched into the world” kids
  • Dealing with unresolved parent/child issues that sometimes arise with the death of a parent
  • Recognizing generational anxiety and equipping ourselves and our children with the tools to handle it
  • The importance of relying on a strong network of family and friends to draw from during this time (not being afraid to ask for help). 
  • Having the hard conversations with your parents about being prepared for their passing (and also making sure you’re taking care of that for your children too)

So whether you’re managing being part of the sandwich generation right now, or you’re mentally preparing yourself for it, or you know someone who is facing it head on, there’s something for all of us to take away from this candid and vulnerable convo with Jen and Jenny.

Conscious Parenting Toward a Better Future For Us All with Dr. Shefali Tsabary

In this episode of our For the Love of the Middle series, renowned clinical psychologist Dr. Shefali returns to the show to discuss her concept of conscious parenting. Those of us in the middle of life who may still be parenting kids at home, or adjusting to parenting adult children who have just launched out into the world–or in any season of the parenting journey, really–will find much to learn as we look back (and forward) at our parenting patterns. Dr. Shefali provides a step-by-step roadmap to help free parents and their children from toxic patterns and expectations, while building a lasting meaningful bond with them. Using her book as a guide, she will introduce us to the five patterns of ego, show us some varying parenting styles (including helping Jen unpack her own parenting style), develop a mindful focus on self-control, and tips on how we can encourage our adult children to parent themselves. Jen and the good doctor will hit some big topics that will inform not only parents, but those of us who wish to discover how we were parented, and how it impacts us now; including: 

  • Walking through the definition of conscious parenting and the three stages of the parenting map
  • Debunking the notion that as parents we are supposed to create happy, perfect superhumans by following traditional parenting rules
  • Dismissing the notion that there are good kids and bad kids—and how to avoid using these labels  
  • Revealing the five ego patterns parents that parents might not even realize inform their quest to raise amazing children
  • The three reasons why children act out or misbehave and how you can learn not to shame them for it
  • The results of over-parenting and how it shows up in your adult children

It’s never too late to become a mindful parent and set an intention to allow your children to become centerstage in their own lives.

Not A Burden: Michelle Boyaner on Showing Up for Aging Parents

Continuing in our For the Love of the Middle series, we’re having a conversation about something that may impact us as we hit those middle years (or sooner)–caring for our aging parents. With us to be our guide through this sometimes difficult journey is Michelle Boyaner, the director of the documentary film “It’s Not a Burden: The Humor and Heartache of Raising Elderly Parents.” As a storyteller, Michelle felt compelled to talk about this particular stage of life, and decided to film her own journey through it with her mother to help others embrace this unique time in a family’s evolution. Jen and Michelle explore the highs and the lows of caregiving for aging parents and how to stay sane and open hearted during the process. 

Michelle Boyaner is an award-winning filmmaker, writer, and educator who founded production company Greenie Films with her wife, Barbara Greene. Together they have written, directed and produced a variety of short and feature films that tell stories of caring for aging parents, living with HIV and the challenges of mental illness–all told with their signature humor and deep capacity for compassion. 

Join Jen and Michelle as they discuss: 

  • How to know when it’s time to step in with your aging parents
  • Honoring and managing your parents feelings of not wanting to be a burden
  • Finding humor in the challenging moments 
  • Why caregivers feel so lonely, even when there are so many in the U.S. 
  • Moving from anger and frustration with difficult parental relationships to forgiveness 

We hope you’ll feel less alone on your caregiving journey as Michelle provides practical advice and encouragement as well as some tough love for those in the middle of this common but not often discussed major life experience.