Breaking Free From Patriarchal Rule: Cait West’s Escape from Spiritual Abuse

Welcome to the For The Love of The Matriarchy series where we’ll explore all the different aspects of women working to embrace agency and celebrating their worth. As we celebrate the power of women and their accomplishments, we’ll also look at the challenges women have faced in a patriarchal society (and still face) and what that means for their bodies and autonomy. 

Cait West is an author who grew up in an extreme patriarchal Christian community. She was taught from a young age that her sole purpose was to become a submissive wife and mother. This pervasive sense of having no agency or control over her own life, combined with the constant messaging that she was inherently sinful and unworthy, took a profound toll on Cait’s mental health, causing severe anxiety and depression from a very young age. Jen and Cait delve into how families can fall into toxic belief systems, and what recovery can look like.

Jen and Cait discuss:

  • The impact of being raised in a fundamentalist, patriarchal environment that severely restricts a woman’s autonomy, education, and life choices.
  • The healing power of finding community, sharing one’s story, and reclaiming agency after experiencing spiritual abuse and trauma.
  • The difficult but important choice of breaking free from oppressive systems, even when it means severing ties with your own family

If you’ve ever been a part of a toxic belief system, or felt the oppression of not having agency over your own life, Cait’s story will be a balm toward healing those wounds.

Kobe Campbell on Gently Excavating Our Trauma

We’re finishing up our For the Love of Wonderful You series intentionally with a deep breath and a gentle word of encouragement. In this episode, even though we are talking about trauma, critical inner voices, and the arduous process of grief, Jen and her guest unwind these topics in the most gentle and loving way. 

Kobe Campbell is an award-winning therapist who specializes in helping people process grief and trauma in a way that unearths true empowerment. Hidden beneath the clamor of everyday life, the voices of our inner critic lie in wait to echo our grief. These voices, though silent to others, can roar deafeningly within us — shaping our perceptions, beliefs, and actions. Kobe’s suggestions of journal “prompts” help guide our own trauma excavation process, and her gentle but challenging questions further that sometimes painful work, while steering us toward self compassion. 

Jen and Kobe touch on: 

  • The understanding that grief can take a lot of time to process; which can ultimately lead to wisdom and true empowerment
  • A working definition of trauma and that trauma is highly personal and contextual
  • How we can feel brave enough to examine the inner critical voice and discern where it’s coming from
  • Acknowledging the cultural pressure to live at an unsustainable pace that doesn’t allow space or time to heal

If you ever needed permission to grieve or drop the unrelenting pace of your life, then this is the invitation.

 

Celeste Barber on the Beauty of Being Totally Unfiltered

We’ve got someone on the show this week who makes it her business to show us exactly how wonderful we as women are–just as we are! She is the queen of keeping it real, a hilariously honest actress, standup comedian, and the Instagram star who has become our go-to for a belly laugh when the world’s expectations just seem a tad too polished–it’s Celeste Barber!

If you haven’t seen Celeste on her Instagram account, get on over there and join the nearly 10 million people who are clamoring for her content each week (and if you have any doubt, she won the “Funniest Lady on Instagram Award” back in 2017). She’s also a successful standup comedian who sold out three seasons of her “Challenge Accepted” Tour in the US, and has a Netflix Special (“Fine, Thanks”) and a dramatic comedy series that we just love called “Wellmania.”  

Jen and Celeste get into it about: 

  • The riotous juggle Celeste manages by shining a light on the quirks of the beauty industry, all while paving her own extraordinary path. 
  • Celeste opens up about the nuanced battles of being valued for her sharp mind and quicker wit in a scene often unforgiving to women.
  • Celeste and Jen share about the beautiful chaos of balancing a career with being a superhero mom (or at least trying to be). 

This episode is more than just laughs (though, swear, you’ll have plenty); it’s a pat on the back for every one of us out here, doing the thing, being utterly magnificent in our complexity. Here’s to celebrating the splendid and wonderful you!

 

Amanda Doyle Stops Keeping Score And Stays In The Moment

It’s the start of a new series, For The Love of Wonderful You! Spring is arriving and as the winter slumber fades away, many of us are likely plunging into a frantic pace of commitments and To Do lists. But we want to take a minute (or approximately 45-mins to an hour) to create a moment where we can punch the brakes a little. Let’s tell that inner taskmaster to relax; and instead, reflect on finding value in who we are in this moment, and how worthy we are just as we are

Jen’s amazing conversation partner today is Amanda Doyle. Amanda is many amazing things but you may know her first and foremost as “Sister” on the We Can Do Hard Things Podcast with Glennon Doyle and Abby Wambach. She’s also part of the leadership team at Together Rising, the amazing non-profit that has raised over $50 million dollars and given it away to people all over the world who need it most. Amanda has been a longtime social justice advocate and she uses that knowledge to break down deep truths and complex social issues in all her conversations. Today, she reminds us that spending the energy to stay vulnerable in our relationships will always pay out.

 In this episode Jen and Amanda talk about:

  • The struggle to be vulnerable and truly open up versus managing perceptions and staying in control in relationships
  • How Amanda chose sobriety and the surprising clarity that emerged in her marriage, especially during the pandemic
  • Jen’s journey to understanding herself and her avoidant tendencies in the aftermath of her divorce
  • The profound impact of the “love letter” exercise guided by Liz Gilbert, where “Love’s voice” urged Amanda to stop keeping score in life

Sparking Change In America: Joy Reid Calls Out Injustice Everywhere

We’re wrapping up our series featuring Black Trailblazers, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have another guest who has broken barriers and basically created their own space as part of the national conversation, becoming the first black woman to anchor a cable primetime show. You may know her from her seat as a political analyst on MSNBC, or as the host of her own show, The ReidOut.  It’s the amazing Joy Reid, everyone! Joy is a Harvard grad with a degree in visual and environmental studies and a concentration in documentary film. She also worked on the Florida branch of the Obama campaign. Her political writing prowess has landed her columns and articles everywhere; The New York Times, The New Republic, The Guardian, The Daily Beast, and The New Yorker, to name a few. PLUS she has a new book coming out that she gives us a special peek into; it’s the important and moving story of slain Civil rights pioneer Medgar Evers and his wife Myrlie, also an activist. It’s not every day we get to talk to someone who brings the goods about so many profound topics—civil rights, the fight for reproductive rights, immigration issues, the sacrifice for equality—and she and Jen shy away from none of them here. Joy’s passion for calling out injustice and her unwavering belief that we all hold the keys to preserving our rights and our freedoms gives us a reason to believe that we all can be trailblazers toward sparking change in our world.

 

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.

 

A Glimpse Into the End of Life with Hospice Nurse Hadley Vlahos

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.

 

Dr. Rick Hanson on Confrontation as a Path to Well-Being

We’ve got another empowering episode in our Facing Your Fears series, and boy, do we have a fear that hits close to home for a lot of us – confronting those tough conversations we’d rather dance around than dive into. If the thought of confrontation has you squirming in your seat, you’re in good company. But what if we flipped the script and viewed these moments of truth-telling as acts of honor, steps towards healing and improvement?

Jen invites the insightful Dr. Rick Hanson, celebrated psychologist, acclaimed author, and speaker extraordinaire, to dissect our dread of difficult chats. Dr. Hanson is on a mission to transform confrontation into a finely honed skill that fosters lasting well-being and better relationships. His wisdom will not only challenge your perceptions but provide you with the practical tools to embrace these crucial conversations with confidence.

Don’t miss out on this transformative discussion that could redefine how you approach confrontation, making your connections healthier, and you, happier.

 

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.”

 

Tapping into Mental Strength to Overcome Fear ft. Amy Morin

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.