Five Podcasts I Can’t Live Without

PodCasts I Can't Live Without

In the past few months, I’ve been listening to podcasts on my commute and I am hooked! I have no doubt I am the last person on Earth to become aware of the wonders of podcasts, but just in case anyone out there is still listening to the radio, I thought I’d take a minute to share some of my favorites.

On any given weekday, I can be found listening to…

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The Sporkful. They had me at the tagline – “It’s not for foodies, it’s for eaters.” (Foodie, if you recall, is on my list of words that should be abolished from the English language.)

Summary: The Sporkful isn’t for foodies, it’s for eaters. Each week Dan and his guests explore the huge, fun world of food and eating that’s beyond the realm of recipes, chefs, and restaurants. Episodes range from a parody of the hit podcast Serial in which Dan investigates a series of office fridge food thefts to a feature on Asian-Americans in the food world who are defying stereotypes to a debate over the definition of a sandwich to a comedian’s struggle with his autistic son’s eating issues. The Sporkful began as a dream so delicious and vivid that when Dan woke, his pillow was covered in drool. But it’s not just one man’s vision. It’s a gathering place for Eaters from across the globe. So take part and together we will all learn to eat more better!

Episodes I recommend: Jim Gaffigan Lies To His Kids About Food, The REAL Sausage King of Chicago (Live in Chicago Pt. 1)

logest shortest time
The Longest Shortest Time
This is the best parenting podcast I’ve come across. It’s not about parenting tips, really, but it’s stories of people who are in the trenches of parenting. The name pretty much sums up how I feel about this stage of my life, too.

Summary: Hillary Frank created the Longest Shortest Time as a bedside companion for parents who want to hear in the middle of the night (or day—what’s the difference, really?) that they are not alone. And that as never-ending as any parenting stages seem, they don’t last forever.

Episodes I recommend: The Accidental Gay Parents, Sixty-Five Women and a Baby.

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Death, Sex & Money As you might have ascertained by reading the title, this podcast gets real. I’m continually impressed by the host, Anna Sale, who never seems to hesitate to ask the hard questions, but she does so in such a compassionate and interested way. Some of the episodes carry the “explicit” warning, just FYI.

Summary: A podcast about the big questions and hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation. Host Anna Sale talks to celebrities and regular people about relationships, money, family, work and making it all count while we’re here.

Episodes I recommend: In Sickness and in Mental Health, Confessions of a Nashville Power Couple. And pretty much all the rest of them, too.

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This American Life They brought us Serial, what more do you want? But there is so much more. I pretty much think this should be required listening for everyone who is alive.

Summary: There’s a theme to each episode of This American Life, and a variety of stories on that theme. It’s mostly true stories of everyday people, though not always.

Episodes I recommend: Too Soon? Okay so I must jump in here with a “WTF” moment of the day. This episode mentions OJ Simpson. But before delving into that part of the story, they had to start with a brief recap of OJ’s fame, the white Bronco and the trial. Because there are people listening to NPR who are not old enough to remember OJ’s trial. Let that sink in for a moment. I’ll wait. And I’ll also tell you that what follows that brief description is even more WTF-ier than that. So go listen. And after that, try this one – The Problem We All Live With.

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WDW Prep School Now, y’all know that I love me some Disney, and that I am super type-A in my trip planning. But let me tell you – there are 101 podcasts about Disney World, and this is the only one I like. I can’t take the others! The host, Shannon Albert, is always well-prepared and each episode is short, succinct and full of helpful information. It is not a bunch of people sitting around and talking about what they read about Disney on the interwebz this week. Skip the others; listen to this one. (And the same goes for her website as well.)

Summary: If you’re planning a trip to Disney World and want to know all of the tips and tricks to making it a great trip, you’re in the right place. If you want to go to Disney World and have no idea where to start, you’re also in the right place.

Episodes I recommend: My best Disney World planning advice, How to do Disney World with very little planning (although I don’t know why anyone would do that.)

There you have it! My favorite podcasts. What have you been listening to?

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What I Read on My Summer Vacation

What I Readon My SummerVacation

So “vacation” might not be the appropriate word for my summer, but during my surgery recovery I read a lot of books. At one point I had read something like 10 books in 12 days. It was glorious! You know, except for the gaping hole in my abdomen.

Anyway.

I’m always looking for book recommendations and I know many of you are too, so I wanted to share some that I’ve enjoyed in the past few months. Here we go, in no particular order:

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France–a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.
I loved, loved, loved this book. I did not want it to end. I’ve read about a zillion books on the second world war, but not many set in France, so I learned a lot, but beyond that, I was captivated by the story. Highly recommend!

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
A profoundly moving story of family, history, and the meaning of home, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, exploring the divisions between cultures and the rifts within a family, and uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.
I enjoyed this book, even though it was pretty sad. It made me consider the things our kids may never tell us, and what consequences that may have.

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
A deeply moving, gripping, and intelligent page-turner, Leaving Time is Jodi Picoult at the height of her powers. This book… it surprised me. I did not see that coming. I’ll leave it at that!

Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner
1940s, England. As Hitler wages an unprecedented war against London’s civilian population, hundreds of thousands of children are evacuated to foster homes in the rural countryside. But even as fifteen-year-old Emmy Downtree and her much younger sister Julia find refuge in a charming Cotswold cottage, Emmy’s burning ambition to return to the city and apprentice with a fashion designer pits her against Julia’s profound need for her sister’s presence. Acting at cross purposes just as the Luftwaffe rains down its terrible destruction, the sisters are cruelly separated, and their lives are transformed…
Again with the WWII novels! This one is set in England, which is another facet of the war I had not read much about. Evacuating children? Hard to even comprehend. Susan Meissner is new to me, but I will seek out her other books as well.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A powerful, tender story of race and identity by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun.
I will admit, the size of this book nearly scared me off. (Can you see me cringing with embarrassment right now?) It was an investment of time, to be sure, but it was well worth it. It offers a fascinating glimpse into life as an immigrant in America.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Sometimes, when you open the door to the past, what you confront is your destiny.
I had had this on my “to read” list for quite a while but had not gotten around to reading it. A good friend dropped it off at my house a few days into my recovery, and I am so glad she did! This is another one that I didn’t want to end. I loved it!

The Family Man by Elinor Lipman
A hysterical phone call from Henry Archer’s ex-wife and a familiar face in a photograph upend his well-ordered life and bring him back into contact with the child he adored, a short-term stepdaughter from a misbegotten marriage long ago.
I ran across Elinor Lipman’s name on a list of well-written, smart “chick lit,” and now I want to read everything she ever wrote. This book was a funny, easy read, and I found myself quite invested in the characters. It’s a compelling story.

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
Two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize David McCullough tells the dramatic story-behind-the-story about the courageous brothers who taught the world how to fly: Wilbur and Orville Wright.
Jenny brought this book to me when I was in the hospital, and even though I had to read each page about three times because I kept falling asleep (yay for pain meds!), I loved it. I had never given much thought to just how amazing their accomplishments were until I read this book; it is astonishing. And to think it all happened in our backyard! Crazy. Most importantly, David McCullough answers the age old question of exactly which state gets to claim “First in Flight.” Spoiler alert: It’s not North Carolina.

That’s a wrap for today! Tell me, though – what book should be next on my list?

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And then yoga made me cry.

Just when I think I’m starting to get a handle on this whole menopause thing, something ridiculous happens to prove me wrong.

Yesterday I went to my first post-surgery yoga class. Up until now, I’ve been making a point to stay active, making sure I’m hitting my goal on my activity tracker each day, but I hadn’t really done anything except walk and play catch with Baseball Sammy. I thought I would ease my way back into it with yoga – something I love and had been fairly accustomed to at one point.

But as soon as I hit the mat, I could tell things weren’t the same. Nothing hurt per se, but everything was just different. As strange as it sounds, I couldn’t inhale the way I used to. I couldn’t get my lower abdomen to expand enough to take a deep yoga breath.

That’s when I started crying.

Even though evidence from the past two months points to the contrary, I am not a crier! That is Jenny’s role in our relationship, and as you know we try maintain our status as polar opposites.

But I sure was one yesterday. I think it was a combination of the realization that my body has actually been through a pretty significant alteration recently and processing some of the emotion I hadn’t really brought to the surface until I was in the quiet, intentional space that is yoga class.

It was so frustrating to me that my body wouldn’t do what I wanted it to do. I eventually sorted out, though, how lucky I am that my situation is temporary. I have no reason to believe that it won’t improve with time and practice, and plenty of people don’t have that light at the end of the tunnel.

If nothing else, this entire surgery/recovery experience has been a lesson in compassion and gratefulness that I desperately needed, and that’s something I want to make sure I don’t lose sight of as regular life resumes.

In the meantime, I am just glad people keep their eyes closed in yoga class, so only the teacher will think I’m crazy!

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