I, like a lot of you, have been obsessed with Missing Richard Simmons. If you are unfamiliar, it’s a 6-episode podcast that goes deep into Mr. Simmons’ absence from public life since 2014. And the story is extremely compelling, but it also left me with some guilt for buying into the whole frenzy surrounding his disappearance, especially after reading this NPR article (which, warning, many spoilers there so if you do want to give the podcast a go you might want to avoid until later).
At any rate, the recent buzz had me once again opening the Podcast app on my phone in search of additional sources, content, entertainment. Years ago, I was a Podcast-super user. It was when I was doing much more distance running. So many of my long runs while marathon training were spent with hours of This American Life, Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me and Sound Opinions. On the REALLY long runs, I’d listen to all three back-to-back and still have time to fill.
But as my runs got shorter and life got busier, I haven’t listened to that many aside from the craze that was Serial a few years back.
The thing is, I listen to a lot of radio. A LOT. I listen to MPR in the mornings while I get ready for work, I listen to it on my commute both ways, I listen at home in the evenings while fiddling around the house and on the rare occasion that I might fix dinner.
Sometimes I switch over to The Current for music, but that’s usually a weekend thing. MPR, NPR, All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Marketplace — these are an embedded part of my listening habits and something I’m grateful for with the quality of journalism and robust coverage offered.
I’ve just found recently, since the election, this all gets to be a little much. It’s weird to be saying this about a 20-year habit, but our current political situation and the state of news has me worn out, tired, depressed. It’s affected my mood, energy level and optimism. It probably doesn’t help that I’ve also spent the same past three months recovering from a neck and knee injury that’s prevented me from running so that release valve also hasn’t been available.
So, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about habits. I’ve been shifting behaviors. I’ve been re-evaluating how I move, eat, spend my free time. I’ve been seeing a whole host of healers: chiropractor, acupuncturist, massage therapist specializing in myofascial release, personal trainer and counselors. And I’m not saying I’ve figured anything out, but this work and these appointments have brought me to a certain level of presence and acceptance.
And one of the things I’ve learned is for less stress and optimal healing, I need to disconnect. Less news, less social media, less obsessing about work. None of these things are easy for me (especially since the latter two actually pay my bills). But you can always do a little less. You don’t have to quit, give up, stop. You can just back-off.
So, that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been trying to read more again. I’ve been doing more yoga. I’m trying to get better about mediation. And I’ve been listening to Podcasts — which is the topic of this post that I’ve managed to stray from so let’s reel it in.
There are a few great things about Podcasts. First, there are so many! So many topics, storytellers, news outlets — all varied lengths and themes. Pretty much anything you are interested in, you can find a podcast about (or a couple dozen). Second, you can listen while doing mundane things — walking the dog, vacuuming, cooking — which I love because listening actually makes those mundane things not so mundane! Third, they can be developmental. Unlike so much of the TV that I watch, a lot of what I listen to through Podcasts is self-improvement, work-related or educational. I often feel smarter or more in-tune after investing the time (okay, maybe aside from the Richard Simmons one — that was just voyeuristic like a lot of the crap TV I see…)
It’s been a good old habit to discover again. And with that, I thought I’d share what has been in my queue.
(1) Tara Brach
Tara Brach is an American psychologist and proponent of Buddhist meditation. She is a guiding teacher and founder of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, D.C. I discovered her, ironically, by the recommendation of my chiropractor a few years ago while going through some deeply emotional issues that were taking root in the physical. In addition to the adjustments I needed, I was encouraged to meditate and Tara’s site was recommended for the variety of guided meditations she has available. After discovering that, I found she also had all these amazing talks that range from why and how to meditate in the first place to overcoming trauma and seeing the good in everyone. At the core, she always distills down to what innate needs and how we can simplify to focus on them while opening our hearts to others in an authentic and mindful way. Every talk of hers that I’ve listened to has left me with an better-adjusted lens to the world. I highly recommended digging into her talks, reflections and meditations.
In a COMPLETELY different realm, the eMarketer podcast just makes me feel smarter about work. I’m a digital marketer but it is often hard to keep up with technology, trends, news during the day to day. Finding resources like this podcast help me keep on top of this ever-changing world. The topics vary in length from 10-30 minutes, but it is always good stuff if digital marketing is your thing.
(3) Yoga Hacks
I discovered Brett Larkin’s yoga channel on a whim last year while googling “yoga while sick.” I’d had a cold that I couldn’t kick and I wanted some mild exercise and movement. I found Brett’s channel and the rest is history — her channel is now a steady, at-home pillar in my practice. Her YouTube channel has a ton of great workouts, meditations and tips. But what I love about the Podcast is that she goes deeper into the whys and covers Yoga and Meditation from a lifestyle perspective. She also brings on interesting authors and guests. This is a nice way to round out a yoga practice and make it not just physical.
This find is from a co-worker. I can’t remember how it came up over lunch, but I’m so glad it did because this podcast is lovely. Hosted by the author of The Happiness Project (full disclosure, I haven’t read it), this podcast features practical advice on maintaining healthy habits and how to be happier. But it’s also not too hokey and is a bit like listening to girlfriends talk about life lessons and everyday topics. It also provides moments of introspection which I really appreciate.
(5) How I Built This
Last but not least, this is ALSO a co-worker suggestion which I knew would be good because, hello, NPR! I love Guy Raz from Marketplace and here he interviews entrepreneurs and innovators about their big ideas. This podcast is a great balance to corporate life as a constant reminder to be always thinking differently and not to be satisfied with the status quo.
So, that’s my “right now” list. But I’m always on the lookout for new. In fact, if you happen to be reading and have a podcast you love, please tell me what it is in the comments. I’d love to know what is on your list.