10 favorite episodes of the Sorta Awesome podcast

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For 2.5 years I was a regular cohost on the popular girlfriend chat podcast Sorta Awesome. The show is created and hosted by my longtime dear friend (we’ve been close since I was a sophomore in high school) Meg Tietz and when she asked me to be one of the rotating cohosts, I couldn’t say YES fast enough, even though I had zero experience in audio or in cohosting anything. 

When Sorta Awesome launched in the spring of 2015, podcasts were just beginning to boom in a post-Serial world, but they weren’t quite to the point of explosion that they are right now. We got in at the right time, is what I’m saying. Pretty quickly Meg built up a loyal and enthusiastic community around the show, and it was trial by fire as we figured out how to make an hours worth of compelling listening each week. 

A year in, Meg and I started Smartest Person in the Room as a side project for all the topics and guests I wanted to cover that didn’t fit in the Sorta Awesome format. By the end of 2017, I realized I wanted to be writing more and juggling two podcasts was just too much. I stepped away from a regular role on Sorta Awesome, but still like to pop in from time to time when Meg will let me.

Sorta Awesome is a good mix of funny and thoughtful, and behind the mic I’ve said some supremely stupid stuff and started some conversations I remain really proud of. For posterity’s sake, I wanted to make a list of MY favorite episodes of the Sorta Awesome

Here they are, in order:

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The Truth About Anxiety, Episode 26

This episode marked the first time I’d ever spoken about my anxiety so publicly to a large audience. We were only 6 months into podcast creation, so when I listen back now there are some things I would have said and done a bit differently, but this is still the most topic Meg and I ever discussed together on the show. The opening 15 minutes is the infamous face-shaving segment, where I reveal without shame that I shave my face, at home, with a razor. 

10 Friends Every Woman Needs, Episode 54

Not long into making this show for (primarily) women, we realized that a lot of people have complicated feeling about adult female friendship. This manifests in a dozen ways: loneliness, friendship breakups, social media (and podcasts!) becoming a stand-in for real relationship, etc., etc. But finding and navigating friends was a topic we came back to again and again on Sorta Awesome. Meg and I recorded this episode in person when I was visiting Oklahoma, so it was an especially delightful experience. We each brought five types of friends to the table, and it was funny and true, and I still think about some of the things Meg said during this one. 

Unpopular Opinions, Episode 56

Groups shows were all three cohosts + Meg are together are my very favorites episodes to make and to listen to, and in this one we laugh so hard and for so long that Meg had to heavily edit out our guffaws. This episode can still make me laugh just thinking about it. 

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Grill It, Girls! Episode 58

Admittedly, this episode may be special only to me. A few years ago, I got really into grilling (I’m still pretty passionate about it), and it irks me to no end to see women be afraid of the outdoor grill or think that it’s a man’s territory. Men have perpetuated this fraud, because the secret is that grilling is SO MUCH EASIER than cooking or baking or any of the other ways people prepare food. Grilling is easy, quick, and tasty, and my goal of this episode was to convince women to fire up their grill. We have tips and recipes and just general encouragement to take back the grill!

How To Host an Awesome Party, Episode 18

Again, this was an early episode, and let’s just say that I got better with time. However, the tips still stand and I love talking about low-stress hostessing. 

The Truth About Anxiety Part II, Episode 101

This was an obvious revisitation of the first anxiety episode, but instead of explaining what our anxiety feels like, Meg and I talk about our various coping mechanisms and answer a few listener questions. 

Love, Marriage, and Natural Disasters, Episode 64

This is the type of episode that spawned the crux of this very blog: telling your girlfriends some of your deepest heart stuff. Meg and I share about our first loves and our marriages on this one, and it was both funny and nostalgic. 

S-Town Thoughts and Theories, Extra Awesome after Episode 96

This is not an evergreen episode and will be relevant to only a certain niche, but on this bonus show Meg and I discuss the amazing podcast series S-Town. We recorded this just days after the show had premiered and we’d both binged it immediately and had lots of emotions we needed to process about John B. McLemore. I’m putting it on this list even though it’s not the type of show people will go back and listen to (unless you’ve never listened to S-town, in which case stop what you’re doing right now and go download every episode), but because this is one particular type of episode that I love to listen to. Whenever I’m done with a great movie or book or podcast, listening to other people dissect it on a podcast is sometimes even better than talking it through with people in real life. 

We Don’t Know What We’re Doing, Episode 113

This show was the beginning of stepping away from Sorta Awesome, but neither Meg nor I knew it at the time. This was the most honest and most unscripted episode I made on Sorta Awesome. Meg and I were both feeling a little overwhelmed and lost in our work at the time, and we decided to record ourselves discussing what was and wasn’t working. Some listeners said later that when they heard that episode, they knew I would be stepping away from Sorta Awesome, and that Sorta Awesome would take a bit of a direction change, but they seemed to have an instinct for it before Meg and I did! I loved this truthful conversation with an old friend and collaborator. 

The Original Friendship Show, Episode 14

Fun fact, I got so emotional recording this show that I cried through a whole segment that Meg ultimately left on the cutting room floor. (And it wasn’t happy tears.) I was actually going through a friendship breakup at the time, which might not have been the most opportune moment to record an in-depth reflection on friendship. The parts that we did leave in covered our struggles and successes with adult friendship, including my early years of loneliness in Los Angeles that I’ve blogged about extensively. I keep sharing this story (and how I pulled myself out of it) because I keep encountering awesome, fun, life-giving women who are without much female friendship. 

 

 

Sorta Awesome is a great show that has offered hundreds of hours of entertaining and interesting listening in the last few years. I fully support what Meg, Kelly, and Rebekah are doing each Friday and within their communities. You can listen to Sorta Awesome in your favorite podcast app, follow them on facebook and instagram, and support their work here. 

 

We don't talk enough about anxiety after happiness.

We don't talk enough about anxiety after happiness.

The worst panic attack I’ve had in years came after one of the best nights of my life. It had been an evening of pure happiness, but not overly emotional. There were friends and laughter and drinks and good food. We had my favorite dessert, and a surprise musical experience. I looked around at my loving, creative family, and thoughtful, funny friends, and I was deeply grateful for being exactly right here, right now. Just a few hours later, after I’d fallen into bed pleasantly exhausted, I awoke in total panic. My heart was racing, I was sweating, and I felt absolutely terrified, like the house was a sinking ship and we were all slumbering through its destruction. 

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10 (thousand) words about choosing a personal planner

10 (thousand) words about choosing a personal planner

Every single year around this time I have a mild panic about how disorganized my life is and how all my systems are crap and how I JUST NEED TO PULL IT TOGETHER ALREADY. This coincidentally coincides with planner season. Oh, you thought as adults we structure our years based on the monthly calendar? Well some people (students, teachers, and moms) still revolve their schedules around the academic year. I am a mom, but I think my July stress really has more to do with omg-we’re-halfway-through-the-year-where-does-the-time-go-I-haven’t-met-a-single-goal-HELP type of thing. 

I asked on Instagram stories what paper planners people used and liked, and I got more responses and DMs than anything I’ve ever posted ever. People have BIG FEELINGS about planners. But although many people replied with their recommendations, just as many replied with their own planner angst. People have planner decision fatigue, people feel like they keep choosing the wrong planner, and on and on. Apparently I’m not the only who gets overwhelmed at this decision. 

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10 Favorite restaurants in Los Angeles

10 Favorite restaurants in Los Angeles

One thing about living in a city like Los Angeles, folks are always stopping through. Since I moved here nearly 17 years ago, friends, acquaintances, heck even strangers have reached out looking for recommendations on what to do, where to eat, and where to stay in L.A. Hotel recommendations are always the hardest because, um, I live here. So while I can give a thumbs up to general areas in the city, I rarely know much about the inside of local hotel rooms. 

Food, however, food is a different story. In the last few years, LA has become quite the foodie scene (after a history of coming in behind cities like New York and Chicago on this front) and I have a running list of places old and new that I’m dying to try. In my 20s I couldn’t afford the great restaurants (and there were far fewer) and then I lost a good five years of the baby stage when Jeff and I were simply too tired to make much restaurant effort. 

Also, my tastes have changed dramatically in the last five years. Without going off on total tangent, suffice it to say that I’ve had lifelong food anxieties (texture issues and such) that have waned quite a bit through my husband’s gentle prodding. I’m still not an adventurous eater, but I (sometimes) venture off the kids menu. 

I often share new places we're trying on Instagram, using the #10TTTY or #10TTTYfood hashtags.

This is the type of list that fluctuates, of course, but right now here are my favorite restaurants in Los Angeles:

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Thoughts on a 6+ week social media break

Thoughts on a 6+ week social media break

An extended social media fast had been brewing with me for a long time. Facebook has been a thorn in my emotional side since the 2016 election, honestly, but it has been hard to cut the cord because the platform is the only way I communicate in certain personal and professional relationships. Twitter hasn’t ever been a problem for me, it isn’t even a time suck. I check twitter every single day, it’s my favorite source for news and opinions, but I rarely use it on my phone, nor does it make me emotional in any way. 

Instagram has long been my social media app of choice, but more and more I found myself losing (literally) hours to it over the course of a day. I use it to avoid feelings and chores and delude myself into thinking it’s “work” or that I’m actually connecting with people. When my husband left in January to make a movie for five long months, I knew after just a few weeks of solo parenting and general life chaos that I should make some dramatic changes to my personal routines and that included removing the distraction and emotion-swirling effects of social media. 

But I am addicted to this stuff, there is no doubt. I enjoy the creativity of it and the gratification of instant feedback. I genuinely like seeing other people’s creativity and work and their lives as depicted on a little screen. However, by the time I officially started my social media break - using Lent as a loose time frame - I was so ready to make the change that I didn’t suffer the withdrawal I thought I would given social media’s prominence in my brain. 

A few things I did notice, based on notes I took along the way…

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10 Podcasts to binge

10 Podcasts to binge

It's hard to imagine that just a few short years ago I didn't listen to podcasts at all. Now they are such a huge percentage of the entertainment and information that I consume, barely a day goes by that I don't listen to something.

I subscribe to dozens of shows, but it's rare that I listen to episodes on the day they drop. I'm a binger. I will wait until a series is done before I listen to it for 8 hours at a time. If you're a fellow binger, I have a few suggestions for you:

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10 Best Fiction books of 2017

10 Best Fiction books of 2017

End of the year lists are the best, I love keeping a record of the best things about a season, and my year-end book lists are my favorite to compile. On average, my goal is to read about 1 book a week, or roughly 50 - 55 books a year. I hit that goal in 2017, but it was a little uneven.

Mid-way through the year I became a little disappointed with what I’d been reading. It’s true that I had a small slump in the spring where I didn’t read much or read things that I didn’t love, but I kicked it up a notch and now that I look back on the whole of 2017, I can see that I read some truly phenomenal things. The types of books that when you’re finished with them, you think to yourself, “I want to read more stuff like THAT.” Not in content, but in caliber. 

Here are 10 of the best:

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WHY 10 Things To Tell You?

Picture us as best friends, life’s busy-ness means we haven’t caught up in several weeks and we are in dire need of a night out, or a lunch, or a long walk together. Imagine we meet at a favorite restaurant, you beat me there and order drinks first, and welcome the bowl of salty chips plopped in the center of the table. 

I arrive, slide into the booth breathless with excitement, and say “I have 10 things to tell you!”

“Oh, good!” You say. “I have a ton to talk about, too.” 

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This exact scenario plays out in my life regularly. In that booth, or on voxer, or over text. I have friends who live all over the country, and even though modern technology makes it easier for us to keep up with one another, it’s not the same as a marathon session catching up. Even my local friends here in Los Angeles are just as busy as I am toting children around and hustling work, and this culture of busy, achieving, overscheduled families means we go days or weeks without a proper conversation. 

10 Things To Tell You was born out of these marathon talks with friends and the desire to share what we're reading, watching, and listening to that is helping us grow. 

Sharing yourself is the only way to forge and deepen human connection. Giving and letting yourself receive from others makes us better friends, family, parents, and partners. I’ve been sharing my life and recommendations online for nearly a decade, and it has changed my world. The internet makes it so easy to share, but the real magic is face to face.

I have 10 Things To Tell You, but I REALLY want you to go tell your own 10 Things to the people who matter to you. Tell your friends about the books, shows, movies, podcasts, and whatever else that is making you think, making you laugh, expanding your heart. Share the things you can’t stop thinking about. If you don’t tell them, how will they know? Don’t be shy, and definitely don’t listen to that little voice that says your opinion doesn’t matter. TELL PEOPLE your ten things! Or twelve things. Or the TWO things you really want them to know.

Share your stuff. It makes all of us better.

10 Notes on starting a blog when blogging is dead.

1. Blogging is over, right? Donzo. Lame.

Was it always lame? Kind of. I mean, it was never cool. But there was a time when everyone was into blogs. A lot of people blogged and a lot of people read blogs and it was both an embarrassment and awesome. Everyone wanted other people to share their most personal stuff on the internet so we could read it. A lot of us fell on that sword, giddy over having a voice for possibly the first time. Now, it wasn't all rainbows and roses, even in its heyday blogging got a bad rap. Sometimes the people who were the most critical of personal blogging were also the most avid readers. But the most important part was real and true: people shared themselves and connected with strangers across the world. The blogging eruption was a history-making, world-shrinking miracle. 

2. And then, sure as sky, the big backlash happened. Popular blogs became too commercial, babies of mom bloggers grew up, people who wrote eloquently about their life struggles were outed as being insane. The monkeys ran away with the circus, as they say. 

3. I had a blog, back in the day.

Writing on the internet saved my life in some ways, kept me company during some lonely years and was one long course in personal essay writing. I enjoyed it, it opened a lot of doors for me, I traveled around the world three times on invitations stemming from my blog. But then I killed it with worry. Strangled it under the crushing fear of other people’s opinions. I grew tired and stressed over my blog and when the opportunity came for me to jump off that train, I gladly took it. 

 

4. But I’ve actually missed blogging in the intervening years. Not chasing page views and navigating algorithms, that part makes online content creators fully fetal. But the genuine sharing, on a site that’s not being manipulated by a foreign entity, or governed by a character count. I like writing on the internet. 

5. You know what else, I like? Lists.

6. And my real gift to the world is bossiness. Among friends and family and online acquaintances, I am known for telling you EXACTLY what you should do, the books you should read, what to order, how to feel, align, organize, breathe. My obsessions come in fast and deep and then I have an uncontrollable desire to share them with the world.

7. The internet has been great for me.

8. And also, not so great. I have true concerns about how all this screen time is changing our brains and hearts and culture at large. 

9. But every time I start to think about stepping away from the internet forever (I’ve never truly contemplated stepping away from the internet forever), I come back to the piece about sharing. I think that people sharing their stuff - the personal, the trivial, and life's most important lessons - is the key to connection and peace.

10. I might run out of things to say after the first six months. But for now, I have 10 Things To Tell You.