Podcast Party

Since starting this blog last September, I have thrown around a few hints about how I listen to podcasts, and I then I joked:

Where have you been all my life?

Let me back up a bit. For the last several years I have had a 30-minute, one-way commute to work Monday-Friday on a country road past a handful of quintessential Ohio farms. Horses, llamas, cattle, and corn. I’m not much of a country girl but you know what? The visual is pretty soothing, which beats staring at tail lights and pumping my brakes non-stop while I inhale automobile exhaust headed in the other direction toward Cleveland.

It’s a bit hard for me to do nothing on the drive. It’s an hour of my day, after all. I’ve tried all sorts of things to occupy my time. I have tried listening to certain local radio shows, certain national radio shows, Sirius XM, streaming music from my iPhone, books on audio, silence (which, let’s be honest, wasn’t ever really silence because the voices in my head would talk the entire time about the situation I was leaving at home in the morning or at work in the evening), and prayer (because, well, the voices….duh).

A couple of years ago I was forced to find inspiration in every nook and cranny I could find it. Maybe one day I’ll get the courage to write about that story because it was one hell of a tough life lesson to live through, but I did. Believe me, it will take courage to tell that story. Courage is a muscle I need to build.

Without digressing too deep down the path of the above paragraph, let me share that one of the places I looked for inspiration was this uncharted territory for me: podcasts, an app on my iPhone I never bothered to use. This is pretty odd for me because I have always been one to gravitate toward and early-adopt technology.

I asked friends for some ideas on how to get started, and recommendations on any podcasts they listen to. Some early shows I listened to were The Ziglar Show, where I heard Mark Timm speak and got the idea for our own family’s Louie Scoop meetings, and Joel Osteen, because I figured if I’m gonna listen to inspirational speakers, why not have a Biblical basis for it?

I don’t listen to either of those shows anymore.

Don’t get me wrong: Ziglar is a very good show but the format started to wear on me. Now, you don’t have to be a salesperson to appreciate Ziglar. It really is great to hear these inspirational snippets from Zig’s talks but after two years of solid listening, I think my bucket is full on that one. It also seems the talks are frequently geared toward people creating a side hustle or being entrepreneurs so it doesn’t always hit the mark for me. That’s not the best characterization of the show as I definitely think it has merit, and it’s highly rated, to boot; it’s just not best fit for me going forward. However, I can imagine picking it back up again one day.

Osteen on the other hand? I had to stop listening to him after the Houston hurricane debacle when he wouldn’t open his facility to people in need. That just seemed so selfish of him, especially after you hear a pitch for buying his latest book or whatever at the end of each episode. Honestly I just couldn’t stomach it anymore. He just comes across as inauthentic, and at this point I’ve bucketed him with many of the other crazy, rich Christian evangelicals. If you’re gonna talk the talk, you better walk that walk as well. You know what I mean?


But that’s not my focus today. Let me tell you about the podcasts I love and why! Some of these shows are 20-30 minutes in length, while some are one hour long or sometimes even 90 minutes. Occasionally a show will feature a short, 2-5 minutes in length, to convey a singular, inspirational idea. I favor the 30 minute shows because I can listen to an entire episode during one trip in the car, but the longer ones aren’t all that bad. I just end up dedicating my outbound and return commute to listening to the whole thing.

IMG_6870I will highlight two podcasts that have held my attention ever since I started listening, plus three more I have adopted in the last six months or so.

  1. Happier by Gretchen Rubin (Gretchen Rubin)
  2. The Good Life Project (Jonathan Fields)
  3. Stay Tuned with Preet (Preet Bharara)
  4. The Keto for Women Show (Shawn Mynar)
  5. Oprah’s Super Soul (Oprah Winfrey)

Happier

Host Gretchen Rubin and her co-host sister Elizabeth Craft share tips and tricks to make life happier. They often feature ideas captured in author Gretchen’s books. I am intrigued by her concept of the Four Tendencies, and I love the Try This At Home ideas they suggest. Overall this is a light-hearted podcast, and it’s fun to listen to the two sisters banter back and forth. I feel like I’ve gotten to know their personalities and idiosyncrasies, and I laugh at their stories. Gretchen is a true literary fan so she’s always offering quotes from classic stories I haven’t actually taken the time to read. Overall I find their advice to be practical and immediately applicable.

The Good Life Project

Jonathan Fields holds hour-long, deep conversations with a wide variety of fascinating people who you may not be familiar with, people who are champions of the human spirit. I love deep, philosophical, thought-provoking conversations yet I hardly ever get to have them so this podcast is the next best thing.

Jonathan has mastered the art of conversation. It isn’t so much an interview as it is a really intimate talk between two people. His voice is so soothing, too. It’s like listening to a friend. He talks like I do in real life.

Jonathan released a book this past year called How to Live a Good Life, which is the question he asks of his guests at the end of each episode. In the book, he champions the idea that we have three buckets that we should continuously replenish: the vitality, connection, and contribution buckets. I could read this book again and again as it is loaded with powerful ideas to fuel your body, mind, and spirit. Given that I wanted and needed a boost in all three, this book resonated strongly with me.

Occasionally you hear side stories about how Jonathan was a gymnast once upon a time, but started his professional career as a hard-charging attorney for a law firm, working for a few years until he opened a yoga studio. Now he channels his energy into studying how to live a good life, runs a summer camp for adults who want to explore this topic, and hosts this podcast. I view him as a really hip, cool contemporary. This is a dude I will follow for years to come.

Stay Tuned with Preet

I suppose if the esteemed U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York had to be unceremoniously fired by Trump, then I’m glad it happened because now we get to hear Preet Bharara deliver a weekly podcast that demystifies our justice system and all the chaos in Washington this administration.

Maybe Preet just physically reminds me of my dad when I was a kid, which is weird, but I really like the guy. He speaks in this calm, even-toned, moderately-paced voice that makes it incredibly easy to digest the gravity and complexity of the topics he discusses. I just find it so hard to comprehend stuff thrown at me rapid-fire by some of those news fanatics, like I’m wolfing down crappy fast food that leaves you with indigestion. Preet delivers his message in a nevertheless riveting way where you have time to absorb and think about what he’s saying. His delivery sounds unlike anyone else and I’m learning more about how our government works (or doesn’t) than I have since I studied civics in 8th grade.

The Keto for Women Show

Nutritionist Shawn Mynar hosts this weekly podcast covering the topic of a ketogenic diet for women, one that is high-fat and low-carb and promotes brain health as well as hormonal and digestive healing for the body, primarily for women.

I am not too bright when it comes to nutrition. I probably know the basics like everyone else, but it seems like the last 30 years have been filled with gobs of misinformation leading to today’s American obesity epidemic. It feels like we could use all the help we can get when it comes to nutrition, so I find so this podcast to be hugely educational about a way of eating that mirrors what I likely ought to adopt for my own health. Shawn is a nutritionist who is upbeat, informative, and focused like a laser-beam on women’s health not necessarily weight loss. Eating for health will lead in that direction, but she’s not about dropping pounds rapidly at any cost, when so many other fitness pundits are.

Shawn is just consistently upbeat in her delivery and I have learned so much from her. Love the guests she has had on her show as well.


I’m sure I’ve forgotten a couple of good podcasts that have come and gone over the last few months. Maybe I’ll update this post with additions should I think of any.


And now a word about podcast apps themselves. I’ve been listening by using the Apple podcast app all this time. It is the purple app in third row down on the far right in the image above.

I’m not a fan. It seems like just when I get used to the layout of the app and how it works, they change it on me, like they seem to do with iTunes which used to be intuitive once upon a long time ago. This app is not intuitive. I’m not a technology ding-a-ling but it is not easy to skip over or delete episodes I don’t want to hear without accidentally unsubscribing to the show altogether. I just don’t understand why they have to mess around with the layout.

Little did I realize there are other apps out there you can use to listen to podcasts: Overcast, Downcast, and Stitcher to name a few. Apparently even Spotify will work but not for all shows. I haven’t had a chance to check any of these out just yet so “stay tuned with Silonda” (Get it? I took a page from Preet’s playbook) to see what I think of these tools. It may take me a while to try them out and pick one I like. I just thought it was intriguing to hear there were other, quite possibly better, apps out there for our listening enjoyment.

I’d love to hear from you regarding which Apple podcast apps are your favorite (my platform of choice) but I’m eager to hear from Android fans as well. Looks like I have a global readership going on so let’s hear from you guys and thanks in advance!

Today I Became a Protester

An old high school friend of mine saw the news this week about how Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School will now require students to wear clear backpacks and an ID badge. Despite this being a solution tossed out by the superintendent who purportedly is a gun control advocate, the students were not impressed with the decision as a means to combat gun violence.

My friend called these kids “snowflakes”. He went on further to say they have no idea what they are talking about because they are just kids, “you don’t always get what you want,”, and how “that’s life” regarding how the students want to take away the gun rights he’s had his entire life but now their rights to carry their own book bag are being infringed. How they are whining when some freedoms of theirs are being taken away even though that’s exactly what they want to do to him.

Somewhere along the way we lost that “inalienable right to life” concept from the Declaration of Independence, but I digress.

This was an online post, of course. I was shocked and disappointed.

Ok, maybe I shouldn’t have been shocked. He seems absolutely hellbent on protecting his rights, the 2nd amendment right he’s had his entire life, to own all kinds of weapons, and I suspect semi-automatic weapons are among them. He says he doesn’t feel too strongly about too many things but this is one of them, and he will not change his opinion.

Now, a lot of folks from my hometown are hunters, and I get that. I don’t know whether this friend is. It doesn’t sound like he is. It sounds like he is amassing weapons just to have them.

Forgive me but it sounds like he is compensating for something missing in his life. I didn’t tell him that (because oooh boy!), but when I hear about people who aren’t hunters and don’t have Fort Knox to protect, I come to the conclusion they are compensating for something or they have some serious anger issues they may want to resolve by pulling a trigger. Otherwise it’s a giant waste of money. And since it probably isn’t a waste of money….people buy these weapons to use them, so I’m predictably leery of people like this.

Makes me want to rethink who’s in my circle o’ friends. I’ve been doing that a lot lately. But then I get into that whole inside-my-head-argument that it takes all types to make the world go ’round, and do I really only want to be friends with people exactly like me, because what fun would that be?

Except I don’t really find guns to be fun, if ya know what I mean.

And set aside for a moment that I realize there isn’t anyone exactly like me. I’m a bit of an oddball, but I’m cool with that. I’ve had a long time to get comfortable with that realization. I’m cool being me. But that means I need to be open-hearted and accept people for who they are since so few are going to think and act like me.

The thing is, this guy seems like a decent human being. A patriot. A family man. Admits to mistakes…which is cool because we all make them but he’s a big enough man to own up to them. Seems to me he always tries to do the right thing. He’s a hard worker. Seriously: he seems like a decent human so I wrote to him to express my point of view as follows:

I understand you’re upset.  Bear with me on a couple of things as I explain my position.

First I found your use of the words “snowflake” and “you don’t always get what you want” to be sneeringly disrespectful of these kids, which is something I didn’t expect from you. These “snowflakes” as you called them were shot at, which gives them every right to speak against gun violence. Full stop.

Secondly, nobody is making a pawn of these kids. They are stepping up themselves. Again, getting shot at gives them the right to speak if they wish, and so they are. They are providing a level of leadership our politicians are unable to summon.

Third, I don’t have the energy to find the article, but very early on after the shooting, I read an article which explained how in the world the students at this school are so amazingly articulate about this topic. Bear with me as I’m gonna get the details wrong, but I guess a group of them were on a debate team or they were specifically studying gun laws and school shootings before it happened. So they happen to have facts at hand which makes me these MSD students particularly prepared to discuss this topic, unlike many HS kids. I don’t even know if these are the specific MSD HS students we’re seeing often on the news but this school emphasizes critical thinking, so you’re seeing the product of their education.

Fourth, I agree with them that your ability to own an assault rifle of any kind does not outweigh anyone’s right to life. There is no good purpose to own an assault weapon other than to kill as many people as possible in a single moment. Prove to me otherwise.

Fifth, I have yet to hear anyone on the left say “ban all weapons” or “abolish the 2nd amendment”. But to do nothing, absolutely nothing, is saying you’re ok with things as they are. I am willing to engage in discussion that identifies a number of changes that are needed, and sensible changes to gun laws are among them.

Sixth, I think plastic book bags are a ridiculous band-aid for a mortal wound.

Seventh (yes, I know seven points is obnoxious but let me run with it!), the Rolling Stones said, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.”

Love you man… Don’t dismiss the kids…it makes you sound like a grumpy old man…and you’ll be destined to be that for a long time. Engage in the discussion like a wise advisor so we can get somewhere sensible but DIFFERENT about how this is managed. We can do it, together.

[Drops mic]. lol

All of this was met with a response by a friend of his, a one word post that I can’t tell whether it was directed at me or the MSD HS kids: “Snowflake.”

Seriously. That again? That’s deaf. Heartless.

How will we get anywhere if this is the nature of the exchange?


Growing up our family didn’t own guns. I never sensed there was a need. We lived in this little hamlet of maybe 50 families nestled among a couple of hills with Route 40 and a creek running parallel as the south border. My Dad was the strongest man I knew but he didn’t need a gun to protect us or fuel an overgrown sense of machismo. All he had to do was look at you. Silently. Mission accomplished. You were scared of him. The funny thing is, he had a soft heart deep inside.

That was 40-50 years ago. We live in some crazy times today.

When my boys were younger, they’d grab their Nerf guns, aim them at my husband and me, and pretend to blow us to smithereens. My husband and I would joke around with them, “We’re DOVES, not HAWKS! What are you doing????” and then fall down in a fit of giggles.

Nowadays, my husband and I seriously wonder if it’s time to start packing some heat in the homestead. Because, you know….people are acting like there’s a permanent full moon going on outside.


jerry-kiesewetter-234311-unsplashFast forward to this morning. I’m 50 years old and participated in my first protest. Such a crazy, liberal hippie, aren’t I?

I walked with others in my community for the March For Our Lives, organized by these MSD high school kids and held all around the world in solidarity. My husband and oldest are out of town so I had to bring my two youngest with me, elementary school agers, but we parked the car in our town square and walked around it holding signs.

I’m sure there are people who think I was using my kids as pawns but my kids understood why we were there. The youngest doesn’t understand why people can just walk into a school and kill children. He told me how happy he was that the laws were changing. I had to explain that it hadn’t happened yet. He couldn’t understand why anyone would be against this idea.

I can tell you both my kids looked at me with their giant brown eyes in surprise as I chanted, “Enough is enough.” Other times I silently held my sign high and looked every single driver in the eye as they passed our square in their cars. I bore a hole through them with the most serious face I could muster. I have a pretty bad-ass serious face, if I say so myself.

Some folks honked and gave a thumbs up. Some men in their monster trucks shook their heads in disgust. Others just stared straight ahead. Deaf. Blind. Blissfully hanging in la la land.

Did you know there was a group called Mothers Demand Action? Did you know this group existed and was formed after Sandy Hook?

Like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, a woman named Shannon Watts decided she had had enough. She had had enough. I heard her being interviewed on Stay Tuned with Preet (Preet Bharara’s podcast) a few weeks back and was intrigued by what I learned.

Since I’ve never been a gun owner, nor am I ever around guns, I will admit that I don’t know that much about them. Wanna know how little I know? Met a guy named Ruger and thought, “Huh, that’s unusual. Wonder if it’s a family name…”

My husband set me straight so I could promptly facepalm.

No, I don’t know enough but I will learn. I will have the statistics at my fingertips when I vote this fall. I cannot watch this country do nothing. I’ll be damned if one my kids dies on my watch while I sit and do nothing. I won’t let it happen to your kids either. I will be the change that is needed in the world, like Ghandi advised, even if I am just a wee baby when it comes to protesting.

I have had enough.

I have had enough of watching our children die. The horror of Columbine 19 years ago was dizzying. The incredulous circumstances of Sandy Hook 5 years ago (ALREADY!) are mind-boggling. We’ve done nothing. My God….we did nothing when first graders were slaughtered. Are we sleepwalking??? I guess we all thought we could trust our politicians to do something. Nothing has happened. The NRA has our congressmen by the balls.

I have had enough. Vote those SOBs out of office. Sensible people are a larger and stronger force than the NRA and the cowards in office. Maybe the the politicians who feel as we do didn’t feel we have their backs. I mean, I get it. Crazy people with semi-automatic weapons don’t exactly like the people in charge of taking them away. This could get violent, which is precisely what we don’t want to happen, but other countries were able to make the transition. Are we strong enough to do it too?

I couldn’t tell you how many of us were there today…maybe 100? 150? 200 might be pushing it. There was one guy with a sign that said “gun control doesn’t work”. One guy. As I walked by him I calmly announced how gun control has been proven to work in other countries and it can work here. I was pleased that for the 150 of us there was only one guy counter-protesting. Made me feel pretty good about our odds.

Speaking of my high school friend, he has argued that if we take away AR-15s, when will it stop? Where do we draw the line? He has a point. However I’d like to know: when the gun violence will stop? Where do we draw the line?

I’ll tell you where we’re drawing it. Here. Now. We’ll get it right, or at least we’ll be moving in the right direction.

Enough already. How many children have to die?

First Photo by Jerry Kiesewetter on Unsplash