Everything Happens with Kate Bowler

Life isn't always bright and shiny, as Kate Bowler knows. Kate is a young mother, writer and professor who, at age 35, was suddenly diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. In, warm, insightful, often funny conversations, Kate talks with people about what they've learned in difficult times. Kate teaches at Duke Divinity School and is author of Everything Happens for a Reason (And Other Lies I've Loved) and No Cure for Being Human (And Other Truths I Need to Hear). Find her online at @katecbowler.

Society & Culture
Religion & Spirituality
Health & Fitness
Bryan Stevenson: Love Mercy
Bryan Stevenson (founder of the Equal Justice Initiative) is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable among us. In this episode, Kate and Bryan discuss: The hope that motivates Bryan in this slow, sometimes frustrating work of justice What it means to be a ‘stonecatcher’ (and why it serves both the one being condemned and the one doing the condemning) The power of forgiveness, maybe especially toward those who don’t deserve it CW: discussion of slavery, lynching, and other racist violence, death row
61 min
The Season of Waiting (And Waiting... And Waiti...
We are going to practice the season of Advent together. Download a free Advent guide, here. At the end of today's episode, we asked you what your traditions were for remembering the people who we've lost. Share yours on my Instagram or Facebook account. Whether it is the 1st or 4th or 22nd year without someone you love, the holidays can be especially difficult. We need practical ways to bring their memory into our special days. Making family recipes. Playing their favorite song. Putting their ornaments on the tree. Traditions that keep their love alive year after year after year. What traditions does your family practice to honor and remember your loved one each year? Share yours on Instagram or Facebook. Thank you for sharing your heartbreak and hope with us all. Bless you as you navigate another year dear one. You aren't doing it alone.
18 min
Fred Penner: Music That Makes Us
Fred Penner is a Canadian sensation whose television show and hit songs like “The Cat Came Back” was part of so many of our childhoods. But what few of us knew was how much he understood the pain of growing up. He lost his alcoholic father and his 12-year-old sister in the same year. He turned to music. And his gentle wisdom and songs have invited us—children and adults alike—to stay curious and kind in a hard world.
35 min
Kate Bowler Joins We Can Do Hard Things
Today, I have a very special BONUS episode for you all. Glennon Doyle, author of Untamed, watched in awe as this simple phrase from Untamed – WE CAN DO HARD THINGS – the mantra that saved her life twenty years ago, became a worldwide rally cry. Life is freaking hard. We are all doing hard things every day – we love and lose; we forge and end friendships; battle addiction, illness, and loneliness; care for children and parents; struggle in our jobs, our marriages, our divorces; we try to set and hold boundaries – and we fight for equality, purpose, joy, and peace right in the midst of all the hard. On We Can Do Hard Things, Glennon, her wife Abby Wambach, and her sister Amanda Doyle, do the only thing that has ever made life easier: They talk honestly about the hard. They laugh and cry and help each other carry the hard so we can all live a little bit lighter and braver, free-er, less alone. And they asked me to join them in conversation on We Can Do Hard Things about navigating illness and other hard things that this community knows how to dig into with such courage. I can't wait for you all to listen.
62 min
Julia Samuel: Every Family Has A Story
Julia Samuel is a psychologist in the UK who specializes in working with families who have experienced complicated stories of loss and love. So often we can feel overwhelmed by our histories – our family histories – and need a boost to confront dysfunction, speak the truth, and find trusted people to help us look back and look forward. In this episode, Kate and Julia discuss: What to do when we’ve inherited the pain of our parents or grandparents and when our own problems might be the pain we pass down How we navigate generational divides especially around how we express our feelings How to not pass down inherited trauma by understanding our bigger family webs This conversation also is a much-needed reminder that you in all your actual problems and actual pain are far better than any idealized version of you. And maybe that is the exact honesty that might offer us and our families the freedom we long for. CW: mention of suicide, some spicy adult language :)
42 min
Priya Parker: The Art of Gathering
How do we gather in meaningful ways? After the pandemic took apart so many of our favorite ways of hanging out, we might be out of practice. Or too tired or overwhelmed. Priya Parker is an expert facilitator who encourages us all to practice being together for different reasons. And they don’t have to be nearly as fancy or predictable as we might think… In this episode, Kate and Priya discuss: How do we show up for other people and ourselves in creative ways How to know when a change might be needed in a regular gathering Risk and the awkwardness of needing people
44 min
Katherine and Jay Wolf: Wounded Healers
Jay and Katherine Wolf were 26 years old, newly married, and brand new parents when Katherine survived a brain stem stroke that upended their lives. That was fifteen years ago. Today, they continue to live with the enduringness of recovery, caregiving, and care-receiving, all while trying to maintain hope. Theirs is a story of commitment and love in the face of tremendous odds. In this episode, Kate, Jay, and Katherine discuss: Why, in the face of impossible circumstances, sometimes the best we can do is to learn to love what must be done How to talk to your kids about the difficulties they might face The different experiences of being a caregiver and care-receiver over the long haul The story of hope and love that Jay and Katherine live into Why you are worth caring for—no matter how broken your body or mind or heart is I felt so grateful to speak with them fifteen years after the original crisis. This tender conversation offers a wide view of their story of hard-won hope. P.S. If you are someone for whom people didn’t stick around after your crisis, we see you. We love you. I hope you will hear Katherine’s words: “You are worth it.” CW: stroke survivor
54 min
Stanley Hauerwas: More Life, Fewer Explanations
Theologian Stanley Hauerwas has written some of the most influential books on religion in the 20th century. But behind closed doors, he was suffering more than most of us knew. Here, Kate and Stanley talk candidly about his rollercoaster highs and lows of being married to someone with severe mental illness. And why doesn’t God fix our pain? They have some spicy opinions about that. In this episode, Kate and Stanley discuss: Why Christians are not exempt from difficult circumstances Why people need fewer explanations (and why Stanley is suspicious of anyone who demands them) Stanley’s advice for going through something difficult CW: bipolar, mental illness
41 min
Melissa Urban: Worthy of Boundaries
Melissa Urban’s (CEO of The Whole30) experience of chronic illness forced her to accept her body’s limitations. You are going to love her practical advice for setting healthy boundaries as a way to protect our relationships, manage our limited capacity (especially for those of us navigating chronic pain or illness or caregiving), and remind ourselves of our inherent worth (regardless of how much you can do). In this episode, Kate and Melissa discuss: How boundaries help us better live inside our limitations The signs that a better boundary is needed How to manage the awkwardness of saying no How the Spoon Theory helps us understand limited capacity CW: sexual abuse, addiction
43 min
Jeff Chu: Full Circle Faith
Writer Jeff Chu was raised in a devout Chinese Baptist community, yet struggled to reconcile being gay with the conservative faith of his family. And the feeling of not-quite-belonging gave his life a strong purpose. He became a journalist and a pastor determined to make communities a place where you don’t actually have to “fit in” to belong. In this episode, Kate and Jeff discuss navigating certainty and doubt when ambiguity is so uncomfortable, why great resumes sometimes mask lives of pain, and how Jeff has discovered grace for himself and his family (and others who many have different versions of faithfulness).
39 min
Mary Laura Philpott: Everybody Has Something
Writer Mary Laura Philpott had all the regular kind of parental worries until her teenage son had his first seizure. She had to learn to balance her fear alongside her love all the while recognizing that everyone has something they are dealing with. In this episode, Kate and Mary Laura discuss why love sometimes makes us afraid for all we have to lose, why remembering that “everyone has something” can make us feel less alone (and more likely to bring snacks), and why worry isn’t the mental work we think it is.
42 min
Thomas Lynch: A Good Funeral
Thomas Lynch is an essayist, poet, and funeral director in Milton, Michigan, where he has served since 1974 when he took over the trade from his father. Thomas speaks honestly about life and death and mortality from what he’s learned, standing so close to the edge. In this episode, Kate and Thomas discuss what elements make up a good funeral, how the habits of love are hard to break, and how those we grieve know our hearts and our love more fully. I don’t know quite how to express this, but holy crap. This is one of the best conversations I’ve ever had. I can’t wait to hear what you think. CW: suicide, death
50 min
Arthur Brooks: When Success Isn’t Success
Arthur Brooks was a professional musician and spent his twenties touring all over the world. Until one day, he stopped being able to hit the notes. He had to reinvent himself entirely, and wonder… what does happiness look like after I lose the career I had worked so hard for? Now, Arthur writes about high achievers and how they might find meaning and purpose as they experience decline in their bodies or minds or in careers through his bestselling book, Strength to Strength. Not everyone in this community is #winning at life. For those of us who have been forced off the productivity train, fallen down the success ladder, and now find ourselves wondering if we could be more than the sum of our jobs, this conversation is for you.
37 min
Randall Balmer: Wrestling With the Faith We Love
Many of us miss the churches of our childhood and are trying to figure out what pieces of our faith to keep and which to leave behind. My guest today knows that better than anyone. Randall Balmer is a historian of American religion at Dartmouth College, THE expert of American evangelicalism, and a pastor’s kid (PK!) of a fundamentalist preacher. In this conversation, Kate and Randy talk about: how to reconcile the evangelism of today with its progressive past, the cost of a more manufactured worship experience, why they both value those stray moments of faith, what (if any) hope is there for evangelicalism, and maintaining faith when you’ve been hurt by the church. Kate ends with a blessing for when faith sometimes breaks your heart.
45 min
Ibram Kendi: Showing Your Scars
Ibram Kendi and Kate Bowler have more in common than they would have liked. Historians and professors. Parents of young kids. Diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer at age 35. No history of the disease in their families. In this conversation, Dr. Ibram Kendi (who Time magazine’s called one of the most influential people of 2020) and Kate discuss: How a diagnosis like the one they share creates a sense of urgency in their work, How to address the policies behind health care disparities, Why addressing racism with your kids is an act of courageous living, The importance of recognizing our own fragility, and Learning to celebrate scars as evidence of life.
42 min
Introducing Season 9 of EVERYTHING HAPPENS
So often people want us to say the easy thing like something terrible happens and we're supposed to say "everything happens for a reason." Or "it made me who I am today." We find ourselves surrounded by a culture who loves us for our positive mindset or our willingness to buy essential oils from our cousin named Jennifer. But on this podcast, we're going to do something different. There will be no easy answers. There will be no trite, Precious Moments type wisdom. They'll just be suggestions of how to live and breathe and walk through the things that we didn't really want to carry.
3 min
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby: Suspicio...
In this special episode, Kate visited the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, at Lambeth Palace in London. In this funny and poignant conversation, the Archbishop and Kate discuss: Why sometimes we feel God’s love (or don’t) How to pray when you have run out of words (he gives us permission to be impolite with God) Why he is suspicious of joy, and why they both use the theology of Winnie the Pooh How people in emotionally expensive professions can feel permission to do small acts of love (and angry when it’s not enough)
56 min
Susan Cain: Survival of the Kindest
How is it that joy and pain seem to coexist at once? Susan Cain (author of the bestseller Quiet) explores this question in her new book, Bittersweet. In this conversation, Kate and Susan discuss: How we are literally hardwired for compassion Susan’s advice for pushing back against compassion fatigue How that feeling of longing isn’t something to be ashamed of but allows us to see things clearly—the beautiful and the terrible If you ever feel like you didn’t have a word for the sweetness of longings (and why your compassionate heart is a gift), this conversation is for you.
40 min
Haider Warraich: Embracing the Complexity of Pain
When a random weight-lifting accident left cardiologist Dr. Haider Warrach in chronic pain, he went from being a physician to being a patient in one moment. His experience of chronic pain gives him a hardwon insight as he reexamines how we understand and treat pain. In this conversation, Kate and Haider discuss: the difference between pain and suffering why pain might be subjective, yet should be taken just as seriously (and perhaps invites doctors to not just treat blood work or an x-ray, but the patient in front of them) why we should erase the arbitrary demarkations between mind and body when it comes to understanding and treating chronic pain the value of accepting the reality of pain as a fundamental truth of being human (and why that doesn’t mean “it’s all in your head”) If you are someone (or loves someone) who suffers from chronic pain, this episode is for you. Haider talks with such gentleness about when your pain isn’t believed and how doctors can do a better job at treating their patients in pain.
40 min
Tara Westover: Remaking Home
What do we do when our families are sources of pain, confusion, or harm? How do we (or can we) outgrow our complicated childhoods when we no longer need the defenses we created? Today, I am speaking with Tara Westover. Tara earned her PhD in history from Cambridge, which is incredible on its own, but particularly when you remember that she had never stepped foot in a classroom until she was 17. She is the author of the bestselling memoir EDUCATED which describes growing up in a survivalist family and her costly pursuit of learning and unlearning.
37 min
Anna Sale: Hard Topics, Softer Conversations
Our culture seems convinced that going off-script is unbecoming. Instead, we are rewarded for being buttoned up, perfect (or at least appearing to be), and never ever no-matter-what admit weakness. But… don’t we need each other, especially when facing the most difficult moments? Author and Death, Sex, and Money podcast host Anna Sale leans into every hard conversation no matter how difficult the topic. In this conversation, Kate and Anna discuss how conversations might engender the intimacy we need to get by, fostering the right interpersonal and listening skills it takes to approach a difficult topic (especially when you’re feeling nervous), best practices for responding to someone’s hard news, and how learning to listen might bridge differences of all kinds. What do we lose when we don’t talk about hard things? And what might we gain if we do?
45 min
Cammie McGovern: Mythbusting Parenting
We often have very romantic expectations about parenthood. Parenthood is about a mythical child who will be perfect in a way we haven’t quite put our finger on, and the journey to love them will teach us something reasonably easy about ourselves. But what if we are not the parents we thought we’d be? Or our kids are not the kids we thought we’d have Writer Cammie McGovern’s oldest son, Ethan, was diagnosed with autism as a small child. Soon though, he was not just a toddler learning how to play or a child needing adjustments in the classroom. He is an adult who wants to participate in the world, and Cammie is still determined to learn what it means to be an advocate for him and others living with disabilities as they enter adulthood. In this conversation, Kate and Cammie discuss the myths parents of children with autism might face, how to build inclusive communities (and how both parties might benefit from them), how the role of every parent is to discover their kid for the mystery and wonder they are, and why parenting shouldn’t always be about becoming heroes or martyrs and how we might need communities and systems that better support our needs. This heartwarming conversation covers everything from love to policy and everything in between, as Cammie describes her son and his future. CW: children with autism
39 min
Mitch Albom: Counting your Somethings
Bestselling author Mitch Albom was at the height of his career when his favorite professor was dying. Mitch then spent his Tuesdays with Morrie—conversations that would change the trajectory of his life and career. Mitch continues to walk right up to the edge with the complicated questions around grief, loss, and hope in his books and charitable work. In this conversation, Kate and Mitch discuss why the loss of a child feels so different than the loss of someone farther along in years, what questions we ask of God when we encounter death (and why we might not get the answers we hope for), and how we might count our somethings (our people, our blessings) without imagining that God is teaching us “a lesson”.
38 min
Ann Patchett: Behold, These Precious Days
Bestselling novelist Ann Patchett knows how to walk right up to the edge with people she loves. She is the friend who sits with you during chemo, or lets you spill your secrets in the car. She shares what powerful lessons she learned early on about how to approach suffering with humility, knowing you can rarely change a life, but you can be there to witness and be amazed. In this episode, Kate and Ann discuss why no one cares what you write about (and why that should give you freedom), how to bear witness to someone’s life—even when you can’t change their circumstances, and why the question of the fullness of a life isn’t how long you live but something else entirely. CW: addiction, death of friends, cancer
44 min
Taylor Harris: Peace for Our Anxious Selves
Everyone loves to get VERY BOSSY when it comes to our fears. “Don’t worry, be happy!” Just be brave! But maybe ‘being brave’ doesn’t mean ignoring our fears but living alongside them. After all, we live in a world that offers us few guarantees, don’t we? Writer Taylor Harris has dealt with severe anxiety since she was a child. But when she became a mom, she had to learn to hold her fears alongside her love, especially when her son has an unsolvable illness. In this conversation, Kate and Taylor discuss balancing fear with love, what it means to be brave in a world that is so unsafe (and how to parent kids you can’t protect from everything), how to live in the uncertainty of a non-diagnosis, and how to make sense of God and faith without guarantees that things will work out. This conversation will give you courage to hold both your faith and fear, hope and disappointment, especially when we don’t have problems with simple solutions. CW: a sick child without a diagnosis
38 min
Liz Tichenor: Being Church on Our Worst Days
Author and priest Liz Tichenor lost her mom and her baby in the same year. Brand new to leading a church and reeling from the grief, the pain was enough to break her. But it didn’t—because other people carried her through. In this conversation, Kate and Liz discuss how in the thick of tragedy we need the church and shared rituals of grief, how to be faithful and authentic when going through the “unimaginable," the courage it takes to show up for another in the midst of their worst days (and why we are called to do so… no matter how uncomfortable), why Lent is the season for the brokenhearted. This episode will restore your hope for communities of faith that can show up for our most tender moments.
40 min
Kate Baer: Tolerating Imperfection
Poet Kate Baer found herself inundated with the demands of motherhood and little time to write. Nothing was easy and then, at a breaking point, it felt impossible. If she wanted a creative life, she was going to have to redefine “perfection” (perfect mom! perfect woman!) and learn to tolerate a lot more imperfection instead. On this episode of Kate & Kate, they discuss how friendships give permission to speak honestly (and why your friendships are actually important), why not every experience (motherhood, marriage) is “fulfilling,” how they each went off-script to find meaning, and Kate Baer’s great love for Panera Bread. CW: postpartum depression
31 min
Giving Up on Perfect
16 min
Rick Mercer: Proud of Absolutely Everybody
Rick Mercer didn’t exactly know he was allowed to be proud. As a teenager, he was barely making it through high school and traveling the island province of Newfoundland, Canada, as the sidekick to a kindly clown. But being an outsider gave him a unique perspective. His razor wit, biting political commentary, and celebration of small town dreams would make him one of Canada’s most beloved voices. Together, Kate and Rick talk about: Their shared love of being Canadian (and why the Meech Lake Accord was so funny) The rather unhelpful suggestions people offer one another Why it feels so good to be proud of people doing what they love This episode is sure to make you laugh (even if the Canadian references go over your head) and feel proud to be where you’re from—no matter how obscure.
42 min
Katie Couric: The Courage to Try (and Wisdom to...
Katie Couric is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author. Her hustle and ambition not only served her career aspirations, but when faced with the unthinkable, she poured those same qualities into tireless advocacy. In this conversation, Katie and Kate discuss, The gifts (and limits) of hyper-agency The courage it takes to not fix things Why it is so scary to acknowledge our limits and our losses Katie has so much to teach us about what happens when our problems cannot be easily solved—no matter how hard we try. In this vulnerable conversation, Katie shares candidly about the lengths she went to avoid grief, but why she had to learn to face it nonetheless. We need the courage to try (and the wisdom to stop).
43 min
Introducing Season 8 of EVERYTHING HAPPENS
My name is Kate Bowler, and I'm a professor at Duke, a writer of some books that have joyfully sarcastic titles, wife, and mom of a boy that is mostly made up of giant flashlight eyeballs and the kind of Canadian that reminds you that she is Canadian this quickly into the conversation. On the road, less traveled. I took the bumpy one, the kind with those giant moguls. At 35, I was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. So I have spent a lot of time trying not to die while living in a world that is drunk on the idea that everything will always work out if you are extremely cheerful. We might not have fewer problems, but we can make each other's lives more bearable when we let go of the embarrassment of not having it together. And then we can begin to feel the love and hope and truth that can be found right here where we are together. I would love it if you joined me. New episodes begin on February 1st. Subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts, so you don’t miss an episode.
1 min
David Brooks & Kate Bowler: Never, Ever Enough
How do we reach for wisdom instead of self-help solutions? Much to their embarrassment, New York Times columnist David Brooks and Kate Bowler often find their books in the “Self-Help section.” David sat down with Kate at the historic Sixth & I Synagogue in Washington, D.C. to talk about her book, No Cure For Being Human, and the twisty-turny journey of living without easy answers. In this live, funny and poignant conversation, David and Kate discuss: If a life is ever complete How to define hope if it isn’t just a type of optimism The limits of stoicism What I wish healthcare professionals would do instead And you cannot miss David’s unplanned pun at the beginning. It was so bad and so funny and nothing can be better.
43 min
Sarah Sentilles: Loving a Stranger
We're often given a story of birds and bees where two people fall in love and out of their love blooms a perfect little creature. But far too often and for far too many, that isn’t the case. Writer Sarah Sentilles always knew she wanted to be a mom, so she entered into the foster system with the hope of adopting. But the process was not as simple as she had anticipated. In this conversation, Kate and Sarah discuss, How every child we welcome into our lives are strangers to be discovered The personal cost of impersonal (and often cruel) bureaucracy How we must choose love, even if it costs us everything Perhaps family is bigger, wider than we've been told. It is a story of belonging and loss and courageous love. And perhaps it involves learning to love a stranger.
40 min
Cindy McCain: A Special Kind of Brave
What does courage look like in the face of the impossible? Cindy McCain had a front row seat to history, as wife of Arizona Senator and presidential candidate John McCain. In this conversation, Kate and Cindy discuss: The two-for-one careers that cost both spouses John McCain the Stand-Up-Comedian (and how humor is the best medicine...but also real medicine is probably better) What it was like to grieve on a public stage and her best advice for those experiencing loss Together, we will discover how courage comes in many forms. The big and bold. The small and steady. Those who look pain and fear directly in the eye. Kate ends with a Blessing for the Brave. Perhaps, we can all gain a bit more courage after listening to this one.
34 min
Richard Rohr: Learning to Hold On, Learning to ...
Life is painful. Period. But are there some aspects of our faith or our posture toward the world that can change how we experience it? Father Richard Rohr is everyone’s favorite preacher of love. Love for each other. Love from God. In this conversation, Kate and Richard talk about: How great love and great suffering can move us into a new stage of life The spirituality of subtraction Making room for mystery of joy and suffering His secret to staying present to God Together, might we all learn when to hold on and when to let go.
36 min
Alexi Pappas: Staying Awake to Our Pain
When she was a child, Alexi Pappas lost her mother to suicide. So when Alexi faced a season of deep depression she knew had to find a different way forward. That’s when her training as an Olympic runner became invaluable. In this conversation, Kate and Alexi discuss, The difference between stress and trauma The discipline—and joy—of sheer effort Good pain vs. bad pain and how to stay inside the uncomfortable for a bit longer The highs and lows of realizing your dreams How viewing mental illness as an injury not only destigmatizes depression, but offers tangible next steps toward healing Too often professional athletes fall into the pure motivational speaker category. But this conversation with Alexi gently threads the needle about what is possible if you stay a little longer in uncomfortable situations when even getting out of bed feels like a win. There is so much wisdom we can glean from Alexi’s discipline and willpower.
40 min
Jerry Sittser: Life After Loss
How do you move forward after an incalculable loss? Jerry Sittser lost his wife, young daughter, and his mom in one horrific accident. But even as his world stopped, the world kept spinning. He had to learn how to parent his three surviving children in the wake of such grief. Now, thirty years after the accident that upended his life, Kate and Jerry discuss: Finding honesty about the pain you can never unknow Why it isn’t possible to protect our kids from the tragedies of life How to stop counting or comparing people’s grief Why we cannot explain our suffering with simple formulas and shallow theology Whether miracles can solve our pain This conversation is an Everything Happens Masterclass on learning to live alongside the reality of lives that come apart for no reason we can explain. CW: deaths of family members
36 min
Susan David: Toxic Positivity
Do you ever feel a pressure to be positive? Harvard psychologist and bestselling author of Emotional Agility, Dr. Susan David studies the psychological skills critical to thriving in times of complexity and change. Spoiler alert: we don’t need to force ourselves to think happy thoughts. Perhaps there is a better way. In this conversation, Kate and Susan discuss: The relationship between prescriptive happiness and religion What it means to bottle or brood your feelings Better strategies to handle difficult emotions How to get unstuck from our feelings This is the permission you were looking for to feel the full range of your human experience—the good and the bad, the beautiful and the terrible.
34 min
Stanley Tucci: Small Pleasures, Simple Joys
Stanley Tucci is a total foodie—of course, he starred in Julie and Julia and brought us the mouth-watering CNN special, Searching for Italy. But when he was diagnosed with oral cancer, his ability to enjoy food might be ruined permanently. In this conversation, Kate and Stanley discuss, How familiar recipes remind us of home—even if we’re far away Why it’s okay to be picky about what we eat (Especially bread. He has a lot of homicidal opinions about how bread should be eaten.) The practical difficulties with eating that often accompanies an illness and treatment The anger that comes with great loss And the joy of bringing people together around the table When life gets small, so often our pleasures dry up. But perhaps it is in that smallness that we might compress our attention, to discover the small joys and simple pleasures that make a life well-lived.
38 min
Philip Yancey: The Scandal of Grace
Philip Yancey is well-known for his bestselling books like What's So Amazing About Grace and Disappointment with God. But behind all of that spiritual wisdom was a family secret: his sick father left the hospital against the doctor's advice, trusting in God to heal him. He wasn’t healed. Out of this experience, Philip has wrestled with deep questions of faith, doubt, and suffering. In today's conversation, Philip and I discuss: What it was like growing up in Christian fundamentalism Being wounded by the church The cost of unforgiveness The mystery and hunger of grace This conversation forced me to wonder about how grace works. Perhaps grace, as Philip would say, is a scandal. Because it forces us to think about a love that is unearned, undeserved, and unmerited. All we know sometimes, is that WE need it. So, blessed are we who live here. In this mystery—this scandal—of grace.
35 min
No Cure For Being Human (And Other Truths I Nee...
The bestselling author of Everything Happens for a Reason (And Other Lies I’ve Loved) asks, how do you move forward with a life you didn’t choose? In this episode, Kate reads an excerpt of No Cure for Being Human (and Other Truths I Need to Hear) — her new memoir that releases TODAY! We all wish we could boil our life down to simple formulas. Easy-to-grab mantras that tell us how to live. Things like: You only live once! or What doesn't kill you makes you stronger! or just Think Positively! I guess I'll just have to make lemonade out of all those lemons I've been given. But what about when you realize life isn't a series of choices? More often than we'd like to imagine, things come apart, and what we thought was in our control just isn't anymore. We have to learn to live here. Outside of formulas, outside of cliches, outside of easy steps. We all have to learn to be human, again today. No Cure for Being Human mines these formulas to find something that is truer, gentler, and maybe a little bit more honest. Like how all the modern-day-stoics tell you to BE PRESENT! It seems so simple, right? In response to all that is out of control, we should zero in on what is in our control. But the consequences of only living in the present is that we might ignore the past or put a wall around the future. And there is so much wisdom there. Until, of course, it forces us to put too much of our lives on hold in the suspended animation of now, so that's what I thought I might talk to you about today.
18 min
Tony Hale: Gentleness for Our Awkward, Anxious ...
What if we never fit in? Or always miss the script that everyone else seems to so easily understand? From Arrested Development’s Buster Bluth to Veep’s Gary Walsh or Toy Story 4’s Forky, Emmy Award Winning actor Tony Hale is an expert in awkward. In this episode, Kate and Tony talk about: How acting is an act of empathy What it feels like to feel outside of the Acceptable People Having grace for our most awkward moments This conversation will offer you a little gentleness for our awkward selves, our in-pain selves, our out-of-step selves, our misunderstood selves. Bonus: it will also make you laugh.
41 min
Antoni Porowski: Tastes Like Love
What kind of food tastes like love to you? Food has a beautiful way of making us feel less lonely in our pain or in our isolation or in our grief. Star of Netflix’s Queer Eye, Antoni Porowski understands the power of a delicious meal to bring us together and remake us with love. In this episode, Kate and Antoni discuss: How food transcends time and distance and can remind you of who you are Antoni’s biggest cooking mistake (and how it might give us all a little permission to fail and try again) How food can help us to grieve What NOT to do when you deliver food to people who are going through a tough time
40 min
Gretchen Rubin: Can We Be A Tiny Bit Happier?
Is it possible to be happier? Bestselling author Gretchen Rubin wondered if she could discipline herself to take tiny steps in order to be more content with her actual life. But what about those of us facing something daunting or insurmountable or tragic? Is it possible for us to be happier? In this conversation, Kate and Gretchen discuss: When we’re forced to reevaluate our life and what might happen if we just try a little harder How our senses anchor us to the present The difference between happiness and joy If happiness is a selfish endeavor The definition of limited agency (and why we should try to find a place between EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE and NOTHING IS POSSIBLE) Kate ends with A Blessing For Permission to Try.
35 min
Nadine Burke Harris: What Your Childhood Means ...
Can trauma you experienced as a kid still affect you now? What about the traumatic experiences of our parents and grandparents? Is there a way to undo what California Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris calls the “toxic stress response”? In this conversation, Kate and Nadine discuss: Why “picking yourself up by your bootstraps” is an incomplete (and unhelpful) story A better way to define resilience How your zip code might determine your health How fostering nurturing relationships help heal our bodies What baby rats can teach us about learning to change Kate ends with a Blessing for if You had a Painful Childhood. And whew, will this episode crack you open and heal the tender parts of you you didn’t know needed it.
41 min
Cecily Strong: Embracing the Yes/And
Can hilarity and sorrow co-exist? Comedian and actress Cecily Strong (of Saturday Night Live fame) is professionally funny. But after a series of losses, she was forced to discover how devastation and love sometimes exist at the same time—both in great measure. In this conversation, Kate and Cecily discuss: Why we need to practice changing How much of our lives is determined by almostness Moving past the “winning” and “losing” paradigm for illness When we can stop being afraid (and how maybe fearlessness is for psychopaths) Loving people’s uniqueness Why allowing yourself to feel big emotions can be daunting, and how love, beauty, and maybe even magic can be present simultaneously Kate ends with a Blessing for the Both/And. This deep conversation about the cost of love will surprise you with its tenderness and offers us all a little room to grieve the things we’ve lost.
34 min
Malcolm Gladwell: Can People Change?
The Self-Help Industry would like to convince us that everyone is capable of change. Just drink this! Read this book! Pick up this daily habit! Follow these 5 Steps! But how much change are we really capable of? It’s such a tender question that is best reserved for a brilliant and agile mind, so who better to pose this to than the spectacular brain of Malcolm Gladwell? In this conversation, Kate and Malcolm discuss: Why living in the future is a kind of pernicious myth and why the past is inherently better… (ignore the fact that these are two historians. No bias to see here). How difficult it is to not just interpret a stranger but to love one. The case for humility and forgiveness Why we should be willing to rethink our certainties Kate ends with a Blessing When You Are Forced to Change. It may be one we all need during these strange times.
38 min
Introducing Season 7 of EVERYTHING HAPPENS
We all wish we could fix our lives. And it works! Until it doesn't. Until we lose someone we love. Or an addiction ruins the family vacation. Or our parents die. Or we never get that baby. Or we lose our financial security. Or, I don't know, a global pandemic takes away all of our plans. Until we realize that we are Fragile. Finite. Prone to han-gryness. And just... human, again today. And maybe that isn't such a bad thing. My name is Kate Bowler. I'm a professor at Duke University. A wife. A mom. and... at age 35 I was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, which was not exactly something I would have picked either. How do we live alongside the things we didn't choose? The things we can't get back? How do we learn to live when our lives can't be so easily fixed ... like the wellness and self-help culture would like to convince us? Join me for this season of the Everything Happens Podcast where I will speak to thinkers, authors, experts, comedians, and actors about what they’ve learned in difficult times. Together, we will break down common formulas for how to live… mine them for their truths, and, hopefully, discover something thicker, richer for how to live, beautifully in our actual, fragile lives and broken bodies and delicate relationships. Because there’s no cure for being human. But we are all good medicine. New episodes begin on August 17th. Subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts, so you don’t miss an episode.
2 min
Debunking "Everything Happens for a Reason" wit...
The Everything Happens team is still on a bit of a summer break, but don't worry! We'll be back in August with all new episodes. We thought it might be fun to surprise you with this bonus episode. Kate spoke with her friend, the brilliant and hilarious bestselling writer Kelly Corrigan on Kelly's Podcast: Kelly Corrigan Wonders. Together, the two debunk conventional wisdom like the notion that "Everything Happens for a Reason." Kate Bowler has trouble nodding along when people say things like “Don’t put that into the universe!” and “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” But what she simply CANNOT endure is when someone assures her that “everything happens for a reason.” Her point of view is tied to two absurd truths of her life: she’s a divinity professor at Duke, and she had Stage 4 cancer. She split her time between studying how religion works and getting surgeries that move her belly button around and then recovering from them with her husband who she’s been with since she was in braces and her son, who at six, doesn’t really get why sometimes she can’t do dance parties with him. This conversation will fill you up. Guaranteed.
44 min
How Far We’ve Come
In our season six finale, Kate takes us back to the very beginning. In this episode, you’ll hear the unlikely beginning of the Everything Happens podcast, the most terrified Kate’s ever been (for fun reasons), and how love and beauty can surprise us in some of the most unlikely of spaces. Our team needs a little rest and vitamin D then we’ll be back with new episodes in August (don’t worry!). In the meantime, listen to some of our all time favorite episodes: with M*A*S*H* actor Alan Alda on the power of empathy with The Fault In Our Stars author John Green on living with chronic illness with palliative care physician Dr. Sunita Puri on living with uncertainty with humorist Samantha Irby on the power of the absurd In the meantime, visit nocurebook.com to learn more about Kate’s NEW BOOK coming out at the end of September. Find Kate online @KateCbowler and subscribe to our weekly email newsletter at katebowler.com.
33 min
Julianna Margulies: Getting Unstuck
Chaotic childhoods can leave us feeling stuck. Stuck in the roles and relationships and chaos that once felt familiar. Actress Julianna Margulies (best known for her roles in ER and The Good Wife) found incredible success, but nothing seemed to free her from living into past, traumatic dynamics. In this conversation, Kate and Julianna discuss the roles we get trapped inside (I’m the cheerful one! I’m the dutiful one! I'll keep it together!) and how love can surprise us through unlikely strangers and new relationships. Kate ends with a blessing for a permission to change.
38 min
Suleika Jaouad: You Are Not The Bad Thing (Part 2)
There is a strange tension when we want so badly for the people we love to support us, but want to shield them from the pain at the same time. This is a beautiful, terrible kind of love. In Part Two of our conversation with bestselling author Suleika Jaouad, Kate and Suleika discuss what it is like to be the one suffering—all the guilt and shame and rage and mercy and grace and how we can create better economies of love around those who need it. Kate ends with a blessing for those who feel like their problem is too much to handle—a blessing if you feel like "the bad thing."
30 min
Suleika Jaouad: The Kingdom of the Sick (Part 1)
There are two different worlds people inhabit. In one world, people feel infinite bounce. They can see every silver lining and believe in their bones things will always get better and that any set back is probably temporary. But then, there’s the other world. These people know what it feels like to live scan-to-scan and hold their breath when the doctor’s number shows up on their phone. Bestselling author of Between Two Kingdoms, Suleika Jaouad knows what it means to carry this dual citizenship between the kingdom of the well and the kingdom of the sick. In this conversation, Kate and Suleika discuss what it was like to have a terrible diagnosis as a young person and how to keep living when you can’t go back to the way things were. Kate ends with a blessing for those who have lost too much, too quickly.
35 min
Adam Grant: Leaning into Uncertainty
Everything is in flux. Nothing is the same anymore. How do we live amid all of this uncertainty? Well, psychologist and bestselling author Adam Grant believes we may have to do some re-thinking. In this episode, Kate and Adam speak about the courage it takes to think again about things that we once felt so certain about, how “imposter syndrome” might be a good instinct, and how we all need friends who challenge us (even if it makes us wildly uncomfortable… thanks a lot, Adam!). Oh! And if you listen to the end, you’ll hear something special.
33 min
Heather Havrilesky: Be Where You Are
How do we find “enough” in a life that keeps getting…. harder? Our lives are shrinking. We are shrunk by the pandemic or by illness or by age or by any number of losses. And it can be difficult to feel satisfaction and enjoyment again, especially in the midst of a self-help culture that tries to tell you “EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE.” In this episode, Kate speaks with writer and advice columnist Heather Havrilesky about finding contentment in our bodies, in our parenting, in our relationships, while living a life we didn’t choose. Sometimes we need a smoking appliance day (…that will make more sense when you listen).
37 min
Mari Andrew: Beautiful, Terrible, and Everythin...
How do we navigate the life in-between? In-between relationships and jobs and friends. In-between independence and dependence. In-between the life we have and the life we’ve always wanted. In this episode, Kate and artist Mari Andrew discuss these liminal spaces, what to do when we’re stuck with the B-side versions of ourselves, and how to make a little more space to explore all the colors of this place in-between. CW: Guillain-Barre Syndrome, loss of a parent
34 min
Bessel van der Kolk: Our Bodies Keep Score
When something truly awful happens, we can’t forget. That memory isn’t just stored in our brains. Our bodies keep the score too. Researcher and psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk has spent his life studying the affects of trauma on adults and children. In this eye-opening conversation, Kate and Bessel address the nature of trauma, how helplessness and agency affect our experiences, and ways to get unstuck.
36 min
Jamie Lee: Weddings, Divorces, and Loves That C...
Comedian Jamie Lee is now Netflix’s The Wedding Coach where she’s on a mission to help couples survive the craziness of planning a wedding. A wedding is an event, but a marriage is not an event. During the filming of the show, Jamie’s own relationship began to unravel. In this episode, Kate and Jamie exchange hilarious wedding stories (including what 22-year-old bride Kate did on her wedding day) and discuss the micro-griefs of a divorce, and share ways to show love to people experiencing this particular kind of loss.
37 min
Jenny Lawson: The Art of the Absurd
Our culture’s obsession with hyper-instrumentalization has meant everything has to be FOR something. But when you are facing unfixable or chronic problems, maybe it’s better to do something for no reason whatsoever. Depression, anxiety, and a grab bag of auto-immune diseases have made humorist Jenny Lawson an expert in the art of the absurd. In this conversation, Kate and Jenny share their tips to getting through horrible days, the evils of insurance bureaucracy, the delight of taxidermy, and discovering joy that you don’t have to “choose.” CW: depression, suicidal ideation, chronic illnesses, vampires
40 min
Father James Martin: What Good Is Prayer?
We don’t always know how to move through this strange, distended season. The season before the cure or the vaccine or the answer. Before the money comes through or the job opens up or the heartbreak is over. The season where there is hope for someday, but someday is not now. Perhaps here, we need to learn how to pray. In this episode, Kate and Jesuit priest Father James Martin discuss how prayer is for everyone — believer, doubter, or no-thank you-er. You may be wondering, but Kate. I know you don’t know me but… prayer? Really? This seems a bit sanctimonious. What if I don’t believe in God? Or at least don’t believe that prayer works? What if I’m not the kind of person who prays? Why are you being so bossy about this? Full disclosure: I’m not an amazing pray-er. But I do love people who love to pray. And today I thought we could talk to a wonderful person who can help give us a little more spiritual language to be here, a little scared. A little disappointed. A little hopeful.
35 min
Willie Jennings: Belonging
Our bodies tell a story, and we find ourselves having to live inside it. At home. At work. At church. At school. But what happens when the places we love don’t always love us back? In this episode, Kate speaks with theologian Dr. Willie Jennings about the way institutions don’t always value our embodiment and how we might create spaces of belonging and love instead.
39 min
Nicole Chung: Family Lore
What if the story you’ve been given about your family isn’t the whole truth? Writer Nicole Chung had been told a story like so many adoptees. Your parents wanted a better life for you. God chose you to be part of our family. But then, she found out the truth was far more complicated. In this episode, Kate and Nicole talk about how she learned to look beyond the simple answers and live in the grey space, where stories can’t be neatly summed up in villains and heroes, tragedy and miracles. This conversation will help you live amid uncertainty with a bit more courage.
38 min
Matthew McConaughey: Stories We Tell Ourselves
Sometimes there are stories about ourselves that just need to be true, even if they aren't. Stories about our ancestors or younger selves that help to explain who we are and offer us a little purpose. When it comes to telling a good story, no one does it better than our guest today: Academy Award winner and author Matthew McConaughey. In this episode, Kate and Matthew talk about the stories we tell about ourselves, the mottos that animate our lives, and the half-truths that are true enough.
40 min
Anne Lamott: Loved and Chosen
What do you do with a world that is full of things to fear? People we won’t please. Kids who die. Parents who don’t change. Writer Anne Lamott doesn’t sugar-coat a single, terrible thing, but knows the kinds of truths we can stand on. In this conversation, Kate and Anne talk about the good, strong hopes we can reach for. That we are loved and chosen. And friendships and snacks hold us together when we're feeling lost.
40 min
Dani Shapiro: Family Secrets
Who are we when we can't answer where we're from? Who are we when we can't locate ourselves on family trees or on familiar religious traditions or among genetic traits? How do we live after we thought what was true about our identity is totally upended? In this conversation, Kate speaks with writer Dani Shapiro about uncovering life-altering and long-hidden family secrets, what it means to belong, and what to do when the truth is… complicated.
40 min
Father Greg Boyle: The Case for Hope
There are some people who see need and, rather than feeling stuck by the magnitude of the world's pain, they move toward it. Today's guest is one of those kinds of people. Father Greg Boyle has worked with former gang members in Los Angeles for over thirty years with Homeboy Industries, which employs and trains former gang members and offers free services to facilitate healing. In this conversation, Kate and Father Boyle discuss how living at the margins turns us inside out, how crucial hope is to healing, and why we should all embrace his understanding of kinship.
40 min
Priyanka Chopra Jonas: Love Big
Today’s episode is all about love—the loves that constitute us, the loves that break our hearts, and the loves that keep us going. Actress, producer, and entertainer Priyanka Chopra Jonas is one of the most recognizable people in the world. In this episode, Kate and Priyanka discuss the places and people, loves and losses that make us who we are. Love that is big enough to break our hearts is the only kind worth having.
35 min
Everything Happens Trailer - Season 6
2 min
Ask Kate Anything: Season Five Finale
How do you get through a terrible day? What should you not say to someone with cancer? What keeps you believing in God? We thought it might be fun to have you, dear listener, interview Kate for today’s episode. She offers gentle ideas for how to be a good friend to struggling loved ones, how she has found pockets of productivity in this dumpster fire of a year, and what she is hoping for in the New Year. Plus, she ends with a benediction for a year that didn’t turn out like we thought it should.
33 min
Nikki DeLoach: A Not-So Hallmark Christmas
The pandemic introduced many to living with uncertainty. But for some, uncertainty has always been their norm. Actress Nikki Deloach has starred in several Hallmark Christmas movies, but her life hasn’t matched the happily-ever-after plot-lines of her characters. Nikki’s dad was diagnosed with an aggressive form of dementia and her son was diagnosed with congenital heart defects in utero… all in the same week. In this conversation, Kate and Nikki discuss how to live with constant uncertainty, how to stay open to both the terror and the beauty of living close to the edge, and how to make Christmas meaningful when hope is hard to come by. CW: suicidal ideation, postpartum depression, a parent grappling with a child’s fragile diagnosis, dementia
37 min
Michele Harper: Beauty in the Breaking
Emergency Rooms are the theater of life itself. For ER Dr. Michele Harper, work has become a calling—to bear witness to people’s problems both large and small, to advocate for better care, to catch those who fall through society’s cracks, to stand up against discrimination, to remind patients that the pain they have endured is not fair… it was never supposed to be this way. In this episode, Kate and Michele talk about the importance of radical honesty when it comes to advocacy as well as the racial and socio-economic disparities that keep people disproportionately affected by the pandemic… and the anxiety and stress that follows. And still, even after all she has seen and all she has walked through, Michele finds great hope in being broken. Yes, we are shattered, but yes, we will be made into something new. CW: domestic violence, a doctor discusses a patient’s experience of sexual assault and a patient’s suicidal ideation, racial discrimination
35 min
Christie Watson: Bless the Nurses
At the core of nursing is the ability to love a stranger, to care indiscriminately. Christie Watson was a nurse in the UK for 20 years before she began teaching nurses. But when COVID-19 hit, she knew she needed to stand with her colleagues. So she put on her scrubs once again. In this moving conversation, Kate and Christie discuss the cost of COVID on healthcare workers, chaplains, and those who can’t be by their loved ones’ side when they need it most. If you are a nurse, know a nurse, or have been cared by one before, this one is for you. CW: COVID-19, dying alone
40 min
Samantha Irby: I'm Doing My Best (Life Now)
Though magazines and movie stars try to convince us otherwise, we aren’t all living our BEST LIFE NOW. When humor writer Samantha Irby lost both of her parents at 18, she developed the perfect coping mechanism: finding the absurd in everything. Kate and Samantha have a wide-ranging conversation about topics like grieving their Sweet Valley High life dreams, and how losing your parents as a child is the worst form of lost agency, and how important it is to speak honestly about our fragile, imperfect bodies and love them still.
41 min
Jan Richardson: Stubborn Hope
What does it mean to be blessed? If you were to scroll through social media, you'd assume that "blessed" are the ones with gorgeous, matching families living in open style floor plans. But Jesus had other things in mind. When the Reverend Jan Richardson lost her husband, she continued to write counterintuitive blessings like “A Blessing for the Brokenhearted." In this episode, Kate and Jan talk about the ways grief cracks us open and the ways blessing invites us to stubborn hope.
37 min
Abigail Marsh: Extraordinary Empathy
Are some people more empathetic than others? By studying those on the opposite end of the compassion spectrum—those with psychopathy—researcher Dr. Abigail Marsh discovered something quite surprising. In this episode, Kate and Abigail talk about the purpose of fear, what it really means to be brave, and how we can all learn to better belong to one another.
34 min
Bishop Michael Curry: The Power of Ordinary Love
Sometimes it feels like the world is irreparably broken. A climate crisis leading to more hurricanes, fires, warming oceans, a political season that has ripped families and friends apart. A pandemic that has left us more isolated than ever and even more delicate than before. Even the strongest among us may wonder, "What hope is there? Is love enough to save us?" My guest today is someone who believes in the kind of love that can change everything. In this episode, Kate and Bishop Michael Curry talk about the power of ordinary and extraordinary love to remake ourselves and our communities along with us.
36 min
Susan Burton: Bless This Body
There are some secrets we'd rather not tell, but that eat us alive anyway. Writer Susan Burton was trapped in an eating disorder with no good name. Today's conversation is not a victory story. Issues with our bodies are not ones we overcome because our bodies are, you know, living things. Kate and Susan discuss how we struggle against shame and learn to have compassion for ourselves and our fragile, beautiful bodies.
28 min
Victoria Sweet: Medicine with a Soul
How do doctors, nurses, and other caring professionals keep their hearts soft when there are forces that make it hard to stay that way? With her radically compassionate approach to medicine, Dr. Victoria Sweet calls us to slow down in a world that loves quick fixes. In today's conversation, Kate and Victoria give us more language about what helps us all stay connected to the people we serve.
31 min
Will Willimon: Your Work is a Calling
What does it mean to be called to something? What if that job wears you thin? What if you think you've aged out of your vocation? In this episode, Kate and the Reverend Dr. Will Willimon talk about what to do when the roles we play cost us more than we're willing to pay and how aging invites us to take a new look at our purpose. (Also, you'll hear about the time Kate offered Will a bit of necessary... perspective.)
33 min
Lanecia Rouse Tinsley: When Hope Seems Lost
What do you do when all hope feels lost? Abstract artist Lanecia Rouse Tinsley is no stranger to the hopelessness that comes with loss. Kate and Lanecia discuss how creativity can be an act of resistance and the hope she discovered on a blank canvas.
34 min
Mary Pipher: The Art of Aging
Who are we as we age? Our culture has such poor language for the who-we-are-ness across time. The ways we grow and the things that threaten to diminish us. Clinical psychologist and bestselling author, Mary Pipher knows a lot about the opportunities and costs embedded in aging. In this episode, Kate and Mary offer us a non self-helpy roadmap for how to age beautifully.
31 min
Morgan Harper Nichols: Blessed Are The Mirrors
We have thick cultural scripts for what is deemed inspirational and it usually goes like this: You can do it. Never give up. Everything you need is inside of you today. But what do you really need to hear when life is coming apart? Morgan Harper Nichols is someone whose words of encouragement gently lift our chins toward hope. In this episode, Kate and Morgan discuss how important it is to reflect truth and hope and beauty back to one another.
29 min
Shauna Niequist: Spread Too Thin
Our lives have shrunk and our choices have been dramatically restricted. But the obligations never stopped, did they? How do we get off the achievement train and build a beautiful life within constraints? Writer Shauna Niequist was on the fast track to burnout when she received advice that changed the pace of her life entirely. Kate and Shauna talk about the productivity myths we believe and how to embrace a slower, smaller life marked by delight.
32 min
Ken Carter: Living Alongside Fear
What does it feel like to really live? Some people jump out of airplanes. Others prefer for their feet to stay on the floor. Some seek out the feeling of riding the edge of what is possible, and the rest of us are too tired to think about it right now in this pandemic season. Clinical psychologist Dr. Ken Carter studies thrill-seekers. In this episode, Kate and Ken discuss fear—how we manage it and how we live alongside it.
32 min
Kristen Howerton: World's Okayest Mom
Parenting isn't always Instagram-worthy, but the American myth of perfectionism rarely shows that messy middle. Kristen Howerton, mom of four, therapist, and author of Rage Against the Minivan, gives us the permission slip we all need. The one that says you can opt out of greatness. There is no winning in parenthood.
30 min
Rachael Denhollander: The Pursuit of Justice
What do we do when the institutions that are supposed to protect us, fail? As a child, Rachael Denhollender was sexually abused by USA Gymnastics team doctor, Larry Nassar. When she came forward with her story, over 300 other women came forward too—eventually bringing him to justice. In this episode, Kate and Rachael talk about how love must be the motivation behind justice and how our worth cannot be taken away, no matter what happens to us.
31 min
Ray Hinton: The Sun Does Shine
Ray Hinton spent 30 years on death row for a crime he didn’t commit. With the help of justice lawyer Bryan Stevenson, Ray won his release in 2015. In this episode, Kate and Ray discuss the experience of not being believed, a justice system that works against you because of the color of your skin, and the sustaining power of unconditional love.
41 min
Justin Yopp & Don Rosenstein: The Magic of WE
When a group of young moms died around the same time, clinicians Justin Yopp and Don Rosenstein wanted to refer their widowed spouses to a grief support group... but none existed. So they started their own. Kate, Justin, and Don discuss the loss of imagined futures and the particular needs of young, widowed parents. Together, they uncover the magic of we.
35 min
Heather Lanier: Whole and Holy
What if your life hasn’t turn out like you thought it would? When writer Heather Lanier’s daughter was born with a rare genetic syndrome, she learned that the world will not always see her beloved as good. In this conversation, Kate and Heather discuss how it’s okay that we are not summed up on bell curves. Perhaps the bodies in which we dwell are whole enough.
34 min
Timothy Omundson & Joel McHale: Flying Buttresses
Timothy Omundson knows what it feels like to have well-made plans come apart after he suffered a massive stroke at the height of his acting career. Kate speaks with Tim and Joel McHale about the power of hard work and friendship.
42 min
Jason Rosenthal: Blank Space
When Jason Rosenthal’s wife died, she left him a gift that he couldn’t even have known to ask for—in the form of a viral Modern Love article. Today’s episode is about the kind of love that walks us to the very edge and charts a way forward. Even when forward seems impossible to imagine.
27 min
Sarah Bessey: Ordinary Miracles
Sarah Bessey speaks right to the soft spot where our deepest pain and deepest hope meet. The place where in the bleakest of nights we whisper, What if this doesn’t get better? If you find yourself in that tender spot today, this conversation is for you.
34 min
Hillary McBride: Living Inside Our Bodies
Is fear avoidable? What does this emotion do to our bodies and minds? In this episode, Kate speaks with psychologist Hillary McBride on the importance of fear, practicing embodiment, and ways we can better live alongside the things we’re afraid of.
37 min
Mia Birdsong: Community as a Verb
There's a story we're told about how we should save ourselves through sheer grit. But many fall on the other side of that success metric. In this episode, Kate and writer and activist Mia Birdsong discuss expanding our definition of family and how to show up when our community needs us—both locally and nationally.
32 min
Wes Moore: Fork in the Road
Wes Moore had a rough childhood growing up in Baltimore. His father died when he was a child, he struggled in school and was arrested for vandalism before something shifted. Moore grew up to be a Rhodes Scholar, White House fellow, and published writer. And along the way, he learned of another man who shared his same name, but is serving a life sentence in prison. He talks with Kate about what he learned from “the other” Wes Moore.
35 min
Gary Haugen: Joy is The Oxygen
Certain people decide to make other people's pain their own. Gary Haugen, founder and CEO of International Justice Mission, is one of those people. In this episode, Kate and Gary talk about how even in the darkest places, joy and goodness can be found.
31 min
Wajahat Ali: Make Me A Gardener
Wajahat Ali was about to give a TED talk on the global case for having more kids, when he received news no parent should ever hear. Kate and Waj speak about parenting amid fear, unexpected kindness, and how kids really are our greatest act of hope.
34 min
David Fajgenbaum: Hope Wears Sneakers
This is the story of one young doctor’s race against the clock as he searches for a cure for his own rare disease that brought him to the brink of death too many times to count. In this episode, Kate and David Fajgenbaum speak about facing impossible odds and how love can turn hope into action.
33 min
Lori Gottlieb: Does My Pain Count?
How do we find joy and connection when tragedy surrounds us? Kate speaks with bestselling author and psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb about creating daily rhythms, living in the both/and, and grief in the time of COVID19.
33 min
Glennon Doyle: The Love Bridge
In this episode, Kate speaks with bestselling author Glennon Doyle about unlearning the roles we're stuck inside even when it costs us and what's better than being perfect—being human.
34 min