Alternate title: One Way to Keep your Brain from Shrinking as a SAHM
Last time I was here, I was talking about talking. I just listened to This American Life, the podcast version of the radio show. Last weekend’s episode is called “Say Anything.” It’s all about talking, believe it or not. I have been listening to This American Life for as long as I can remember and I probably will for a long time into the future, so if you’ve been wanting to judge me as a crazy left-wing liberal, now’s a good time.
In this episode of the podcast, I learned about a man and woman who go on the streets of New York City with a little sign that says, “talk to me.” At first, people are skeptical because they think they’re being sold Avon or Plexus or something. But there really is no agenda besides inviting people to talk about whatever is on their minds. Do you ever feel like maybe you’re wearing this sign on your forehead? I do.
I listened to a podcast awhile back about a woman who was obese most of her life, but she came to a point as an adult where she told her friends and family that she was fat. She called it, “coming out” as a fat person. She grew up hoping that if she didn’t mention it, maybe no one would notice that she was overweight. It seems foolish to admit it, but that’s how I feel about leaving the Mennonites. Maybe if I don’t mention it, nobody will notice.
I’ve gotten used to being interesting to most people and I wonder how my children will handle boring small talk without being able to casually bring up the fact that they were raised Mennonite. That always unleashes a myriad of questions and observations. “So maybe you can explain to me the difference between Amish and Mennonites?” That’s one I could answer in my sleep. I learned some of what I know from a podcast episode called “Who Are The Amish?” from Stuff You Should Know. They’re the ones who taught me that Mennonites came first, then Amish. From them, I also learned the three reasons the Amish split from the Mennonites.
When I’m cooking dinner, I let my kids watch Peppa Pig and I stick my earbuds into my ears and listen to podcasts while I’m busy in the kitchen. (If you have been wanting to judge me as a lackadaisical mom, this is the perfect time.) Lately I feel like I don’t have much time to sit down and read, so podcasts keep my brain on its proverbial toes. I’d feel better about myself if I were listening to audiobooks but I can’t ever find good ones for free.
Sometimes I branch out and try new podcasts, but I always go back to the same handful that I’ve listened to for years. However, this year I added a new one to my rotation as soon as it came out. It’s called How I Built This, “a show about innovators, idealists and entrepreneurs and the stories behind the movements.” I found the interview with the TOMs shoes guy especially interesting. In the business school I’ve been staffing, we watched a documentary called Poverty Inc. (find it on Netflix!) that shows why a business model like TOMs is disruptive to markets in developing countries. I was so happy to hear the TOMs guy say that he agreed with this criticism and they now manufacture over 40% of the shoes in the countries where they give them away. I thought that was pretty humble of him to admit that they really needed to work on this aspect of their company.
The episode about Whole Foods didn’t have that same humble vibe, to be honest.
One podcast I tried recently is a lady who asks people personal questions, on topics we normally consider taboo (politics and money and such). I forget what it’s called. I found the concept intriguing but I was disappointed by the interview. It just sounded like a normal American conversation to me, nothing too deep or uncomfortable.
I have never thought of myself as a creature of habit, but maybe I am; I do stick to my favorites. It’s not a podcast, but I’ve listened to this so many hundreds of times over the years that I almost have it memorized. So, if you would send me your favorite episode of your favorite podcast, I would love to listen to the things you are finding fascinating these days.