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Friends, one of the things I think about a lot is honesty and how it intersects with self-care. I’m maybe a little divergent in my point of view; I will say publicly and honestly I don’t think you owe everyone your honesty! Certainly not in every arena, and not every time. There are times for self-revelation, and times for self-protection.

But when people want to give you truth, their intimate truth, as a gift, just because? Wow that is what I am here for. (Most of the time. I mean, I do like to pick and choose the topics for myself, as there is such a thing as too much inbound honesty. I think the youth are still calling it TMI?)

I do have friends with whom I can be honest, and whose secrets and intimate thoughts are safe with me too, of course. But I’m curious about all the women! The world’s got almost 4 billion of them! How do they live? How do they be a person, existing in the world, caring for themselves, caring for others? How do they do the hard things, like deal with mental illness, trauma, grief and even just Imposter Syndrome? 

I shall never tire of hearing the real answers to those questions. And since podcasts were invented, well, it’s just been the golden age of honest human stories. 

Naturally, I have recommendations. They come with this warning: some of the content is truly tough, the concepts and language adult. If you’ve had enough to deal with lately, maybe skip Maria and Tim. But if you want a dose of it’s-not-just-me, and you’re facing a long drive or a big pile of mending, here are some of the self-care-oriented pods and episodes I’ve been appreciating lately.

Women Talk about how they really do it.

On the Pods

Maria Bamford on the Hilarious World of Depression. There are many ways to experience Maria’s eccentric enhanced frankness about mental illness in just about every format she works in: television, a standalone motivational audiobook on creativity, independent YouTube series, live standup, workshopping her comedy on Zoom—she even held an epic public slumber party earlier this summer. The Hilarious World of Depression Episode #2: Maria Bamford Talks Bipolar II While Her Pugs Eat Nilla Wafers captures her style and story with an NPR vibe. 

(If you’re new to “Bamfoo” and wondering what I mean by eccentric, maybe check out The Pteradactyl Song.” And catch Lady Dynamite while it’s still on Netflix. Especially if you think life coaches are even more hilarious than depression. A show of purest genius, one that affirms “there are enough Oscars for everyone.”)

Tim Ferriss, my wild card, on The Tim Ferriss Show #464: My Healing Journey After Childhood Abuse. Here bro multipreneur Tim turns the tables and allows himself to be interviewed by design expert Debbie Millman, who you may know as the wife of Roxane Gay. The title says it. Tim is famously frank, but this is a conversation of just really uncommon openness.

The Lisa Congdon Sessions. The celebrated graphic artist and author shares her tips for creative practice in this series. Episode 1: Lisa’s Story and Episode 2: Own Your Story are both very personal and candid, and true to her goal, very inspiring.

Nicole Antoinette: Real Talk Radio. If you read my newsletter, you will know that my prime 2021 obsesh has been the work of thru-hiker Carrot Quinn. Nic interviews the Alaska-born hiker/memoirist for the second-to-last episode of this long-running pod. They talk about Carrot’s times on the Pacific Crest Trail (very different from Cheryl Strayed’s Wild experience), how thru-hiking can be a self-care thing or a punishment (it’s how you do it and why), as well as Carrot’s latest book, The Sunset Route. My favorite read of the year, it’s a memoir of poverty, homelessness, reconciliation and—plot twist—riding freight trains. What a good listen: Adventure and Forgiveness with Carrot Quinn.

(Bonus for the brave: Nic also talked to Carrot in 2018 and of course they discuss long-distance hiking and trail cooking and blisters but also what it was like to grow up with a schizophrenic parent. Near the end, the conversation veers into matters of digestion on the trail, so be warned. There is … specificity. Me, I was transfixed, but my fascination might be your TMI.) 

Real Talk Radio has just recently concluded after more than five years, but the whole back catalogue is still available for listening. On the final episode, copywriting guru and novelist Alex Franzen talks about Grief, Money and Wanting More. Another riveting conversation, this one with a soundtrack of the nature at Alex’s place in Hilo, Hawaii. 

Kimberly Ann Johnson, somatic practitioner. Another potential deep dive for you is Sex Birth Trauma. I just read Johnson’s 2021 book Call of the Wild a couple weeks ago. I picked it up again last week and am reading even more carefully this time through. I cannot get enough. If you are interested in the new nervous system science, there will be a lot here for you.

Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow, hosts of Call Your Girlfriend. The Boundaries episode. You know me; can’t get enough talk about boundaries. This one includes some bonus COVID re-entry content: Co-host Ann talks about being one of those elusive creatures—you may never have met one—the extrovert who’s being very deliberate about resetting her post-COVID social calendar. 

And finally, there is Glennon Doyle (with her sister Amanda) on We Can Do Hard Things. The self care episode (of course!) asks “How do we identify our real needs and finally get them met?” Answers are actually within!

Please add your pod recs to the comments below! And now, I’m off to the ironing board, with pods and my headphones. See you in September.

IMAGE CREDIT:  Two Women facing each other, Eastern India, Bihar State, Mithila or Madhubani, 1900s. The Cleveland Museum of Art, public domain.

About The Author

Max Daniels is a research-based life coach whose weekly emails make us laugh with recognition and rethink everything we thought we knew.

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  • The Hilarious World of Depression was a great podcast and helped me understand what my the. Teenager and now young adult goes through with their anxiety and depression. The host of that show, John Moe, has a new podcast, Depresh Mode, that is definitely worth listening to. Call Your Girlfriend is excellent as well.

  • I’m a huge fan of Glennon and sister’s podcast. Love them and the occasional Abby episodes

  • Give a listen to “Terrible, Thanks For Asking”. About loss and grief

  • Thank you so much for this list of Pods. I can not say it enough “how wonderful MDK is” with providing so much support (as are all of your articles) not only for knitting but for living. What a beautiful and all embracing community they have created. I can’t wait to listen to these pods (maybe while ironing-which I LOVE to do:))))

    • I agree wholeheartedly! MDK has been sustaining for me…in every way. A sincere thank you to MDK.

      • I can’t agree enough, thank goodness (and Kay, Ann) to have MDK and all of their bounty.

    • I agree, MDK is wonderful!

  • Everything Happens, with Kate Bowler – Kate is the author of “Everything Happens for a Reason, and other lies I’ve Loved”. She talks with her guests about what they’ve learned in life’s dark times. I often shed a few cleansing tears listening to this one. It’s good to listen to someone say how hard and beautiful life is – and how there are some things we can change, and some things we can’t.

    • Me, too. Kate Bowler and guests are wonderful – lots to think about. And, some tears.

    • I agree! This is an excellent podcast!

  • This article came through about 6 hours later than usual so I got worried and looked for it and read it on your website. Thank you as always. Hope all is well and that it was a techy glitch and not a human sickness.

  • Welcome to Nightvale. The only podcast I listen to and it really can get me laughing

  • Alone: A Love Story…one of the most engrossing podcasts yet. Thank you so much for these recs! I have put The Sunset Route in my reading queue…it looks so good!

  • Family Secrets with Dani Shapiro. After I read her book, Inheritance, I wanted more and have been listening to her podcast ever since. Very moving tales of the family secrets we live with and life changes we learn to live with when/if they’re discovered. I highly recommend her books too.

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