Kim Swims: A Documentary

I came across Kim’s story while listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Wild Ideas Worth Living. The specific episode, FACING FEAR WITH KIM CHAMBERS has become one of my favorites. “If you want to do something that changes your life,” Kim states, “surround yourself with people who believe in you . . . normalize greatness.”

The documentary isn’t my favorite, but her story is. She’s pretty awesome.

Kim’s WILD journey

Kim Chambers was 30 years old, an athlete and a powerful executive, when she slipped and fell down a set of stairs. The injuries she sustained changed the course of her life. Not only did she prove doctors wrong about being able to be an athlete again, but she became one of the most accomplished marathon swimmers in the world, after never swimming competitively in her life before the injury.

In 2014, she became the sixth person (and third woman) to complete the Oceans Seven, which is the marathon swimming equivalent of climbing the Seven Summits, with each swim chosen for its treacherous conditions. Then, in 2015, Kim set a new world record when she became the first woman to swim thirty miles from the Farallon Islands to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, a swim that’s incredibly dangerous. It’s full of strong currents, extremely cold water temperatures, big waves, and a large population of great white sharks. But Kim didn’t let fear stop her.

Today, the accomplished swimmer uses her platform to inspire women (and men) of all ages to appreciate their bodies and to pursue their dreams even if they seem unrealistic. While she continues to set new records and battle more challenges herself, she remains a master at teaching people to face fear, even to say yes to it, and push through to achieve their goals (via).

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Favorite Podcasts : February

photo by  Ami Vitale

photo by Ami Vitale

Here are a few of my more recent favorites. As always, if you have any you'd like to recommend, let me know (thank you Jenna Baum for recommending One Head, Two Brains!!!).


One Head, Two Brains: How The Brain's Hemispheres Shape The World We See: Hidden Brain

If you go to an antique store, you might find posters showing a human head with the brain divided like a map. Reason is in one quadrant, emotion in another. Memory is over here, imagination there. For a long time, the popular representations of hemispheric differences focused on what different parts of the brain do. Iain says what really distinguishes the hemispheres is not what they do but how they do the same things differently (via).

“The brain is divided into two hemispheres” Psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist argues, “so that it can produce two different views of reality. One of the hemispheres, the right, focuses on the big picture. The left focuses on details. Both are essential. If you can't see the big picture, you don't understand what you're doing. If you can't home in on the details, you can't accomplish the simplest tasks.

Iain uses a couple examples to explain, but the one most intriguing was that of a bird finding a worm.

All living creatures need to be able to attend to the world in two different ways, which require quite different attention at the same time. And this is simply not possible unless they can work relatively independently. On the one hand, in order to manipulate the world - to get food, to pick up a twig to build a nest - you need a very precise, targeted attention on a detail in order to be able to achieve that and be ahead of your competition. But if you're only doing that - if you're a bird just concentrating on the little seed, you'll become somebody else's lunch while you're getting your own because you need, at the same time, to be paying the precise opposite kind of attention - not piecemeal, fragmented and entirely detailed but sustained, broad and vigilant for predators and for other members of your species.

It truly is a fascinating discussion of our brain, but it’s also fairly dense and needs some attention. I had to listen to it twice, with the second time sitting at my desk while following the script. It was just too much to handle for a single, somewhat distracted, drive into town.

Why We Contradict Ourselves and Confound Each Other: On Being

A perfect sidekick to a left-brain, right-brain debate.

With his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman emerged as one of the most intriguing voices on the complexity of human thought and behavior. He is a psychologist who won the Nobel Prize in economics for helping to create the field of behavioral economics — and is a self-described “constant worrier” (via).

One of the more convicting segments of the podcast comes when Kahneman discuss how we come to conclusions, and why arguing, really, is just a waste of time. “Even if you did destroy the arguments that people raise for their beliefs,” he states, “it wouldn’t change their beliefs. They would just find other arguments.”

the fact that arguments that feel irrefutable come to our mind so easily doesn’t mean that those arguments are the real cause of our beliefs and doesn’t mean much of anything about the validity of the argument. The way that the mind works, very frequently, is that we start from a decision, or we start from a belief, and then the stories that explain it come to our mind. And the sequence that we have when we think about thinking, that arguments come first and conclusions come later, that sequence is often reversed. Conclusions come first, and rationalizations come later.

The Laws Of The Office: Planet Money

If something is going wrong in your workplace, there's probably a law that explains why. Like Goodhart's Law, which says if a company decides to measure something, workers will find a way to respond with good numbers. Or, the Peter Principle, which says that every employee tends to rise to their level of incompetence.

Not sure if this is right or left brain, but the unconscious mind is pretty untrustworthy. At least, according to these made up yet accurate laws. I texted this to my fellow admin because I couldn’t help but think of education and test scores specific. Pretty good stuff!

AMI VITALE : Wild Ideas Worth Living

I sent this one to my wife.

In war-torn Gaza, Ami Vitale was asked to “focus on the violence.” Then, one day, while her and all the other photo journalists were capturing kids throwing rocks and soldiers bullets, Ami heard music. She followed it. And found a wedding.

“Why aren’t we telling these stories too,” she thought, “the ones that allow us to relate to one another as human beings.” She suddenly realized she was telling a lie, because she was only telling half the story. “There were all these other stories around us. Stories that allowed us to relate to one another as human beings, {stories} that allowed us to connect” by reminding us that we “share the same things on this planet.”

“As a journalist,” she continues, “I was being asked to create more fear and polarization on this planet and see those people as other and different than us. The truth is, it was just a beautiful young couple wanting the same things that we all want in life. That was when I stopped and asked myself, ‘Why aren’t we telling these stories too?’”

From then on, Ami Vitale changed the way she tells stories. She still captures the hard and terrible ones because that is still very much a part of life, but she also seeks out the beautiful and hopeful, the ones that inspire and spark joy, because those too are a part of life. And Ami Vitale wants to provide a balance and reminder “of our connections”, that we are all human beings on this world, longing for the same things, eager to tell and share our stories.

Another episode I enjoyed by Wild Ideas Worth Living was CHRIS MCDOUGALL – WRITING UNTOLD STORIES ABOUT RUNNING AND AMAZING HUMAN PERFORMANCE. I LOVED the book (Born to Run) and truly enjoyed hearing more of his story. Definitely worth a listen.

Bias And Perception : TED Radio Hour

How does bias distort our thinking, our listening, our beliefs... and even our search results? How can we fight it? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas about the unconscious biases that shape us.

I actually haven’t quite finished this one yet, but it’s pretty golden - especially when considering the habits and attitudes of the right and left sides of our brain.

Enjoy the day, and happy listening.

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Favorite Podcasts : January


Here are a few of my more recent favorites. As always, if you have any you'd like to recommend, let me know (thank you Sarah Downs for recommending War of the Worlds!!!).


40 Years Later, What We Learned From Jonestown, by Fresh Air
On Nov. 18, 1978, an itinerant preacher, faith healer and civil rights activist named the Rev. Jim Jones led more than 900 of his followers to kill themselves by drinking cyanide-laced Flavor Aid at their Jonestown settlement in the jungle of Guyana. 40 years later, questions still linger regarding the Jonestown massacre and the man who inspired it. Journalist Jeff Guinn details how Jones captivated his followers in the book 'The Road to Jonestown.' 

War of the Worlds, by Radiolab
It's been 80 years to the day since Orson Welles' infamous radio drama "The War of the Worlds" echoed far and wide over the airwaves. So we want to bring you back to our very first live hour, where we take a deep dive into what was one of the most controversial moments in broadcasting history. "The War of the Worlds," a radio play about Martians invading New Jersey, caused panic when it originally aired, and it's continued to fool people since--from Santiago, Chile to Buffalo, New York to a particularly disastrous evening in Quito, Ecuador.

The Room of Requirement, by This American Life
My whole family thoroughly enjoyed this one. The summary doesn't do it justice so I deleted everything but the opening sentence.

Libraries aren't just for books.

So, so good. 

Feminism in Black and White, by Scene on Radio
Most of December was dedicated to this podcast series entitled, "MEN." It's a newer podcast, with only it's third season available, and as one might imagine, the first season isn't great. The third one, however, is very good. I appreciated just about every episode, but this one was exceptional. 

The struggles against sexism and racism come together in the bodies, and the lives, of black women. Co-hosts Celeste Headlee and John Biewen look at the intersections between male dominance and white supremacy in the United States, and the movements to overcome them, from the 1800s through the 2016 presidential election.

Enjoy the day, and happy listening.

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Favorite Podcasts : September

Hello all! And a special welcome to those recently joined! 

For those new, once a month I try and send out some of my favorite podcasts because, as was mentioned in a reply to last month's email, "I've grown weary of 'Here! listen to this podcast' suggestions because episodically they are SOOO hit and miss." And I would agree.

With that in mind, I hope this helps sift through some of the more, "Meh" episodes and provides you with at least a few quality, gonna-pass-this-along podcasts. 

Post No Evil : by Radiolab

Back in 2008 Facebook began writing a document. It was a constitution of sorts, laying out what could and what couldn’t be posted on the site. Back then, the rules were simple, outlawing nudity and gore. Today, they’re anything but. 

I was a bit hesitant of this one. Not anymore. Because Facebook “is now sort of a playground, it’s also sort of an R-rated movie theatre,” and also the front page of a newspaper. And we, the users, are demanding that they make a set of policies that are Just. “And the reality is Justice means a very different thing in each one of these settings.”

Which is what makes this podcast, this discussion, so intriguing.

'President' Once Meant Little More Than 'Foreman' : by Weekend Edition Saturday

In exactly three minutes, my mind was completely unhinged by the our forefather’s lengthy discussion and specific purpose for naming the leader of the free world, “president.”

Gregor : Heavy Weight and Gimlet Media

This might be my favorite of the month.

20 years ago, Gregor lent some CDs to a musician friend. The CDs helped make him a famous rockstar. Now, Gregor would like some recognition. But mostly, he wants his CDs back. 

Two season are available, and once you start, don’t be shocked if you get sucked into them all. I did. Quickly and joyously.

Stroke of Genius: How Derek Amato Became a Musical Savant : by Hidden Brain

At just over 25 minutes, this short podcast will have you sincerely considering if banging the left side of your head against the nearest wall is worth it. Seriously. 

In 2006, Derek Amato suffered a major concussion from diving into a shallow swimming pool. When he woke up in the hospital, he was different. He discovered he was really good a playing piano. Yes, we're serious. Derek is one of just a few dozen known "sudden savants" or "accidental geniuses"—people who survive severe head injuries and come out the other side with special gifts for music or math or art (via).

Embrace the Shake : TED Talk

In art school, Phil Hansen developed an unruly tremor in his hand that kept him from creating the pointillist drawings he loved. Hansen was devastated, floating without a sense of purpose. Until a neurologist made a simple suggestion: embrace this limitation ... and transcend it.

Sorry, you can’t listen to this one while running or driving, but no worries! Sitting and watching this man will not only entertain, it will inspire.

If five isn't enough and you're looking for more, peruse over here to your heart's content!


Thanks for reading and tagging along!

Happy listening!


Favorite Podcasts : August

1. The True Hard Work of Love and Relationships, by On Being

I'll admit it, without shame, that this podcast was by far my favorite from this past week. It's fantastically convicting and encouraging, and it's also deeply human. 

Here's the summary as written by On Being:

What if the first question we asked on a date were, "How are you crazy? I'm crazy like this"? Philosopher and writer Alain de Botton's essay "Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person" was one of the most-read articles in The New York Times in recent years. As people and as a culture, he says, we would be much saner and happier if we reexamined our very view of love. Nowhere do we realistically teach ourselves and our children how love deepens and stumbles, survives and evolves over time, and how that process has much more to do with ourselves than with what is right or wrong about our partner. The real work of love is not in the falling, but in what comes after

Whether you're married, dating, single, or a combination of them all, check this podcast out. It's a keeper. 


2. Life, Interrupted, by Hidden Brain

- This one came to me from my sister, thanks Jenna! - 

"The human brain has become one of the main capitol resources in our economy", yet our understanding of attention and multitasking - of the impacts of text messages and emails - is extremely limited (Did you know it takes your brain, roughly, 20 minutes to switch from task to task? I didn't).

After listening to this podcast, I have a lot of simple (yet profound) changes to make. And not just for productivity sake, but for life and happiness and for cultivating deep relationships (coincided with The True Hard Work of Love and Relationships, the practicality of this podcast increases significantly). 

: Habits of Systematic Mindfulness :

  1. No social media

  2. Organize time

    1. Set strict hours of work

    2. Plan out day

    3. Don't let mood dictate how the day will go

  3. Get comfortable with annoying people

    1. Set expectations of availability

    2. No quick answers

  4. Tally hours of "deep work"

    1. Block out "deep work hours" well in advance

  5. Create a Shutting Down ritual 

    1. Leave nothing hanging

    2. Say a mantra out loud, something like, "Schedule shutdown complete."


3. Declutter, by The Minimalists

They don't like advertisements. But really, they don't need them, because they do enough of it themselves.

To get to the sauce of this podcast, you'll have to endure more then enough self-promotions, casual links to their books, essays, and ways you can support them, but in the end, it's all worth it. And by end I mean the first 20 minutes or so because that's where they wrestle with and answer some pretty great questions. Questions like:

  • What is one thing you always thought you wanted, but then, once you got it, you no longer wanted it? 
  • How do you gradually declutter your home?
  • How do you explain greed in our society?

You can stop listening after these, if you're stretched for time, it does get a bit too preachy. But there's still good stuff in there.


4. Has Lance Finally Come Clean, by Freakonomics

I've never been a huge Lance or Tour de France fan, but I am a fan of this podcast mainly because it wrestles with the process of reconciliation, personally, relationally, and (for those unfortunate few) publicly. 

At the time I listened to this I was dealing with a difficult relationship, still am actually, but at that particular time it was a very broken relationship (no, I won't tell you who it is) and Lance's journey, his thought process and his full circle of understanding hit home. 

Here's an excerpt from my favorite section, where Lance is describing why he finally took ownership of what he did and stopped trying to convince everyone (and himself) why he was being seen and treated unfairly.

Look, “betrayal” is a terrible word. It’s a word that nobody wants, a child to their parent or friend to another friend, a spouse to a spouse, a C.E.O. to — whatever. It’s a very heavy word. Complicit is 100x. For me, I had already started to get my mind and my heart around the fact that people had suffered this tremendous amount of betrayal, and then I was hit with complicit. And it just — it rocked me to the core. But it was, I tell you, it was the greatest — her name is Melissa — it was the greatest gift that anybody has given me the last six years.

And the story he tells after this, the one where a guy is standing on a bar balcony yelling, "F*** you!" is just beautiful.

5. Grass is Greener, by the Moth 

Okay, I'll be honest. I listened to this podcast over a year ago, but I've thought about it a lot recently, and many times in-between. Not only is she a great storyteller, but her conclusion of happiness (for her it's marriage but really, it can be anything - job, community, kids, whatever) is spot-on. 

"The grass isn't greener on the other side, the grass is greener where you water it." 

Sheesh, that's good. And so, so right.


I hope you enjoy!  If you have any favorites, send em along! I'm sure I'll listen to them at one point or another. 

If you want more, check out these top five favorites or peruse over here to your heart's content.


Thanks for reading!

Podcast Favorites : 1-5

Photo by @_whydad_

Photo by @_whydad_

A friend recently said, "I find that most of my conversations or sentences start with, 'I was listening to a podcast the other day . . .'" and we all laughed with familiarity. Because it's just so true, not only for her, but for most of us, and for sure for me.

So I thought, "Why not compile my favorites and send them off for others to enjoy!" So I will. And so I am.

  1. Why We Choke Under Pressure (and How Not To), by Freakonomics Radio
    "We know that people sometimes don't perform up to their potential, precisely when they want to the most," but why? And how do we stop it? Whether in business, sports, school, and everyday conversations, how do we not fall when the stakes are at their greatest? Freakonomics dives in and tries to provide an answer.
    (While listening, I couldn't stop thinking about How To Fly a Horse : THE SECRET HISTORY OF CREATION, INVENTION, AND DISCOVERY - "Failure is not final. It carries no judgement and yields no conclusions. The word comes from the Latin fallere, to deceive. Failure is deceit." So if you have time, along with the podcast, check out this book also.)
  2. Analysis, Parapraxis, Elvis, by Revisionist History
    Perhaps my favorite episode of the season, which is saying a lot because I really really liked episodes 3 and 4 which talk about memory and truth and how we should interpret both. But then, the final episode, the one where I (literally) lol'd, cried ever so slightly, and thought about my entire life and uncertain future, because it's just that good. 
  3. What Wisdom Can We Gain From Nature? by TED Radio Hour - (9:49 minutes long)
    For a species that is supposed to be the top of the food chain, the most evolved or uniquely designed (however you choose to view us), we are fairly dumb, extremely violent, and truly destructive. We're even bad at designing things, which is why we model so much after nature and animals. So why not learn from them?  " . . . in the cathedral of the wild, we get to see the most beautiful parts of ourselves reflected back at us. And it is not only through other people that we get to experience our humanity but through all the creatures that live on this planet."
  4. Superheroes hold umbrellas and cut hair, by the Moth
    This one is a twofer. Two powerful stories of kindness and love, of the kind that boost our spirits and remind us of the beauty of humanity - even in the midst of darkness
    1. In Tim Manley's roughly eight minute story, A Super Hero Gets Sick, he tells of when, as a boy, he become deeply sick. He was terrified of needles and didn't quiet understand all that was happening, as most young kids don't. But what he does know keeps him calm: his mother is at his side because she is his faithful sidekick - as any good superhero must have. 
    2. The second story is from Melanie KostrzewaTold from a parents perspective, Melanie shares of the time her young daughter must undergo a craniotomy, the frustration of not being able to do anything, and the unexpected kindness of a doctor who did more than just save her daughter's life, he saved her hair.
  5. The Process of Procrastination, a TED talk with Tim Urban
    It's funny, enlightening, and worth every one of the 14 minutes. I even wrote about it on my 35 birthday.
    But you could probably just watch it later. 

At the very least, I hope you find these entertaining. At best, inspiring. I know I have been.  

Thanks for reading!

Invisibilia : Season 4


It's here!

As the sun broke through the mountain-peak clouds and then crawled over the trees and building tops, I made my way to work this morning, on foot, listening to episode one of Invisibilia's newest season. About five  minutes into the episode, the anticipated, "welcome to the fourth season of Invisibilia. I’m Hanna Rosin and I'm Alix Spiegel" washed through my earbuds, and a quick chill shivered down my spine (no joke).

Because I love this podcast and I've been so excited for it to start. And episode one, “I, I, I. Him” did disappoint. 

I've written before on some of my favorite episodes: I Think That's Love and Advice from Lord Birthday, but really, any show of any season is worth listening. The topics they choose, the stories they tell, and the way they flow seamlessly through it all creates about the best 45-ish minutes of any podcast out there. Including This American Life and Revisionist History, which are two of my other top favorites.

They're just so good.


Here's the trailer for season 4:


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