Happy Christmas week, Listeners! In today’s episode, Karen & Katie discuss how important for us all to embrace our unique gifts (double-entendre-week-of-holiday-alert!).
Interested in drawing? What about painting or dancing or collecting sticks that are no longer than 3 inches? Or diving deep into the history of truffle pigs and their plight during WWII? Whatever your interest/passion, this episode is designed to inspire you to go after it, and to do it for the hell of it (just say no to traditional outcomes!). Enjoy!
Resources referred to in this episode: Calm Master Class with Elizabeth Gilbert; Happiest Season on Hulu; Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project; Chanel Miller, illustrator & author of ‘Know My Name’; Mario Lopez as Colonel Sanders (WHAT) in ‘A Recipe for Seduction’
Follow Of Course I’m Not Ok: The Podcast on Twitter & Instagram, and email us with questions/comments/concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org. This episode is sponsored by Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. With Anchor, you can catch our episodes wherever you get your podcasts.
Katie: Hello. This is the Ghost of Christmas Past, and you are listening to Of Course I’m Not Okay: The Podcast. I am reporting to you live from 1991, when life was amazing and Clinton was president, or maybe it was George W. Bush. Shit, I don’t really know. Of Course I’m Not Okay: The Podcast covers many different topics and some of them include ghosts.
Karen: Hello! I am the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. Picture it. You’ve been vaccinated. Your whole family has been vaccinated, and you’re feeling kind of sad about that cause now you have to hang out with them. But the pandemic is over. We’re all hanging out again. We’re all going to dive bars. It’s a beautiful time. I speak to you from the future.
Katie: Such a beautiful time. Of Course I’m Not Okay: The Podcast covers everything from humor to mental health to coping with quarantine. The past, we talk about the 1990s and the future when we are all vaccinated and hanging out at dive bars with people that we don’t really care about, but a lot of people we do care about, and we’re very happy about it.
Karen: Thank you for joining us on this journey.
Katie: Hey Karen, happy December 21st.
Karen: Happy Solstice, Katie.
Katie: Happy Solstice. I’m so happy to see you, and it’s really interesting because we recorded this a few weeks back, which is a little bit different than what we usually do. But you know what? We are cutting edge. We are on the cutting edge of podcast production right here.
Karen: We’re speaking to you from the future, and also from the past at the same time.
Katie: It’s next level. It’s blowing my mind. So yes, it is wonderful to see though. I feel like this week we’re on the countdown for the holiday. If you celebrate Christmas, if you don’t celebrate Christmas, there’s still most likely some time off that people are going to be having who’s listening. My Christmas is going to be pretty quiet. How about you?
Karen: Yeah, it’s going to be pretty quiet. I still don’t know what I’m doing a couple of weeks out.
Karen: It’s not going to be a banger. I already know that. It’s just not. Yeah, we’re not wilin’ out at Christmas this year.
Katie: No. Same, same. I also think about New Years, with the ball drop and stuff. That’s not happening. I wonder if Ryan Seacrest’s going to be calling in on zoom. I dunno.
Karen: Omg. I just pictured Ryan Seacrest and I was like, ‘Thank God Ryan Seacrest is here’, but I’m sure he’s going to be-, of course he’s going to be somewhere.
Katie: He’s definitely going to be somewhere 100% with some other celebrity counting down. Maybe the Black Eyed Peas will be in the background. No? I feel like they do every single one. I don’t know. No offense with Black Eyed Peas. I actually saw the Black Eyed Peas once in a parking lot in San Francisco. This is a very long time ago, but they were pretty good. There were only 40 people in the audience. I don’t know.
Karen: How long ago was that?
Katie: That was a really long time ago. Maybe like 2004ish?
Katie: Yeah. They were on the rise.
Karen: For whatever reason – and maybe it’s because it was in Chicago last year – for some reason I associate Mario Lopez with New Year’s Eve.
Katie: Oh yeah, totally.
Karen: Well, and have you seen this abomination starring Mario Lopez as Colonel Sanders?
Katie: Wait, what?
Karen: Oh, Katie, no. Okay. It’s a romance movie apparently, sponsored by KFC. I have to send you the-, if I have to be subjected-, if this image is burned onto my brain, I’m going to burn it onto your brain, too. Just imagine Mario Lopez with the bodice ripped shirt – and no, men don’t have bodices, work with me. It’s like a little Gone With The Wind-actiony on the cover of the trailer of this movie. That’s a romance movie about customers.
Katie: I feel like that’s a serious stretch. He has an eight pack after eating a lot of donuts and isn’t Colonel Sanders a not-so-fit 85 year old man? Like isn’t that?
Karen: He’s dead.
Katie: Oh, he’s dead. That too. Yeah.
Katie: Not Mario Lopez.
Karen: Oh my god, okay here. *laughs* Oh my God. The Washington Post really went all in on this. The first line of their story: “There’s nothing sexier than a man with a secret recipe for fried chicken.”
Katie: Ooooooh, okay. Wait, does it say the name of the movie or the-?
Karen: Oh God, please just brace yourself. It’s a 15 minute mini movie and it is called A Recipe for Seduction.
Katie: Wow. Okay. Yeah. I got to leave it right there. I don’t know. I don’t even know where to go with Mario Lopez. What?
Karen: I’m sorry, not sorry I took us there.
Katie: No, don’t be sorry. I mean, we’re talking about holiday movies here. Let’s get into it because I feel like there’s a lot of, you know, amazing holiday movies out there. And then there’s some that are just, what?
Karen: Well, as a quick plug, in our last episode – was that our last episode? Yes. – I mentioned the magic of watching movies with friends.
Karen: I watched Happy Season.
Katie: Oh yes.
Karen: With two other Gen X lesbians, and we were not happy about it. I wrote it up for Rebellious and it’s the most read article on our site for weeks now because people are just really piling onto this movie.
Katie: Wow. That’s the one with Kristen Stewart on Hulu, right?
Karen: Correct. Definitely hate watch it.
Katie: Hate watch it?
Karen: Definitely hate watch it.
Katie: Ugh, do you have a favorite Christmas movie? I’m trying to think. Love actually is great, but there’s some problems in Love Actually, unfortunately now, after the #metoo movement. Romantic comedies don’t really hold up pre 2011. Maybe? That’s a small window.
Karen: Yeah. I used to say Home for the Holidays with Holly Hunter and Robert Downey Jr. was one of my favorites, but I haven’t watched it recently and God only knows what’s in that movie now.
Katie: Oh gosh. I haven’t seen that. I should try it. I do like The Holiday, the one with Cameron Diaz, and who is it? Kate Winslet and Jack Black. Jude Law, whatever happened to Jude Law? I don’t know. Anyway. Yeah. I forgot about him, but yeah, holiday movies.
Karen: I want to, before I forget, put in a quick plug about the solstice. Okay. So. Well I guess it will be over?
Katie: Oh no, today is the solstice. So it’s December 21st.
Karen: There’s the thing I’m going to talk about, I think you would have had to do already? Oh my God, I’m so confused about how this works. A friend of mine was telling me that apparently there’s this – I don’t know, maybe it’s something people do every year – but they stay up all night to watch the sun rise and watch the sun set on the shortest day of the year.
Katie: Wait, so. For the 21st, it would be, you wake up early to see the sun rise.
Katie: So you would wake up at like, what? 5 a.m. or 4:30 or whatever it is. Or maybe later actually because it’s probably much later. Actually check your local listings. But then you get up on the 21st and then you stay up and you watch it until like the 5 p.m. type of thing? Is that what it is?
Karen: I don’t know.
Katie: I don’t know either.
Karen: You could fix this in post.
Katie: We’ll fix it in post. Yes. I had a friend when I was growing up who celebrated the solstice and not celebrated anything else. That was their big holiday of the [year], which I love actually. I think that’s great.
Karen: Well, and the roots of Christmas, of course, is the solstice. Saturnalia and the crazy Greeks and Romans. There are so many ties between pagan celebrations and Christmas. And I remember learning this in college and coming home and telling my very Methodist mother, and she was like, “I don’t care.”
Katie: It’s about Jesus. *laughs* Yeah. That’s real. It’s interesting when you think about the historical background. I actually don’t know a ton about it, but I’m interested to learn because I believe you.
Karen: Yeah. I mean, Saturn was Zeus and he had a white beard. There’s like a ton of stuff that the Christians stole for Santa Claus and for Christmas to get people super into Christianity, because paganism was amazing.
Karen: And they were just like, ‘No, no. You got one god? No, we got 12. Big ones-
Karen: ‘-and like a million little ones. Why would we go with your one god? That’s dumb.’
Katie: Hmm. You’re welcome, listeners. This has been your weekly dose of Greek mythology mixed with Christianity mixed with ‘What the fuck are we all celebrating now?’ This is like, yeah.
Karen: And thank you, University of Illinois Classic CIV 105. I appreciate you all these years later.
Katie: Today’s episode of Of Course I’m Not Okay: The Podcast is brought to you by your local electric company. Your local electric company is extremely happy that your next door neighbor has decided to use the entire neighborhood’s electric grid to basically light their 5,600 square foot house that you can see from the moon.
Karen: Correct. NASA can see your neighbor’s Christmas tree and the electric company is thrilled about that.
Katie: That electric company is so happy that your next door neighbor has lit six gingerbread houses on their front porch, and a very prominent life-size nativity scene on their back porch. So they had extra money to spare. Thank you for sponsoring us.
Katie: So today’s topic is kind of, tangentially sort of, related to the holidays. Not really, but sort of. It’s about gifts and we’re all thinking about what we’re giving people or, you know, depending on what your traditions are. Right now we’re talking about gifts of another sort.
Karen: Yes. The idea is the gifts that you, as an individual magic, unique snowflake, have been given by the universe that you are meant to share with other people.
Katie: Yes, exactly. So for example, let’s say that there have been so many books written on second chances. The second chance careers, or someone who’s in their sixties retiring and finally going after what they always wanted to do. Someone being in one job and then really wanting to quit that job and try another job. If you’re interested in an example of that, Erinn Cox is an amazing example and she is in episode four or five. I’m not really sure, but it’s very early on in season one. [Editor’s Note: Episode 5!] She quit her job and moved to Estonia, which is in Europe. I didn’t know that. And so anyway, she moved to Estonia and she is now a jewelry designer and very famous. But anyway, the point is, I think this is something we were talking about before we hit play, which is it’s our responsibility to share those gifts with the world. Even though, those little voices in your head, “I actually really want to try this. I really want to try this. I’m scared to do this.” Do it.
Karen: Absolutely. And to not be afraid. And to think like, ‘What would you do with this gift, this talent, this little voice in your head, if you weren’t afraid?’ And I am a little embarrassed to admit this out loud, but you and I have talked about this before, but I feel like the person who really drove this point home for me was Elizabeth Gilbert.
Karen: She has an amazing masterclass on the Calm app – Calm app, we love you. She’s my favorite masterclass on the calm app. I’m sure I’ve mentioned before about creativity and fear and overcoming fear, and she has the podcast Big Magic. I haven’t read her book about it, but I feel like she really, for me, helped crystallize this idea that you were given this gift for a reason and it’s up to you to figure that out.
Katie: Yes, exactly. And some people might be listening, thinking like, ‘Oh my God, my life is so busy. I don’t want another thing to pile on.’ ‘What do you mean that it’s my responsibility to bring this to the world?’ And in no way do I think that you and I are trying to push the pedal to the metal to pressure people to do things that they don’t want to do. What we’re really talking about is exactly what Elizabeth Gilbert talks about in Big Magic. Just follow your curiosity. I you’re curious about something and maybe it’s something really not traditional. It could be anything, it could be cooking, it could be drawing, it could be painting. It could be creating really weird cartoons. It could be nothing that I mentioned, but something that you’re actually thinking about right now listener, and I know you are, and it’s like, just go with it.
Karen: Exactly. You get to decide when you’re successful. I feel like we also get really wrapped up in, ‘Oh, well, if I do the thing, then I have to be good at it.’ If I do the thing I have to be successful at it,’ and you get to decide what that looks like. Maybe being successful means you just did it.
Karen: You just checked the box, you scratched the itch, whatever it was. And then you can walk away from it. I feel like we’re so obsessed with productivity and success and all these things that it’s like, sometimes you do it for the sake of doing it because it brings you joy and you were given the gift to do that with it.
Katie: I think as adults, we lose that sense of play. When we’re kids, we have ideas and we’re like, ‘Oh, I’m going to do this. Oh, I’m going to do this. I’m going to go play here. I’m going to invite this friend to play hopscotch,’ whatever it is, if you live in the 1950s. I mean, I definitely played hopscotch as a kid. I think as we get older, the productivity curse or black cloud comes over our head and we think, ‘Okay, if this is not going to be productive, or if I want to start a boutique someday,’ and this is not me, but if you thought of that or someone listening thought of that, and you’re just not really sure how, just start small or start doing whatever you want to do. It also could just be doing something for the hell of it. That is really what I’m a huge proponent of. A few years ago, I was on Instagram and I did this 100 day project where I did 100 days of finger dancing, which is really not a thing. And it basically was me moving my fingers to music. You can check it out on my Instagram if you’re interested, but basically it actually was for nothing. There was no objective. It was for nothing, but here’s the thing, Karen: it brought me joy. I guess finger dancing might be a gift of sorts for me. But here’s the thing: If I had never done that, if I was like, ‘Oh, that’s stupid. What is that going to do? Why would I spend 10 minutes a day on that?’ Which truly that’s how much time it took most days. Once I got a lot of props, but anyway, the thing is most days it only took 10 minutes. Here’s what’s interesting: A. It helped my mental health. That’s real. Me doing the thing that was just on my mind like, ‘Oh, that sounds kind of fun,’ helped my mental health. B. It actually ended up – this was a by-product that I was not expecting – but it really did lighten the lives of other people in my life. I started getting props as gifts, a lot actually. A friend of mine, she came to my co-working space. Obviously this is way pre COVID, it’s like 2018. And she came to my co-working space one day, totally unprompted. Her brother-in-law had a 3D printer. He had seen so many of my videos that he made high-heeled shoes for my fingers, and he wanted a cameo in a few upcoming videos and I died. I full on died. I was like, ‘how much time did this take him?’ And she’s like, ‘Well, this was his third attempt.’ And I was like, ‘What?’ You never know.
Karen: That is amazing. I love that story more than anything.
Katie: I mean, that’s the thing. It’s our responsibility to kind of just try stuff. Just put it out in the world. If you like something, if you think it’s cool, just do it. Who cares?
Karen: I also think a whole other-, I mean, not just a whole other podcast episode. I’m sure there are multiple podcasts in the world about the power of play: why it’s good for your brain, it’s good for your mental health, it’s good for other people. Yeah. I mean, all animals play. That’s the other thing. We not only do it as children, but polar bears play with each other. You know what I mean? Deer play tag. It’s just something that’s a universal phenomenon and humans, we just bang it up ourselves. We just don’t allow ourselves to do it. I will say, I feel like men are better at it than women.
Katie: Do you really think so?
Karen: Because they play- well, you know, that’s a stereotype. It’s not true. Women also play video games, but playing sports, watching sports, playing games, role-player games, all of that stuff. I feel like that is an element of play that women don’t necessarily [have]. If we don’t do that stuff, I can’t think of something that we do that plays the same role in our lives.
Katie: That’s so true. The fact that men prioritize watching games or playing sports. They prioritize like it’s a big deal. ‘Okay, on Saturday, I’m doing this.’ Or, ‘On Sunday I’m doing this.’ And the truth is, is that they’re doing that just for their own enjoyment. That’s just what they love to do. All of you listening might be like, how is that a gift? It’s a gift because you’re just paying attention to your own curiosity, your own urges, just do it. And you’re right. I don’t think that women do that quite as much, unless they’re actively intentionally thinking about it. It’s a huge stereotype, but at least in my own experience, caregiving is the thing that’s beaten into us.
Karen: Yeah. And being outcome oriented. I can’t do something unless it achieves something. Unless I am producing something on the other side of it. I’m not going to sit around and watch football. I got to go to the grocery store.
Katie: Yes, exactly. Exactly. There’s so much to just trying something and doing it and just enjoying it and then just moving on.
Karen: Today’s episode of Of Course I’m Not Okay: The Podcast is brought to you by Rebellious Magazine. No. No, I know, you’ve never heard of it. It’s okay. It’s fine. Listen, it’s at rebelliousmagazine.com. It’s a feminist magazine. It was founded by a mouthy Black lesbian. And if you give a shit about mouthy Black lesbians, you should read it and you should send us money. rebelliousmagazine.com.
Katie: Don’t miss it, check it today.
Katie: And I mean, for you listening thinking, ‘Okay, how am I supposed to fit one more thing into my schedule?’ I think it’s interesting to just give it a shot for five minutes, whatever it is. Even if you’re Googling how to start a thing. Even if that’s what it is, that’s okay. At least, you’re looking. You’re creating the energy around the gift or the curiosity that you have, and that is opening space in the universe for you to pursue it.
Karen: Yeah. This is super woo-hoo, but I feel like also, if you’re wondering what your thing is and you’re feeling burdened by it, I think we all have things that we wanted to do when we were kids that we didn’t do because we weren’t – I’m making air quotes – we weren’t “good at it.” So we stopped, or we [were] encouraged to stop or we were told to stop. Right? So.
Karen: So many of us, right, took dance lessons or instrument lessons or drama classes or whatever. Macramé, I don’t know. Macramé apparently is back.
Karen: Whatever that thing was that you enjoyed or you didn’t enjoy, I’m sure there’s a part of you that would like some closure on that thing-
Karen: -or would like to take that thing back.
Katie: Yes, exactly. I completely agree with you. Just think back to your childhood. Think back, what kind of stuff did you like to do? Did you love to do skits with your friends in the backyard? Did you love to draw, or did you love to listen to a certain kind of music? Just, you know, all of that stuff.
Karen: Yeah. And unfortunately I’m thinking through this. Unfortunately, we’re in this pandemic world, but one benefit is that you can take classes in almost anything virtually now.
Karen: And it’s so much lower risk than going to an art studio or going to do the thing in person, especially by yourself-
Karen: Or especially if it’s something you don’t want to share with the world that you want to try. You can just take a virtual class now.
Katie: Yes. And actually a lot of those virtual classes are very affordable. And if you’re worried about getting into a virtual class, if that seems too much of a risk, go on YouTube. Oh my gosh, there is stuff on YouTube for literally any interest. Any interest. You can find tutorials on anything. I do recommend live classes because it’s fun to connect with others and you’ll see that that’s actually another good way to build your community around whatever your gift is or whatever your interest is. It’s like, this is such a good time if you’re sitting at home thinking, ‘what am I going to do over the holidays? How am I going to fill my time? I’m either alone, or I don’t want to be staring at the same Home Alone or Love Actually every night this next week or two weeks.’ Just try something new. I bet there’s stuff in your mind that you’re like, maybe? Usually, if you haven’t thought about this kind of stuff in my experience, it’s a teeny tiny voice that is whispering. Sometimes you just have to get quiet.
If you’re like, ‘Okay, it’s nothing, Katie. I have nothing. I have no idea what my gift is. I have no idea what I’m interested in, who gives a shit? This is a dumb episode.’ My recommendation to you is to just ask yourself. Sometimes asking, what do I actually want to do? And then wait for the answer. Sometimes it takes a little bit. It’s not a dumb episode, by the way.
Karen: I was just going to say, I love that there’s a message. There’s an Easter egg in this episode. And it is a message that people think this is dumb. Talking to you.
Katie: Ugh, yeah. Just go after whatever it is. But back to the point that we made in the beginning about it’s our responsibility to put this stuff out into the world. Because if I had never done my finger dancing challenge, then my friend’s brother-in-law wouldn’t have perfected his pattern for finger high heel shoes on his 3D printer. I hope that brought him joy.
Karen: It’s a gift to the world.
Katie: It’s a gift to the world. Exactly. And I hesitate to even give this example, but to the point of not having to have a product at the end, or some sort of success at the end, there are many examples of people who do go after stuff and they do have massive success, which is really cool. And that’s not really what this podcast is about, but I do want to just give one shout out to Chanel Miller. Chanel Miller is an author. She wrote the book Know My Name. It’s amazing. I’m reading it right now. And it’s a memoir about sexual violence actually, but it’s really, really interesting. She’s incredible. But the thing is, is that she started drawing, and her drawings are kind of funny and really whimsical. She just got a commission at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum. And she has a mural on Hyde Street, which is a major street in San Francisco. So, I’m not saying that listeners, your passions need to turn into a mural on Hyde Street in San Francisco, but just go with it.
Karen: That’s an excellent example. That’s amazing.
Katie: You never know.
Karen: And I was going to give another shout out, too. If you were interested in this topic, or if you’re interested in the topic of how to explore some of your interests that maybe you’ve buried because life. Because fill in the blank. Gretchen Rubin wrote The Happiness Project, and I think she has at least one follow-up. But she – no spoilers – decides to embark on this journey to be happier in her life. And she makes a list of things, and every month she incorporates some of them. She is very organized, so she’s very methodical about it. So that might not be everybody’s jam, but I really appreciate that she was very intentional about being happy and that she put a lot of thought into it.
Katie: Yes! Like that became her thing. And I’m sure she had – I mean, I’m projecting – but I’m sure she had the inner demons that are like, ‘What is the pursuit of happiness really going to get me?’ Oh, it got her a huge book deal. Oh, she’s now a very celebrated author – not to go with the achievement oriented thinking that women do – but she also has a podcast and I haven’t listened to it, but I’m sure it’s good. I’ll link it in the description, but yes, it’s a really good example. Just go after whatever it is. So. Merry Christmas to all of you that celebrate Christmas and happy holidays. And we hope that you have a really relaxing week that is filled with you exploring your passions, or at least creating space in your heart to invite them in.
Karen: Well put. And I feel like I should say Happy Kwanzaa and happy Festivus. Happy Solstice.
Katie: Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah, happy any holiday that you celebrate. We are so happy for all of you. And we have major gratitude for you. All of you listeners out there.
Karen: Thank you.