1. Terrible, Thanks For Asking (available on https://apmpodcasts.org/ttfa/)
Best for the heartbroken. Author and widow Nora McInerny hosts this “funny/sad/uncomfortable podcast about talking honestly about our pain, our awkwardness, and our humanness”.
In case you were wondering about what makes her so qualified to do so, well, in 2014, McInerny miscarried her second child; her father died five days later; and her husband died six weeks after that. The crushing amount of grief she felt, and the way, whenever anyone asked “how are you?”, to which she’d often feel compelled to say “fine” even when she felt she was dying inside, led her to create this podcast.
For example in Episode 2, McInerny says about her multiple bereavements: “When it happened, I was beyond sad or devastated. I was feeling things that don’t even have words, and sometimes feeling nothing at all because… depression. But I was not completely insane. I knew the world would keep spinning and the sun would start shining again”.
Aside from the honesty and sensitivity conveyed by her words, the sadness in her voice is painfully evident — if you’re listening to it while you’re out and about, make sure you have sunglasses and tissues handy as it brought tears to my eyes.
In other episodes, guests share about being not fine with whatever tragedies they’re facing in their lives, which she then addresses with empathy and humour.
Particularly noteworthy (if you’re single) is Episode 9, entitled “Love Hurts”, where she shares an episode from the Strangers podcast by Lea Thau, who had, since high school, slipped effortlessly from one long-term monogamous relationship to the next, up till she was unceremoniously dumped by her fiancé and became a single mum — from that point, her love life became defined by a series of unsuccessful online dates that never culminated in a relationship.
Lea’s solution? To lay off dating for a year to work round the grief and pain of feeling unwanted and unlovable, and then get a guy who dumped her after two dates, and ask him “why not me?”. His answers are, to say the least, highly reassuring and illuminating for any frustrated single, dating app-wielding women out there.
It’s also heartening to note that as the podcast series progresses, McInerney’s voice begins to take on a brighter, happier, chirpier tone that seems to hint at her moving on from her soul-crushing grief.
2. Optimal Living Daily (available on iTunes)
For anyone who wishes to live a better, more fulfilling and simpler life. The show’s formula for success lies in how host Justin Mallik scours and hand-picks the best new content from blogs and books (mainly blogs) across areas such as personal development, minimalism, personal finance, health, business, productivity, positive psychology, and so on, with the authors’ permission.
In other words, you get a daily and varied dose of inspiration for positive change, narrated to you in Mallik’s mellow and mellifluous voice, for free, as you get on with your life. Each episode is just about 10 minutes long, which makes it easy to fit in whether you’re commuting, taking a coffee break, or a short stroll.
Examples of past episodes include “What It Really Means To Do What You Love” by Cait Flanders, who started the Blonde On A Budget blog to document her debt repayment journey; “How To Grow From Your Pain: Surviving Trauma and Growing Stronger” by Mark Manson, author of the best-selling “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck”.
It’s also a great way to discover more podcasts aligned with whatever self-improvement needs you have.
3. #Momsgotthis (Available on iTunes)
This is for all the harried working mothers out there… or stay-home mums considering rejoining the workforce… or already-marrieds who are thinking of having kids.
Hosted by Michelle Park and Stacy Igel, new 15-minute podcasts are uploaded Mondays through Thursdays. Find out how accomplished entrepreneurs, careerists and entertainers who are also mums get a grip on work-life balance, the highs and lows of their “mum journey”, and even the tips and tricks they employ to maintain their sanity.
Guests on the show include single mum, lawyer and comedian Julie Kottakis, who goes by the pen name of “Madge the Vadge” on ScaryMommy.com. She talks about how she finds time to date, and what happens when your boyfriend moves in with you, your kid, and lots of animals. Cassandra Jones, a senior vice president at Macy's, talks about having to suck her kid’s blocked nose, sneaking vegetables into his diet, and trying to teach him some semblance of style.
Listening to these intelligent, high-powered mums talk so honestly about everything from feeling exhausted all the time, their frustration with getting their husbands to step up, their flagging libidos and so on, while trying to bring up their kids right, is comfortingly reassuring.