The Changed Podcast #50 Transcript - Nancy Davis Kho
12:00AM Oct 1, 2021
Nancy Davis Kho
My guest today is a speaker podcaster and author of the book The Thank You Project: cultivating happiness one letter of gratitude at a time, from Running Press. You might know her as either champion, judge, or both in the acclaimed international comedy-lit improv show, Literary Deathmatch, or perhaps you've listened to her on her well recognized, award-winning Midlife Mixtape podcast where she covers the years between being hip and breaking one. I'm talking to the one and only Nancy Davis Kho, I'm Aden Nepom. And this is The Changed Podcast.
Nancy Davis Kho thank you for being here on The Changed Podcast. I am excited about our conversation
I am as well thank you so much for having me Aden.
So I have to tell you ever since you reached out to me, I've been trying to place your face and I now realize we have an improv connection.
Oh, that's that wasn't where I thought you were going to go with it. Because Oh great. You tell me your answer first then I'll tell you where I thought we were gonna go.
Oh, this is exciting. Well, I didn't know
Don't get excited. It's not that exciting.
Well, I didn't really like when I saw the improv, but you're part of the this Literary Deathmatch that you have this improv background. I was like surely we have met in the course of doing improvisation. Though I didn't think of a specific time or place. I will tell you I'm wearing my improv necklace. Oh, nice today that my mother Lainee B Finer Jewelry. She designed this for me. The listeners won't be able to see it. But it has things on it that I say when I teach improv, which is almost never now. But it says surprise and delight and nurture and grow. So surprise and delight your scene partner and nurture and grow the gifts that are there. Is what I often tell my students
how lucky I would have been to have had an improv teacher before I was thrown into the deep end because Literary Deathmatch is is really just about bringing four writers together and putting them on stage and making them do crazy stuff. And as a writer, you know, you always are happy to have your work read out in front of an audience. So it's hilarious and I really have enjoyed doing it. And the last time they asked me to be a judge, and the scale that you rate the contestants on is completely up to you. It's completely random. It has nothing to do with anything so I ranked the readers based on Prince song titles they could reach like if they got to When Doves Cry, they were really peaking but Purple Rain was also very good. So you know for me, that was the only thing that mattered? No, here's where I thought you were going to go with it. Everybody who sees me and if you're listening and not watching this or I guess even if you are watching this, Allison Janney everybody thinks I look exactly like Allison Janney. And it's so consistent that when someone says Do you know who you look like it's that actress I can't remember her. I say it's Allison Janney dummy. So someday
Isn't that amazing? I'm not even I'm terrible at the celebrity game, so I don't even know who that is. I will have to google it after our conversation.
She was in West Wing
I'll have to put a picture in the Show Notes
CJ Craig just picture me like walking around with a clipboard looking official which you know, I used to do in the world. But I once was at a conference talking to this woman. I just met her it was a writing conference. And in the middle of talking to her, she stopped me and she said, You look so much like Allison Janney. I can't even talk to you anymore. And she turned on her heel and walked away. And I was like, What just happened? I can't help it. I look like I look so
amazing. One of the one of the reasons I wear glasses so much is I was tired of being told that I looked like someone else. And when I put on glasses, it it was like the Clark Kent effect. Nobody did that to me. It's like now I'm in disguise. But not that I was those people before. I got told so often in college that I looked like Chelsea Clinton, that I considered keeping a picture of her in my pocket so that when people stopped me on the street to say, you know who you look like, I could just pull the picture out and be like, I don't know, do you think so? Just hold it up next to my face.
That is what I should do. I should laminate a picture of CJ Craig and just have to have it with me at all times. So thanks for the tip.
Yeah, well, that's exciting that I was excited about thinking I knew you but it wasn't from that.
No it's from it's from you watched the Tonya Harding movie and I played the mother figure in that. That's what it was.
I'll have to watch that movie. Being an Oregonian, you would think that I would have already watched it
Isn't that required like don't they play that in the in the in the maternity ward so the baby see that as soon as they come out?
Yeah, it's absolutely required. They require a couple of things. You've got to you've got to watch Goonies.
You've got to watch this. Tonya Harding biopic. It's just absolutely mandatory to live in this state. And oh, and also Portlandia another required media consumption
ongoing phrase in my family, I can't comment as to the quality of the chickens friendships, that's my favorite line, the family the couple that's just questioning like, what is the origin of the chicken? What farm did it come from? What kind of friends did it have? So
okay, I'm going to go down the rabbit hole just one step further. And then we're going to come back to our main topic of the day, which is that sketch so if if you haven't watched this sketch listeners, go watch. It's like Season One of Portlandia where they're in a restaurant ordering chicken, and they want to know, like, the entire history of the chicken. And they go up, they end up going to the chicken farm, and it's a whole thing. And so shortly after watching that episode, I was at dinner with my parents in Southern Oregon. And my stepmom starts asking questions about the origins of the duck, she was about to order a duck wing, and I could not stop laughing. And they they were complete, they were dead serious. They had no idea why I thought it was so funny. Apparently, it's a very Oregonian thing to do to ask about the origins of your bird and, and to be very serious that it's not enough to say, is it organic? You really want to know everything about the bird? Yeah.
What is the quality of the chickens friendships? That was the well, you know, if they didn't bring you out the menu with the picture of the actual bird in its in its pen, then you know, I think you were still one step away from this the satire, but it was a short step,
short step, just a short step away. And well, so well, so I love that you've, I love that we have all these things in common. I feel like we could just have coffee talk all the day. But here's what I'm most curious about, which is, clearly you have a sense of humor. And clearly you're able to just roll with whatever showing up in the moment, but how to how do you feel when you think about the bigger word of change, which is the theme of every conversation I have on this show? Like what thoughts, feelings, reactions, jokes? I don't know what comes up for you. When you think about that concept. What does that even mean?
Well, I think fundamentally, I am like everyone else in that I don't love change. And I am also a Taurus. I don't know if anybody out there is into you know, Star signs, but I grew up with an aunt who was really into it. So I just have this kind of, you know, baked in knowledge that I got from my wonderful Aunt Nuni over the years, and I know that we taureans tend to be more change averse than most and I would say that I live up to that in that. Hmm, you know, I don't love moving I hesitate when switching jobs, all that kind of stuff. However, I also have a podcast called Midlife Mixtape. And one of the things that we talk about on the show, so it's for the years between being hip and breaking one, which as I always say, if you're not laughing at that line, you wouldn't like anything on my show. Anyway. So the but what it is, you know, I do conversations with folks about what they like about being at midlife, what works well for them, what are they better at at midlife than they were in their younger years. And one of the themes that emerges again and again, is how all these changes and decision points that we've reached along the way, are seem when you look back in retrospect, they make sense. Sometimes when you're in the middle of the change. Sometimes when you're going through the transformation, it's well oftentimes it's painful, you don't want to go through it, you're resistant. But midlife gives you that benefit of perspective where you can look back and say, Oh, that's why I took that job. Oh, that's why I moved to that city. That all makes sense now in retrospect. And so I am much, I have really come around to this idea that if something is if change is necessary, there's a good reason for it, you know, you kind of you get to that point and you can't avoid it anymore, then it's probably for a really good reason. And someday you'll get a chance to look back and say that's why, you know, that's why that change had to happen. And I can point to so many examples in my life that fall into that mold. I mean, you know, I started my podcast in 2017. And at the time, it was big. It was on the heels of having a book that didn't sell So my book that is out now is the third one that I've written, the first two did not find a publisher. And the first one, I look back and think, thank God because that was the work of a very green writer. And that should never see the light of the light of day because
What kind of a book was it?
Oh, it was a historical fiction book about the size of a telephone book. And I haven't opened that file since 2010. And I don't plan to, but I had to get some, you know, as I was a green writer, I didn't start writing as a, you know, as a as a vocation until I was 40. And I had to my friend, Mary Laura Philpott, who has written a wonderful book called I miss you, when I, when I miss you, when I blink. She talks about how you have to write your 10,000 words, and just that's just fodder, you know, that's just you got to get that out of the way before the good stuff comes. But I thought my second book was the good stuff. And this was a midlife music crisis memoir. And that didn't sell either. And that was really hard on my ego and everything else. And that was when I thought, you know, I, I'm gonna maybe I'm not a writer, I mean, the message I'm getting from the market is I'm not a writer, I'm going to start a podcast just so I can still have these kinds of conversations and do something creative, but it's not writing. And I can tell you for it was very painful. I mean, there was really a sense of, I was excited to learn new technology and have these conversations, but there was definitely a sense of loss that came with it that I've thought, well, I've been defeated over here. I'll try something new over there. And now I look back. And I think I would never have gotten the book deal that for the book that's on, you know, that's available now. If I hadn't had the podcast, because I could say to their publisher, I've got a built in audience, I can promote the book, I can connect with people who will help me promote the book. So that's the kind of change where at the time and hurt a little. But now I look back. And I'm like, of course I had to do that.
It's interesting, you talk about the that feeling of, of sort of grief and grieving the loss of what you thought was supposed to happen. That's a theme that comes up from time to time. And it's interesting, having done work, helping people navigate change in the workplace. I feel like this was a blind spot for me until Andrew Williams came on another writer, and coach and consultant came on and talked about needing to grieve loss, even when it's it's just that loss of expectations. And, you know, that's, it's a really important thing to recognize, I'm glad that you mentioned that this idea that like, you think it's going to go a certain way. And then it doesn't. And if you think about it in terms of relationships that we've had, then we all know that that's true, right? You date somebody, it doesn't work out, or maybe you're married and that marriage came to an end. And we know that you grieve those losses in order to move on. But we forget that we also have a relationship with ourselves a relationship with our expectations or relationship with an imagined future. And so all of these things also come into play. Do you think that? Do you think that you have to go through these sort of like, you know, being tossed by the waves of time in order to come to that place of where we are now in midlife, where we're able to kind of get a little perspective on some of those more dramatic moments.
I think if you haven't been tossed around a little bit, by the time you hit your 40s and 50s, you are in a very, very tiny minority. Because it's just, I mean, it's just life. Life knocks us around a little bit. And what I think is really beautiful about it is the way that it makes us more empathetic. And it's funny that guy who I interviewed for this week's episode of the podcast was, he's the Production Director for San Francisco ballet so he's the guy in charge of everything that's not dancing, you know, he you're right down to getting pointe shoes on stage for the right people. And he talked about how, as a younger man, he would he would hit a short fuse for crews that didn't do what he wanted or you know, the lighting design wasn't right and he would blow up at people although I don't think this guy ever blow up. He's such a nice guy. And he kind of said afterwards like well I'm Canadian I didn't really blow up at anybody. But. But a stagehand a grizzled stagehand took him aside and said, they're learning, you know, you're learning they're learning you got to be you got to cool down and he said, now that he's in his 40s he said, he approaches it with a real sense of patience and grace, because he tries to make it more about learning and, and you know, coming in and you know, setting a high standard, but still making space for someone to improve themselves. And I don't think you get there if you've never been taken aside by the stagehand and yell that virtually speaking. You know, we've all got our different examples of that in our lives. But you know, if You haven't screwed up and, and had to make amends or felt really low about yourself. I don't think you possess the capability to be empathetic when somebody else is in that role. And I guess I guess I would reverse that, I would say you can just take those lousy experiences and turn them into a way to soften your heart a little bit, and to make things a little easier for the people around you. So I just don't think I know anybody. I'm 55. Now, and I don't know anybody within 15 years of me on either side, who hasn't just been, you know, lost, like you said, a marriage of parent a child, like there's everybody has been through something. And I guess the trick is to turn that into something that makes you a better person. Not all, yeah, and not to minimize it either. Like, there's grief that goes along with all of that. But, I mean, that was so much about what my, what my book ended up being about is just trying to find the positive in negative situations.
Yeah, I think it was. I think it was Stephen Colbert who said that these moments of profound loss, give us empathy, like maybe they simply serve to give us the empathy needed to be there when someone else experiences loss. It doesn't explain, of course, why the universe is designed in this way. But I do think that there is something to that, that one of the ways that we change as we age is not everybody, but a lot of us sort of end up developing more empathy simply from the experiences that we've been through. It can flip to the other side, of course, sometimes people are like, you know, I've been through that. And I know, you know, you're going to survive, so it's not a big deal. I mean, I've definitely known people who went through that when my mom lost her husband, she experienced the opposite effect, where people were empathetic for like, a couple of weeks, and then they were like, get over and it's time to start moving on. And I don't know how you decide there's an appropriate time
Yeah, my timeline for your grief is up. So
We want to go do some fun things, and you keep having a frowny face! Yeah. So I know that it doesn't always work that way. But it does seem like those who grow empathy grow more as we age.
Well, yeah. And I think that is also the power of sharing stories. And again, something that comes up a lot in the podcast is, I am so grateful when a guest will share a story like that, like Chris Dennis did when I talked to him because I want to normalize for people like yeah, you screw up, like, you're gonna have it like I can do if. I didn't publish my first book till I was 52. So if you're a writer out there who has not yet had two books rejected and hit the age of 50, like, Don't worry, you're doing great like it's hang in there, keep writing. So I just think that there's a generosity that comes with sharing stories, which is why I love the podcast format, it just gives a chance for so many more people to hear so many different voices, I try really hard to have diverse set of guests, you know, whatever their background, where they're from, whatever socio economic race, whatever, I just want to have a lot of voices telling that story that there's so many good things about midlife and you will also screw up on your way there. And that's normal.
Well, I clearly agree with you deeply on the value of storytelling as a way to look at meaning and experience. And we're going to hear a story from you shortly. But before we do that, have you read any good books lately?
yours doesn't count
yes, mine does too count. But uh, yes I
it counts for me. it doesn't count for you for this question.
Yes, I just read to I love reading and I'm like, I'm happy with my velocity right now I'm making time for it. So the one that I absolutely love, and I can't I'm not gonna be able to come up with the author's name, but it's called The Other Bennet Sister. So I'm a big Pride and Prejudice nerd. I love Jane Austen. And I think her name is Janice Hadlow wrote the story of Pride and Prejudice from the standpoint of Mary, the sister that everybody mocks and she's belittled and she's kind of pushed off to the side and she does such an amazing job of capturing the whole mood of those books. And and what I, you know, what I loved about the original books is the way that they highlight the limited roles for women at that time in society and Janice Hadlow does that even even more, you know, because she's doing it through the lens. The first books are written contemporaneously, this looks back over history. So it was just fantastic. If you like Jane Austen at all, The Other Bennet Sisters great. And then the other one I just read really quick that was kinda just fun a two day read was Sweet Bitter about a woman in New York, I guess it's a Stars series, but I just cancelled Stars because I realized how many streaming services we'd signed up for.
You and everybody else during this time
I'm like, who signed us up for Showtime, and we don't, I've never even looked at it. But Sweet Bitter is about a young woman working in a very high end restaurant in New York and her relationships and kind of her growing confidence. And it was really good. I enjoyed that one a lot.
So I asked, I ask all my guests to bring a story from a moment in their life. And after which things changed in some way for you. Before you tell this story. I'm curious if it was hard to choose which story you wanted to tell.
Um, I tend to trust my instincts. And this one bubbled up pretty quickly, because it ties into a lesson that I learned in writing my book, and that I get asked a lot of questions about when I talk about the book. So I know that this one resonates with people. I think it's kind of unique, surprising, yet universal, I think you can apply it to somebody in your own life after you hear it. So
since it's connected to the book, why don't we've kind of alluded to that you have this book, we've mentioned the book, they know the title of the book. But since the story is related, why don't we take a moment now just to so that you can just quickly tell people a little bit about how the book was born. Because I think that's also an interesting story in and of itself.
Well, the book is called The Thank You Project, Cultivating Happiness One Letter of Gratitude at a Time. and it Chronicles a year that I spent writing a weekly letter to someone who had helped, shaped, or inspired me. So I was turning 50 in 2016, and I decided the way I was going to commemorate this big milestone year was that I would write a letter every week, you know, and just kind of acknowledge the way that people had helped me in my life, because I had this very strong sense, as I hit the half century mark, that I had, that I was very fortunate, you know, my parents were around good marriage, kids are great friends, you know, and I knew that I shouldn't take that for granted, I think by the time you hit that number, you've seen enough, you've experienced enough to know that, that's not always going to be the case, it's not the case for everybody. And so it almost felt like tempting fate to not just put some gratitude about that out into the world. And so I was gonna write these letters once a week. And that was it. I and you know, I had no certainly had no designs to write a book about this. I wasn't setting about to make myself happier. It was, there was so little forethought in this, you'd be surprised at how blind I went into the whole thing. So I made a list of, you know, close, close friends and family and I got to like 22 names, and I thought, I don't even know 50 people, but hopefully I'll meet them by the time I have to write that letter. So I started writing these letters. And over the course of the year, my not only did I not only did I become a more positive person, not only did I get better at finding good in bad situations, but that enabled me to keep broadening and broadening my different my definition of helped, shaped, and inspired. So in the book, I was really glad to go into the science behind it because I was trying to figure out what the heck just happened to me. Like when that year ended, I was like, I know, I've changed but I don't understand why. So in writing the book, I was able to figure out that yes, an act of gratitude, practice rewires your brain to do that you need to look more efficiently for good things around you. It helps you sleep better, it lowers your blood pressure. If you've got asthma, you can control your asthma better. So there's all these psychological and physiological benefits that go along with gratitude. And so the, the shall I start because now I can segue into my story if you like, that's the book.
Oh, gosh. So we're right now we're there. We're all caught up. So yeah, I would love I would love it if you would tell us the story. And I think it would be a fantastic thing to hear. It sounds like you're maybe going to clue us in on a little bit of how you were changed in terms of your gratitudes in a specific way. So I'm very This is my I'm excited face as of right now. So yes,
Alexis Rose's, slow, let's say like Alexis Rose's little hands on Schitts Creek. Well,
yes, please do. Tell us your story. Yeah, thank you.
So there was a name that I added to my list about three quarters the way through the process that I never saw coming. And the backstory is that I became friends with this kid in sixth grade science class. We were sat together by Mort Stein at the same table and he was just like, my closest guy friend all through high school, and I was probably closer to my girlfriends. But when it came to boys who I could go to for advice for, you know, you know, for anything, he was always there for me. And we were part of a group of like a coed group of friends that did tons of stuff together. This is again, growing up in the early 80s. in upstate New York, our parents did not know what we were doing. He was part of the group that I got up to shenanigans with, with no sense for my parents of where we were at any given time. But he was just like, one of my best friends, we had a lot of classes together, he and I both were writers. So we took AP English together, we took you know, AP social studies. Anyway, we were together a lot. And he just was what that guy like I felt super comfortable around him, could talk to him about boy problems, could talk to him about school problems, parents, whatever, we even went to church together. And when we graduated, we kept in touch when we went to different colleges, kept in touch a little bit during the college years. And then after college, he just caught me off, he stopped communicating with me in any way. And that whole rest of the group of people who I stayed in touch with, knew what he was up to. They knew where he lived, they knew who he was dating all this stuff. And I just never heard from him. And of course, this was also pre cellphone days pre email, pre texting, obviously. So it was easier to fall out of touch in those days, but it still hurt. And it's still you know, every time I would try, like, I'd see his mom at church, and I'd say, you know, can I get his address? I'll send him a card. And she'd Oh, sure, yeah, here it is. And he wouldn't respond. Or I knew at one point, he was living in North Carolina, and I was passing through there on the way to visit some relatives, and I called him didn't call me back, you know, and it was just weird. And so it was, you know, it was a loss that I kind of felt subconsciously I think for a long time. So you know, I spent quality time nurturing resentment toward him, you know, because I couldn't figure out what I'd done wrong. And I'm a real, I'm a third kid, I'm a people pleaser. I'm like, What did I do, everybody should like me what's wrong. And so then I'm writing it, but I was whatever, I've got married, I moved, you know, I had lots of friends. I didn't think about him every day. And then I'm writing these letters. And first of all, I realized that every time I wrote a letter to someone, it was a chance for me to reflect back on all the good that people had brought into my life in a really specific way. Because I had a couple of rules for myself and I and I give all these in the book too. I tried to make it really easy for a reader to do these kinds of letters themselves. But one of the things that I think matters is specifics and saying you you're not just like you're nice, but you lent me a car when I was like for a job interview, or you always rewrote my resume for me, or you know, you gave me a recipe that is my favorite thing to eat. That's not organic Trader Joe's Fritos. And the and as I was doing that, unwittingly, I was strengthening the neural pathways in my brain that were helping me recognize positive things around me and strengthening my positive recall bias. So I got to, like, I got to the end of the friends and family letters, and then I was writing to, you know, Doc, the doctor who delivered my children, because if you talk about somebody who's shaped your life, a healthy birth of your two daughters definitely counts. And then I was writing to the guy at the supermarket who always smiles, you know, now underneath his mask, but gave me change, you know, would cover me if I was, if I forgot my wallet. And just like the it just kept getting more expansive. And all of a sudden, I thought at some point, I don't have to send the letters, I feel good. All those good feelings I get from having written the letters, this better sleep and this kind of sense of peace and well being. It's when I write the letters, it's not when the person receives them. And that's like the cherry on top. I loved hearing back from people who had received my letters, but it was not my good feelings. Were not conditioned on that. So I was like, wait a minute, if I don't have to send the letters to feel good, I could write to people who I'm not in touch with who have changed my life in some significant way. And his name popped right up because I thought, we're not friends now. But back in high school, when I needed a friend when I needed good advice, he was always there for me. And so I my process with this book, it being a weekly letter, I would kind of spend all week just thinking about that person, and what experiences do we share what things have they taught me? What are the pieces of advice that I still use that they've given me. And again, even if you're not writing the letter that's still doing that conditioning of the neural pathways and strengthening those paths in your brain that help you focus on positive things. So I just spent the week thinking about it and at the end of the week, when I I was ready to sit down and write, I thought, it's not weird that he stopped being friends with me. In high school, it's weird that he stayed friends with me all the way to the end of high school because he was a better friend to me than I was to him. All these pieces of advice, he gave me all these ways that he supported me, I took for granted. And so in writing all of that down, not only did I forgive him completely for not staying in touch, I felt, I had to really think sit with a sense of shame, which sometimes comes up in these in these letters. And I think it's not a bad thing, you know, you you, I knew that if, you know, I could have done better I was whatever I was a kid. It's a long time ago now. But looking back, I recognize that I could have done better. And so you know, that was just one of the biggest examples of how forgiveness and gratitude are really tightly coupled, that I never expected. And that letter was kind of profound for me, because I was like, You know what, I don't have to be mad at him anymore. I can let it go. So who do you think reached out on Facebook three weeks after that letter, and I didn't send it, I still have it sitting here in my office. He reached out and said, Hey, how you doing? You know what's up. And I know for a fact that if I had not taken the time to think through all of those things, and to write it down in this letter, I would not have been happy to hear from him, I would have still been mad, I would have been like, you know, do we work blue here are you gonna bleep me out, if I use the F, if I dropped the F bomb, screw you. Like, you know, you didn't, you didn't talk to me for all those years, you don't get to talk to me now. But instead, I was so overjoyed to hear from him, I really felt like how cool this is great. And our friendship has been resuscitated. And we text we text a lot. You know, having him back as somebody who I can be in touch with on a regular basis has really been one of the nicest things about being in my 50s. And I would not have gotten there without writing that letter. So I think the way that the gratitude letters and gratitude exercises can shift your perspective and change the way you think about not just past relationships that you may have considered bad relationships, or that were legitimately bad relationships, but all kinds of experiences in your life, you can look back with that lens of time and say, oh, but I learned this, or I got this out of it. Or Yeah, maybe I deserved that. You know, maybe it's an it's a really powerful way of shifting perspective, I think.
Thank you for sharing that story. I find that very inspiring. And I also can't help but wonder, and there's no way to answer this question. But I can't help but wonder if you hadn't spent all of that time. You know, putting energy into the universe, thinking about him and having that epiphany. I can't help but wonder if he wouldn't have reached out at all. If that?
Oh, no I totally get
You know, my dad, I call that coconut wireless. It's like coconut coconut. You catch a signal?
Yeah. I know. I absolutely believe that that had something to do with it. And again, I point to my my lovely Aunt Nuni, who believes in all kinds of things spiritual and otherworldly. Why shouldn't Why shouldn't that have been the thing that made it change? Yeah.
That's just so but of course, there's no way to know. But I do I tend to believe in in that kind of thing as well, where it's, you know, where you? Yeah, yeah, that's a very cool thing.
How sad it would be to not have a little bit of magic around us in the world, I'd prefer to believe it does exist.
Well, that's a nice way to say that. That's a really nice way to say that. So you have so he you still have the letter, so he hasn't ever read the
No and we and honestly, we never really talked about it much. I mean, he I believe he has my book. I didn't ask him. I, we talked about dogs and gardens and kids and stuff like that. But it doesn't really matter to me, you know, it did what it needed to. It put me in a space where I can really value not just who he was to me back in the 80s. But who he is now. And yeah, he I mean, if he reads the book, he knows there's a letter and he's not going to get it so and i don't you know, and there were other being there were other letters I wrote that gave me that chance to Well, this I don't know if this one is so much about forgiving as it is about just reframing but I my first job out of college was working in Germany. I had studied German all through grade school in high school in college and I got a job in Munich and my big goal girl from Rochester, New York. I was going to live in Europe for five years like I was determined I was going to have my European life and I went took this job in Munich and was in over my head from day one it was an IT consulting business and I didn't knew anything besides how to turn a computer on but anyway and it was just a really hard job and after a couple of years I mean I loved it there was so many good things I got out of it and I happened to live there when the wall came down so it was really an amazing time to be there I had friends Yeah, it was super cool. But at the end of the day, after two years I was like I don't want to be here anymore This boss is terrible and he was just a very hard person to work for so I had my plan had been five years and then grad school and I'm like screw it I made two years I'm going to grad school now got to grad school and I met my husband who overlapped we overlapped by one semester he was about to graduate. And I think well if my boss had been nicer in Germany if that guy had done better at his job I would have stayed longer and I never would have met Andrew so I can look back at him and be like thanks for being a dick because you made sure that I crossed paths with the guy I needed to cross paths with you know 30 years later I can look back and say that so that's you know, something I try to encourage people as they're looking at this is even in the hard relationships or the hard situations if you just shift a little bit and try to think of what is there to be grateful for you may end up really releasing yourself in a way you know, you don't have to hold on to resentment if you don't want to
you know, when I when my first marriage came to an end, I did a writing process that I found on the internet because I was like journaling is how you process feelings, but I need a process and so I found some blog that is now buried deep in the archives of everything is constantly populating with new stuff. And but this process was great because it did include that gratitude element there was an element of making lists like what are the things you love doing with this person? What are the things that you really appreciate about this person the memories You're so happy to have with that person, which was this like bittersweet painful part of the process but also such an important part then there was you know, the stuff where it was like, list out the things that are that are irreconcilable that you haven't been able to get on the same page with them and all of the things that you've tried and in it and that was also an important part of the process to recognize like okay, I did my due diligence here I really tried and make this relationship become the thing that I wanted to have in my life. But I think if I hadn't spent all of that time really thinking about what are the things I'm going to miss you know, what are the what are the good stuff what's what and what are the lessons that I've learned that I can be grateful for because I learned so much I think that that was such a powerful process in letting go of that relationship and and I it's so you know, I just I am a big believer in in writing your feelings out but not just like I feel this right now there's there's more depth to it because we are multifaceted humans. As opposed to those two dimensional humans. I don't know what that would be.
But, you know, we have all these layers and and you can even have to dig into them to really, to really have shifts, I think,
well, I've been thinking a lot about this in the context of the pandemic. And I don't know if you saw the article at the in the New York Times At Home section this week, about moving from languishing to flourishing. So for a while everybody was passed around that article that talked about how we're all languishing with nothing to look forward to. And I was talking to a friend of mine who lives in Europe and send it to her and she said, Oh, no, I'm not languishing, I'm dead inside. I'm like, also relatable. The point of this piece was okay, we were there, we get it, people have been unhappy, but here's how we're going to move from letting go of that. And flourishing and gratitude was a huge part of it. And I have been talking to audiences via zoom obviously, for this whole year, because the book came out right before the pandemic, and talking about how, maybe not now, but maybe in six months, or a year or five years, you will look back at the pandemic and you will think I learned this, this is a person who helped me through it. I couldn't have made it without, you know, knowing these people. And it certainly given us a way to value the people who we were unable to see, you know, I lost my mom during the pandemic. I couldn't go home for her last week, I couldn't go back to New York. And it made it exquisitely painful but it was also just this reminder of that's meaning you know, that meant something that means something to have that proximity so I think the pandemic gave us a chance to properly value, what it means to show up for people in real life and to be there for them. And so as we kind of find our footing in this brave, new normal, I think it's a good way to remind yourself that a you've come through something hard, you probably had support from people, I hope everybody, everybody listening had support from some good people to get them through it. and telling them that you're grateful for that, and you see it and you acknowledge it is not a bad way to, you know, not just make them feel valued, but like the science shows to help you feel better to by by capturing those thoughts.
Well, I think that that's wonderful. I have super enjoyed our conversation. And I want to give you the opportunity if there are any final thoughts, but to me, that was such a like, brilliant note to end on. But if you have other final thoughts, you'd like people, you know, I want to give you that opportunity. What would you like pull away from this conversation?
I'd like to do a soliloquy from West Wing I'm kidding. No, I'm just grateful I, you know, I would love if if the idea of this resonates obviously I would love for people to check out the book, the Thank You Project to come on to check out the Midlife Mixtape Podcast, which is available everywhere. But really, I guess, just I love that your topic is changed because I feel like people are so scared of it. And I'm one of those people. But I also understand that it's inevitable, and we can by embracing it, we can kind of control we can not control necessarily, but I think we can find more comfort. If we know it's coming. Good things can come out of it. It's not, it's not necessarily going to be bad. And it could be great.
It could even be a cool exercise to look back at the pivotal moments in your own life and write some thank you notes just to those moments.
Oh, I mean, I wrote to I wrote to the cities that I had lived in, I wrote to the live music because by the end, I was like nutso. I was if I if I can write these and they don't have to have a mailing address I wrote to Jane Austen, for instance, I wrote to the live music industry, because I do love my concerts. But I couldn't send that anywhere. I think it's great for people to look at the things that make them who they are, and hold them up and make them interesting and vibrant and express some gratitude for that. And however and whenever they came into your life, that was a that was a turning point. That was a change for you. So who were you before that? And who are you now that you've had that exposure to to whatever it is the city, the hobby, the person, you know?
Well, Nancy, I would like to say thank you, to you, I want to express my gratitude to you for joining me today and sharing your thoughts and your stories. And I look forward to hearing from listeners, their reactions, their thoughts, and if they pick up the book, I want to hear all about how that affects them. So thank you.
Thank you so much. This was really fun.
I said it in the course of this conversation with Nancy, but I'd like to re-emphasize it again to you right now. journaling is a great way to process change. And gratitude is an important part of that process. But I also have to fess up that while I do try and say thank you often, I don't necessarily dig deep. So I thought it might be interesting or fun or maybe just good for me. I don't know to pour a little gratitude into all of our cups. Apologies in advance and thank you for your patience. This might take a couple of minutes. When I started this podcast it was because I just wanted to have interesting conversations. My first episode on the first day of my launch received 12 listens and I got to tell you, I was really excited about that. But now more than 30,000 listens later, I have so much more to be grateful for. But it's important paying attention to those first few episodes because those first seven guests all said yes to being on this show before it was even born. That's a huge vote of confidence in a project thats sight unseen or sight unheard? unheard of? It's unheard of vote of confidence. You get what I'm trying to say. I want to say a big thank you to Mary Jo Pehl from MST3K actor Todd Stashwick. Author's Mo Daviau, Dr. Rick Brinkman, Dr. Rick Kirschner (my dad). A complete stranger from across the pond who said yes, the beautiful survivor Nadine Montaghami, the amazing comedian, host, cancer-surviving veteran BJ Lange, and head of story on the recent Sony Pictures Animation, The Mitchell's vs The Machines (Go see it if you haven't seen it) Guillermo Martinez. Thank you, all of you. You the Super Seven, were the ones who made the project come to life. If you had not said yes, I would not be here saying thank you now, but also I wouldn't have this podcast. So thank you, you made this happen. And all of the guests who've joined me since you continue to bring beautiful perspectives, amazing stories and experiences that you share with my listeners so openly. But you also make my day brighter. No matter what is happening in my life. When I step into the booth, and I see my guests on the other side of my screen, I get really excited because these conversations enrich me and knowing that you the listeners are also feeling enriched, makes me feel even better. So thank you for doing that. Thank you for showing up each week to listen to this show for leaving such amazing ratings and reviews on iTunes for sharing your feedback thoughts and ideas for making the show better with me. I am so deeply grateful for you the listeners and oh my goodness, I just want to keep saying thank you. Nancy, you are onto something with these thank yous. Look listeners... Be sure to check out the show notes for this episode at thechangefpodcast.com because that's where you're gonna find links to Nancy's book The Thank You Project as well as the Midlife Mixtape Podcast. A huge shout out of gratitude to my Patreon community, you all make it possible to continue to grow and better this show. One more Patreon shout out goes to the one and only Dr. Rick Kirschner who is our only producer level member of the Patreon. Daddy, you brought me into this world that you've supported every project you continue to support me, I love you. I am grateful. My husband, Eric, my mother, my stepdaughter who all exhibit immense amounts of patience to allow me to do this show my God. Thank you. And thank you to all of you for listening to this long list of thank yous. If you've hung in there, I am impressed. Thank you for listening to The Changed Podcast I'm Aden Nepom. And I wish you the kind of experiences in life you're excited to tell stories about