Pulling The Thread with Elise Loehnen

Elise Loehnen and Audacy

  • 58 minutes 28 seconds
    Choosing Wholeness Over Wokeness (Africa Brooke)

    “In writing my book, I wanted to bring it back to the self because being online allows us to have this inappropriate level of audacity. And I think audacity is a very beautiful thing, but it gets so inappropriate online where you can go into Elise's messages and say, “by the way, I saw you liked this, you should be liking this, prove yourself to me”-- when the same person is probably not even able to have a conversation with their own partner in their home, but they can go online and demand people to say certain things, but in your home, are you that courageous to have a difficult conversation? Are you that courageous to have that same level of audacity in your day to day life. And I just worry that we're performing this very shadowy version of ourselves, especially online, without making any kind of effort in our everyday life to cultivate a strong sense of self, where you're able to handle conflict, where you're able to express disappointment to someone face to face and have a dialogue.”

    So says Africa Brooke, coach and author of The Third Perspective: Brave Expression in the Age of Intolerance. I’ve been smitten with Africa for years, after I was one of the 12 million-odd people who read her Instagram manifesto, “Why I’m Leaving the Cult of Wokeness” in 2020. There, Africa gave voice to being part of a culture that was supposed to be tented around diversity and inclusion, and yet, she found herself sounding and behaving in an increasingly intolerant way, a way that resisted diversity of thought. Originally from Zimbabwe, Africa lives in the U.K. and had already amassed a following for documenting her path to sobriety online—a path that anticipated the sober curious movement that’s become more mainstream today. She’s well-versed in spotting patterns and recognizing the way culture was working both on her and in her, in ways that were separating her from herself. 

    I loved this conversation, a conversation I was very excited to have—it’s a vulnerable one. I’m grateful to Africa for saying what needs to be said and conscious that more of us need to join her. As she explains, people quickly finger her as far-right—and the far-right would love nothing more than to co-opt her—but she’s more of a social justice advocate than ever. She needs people in the center, and people on the left to join her in pointing out how our cancel culture is, to use her term, actually “collective sabotage.” And how we abandon our highest principles when we turn on each other so quickly and make each other “wrong.” I think this conversation speaks for itself.


    MORE FROM AFRICA BROOKE:

    The Third Perspective: Brave Expression in the Age of Intolerance

    Why I’m leaving the cult of wokeness

    Africa’s Website

    Follow Africa on Instagram

    Africa’s Podcast: “Beyond the Self

    Loretta Ross’s Episode: “Calling in the Call-Out Culture

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    16 May 2024, 7:01 am
  • 1 hour 2 minutes
    A Toolkit for Transforming Trauma (James Gordon, M.D.): TRAUMA

    “Now the tragedy, in one sense is a tragedy, that often people only become open when they've suffered horribly when that is both the tragedy of trauma, but also the promise. It's one thing to be trauma informed. It's another thing to inform our experience of trauma with some kind of courage and some kind of hopefulness for profound change. That's what's got to happen. If that can happen, then maybe out of all this contentiousness that is present in our 21st century United States, maybe something really good can happen, but we've got to pay attention, we've got to act on it, and take responsibility.”

    So says Dr. James Gordon, a Harvard-educated psychiatrist, former researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health and Chairman of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy, and a clinical professor of psychiatry and family medicine at Georgetown Medical School. He’s also the founder and executive director of The Center for Mind-Body Medicine and a prolific writer on trauma. This is because he’s spent the last several decades traveling the globe and healing population-wide psychological trauma. He and 130 international faculty have brought this program to populations as diverse as refugees from wars in the Balkans, the Middle East, and Africa; firefighters and U.S. military personnel and their families; student/parent/teacher school shooting survivors; and more.

    I met Jim many years ago, and he’s become a constant resource for me in my own life and work, particularly because he packages so many of the exercises that work in global groups into his book Transforming Trauma: The Path to Hope and Healing. We talk about some of those exercises today—soft belly breathing, shaking and dancing, drawing—along with why it’s so important to address and complete the trauma cycle in areas of crisis. This is the first part of a four-part series, and James does an excellent job of setting the stage.


    MORE FROM JAMES GORDON, M.D.:

    Transforming Trauma: The Path to Hope and Healing

    The Center for Mind-Body Medicine

    Follow Jim on Instagram


    RELATED EPISODES:

    Thomas Hubl: “Feeling into the Collective Presence

    Gabor Maté, M.D.: “When Stress Becomes Illness

    Galit Atlas, PhD: “Understanding Emotional Inheritance

    Thomas Hubl: “Processing Our Collective Past

    Richard Schwartz, PhD: “Recovering Every Part of Ourselves

    To learn more about listener data and our privacy practices visit: https://www.audacyinc.com/privacy-policy

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    13 May 2024, 7:01 am
  • 1 hour 34 minutes
    The Complexity of Weight Loss Drugs (Johann Hari)

    “I realized I think there's a few things that are in our heads that are so deep in the culture. One of them is the idea that being overweight is a sin. It goes right back to if you look at Pope Gregory I in the 6th century when he first formulates the seven deadly sins, gluttony is there, it's always depicted with some fat person who looks monstrous, overeating. And how do we think about sin? If being overweight is a sin, we think sin requires punishment before you get to redemption. The only forms of weight loss that we admire are where you suffer horribly, right? You think about The Biggest Loser, that horrid, disgusting game show. If you go through agony, if you starve yourself, if you do extreme forms of exercise that devastate your body, then we'll go, he suffered. We forgive you. Well done. We'll let you be thin now, right?”

    So says Johann Hari, author of many bestselling books—Stolen Focus, Lost Connections, and Chasing the Scream. Johann is a fellow cultural psychic and his latest book—the subject of today’s conversation—bears this out. He takes on drugs like Ozempic and Mounjaro in Magic Pill: The Extraordinary Benefits and Disturbing Risks of the New Weight-Loss Drugs. He also writes about his own relationship to these drugs, as Johann is taking them. His book is a subtle and sensitive navigation of what is a tightly bound convergence of health and culture—and every page of his book anticipates and precedes the conversation. (As a disclaimer, I’m in it.) We talk about all  of it in today’s conversation, along with what would have happened if a woman had written this book first.


    MORE FROM JOHANN HARI:

    Magic Pill: The Extraordinary Benefits and Disturbing Risks of the New Weight-Loss Drugs

    Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention—and How to Think Deeply Again

    Lost Connections: Why You’re Depressed and How to Find Hope

    Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs

    Johann’s Website

    Follow Johann on Instagram

    To learn more about listener data and our privacy practices visit: https://www.audacyinc.com/privacy-policy

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    9 May 2024, 7:01 am
  • 1 minute 25 seconds
    Coming Soon: Special Series on Trauma

    Hi, It’s Elise, host of Pulling the Thread. Starting next Monday, I’m doing another special series—this set is about trauma, specifically trauma and the body. You’ll hear from four important voices in the space. We’re going to start with Dr. James Gordon, who works with groups all over the world who are in crisis, helping them move their experiences through the body before it gets stuck. Next, we’ll turn to the father of Somatic Experiencing, Peter Levine, who has a new autobiography about a horrific trauma from his childhood that led him to the formation of his practice, from which we all benefit today. Next, I’m joined by my friend Resmaa Menakem, author of My Grandmother’s Hands, the creator of the somatic abolitionist movement who works with me directly to illustrate how we all carry fear. And finally, Prentis Hemphill is taking us home: Their stunning new book, What it Takes to Heal, explores finding our calcified feelings and patterns of behavior in our bodies and navigating conflict without projecting our pain. In the show notes, you’ll find related episodes from years past, including guests like Galit Atlas, Gabor Maté, Thomas Hubl, and Richard Schwartz. I’ll see you this Thursday for a regular episode—though it’s Johann Hari, so there’s nothing regular about it.


    RELATED EPISODES:

    Thomas Hubl: “Feeling into the Collective Presence

    Gabor Maté, M.D.: “When Stress Becomes Illness

    Galit Atlas, PhD: “Understanding Emotional Inheritance

    Thomas Hubl: “Processing Our Collective Past

    Richard Schwartz, PhD: “Recovering Every Part of Ourselves

    To learn more about listener data and our privacy practices visit: https://www.audacyinc.com/privacy-policy

    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    6 May 2024, 7:01 am
  • 51 minutes 54 seconds
    Loving the End (Alua Arthur)

    “When we can pause for a moment and rifle through all that noise to figure out what the root of the fear is, then we can be with it in a meaningful way, rather than just let it run our lives. And a little bit of fear of death and a little bit of death anxiety is totally normal, for all of us. I mean, it's that thing inside that tells you not to keep walking when you get to the edge of a cliff, and even to like drink water, you know, hydrate, stay alive. It's in us. It's in our DNA. It's rooted in there. And so the goal is never to get over it entirely, but rather to learn from it, to be with it, to not let it run our lives, but rather to let it fuel our lives.”

    So says Alua Arthur, a death doula and recovering attorney who is the author of Briefly, Perfectly, Human, which is a guidebook for both how to live and also how to die. Alua is the founder of Going with Grace, a death doula training and end-of-life planning organization. In today’s conversation, we talk about what it would look like to get our death phobic culture a little closer to the end, why people fear dying, and what can be gained when we recognize the priceless gifts that come when our lives come to a close. Let’s get to our conversation.


    MORE FROM ALUA ARTHUR:

    Briefly, Perfectly, Human

    Follow Alua on Instagram

    Going with Grace Website


    RELATED EPISODES:

    B.J. Miller: “Struggle is Real—Suffering is Optional

    Roshi Joan Halifax: “Standing at the Edge

    Frank Oswaseski: “Accepting the Invitation

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    2 May 2024, 7:01 am
  • 47 minutes 36 seconds
    On Telling The Truth (Nell Irvin Painter)

    “But one thing the whole “Karen” thing did, which I think was very good, was that it pointed out the existence of spaces Ostensibly open to everyone, but not, and then patrolled often by white women saying you don't belong here. And she got a name, and people with that name wince and rightfully so, but without that wince-worthy kind of situation, I don't think large numbers of Americans would realize that there really is a sort of silent apartheid in our public spaces.”

    So says Nell Irvin Painter, who Henry Louis Gates Jr. refers to as “one of the towering Black intellects of the last century.” I first heard Nell on Scene On Radio with John Biewen in his series “Seeing White,” and have been biding my time for an opportunity to interview her ever since. I got my chance, with her latest endeavor, an essay collection called I Just Keep Talking, which is a collection of her writing from the past several decades, about art, politics, and race along with many pieces of her own art.

    Now retired, Nell is a New York Times bestseller and was the Edwards Professor of American History Emerita at Princeton, where she published many, many books about the evolution of Black political thought and race as a concept. She’s one of the preeminent scholars on the life of Sojourner Truth—and is working on another book about her right now—and is also the author of The History of White People. Today’s conversation touches on everything from Sojourner Truth—and how she actually never said “Ain’t I a Woman?”—to the capitalization of Black and White. 


    MORE FROM NELL IRVIN PAINTER:

    I Just Keep Talking: A Life in Essays

    The History of White People

    Old in Art School

    Nell’s Website

    Follow Nell on Instagram

    Scene On Radio: “Seeing White

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    25 April 2024, 7:01 am
  • 56 minutes 12 seconds
    When it's Time to Go (Joy Sullivan)

    “What is that instinct that might be asking me to do something really unadvisable or radical or leap outside the bounds of my own life? And that's the space by which I think we move forward in life. And that's the space in which I think we move forward honestly on the page and in writing. And I tell people, you know, what is it that you want to explore in your writing? Like the page is this beautiful opportunity to start taking some big risks, whether it's persona poetry, where you're literally writing in a different voice, or you're naming something that cannot be held in any other space available to you, or you're testing out just an idea that you're not ready to say out loud. The page is this really beautiful field that gives us a lot of courage to then apply that, I think, to our actual lives.”

    So says Joy Sullivan, the author of Instructions for Traveling West, which is a guidebook of poems for letting your life fall apart and remake itself as something new. In our conversation, Joy and I explore her early life: how she grew up in Africa, the child of medical missionaries, bound tight by evangelicalism and purity culture—and her relationship to religion and faith now that she’s left that behind. Eve is a central figure in Joy’s poetry, and you will hear why. 


    MORE FROM JOY SULLIVAN:

    Instructions for Traveling West

    Follow Joy on Instagram

    Joy’s Newsletter, “Necessary Salt

    Joy’s Website

    To learn more about listener data and our privacy practices visit: https://www.audacyinc.com/privacy-policy

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    18 April 2024, 7:01 am
  • 2 minutes 40 seconds
    Introducing: Million Dollar Advice

    Million Dollar Advice is a work and career advice podcast hosted by friends and colleagues Kim Lessing and Kate Arend. Together Kim and Kate run Amy Poehler’s Paper Kite Productions and are very cool and good at their jobs. Each week, they help live callers with their work-related dilemmas. Whether you have a question or you just like listening to other people’s problems, this show will change your life. If you have a problem at work or a career question big or small, write in to [email protected] or leave a message on the Million Dollar Advice Hotline (888) 799-6327. Kim and Kate can’t wait to give you some Million Dollar Advice!

    To learn more about listener data and our privacy practices visit: https://www.audacyinc.com/privacy-policy

    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    16 April 2024, 8:00 am
  • 45 minutes 41 seconds
    When Love Feels Unbearable (Anne Lamott)

    “You want to find yourself? Give. We're not hungry for what we're not getting. We're hungry for what we're not giving. And then at the same time, you watch this old pattern of guarding what you have and of watching your mother take the leftovers and your mother taking leftover food and taking the piece of cake that broke in half while it was being served and taking the lesser car and taking whatever time is left for her to get her needs met. And so, you know, all truth is a paradox. And that's really what I believe is that I really, really give, but because I'm healing the codependence, I'm healing the self doubt, I'm giving from a place that is abundant because I live in gratitude. I notice how much I have been poured into, crazy love from a number of different directions. And I give that away. I don't give from my place of deprivation.”

    So says Anne Lamott, the eternally wise, prescient, and deeply human writer so many of us wish we could call in times of need. Anne is the author of 20 books—yes 20—including the New York Times bestsellers, Help, Thanks, Wow; Dusk, Night, Dawn; Traveling Mercies; and Bird by Bird, which is essential reading for every writer. I refer to and cite her advice all the time. Anne is also a Guggenheim Fellow. Her latest book—and the subject of today’s conversation is Somehow: Thoughts on Love that revolves around the William Blake line: We are here to learn to endure the beams of love—and how hard this is. 


    MORE FROM ANNE LAMOTT:

    Somehow: Thoughts on Love

    Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

    Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival & Courage

    Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers

    Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

    Follow Anne on Instagram

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    11 April 2024, 7:01 am
  • 1 hour 3 minutes
    Understanding the Drama Triangle (Courtney Smith)

    “From my perspective, one of the reasons we tell stories is it helps give us a sense of who we are, we use stories to affirm our identity. And that's part of the reason why we don't actually like to call them stories, because if we call them stories, and we begin to see that the self is actually rooted in construction, made up interpreted reality, it can be very threatening to us and to our sense of who would I be without this story. And so that's one of the things that I really love about this is you can begin to see that my sense of self has to change, if I'm willing to look at my stories, what is going to happen is my sense of who I am is going to change.”

    So says Courtney Smith, a coach, facilitator, and dear friend who is schooled and trained in many different modalities: Conscious Leadership Group, Byron Katie’s work, the Alexander Technique, and the Enneagram. She is one of my favorite thought partners because of the range of her intelligence and the structure of her mind: She was a math econ major who happens to have a J.D. from Yale and a masters in public health from NYU. Before taking a turn toward the mystical, she was a McKinsey consultant. So in short, she’s a multi-hyphenate Renaissance woman whose bookshelf looks much like mine. You might remember Courtney from our conversation on Pulling the Thread about the Enneagram—if you missed it, there’s a link in the show notes—but today, we’re going to talk about Stephen Karpman’s Drama Triangle: What it is, how to know when you’re in it, and how to move past it…while recognizing that you’ll be in another one soon enough. We also do a little bit of live coaching and role-playing, so you all will really get a sense of how this powerful tool works. 

    Meanwhile, if you want to work with me and Courtney, together, we’re hosting a workshop from May 17-19 at the Art of Living Retreat Center in Boone, North Carolina. It’s called “Choosing Wholeness Over Goodness” and will be a combination of On Our Best Behavior and Courtney’s techniques. Honestly, I can’t wait—I hope you’ll all join us. The link to sign up is also in the episode page, or the link in bio on my Instagram account, @ eliseloehnen. 


    MORE FROM COURTNEY SMITH:

    My Workshop with Courtney at AOLRC: “Choosing Wholeness Over Goodness

    First Pulling the Thread episode: “The Practical Magic of the Enneagram

    Courtney’s Website


    ALSO MENTIONED:

    The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leaders

    Elise’s Substack Newsletters:

    Ending the Manel

    The Perception (and Reality) of Scarcity

    Who Gets to Be an Expert?

    To learn more about listener data and our privacy practices visit: https://www.audacyinc.com/privacy-policy

    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    4 April 2024, 7:01 am
  • 56 minutes 29 seconds
    The Power of Girls (Mattie Kahn)

    “I think historically we have always seen that intergenerational partnership is the way that movements grow and expand and the way people feel resilient about what they're trying to accomplish. The first defeat as a young person, when you feel your morals are on the line, your sense of justice is on the line, that is such a devastating blow and you really need people who've been doing this work for a long time to say, yeah, you're right. That's how that feels. It sucks. It hurts so bad. And this is how, when it happened to me, I got up again and I kept fighting. There is no future for progress without that kind of perspective. You need the fiery engagement of young people and you need the sense of history and the sense of perspective that older people can provide.”

    So says Mattie Kahn, a prolific writer whose work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and more. Mattie was also the culture director at Glamour and a staff editor at Elle. Today, she joins me to talk about her book, Young and Restless: The Girls Who Sparked America’s Revolutions, which is a much-needed survey of young female voices who were and are often at the heart of political movements, whether it was bus boycotts, strikes at mills, or the environmental movement unfolding today. This isn’t just a book about ensuring that the names of these girls are preserved by history, though, this is an examination of why girls are frequently so central to social change, and what it is about their often-precocious voices that can capture the attention of the nation. This, of course, is a double-edged sword, as Mattie’s work explores how quickly we dump these girls, or move on, once they turn into angry women. Today, we also talk about what’s happening on campuses and what a container might look like to hold dialogue, debate, and discourse.


    MORE FROM MATTIE KAHN:

    Young and Restless: The Girls Who Sparked America’s Revolutions

    Mattie’s Website

    Follow Mattie on Instagram

    To learn more about listener data and our privacy practices visit: https://www.audacyinc.com/privacy-policy

    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit https://podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    28 March 2024, 7:01 am
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