Finding the Margins - Kate Bowler

Finding the Margins with Angela Duckworth

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Finding the Margins

with Angela Duckworth

Psychologist Angela Duckworth studies the significance of grit. There are those who experience a difficult circumstance and scrape by, and there are those who thrive in the aftermath. Together, Angela and Kate explore what makes the difference and how we can develop resiliency in ourselves and our kids.

Kate Bowler

Angela Duckworth

Angela Duckworth is co-founder and CEO of Character Lab, a nonprofit that uses psychological science to help children thrive. She is also a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and in 2013 was named a MacArthur Fellow. Prior to her career in research, she was a math and science teacher in the public schools of New York City, San Francisco, and Philadelphia.

Show Notes

Click here for discussion questions for this conversation.

For a deeper dive into Angela’s study of grit, read her New York Times bestselling book, GRIT or watch her TED talk.

How gritty are you? Take Angela’s Grit Scale test, here.

Angela mentions the way David Brooks suggests how to discover your calling. Learn more about his ideas, here.

Queer Eye on Netflix brings me so much joy, especially Jonathan Van Ness who’s working on his gymnastics and ice skating skills.

Character Lab studies how kids could thrive in every day. Their website has really practical content on developing resilient kids.

This is so silly, but this app has helped me remember to drink water. You are threatened by keeping an adorable little plant alive.

Podcast illustration created by my sister, Amy. Check out her gorgeous work at or on Instagram: @WeGotThisArt.



Kate Bowler: I always thought it was a little weird to keep your childhood trophies as an adult, but secretly I still wanted them. So I took all of the plaques from every trophy I’ve ever had and put them on a poster that I called “The Wall of Dubious Achievements.” It includes my sixth grade valedictorian medal, my Royal Conservatory of Music, piano level two. It includes my Girl Guide badges for fire starting and bird identification. If there had been an award from my dentist for flossing I would have kept it. It’s an understatement to say that I used to want a shiny life with a few notable achievements. I used to outwork and outperform and outrun every challenge. I used to imagine bad things happen to other people and then it was all interrupted.

My name is Kate Bowler and this is Everything Happens. When I was diagnosed at 35 with stage four cancer I didn’t get an award, which was very disappointing because I was sort of hoping my life would follow the checklist model that I’d set up: go to college, marry my high school sweetheart, get a PhD, have a kid. Did I mention tenure? Live happily ever after, don’t be a dink. Check, check, check, check, check. But what do people do when life comes apart? Some people crumble, some people thrive. But what makes the difference? I wanted to talk to someone who would know.

Today I’m speaking with Dr. Angela Duckworth. Angela is a researcher, professor, and founder of the Character Lab. She is a MacArthur genius, which basically means the whole world recognizes how important her work is. You might know her from her TEDTalk or her number one New York Times bestselling book, Grit. Angela, it is such a privilege to be speaking with you today.

Angela Duckworth: Kate, I’m happy to be here. Thank you.

KB: Uh, I feel like I should start by saying that as a fellow academic, it’s probably a good time to clarify that people probably assume that our lives as professors, uh, are smoking cigars, drinking port in neogothic buildings, but mostly I’m guessing that we’re looking at spreadsheets in yoga pants in dark, windowless rooms. But, it makes me so happy to be speaking to a fellow nerd such as yourself.

AD: Well like you, I do a lot of my work in my pajamas. So, um, yeah, no tweed jackets or cigars or pipes for me.

KB: It’s so disappointing. You are obsessed with grit. So before we start, what is grit exactly?

AD: I think it is fair to say that I’m obsessed. I’m like a lot of the people that I study. I am like those gritty individuals who are voluntarily obsessed with one thing or another, but it does tend to be a singular obsession. In other words, they’re not obsessed with 10 things, but one. That’s what I really mean by the passion half of grit. I like to say that grit, in my eyes anyway, is passion and perseverance and the passion part is a kind of enduring preoccupation, if you will. The perseverance part of grit I think is the more obvious part of grit and maybe it’s just what the word sounds like.

KB: Yeah.

AD: You know, working really hard, being resilient and also, you know, never being satisfied with what you’ve done, always trying to improve. This combination I have found to be a- A kind of a common denominator of high achievers across fields.

KB: So how do we figure out if we have grit or not?

AD: Well, you could take my Grit Scale.

KB: Yeah.

AD: I mean, that would be one, you know, way of looking in the mirror as it were, and- And asking yourself, “Well, how passionate am I and how persevering am I at this point in my life?” I think many of us have a sense of that without taking any kind of questionnaire. In particular, if you don’t feel like your work identifies you, if you don’t feel like your work is a purpose, not just a job or even a career, but a calling then I would say, you know, you don’t have maximal grit yet. Uh, I also would say that if you feel like, “Gosh, I give up so easily. I have a lot of regrets in my life for things that I didn’t try to do because they were too hard.” Then I would say you also have room to grow in grit.

KB: You have this great quote, uh, from Will Smith in your book where he says, “I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be outworked, period. You might have more talent than me. You might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me, but if we get on the treadmill together, there’s two things. You’re getting off or I’m going to die.” I love that quote. I repeated it to a friend who was especially gritty, who has now taken on “Treadmill or Die” as his life motto.

AD: As their motto? Wonderful.

KB: And I think I feel like a treadmill person most of the time, but then, you know, terrible things can happen even to a treadmill person. I think maybe for some of us our trauma made us grittier and more resilient than we ever wanted to be. So I was wondering, how do you think or how have you found that trauma plays into developing grittiness?

AD: Well, first I’ll say that any mantra people take on, you know, some people might say, “I’m going to write I’ll show you on my bathroom mirror” or, you know, “don’t get off the treadmill.” The thing about mantras, or life mottos, is that they can be very powerful reminders of what you want to do, but they don’t allow for a lot of nuance. And I’d like to give a little nuance in my answer to your excellent question, which is that yes, I do think there’s real power in saying to yourself like, “I’m not going to get off the treadmill.”

KB: Yeah.

AD: And in fact, when adversity happens, you know, as Oprah Winfrey has said, it happens for you, not to you. I love the idea that you could have a belief that stress is debilitating, to be avoided at all costs, and- And generally catastrophic… Or you could have a different mindset about stress. You could have the belief that stress is a terrible thing, comma, but it also enables you to grow in unexpected ways. And I think the nuance that I would like to give here about adversity is that it is, in part I think, how you deal with adversity and how much support you have from loved ones that determines whether, you know, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. You know, the kind of, “Oh yes, I can grow,” versus just being wounded by it in- In a way that isn’t beneficial.

KB: Yeah.

AD: So there is a lot of nuance here. I don’t think we can just tell people like, hey, stress is great. Getting cancer is great.

KB: Yeah, yeah.

AD: You know, failing out of a class is great. It’s really not that simple, not at all. And I want to kind of honor that, you know, many things determine how you’re going to respond. And in particular what I’m learning more and more is that having that loving support from someone, from someone who really cares about you, I think that can make the most important difference in terms of, you know, how you- How you think about it, your mindset about it, and then of course how you respond.

KB: Mh-hm. Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense to me ‘cause the thing that I- I’m sort of morally object to is the cultural scripts that need the response to trauma to be commensurate with how bad it was. So the math runs this like, you know, for my situation, like cancer is terrible but I gained an incredible new perspective equals better than before! Uh, and that kind of, I think- I think you’re right to just like lay out that there can be a really false math with the way that people sort of measure people’s responses to the bad thing and then just take account of- Of the wounding that made that maybe such an unusual response in the first place.

AD: I think that’s really important. And, you know, absolutely we should remember not to try to do that kind of calculus or that kind of arithmetic for other people, right? I mean you know, it’s enough to try to even understand our own situations and you know, the pluses and the minuses and how they play out in our own lives but for someone to know just the cursory details of another person’s life and another person’s journey and then try to make, you know, judgments or-

KB: Yeah.

AD: Or assumptions about that. I think- I think there’s first of all no point to that and second of all, you’re probably usually wrong.

KB: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But I really like what you said about maybe having a growth mindset around stress. That it can be terrible, but that – and that it can be stretching – but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s breaking.

AD: I think that is the point, not that it’s a, you know, Pollyanna kind of, “Oh yay. Like yay, I got cancer!” But- but that all of life, you know, every experience, good, bad or in between, there’s something to learn from. And I think the idea that you could learn from almost anything and that that is a benefit, you know, even though again not to diminish, um, the real costs or…

KB: Yeah.

AD: Or the things that we would never wish upon anyone, including ourselves.

KB: I like that so much ‘cause I’m a huge believer in like finding things in the darkness, being able to still see the beauty and the light but I’m totally over lessons, just lessons as a category. So I- I really like those distinctions. And your explanation also made me think about some of the own math I was running when I was trying to figure out what I should do next after my diagnosis. When, you know, your mind just starts to try to do the new math. You know, you’re on a mission to maximize every moment but it’s sort of like you rev up the treadmill to an even higher speed to kind of carpe the diem faster. So, I’ve noticed that some people throw themselves into work and other people into family and then other people collapse into indecision. And I was really struggling to figure out my own calling when it seemed like there were competing goods. So, how does someone find their calling?

AD: Can I ask what happened next? It sounds like you had multiple goals that were important to you.

KB: Well, I can tell you interview people for a reason ‘cause I really want to tell you. I’m like, “Yes. That’s right. There was something else.” Well, I felt really stuck because, um, you know, I- I wasn’t sure if I’d live long enough to get tenure but I knew if I was going to live I should probably write my tenure book. And then I- I felt really stuck on that point because I’ve always loved my academic work but I thought, well, it’s not exactly a legacy. Like what if I die writing, you know, an academic book about women religious celebrities? Like is that really my… Is that really my great everlasting gift to the world?

KB: And then um, I was sitting around with some great academic friends having drinks and my friend Doug looked at me and he said, “Kate, you keep talking about, you know, maybe like your spiritual stuff or other parts of your life as like the real contribution but, maybe no matter what happens, whatever your best gift is, the people who love you, even if the worst happens, can still find you there.” And that was one of the most clarifying things someone said to me, that in an expression of my best gifts, whatever they are, that that can just be a true expression that I can give and that I can also be known and remembered for. And I- I found that very freeing.

AD: And did that give meaning to the work that you had been doing but wondered, oh gosh, what if- What if this is it?

KB: Yeah.

AD: Or did it make you do different work?

KB: Yeah, no, I finished the book. I finished it right before a scary surgery and then I handed it in the day before my surgery and then joy of all joys, I not only survived but then I also got tenure, which was great because then I got a nap after.

AD: That’s good. Two reasons to take a nap. Um, so- So how do people find a calling? I think your story, Kate, is of course unique to you but also I think telling in the following sense. I find that people who will use that word “calling” – it is typically something that is both meaningful in the sense that it serves a broader purpose…

KB: Yeah.

AD: And typically that means other people.

KB: Yeah.

AD: But also intrinsically enjoyable and interesting. And I think these are the two things that we- We look for in a professional career that we can say is, you know, really fulfilling. On the one hand we want to feel like it adheres to our moral compass. It- it is the kind of legacy that we think, you know, in the limited time on the planet, what am I going to do? But also it’s fun for us. You know…

KB: Yeah.

AD: We like it in a kind of childish, even selfish way. For me, I try to articulate my top-level goal…

KB: Yeah.

AD: Because it is the goal that guides my professional life. It will be the same goal until my dying day and it makes all the decisions, like being on your podcast or you know, should I write this paper, should I take this trip, you know, very clear to me because it either does or doesn’t advance this goal. My goal is to use psychological science to help children thrive. Now the first few words in that statement, use psychological science, to me that’s just fun. I just will never get bored of, you know, human motivation and mindsets and…

KB: Yeah.

AD: You know, why we do what we do. Now the second half of that phrase, to help children thrive, you know, that’s meaning and purpose to me.

KB: Yeah.

AD: I mean I was a teacher. I am a mother. I really care about kids. Breaks my heart to see kind of the way most kids are growing up-

KB: Yeah.

AD: And their limited opportunities. So that’s, for me, the calling that I have been so fortunate to have and I- I have bad days, I get disappointed, I grind my teeth at night, but I feel blessed to get out of bed every morning to be able to do something which is intrinsically enjoyable…

KB: Yeah.

AD: And also infinitely meaningful.

KB: So a lot of people that talk to me have… They’re not sure if they have a calling because their life’s work is something they wouldn’t have chosen. So say they’re, um, the parent of a child with autism and they’re, you know, trying to find better care for their child. And they’re wondering, can we apply this same paradigm of like calling and passion and purpose, do you think, to something like that? Like how can people have better language to figure out if it’s a calling or not?

AD: You know, your- Your story is poignant and I can think of people in my life, in my acquaintance who… You know, I know somebody who runs a- Effectively a corner store bodega. You know, not something that I think he would say is like the most intrinsically enjoyable vocation. Um, you know, this is a guy who majored in math in college but…

KB: Yeah.

AD: His top level goal is to help his two daughters have a better life than he did and right now it’s paying college tuition, you know, through- Through this all day, every day, you know from dawn to dusk, seven-day-a-week job. So whether you have a child with autism or you find yourself in this all-consuming occupation that you wouldn’t have chosen, can that still be a calling? Well again, I don’t want to make judgments for other people. I would just try to honor though that, you know, David Brooks recently wrote an op-ed about thinking about your career in terms of purpose and meaning and legacy and…

KB: Yeah.

AD: One of my friends emailed me and said “that’s a luxury good.” Most of us, including me honestly, have to think about paying the bills and getting the next meal on the table. So I just want to say that I think people can define for themselves whether their work life is a calling for them but I also think we just wanna be mindful that I think there are a lot of people out there who would say, “I don’t have the luxury of thinking about whether this is a calling or not. I have, I have more urgent concerns.” And to those people who are kind of hemmed in by, you know, certain obligations or lack of opportunity I would say, as my mother would say, I guess, that, “Be as creative as possible within your work. What can you do in- In the constraints of that position that might be more enjoyable and interesting and that might make it more meaningful?” Again, not to be unrealistic about it, but you know, my mother would want us all to do the best with what we have.

KB: Yeah, find the margins. I like that. I just think it’s so exciting to think about calling and purpose when we talk about kids because they’re just discoveries. Like who are they? I mean, right now we’re in the process of trying to figure out if my five year old, like what are his… What is his calling and passion and purpose. Is it hockey because we’re Canadian? Because it has to be.

AD: Canadian destiny?

KB: Exactly. You have one choice. I hope you enjoy it. But you have these two teenage daughters. Tell me about some of your ideas about how grit has shaped your parenting.

AD: Well, as a mother of a five year old, I guess you’re dealing with something very different than what I’m dealing with because my kids are a decade, actually more than a decade older. And- and for any listeners who have, you know, really young kids, like kindergarten or elementary school, they’re sampling from the great buffet of life and I think for them to say to you one day they want to be a baker and for the next day they want to be a teacher or like a dancer. I mean that’s fine and healthy.

KB: Yeah.

AD: And I think it’s in adolescence, where my kids are that there starts to be this kind of, but what am I gonna be? Who am I?

KB: Yeah.

AD: Which is developmentally appropriate because adolescence is the transition to adulthood, right? So during these years, you know, my daughters are in high school. One is a sophomore, one is a junior, they’re struggling whether we ask them to or not to define their social roles, to define, you know, where they’re going to be in school if that’s what they’re going to do.

KB: Yeah.

AD: I think the most important thing here is to actually try to like, decrease the pressure for many of our kids and there is plenty of time to learn about the world and about yourself. The most important thing they can do is experience. And it’s that continuation of sampling. A lot of these high achieving students, they kind of try to read, write and think their way into a life…

KB: Yeah.

AD: Like into a calling and a profession, a major but think of a fruit you’ve never tasted like a starfruit or a durian fruit… You cannot read, write and think your way into how it tastes. You just have to taste it. I would say that’s true of the sports that you think you might want to play, the major you think you might want to have, the career you think, you have to try things. And so I think we need to get out of our head and into the world and then of course do a little reflection and that’s the recipe, I think. Uh that, over years, is where people eventually I think can end up somewhere as happy as you are professionally or or as I am professionally.

KB: I- I thought your hard things rule was such a good rule for kids and parents. Do you mind sharing that?

AD: In my family the funny thing was is that I became a mom, you know, just before graduate school and then I gave birth to my second daughter in my first year and so I was kind of growing up as a mother at the same time as growing up as a psychologist and in parallel I was coming home to my kids, um, and thinking about the development of their grit while I was at my day job studying grit in adults. And, I came up with this thing called “the hard thing rule.” My husband and I decided that everybody in our family would have to do something hard. Specifically that meant something that required practice with feedback and a kind of, you know, daily ritual of trying to improve.

KB: Yeah.

AD: And that could be something like for a minute or two minutes, 120 seconds when you’re really little like age five or six that you would practice something…

KB: Yeah.

AD: For one minute or two minutes. Like piano, one minute or two minutes or a cartwheel, one minute or two minutes. We said everybody in the family had to do a hard thing. Not just the kids, but us too. My husband, who was a real estate developer in the financial crisis and he put up his hand. He said, “That’s hard and I try to do this better every day.” Um, I said, you know, being a psychologist, but I also said, look, you know, I go to yoga I really do. I try to do it better every day.

KB: Yeah.

AD: And my kids cycled through lots of hard things. The second rule though, the second part of the hard thing rule was that you can’t quit in the middle. So on a bad day when you come home and you decide, “no, I don’t want to do gymnastics anymore.” As a parent I was very empathic or I tried to be. I’m not- I’m not that great of a parent but I tried to be empathic. But I- I said, you know, in our family we don’t quit in the middle. So you have to finish gymnastics until the session is up and then at the end of the season or the tuition payment, you know, then you can choose another hard thing.

AD: And the last part of the hard thing rule is that nobody gets to choose your hard thing but you. I am not a tiger mom. I think that yes, kids need to learn work ethic but nobody I have ever studied who is great at what they do is doing something that somebody else told them that they had to do it and that the motivation was from without rather than within. And so I didn’t want to make that mistake with my five year old and my six year old to say like, “well you do piano and you do violin.” Or you know, “you’re going to study math and you’re going to study chemistry.” I wanted them to, in this very time consuming, messy way, sample lots of things and see what things you know, really sparked joy.

KB: Yeah. I think that’s so… Like such a great bit of encouragement too, for, you know, people who are caring for elderly parents or you know, all kinds of people are- Feel like they’re doing their hard thing. But, the other day I was watching um… The new season of Queer Eye is just fantastic and, uh, one of the leads, Jonathan, has on his Instagram feed that he practices doing gymnastics everyday and he is not very good.

AD: I love that.

KB: But he’s getting better! And like you can watch him everyday try something insanely hard just for a second. And it- It makes you feel better watching him. I think maybe we’ve gotten confused in our culture ‘cause we want everything to look perfect right away. Thanks so much, Instagram… But I like that you’re not arguing for perfection.

AD: There is this question always of whether the kind of people that I study are- Are perfectionists. And I think the answer is yes and no. So on the one hand, the excellence that I love to study, you know the three star Michelin chefs, the Nobel laureates, they are never satisfied. I mean they care hard. They… If there’s like oh a sentence like, yea, it had a… You know, an extra beat in the sentence but like nobody noticed. A writer that I would study, would- It would torture them. They would be like, obsessing about like it should have one fewer beats. Now in that way they are perfectionist, right because they’re- They’re never satisfied.

AD: But the answer is also no and that is to say that, you know, they really don’t have that kind of rigid, like there’s only one way and- And in a way they are at peace being uncomfortable. They are comfortable being uncomfortable. They have this kind of meta Zen. Even if at the tactical level they’re- They’re sort of like, oh, you know, the sentence was a little too long or that dish had too much salt in it, but they’re actually quite comfortable. They kind of know themselves and they can almost do it with the wink of an eye, you know, sort of this sense that they’re kind of, you know, in on the joke as it were.

KB: Yeah.

AD: So, I- I think in a way the passion that I would hope people could discover and develop in their own lives is not to turn everyone into perfectionists and not that people should torture themselves in a way that leads them to be depressed or to feel bad about themselves, to feel shame, but to say to themselves happily as they go to bed, “I did my best and I have three things I want to do better tomorrow and the first thing I do when I wake up is to work on them.” And I do hope that people can find a kind of peace in that constant self-improvement. It is not easy. I think it is possible.

KB: You know, I’m sure a lot of people read your research to find that secret to success. And- And then I think there are probably a lot of us who are trying not so much to necessarily be perfect or to succeed in everything as much as we are trying to survive. I think your work has a lot of lessons for people like us so tell me why your research is- Is also for people like me?

AD: I was under the impression when I was younger that, you know, some tiny fraction of the world’s population was ambitious and then the rest of us were just, you know, normal people. But those people with ambition, you know, they were just different and they would not live by the rules that the rest of us did. I’ve come to believe that everyone’s ambitious in a sense. You know, everyone is first of all trying to survive.

KB: Yeah.

AD: Um, but also I think everybody wants to do better. Everyone feels good when they glimpse a little bit of excellence. I mean we all feel proud. I mean, I feel proud when I, you know, sauté the spinach and I don’t burn the garlic. Right? There is a kind of deep hardwired human need for competence. And I think the lessons of finding something that can be interesting to you in an enduring way, looking for purpose in- In your passion, looking for a connection to a broader universe than your own personal concerns. Developing a ritual of daily practice, doing a hard thing in part just to stretch yourself. If you’re a parent to model for your kids that achievement doesn’t come easily. And then finally, you know, resilience in a mindset that people can grow. I mean they really can, they can genuinely learn and make progress.

AD: I think these are lessons that don’t just apply it to Olympic athletes. I think these are the things that we’re all here in life trying to master.

KB: Yeah.

AD: No matter who we are, what zip code we live in. I- I will also add to this that if you asked me what kind of emails I get, there are really two kinds. Half of the emails, or at least, you know, one kind of email is about loving grit and just wanting more of it. And the other half is really critical. It- It’s a question of whether, when I talk about grit and individual achievement, whether that belittles structural societal problems. You know, racism, poverty, inequality. And I think those are both important perspectives. And I’ve- I’ve come to believe that it’s very important to listen to those people who are the most critical. And that’s actually my next chapter. I wanna really listen hard to the people who hate the word grit and hate everything that I’ve written and think I’m an idiot. Like I really wanna listen hard and really hear and then I hope, you know, learn something about how to do a better job of using psychological science to help children thrive.

KB: I love that what I can hear you saying is that you immediately took your success and then found the next- The next challenge. That’s…

AD: That’s very signature to, I think what gritty people do. They’re like, okay…

KB: Got it, next.

AD: …you know, I did that. Now what? You know, there’s like a five-minute waiting period.

KB: Yeah.

AD: I think when I wrote my book I- I literally had five minutes. I mean…

KB: Yeah.

AD: I was like, “Okay, yay.” And I ordered sushi and I sort of like did a little dance around the living room and…

KB: Yeah.

AD: And yeah, just about the length of two Taylor Swift songs later, um, I was like, “Okay, now what?” Um, so…

KB: Yeah.

AD: So I, you know… Like I said, there is a kind of restlessness…

KB: Yeah.

AD: …to grit. My next chapter will be my nonprofit. I- I started a nonprofit with two educators and it’s called Character Lab. I’m trying to apply the scientific method to the development of, you know, how kids can thrive in every way. And so, that’s something I don’t know how to do yet. It’s probably gonna be even harder than writing a book, which we both know is- Is one of the hardest things that a person could try to do… But I’m very excited about it and like you, you know, I wanna make the most of however much time I have…

KB: Yeah.

AD: And I think about that actually in a very conscious way every day.

KB: So for some reason that I cannot explain, right after I started chemo, maybe I’d read somewhere that exercise is good for chemo success rates or something and I started going to one of those horrible morning boot camps where someone yells at you while you’re still asleep mostly.

AD: Yeah.

KB: He used to yell like, um, “1% better, 1% better.” If I fell, you know, I had like neuropathy and I was like slumped against the wall. I looked terrible. He would sometimes just come and like dance over my body as I would just lie there just as if to say “you’re humiliated… I’m humiliated…” And he- He did it with such, um, kindness. I have to say that kind of language of onwards, forwards, from- From someone like you who cares so much about the subject I think is- Is a great word of encouragement to folks like me.

AD: Thank you. I think those are words to live by, 1% better. And also, um, you know, if there’s something that our world needs more than ever and has been I think fundamental to like how humans thrive in any century, we need each other. I mean everything is founded on- On those relationships.

KB: Yeah.

AD: You know, you with that supportive but very demanding coach. The relationships we have with our parents, relationships we’re developing with our kids, our next door neighbor. I mean I think that what will heal us as a very wounded nation is the reformation of meaningful human relationships. So that old-fashioned idea I hope doesn’t go out of style.

KB: Yeah. That we belong to each other. That’s beautiful. Well, thank you so much for joining me. This has been such a gift.

AD: Thank you, Kate. I loved it and I look forward to another conversation at some point in our futures.

KB: Oh, me too.

KB: Maybe life isn’t about getting off the treadmill. Maybe it’s about finding the nearest hammock when you get tired. Or drinking the recommended amount of water every day. I am, if you’re interested. I have an amazing new app to remind me. Or getting 1% better. Maybe it’s about being great at the things you care about and shaking off the rest.

KB: When faced with a life altering circumstance it’s hard not to stop altogether. I mean sometimes you have to for a bit, but we all have to keep going. So, what does it look like to do meaningful work with perseverance? And also to take care of the things that matter most to us? I don’t want to pretend I’m infinite anymore, but I do want to use my precious energy to do things that matter with my friends, for my family, in my community, in church. So, here’s to the people with dubious achievements. We all need to feel like we have found a way forward even when we’re tired, because we could all use a little bit of help being scrappy. Or as Angela would say, gritty.

Caller 1: One time in college I got to be Miss New Mexico in the Cherry Blossom Princess Program in Washington DC and I pretended to hate wearing a sash the whole time but I actually still have and sometimes even sport the pink sash.

Caller 2: Some days it can be just getting out of bed.

Caller 3: I played the violin since third grade. When I was in high school I was in the orchestra but that was not the group that was invited to March in Disney world. I begged our director to teach me a band instrument, any instrument so I could go. He taught me and I learned how to play the 33 pound sousaphone in a few months and I Oom pah pahed my way down main street USA with the marching band. That was over 40 years ago. I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. My prognosis is very good but as a means to reduce the stress in my life I was encouraged to find an activity just for me. So I joined the local community chorale and imagine my surprise, that very same band director who over 40 years ago took pity on this little violinist who wanted to go to Florida is the assistant director. Funny how things work out that way.

KB: This episode is made possible because of the support of these amazing partners, the John Templeton Foundation, the Issachar Fund, the Lilly Endowment, North Carolina Public Radio WUNC, and Faith and Leadership, an online learning resource at Duke Divinity School. Plus my super team, Beverley Abel, Jessica Richie, and Be the Change Revolutions. And you, beautiful listener. You. I would love to hear from you. Leave a review on apple podcasts or find me online @KateCBowler. This is, Everything Happens with me, Kate Bowler.


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