Julianna Margulies: Getting Unstuck - Kate Bowler

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Julianna Margulies: Getting Unstuck

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Julianna Margulies: Getting Unstuck

Chaotic childhoods can leave us feeling stuck. Stuck in the roles and relationships and chaos that once felt familiar. Actress Julianna Margulies (best known for her roles in ER and The Good Wife) found incredible success, but nothing seemed to free her from living into past, traumatic dynamics. In this conversation, Kate and Julianna discuss the roles we get trapped inside (I’m the cheerful one! I’m the dutiful one! I'll keep it together!) and how love can surprise us through unlikely strangers and new relationships. Kate ends with a blessing for a permission to change.

Guest

Julianna Margulies

Julianna Margulies is an American actress and producer who achieved wide recognition for her starring role as Carol Hathaway on NBC's long-running medical drama series ER for which she received a Primetime Emmy Award. She also voiced Neera in Dinosaur and appeared in the miniseries The Mists of Avalon. In 2009, she took on the lead role of Alicia Florrick in the CBS legal drama The Good Wife. Her performance garnered acclaim, winning two Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, a Golden Globe Award, and a Television Critics Association Award. Margulies has won eight Screen Actor Guild Awards, making her the second most awarded woman ever within SAG after Julia Louis-Dreyfus, one Golden Globe Award, and three Primetime Emmy Awards. In 2015, Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Margulies' autobiography, Sunshine Girl: An Unexpected Life was released in May, 2021.

Show Notes

Did you love Anne of Green Gables as much as I did as a child? Or am I just letting my Canadian side show? Either way, read this magical article about the book series.

You probably recognize Julianna from shows like the Good Wife, which is available on Amazon Prime, or ER, which is available for streaming on Hulu. Julianna also recently published a memoir called Sunshine Girl: An Unexpected Life, which you can find here.

You can follow Julianna on Facebook or on Instagram here.

Just look at her hair. The easiest choice for the Everything Happens Award for the Most Beautiful Hair in the Planet.

Want to hear more about Julianna and her husband Keith? Read this sweet article from People magazine.

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Transcript

Kate Bowler: I’m Kate Bowler, and this is Everything Happens. I’m a historian, author, aggressively, fast walker. But lately, in a world that promises endless progress, even now in a pandemic, I realized I just need to be a person. It’s hard to give up on the feeling that the life you want is just out of reach. If only you tried to eat this food, find that relationship, just get the kids graduated or the parents this kind of care. Only then will I feel different, better, whole. But that’s not the way this works. When I was 35, I was diagnosed with stage four cancer. And here’s the very fun thing about that. The world loves you better when you are shiny, when you are cheerful, when you still believe that your best life now is right around the corner. I’ve written multiple books on the history of the idea that you can always fix your life. So I’m going to be the one to say it. There are some things we can change and some things we can’t. And it’s OK that life isn’t always getting better. We can have beauty and meaning, community and love, and we will need each other if we’re going to tell the truth. Life is a chronic condition and there’s no cure for being human.

Kate: I have been many people, and so were you, I’m sure, as a spectacularly unpopular child with a useful imagination, I tried this trick all the time. If you really want to, you can be anyone. For a few summers, I dreamed up a life on a farm on Prince Edward Island to attend a country school with Anne of Green Gables and her kindred spirits. I slept with clothespins, pinching the top of my ears for about a week before my mom convinced me that I would never achieve her elfin features. Bowler ears or a life sentence, I’m afraid, said my mother. So I grew out my hair. One year in preparation for a life of seafaring. As a mistreated English orphan, I practiced sailing knots and memorized the parts of the ship and chapped my hands, learning basic knife skills on the bars of Dove soap. When I was preparing to be a serious novelist, I founded the best friends writing club to allow other 12 year olds the opportunity to decline to read my novels about a fierce young huntress with an unshakable bond to her horse, Artemus. On the surface, I was living in a squat bungalow on the prairies through a seven month winter in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I was subject to my father’s insistence that ground beef and a can of vegetable soup is a viable dish called hamburger soupgoop. But I lived many lives nonetheless. So often, though, we are becoming different people and we find ourselves slipping too easily into character, oh, I’m the good one or I’m the bad one, I’m the cheerful one, or I can never get it together. Who, me? I’m the one that keeps our family together. Life can make us into so many different people, even if we didn’t want to be. Today, I am speaking to an incredible talent who knows what it means to take the long road to finding her truest self, and I am so excited. My guest today is an Emmy, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award winner Julianna Margulies, and she has done it all, television, theater and film. But some of my personal favorites are, of course, her strength as Nurse Carroll in the iconic show E.R. and as my patron saint of law, Aleesha Florek, in my all time favorite show of all time, The Good Wife. She was also in the Mists of Avalon. If you ever went through a very European pagan phase in the nineteen nineties, which I did, and she is now the author of a telling memoir called Sunshine Girl and will soon be receiving an award from the Everything Happens podcast for most beautiful hair on the planet. Julianna, welcome.

Julianna Margulies: Oh, my goodness. Had I known that, I would have I would have not just thrown it in a ponytail behind my head. Hi, thank you for that introduction.

Kate: Oh, I’m so glad you’re here. I’ve been very excited and sweaty about it. So I’m just surprised to see your face.

Julianna: Sweaty just makes you glow.

Kate: You have been so many people and we’re from such an early age, a really quick study of people, of accents, of places. I think people would be pretty surprised to hear how often you moved as a kid. Maybe you were one person in America, then you had a tiny English accent.

Julianna: Yeah. And it wasn’t just sort of moving down the street or to a different town or a different city. It was moving. It was always traumatic moving. It was moving across the ocean, moving back across the ocean, moving back across. So there was just a lot of upheaval with each move. There was nothing gentle about any of it or soothing. It was all a little scary and unknown. I was born in Spring Valley, New York, which is a suburb about forty five minutes from Manhattan. When I was a year old, my parents divorced and my father moved to Paris, France and a year later, my mother moved the rest of us there, which probably I was too little to know, but looking at the situation, I can imagine it probably was comforting for me as a toddler to know that I’d be seeing my father, at least in this beautiful city of Paris. And we lived there for two years. And then my father got a job in London. So my mother decided to move us to Sussex College she wanted to go to. And then we stayed there for three years. And then we all went back to the States and it felt like life was going to be OK. My mother is an incredibly eccentric, spiritually open, spiritually searching. Some would call her a free spirit. I guess she was going through a time then where she was really looking to find herself. She hated being defined by the Jewish girl from Brooklyn, which is really what she was. And so having been a ballerina her whole life, she took to this form of dance in in the Rudolph Steiner Anthroposophy world called eurhythmy is a form of speech and music through movement. And she took it very seriously, and that was what her life was about and decided to take me and my middle sister Rachel and bring us to Nurnberg, Germany, where she could study with some of the best Eurythmics in the world. And that shattered me at just turned 11, that shattered me because, first of all, I was leaving my father and my eldest sister, who was very close to Alexandra. Germany, what did we know about Germany? For me, that was really traumatic, but in her never ending, waited to make life a little bit more difficult. My mother decided last minute that Nuremberg, Germany, was not for her.

Kate: Your description of that was very intense. Yeah, she was like, nope. And then like two seconds later, you’re in a different life.

Julianna: We had tickets. My father had us for the summer and we had tickets to go to Nuremberg. And we were me and my sisters were singing leaving on a jet plane. Don’t know when I’ll be back again crying. And my mother called and said, I can’t stand it in Nuremberg, change the tickets to England. So we ended up going back to England. So then all of a sudden I was like, now I have to change my accent again. I have to put on a skirt every day. I didn’t own a skirt. I just it was everything all over again. But now as a prepubescent and I was without my father and with a mother looking back on it. I love my mother, I always have my you know, and I write in the book how my heart is wide open to her.

Kate: Yeah, tender and loving,

Julianna: But man oh man, she makes it difficult. You know, she made it very difficult for people to love her because people couldn’t understand how she could be so selfish in her own search for her own meaning.

Kate: Yeah. Well,  it sounds too like in that season you were left to in some ways really fend for yourself. Like you’ve got this really, you know, as you say, like loving and tender mom. And then you’re put in these really complicated adult situations like, oh, here’s your new school. No one knows you’re coming. You live in England now.

Julianna: No one knew we were enrolled, we weren’t enrolled, my mother just, my first day of sixth grade. People have asked me who have read the book, how how is your memory so clear? And it’s clear as day all because because big events in your life, you remember you don’t remember sitting in the same house day in and day out and having a regular life, a normal life dinner at 6:00 and everyone home and around the table life. You remember anxiety and insecurity.

Kate: Yeah. You would remember the day that your mom didn’t have the uniform you needed or the lack or the skirt or the outfit you needed. And you’re an early teenager and you’re thrust into this weird, embarrassing, complicated world.

Julianna: Oh, it was bad enough that I was the American kid again in an English situation, but it was it was just mortifying that I didn’t have the right things to wear. And my mom, how she my mother was very loving. It was never oh, just put this on and shut up. She didn’t speak that way to me. She was. Oh, sweetheart, you look beautiful in a burlap sack. And that made it difficult to get angry. From the day I was born, I was her sunshine girl. I brought sunshine into every room. She would tell me from the earliest age, I remember her saying to me, You never cried when you were a baby. I would sleep until 9:00 a.m. and I’d wake up in a panic thinking, oh my God, I haven’t heard the baby, and there you’d be standing wet head to toe, but just smiling in your crib, always with a smile. So when you grow up hearing that, as lovely as it sounds, because it does sound lovely, it does not allow you to say this doesn’t feel good or I don’t like this or this doesn’t work for me. You don’t know how to set up boundaries, which most children don’t anyway. That’s what adults are for, right. Or parents are supposed to give boundaries.

Kate: But kids are so adept at reading the room and realizing, oh, I’m the I’m this one. This is the person that knows how to make everyone happy, that knows how to keep everything humming along, that knows how to manage chaos.

Julianna: And it was almost a badge of honor in a strange way, because I was like, oh, I’m that one, I’m the weird one. Right and so you want to live up to that title to the I want to be the good, easygoing one. I’ll let my sister be the difficult one and I’ll be the good one. As you get older in life, you realize no one wants to be around a martyr, you know,

Kate: But it’s so comfortable for some of us.

Julianna: Yes, exactly, she’s so easy. And then meanwhile, you’re swimming against the current and you and you’re not telling anyone that you’re struggling.

Kate: That’s right. It reminds me of this wonderful line by the, you know, humorist and essayist David Sedaris, who and I’m paraphrasing here, says something like, oh, you know, he says, we continue to play our family roles long after they outlived their usefulness.

Julianna: Oh, that’s brilliant. And it’s so true.

Kate: Yeah, no, I’m the I’m the cheerful one, too. I’m so cheerful. I’m so easy to be around and and I don’t have needs and I’m not openly struggling.

Julianna: But also I always find it so interesting when you get back in the family dynamic, like if you have. You know, even if it’s at my own home and I’m hosting and I’m making a big Thanksgiving dinner, you go right back into being the youngest. It doesn’t matter how you know how old you are, that you’ve had a child and you’re married and you go right back into that order. That’s the family dynamic that I find fascinating.

Kate: And dynamic is such a perfect word because it’s no longer like an event. The event isn’t Thanksgiving. It’s that you’re like thrust into a series of forces that are now, you know, sort of like like you thought you were swimming out from a beach and then all of a sudden you’ve drifted about two hundred miles to the left.

Julianna: Right. But it’s so true. And because there was instability and when I say instability, I’ll say this. I was 100 percent loved. There was no violence in my family. I wasn’t abused, I was cradled and loved and definitely being the youngest of three girls, my sisters doted on me. I felt special. I did. Even with that, the tumult, you know, the hippie 70s. My mom was a 70s hippie when she was done with one boyfriend and then she got another one. And it was just as if it it wasn’t a big deal, you know. And even when I questioned her, is this true that we spent two months in a VW camper with

Kate: The man who looked like our lord and savior,

Julianna: Yes, Jesus Christ. And I I called her one morning and I said, Mom, how long had you been with Jesus? She gets a kick out of it and laughs and she said, Oh, you know, two months before we hit the road. And I said, Mom, you put your three little girls in a VW camper with a guy you knew for two months. She said you know, it just seemed like the right thing to do.

Kate: So I’m a historian of American religion, so pardon this kind of historical side road, but

Julianna: I love it, bring it on.

Kate: The religious tradition that your parents are part of, right? The anthroposophical tradition is something I include in my lectures, actually, and it’s so uncommon. It’s not a very common tradition. So I was so, you know, surprised and impressed to find it in your in your book. But it’s part of this long tradition, as you know, of course, the Western esotericism. And I have a couple family members who are also involved in

Julianna: oh, I feel like we’re kindred spirits. Most say anthro what? What?

Kate: Yeah. Yeah exactly. Yeah. Well and it’s right, it’s got the sort of hungering for a deeper level of spiritual meaning and it elevated teachers and elevated spiritual positions that sort of guide the way and who often holds a lot of authority and it often attracts people who are very curious. But it sounds too like in your life it also made the people around you very changeable. It may be that spirituality was something that kind of swept into your home and was sometimes very destabilizing. And I appreciate how very careful you are about how you talk about it. It’s clear that you’re you know, you’ve cultivated such a great deal of respect. And yet I imagine it also might have felt like somebody else’s beliefs have a way of moving a lot of ground under your feet.

Julianna: Yeah. So that’s really fascinating. And I saw both my parents handle Anthroposophy very differently. Where it became my mother’s life, it became my father’s passion, sometimes the hairs on the back of my neck just stand up when she talks about it.  I find this with quite a few religions, actually, yeah, there is a preaching quality I really don’t respect about it. You don’t need to preach this stuff to me. You don’t need to make me believe because you believe because what you’re saying and that is this is the only way. This is the best way. Now, I respect that you get something out of it. And I told my mom that. In fact, this morning on the phone, I said, you know, she started going off on a Steiner tangent. Well, you know what Rudolf Steiner would say? And I said, Mom, so. That works for you. I’m fifty four years old, I love you, but it’s got to stop, it doesn’t work for me. And it’s been such an interesting journey as an adult, as a child, I would just roll my eyes and walk out the door. I talk about one of the places we move to holy hill when I was 11. It was a real Steiner community. And I say people seemed like they were floating rather than just walking on the ground. And that used to drive me crazy because I, I would say, Mom, you know, actually, I think Jesus Christ, whoever you believe in, would love it if you could actually put your feet on the ground and be grounded. And pick me up from school on time, so that the little mundane things in life that you find so, oh i was at this lecture and I just got carried away and I’m here now, darling, that I’ve been waiting for an hour. You’re an hour late to pick me up as if that was more important than my well-being. And that’s what made me angry about antipacifists. But not all of them are like that. I think my mother clung to a new belief for herself because she never felt comfortable in her lineage, which was the Jewish girl from Flatbush Avenue, you know, she didn’t want to be that.

Kate: It struck me, too, that maybe the fact that people didn’t always protect you or step up to the plate left some pretty big holes in your life. There are also holes that you very lovingly filled with some completely random people. And I just kind of want to make a pitch for that right now. Like I’ve had seasons in my life, too, where the people that should have been there weren’t. And then all of a sudden I realized, oh, one of my best friends is now my oncology nurse and we’re on vacation together. And sometimes that creates like the space actually creates some space for some some love that we really need.

Julianna: You know, you just don’t know who you’re going to meet in your life. That’s going to change your life. I was 19 and in college and my father was my father now lived in London and my mother lived in New Hampshire. And I felt very alone. And this tooth that I had knocked out when I was 15 was bothering me. And I literally took the Yellow Pages out to look for a dentist on Central Park South, where my father’s dentist, who had taken care of me the first time was and I knew he was Jewish. It was some sort of Jewish name. Of course, lo and behold, there’s five hundred Jewish dentists on Park Avenue. So I picked three of them. And the third happened to turn out to be this man named Mark Lowenberg, who treated me with such kindness and I could cry thinking about it because I was really lost at that time. I felt like I I just felt like a leaf on a tree. I was about to fall off or I just didn’t feel held. And he saw me as a daughter and he took care me. And it’s paid off for both of us in terms of the friendship that we have and who we are to each other, it’s a very it’s a very special relationship on top of the fact that he’s a great dentist.

Kate: I do love the randomness. I do because, you know, I think sometimes we have this we mythologize these roles sometimes and then and then they aren’t filled like we don’t always get our best friend, that’s our college roommate or our parents as the ones who perform these these roles. It’s my only kind of endlessly hopeful thing, I believe, which is that, you know, among other things. But I just I love that love tends to beget more love, it just has this weird multiplying effect

Julianna: When you said beautifully before and I had never thought of it that way. And you’re absolutely right. And what you said was having those holes left room for more. One of the things both my parents said at very different times in my pregnancy with my son, I was shocked because to hear them both agree on something, they said all you can do is guide him. People come into this world, his own being, he’s not an appendage. He’s not an extension of you. He was his own being. But you are there to guide him.

Kate: Yeah, I think too the my own experience with a lot of sort of chaos in my childhood, meant too, that I really I also really value I value the idea of not being an island and having these beautiful other places where my kid can go to be loved and changed and to know then if I fail or, you know, when I was sick, the worry is like, well, then I’m not there. Then there’s these other there’s these other kinds of love that feel like they’re load-Bearing, like they they can build the building that that makes shelter.

Kate: Well, it sounds too like there was that kind of an existential turn, it seems, in your life where you might have just come to a point where you realized, I think I may have I think I may have given too much like you’ve been you know, you’ve been wildly successful. You’re obviously incredibly hard working. You’ve been on some of the most watched television shows in the history of television. You’re also in a relationship for 10 years with with someone that caused you to be a certain kind of person, maybe like maybe you had to be the calm one or the the one that kept it together or the magnanimous one. And we certainly have people in our community here who sometimes find themselves in relationships that are, as you wrote, like only good 25 percent of the time. Like what kind of role did you find yourself in? And and maybe just looking back, why did it feel so intuitive to be that person before you changed?

Julianna: I was in a relationship that mirrored my childhood with my mother. Not that my mother ever had the same kind of anger he he had he had a lot of, I think, childhood trauma and anger that he took out because he didn’t know where else to take it off. But I was used to being on a surfboard in a rough sea and balancing out myself so I wouldn’t fall. I was scared that chaos and extremism was my middle name. I saw it with my mother every time we’d move the dramas that would happen, the boyfriend who would either break up with her or she would break up with in the trunk the sadness she would be in and wanting to be there to make her feel better and cheer her up. And that’s really what I was with him so much of the time, was I was his barometer. Often times I, I, I tried to set the tone of what was normal and what was not normal. And tried to be the voice of reason, big mistake, because he was in his own way difficult. Nothing was easy. Where should we eat tonight? It would put him in a bad mood. Well, I don’t know. And everything was difficult. Well, we have to we have to go to this party now. Why? What am I going to wear? There was nothing that was just like boom, boom, boom, easy. And I took it upon myself, which is so I think, egocentric and self-centered to think that I could fix him, I could help him. I could show him a beautiful world. And I was hell bent on showing that life could be beautiful if he only could see it through my eyes. And so I expected or didn’t leave the relationship for years because I didn’t want to be like my mother and leave one boyfriend for another and another and another and another, that was not going to be my road. And two I didn’t want to hurt him. The idea of hurting him was too painful because I had this ridiculous image of myself as the Sunshine Girl. I don’t hurt people. I make people happy. In the meantime, the only person I was hurting was myself, but that’s the beauty of aging, right?

Kate: Oh my gosh, and I kind of I find it frankly very inspirational because, I mean, you after that breakup, you took some time. It sounds like that was a really almost like awkward time of like, what do I do with all this extra energy that I’m not managing somebody? Maybe I’ll get really into baking, like maybe I’ll just get, like, really committed to something and kind of build this out from the outside in again, like bring back people into my life and to go from being the human thermometer to being, you know, maybe. I’m trying to think of the right words, because the truth is Julianna you’re just describing everything that I would do in this situation. So I’m finding it very, very hard because I the way I’ve always thought about it, at least getting older, is I don’t necessarily have that thing inside of me that naturally says, oh, I probably shouldn’t accommodate to somebody else. I can get there. But I need I’m so grateful then for beautiful friends to just try to surround myself with love and tenderness and truth. And then I can realize, like, oh, these are the people worth giving to. These are the relationships that are extractive or unkind, you know, and it sounds like that. I mean, I think that transformation is really hard.

Julianna: It’s hard. I think it’s also because we’re so afraid of the unknown, right? So when you change. And also because I had never been single since I was 15, I had overlap boyfriends my whole life. I mean, when I say my whole life, three, three boyfriends. I had never been single. And so I didn’t know what it was like to be alone. So I identified myself, I think, so much of the time with their image of me. Rather than my own image of myself, you know, really what instigated it is my girlfriend, Nancy, thanks, God bless her when she put it visually for me. So everything I’m an actress, so everything’s feeling. I had this eccentric dramatic mother. So everything is about how are you feeling? When Nancy said to me after the umpteenth time of me calling her in tears after another horrific fight. And she said, honey, when you are miserable, seventy five percent of the time and happy, twenty five percent of the time, it’s time to leave, if it were the other way around, it’s something worth working towards. And it was seeing the numbers in my mind’s eye, it was like it was a lightning bolt moment of, oh my God, what am I doing? Why am I sad seventy five percent? I have this incredible career. I have all these incredible friends. I had worked through most of my stuff with my parents. They were so in my life and my relationship with them was rich. And I was getting every opportunity dangled in front of my face. Why was I sad all the time? And I use it with my friends, too. I’m like, what’s the percentage here guys?

Kate: Yeah, yeah, it like, renders objective something that before that I imagine it was like a goal that you can never quite reach, which is my job is to always make this OK.

Julianna: Right.

Kate: God bless, Nancy. I’m a real pro Nancy person.

Julianna: Yeah. I mean, I can honestly say she she changed my life in many ways.

Kate: You did meet a human dreamboat named Keith after you had been alone for a bit. And it seems like there was something about him that made it start to feel safe to change that normal pattern of perhaps over adapting.

Julianna: Yeah, man, I got lucky. First of all, I was ready. I was ready to meet someone who was willing to meet me for who I was not for what they wanted me to be. And when I met Keith. I kept shaking my head saying this can’t be real because not only is he incredibly…

Kate: Handsome, the word there is handsome.

Julianna: Oh, yeah, well, yeah, he is it’s crazy, I know, but he’s such a genuine human being and incredibly bright and and incredibly worldly. And then just his actions, how he was around me, how he treated me with such dignity and respect, and how he had no interest in being in the acting profession at all. I just knew it couldn’t be that. How could it be that and. And he said, I just see you, you know, you’re waiting for this other shoe to drop. There’s nothing in my closet. This is it. This is all of me. And then I tried even again and I said, well. I think maybe we shouldn’t keep pursuing this relationship, even though I can tell we both really dig each other because I know how important family is to you. And I’ve met your family and I know you want children and I’m thirty nine. And I don’t know if I can have children, quite frankly, I’m not even sure I want children. And you’re a family guy, you’re marrying type. And I think before this gets too hot and heavy, you should know the door is open and I will totally understand. And I literally said it like that. And he just started laughing so hard and he said, well, I know you practiced that speech and it was great. Well, I think it’s way more important to find the person you want to wake up with every day until you’re 90. And the rest will follow. So if you’re trying to get rid of me, was that your way or can we just keep going? And there’s such an ease to him. I also have to say this. He has so many friends when I first met him and I don’t talk about this in the book, but there were so many of them good, so many friends. And I realize there’s not one of them. I couldn’t call at four o’clock in the morning if something happened to Keith there’s not one of them, he wouldn’t rely on. Wow. So not only am I getting a great guy, but I’m getting a guy who’s got his own posse.

Kate: Yeah. Who’s not trying to live a proxy life, who has his own.

Julianna: He had his own life. And that was really important to me. And I find out every now and then I’m like, oh, wait, I’m sorry. You had dinner with Nancy. I didn’t know, how great. When you take a gamble and leave something that you’re scared to leave, this is what I have discovered anyway. And trust that you’re OK by yourself. Your life will open up in many ways.

Kate: Yeah, it sounds too like. You know, after so many years of of kind of being on a being on an island, something that felt always a little bit too small, a little bit too underresourced, a little bit too unstable, then you all of a sudden get this, like giant flotilla of these other beautiful people who are all locking in. And that can feel like such a generous, bigger, less scary place to take risks and to raise a kid.

Julianna: And actually Mark my dentist, when I met Keith, I’ll never forget, and I was I was excited for him to meet Keith because I and I don’t write about this in the book, but somehow you just opened everything up.  I remember him saying to me, you know, Julianna, there are gardeners and there are flowers. And you’ve always been a gardener. You’ve always taken care of everybody but with Keith, you’re a flower.

Kate: Oh, that’s so nice.

Julianna: And it hit me, I was like, oh my God.

Kate: Yeah, right. Yeah I love that.

Julianna: What a pleasure it’s been Kate, can we do it again?

Kate: Oh my gosh, you are such a joy. And I would do this any day of the week. Thank you so much for doing this with me.

Kate: Sometimes we get stuck believing that we can only be one thing. Julianna was always the Sunshine Girl, I was the grateful patient. Maybe you were the good athlete or had a flair for the dramatic. You were always reliable or rather unreliable. You were that kid’s mom or that mom’s kid. You were their partner or his best friend or their right hand man. You were the funny one or the cheerful one or the one who always has it together or was always falling apart. These identities form us and shape us and help to define ourselves. But when life changes, when a kid goes to college or a relationship ends or you retire or your body doesn’t allow you to do your favorite hobby anymore or tragedy has upended your life, sometimes our definitions need to change, too. So here’s a little blessing for when you need permission to change. Blessed are you dear one. When the world around you has changed, everything is different now. Your body, your age, your relationships, your job, your faith, the things that once brought you joy, the way you existed in the world, the people you love and trust and rely on. Things have changed, and it would be silly to imagine you haven’t changed with them, you are not who you once were bless that old self, they did such a good job with what they knew. They made you who you were. All the mistakes and heartbreak and naiveté and courage and blessed are who you are now. You who aren’t pretending things are the same, who continue to grow and stretch and show up to your life as it really is full hearted, vulnerable, maybe a little afraid. So blessed are we the changed.

Kate: Don’t miss an episode, subscribe to Everything Happens wherever you listen to podcasts. Oh, and also I have a new book coming out this fall. It’s called No Cure for Being Human and Other Truths I Need to Hear. And it’s a book for all of us, the fragile ones, learning how to live with courage and hope in the midst of so much uncertainty. To learn more, see the absolutely beautiful cover and preorder head over to No Cure Book dotcom. That’s No Cure Book Dotcom. Today’s episode was made possible by our partners Lilly Endowment, the Duke Endowment and Duke Divinity School, who support our faith and media project. We are so grateful for their generosity and investment in what we do. And of course, my perfect team, Jessica Richie, our executive producer, Harriet Putman, our associate producer, Keith Weston, our sound designer. And the rest of the Everything Happens crew who make this project so much fun. Dan Wells, AJ Walton, Mary Jo Clancy, J.J. Dickinson, Launa Stewad, Kelly Dunlap, Erin Lane, Jeb and Sammi, thank you. This is Everything Happens with me, Kate Bowler.

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4 thoughts on “Julianna Margulies: Getting Unstuck

  1. I think of you often. Im suffering from stage 4 ovarian cancer and your EHfaR helped me and my husband a lot.

    1. Susan, we’re so grateful to hear that Everything Happens has been an encouragement for you and your husband in a difficult time. Our team is holding you close in our thoughts.

  2. Wow, just started listening to your podcast. So beautiful and relatable. In a lot of ways. Is there anyway I can get a copy of your blessing that you spoke at the end of the Getting Unstuck podcast? I want to read it to my sister at her (VERY small 30th anniversary party) and will transcribe if necessary…and if allowed, I will give credit, won’t claim it’s my own!

    1. Hi Jan, Above you’ll find the full transcript and are so welcome to use it at the anniversary party.

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