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Everything Happens with Kate Bowler
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Everything Happens with Kate Bowler

Author: Everything Happens Studios

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Are you living your best life now? Not always? This is a podcast for you. Duke Professor Kate Bowler is an expert in the stories we tell about success and failure, suffering and happiness. She had Stage IV cancer. Then she didn’t. And since then, all she wants to do is talk to funny and wise people about how to live with the knowledge that, well, everything happens.  Find her online at @katecbowler.

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186 Episodes
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What do you learn standing so close to the edge with so many people? Listen for wisdom on mortality and hope—like how the habits of love are hard to break and what makes a ‘good funeral’ directly from a thoughtful and funny funeral director himself. In this episode, Kate and Thomas discuss:  How the habits of love are hard to break, no matter how old the person died who you grieve How those we grieve know our hearts and our love more fully What elements make up a good funeral This episode originally aired in 2022, but we’re revisiting it because I think it might be the best conversation I’ve ever had. I can’t wait to hear what you think. CW: suicide, death   Watch clips from this conversation, read the full transcript, and access discussion questions by clicking here or visiting katebowler.com/podcasts. Follow Kate on Instagram, Facebook, or X (formerly known as Twitter)—@katecbowler. Links to social pages and more available at linktr.ee/katecbowler.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Our most precious relationships are often our most complicated, aren’t they? Poet and bestselling author Kwame Alexander wrote an honest book of poems and essays that name the difficult and beautiful and heart-wrenching conversations we have (or should be having) with the people we love and with the ones who love us.  In this conversation, Kwame and Kate discuss:  How we can’t outrun our grief How our own parents love us in the ways they want to be loved, but maybe not in the ways we need—and how we find our ways back to each other The desire to share with our kids how we love, where we fail, where we tried, and who we were before we were their parent CW: death of parent, divorce *** Watch clips from this conversation, read the full transcript, and access discussion questions by clicking here or visiting katebowler.com/podcasts. Follow Kate on Instagram, Facebook, or X (formerly known as Twitter)—@katecbowler. Links to social pages and more available at linktr.ee/katecbowler.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
There is a strange tension when we want so badly for the people we love to support us, but want to shield them from the pain at the same time. This is a beautiful, terrible kind of love.  In this conversation, Kate and bestselling writer Suleika Jaouad discuss: What it is like to be the one suffering—all the guilt and shame and rage and mercy and grace  How we can create better economies of love around those who need it The toll illness takes on those around us This episode originally aired in 2021, but is one of our all-time favorites for an honest conversation on being a cancer patient and how to support people in your lives who are undergoing treatment. Kate ends with a blessing for those who feel like their problem is too much to handle—a blessing if you feel like "the bad thing." If you liked this episode, you might also love:  Suleika Jaouad on living between the kingdom of the well and the kingdom of the sick Tig Notaro on being the luckiest unlucky person For When You’ve Been Diagnosed Support Guide You are Not the Bad Thing Printable + Phone Background A blessing for the lives we didn’t choose A blessing for keeping our hearts soft when everything is broken Don’t miss an episode. Sign up here to be the first to know about upcoming events near you, podcast guests, and more.   Watch clips from this conversation, read the full transcript, and access discussion questions by clicking here or visiting katebowler.com/podcasts. Follow Kate on Instagram, Facebook, or X (formerly known as Twitter)—@katecbowler. Links to social pages and more available at linktr.ee/katecbowler.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Are some people more empathetic than others? By studying those on the opposite end of the compassion spectrum–those with psychopathy–researcher Dr. Abigail Marsh discovered something surprising.  In this conversation, Kate and Abigail discuss:  The usefulness of fear What it means to be “brave” How we can all learn to belong to one another The power of empathy (and why it actually feels good to give to others) This conversation originally aired in 2020, but is one we return to again and again as we think about how empathy expands our capacity for others. Listen for an update from Abigail on what her recent research is exploring.   Watch clips from this conversation, read the full transcript, and access discussion questions by clicking here or visiting katebowler.com/podcasts. Follow Kate on Instagram, Facebook, or X (formerly known as Twitter)—@katecbowler. Links to social pages and more available at linktr.ee/katecbowler.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
What if your life hasn’t turned out like you thought it would? When writer Heather Lanier’s daughter, Fiona, was born with a rare genetic syndrome, she learned that the world will not always see her beloved as good. In this conversation, Kate and Heather discuss how it’s okay that we are not summed up on bell curves. Perhaps the bodies in which we dwell are whole enough. In this conversation, Kate and Heather discuss: When our kids are considered “bad” by the world’s standards The doctor who said two perfect words to Heather How the divine sees everyone as good (and how we should seek to see through those same eyes) The difference between capacity building and deficit building This conversation originally aired in 2020, but it is one we return to again and again for its beauty, its honesty, its courage.    Watch clips from this conversation, read the full transcript, and access discussion questions by clicking here or visiting katebowler.com/podcasts. Follow Kate on Instagram, Facebook, or X (formerly known as Twitter)—@katecbowler. Links to social pages and more available at linktr.ee/katecbowler.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Pain is like a geography—one that isn’t foreign to palliative care physician, Dr. Sunita Puri. Kate and Sunita speak about needing new language for walking the borderlands and how we all might learn to live—and die—with a bit more courage. In this conversation, Kate and Sunita discuss:  How to walk with one another through life’s ups and downs—especially health ups and downs What “palliative care” means (and how it is distinct from hospice)  The difference between what medicine can do and what medicine should do  Sunita’s script for how to talk to patients facing difficult diagnoses  This conversation originally aired in 2020 but it is one of our all-time favorites.   Watch clips from this conversation, read the full transcript, and access discussion questions by clicking here or visiting katebowler.com/podcasts. Follow Kate on Instagram, Facebook, or X (formerly known as Twitter)—@katecbowler. Links to social pages and more available at linktr.ee/katecbowler.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
When a group of young moms died around the same time, clinicians Dr. Justin Yopp and Dr. Don Rosenstein wanted to refer their widowed spouses to a grief support group… but none existed. So they started their own.  In this conversation, Kate, Justin, and Don discuss: The grief of imagined futures  The particular needs of parents with cancer and those of widowed parents How to talk to kids about cancer  How to parent while you have cancer Together, they uncover the magic of we. This summer, we are re-sharing our all-time favorite episodes. While this conversation originally aired in 2020, Kate caught up with Don and Justin to get an update on what they are working on lately. You won’t want to miss their important (and practical!) update.   Watch clips from this conversation, read the full transcript, and access discussion questions by clicking here or visiting katebowler.com/podcasts. Follow Kate on Instagram, Facebook, or X (formerly known as Twitter)—@katecbowler. Links to social pages and more available at linktr.ee/katecbowler.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
How do we navigate life within these beautiful, terrible days? In this special live episode of the Everything Happens podcast, Kate sits down with American broadcast journalist Judy Woodruff at the historic Sixth & I Synagogue in Washington, DC to discuss Kate’s latest book, Have a Beautiful, Terrible Day! Together, they explore what it means to live through the best of days, the worst of days, and all the in-betweens. Together, they discuss: The apology Kate wishes she would have gotten (and the moving story about when she did) How fragility unites us How can we be more empathetic towards people we disagree with   Watch clips from this conversation, read the full transcript, and access discussion questions by clicking here or visiting katebowler.com/podcasts. Follow Kate on Instagram, Facebook, or X (formerly known as Twitter)—@katecbowler. Links to social pages and more available at linktr.ee/katecbowler.  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
We become the sum of so many people throughout our lives. Kate speaks with one of the funniest people on the entire planet, comedian Samantha Bee, about the people who made her, her. What virtues did they create? What absurdity ensued? How does she think about how she impacts her own kids?  In this conversation, Kate and Samantha discuss: Samantha's hand of God moment that changed the trajectory of her life How the people who love us shape us into who we become What siblings or friends or partners teach us about intimacy   Watch clips from this conversation, read the full transcript, and access discussion questions by clicking here or visiting katebowler.com/podcasts. Follow Kate on Instagram, Facebook, or X (formerly known as Twitter)—@katecbowler. Links to social pages and more available at linktr.ee/katecbowler.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Here on the Everything Happens Podcast we don’t shy away from difficult subjects, and today’s episode tackles a topic we’ve been wanting to discuss for awhile—suicide among teens and young adults. My guest today, Dr. Pamela Morris-Perez is someone who approaches this subject with the heart of a grieving mom and the mind of a professor and practitioner who wants to make change possible and wants to teach us how we can help. This is such an important conversation on how communities can help prevent adolescent suicide. In this conversation, Kate and Pamela discuss: Poignant reflections on being a suicide loss survivor from a parent who is grieving the loss of her child—a topic so rarely discussed Why we say “died by suicide” How we can prevent teen suicide—including what signs to look for, what to ask, and next steps to take when you’re concerned In a very important way, this episode won’t create nearly as much anxiety as you think. Talking about suicide is one of the most important ways of making it less likely. So let’s find better language together, shall we? If you need to talk to someone, call or text 988. If you are worried about someone, you too can call or text 988 to get resources. Remember: you matter. Please listen with care.   Watch clips from this conversation, read the full transcript, and access discussion questions by clicking here or visiting katebowler.com/podcasts. Follow Kate on Instagram, Facebook, or X (formerly known as Twitter)—@katecbowler. Links to social pages and more available at linktr.ee/katecbowler.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Chantal Kreviazuk is a Canadian singer, songwriter, composer, and pianist—her voice is the soundtrack of all Kate’s Canadian’s teenage angst. She has had an incredible career with a passion for helping others. Among many things, she’s a powerful advocate for destigmatizing mental illness—a cause near and dear to her heart after her brother struggled to get adequate care for nearly 20 years. She’s said, “When a family member is sick, the whole family is sick.” She offers such wisdom for people who struggle with a hurting family member, or their own mental health, or for their marriages that are sometimes not as easy as we had hoped.  In this conversation, Kate and Chantal discuss: Setting necessary boundaries in complicated families The ups and downs of a marriage and the unexpected gifts that only reveal themselves when you commit to staying in it for the long haul A trick to starting a hard day   Watch clips from this conversation, read the full transcript, and access discussion questions by clicking here or visiting katebowler.com/podcasts. Follow Kate on Instagram, Facebook, or X (formerly known as Twitter)—@katecbowler. Links to social pages and more available at linktr.ee/katecbowler.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Sometimes we can fix our lives and sometimes can’t. So when self-help and self-care fall short, what do we need to turn instead? Rainn Wilson (Dwight Schrute of NBC’s The Office) says that what we need is a spiritual revolution. This conversation is rich and challenging and invites us all to think about the virtues we need to sustain a life and how we might cultivate these virtues not just for our own wellbeing but for that of the people around us. Spoiler alert: it has nothing to do with bubble baths or the latest cold plunge trend. Wouldn’t it be nice if it were that easy?   In this conversation, Kate and Rainn discuss: How self-care is often a form of toxic individualism The current mental health crisis and the need for spiritual tools that provide vision, mission, and purpose How making oneself useful can be an antidote to despair A big thank you to our friends at The Fetzer Institute for making today’s conversation possible.    Watch clips from this conversation, read the full transcript, and access discussion questions by clicking here or visiting katebowler.com/podcasts. Follow Kate on Instagram, Facebook, or X (formerly known as Twitter)—@katecbowler. Links to social pages and more available at linktr.ee/katecbowler.  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Our lives are rarely predictable or at all in our control. Sometimes what happens to us or around us can reshape our entire trajectory. Nicky Gumbel is someone whose life was dramatically changed. He thought he was going to be a very fancy lawyer… just like everyone else in his family, but that’s not what happened. Nicky became one of the pioneers of the Alpha Course where 30 million people have been introduced to Christian faith around the world. In this conversation, Kate and Nicky discuss: Nicky’s reluctant conversion to Christianity How to stay open to the things we didn’t expect to happen. How age isn’t necessarily the limiter we might assume—perhaps there are opportunities or new ventures that can open up in our later third of life Why the church should be more like a hospital than a museum   Watch clips from this conversation, read the full transcript, and access discussion questions by clicking here or visiting katebowler.com/podcasts. Follow Kate on Instagram, Facebook, or X (formerly known as Twitter)—@katecbowler. Links to social pages and more available at linktr.ee/katecbowler.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
So much of modern culture emphasizes success, hard work, and ambition. But what if we don’t conquer every problem or reach every mountaintop? How do you live with the hunger for more while letting yourself have limits and be tired and say no and shut it down too? In this conversation, Kate and Emma Gannon discuss: Why ambition isn’t necessarily a bad thing How Emma reacted to a season of severe burnout and what wisdom she has for all of us How bucket lists can inadvertently place us in a game we are never going to win (Psst… It’s okay to simmer down a bit)    Watch clips from this conversation, read the full transcript, and access discussion questions by clicking here or visiting katebowler.com/podcasts. Follow Kate on Instagram, Facebook, or X (formerly known as Twitter)—@katecbowler. Links to social pages and more available at linktr.ee/katecbowler.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
These are uncertain times for so many of us.  But, according to writer Maggie Jackson, perhaps there is deep wisdom to be uncovered too—surprising gifts of curiosity, creative thinking, open-mindedness, and ways forward through the (often) unpredictabilities of life.  In this conversation, Kate and Maggie Discuss: How uncertainty might foster creativity, resilience, and mutual understanding Why we avoid ambiguity and a few small steps to help us become more comfortable with not knowing How the practices of imagination and perspective-taking can help us see the potential in others Why focusing on outcomes can close you off from picking up new information, nuance, or other peoples' perspectives Why experiences contrary to our beliefs take longer, sometimes even weeks, to process   Watch clips from this conversation, read the full transcript, and access discussion questions by clicking here or visiting katebowler.com/podcasts. Follow Kate on Instagram, Facebook, or X (formerly known as Twitter)—@katecbowler. Links to social pages and more available at linktr.ee/katecbowler.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
We don’t usually have repeat guests on this podcast… except we’re making an exception for the wonderful and wise Alan Alda. Alan Alda, of course, is an award-winning actor, writer, director, and podcast host. You probably know and love him as Hawkeye on M*A*S*H or Senator Arnie Vinick on The West Wing. He is endlessly curious on just about every topic—which makes him the perfect person to talk to about empathy, learning across differences (and disagreement), and how we might age into new hobbies and careers.  In this conversation, Alan and Kate discuss:   Tricks for staying curious as we age How to talk to someone you disagree with How Alan hopes to destigmatize Parkinson’s Disease The difference between empathy and compassion and how to practice these important skills   Watch clips from this conversation, read the full transcript, and access discussion questions by clicking here. Follow Kate on Instagram, Facebook, or X (formerly known as Twitter)—@katecbowler.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
When we are in deep grief, we can anticipate some of the horrible parts—the sleeplessness, the denial, the loneliness. But what about the moments of surprising lightness and joy? Moments that don’t erase the pain, but make it a bit more bearable. Academy Award-nominated actor Richard E. Grant practices finding these pockets of happiness while grieving his beloved wife.  In this conversation, Kate and Richard talk about:  the gritty side of caregiving how to support people in grief (even when it makes you uncomfortable) the importance of knowing and being known   Watch clips from this conversation, read the full transcript, and access discussion questions by clicking here. Follow Kate on Instagram, Facebook, or X (formerly known as Twitter)—@katecbowler.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
How do you have faith that can hold all of reality—the beautiful, the terrible, and everything in-between? The TODAY Show’s Savannah Guthrie thinks carefully about this question, especially given that her job is reporting the news every morning.  In this conversation, Kate and Savannah discuss: Savannah’s trick for handling difficult news every day How to adjust the dial on fear and hope when there is so much to be afraid of Making sense of the wisdom we can learn in the midst of difficult times—without saying ‘everything happens for a reason’ (because we would never do that to you) How we hope to be transformed by God’s love Watch clips from this conversation, read the full transcript, and access discussion questions by clicking here. Follow Kate on Instagram, Facebook, or X (formerly known as Twitter)—@katecbowler.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Do you ever look back at your childhood and go… certainly that didn’t happen like that? Where were the adults? Academy Award-winning director and childhood actress Sarah Polley describes what it was like to not be believed when she was afraid or when she wanted to stop or when she was in pain or when she was in danger. And how, as adults, we can all better protect those around us and learn to look back on our younger selves with compassion. How hard it can be to believe our own memories or pain When kids aren’t protected by the adults in their life and how they make sense of that as adults Managing invisible illnesses How we can better support those going through chronic illness with compassion   Watch clips from this conversation, read the full transcript, and access discussion questions by clicking here. Follow Kate on Instagram, Facebook, or X (formerly known as Twitter)—@katecbowler.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Today, we’re talking about tragicomedy. And isn’t that all of life? The absurdity. The horror. The laughter that somehow cuts through the most difficult of moments. Our guest today, Stephanie Wittles Wachs wrote a beautiful memoir called Everything is Horrible and Wonderful about the death of her brother to an accidental heroin overdose when he was 30 years old. In this conversation, Kate and Stephanie discuss: Loving someone with addiction Grieving a person in public Why it’s okay (and maybe necessary) to laugh in the midst of the worst moments The 6th stage of grief—the manic-investigative stage CW: mention of suicide, drug overdose, death of a sibling   Watch clips from this conversation, read the full transcript, and access discussion questions by clicking here. Follow Kate on Instagram, Facebook, or X (formerly known as Twitter)—@katecbowler.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
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Comments (25)

Ramsey Morgan

Aston Jackets https://astonjackets.com/ is a leading online retailer of high-quality, stylish outerwear for men and women.

May 10th
Reply

Jenny Mickle

I can't imagine losing a young child, but man, to compare it to someone losing a beloved parent you've had your entire life - might be one reason people dont want to listen to your grief. It's a lot more nuanced than the age of the deceased. Comparison doesn't heal anything. We're all hurting for many reasons

Dec 14th
Reply (1)

Peta Lessick Chait

Thank you for such uplifting, meaningful, deep conversations. I feel so good inside, gain so much perspective on life. Take care x

Sep 7th
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John McCroan

wonderfully delightful!

Dec 28th
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JaCo

Worth a second listen... hard-won wisdom.

Nov 9th
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John McCroan

love this! so delightful

Nov 4th
Reply

Fabs

What an excellent podcast on caring for others truly. Thank you for educating me.

Feb 3rd
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Deb Haken

I love your podcasts but for some reason I can't get any of them more recent than November 30th! Help!

Jan 27th
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Shannon Compton

the only extra thing I wish were discussed was how to deal with the sometimes hurtful comments that come from the world around when you start to let go.

Nov 11th
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Lauren Byma

Oh, I loved this episode.

Oct 19th
Reply

majopareja

Lovely conversation <3

Aug 16th
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Jenny Widner

The book is great--if you haven't read it you should. The show is wonderful.

May 27th
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Shannon Compton

you guys have cute rituals for when you are tired of your husband's. I usually just shout divorce and leave for a while. then, we don't ever talk about it again. you guys are so healthy.

May 5th
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Shannon Compton

I wish more of us did the "absurd" thing to do. Although I wonder if life in the western world is actually absurd and taking delight in an abstract interest is actually not absurd at all?

Apr 20th
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Mandell Degerness

This is the first episode I've listened to. It won't be the last. Great show. Lots to think about. Thank you.

Apr 16th
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Shannon Compton

this was such a lovely episode. I think for me, it will help most with the guilt and shame I currently feel. im a stay at home mom and I know that at this point, this vocation has a shelf life. im 4 years away from sending my youngest off to kindergarten. I would love to go to school or find a new career but no desire is there yet to even steer toward a direction. I feel like I am not listening hard enough or im being punished or I am just not good enough. but I will console myself that maybe God has not revealed that direction yet. I will wait to respond. I will continue to have conversation in prayer.

Apr 4th
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Shannon Compton

loved this episode. the discussion on being carried versus self made has really resonated with me. I have tried not to depend on anyone my whole life and I have been taught to do so. I also constantly feel socially awkward so I avoid people as much as I can just to escape my own awkward feelings. With a cross country move, unemployment and a surprise baby, I find myself unable to rely on myself. I feel like a failure, I feel like I don't want anyone to do me a kindness because I could never pay it back, but this episode reminds me that maybe I am being carried. maybe I am just discovering community. thank you.

Oct 16th
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Dorothy Enns Klassen

A month ago my best friend lost her brother to cancer, leaving behind his wife and 3 young children. And while I'm not her, nor can I even begin to relate, I grieve for her. I've appreciated this podcast and this episode particularly as someone who just wants to love on someone who is going thru something shitty. It's okay to not be okay but I'm grateful for where it brings a person and friendship to also. 💕

Oct 3rd
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Mark Pearson

What a great conversation between two great thinkers who are great friends. As a flawed human with chronic depression I found what you had to say refreshing and a different view of manynideas that I have heard but not fully absorbed before. Thank you Kate and greetings from Brisbane, Australia 🌻😊

Jun 5th
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Mary K. Pershall

Just listened to your segment with Emily McDowell ... there's no good card for that. I think you don't want to hear any more free associations but I'll just say something terrible happened in our family and I could totally relate to your advice, just be there.

Mar 4th
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