By Iulia Gheorghe
A few years ago, personality tests to find out your learning style were extremely fashionable. This is how I learnt that I was a visual learner and definitely not an auditory one. Listening exercises were, indeed, a pain in the ass. That didn't change in time.
Give me something to read or to watch (but not static youtube videos) and I will gladly summarize or memorize it. Give me something to listen... and after the first minute, my attention will get lost in the fields of daydreams, worries, crazy ideas, notes to self and phantasmagoria. Listening to something turns my mind into a lively jungle. Even songs are triggering hectic scenarios in my head. However, reading something turns my mind into a Swiss factory, a flowgasm state of mind as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (does his lengthy surname ends in his first name?!) says in his famous book "Flow":
“But anyone who has experienced flow knows that the deep enjoyment it provieds requires an equal degree of disciplined concentration.”
That flowgasm feeling is more difficult to find when I'm listening to something. I have a weird relationship with podcasts: I love them, because I anticipate the fact that they are packed with wisdom and new things to discover, learn and enjoy, but some circumstances have to be reunited to actually start listening to them. A quiet day + a quiet brain + some spare time to spend guiltlessly. Hard to get these circumstances together, right? This is why I listen to podcasts quite rarely.
But when I do it, I lay off multitasking (drinking coffee is permitted AND encouraged, obviously) and I focus on the generous characters who are sharing a slice of their knowledge and feelings with the world. I also give myself a couple of hours to do that, so I would listen to a couple of episodes of different podcasts, like an auditory brunch.
What's on my menu?
Let's start with the frothy cappuccino. This is, for me, Design matters hosted by the wow-artist Debbie Millman. A classic, a goldie. Don't be fooled by the name, it's not a podcast about design, but on creativity in general, "an inquiry into the broader world of creative culture through wide-ranging conversations with designers, writers, artists, curators, musicians, and other luminaries of contemporary thought". You can start with the episode featuring Seth Godin, author, blogger and brand consultant, if you search for someone who is always giving resourceful advice.
My all-time favorite episode is the one with Brainpickings editor, Maria Popova. Maria knows and writes about tons of interesting things in a sensitive, yet very on point and humble way.
Next: some orange juice, freshly pressed, for rejuvenescence. The On Being podcast is more than an award-winning conversation about spirituality and its relationship with science, art and social issues; it's a journey thorough the different elements of what makes us human. Hosted by author Krista Tipett, this podcast is not only thought-provoking, but also shakes you to the core. Some episodes are so powerful, that after listening to them you feel almost shocked and ravaged. I recommend you this episode with doctor and author of "Being Mortal", Atul Gawande, on mortality and what matters most in the end.
After this deep moment, I need something delicious and fun, like eggs. "The Monocycle", hosted by Leandra Medine, mother and queen of Man Repeller and awesome human being. It's a funny, ultra-relatable monologue (quite unique, because most podcasts are conversations) that instantly makes you feel better and ready to go out in the world and kick some ass or jump in bed and have a party with your pillows. Exactly like after eating an omelette. If I had to pick one episode, it would be the one on self-esteem.
In Good Company
At this point, I need a coffee refill or I am going back to sleep. A shot of espresso. In Good Company, hosted by Otegha Uwagba, brand consultant and author of modern career guide Little Black Book, gives you that necessary dose of practical advice to make a step ahead on your professional pathway. Listen to this episode featuring Reni Eddo-Lodge, author of "Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race" about the challenges of freelancing.
The Great Discontent
It's time for some amuse-bouche (also, it's that moment when you pop the Prosecco, because it's not morning anymore!). In 20 episodes, The Great Discontent podcast features 20 makers/artists/risk-takers whose stories give you the goosebumps and encourage you to finally be in charge of your dreams, because it's doable with the right strategies (and a pinch of Universe stardust). These people are so creative, they're making my brain speed on new ideas and concepts like a hamster on a wheel. The Great Discontent also offers an incredible collection of written interviews - check out my dearest one, with artist Elle Luna.
Of course I won't forget the croissants, which are a delicious treat anytime (even at midnight). Magic lessons by writer Elizabeth Gilbert are without any doubt the croissants. There is one episode for everyone, so I would recommend you to read the descriptions of all episodes and choose the ones that speak to your own doubts and unanswered questions. I love this podcast not only for its content, but also for Elizabeth's voice and friendly spirit.
Letters from a Hopeful Creative
The last course should be refreshing and healthy (at least this one!): fruit. I really enjoyed the new podcast hosted by online business owners and bloggers Sarah Tasker and Jen Carrington called Letters from a Hopeful Creative. They are answering letters from creative minds struggling with diverse obstacles like Instagram anxiety, quitting your day job, transforming your creative channel into a business in a condensed conversation, full of factual and valuable advice.
London Review Bookshops podcast
I think this is all, theoretically. Practically, I still have cake after fruit, so that would be the London Review Bookshops podcast - listen to episode 9, with Sheila Heti about her fascinating book "Motherhood".
Now it's your turn, I'm all ears!