In the Helen Starter Pack, podcasts are an absolute necessity. Sometimes I worry about how frequently I listen to podcasts…am I drowning out my own thoughts? Who’s to say! I’m actually trying to cut down on my listening and dedicate more time to reading/journaling, and that’s caused me to have to be a little more selective about what I’m consuming.
I love a long podcast episode. Over an hour and ten? Sign me up. (This is not so coincidentally the length of my daily commute.) But as I progress on my podcast journey, I’m getting on board with briefer episodes now too.
Now that everyone and their mother’s cousin has a podcast, there’s a pod for every time and place. Below are five podcasts that bring me joy in different ways (I’ve included the subcategories) and I can’t wait to share them with you! And because you’re busy and I love you, I’ve selected an episode for each that I recommend listening to if you want a taste before starting from the beginning!
A Beautiful Mess
The motto of A Beautiful Mess is “stay home and make something,” which, hello, is my vibe to a tee. Episodes are released on Monday, and knowing I have a fun chat with Elsie and Emma in my future eases the pain of leaving my cozy bed for the cruel, cruel world. Much like their blog, they talk about a wide array of topics. Home reno, DIY, book recommendations, business, and family, just to name a few. They are Nancy Meyers stans, home decor enthusiasts, and lovers of all things cozy.
Episode to start with: How To Decorate Affordably (And Not Just From Amazon!)
You know the feeling of simultaneously loving and hating a fitness instructor/coach after a workout? Yeah that’s this podcast. Unlocking Us is what I listen to on the days I am just sort of going through the motions. It’s on a hiatus right now, but rest assured there are plenty of episodes in the archive to choose from. Although I don’t support self-diagnosing or using social media posts as a replacement for real therapy, I’m clearly a huge fan of making information often shared in therapy more widely accessible. Plus that shit’s expensive. This podcast *feels* like therapy. Dr. Brene Brown always keeps it “awkward, brave, and kind” with some incredible guests like my patron saint, Dolly Parton.
Episode to start with: Brene on Anxiety, Calm + Over/Under-Functioning
Happier in Hollywood/Happier with Gretchen Rubin
This rec is two for the price of one! Happier in Hollywood is hosted by Liz Craft and Sarah Fain, writers in Hollywood, most recently known for Fantasy Island (which is so good by the way, warm but not too fuzzy). Each week the pod has recurring segments like Hollywood Hack (a personal or work-life hack), Take A Hike (a tip about engaging with nature), and Hits & Bombs (shoutouts or tssks).
I first started out listening to Happier in Hollywood because it was adjacent to my industry and was interesting to me as an artist. I’ve always thought this podcast was great for creatives especially, but others could get a ton of value out of it too, and then I found out there’s ANOTHER great option: Happier with Gretchen Rubin.
Happier in Hollywood’s format mimics Happier with Gretchen Rubin, but between the two shows there’s plenty of distinct content and tips for a happier life. Liz Craft (Gretchen’s sister) co-hosts the show, so it’s like getting to see a crossover episode of your favorite tv show every week. Both of the podcasts look at happiness in a nuanced way and it’s not always sunshine and daisies. They acknowledge the messy bits too.
Episode(s) to start with:
Happier: Ep. 417: Celebrate “Determination Day,” Start a No-Homework Book Club, and Go Outside–or Read About It
Happier in Hollywood: Ep 291: All Dressed Up and Freudenfreude
Dinner SOS with Bon Appetit
Dinner SOS is the podcast form of an advice column about cooking. Every week someone calls in with a problem they’re facing cooking-wise. The host, Chris Morrocco (Test Kitchen Director at Bon Appetit) and one of his colleagues each offer a recipe as a solution to the caller’s woe. Now here’s the drama!! The caller can only pick one solution and they report back which route they’ve decided to take. Chris takes on kitchen issues big and small, so it can be a fun and sneakily educational listen for anyone from self-appointed foodies to people who think “making cereal” is a thing.
Episode to start with: Small Space, Big Dreams
Matchmade in Manhattan
This pod is one hosted by three friends that I frequently forget I don’t know in real life. They chat every Friday to talk about dating in the age of the apps while still holding out hope for that movie-like meet cute. I love the way they discuss dating, relationships, and life in New York City. They don’t claim to be experts or give piping hot takes, they just share from their own experiences and it’s like having three of your besties as a sounding board. As someone who identifies as a zilennial, I think that Katy, Colby, and Adam hit the sweet spot of being relatable to both Gen-Z and Millennials.
Episode to start with: Un-matched in Manhattan
Let me know if you’re already a fan of these podcasts or if you try them out!