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Connecting to Your Untamed Spirit

With Best-Selling Author Glennon Doyle

Season 5, Episode 5  | September 22, 2020

Earlier this year, Glennon Doyle’s latest memoir, Untamed, quickly became a No. 1 New York Times bestseller, resonating with many in part due to its relevancy: “We all got stuck with ourselves in quarantine,” Doyle says, “and Untamed is about what happens when you’re stuck with yourself.”

Doyle joins us to speak about her book, about the transformative power of imagination and grief — and being the true you in this world.

A Headshot Of Glennon Doyle.

Glennon Doyle is the author of the No. 1 New York Times bestsellers Untamed and Love Warrior and the bestseller Carry On, Warrior. She’s an activist and the co-founder and president of Together Rising, an all-women-led non-profit organization that supports women, children, and families in crisis.

  • Many have the perception that memoirs are a one-time book you write about your life. Doyle thinks of them differently — she considers it her genre. “Every decade I just have a completely new perspective on who I am and who I’ve always been,” says Doyle. “I always say I won’t write a new book until I become a new woman.”
  • One reaction she’s seen from criticizers of Untamed is people responding to how much she’s changed as a person from her previous work. As a memorist, however, she feels it’s her job to examine herself and the world — and as years go by, she understands herself differently.
  • “Every feeling is for feeling,” says Doyle. “And every feeling is helpful and instructive in some way. Not comfortable, but helpful and instructive.”
  • Doyle explains imagination as how we take what’s inside of us and connect to what’s outside of us. She says it’s the key to everything she does, from her art to her activism.
  • “Imagination, I think, is just so undervalued,” says Doyle. “It’s like we think there’s some kind of Pollyanna idea there, when actually, I think our marching orders are there.”
  • We can use imagination as a bridge from judgement to compassion. Taking the refugee crisis, for example, some say, “I can’t imagine putting my child on a boat.” Instead, she suggests saying, “I can’t imagine,” and actually stopping to imagine it. What would make a father or mother compelled to do that? “It’s a complete postural change,” says Doyle.
  • Untamed has proven to be the perfect book for this time in our lives. “We all got stuck with ourselves in quarantine,” says Doyle. “And Untamed is about what happens when you’re stuck with yourself. It’s about finding transformation and hope and laughter inside stillness.”
  • Anger and grief are two emotions many of us are experiencing this year. While anger feels directional — there’s something to be done — grief is powerlessness. It is what it is. It’s distinct from sadness, but requires a heavy acceptance of loss. We’re all grieving the loss of the way things used to be.
  • “I’ve come to view grief as a cocoon,” says Doyle. “It’s so dark and there’s nothing to be done other than . . . become something completely different. This forced grief will turn us into whoever we’ll be next. I think we will be softer and more connected and wiser.”
  • Doyle is the founder and president of the non-profit Together Rising. She was inspired to start it after noticing she received letters from two camps of people: Half who don’t have enough and half who do have enough but are looking for purpose and connection. She saw an opportunity to be the bridge between the two. To date Together Rising has received $25 million in donations, with the average donation being $27. “It’s the most important thing I do,” says Doyle. “It’s the honor of my life.”
  • “The gaslighting of women is universal, it’s constant, it’s from every direction,” says Doyle.
  • Our society doesn’t favor women who are ambitious, direct, or desirous. Every time we imagine something “more” for ourselves — marriage, community, nation, etc. — we’re trained to second-guess it, with an inner voice often saying, “It’s good enough. I have to be grateful.” Males trust their desire, longing, and ambition — they do not beat themselves up about being grateful enough.
  • “Gratitude is a beautiful thing until it becomes a deterrent for growth,” says Doyle. “We can be grateful for what we have and we can honor our imaginations and desires.”
  • Doyle included a chapter on racism in Untamed, and explains that it was unthinkable to write about examining herself and culture without including the context in which we live and operate. “To me, there’s no more are you racist or not. It’s are you conscious enough to know that you have racism in you,” says Doyle. “If untaming is about unlearning, I think that it was equally as important to examine the lessons I’ve learned about race. When we’re separate from each other, or when we see our sisters as only people who have the same skin color, we are not free.”

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Transcript: Connecting to Your Untamed Spirit

Season 5, Episode 5  | September 22, 2020

Jamie Martin 
Welcome to Life Time Talks, the healthy-living podcast that’s aimed at helping you achieve your health, fitness, and life goals. I’m Jamie Martin, editor in chief of Experience Life, Life Time’s whole-life health and fitness magazine.

David Freeman 
And I’m David Freeman, the national program leader for Life Time’s Alpha program. We’re all in different places along our health and fitness journey, but no matter what we’re working toward, there are some essential things we can do to keep moving forward in the direction of a healthy, purpose-driven life.

Jamie Martin 
In each episode of this season, we’ll break down various elements of healthy living, including fitness and nutrition, mindset and community, and health issues. We’ll also share real, inspiring stories of transformation.

David Freeman 
And we’ll be talking to experts from Life Time and beyond who’ll share their insights and knowledge, so you’ll have the tools and information you need to take charge of your next steps. Here we go.

[Music]

Jamie Martin  

Hey, everyone, I’m Jamie Martin.

David Freeman

And I’m David Freeman.

Jamie Martin  

And welcome to Life Time Talks. In this episode, you’re going to be hearing from someone other than David and myself. We are excited to have miss Maggie Fazeli Fard, senior fitness editor with Experience Life, and a really talented journalist and writer. She is going to be sharing her interview with Glennon Doyle, the bestselling author of the book Untamed, with us. So, David, what are your thoughts about stepping to the side for an episode, and letting Maggie take the wheel?

David Freeman

You know I like to remix things up, shake it up a little bit, and Maggie, somebody that I know very well, just seeing her and her craft, and being able to share her experience with Doyle, and give us a sneak peek of the story, I’m super-excited about that. You all may remember Maggie from first season of the podcast. Hey, Maggie.

Maggie Fazeli Fard  

Hi, you two. Thank you so much for having me today.

Jamie Martin  

We’re so glad you’re back, Maggie. OK, so, Maggie, when Glennon agreed to be on the cover of Experience Life, you and I had quite a few conversations about what you were going to talk to her about for the interview. You and I had both read Untamed. We both had things that were our favorite parts of her book, and now that I’ve had a chance to actually listen to your conversation already, I know there was so much there that could not go in the magazine. So, tell us a little bit about the experience of interviewing Glennon, and some of the highlights for you.

Maggie Fazeli Fard  

One of the most fascinating things to me about Glennon is that the way she’s able to connect with her readers through her writing. When you read her work, you really feel like you get to know her intimately, and she’s brought people on her journey, through books, through her blog, through social media, for decades now. So, it makes sense that people really do feel like they know her, but as happens with all of us, people might connect to the big stories that resonate for them.

In Glennon’s case, it’s the story of her marriages, her love life, coming to terms with her religion and her faith, overcoming addiction. They’re really universal stories, and those are the big things that she’s talked about, but in reading Untamed, what I found was that there is so much more to this woman than the big headlines usually tell us. We had a great conversation, as fellow writers, about creativity, about imagination, particularly imagination not as this, like, fairy tale realm, but something that really grounds us in reality, and how we can connect to other people and be of service to the world.

Glennon lives her life and writes with love as the center point, and I think that because of that, sometimes her love life is the story that gets the most attention, but there is so much more to her, and I’m excited to be able to share that with everybody.

David Freeman

I’m excited to hear it. I love hearing stories from women, and having double, double the love with both Doyle and you, Maggie. This is going to be an amazing, amazing episode. It just resonates with me, what you said as far as leading with love, and how that’s the core value of who she is and how she connects with her readers through her stories. So, I cannot wait for you guys to dive deep into today’s episode.

Jamie Martin

So, Maggie, thank you for being our very first guest host of Life Time Talks.

Maggie Fazeli Fard  

Thank you very much.

Jamie Martin

And for those listeners who may not know Glennon Doyle, I’m just going to give a little bit more on her background. So, Glennon is a pretty amazing writer. She has three New York Times bestselling books, two of which are number ones. Those include Untamed and Love Warrior. She is also an activist and a thought leader, and she is the founder and president of Together Rising, a nonprofit organization, an all-women-led nonprofit organization, that has to date raised over 25 million dollars for women, families, and children in crisis. So, we’re just going to get into it. Maggie, thank you again, and here is her conversation with Glennon Doyle.

[Music]

Maggie Fazeli Fard  

To get started, why a third memoir? What led you to Untamed?

Glennon Doyle

Well, I mean, I just always say I won’t write a new book until I become a new woman, right, and the woman who wrote Love Warrior is not even close to the woman that I became in the five years after I wrote Love Warrior. Or, I should say seven years after I wrote Love Warrior, because that’s the funny thing about books, is that you finish them, and then they don’t get published till two years after you finish them. So, you know, my life had changed so dramatically.

My way of being in the world changed so dramatically, and I had new ideas to share. And memoir is what I write. That’s my thing. So, I think some people think of memoir, a memoir as in, like, a celebrity memoir, like, you write one about your life, but that’s not how I do it at all. Memoir is my genre. It’s what I probably will always write. It’s just, every decade I just have a completely new perspective on who I am and who I’ve always been. So, it feels interesting again.

Maggie Fazeli Fard  

You have been very transparent about your life from decade to decade, from book to book. What is it like for you to see that evolution on the page, as you are also experiencing that evolution in your skin?

Glennon Doyle

I mean, sometimes it’s so cringy, I just want to die. Like, the fact that, some of the ways that I used to think 10 years ago, it’s amazing, because, like, I think what we’re here to do is keep changing, right? We’re just here to keep becoming truer and more beautiful versions of ourself. And so, if that is true, then we’re kind of always shedding the old self, right, but the tricky thing about being a writer is that you’re putting in black and white, like, who you think you are at the time.

So, it’s cringy sometimes. I mean, it’s interesting. I was just going back to my first book, because I’m doing this story-time thing that I’m doing with kids during quarantine. I’m going back to my teacher roots, I love it so much. And so, there’s a letter that I wrote in that first book, in Carry On, Warrior, that was a letter to Chase before the first day of school. It was just all about kindness. So, I went back to it this morning, because I wanted to read that to the kids, and I found myself, I had to change the whole letter, because I used such religious language back then.

Like, I used, and that’s fine, that’s wonderful for people for whom that kind of language fits, but it doesn’t fit me anymore at all. So, I was reading it, and the ideas, I still feel just as passionately about, the themes, the kindness of that letter, but I found myself having to change all of the language just to make it feel like it fits more with the way I think about faith now. But it is interesting, because I have seen, the feedback to Untamed has been so incredible, and there are a few patterns for people who are upset by Untamed.

And so, I love, like, watching that, and seeing, like, what people react to, and one of the things that people, one of the, like, negative reactions is how much I’ve changed. Like, it almost feels like a betrayal to people, right? Like, people will actually say, well, you know, she’s saying one thing now, she said one thing before. And to some people, that feels like a, like you had to be fraudulent then, or you’re fraudulent now, which is amazing to me as, like, a human being who knows that we evolve, and you look back at yourself.

I feel like every decade it’s like I’m going to the optometrist, and they’re, like, changing those lenses, and they’re like, A or B, A or B, right? And I look back on myself, and I understand myself so differently, but to some people, they want things to stay the same.

Maggie Fazeli Fard  

There’s this idea, I think, in our society that we achieve certain things, and then we hit maintenance mode.

Glennon Doyle

Yes!

Maggie Fazeli Fard

It’s like we’re not allowed to, not supposed to change, and the change is happening anyway. We just aren’t aware of it if we’re denying it that way.

Glennon Doyle

Totally, and don’t you think, I mean, as a memoirist, my job is to just examine myself, examine the world, examine myself, and I think the stories about who we are change. You know, I spent so much of my, I became bulimic when I was 10, and that morphed into a bunch of different addictions for 15 years. And so, I spent most of my formative years sick, diagnoses after diagnoses, therapist after therapist, medication after medication.

And so, you know, by the time I became an adult, I really had this underlying belief that I am crazy. Like, I really did believe that for a very long time, just until very recently. I thought that I can function, I can do the things, I can, like, I can carry on on the outside, but deep down, I can’t trust myself, because, you know, how can a crazy person be trusted not to sabotage her, like, world? I even wrote in my first memoir, “I was born broken, with an extra dose of sensitivity.” That’s a line from my first memoir.

Maggie Fazeli Fard  

I have it highlighted.

Glennon Doyle

But now, I think that’s total horse s**t. Like, now I’m raising my daughter, Tish, and she’s super sensitive, and she’s much like I was as a kid, and I would never in a million years call her crazy or broken. She’s a prophet, right? She feels it all, and she can see it all. So, I actually wrote in Untamed, I quoted myself from my first memoir, and called out myself, and was like, because I don’t think I was crazy at all. I think I was just a super sensitive kid who didn’t have the skills that she needed to manage her sensitivity.

And so, it’s a perspective shift about the story about myself, which feels like progress to me, but it is fascinating to me that some people feel like, no, that’s what you said you were. Are you lying then, or are you lying now? Like, I don’t know. We’ll find out next decade, I guess.

Maggie Fazeli Fard  

So, for me, I personally love memoir over biography or autobiography, and it’s because it, at first glance, it seems non-chronological, non-linear, but it’s a very intentional structure that you have in Untamed. And when that dawned on me, I was just like, this just got even better. Can you talk a little bit about why you structured the book the way you did, what the importance of that was for you?

Glennon Doyle

Yeah. Thank you for noticing that. I’m always like, will people know, will people get, I don’t know.

Maggie Fazeli Fard  

Writers, other writers. They always get it.

Glennon Doyle

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I always count on you guys. Yes, yes, yes. Well, first of all, I don’t know if you know this part of this, but I wrote this book twice, OK? So, I wrote Untamed, and I was, I knew the themes I wanted to write about. I knew I wanted to write about, you know, really just the spiritual side of social programming, right, about how we’re born these wild creatures, and then we just slowly start to abandon ourselves for belonging, right?

We kind of abandon our individuality for the protection of the group, right, and how that’s kind of just the human paradox. Like, we want to be fiercely individual, but we want to belong, but we can’t have both, for some reason, and especially how this pertains to women, and how we return to ourselves and trust ourselves. And so, basically, I was writing it like I was just talking to you, OK? Like, did you want to slowly die when I was talking to you just now, because that’s how I wrote the entire thing, just like . . .

Maggie Fazeli Fard  

Like a review of the book.

Glennon Doyle

Like a . . . yes, exactly. I wrote the book like a review of the book. That’s exactly right, and I knew it kind of sucked. I knew the themes were what I was born to discuss, what my whole life was leading to, what, like, that thing is that I am here to talk about, way more than I knew that about Love Warrior or Carry On, Warrior. I knew this is what I’ve come for, this, but man, I just was writing it like essay after essay on philosophy, and yadda yadda, and my dear friend Liz Gilberts, one of my best friends, she came to stay with me for a few days early on.

She said, can you read to me from the new book? Girl. I was looking at her on the couch, and I started reading. I knew that it sucked, OK? I just was kind of hoping that on one else would notice that it sucked, right? Like, I had earned up enough writer’s cred that people would think, well, it doesn’t, I don’t like it, but that’s probably my fault, not her fault, right?

Maggie Fazeli Fard

I’ve been there.

Glennon Doyle

Yeah. But I’m watching Liz on the couch, and she’s sinking deeper and deeper into the couch. Like, this woman cannot lie, right? And so, I stop reading, and she says, Glennon, when you tell me your stories, I come to life, and when you read me your essays, I slowly die, and I thought, God, that’s right. You know when you hear the truth, like, I don’t take all feedback like that. A lot of feedback about art, like, it’s so subjective. Like, OK, great, you didn’t like it.

Like, everybody likes something different on the menu, but you know when you hear that feedback that you know, already know is true. So, I threw the whole thing away. None of it was wasted, because I think sometimes writers have to write about the book before you write the book, OK? Like, I was writing the underground, the roots of it, not the tree, right? Well, we laughed about it, because what I was doing is, I was writing a book about breaking free from existing structures, that I was writing it inside an existing structure that didn’t work for me and my art at all, right?

I had to figure out this wild way of writing it. So, what I figured out after that was that I needed to write the book instead of writing about the book, and that I wanted the format to be as wild as the content. I wanted the medium to feel wild, right, just like the message was. I wanted it to feel like a cheetah running. Like, I wanted it to feel a little bit breathless when you read it, and I wanted the reading to be, like, I wanted it to be disruptive, and kind of, not perfect in terms of, like, length.

I wanted short, and long, and I wanted it to be, like, if it were music, it would be jazz, just, like, all over the place, like, no, right? And, but I am also . . . writing to me is, there’s a little bit of a formula in it, in terms of a book like this, which is that I wanted to show in the first half of the book how we lose ourselves, right? So, if you picture it like an inverted mountain, I wanted to start somewhere, and then show how women slowly, you know, how their trust of their selves gets eroded by so many different — by family, by religion, by the beauty industry, by — and so, I wanted a story for each of those things.

And then, the second half, I wanted to show how we climb out of those things. So, if you looked at it, you would see that there’s an answer to every question, right? Or, I shouldn’t say answer, there’s a response, I should — there’s my response to each one. So, that’s how I did the format, really, on my wall, showing this is how we lose ourselves, and in each category, this is how we find ourselves, and each essay in the second half has a thread back to an essay in the first half.

Maggie Fazeli Fard  

And linking those are the keys, right?

Glennon Doyle

Right.

Maggie Fazeli Fard  

It really feels like you come to, you come down this mountain, and you come to a door, and then you offer the keys, and on the other side of using those keys is all of those beautiful, beautiful stories.

Glennon Doyle

All I know is that for me, most of the answers of this time in my life were inside of me, right, that as a girl, I was trained to look outside of myself for everything — for advice, for wisdom, for, you know, as if there’s a map somewhere, and I just needed to follow somebody’s map, and I would be OK. And so, the reversal of that process, which leaves us completely lost and confused and living someone else’s life that we don’t recognize, is a deep dive inward, right, to kind of detox from that jumping-outward thing.

And so, the keys, I just really, really tried to figure out, when we return to ourselves, what the h**l do we find there? Like, what is inside, because everybody’s telling us, go inside, but like, what is that, right? It’s not our mind. Like, that’s not what I’m talking about. I know what’s in there, and it’s not, like, a great place to hang out. So, what is this other place that we — and really, what I come down to is, like, what I tell the kids, what I tell other people, when we return to ourselves, that deep self, what I find inside of me is emotion, right, which I was shamed out of very early, and I actually know now that every feeling is for feeling, and every feeling is helpful and instructive in some way.

It’s not comfortable, but helpful and instructive, and then there’s this other energy inside of me that is intuition, right, that is, like, this separate place that, totally separate from emotion, and I don’t know what the h**l it is. It’s just whatever that thing is inside that always tell you the truth, right, that when you say, I don’t know what to do, I don’t know what to do, you really do know what to do. You just don’t want to do the thing you know to do, because it’s hard, right?

So, that thing, that nudge that kind of always gives you a directional pull to the next right thing. And then, the third thing, for me, this is all I can say, this is what’s inside me, I don’t know what is inside of anybody else, is this wild imagination place.

Maggie Fazeli Fard  

That resonated with me so, so hard. Go ahead, please, tell me about imagination.

Glennon Doyle

It’s because you’re an artist, right? Whenever the artists get to that part, they’re like, yay, finally. Yeah, it’s just, like, this wilder terrain that is the place we go to, I think, to figure out what we were meant to bring forth, right? It’s like each of us have to believe that we were each, that we’re here because we have something new to offer, that no one’s ever seen before, right?

And the funny part is that since no one has ever seen the thing we were meant to bring, and whatever that is, whether that’s just a way of being in the world, right, it’s a personality that’s unique to you, or it’s a piece of art, or it’s a poem, a garden, whatever the h**l it is that you’re meant to bring, no one’s quite ever seen it before the way you’re meant to do it. And so, what happens is when you channel from your imagination, and you’re brave enough to put that thing out, is that other people say, that’s weird, I’ve never seen that before.

And then, the mistake we make is to think, that wasn’t right, because it’s weird, instead of thinking, that’s exactly right, because it’s weird. I don’t know, the imagination, I think, is just so undervalued. It’s like we think that there’s some kind of Pollyanna idea there, right, when actually, I think our marching orders are there.

Maggie Fazeli Fard  

And with imagination, I think you wrote about this, we’re taught that it is an escape from reality, but what really, I think, grabbed me in what you were describing is, our imagination is also our service to the world. It is how we take the things that are inside of us and connect to what is outside of us, and it was, I think that that, for a lot of people, I would imagine, it’s a shift in how we’re taught to understand our imagination.

Glennon Doyle

Nobody’s asked me about that yet, actually. You’re saying that, and I feel like, this is my four millionth interview about this book, and nobody has asked me about that part of the book, about imagination being the bridge. I mean, whenever my kids have, not anymore, because I probably, I did this too much to them when they were little, so they’re like, got it, got it, but whenever, you know, one of my kids had a, I guess a judgmental moment with another kid, or, I remember one of the kids coming home and just being so frustrated because this one kid in their class would never do his homework.

And so, the class wouldn’t get the party, the pizza party, or whatever, and how frustrating to my kid, like, why can’t you just do your homework, just do your homework, you know? And so, I started asking, OK, so, like, what do you imagine, why do you imagine that, I’ll just call him Tommy, that Tommy isn’t doing his homework? Like, what do you imagine Tommy’s house might be like? Do you imagine that Tommy’s mom is sitting next to him, making him do this homework like yours is? What do you imagine?

And this idea of imagining, over and over again, I have seen take me and my kids and other people out of the place of judgment and into this, like, magical bridge of, like, it’s a complete postural change. Instead of standing there and looking in judgment, like, it’s like spiritually changing places, and you begin to be able to see the world from the other perspective, and that softens you, and creates a bridge. And so, yeah, I feel like imagination is not just a bridge to creation, but it’s a bridge to compassion, right?

And you can hear it. My favorite is when you can hear people refuse to step on that bridge, because they say, I mean, if I could tell you how many times I hear this. OK, example, the refugee crisis, OK? When people don’t want to feel the heartbreak of that, what they will say, inevitably, nine times out of 10, is, I cannot imagine putting my child on a boat. I’m like, I bet you can’t. I bet you won’t, because if you did imagine it, you would not be being such a a**hole right now, right?

Like, instead of saying, I can’t imagine, like, actually stop and imagine it. What would make a mother or father compelled to do something like that, to put themselves and their, like, imagine what it would take for you as a mother to have to do that. And then, imagine having people on the other side of safety stand in judgment instead of arms wide open for bravery, right? So, yeah, imagination, I think, is the key to everything that I do, my art and my activism.

Maggie Fazeli Fard  

I’m going to pull up my Word doc, because there is a quote that I want to read, actually, and it’s from a piece about Untamed in the New York Times back in March, I guess, and the author there asked, will another seismic event disrupt the release of Untamed? And you said, I’m kind of scared, because something big usually happens, and lo and behold, pandemic. How are you doing? Where are you in the midst of this?

Glennon Doyle

Yeah. So, for your listeners, I mean, every time I’ve released a book, something, the first two times, it was just about my life, OK? It was just my little, personal life crumbling, OK? This world-crumbling thing is a whole new situation. I will tell you, you know, it felt, I planned this tour for this book with my team and my community. You know, we had cities all over the country. I don’t go on tour often, because I’m a, just a real raging introvert, and I love being onstage with my people, and also, it’s very hard for me.

So, it takes me a lot to, like, get to go, and takes me a lot to go to the grocery store. So, going on tour is, like, it’s a whole thing, but I was excited and ready, and you know, cities all over the country were sold out, and we’d been working on the tour for a year, and the second day of tour, we just started seeing all of this, this is just when it was bubbling. There were no stay-at-home orders, nothing. We ended up cancelling pretty early, just because, like, the last thing I was going to do with this community or book is put anybody in any extra risk, right?

We felt so sad. We felt really like we had been working for this moment for so long, and we felt really sad and sorry for ourselves, and then we felt ashamed for feeling sorry for ourselves, because so many other people had it so much worse. So, then we were in the suffering Olympics with ourselves, right? Like, it was just, trying to act like we weren’t sad, like, it just . . . and so, you know, what we did is we just said, we sat down with the team, and we said, OK, we’re going to switch to service.

Like, we were in promotion mode. We were in party mode. We were in take-on-the-world mode, and now, we are in a situation where our community is going to be hurting in ways that are unprecedented. Like, you know, I mean, I have walked through my life with this community. Like, this is real for me. Like, these are the people who have been with me for a decade and a half, since my babies were born, and now they’re, like, almost in college, right?

So, I just started, we, “switch to service” was our mantra, and we just started doubling down with Together Rising, and just meeting as many needs as humanly possible, and I started doing these little morning meetings, because, you know, what do you do? You just show up in your little, stupid ways. Like, you just, everybody does their little, stupid thing, and then, there’s enough little, stupid things going on, we make it through, right?

So, what we thought would happen was that we would just switch gears and we would . . .  Untamed would kind of go away, and then we would redo the whole thing, in a year, or whatever. Well, I don’t know what to say, other than Untamed has just gone totally freaking crazy. Like, it’s . . .

Maggie Fazeli Fard  

It’s the perfect book for right now. Part of me wants to use “antidote,” and that’s not quite the right word, but I think for everything that we’re all feeling, I mean, it gives us permission to be there, to be there with it.

Glennon Doyle

Yeah. It’s so interesting, right? Like, I haven’t even really had the time to, like, think it all through, but it is sort of like, we all got stuck with ourselves in this quarantine, right? Like, all of the distractions from the fear and pain of life, gone, stuck with ourselves, stuck with our people, and Untamed is kind of about what happens when you’re stuck with yourself, right? Like, how to do all that exploring, I mean, I laugh so much. My friend Liz, speaking of that, like, her adventures, the way she learns about herself in the world is outward.

Like, she goes places, she does things. I do not. I do not. I want to have great adventures between, like, my family room and my kitchen, right? So, in that way, it really is, I guess, it makes sense, it would be a good book for this time, because it’s about finding transformation and hope and laughter and all of it inside stillness, really.

Maggie Fazeli Fard  

We’re going to look back on this year, and maybe this is just me being very down about what’s going on, but grief is sort of a hallmark, and man, is that a hard thing to sit with. And not to assume that everybody else is struggling with sitting with their grief, but . . .

Glennon Doyle

We are. Everyone is.

Maggie Fazeli Fard  

I used to think that anger was the most difficult emotion to sit with and accept, and now, I’m like, anger has a friend in grief. Can you talk a little bit about how grief can be a guide as we’re moving through time, if that is even something that resonates for you?

Glennon Doyle

It does. Yeah, it’s so interesting, I’m just thinking about what you just said. Anger, I have become real, real comfortable with anger. Like, anger is one of my faves now, because I feel like it’s such a clear, I think it’s hard to, it takes a lot of untaming to stop being ashamed of your anger when you’re a woman, right, because that’s what, we’re trained to be ashamed of our anger. Like, we’re trained to think that when we’re angry, there’s something wrong with us.

And then, we learn that no, when we’re angry, that means there’s something wrong, not with us, but like, out there, right, that we can help change, and the difference between anger and grief, for me, when I think about it right now, is, like, anger feels directional. Like, anger feels like there’s something to be done, right, and grief is just powerlessness. Grief is just, there’s nothing to be done. This is what it is. Like, there’s no out from it.

There’s no . . . you know, it’s not sadness. Sadness is, like, I get, I have sadness 12 times a day. It’s like, OK, here I am again, in 20 minutes I’ll be happy about something again. Like, who knows, right, and just wait it out, but grief is just this heavy, I guess, acceptance of loss, you know, the kind of loss that will never be regained. And I think that’s what — we will have an after of this. We will, for sure, have an after of this. It’s coming. It will come But it will be new, it will be different, right?

And so, we are all grieving the loss of the way things used to be. What I do know about grief is that there has never been a time in my life where I have experienced deep grief and have not come out the other side of it completely new, and fresh, and wiser, and stronger, and deeper, and softer, and more peaceful, and more powerful. OK, not ever, no times. Not when I’ve lost people that I love, not when I’ve lost relationships that I cherish, not when, like, all the times.

And in that way, I really have come to see grief as a cocoon, right? It’s just so dark, and there’s nothing to be done other than just let yourself get completely obliterated, right? That’s what happens in those cocoons. You just get liquified, right, just become something completely different. And so, I don’t know what the world will become next, but I do feel, as someone who has learned to trust pain and grief, not in the way that I think I know how to fix it, I don’t think there’s anything to be fixed, I don’t have any tips for grief, other than surrender, right?

But I do, I have hope for individual people which makes up our world, because I think that this forced grief, this forced surrender will turn us into whoever we will be next. I think we will be softer, and more connected, and wiser, which makes me have great hope for whatever’s next.

Maggie Fazeli Fard  

That’s beautiful. This feels like a good moment, then, to talk about Together Rising. Can you, for our readers who maybe don’t know what Together Rising is all about, would you mind giving us a little description of what you’ve been doing there?

Glennon Doyle

Yeah, I mean, I’ll just real quick tell you how it started. I mean, it’s so wild to think about at all how it started, which was really just that, when I started writing my stories, women just started writing their stories to me, and at one point, I opened up, like, a PO Box or something, because as much as possible, I just want things to be real in my hands. Like, books, letters, just, the computer’s just, you know? And so, I’d read everybody’s letters at night, and they’d tell me their real stories, you know, not, like, their pretend, fake, representative stories.

It was, like, their real stuff. And my sister and I one night were just like, this is so interesting, because it’s like, half of these letters are people who don’t have enough right now, right, and half of these letters are from people who do have enough right now, and are looking for purpose, or looking for connection. And so, over time, we just figured out, we can be this bridge, because we have this one community, and people who are separate from each other, who really could be connected, because these people need help financially. These people need help purpose-wise. Put them together.

So, we became a bridge that way, and then, over time, we just became a bigger and bigger bridge. We just started noticing that we had this community of people who were so committed to feeling the pain in the world, and not going numb to it, and not, you know, to really staying open-hearted and broken-hearted. And so, we started becoming a bridge between the people in their homes who wanted to stay involved, and wanted to do something about the trauma in the world, to the warriors on the ground who are actually meeting the needs of hurting communities, and hurting women, and hurting children in our country and all over the world.

And the way we did that, this is just one crisis at a time, we would spend months figuring it out to the best of our ability, right? So, and then we would be committed to researching the people on the ground who are already in these communities, who already had been doing work for so long, because what we found out is that a lot of the organizations who get the most funding are organizations who have a lot of marketing power and money, but aren’t necessarily the organizations who have been in the communities, and have been trusted.

These are often organizations that are led by women, often led by women of color, who have earned the community’s trust over time, and who know what they’re doing, and aren’t swooping in, right? So, you know, that bridge, for me, has always been storytelling. My job was to learn as much as possible about each crisis, about the groups on the ground who’ve been serving efficiently, and then write stories that then landed in thousands and millions of people’s homes, so that they could learn, open their hearts, give.

And so, you know, we’ve just crossed the $25 million-dollar mark, which is amazing, but the cooler thing is that the average donation is $27. So, this is all just people in their homes who just care, and trust, and just want to do their little thing, right, and when we find all those little things, nobody has to do everything. Like, if enough people do the little things, I mean, through those little things, we’ve become the leading American organization in reunifying children with their families at the border.

We became one of several leading American groups serving in the Syrian refugee crisis. We’re building shelters for LGBTQ teens. In this country, we know that that’s the fastest-growing homeless population here, because of all of the shame that is introduced to those families through religious organizations, and then they kick their children out, and that’s a whole . . . and on and on and on. And now, you know, those are the big things.

We have big projects going on, but what’s always been our heart is just one family or woman writing to us at a time, and saying, I need help getting food on the table, I need help keeping my lights on, I need help. And so, in that way, we kind of were building the ark before the storm. Like, I mean, so, when corona hit, those needs have just been . . . . it’s like loaves and fishes. I don’t know how we keep having enough.

I mean, we just do. We just keep having enough. I mean, I think one of the reasons is because we have this amazing system going where a few of my artist friends donate to pay for all of our administration costs, so that every penny that individuals give to Together Rising goes directly to people in need, which is a privilege that a lot of non-profits don’t have. And so, I think people, that means a lot to people. But it’s the most important thing I do. The writing, I think, is really all about Together Rising. It’s the honor of my life.

Maggie Fazeli Fard  

Can you talk a little bit about that connection, that — and I think for all of us, how does the work that we do to connect better to ourselves, how do we take that and then connect to the outside? You talked a little bit about that when we were discussing imagination.

Glennon Doyle

Yeah.

Maggie Fazeli Fard  

Like, a stumbling block, we can get very focused on our innards . . .

Glennon Doyle

Yeah.

Maggie Fazeli Fard  

. . . as we go through the process.

Glennon Doyle

I know. People always say that, and I have just always experienced the opposite. Like, the more deeply I dive into myself, and the more connected I am to myself, the more obvious and clear it becomes. Like, when I think about the feelings that I have, that I’m now in touch with, like, the sea of feelings that I have, and then I think, oh my God, everyone on Earth has the same amount of feelings as I do, like, what the h**l? Or when I think, all of this imagination, these deep desires I have for my family, and all the goodness and passion I have inside of myself, that every mother has that.

Every partner has that, every woman. The deeper I am connected to myself, the more I understand that all of us are made up of the same stuff, and the more it becomes unthinkable that I would not want for everybody what I want for myself, right? That’s what “love others as yourself” means. Like, everybody throws around the word “love.” What it means is, I want for you everything that I want for myself, right? So, I don’t know. There’s a, like, this false dichotomy to me that’s, like, I hear it all the time.

Like, oh memoirs, navel-gazing, you’re, blah blah blah blah blah, you’re like, you’re narcissist. That’s, like, we love the word, and that’s going to be, like, the word of the decade. People love to throw that word around. But I don’t know. I think there’s a way of keeping yourself busy with outward things that would maybe force you to live a shallow life, that would, but being still with yourself, like, really reckoning with who you are as a human being is not one of those things.

If anything, it just breaks us down into little, smushy piles of love, that then we have to do nothing but help ourselves heal and help others heal.

Maggie Fazeli Fard  

This actually brings to mind this thread that you have throughout, which is sort of this universal gaslighting that women experience, especially when it comes to, like, understanding, like, getting to know themselves better — that’s dangerous. What I should do is more important than what I want. Can you speak to that a little bit?

Glennon Doyle

Yeah, girl, oh my God. I mean, like, the gaslighting of women is, it’s universal, it’s constant, it’s from every direction, and what I mean by that is, we just, well, we talked about one way of gaslighting before, which is that you’re not angry because there’s something wrong. You’re angry because you are a bitter, angry woman. Like, what is wrong with you, right? I mean, you know, the first story I was ever told about women and God, God had a best friend named Adam.

They were, everything was awesome, and it was just the two bros, and then Eve showed up, and she couldn’t leave well enough alone. She wanted more, right? She trusted herself instead of the rules, and then all h**l broke loose, and suffering was unleashed on the Earth forever, right? We get this idea that if a woman wants more, that is the most suspicious thing we could ever — I mean, we do not like our women wanting more.

We do not like them ambitious, we do not like them direct, we do not like them desirous, we do not, we are trained to, every time we can imagine something different for ourselves, every time we can, we feel that inner longing of, no, I want more for my life, my relationship, my marriage, my family, my community, my nation — but I should be grateful. But I should be grateful. I should just be grateful. I should just be grateful, it’s good enough, it’s good enough, it’s good enough.

It’s, like, almost a superstition, right? I have to be grateful. I have to be grateful. As if women cannot be two things at once, right? We’re expected to multitask in every other area of our lives, but we’re not trusted to hold both gratitude and desire at the same time, right? This is not something — talk to your male friends, OK? Ask them these questions. They do not sit around all night beating themselves up about whether or not they’re grateful enough.

They do not have gratitude journals. OK, they just don’t. Like, they trust their desire. They trust their longing. They trust their ambition. And gratitude is a beautiful thing, until it becomes a deterrent for growth, right? We can be grateful for what we have, and we can honor our imaginations and our desires. When we can imagine more, we can say, this is a sign I’m not grateful enough, or we can say, this is a sign I might be meant for more, right?

And that’s the gaslighting. That’s why it was so important to me that the line at the end of the prologue was, “You are not crazy. You’re a goddamned cheetah.” Like, women are told in a million different ways, you’re just crazy. You’re crazy. You’re crazy. And it’s said in a bunch of different ways, you’re emotional, you’re hysterical, you’re blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. You just can’t be grateful, you can’t be whatever, but there’s just a, I don’t believe that any of that has ever been true.

I think that women have always known what’s up, and I think that the reason why we’ve been gaslit is because if women really did trust ourselves, if we returned to ourselves, if we trust ourselves, if we unleashed ourselves, the whole world would be reordered, right? Power would be forced to be shared, right? Imbalanced relationships would be healed. Corrupt institutions would fall. The world as we know it would end, which is exactly what we want, right, and don’t you feel it?

Like, I feel it all the time. I felt it yesterday. Like, I say something that’s so obvious, and true, and good, and bold. It’s bold. OK, it’s a little bold, but so obvious and true and just. And the reaction, and I know every woman can relate to this, it’s like, the reaction is always, like, yeah, I think it’s a little, there’s some support, and then it’s a little bit like, but why don’t we just, I hear you, but we should also just be humble. We should also just be kind.

We should all . . . you know, and I’m like, really? Should we? Like, at what point did any, like, oppressed group earn justice through meekness, right? Like, there does need to be more humility, and that humility needs to be on the part of the people in power, right? The rest of us need to stop worrying so much about being humble, right, and just say the thing, and let it burn.

Maggie Fazeli Fard  

Amen. One thing that I really, and I know that we’re coming up on time for you, but one thing I really want to talk about, if you have a moment . . .

Glennon Doyle

I do, sure.

Maggie Fazeli Fard  

. . . just to acknowledge the fact that we are two white women . . .

Glennon Doyle

Yes, we are.

Maggie Fazeli Fard  

. . . having this conversation, and I really appreciated your chapter on racism in the book, and just a reminder that we are all part of a system, and we all have a responsibility to each other, and it’s not, being a good one doesn’t really count for anything. Can you talk a little bit about that responsibility that we all share to our fellow humans?

Glennon Doyle

I mean, I think as a memoirist right now, it would be unthinkable to me to write a book about examining self and culture, and not include in it the context in which I live and operate, which is a context of white supremacy, right? Just absolutely is, and some of the most important work of my life has been the unlearning of what the world taught me about whiteness being better than blackness, right?

That is what I have been taught, in a million different ways, that white bodies are more important than black bodies, and that white minds are sharper than black minds, and that white women are better than black women. I mean, the more that I returned, honestly, to myself, and examined what I’ve been taught through media, through culture, through education, through familial things, through all of it, the truer and more obvious that becomes to me.

Anybody, any white person in this country who is examining themselves, and their minds, and their knee-jerk reactions, and their consciousness, and their education honestly will come to that conclusion. I don’t have any space or time anymore for any white person who says, “I’m not racist.” Like, that reveals nothing to me, except that you are completely unconscious, OK? Like, that is, we are all breathing the same air, and the air in this country that we are breathing is white supremacy, right?

So, you know, to me, there’s no more, are you racist or not. It’s just like, are you conscious enough to know that you have racism in you, or are you not, right? So, you know, in a country as just completely, it’s two different worlds. You know, all you have to do is just really start to listen to black women, mostly, is where I learn the best. Listen closely, read the work of black women, imagine, do the imagining work, and you find that we have been having two very, very different experiences in this country.

And so, I don’t know. I just see it as some of the most important work I can do as a white woman, is to . . . if untaming is about unlearning, right, I mean, most of the book is about misogyny, I would say, about the lessons we learn about gender that put us in, that keep us from living free, I think that it was equally as important for me to examine the lessons I’ve learned about race, that keep, not just keep, it’s not to help black people. Like, they don’t need my help, OK?

That chapter was to nudge my white readers to realize the ways that being poisoned by white supremacy keeps them from being free, right, because when we are separate from each other, when we do not see ourselves in any way as our sister’s keeper, or when we see our sisters only as the people that have our same skin color, we are not free, right? It poisons all of us, completely.

So, yeah, it’s just an essential part, I think, of every woman’s liberation, is to, no matter how uncomfortable and painful it is, because it’s always uncomfortable, always, is to liberate her mind as much as possible from the ideas of white supremacy, so that we can join in the work of liberating lives and bodies of everyone in our human family.

Maggie Fazeli Fard  

I’m crying. I have one question left.

Glennon Doyle

Yes.

Maggie Fazeli Fard  

What is something that gives you hope right now?

Glennon Doyle

Coffee. Lexapro. Let’s see. You know, I got to tell you, I have this wife, this Abby Wambach, she is, I’m like the moon and she’s the sun, OK? She’s just, her optimism is pathological. It’s just, her positivity, it is the most beautiful, steady presence in my life, and she always makes me feel like not only are things going to be OK, but like, but that I’m OK, even, no matter . . . I mean, listen, I know you’ll be shocked to hear that I’m not always, I’m not an easy, breezy person, OK?

Like, I think, it’s not like I’m very, I’m not a zen-like person in my real life. Like, I am high and low, and I get depressed, and I get anxious, and for some reason, she just loves me so gently and fiercely through all of it. It’s like she doesn’t love me despite of it, she loves me because of the whole mess? I don’t know. So, I think that if I were to say, in all seriousness, Abby is what gives me the most hope, day in and day out.

Maggie Fazeli Fard  

Glennon, thank you so much.

Glennon Doyle

I loved this conversation so much. I loved your questions. I could’ve talked to you all day.

Maggie Fazeli Fard  

I have this very long document. Really, we could, at this pace, we could go for six hours, just based on the questions that I have, and . . .

Glennon Doyle

Well, we have to do it again, then.

Maggie Fazeli Fard  

I hope that someday we get to chat again. This was beautiful. Thank you.

Glennon Doyle

Thank you for your thoughtful, beautiful questions. It’s not always like that. I appreciate it. Sometimes people are like, so, what do you think of Adele? What do you think of Chris . . . ?

Maggie Fazeli Fard                                                                                  

That is a different genre of journalism.

Glennon Doyle

You would think. You would think. OK, sister, you’re the best. Have a wonderful day.

[Music]

David Freeman 
Thanks for joining us for this episode. As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on our conversation today and how you approach this aspect of healthy living in your own life. What works for you? Where do you run into challenges? Where do you need help?

Jamie Martin 
And if you have topics for future episodes, you can share those with us, too. Email us at lttalks@lt.life, or reach out to us on Instagram at @lifetime.life@jamiemartinel, or @freezy30 and use the hashtag #Life TimeTalks. You can also learn more about the podcast at thesource.lifetime.life/podcasts.

David Freeman 
And if you’re enjoying Life Time Talks, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Feel free to write a review and also let others know about it, too. Take a screenshot of the episode and share it on social, share it with your friends, family, work buddies, life coach. You get the gist.

Jamie Martin 
Thanks for listening. We’ll talk to you next time on Life Time Talks.

[Music]

Jamie Martin

Life Time Talks is a production of Life Time — Healthy Way of Life. It is produced by Molly Schelper, with audio engineering by Peter Perkins and sound consulting by Coy Larson. A big thank you to the team who pulls each episode together and everyone who provided feedback.

We’d Love to Hear From You

Have thoughts you’d like to share or topic ideas for future episodes? Email us at lttalks@lt.life.

The information in this podcast is intended to provide broad understanding and knowledge of healthcare topics. This information is for educational purposes only and should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of advice from your physician or healthcare provider. We recommend you consult your physician or healthcare professional before beginning or altering your personal exercise, diet or supplementation program.

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