12. Fighting Perfection & Doing The Thing (Season 1 Finale!)


It’s our Season 1 Finale!

In this week’s episode, Karen & Kate reflect on the journey of starting this Audio Project, things they learned, & topics they were too afraid to discuss (sex, for one!). They talk about their process & comment on how wonderful it has been to just hit “play” & bust any perfectionism mindsets by trusting their creative processes. The pair also makes compelling cases for sponsorships from both Calm.com and Subaru.

Of Course I’m Not OK will be back with Season 2 on Oct. 19!

Resources from this episode:

– Check out Esther Perel’s work around intimacy/sex in quarantine (and her many amazing books) https://www.estherperel.com/

– For more sex talk, make sure to subscribe to the podcast Feminist Erotica: https://rebelliousmagazine.com/the-feminist-erotica-podcast-is-live/

11. Mental Health Master Class (with Naiylah Warren, LMFT)


Get ready to take notes! On this week’s episode, Karen & Katie do a mental health deep dive with Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Naiylah Warren, LMFT. The trio chat about the cultural messaging in the Black community where women are taught to “shake off” mental health issues (& how things are now shifting generationally), how to squeeze in self-care even when you don’t have a minute to spare (pay attention when you have to pee!), how to trust your body’s wisdom (Katie shares how she didn’t do this & ended up at the neurologist), how being emotionally vulnerable in friendships can help us feel more connected (+ how to identify which friendships are safe in which to be emotionally intimate), & tips on how to find a therapist (treat it like any other doctor – get additional opinions!). This 50-minute episode will leave you feeling less alone & inspired to take action to better your mental health. Enjoy! Resources from Episode 11:  – Connect with Naiylah Warren, LMFT, on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/naionlife/?hl=en  – Check out the National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network: https://www.nqttcn.com/  – Get access to mental health house calls with Heal: https://heal.com  – Real, a mental health startup innovating in the therapy space (also, where the amazing Naiylah works!) https://www.join-real.com/  – Check out resources such as Black and POC therapists on Therapy For Black Girls: http://www.therapyforblackgirls.com  – Check out therapist listings (you can filter the search to meet your needs) on Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists  – Watch ‘Kissing Jessica Stein’ (such a good movie) https://www.amazon.com/Kissing-Jessica-Stein-Jennifer-Westfeldt/dp/B000SW16N0  – Read ‘The Four Agreements’ by Don Miguel Ruiz: https://www.miguelruiz.com/the-four-agreements – Find out more about Heal Haus, a therapy practice in New York: https://www.healhaus.com/

10. Firing Inner Bullies, Manifesting Dreams, & Fighting Fears (with Lisa Pepper-Satkin, MFT)


If you’re having a hard week, this episode is for YOU. Karen & Katie chat with Lisa Pepper-Satkin, MFT, founder of Integrated Therapeutic Coaching, about how to identify and “fire” our inner bullies (yes, please!), how we can manifest our dreams, and how to fight those pesky “what if” fears (of which there are many these days!). 

Resources from this week’s episode: 

– Check out Lisa’s free PDF on how to fire your inner bully: http://bit.ly/6StepstoFireInnerBully

– Sign up for Lisa’s free coaching calls at 12pmPT on Wednesdays: https://lisapeppersatkin.com/

– Check out Lisa’s many amazing offerings on her website: https://lisapeppersatkin.com/

– Connect with Lisa on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/LisaPepperSatkin/) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/lisapeppersatkin/?hl=en)

9. Emotional Resetting Amid The Apocalypse


Anyone else finding themselves throwing their hands in the air & yelling into the void? On this week’s episode, Karen & Katie discuss strategies on how to reset emotionally when it feels like the world is ending. Katie asks if there should be an expiration date on “shit sitting,” Karen shares that with so much happening she’s been feeling like a contestant on American Gladiators, and the pair trade tips & tricks (from staring at the ceiling to reading erotica) that are helping them stay sane right now. Listeners: we’d love to hear from you! What is helping you emotionally reset during this crazy time?! Connect with us on Twitter (@Not_OK_Pod) and Instagram (@not_ok_pod), and feel free to send us suggestions/comments at notokpod@gmail.com. 

Resources from this episode: 

– Gender reveal party pioneer regrets starting trend, now has non-binary child: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.huffpost.com/entry/gender-reveal-creator-plot-twist_l_5d3b7f49e4b0c31569eae583/amp

– Find out more about “This is Fine” dog meme creator: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.theverge.com/platform/amp/2016/5/5/11592622/this-is-fine-meme-comic

– Feminist Erotica: a fabulous podcast co-hosted by Jera Brown, Princess McDowell, and our very own Karen Hawkins. Check out the recent episode with erotica editor Rachel Kramer Bussel: https://rebelliousmagazine.com/the-feminist-erotica-podcast-is-live/

– Wanna try unplugging for one day per week? Check out Tiffany Shlain’s book: 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day A Week: https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/24-6/Tiffany-Shlain/9781982116866

8. Kindness During Stressful Times


What does it mean to be kind (to ourselves & others) during these trying times? In today’s episode, Katie admits to road rage, Karen discusses how she realized that someone difficult in her life was suffering, and the pair agree that boundaries are a form of self-kindness. 

Karen & Katie also put into the universe how wonderful it would be to Tamara Levitt, the voice of the Calm app, on the podcast. 

Resources from this episode: 

– Calm app: https://www.calm.com/

7. Navigating Difficult Political Conversations (with Dr. Tania Israel)


Anyone else struggling with tense political conversations?! Worried that those conversations may cause the end to some of cherished relationships? If so, you are not alone. In this week’s episode, Karen & Katie welcome Dr. Tania Israel, psychology professor at the University of California Santa Barbara and author of the new book Beyond Your Bubble: How to Connect Across the Political Divide, Skills and Strategies for Conversations That Work. The trio have a lively discussion on strategies to employ when talking across political lines, best practices for allyship and how social media plays a part in today’s divisive political climate. 

Get ready to take notes – Dr. Israel is a ROCK STAR and shares loads of fabulous takeaways!

Resources from today’s episode: 

– Dr. Israel’s book: Beyond Your Bubble: How to Connect Across the Political Divide, Skills and Strategies for Conversations That Work – https://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Your-Bubble-Strategies-Conversations/dp/1433833557

– Dr. Israel’s Twitter: @Tania_Israel

– Dr. Israel’s website: http://taniaisrael.com/

– Calm app: https://www.calm.com/

– Follow us on Twitter & Instagram @not_ok_pod, and email us with questions/comments/suggestions: notokpod@gmail.com

This episode is sponsored by

· Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app

6. Insomnia


Is anyone else losing sleep these days? In this week’s episode, Karen & Katie discuss their struggles with insomnia. Katie explains her ‘Hunger Games’-style dreams, Karen shares the horrors of waking up to a jarring email at 2 a.m., and the pair swap tricks that help them sleep. We’d love to hear your experiences with insomnia & the hacks that help you – email us: notokpod@gmail.com and connect with us on Twitter: @not_ok_pod. 

Resources discussed in this episode:  

– LeBron James meditations on Calm: https://app.www.calm.com/program/Kl8gZDaKoW/train-your-mind

– Arianna Huffington’s book The Sleep Revolution: http://ariannahuffington.com/sleep-resources

This episode is sponsored by

· Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app

5. Taking BIG Leaps (with Artist Erinn M. Cox) [With Transcript]


Our first guest joins us today!

Have you ever thought of leaving your job and/or moving to a new city/state/country? In today’s episode, Karen & Katie chat with the incredible Erinn M. Cox, someone who has done those things on a grand scale. After living in Chicago and wishing she could live and work as an artist in Europe, Erinn took the leap a few years ago and moved to Estonia for grad school. 

Now, several years later, she’s a well-known contemporary jewelry artist loving her life in Estonia, selling her art and working remotely as an art professor. Since taking her leap, she’s been featured in multiple exhibitions and international fashion magazines. 

In today’s episode, Erinn offers tons of advice for those looking to take leaps in their own lives – enjoy! And be sure to check out Erinn’s gorgeous jewelry on her website, and follow her on social media: Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Find this episode on Anchor, Apple Podcasts, or Spotify. Stream the entire episode here or read the transcript below.

Keep in touch with co-hosts Karen Hawkins and Katie Morell on Twitter and Instagram.


Karen: Welcome!

Katie: Hi, I’m Katie Morell. I’m a creative and writer based in the San Francisco Bay area.

Karen: And I’m Karen Hawkins. I am the founder of Rebellious Magazine for women and co editor-in-chief of the Chicago Reader. You are listening to, “Of Course I’m Not OK: An Audio Project.”

Katie: Join us as we talk about mental health, coping with quarantine and what conversations we wish the world was having, and isn’t.

Karen: For some of our episodes, we’ll chat with writers and creatives to get their take. Thank you for joining us on this journey.

Katie: All right, we’re recording. Hi, Karen, great to see you.

Karen: Hello, Katie. It’s great to see you.

Katie: Yes. Happy Friday or whatever day, whatever. That again.

Karen: Time is an illusion. It doesn’t really matter, but yes. Happy Friday.

Katie: Yes, it is so nice to see you. I love doing these little checkins. They’re so fun.

Karen: Agreed.

Katie: So, to dive right in, I know I don’t have any fight stories about melted butter this week. Sorry to say, wah wah.

Karen: No Subaru stories? So where are you right now?

Katie: I will say that there is a little story about the fact that I am recording this podcast in the backseat of my new Subaru. That’s real. So when we started this conversation before we hit record, I was about, let’s see about 40 feet away from the house where I’m staying. Now, the front of my car is in my friend’s garage. And then the rest of it is sticking out in their driveway because I want to make sure that I get their wifi. I mean, yeah, gotta do what I gotta do for an audio project, I guess.

Karen: Tell you what, I mean, this is a high-tech operation, and I just also want to remind people that we are recording this on Zoom. So I am looking at Katie. In the car. Right now.

Katie: You can see, it’s a pretty day. There’s sun shining through the windows. There’s a lot of natural light in this car. It’s a good, it’s a good look. Yeah.

Karen: Natural light?! I would hope a car would have a lot of natural light. Like that should be the one thing we can count on in life.

Katie: You’re right. You’re right, natural light in a car. And this might be my new thing. I mean, I will say that there’s an enormous amount of privacy. Like my dog isn’t barking. My husband isn’t around, like a kind of love that I could just like scream—not that I would scream in everyone’s ear—but, you know, I could, and it would be fine.

Karen: Maybe this is a tax write-off for you then, because this is a mobile office now. You’ve got like a, write-off-able situation happening in this new Subaru.

Katie: OK. I really like where you’re going with this, Karen, because seriously, that would be the largest tax write-off I’ve ever had. And so I really appreciate where your mind is at, because well, shit, I mean, because we’re already making money on this podcast. 28 cents, I think, is what we’ve made so far for our sponsors. Thank you, sponsors. We really appreciate it. We welcome more than 28 cents, but you know what, like that will definitely work for, for a home office. You know, this, this could be workable. I’m going to think about that.

Karen: I mean, keep in mind, you’re taking accounting advice from somebody who dropped their phone in the river. There’s also that.

Katie: That’s OK. All right. Well, these are all great ideas. Well, how was your weekend?

Karen: It’s been, uh, I’m not gonna lie, it’s been really stressful, which is why I’m so happy about these Friday check-ins. I won’t get into too much detail, just know, World, that I live in downtown Chicago and was up at four o’clock in the morning this Monday, filming people robbing the store across the street and eight squad cars coming and just living in fear of not only my building being burned down, but also the police doing something absolutely horrific out on the street. So I spent the first part of this week, um, as my friend Emily would say, ‘made of rage,’ just like native rage. Just angry at everyone all the time. And I’ve gone through every emotion imaginable since then. And I’m happy to be here now. And that’s what’s important.

Katie: Okay. So Karen, I’m so excited about today’s topic. So I feel like when we were thinking about this audio project, not yet a podcast, we had all kinds of ideas for different things, but a lot of things in terms of topics, but a lot of things have really surfaced because so much is happening with the pandemic. And so many people’s lives are being wildly disrupted. But one of the things that I’m hearing a lot is that people are thinking about, for lack of a better term, taking a leap in their life in terms of finance, in terms of professionally. So they’re thinking like they’ve been in the same job for the past several years. They have always wanted to do X, Y, or Z. And they’re thinking, you know what, screw it. I’m just going to go do it. Like, why not? Like life is short. Like there’s a lot of realizations at this moment. And so I feel like I’m just so excited to talk to you about this because we both have experiences in this realm. I mean, both of us have left situations that were not totally healthy and like we’ve, you know, kind of embraced new lives. And so I would love to kind of dive into yours because I feel like your story is something that I absolutely love so deeply. Like I just think that you are the ultimate bad ass when it comes to like truly taking a leap. Um, so do you want to go first?

Karen: Sure. I’ll go first.

Karen: So briefly I was working as a reporter for a news organization whose name I will not say, but whose initials are AP? I was really frustrated. I needed a change. I decided to found the online magazine I’d always wanted to do. Um, and it’s called Rebellious Magazine for Women. It’s at Rebelliousmagazine.com. It is how I know you, Katie, more or less. So I left the AP, was doing Rebellious, but also still working and then Rebellious took a disco nap. I was working a very lucrative corporate job and decided that was the big leap to me. So the first leap was deciding to found Rebellious in the first place in 2012. And then the second one was really in 2016, leaving my ridiculously overpaid corporate job to do Rebellious full-time. 

And Rebellious is still alive. I am still alive. It has been a rough ass, rough ass four years. I’m not gonna lie. I absolutely believe in taking leaps of faith. And I absolutely believe in the power of a PhD in just like fucking shit up and figuring it out. Like, I feel like that is something no MBA or PhD program’s ever going to teach you is how to survive when you have removed all of, you know, the structure from your life. Um, but I don’t wanna, I want to encourage people to follow their dreams and follow their bliss, but I also want a reality check about like, shit’s hard. Be ready.

Katie: I love that so much. I love that you’re willing to just go there in the reality of, it’s not always easy. So I’ll give my, you know, short explanation also. And then I would love to go into a little bit more detail. so I have always been a journalist, went to journalism school, worked on staff at different magazines and newspapers. And then, I guess it was 2009. I went traveling , in Asia for a little bit. And then I came back and I was like, you know what? I really want to try freelancing. And my whole thing was okay, I’ve only ever been on staff. I never learned how to freelance, in journalism school. That wasn’t even a conversation. I literally don’t think the word freelance ever came up in any class. But I really just wanted to be my own boss. That was my big thing. Like I was so tired of being under the thumb of different editors that just – there was no work life balance whatsoever. Not that there is even now, but I feel like that was just not really even a conversation. 

And so, yeah. So in 2009 I gave myself a year and I was like, if it doesn’t work in a year, I’m going to go back on staff. No problem. And that was 2009. It’s now 2020. And so I’m celebrating 11 years in business and I will say that that’s the headline and the subhead is that it’s really fucking hard. And you know, I’ve had a lot of inbound requests over the years of people who want to, you know, to talk to me about like, Oh, well, how do I be a freelance journalist? Like you do some travel writing, do you sit around in Paris with a beret and a cigarette? Is that your life? And I’m like, I wish – I mean, I don’t smoke, but – that’s not my life. And so really what I had to explain to them was, number one, it’s worth it.

I will say that from my experience. I absolutely love it. Number two, I worked 18 hour days for the first many, many years. And to this day I still have to, you know, grind that out. I mean, I think one thing though, for people listening, that’s like the biggest sticking point for them is financially. Like how do they make that work financially? And I don’t want to gloss over that in this conversation because I feel like I listened to a lot of conversations with people where they do gloss over it. And it’s like, okay, that’s not really fair because everyone has a different situation, of course, but I will say full disclosure: my partner, my husband, we were not yet married. He had a full-time job and that was the only way that I could do it. And so I’m not saying that that’s not the way. I have friends who started freelancing single, and they are fine and they have been able to make it work.

Katie: I had the luxury and the privilege of having food on my table. And so I then was able to earn money over time to make that myself. It was fine. Like I didn’t need his salary. I will say that, full disclosure, that is something that was really helpful to me. And I think if someone listening is a single person or they don’t have someone in their life that can help them, I think that having a little bit of – not that I’m a financial advisor – but like a little bit to just know that you won’t go without ramen, at least.

It’s tricky sometimes because it’s very personal.

Karen: It is incredibly personal. And I also write, full disclosure, have a partner, and who has been very supportive through this whole process. We met after I launched Rebellious, but we’ve been together since 2012. And I think, when I think about the financial piece, I think of, yes, the fact that people gloss it over and that yes, we have these conversations where people are “self-made.” Like, I forget which of the Jenners is like “the first self-made billionaire,” which is like the most offensive – I mean, come on now. And we don’t have conversations about the fact that Jeff Bezos started Amazon out of his parents’ garage with $300,000 in like 1997, right? So, yeah, I do feel like we all need to be really forthcoming about what that means and that if you don’t have a bunch of money saved, or if you don’t have a plan, the leap is harder obviously. I feel like that is the one thing I learned is that, like I had a nest egg and I was just like, ‘Once this is gone, I’m going to figure it out.’ And that’s like, not a great plan. And I will also say, I also feel like I hear from a lot of people who have golden handcuffs. I’ll just give you a tease that we’re going to hear from the guest who, uh, we both had the same golden handcuffs, very briefly. We both worked for the same company, making an absolutely obscene amount of money. For me, at least it was an obscene amount of money, and just realizing I hated every second of it. Every second of it, making more money than I had ever made in my life, making double what my mother ever made in her life. And I loathed every second of it. And, yes finances, yes money, but you can’t trade a high paycheck for hating your life. At a certain point, you just get-, I just got to a place of like, was I really put here to do this? Was I really, did the universe really come together for me to be making all of this money to be doing this? And the answer was no.

Katie: I would love to invite our guest on, because Karen, as you alluded to, this is our very first audio project-slash-podcast that we have a guest and our guest is so amazing! Would you like to do the honors of introductions?

Karen: I can’t wait. Oh my God, I’ve been *waiting* this whole time for this. My life was made for this. So our guest today is Erinn Cox, who is one of my favorite people in the entire world. And when I say world, I mean world, cause she’s in Estonia now. Erinn, I’m gonna let you really give your bio of who you are, cause I’m not going to do it justice. And you’ve done so many amazing things in the last few years that I probably don’t even know about. So welcome Erinn Cox. I love you.

Erinn: Aw, well thank you ladies. Long time listener, first time caller. Happy to be here. I’m an artist and a professor and I write, kind of professionally? When it strikes me, and when I feel like it. And I live in Estonia, currently.

Katie: Erinn, can you take us through your story for people who don’t know you or everyone who’s listening, we’re going to put Erinn’s website and all of the ways that you can contact her in our show notes for this episode. But Erinn, I would love to know a little bit about, like, your path to getting to Estonia and the incredible job that you’ve created for yourself there.

Erinn: Well, you know, when you guys talk about making those kind of life-changing leaps, like after I graduated college in my 20s, I did a series of those. And it was, you know, some of them were fantastic and some of them, total missteps, you know. But you go with your gut and you say, well, let’s give this a go. I mean, what’s the worst that’s gonna happen if I hate it? Well, then I move somewhere else. And so I did. Long story short, from like 2000 to 2007, I lived in like eight different places. I just kept moving around, and I landed in Chicago after I had finished my master’s of fine arts degree in Memphis to visit a mutual friend of ours, Karen and I’s, named Aaron, that I went to undergraduate with. And I needed money because I had like $300 in my bank account. And he was like, well, you can work for this art fair company that I worked for for a couple of weeks. You could stay at my house. And then I just never left. And I ended up in Chicago for almost 10 years. I had a similar experience to Karen. I was working, like four jobs. I was working full-time for the art fair company. I teach online exclusively for like three different schools because my student loan debt was outrageous. And so I was working like 80 hours a week and it was awful. And I quit the full-time job thinking I could just teach, but you know, that doesn’t pay enough. And then I joined the same monster conglomerate that Karen worked for and had a very similar experience of like, ‘I don’t know why you even hired me. I don’t know what my job really is. I don’t know what I’m doing in the least amount, but you’re paying me buckets of money, so, OK, let’s do this.’ But it was soul sucking. Like you both said, it’s like – there’s just that point where, and I think as we get older and I was in my late 30s at the time, you’re just like, ‘Oh, I don’t want to die in this.’ And I feel like I’m not going to make it to 40, you know, which is overdramatic, but it’s how it feels, you know?

How I got to Estonia was I booked a plane ticket to Toronto for a week while I was supposed to be working. And because I worked remotely and I was like, ‘I can work from Canada, let’s do this.’ So I booked a ticket and I was like, I had made a decision that I was going to like, figure out what I was doing while I was in Toronto and I have wanted to live in Europe since I was 18. And I’ve wanted to be an artist in Europe since I was 18. And I was like, ‘Why am I not doing this? I’m tired of saying, this is what I really want to be doing.’ And OK, so this is, ‘I want to study jewelry and I want to do it in Europe.’

So I found schools, I applied, and then it was like,- Our friend Joel always says that the universe responds to your juju. And so what you put out there is what it will give back to you. And it’s, you know, it’s a bit hokey, but it’s true. It really is true. And so once I made that decision of like, ‘Nope, this is what we’re doing. Hell or high water, I’m going to be in Europe by the time I’m 40.’ And I did. And it just kind of like I applied, I interviewed two weeks later, they accepted me for grad school here the day after. I quit my job two weeks later. I sold my apartment, like, two weeks after that, without even having to put it on the market for over what I was asking, you know? And it just, like, everything just fell right in place as it should, and it wasn’t stressful and it wasn’t hard. It was like, Oh, what have you been waiting on? And then I moved, I moved here and I did a master’s program here and graduated in 2019. Cause it’s easy to come to Europe as a student. It’s not so easy otherwise.

[musical interlude]

Katie: So you are an artist. For the people listening who are not familiar, can you describe your art and what you do in Estonia now? Are you still doing online classes as you’re teaching still, or like, how does it work in terms of supporting the arts and what kind of art you’re creating?

Erinn: Well, one of the great caveats of Estonia is that financially the American salary goes a long way here. So economically I can live on very little comparative to what I would need in the U.S. For an example, my apartment and utilities and groceries, my studio and utility, like combined, all of that is under a thousand dollars. Yes. So I can’t do that in the States. That’s one of the pluses of having an American salary, even though it’s not high comparative to the income here.

So I teach online when they have classes. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. My schools don’t really care where I am because I teach online. So I can be absolutely anywhere, which is why I like teaching online because I can travel. I can be here, I can be home, I can be Germany. I can do whatever I want to do, but still have a job. The other great thing about Estonia is that the arts funding here is phenomenal. I was fortunate to be able to join the artist’s association here, and they have a lot of grants and funding opportunities. We’re able to get money for expeditions and for travel exhibitions that we’re in. And right now I’ve been really lucky to get a creative grant, to help me with the bills for the summer, because I didn’t have any classes and I’m trying to build studio.

They make it a little bit easier to not be the so-called starving artists that we’re used to in the States, because, you know, most people don’t really pursue the arts because financially it’s very difficult. My work, I make contemporary jewelry, which is not gold and diamonds and silver and fancy and stuff. I work in really big pieces: heavy metals, copper, brass, steel, cast iron, and I make mostly work for men. So they’re quite large and big, and they’re very conceptually driven. So it’s not work that sells easy. You know, I’m not really able to count on that work as being a source of income. It’s just what makes me happy and what contents and fulfills is making these these pieces. And if something sells then it’s fantastic. But you know, again, I only need to sell like three pieces a year and I can cover the bills. So it’s also not so stressful in that regard because of where I am. And it’s a great place for my field. Estonia is a hotbed for contemporary jewelry globally. It really is. And that’s one of the reasons I wanted to come here.

[musical interlude]

Karen: I love hearing all of that. And of course, I’m so happy to see your face and to hear your voice. And I just, I could go on and on about that, I’m going to stop. And I want you to brag about yourself a little bit, because I feel like from this end, right? All of your friends, we have this very cohesive – that’s a kind way of putting like this – very neby, very all-up-in-each-other’s-business group of friends in Chicago. As you mentioned – nebby is a Pittsburgh phrase for nosy, I just want to put that out there. Erin, I feel like for my life at the time, the Erins (boy Aaron, and girl Erin) that’s what we call these folks, were like the center of our friendship circle. And both of you have since moved away. And it’s just been so hard for all of us, you know, thrown off by both of you being gone. But I feel like there was this very cohesive group of friends, and we’ve just been keeping tabs obviously on what y’all have been doing and what you have been doing. And I feel like, from here, it looks like you moved to Estonia and immediately were like, your work was in a fashion magazine in Estonia, and we’re like, ‘what the fu-, what the hell, she’s supposed to be in school!’ Then you got into this, like, really amazing show. So I just want you, I just need you to brag briefly about these things you’re doing please.

Erinn: You know, I’ve been really lucky, but I think it’s also one of the things that, um, so my two favorite ladies here that both teach at the school, their names are Eva and [inaudible] and they’re amazing. And they always said, ‘You know, it’s always, it’s just about the work.’ Like, don’t worry about anything else, just focus on the work. And if you make good work, everything else will just fall into place. Because, you know, we’re always already thinking about, ‘Okay, how do I get into a gallery? How do I get into these shows? How do I get noticed? How do I get collectors to find me?’ And they were like, ‘Don’t do it. Cause if the work sucks, nobody’s going to give a shit.’

So just, you’re here to learn, focus on the work and the good things will come. And it kind of just did that way. And I got really lucky to, um, to have been in SCHMUCK, which is our big hurrah. It’s in Munich once a year, and like, a thousand artists apply and they pick about 60. And I got in the first time I applied, which was really mind-blowing and, you know, an honor and a privilege to be selected. And then I was selected again this year. It’s interesting because my work is very sculptural. That’s my background before doing jewelry. I make this big, kind of clunky, densely sad work, which you never know if people are really going to respond to, and then of course, when they do, it’s always really flattering.

I think one of the other really cool things that happened this year was, I was in Wallpaper Magazine and named, like, a jewelry pioneer from this year’s graduates. That was something really cool because that’s not just my field. You know, nobody knows what’s happening with SCHMUCK if you’re not into jewelry. But other people read Wallpaper. And then my mom and my grandma could go to the store and buy the magazine and see like,’ Oh, that’s, that’s my kid.’ So I think that’s been the really fun, fun part of it. Those are the kinds of things you just kind of get lucky and you just, you put it in the universe and you hope it likes it. But you also, it’s like you’re not making it for those things. And I think you don’t get too disappointed if you don’t get it because you’re just making it to make it.

[musical interlude]

Erinn: That’s a luxury that I have, like when you guys were talking about the financial side of, kind of making these giant life changes. I had a little bit of a nest egg from that horrible job, so it made it a little bit less scary. And then being here, you know, it makes it a little less scary because I know that if I don’t sell anything or I don’t get a grant this year that, you know, I’m not going to starve. I’m not going to have to come home if I don’t want to. You know, so I have a bit of a luxury in that sense that I can just make the work I want to make, and I don’t have to do a more commercial line and make sales. For now, at least, cause I’m terrible at commercial work, nobody’s going to buy my stuff. That’s too crazy.

Katie: Erinn, your stuff is so beautiful. I think it’s, it’s so interesting. You call it sculptural. I feel like people listening really, I really recommend going on Erinn’s website ’cause I feel like it’s just so interesting and like it’s stuff that I, I’ve never seen anything like it before. It’s just so unique and gorgeous. I think one thing, you know, in this audio project-slash-podcast that Karen and I are really into mental health and we’re really into feelings and we talk a lot about like how we’re doing and that kind of thing. We talk a lot about therapy and all kinds of different things, but I would love to talk as it relates to taking a leap and how you’ve taken this enormous leap, Erinn, it seems, and it’s working out so well. I’d love to talk about the highs and lows, if you’re willing to, you know, kind of share a little bit. Cause I feel like people, you know, any listeners who are thinking like, ‘Oh gosh, this is so scary.’ Can you talk if you did feel any of that fear – if you didn’t, that’s great too – but any of those highs and lows as you’ve gone, and then how you feel now on the other side of all of that.

Erinn: Oh sure. I think going into it, it was just like, ‘Fuck it, I’m doing this. They want, they said I can come I’m coming.’ And you know, I had like a moment of hesitation when they invited me, and I, our friend Paul was like, ‘Why are you even debating this? Like, this is what you’ve been wanting. Like, why would you say no?’ And it was like, ‘Oh, you’re right. Okay. It was just a momentary blip.’ And then, because everything just kind of worked out going, it wasn’t scary, you know? And I knew that I was coming into a school, which meant I had a network of people that I was going to be able to meet already, which makes it way less scary because, you know, if you just move to a foreign country, you don’t know anybody like, that would be terrifying. Moving to another city can be terrifying, but a whole ‘nother country that you, I mean I didn’t even know where Estonia was before I applied, you know, and I’d never been this far in Eastern Europe.

So yeah, it was scarier once I got here, a little bit just because it was like, ‘Okay, well we’ve done it. And uh, okay, we’re gonna, we’re gonna this work.’ And you know, Estonia is a really special, special place, and I say it’s magical. But it is a challenging place because, uh, Estonian culture of course is very different. Estonian temperament is very different, and I mean like complete opposite of Americans, and you know, thank God cause I really like it. And it’s, it’s really fantastic once you adjust it. But it’s not so easy just to talk to strangers or to ask questions. Most people speak English, but they don’t want to because they don’t think they speak well enough, even though they totally do. And my Estonian is terrible, even after four years. And, you know, trying to find an apartment in a foreign language, and then reading a contract and trying to get Google to translate it, and Google understands about half of the Estonian. So, you know, trying to get a phone card, and that kind of stuff is just like, ‘Okay, well I can point to my phone at the store and hope that you know what I’m asking for,’ and they do! So, you know, it’s okay.

But there’s certainly been moments of-, it can be a bit lonely for sure because I’m here completely by myself and I’m half a world away from everyone that I know and love and, you know my parents, I miss terribly. My grandmother’s 95 and I worry that she’s going to pass before I get home. I have two nieces that I’m missing growing up. So, you know, and then our-, our friends in Chicago. That group of friends, it was so bittersweet to leave them because they’re the most amazing group of people. And they’re so funny and I missed that last year that we had, you know. So there’s definitely been times where it’s harder for sure, but I’ve been really fortunate here that I’ve had a really good group of friends here, too.

[musical interlude]

Erinn: You know, it’s interesting because my thesis work was about loneliness. So you can read that and that’s definitely-, that was a low, that was a low, challenging time of, you know, being here and being single. The dating scene is difficult, mostly because I’m older than almost everyone I meet. You know, marriage isn’t as big a deal here so, but the people are together, but they don’t-, you don’t know because they don’t wear rings. So you’re like chitchatting with some hot fella and it turns out he’s married. He has like 14 children and you’re like, ‘Well, okay.’ So, the dating is definitely a more difficult part of living here, but if that’s the worst thing, then I think I’m doing all-, I’m not dead yet. You know, we’re doing okay.

Karen: Oh my God, I can say so many things about that. And I feel like one of the reasons I feel like you have this loyal group of friends, both in Chicago and Estonia, is, I don’t know, listeners, if you can tell this, but Erinn Cox is one of the most hilarious, funnest, most hilarious people ever. And I feel like you just bring so much joy with you. And I feel like it’s so interesting to me that you, to me have always just been this joyful person, this caretaker of our group. Like this, like cohesi-, you know, you’ve held this group of friends together with all of this joy, and then to see your work and to see you talking about loneliness, it was just like, man, that is the depth of personality I don’t know that most people have, right? Like that is, right? Like Katie’s making the symbol for justice. Like that, that is a full spectrum of human emotion that I feel like a lot of people are not-, don’t have, or are not willing to access them themselves. So.

Erinn: I think everybody does. And I think that’s one of the things that the virus has opened the gate, you know. I mean, everybody’s living in this state of, like, the morning after of some crazy blackout bender and you wake up and you’re like, ‘What has happened?’ But now I feel it all, and it’s just here, you know? And I think that it’s, it’s always been there for everybody. You know, it’s just what you choose to really share with other people and what you don’t share. Right. And so, definitely making a whole MA thesis about loneliness was daunting and it was, it was very exposed. And like, to the Estonian audience, they were like, ‘what the fuck?’ Because they don’t talk about this kind of stuff in public. And I was like, ‘Well, we don’t really either, but here it is. Because this is what it is. This is what it’s about. And you’re getting it and I’m giving you the full show. Like if we’re going to do it, we’re doing it.’ So, yeah. I wouldn’t say that, uh, it wasn’t a planned thesis. It was, it’s kind of, it is what it is. But you know, it’s dark here like half the year. So once we get into winter, it’s, you know, it’s daylight gray, like 10 in the morning, and then it’s dark at 3:30. So you kind of become this mole person, which I kinda like, but it’s dark and cold. So it’s easy to kind of retreat into yourself in a way, and kind of, get to tap into all that stuff that you’re feeling and thinking about.

But I think those are the things that lead people to make these kinds of jumps, right? Because you know that there’s something in your gut that’s not right. And your gut is telling you, ‘You’ve got to do something,’ whether that’s a job change or a city change. Or, you know, get a bicycle, I don’t know, whatever. You know, people started baking, I think. Which I did that for, like, once and I got halfway through mixing the stuff and I was like, ‘I hate baking. Why am I doing this? Like shit, virus or not, I don’t need the cookies this bad.’ Like I didn’t even finish it. You know, I think you have different degrees of life choices, right. But I think being willing to tap into those emotions so, whatever that gamut is for you, and being honest with yourself. It’s like we could die tomorrow, you know? And that’s a very cliché thing to say, but it’s totally true. So like, why are you wasting your time? Make the jump. What’s the worst thing that will happen? You know, most of us, even if we don’t have the money, you have family or friends who are not going to let you starve, you know. They’re not going to let you be on the street. They’re going to help you because they want you to be happy and successful just as you would for them. So, you know, I say, go for it. Make the jump. See what happens.

[musical interlude]

Katie: Wow. I mean, for people who, I love that you not only changed professionally to do different things, but then you also moved across the world. I mean, I think that’s something that so many people dream about and I know Americans can’t go to Europe right now, and hopefully post COVID will be able to do a lot more things. But I guess, because you have that depth of knowledge about moving to Europe, for example, what kinds of advice would you give someone who-, you know, you had mentioned early in this conversation about, you know, it being a little bit easier for you to be able to go to Estonia because you were on a student visa. So would you recommend something like that? Or like, what kinds of tips that maybe you didn’t know right away would help others who might want to move to a different country and, kind of, upend their life in that dramatic way, that exciting way?

Erinn: Well, especially for Europe, you really have to look at what you-, because the residency issue is different in every country and some places it’s incredibly rigorous, and other places it’s a little more easy, but it’s different. So here, because I was coming from the States and the U.S. is a NATO partner with Estonia and actually supplies troops and things, we have a different agreement. So I didn’t have to get a student visa. I moved here and then I got a residency permit that was good for a year that I could renew every year, because I was in school doing a graduate degree, not an undergrad, because it was a master’s program. And then once you, if you graduate with a master’s program degree here, then you can apply for long-term residency. And now I can stay about the five years and then try to renew every time. But you can’t do dual citizenship with Estonia.

But you know, let’s say, if you wanted to go to Spain. Oh, it’s a nightmare. You have to do a crazy jump through hoops. Even though they’re all in the EU, they have different rules. And so, when I was looking at grad schools, I was looking at a school in Germany and Germany’s even trickier. So they don’t necessarily want you to come from the States, and so it’s a very difficult process of getting a way in. And then they want you to know German and okay, well, I don’t. But if you’re going in from like, I have a friend here from China, he has much different regulations. So it really depends on where you’re coming from and to where you’re trying to go. But, you know, you research as much as you can before you go and make sure you have some cash on you when you get here, because you’re going to need it and contact the embassy.

They were really helpful when I first got here, and they kind of helped navigate some things. Luckily I had a friend-, Karen has a friend in Chicago who’s Estonian strangely enough. And so I got to meet with him before I came and he gave me, kind of the lay of the land. So if you can find a local from where you’re trying to go, and they can tell you like, ‘Okay, this is the neighborhood. This is what you get, the banking. These are the services you need, and this is how you do it.’ Then you just take your notes and you just show up. It’s tricky, but it’s doable. That’s the thing. It sounds really scary, but it’s really not any scarier than, like moving to Nebraska. You know, like that’s a change. I don’t know. I wouldn’t know what to do in Omaha. You know? So, yeah.

Karen: So not only-, so Michael, who I connected you with before you went there, his wife is from Estonia. He is from here and they were living in [inaudible]. I met him obviously in Chicago. And then their son was at the same school as you in Estonia at the same time in a different program. And it was so random.

Erinn: He was at the [inaudible] Academy he’s in the States now. So-

Karen: Yes, he’s back. I do agree though. Just even that, that you knew someone, me, who knew someone who’s Estonian like, this idea that you were talking about and that Joel was talking about with the Juju, I feel like, the same thing that when I started Rebellious, this same notion that like, when you are on the path, the path just fills in as you go. Like, I feel like if you were walking the path that the universe wants you be on, and again, it’s so woo-woo, but it’s true. Like, shit just falls into place, and you don’t have fear because you just keep getting affirmed. Like ‘I am doing the thing I am supposed to be doing.’

Erinn: Well, you’re all in, you know what I mean? You have completely bought into yourself and your plan and what you’re doing. And so you’re on like this steep track. You’re not worried about the things on the side. I’m not worried about this job I hate anymore. I’m not worried about this. I’m just focused on this. And so it’s not so scary when, ‘Oh yeah. Okay. Oh, wait. You know, somebody from Estonia? Fantastic! I’m moving to Estonia. Let’s talk, you know? Okay, well, I need to do this.’ ‘Well, I gotta buy-, Great, you’ve got miles. I’ll take your miles.’ You know, because you’re just so zoned in on what you want to do, that you can focus on it in a different way. And so it’s the universe or the Juju, or, you know, the lucky quartz in your pocket. I don’t know. But whatever it is, it works.

Well it’s like, what are you chasing? What are you really, really chasing? What are you after? And whatever you’re after is there, you just have to be willing to go in and try to get it. Whatever that means for you. You know? So if it’s moving halfway around the world, do it. If you can do it, do it. You know, if it’s buying a brand new Subaru, fantastic. Like get two, you know? Like why, why half-ass it if you can’t choose? Like, let’s do this.

Karen: Cause one’s your office. One Subaru’s your office.

Katie: Exactly.

Erinn: Perfect, yeah.

Katie: The other one I need to drive with, but one of them needs to be parked in my driveway all the time.

Erinn: Perfect. Yeah. You’re like a walking advertising. Maybe that could be your sponsor for the audio project: Subaru.

Katie: Yes, Subaru. We’re talking to you. We would be more than happy to talk about your amazing air conditioning. I’m sitting in 100 degree

weather right now, and I am chilling. Thank you for that.

[musical interlude]

Katie: But Erinn, thank you so much for coming on this. Like this is so fun.

Erinn: Oh, thanks so much for having me.

Katie: You’re the most perfect first guest. Karen, thank you for even thinking of Erinn to come on. This has just been so much fun.

Erinn: But thanks for having me. This was super fun.

Katie: This was so much fun. Thank you, Erinn. This is amazing.

Erinn: You’re very welcome.

Katie: Yes, we will see you all next time. Thanks for tuning in.

Karen: Thank you!

4. So. Many. Feelings. [With Transcript]


Anyone else feeling all the feels right now? In today’s episode, Karen and Katie discuss how they are handling their deluge of feelings at this point in the pandemic, and chat about the benefits of therapy. Katie also admits to picking a fight with her husband over melted butter. BONUS: The pair introduces their new email address: notokpod@gmail.com. Email us with questions, comments, ideas for episodes and YOUR EXPERIENCES WITH THERAPY – thank you!

Find the episode on Anchor, Apple Podcasts, or Spotify. Stream the entire episode here or read the transcript.

Keep in touch with co-hosts Karen Hawkins and Katie Morell on Twitter and Instagram.


Karen: Welcome.

Katie: Hi, I’m Katie Morell. I’m a creative and writer based in the San Francisco Bay area.

Karen: And I’m Karen Hawkins. I am the founder of Rebellious Magazine for Women and co-editor in chief of the Chicago Reader.

Katie: You are listening to Of Course I’m Not OK: An Audio Project. Join us as we talk about mental health, coping with quarantine and what conversations we wish the world was having and isn’t.

Karen: For some of our episodes, we’ll chat with writers and creatives to get their take. Thank you for joining us on this journey.

Katie: Oh, OK, we are recording. Yay. Happy Monday. It is. No, you know what? I’m going to redo that. OK. Hi, Karen. It’s so nice to see you.

Karen: Hi, it’s wonderful to see you. Katie. Time is an illusion. Time is a closed loop. None of it matters. Who knows what day it is?

Katie: Exactly. Who knows what day it is, who knows what day is when the listener is listening or what day that we’re recording. It is, it’s a construct. It’s total illusion.

[musical interlude].

Katie: So I had a week. Would you like to hear about something that happened?

Karen: I would, yes. Desperately. I would love to.

Katie: So I’m wondering if you’ve ever been in a situation where someone close to you tells you something that they’re worried about, and you totally brush them off and you’re like, that’ll never happen. What the hell? And then you get pissed about it. So that happened to me. So I am going up to Oregon on Monday and that’s three days away, I guess in terms of time.

But anyway, I’m going to Oregon and I have been talking to my dad, and my dad who lives in Michigan has been extremely concerned about the piece of crap Honda Civic that I’m going to be using to drive up to from San Francisco, eight hours north to Oregon. And he’s like, are you sure you want to use this, this car? I mean, why don’t you, you know, get a rental car? And I was, and I’ve gotten kind of pissy. I’ve been like, No, why would I get anything else? But my beautiful scratched up piece of crap Honda civic that I absolutely love. And I’m just one of those, I have always told people, but like cars don’t matter to me because they kind of don’t, I don’t know anything about cars. And so I’ve always thought like, if you know, I need a new car, it’ll, I’ll find that out when it dies on the side of the highway. So my exact words to this harping, if you will, of my dad have been really just bitchy, this is exactly what I’ve said. I’ve said: Look, Dad, if my car breaks down on my way to Oregon, I’ll pull into the nearest Subaru dealership and I’ll get a new one. And he was like, which, who says that also? That is so like, I mean, that is just, yeah, OK. I’m I’m owning the fact that that sounds elitist and asshole-ish.

[dramatic sound effect]

Which it is. So he was like, he was like, alright, I guess, and like, to be fair,between San Francisco and the Oregon border, there’s not much other than Sacramento. So like the reality of that is not really a thing. So on Sunday that happened. Literally that happened. We, my car died. And so I was driving south, like south of San Francisco visiting some friends. And I went over a pothole and I thought the back left tire was going to fall off my car for real.

Karen: Oh, God.

Katie: Yeah. And so it was terrifying. Like it was, I mean, I pulled over, Tyler looked underneath the car, neither of us know anything about cars. He’s like, well, the tire’s not flat, so it must be fine. And so we got back into the car and it was like leaning and the whole thing, and I’m like, we’re going to die. This is just, our death is coming. And so we go to our friend’s house and then right after our friend’s house, we went to the Subaru dealership and bought a new car.

Karen: Stop it!

Katie: And drove home.

[dramatic sound effect].

Not even kidding. Who does that? Oh.

Karen: My God, I can’t laugh as hard as I want to. Ooh, because I’m wearing a headset. That is hilarious.

Katie: Who does that? That is so ridiculous. Also, like we tried to trade in this Honda Civic and I was like, Oh, definitely get at least like two grand or something. They’re like, we could give you maybe at the very most, $275.

Karen: Wait, what?!

Katie: For real.

Karen: Oh, yeah.

Katie: And then they’re like, but you can donate it for a tax write off. And I was like done. So the downside was that I actually had to drive the car back. It was like an hour away to my house for them to the tow truck to eventually pick it up. That was actually very scary. And what I learned in that stress, sweat soaked moment was like that those 65 minutes of near death was, I will never ever say that, like shitty, you know, sentence to anyone again, like who says that, like you get a new, like you fix a car or you get a new one when your car is crap. So anyway, that’s what happened to me this week. And my dad did not say, I told you so, but if he had, he wouldn’t be wrong.

[musical interlude].

So that’s what happened.

Karen: I mean, I, I’m glad you obviously, I’m glad you survived this harrowing experience. And I just want to say: witchcraft works. You put out into universe, I’ll just go to the Subaru dealership and get a new one. And then that’s what happened.

Katie: Isn’t that the weirdest thing? Like, it’s just, I mean, it’s still, I’m so glad it happened like it did. And then like, we didn’t actually get in the real car accident, but you’re right. I did, I put it out into the universe and the universe was like, just so you know, it’s going to happen way quicker than you think it is. And so I’m going to shut this shit down right now.

Karen: Wait, before you get out on the Oregon trail, and you know . . .

[musical interlude].

Katie: Exactly! So anyway, that was my week.

Karen: Congratulations on your new car.

Katie: Thank you. It’s actually really nice. You know, I don’t know anything about, like I said, I don’t know anything about cars, so it’s, it’s nice. But to me it’s the same level as getting like the fanciest Tesla or Lamborghini, because like, I mean, there’s nothing, no offense to Subarus, but like truly it has working air conditioning. That’s the same.

Karen: Right? I am totally with you. Yes. I am totally with you when you go from having like, like we’re getting new appliances in my kitchen and when you go from like, Oh, I guess the freezer door is supposed to have a handle on it to, like, Oh, the freezer has a handle on it. Like, I don’t really care what this new freezer’s like. It’s just not crappy.

Katie: Yeah. Isn’t that nice?

Karen: Or, it’s crappy in a different way. It’s a whole thing. Yeah. I’m with you.

Katie: But new appliances, that is game changing. Are you getting all new appliances or is the freezer door that or the freezer the biggest one.

Karen: So, this all started when, I think our appliances are just trying to send us a message. Like, I feel like your Honda Civic was just it, you know, things in our lives have a way of telling us goodbye, even when we’re not ready to say goodbye, and ours was the hood vent on the microwave just popped off.

Katie: Oh! It just gave up.

Karen: Just fell right on off, the whole thing at the top. And it was like, Oh, OK, great, Sam’s going to think that was my fault. I didn’t do anything to it. It just popped off. And Sam, my partner is just like, has like zero tolerance for things like really just like not working perfectly. And she said this thing about replacing the appliances and I was just like, that’s so wasteful, why would you do that? And then she starts pointing to things like, OK, how about the freezer door? How about the dishwasher? How about the like, so it’s going to be exciting, but yeah, we’ve been dealing with some crappy stuff for a really long time and I didn’t realize it.

Katie: Isn’t that amazing how, like you can be wedded to your crappy stuff? At least I can, like, I actually really felt a lot of personal affection toward my crappy Honda. Like after I ran into like, I didn’t run, I sideswiped multiple poles at Whole Foods. And like, it was, it was really, it had a nice constellation of scratches on it that were like, you know, that were just became vintage after awhile. Like, it was really something that I owned that, I really honestly did not. It did not matter to me. I mean, it worked whatever, like it was fine. I could have been riding a go-cart down the 101 and it wouldn’t have mattered. But apparently I do need to care about those things. So this is lesson.

[dramatic sound effect].

Karen: $275 worth of car really makes me sad.

Katie: I know. I had to drive it to the, the, yesterday to the, the tow truck, because it couldn’t come on my street. And when I drove it after driving my new Subaru for two and a half days, I was like, Oh, wow, like this is a Flintstones vehicle. Oh my goodness. What was I thinking? And so, you know, it’s amazing how quickly you can get used to your beautiful new thing. I’m sure you’ll feel the same way about your appliances. And you’ll forget about your microwave hood in two seconds.

Karen: That’s what I’m hoping.

Katie: Yeah. Oh, the other thing that happened this week was I got in a 12-hour fight with my husband, which was complete. It was a silence fight. It was one of those, that’s fun. When something bothers you. And it was, it was just 12 hours of silence. I really think that that was, and you know how like the energy is just not working and the actual fight is embarrassing to explain, but I’ll tell you. He was in the other room. He was, he was making a piece of toast with honey on it.

Karen: Oh my God.This is so good already.

Katie: And I was in the other room and I wanted to tell him something and he was taking too long with his fucking honey. And so I was like, what are you doing? And he got really mad and it turned out that like, we just stopped talking because like we stopped because we were so mad at each other because I wanted one thing and I didn’t understand that his butter needed to melt before he put the honey on it. This is so ridiculous for anyone who’s listened to our first, our second episode on rage. This is like, this is how people get mad about not being able to open gummy bears. Like this was, this was the level.

I mean, it was like a real fight and it was about melting butter, which I didn’t actually realize until the following day when finally we had cooled off. And I mean, to be fair, I actually think the reason that we didn’t talk for 12 hours was because we actually just needed a 12-hour break. Like, that’s it like just, we live in the same house in half for five months. And so we’re just like, you know, we don’t see any other human, why not just stay seething.

And so we just, we basically –

Karen: Mix things up!

Katie: Mix things up, it just changes the energy totally works. And so when we finally started talking and he explained that he needed an extra 45 seconds to melt his butter, I realized how much of a bitch this made me sound like. So anyway, I’m a, I’m willing to own my faults and yeah, so that’s my week. So yeah.

Karen: I mean that bitches get stuff done, right? You, you got the 12-hour break you needed and there you go.

Katie: You’re right. Thank you, Karen. I really feel a lot better. Oh, God.

Fun times, pandemic life. But I do love the topic that we were going there. We’re thinking about covering today because I feel like it’s something that all of us are dealing with, which is feelings.

Karen: Ugh. And the feeling of feelings.

Katie: Yes. And the lack of being able to avoid feeling those feelings.

Karen: Correct. Because all of the things that we use to escape from feeling our feelings are not really available to us, or not available to us in the same way. And I think last time we talked about how everybody’s, everything is heightened right now, melting, see earlier, melting butter. And I feel it it’s all just so present in our lives that you can’t, you just can’t escape, feeling your feelings right now.

Katie: Yes. I’m finding that the feelings that I’m having are totally shocking. I mean, it’s not like, yes, I’m so upset about what’s happening in the world. And if I look at Donald Trump’s face for more than like 1.5 seconds, like I have an anxiety attack and that kind of stuff, that’s just normal. But like, I feel like there’s other things that I’m realizing, like ancestral traumas that are like, you know, surfacing and just like thoughts that I’m like, Oh, that’s a issue that I haven’t thought about since therapy in 2004. Like, and it’s like, I need to just keep pushing that down. Push it down! But then, it surfaces so much faster because I have nothing going on. Like there’s no, like you said, there are no distractions.

Karen: Yes. And I feel like my interaction with this topic has been the realization that I have pockets of time, where I am not feeling my feelings and that, that is the only way to get through the day. And actually, this is the way I was explaining it to my friend: I was talking to my friends about how I lost my phone, RIP phone. I have friends who call it River Phone now, that’s fine.

Katie: Yes!

Karen: And how calm I was about losing my phone in the river and how I explained it was like, of course I was calm. I’m just in a dissociative haze most of the time now.

Katie: Yes.

Karen: And I feel like that explains that. And it explains how I can like work full time all the time now and like get all these things done. Like I, like, I have days where I realized, like I have just been checked out. That is how I’m getting through the days.

Katie: And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I mean, I just don’t think we can fully live in this like heightened state of like constantly feeling every single emotion. I mean, it’s just, it feels, and I think there are some days where I do experience every emotion and that’s hard. That’s really, really hard when those things come in and sometimes it’s just an avalanche and it’s just like, Oh, here we go. We’re going on the, you know, whitewater rafting, level five, like that’s happening. But like, I feel like I, I like the dissociative state sometimes. I mean, that’s why I’m watching so much of the British Baking Show. Like that’s like a really nice disssociative state. Like I don’t even know if I’m really dissociating like as much as I’m just like, I didn’t realize how much I care about pastry. Like I just, I mean, I have to, it’s, it’s honestly helping me. I wasn’t even a big TV person before this and it’s really helping me check out. And I think that’s, I think that’s healthy.

[musical interlude]

Karen: I absolutely think it’s healthy because the thing about feeling your feelings when so many of your feelings are bad, is that it it’s paralyzing and yes, like you said, like the whitewater rafting of it and we have therapists, and it’s tough. And I think the other piece of it for me, that’s hard is, you know, my therapist, god love her, I hope she’s listening, will ask me what I need. You know, I’ll like describe some experience or something I’m going through and she’ll just ask me what I need. And it’s really hard because so much of what I need is unavailable. Like I need a margarita in a bar. I need a cheap beer in a dive bar. Like I need to be out with my friends. And so it’s hard to like have this list of things that I feel like I need right now that are unavailable.

And so then yes, the stuffing happens, then it’s just like, well, I’m just, it’s easier to just not have needs then, that’s what let’s just go back to that. Like just, let’s rewind a couple of years of therapy and just go back to a place where we have no needs. Great.

Katie: Wasn’t that nice? Like sometimes I think about my pre-therapy self and I’m like, wow, like ignorance was bliss. You know, like it was just, I mean, and this is not to say for people listening who have never tried therapy and don’t really want to, I still think it’s worth it. I really, really do. I am a happier person truly like on the inside. That said, I don’t think I realized how many things I really needed to work on before talking.

Karen: Well, and I don’t know about you, but I was inflicting my issues on other people, so they weren’t necessarily a problem. So yeah. I mean, they were problems for me eventually, but like, yeah, I just was like just outsourcing my drama to other people, it’s awesome.

Katie: Oh, that’s such a good point. Wow. That is so true. Like, I mean, that’s the part about the therapy when you realize like, Oh, I was just spewing my codependency as one example, on all of my relationships. Wow, good to know. Awesome. But now I can work on my codependency. And so, you know, it’s better for all involved, I will say.

Karen: But, but now that you know, you have a responsibility to do something about it and that’s the shitty part, like, dammit.

Katie: Dammit, really, you have to do anything? And then you’re like, I do, shit. My life will be better and so will the lives of everyone I love. That’s great. But yeah, I do think that it’s interesting because this time is just such a strange time to, it’s like, we’re in this weird vortex of, of like, we’re, I feel like there’s so many of us who are trying to really figure out ways to make it through and like, you know, we’re, we’re on Zoom. We’re doing like, you know, like social distancing drinks with people. We’re trying to, if we want to travel, we’re doing it very, very carefully.

Like there are things I feel like people are kind of stepping out a little bit, but like going to a live music venue, like that’s the kind of stuff that I miss. And it’s, I mean, there’s many things, but it’s just, I feel like there’s, it’s a weird time for feeling those feelings. And I feel like we’re all just we’re in it together. I think that anyone, anyone who’s, anyone who’s like, even if you’re not feeling your feelings, like they’re probably still under there. And like maybe one day you kind of feel like shit. And you’re like, why does, why is that? Like, maybe it’s because, you know, there’s just a, a amalgamation of feelings kind of like erupting at once.

[dramatic sound effect]

Karen: For everyone at the same time. And I do think that there is something to that. Cause they feel like this idea that everyone is suffering in some way, everyone in your lives. And I feel like, it becomes harder than for me to like, I feel like there are people in my life, I’m the caretaker listener friend. And I feel like, I don’t, uh uh, I got nothing for you, man, right now. Like I just, yeah, you’re having problems, really? Let me tell you about my problem. You know what I mean? I feel like I just, I feel like I like there’s, there is a part of that, obviously that I like, and I just don’t have any room for it. And also I feel like, and this was another thing I realized that therapy, is that I kept getting pre therapy, in relationships with people who were outsourcing their emotions to me.

Like this bad thing happened to me, but I don’t know how to feel my feelings. So I’m going to tell you, and then you’re going to get really upset Karen. Cause that’s what you do.

Katie: Totally. Totally. And then you acting different if you’re in that scenario now I would assume that it actually changes the entire dynamic within you and that other person, because you’re not metabolizing that for them. Like you’re not taking it in.

Karen: Exactly. Yeah.

Katie: Yeah. Does that feel better?

Karen: I feel like I’m just not, I’m doing the same thing you’re doing. I’m having very curated interactions with people. So yeah.

Katie: I am too. I really am. I mean, I have, I think that’s one thing that I would say if for the people listening to, if you’re feeling all the feelings and you’re struggling with boundaries is to, to have it’s something we mentioned in our last episode, but it’s also just to like have these curated boundaried conversations. I mean, you and I talked for one hour every Friday, usually it doesn’t go over an hour. That’s great. And it’s not that I don’t want to talk to you for five hours. Of course I would. But it’s like, I have to guard my own energy, and my own feelings of, you know, like I have to have so much more buffer right now. And it’s the same thing with other people. Like I’m not even available as much over text. Like I think that’s, I think that’s kind of OK. Like I think there’s, there needs to be some conversation about that being OK. Because like we’re trying to caretake for ourselves right now and that’s super important.

[musical interlude]

Karen: It takes a lot of energy to get through just everyday. Yeah.

Katie: Yes. It really, really does. Yeah. Yeah. I think also just like to your point about therapy, I mean, yeah. I think we’ll do an entire episode on therapy at some point, but also just advertisement for therapy. Like this is just now I just want to tell everyone, like, it’s definitely the best thing that I am doing for myself right now. And I had a conversation with a friend the other day that I thought was kind of illuminating and that person was telling me, you know, yeah, I’ve tried therapy. And basically something happened in that person’s life, where it was like an emergency situation and that person needed to reach out to a therapist immediately. And so they did, and it was very, very helpful, but that person came to me later and said like, well, how often do you talk to your therapist? And I said, well, it kind of fluctuates.

Like over the past many, many years, you know, I mean, I’ve been in therapy for let’s see, 23 years now and I will be in therapy for the rest of my life, as a wellness, like practice. That’s how I think of it. And so I said, you know, right, as of right now, I talked to my therapist on zoom every other week. It’s great. Sometimes it’s every week, sometimes it’s every three weeks. It kind of depends, but it’s very consistent in terms of like, it’s not just a one off. And the person I was talking to was like, well, what do you think is the advantage of that? And I was like, you know, one of the things that I find, and I’ve had the same conversation with so many people where they’re like, OK, I’m not going to go to therapy until it gets really, really bad. Like something is seriously wrong.

And so what I said was basically that, like, it’s kind of, I sometimes when I go to therapy, I’m talking about positive things. Like I’m talking just about my normal life. And what I find is that there might be something within that conversation that comes up, that I didn’t even think of, that I’m able to then work on in that moment versus these building blocks of little things, finally getting to the top of the volcano and then erupting, it’s harder to work on those little things.

[sound effect]

Karen: No, it totally makes sense. It’s it’s preventive visits versus the ER, like why wait until you’re bleeding out when you could just like go every once in a while do kind of check-ins and like, Oh, I feel like that’s not, you know, you’re just, you’re tweaking things along the way. Yeah. I also feel like I have friends who also have that attitude about therapy. Like I’m just going to go deal with this one thing. And I, I, you know, obviously you should tailor your therapy approach and you should do what works for you. But I feel like it also makes it so that you don’t have to dig really all that deep, like I’m going to therapy to work through leaving my job, or I’m going to therapy to work through this thing. And then you stop going and meanwhile, you and I are on like dig excavation level 42, you know, you’re, you’re not going to get to generational trauma in your six to 12 weeks of dealing with your job change. You know what I’m saying?

Katie: Nope.

Karen: Like, I feel like I really, I do think of it as preventative care. And I do think I got a lot going on up here and I just need to understand how all of the things that have happened in my life impact who I am now.

[sound effect]

Katie: It gives you perspective. It gives you, it’s like a, it’s like a rear view mirror on your life. And then also it’s kind of, it’s like sitting in the driver’s seat of where you actually want to go. Like, it’s not just about the trauma. It’s not just about the negativity. It’s about like, how do you want to form your life? Like, who do you want to be in your life and how, like, what kinds of experiences do you want to have? And kind of, so it’s, it’s like, you know, taking the Swiffer and like brushing away so many things and maybe not, I guess you’re spraying it with a spray bottle and I’m really doing way too many metaphors right now. But like you’re, you’re picking up the trash is what I’m trying to say. And you’re cleaning your insides. That’s that’s, that would have been an easier, quicker way of saying that.

Karen: I liked the Swiffer. My, what does my therapist say? I feel like the way she puts it is that you have to, if you want things to grow you have to clear the soil.

[goat noise].

Katie: But yes, therapy, it’s a wonderful thing.

Karen: It really is.

Katie: Yeah. I think one of the things that people, you know, they can really buy into the idea that they want to be in therapy, but they might be so scared of how to find a therapist. And I think that might be a great, that’s a future episode of like, so listeners, if you’re interested in finding a therapist, we will be dedicating an entire episode to that because I think that’s something to explore. It can be kind of daunting. It’s kind of like dating and I know that’s maybe not the perfect metaphor, but it is actually in my opinion.

Karen: Yeah. It very much though is, yes, you should date around. Yeah. You should date multiple therapists until you find one that you click with.

Katie: That you absolutely love. Yes. So, but yes, I love talking to you about feelings.

Karen: I know.

Katie: This is, it makes it, it, it lessens the I’m the only one feeling yet, again, another feeling, but yeah.

Karen: Yeah, right. Yes, exactly. Well, right. And it makes it, like you said, our hour is just this container you can put, that’s the other thing I like about therapy. Like you have this built-in container in your life where you can freak out about what’s going on in your life. That otherwise I feel like people, I don’t know how people who don’t have that are dealing with what’s going on or deal with anything that’s going on in their lives. Like if you didn’t have this place where you could put all the shit that’s happening in your life, where would it go?

Katie: So I feel like I know that in future episodes, we’re going to talk about, how to find a therapist. And I’m really excited about those episodes. So listeners stay tuned. But in the meantime, one of the things that we’ve talked about, Karen, is how people can reach us.

Karen: We, we don’t have a website because this is not a podcast. We don’t have any of that infrastructure. We don’t have a way formally for people who don’t know us personally, to get in touch with us. But now we do.

Katie: Yes.

Karen: NotOKpod@gmail.com. I love that.

Katie: Yes. So we have this new email address friends. So please email us, feel free to email any suggestions, any comments, questions. We’re always looking for ideas for guests, for, we will have guests on this audio project slash podcast at some point. And so, yeah, we’re just so interested in talking about mental health and talking about humor and talking about just what everyone isn’t really discussing at the moment. So, please feel free, notOKpod@gmail.com. We are very excited about the launch of our new email address.

Karen: Email address, and OK. I’m going to steal an idea from the YouTube influencers, which is a comment question. So email us at notokpod@gmail.com and tell us about your experiences with therapy. Are you in therapy? How do you feel about it? Did you try? Did you not like it? Are you afraid of it? Do you think it’s crap? Like what, what do you, what are your feels about therapy? NotOKpod@gmail.com we want to hear from you.

Katie: Yes, we do. And we will see you next time. Thanks for listening.

Karen: Thank you.

Katie: Alright, bye bye.

3. Coping With Uncertainty During Quarantine [With Transcript]


Are you thinking of making a major life change right now? In today’s episode, Karen & Katie discuss making massive life shifts during this time of uncertainty, Katie uses a chicken metaphor to describe her partner, Karen looses her phone in the Chicago River & the pair discuss grief in crude, yet plain, terms. 


Karen: Welcome.

Katie: Hi, I’m Katie Morell. I’m a creative and writer based in the San Francisco Bay area.

Karen: And I’m Karen Hawkins. I am the founder of Rebellious Magazine for Women and co-editor in chief of the Chicago Reader.

Katie: You are listening to Of Course I’m Not OK: An audio Project. Join us as we talk about mental health, coping with quarantine and what conversations we wish the world was having and isn’t.

Karen: For some of our episodes, we’ll chat with writers and creatives to get their take. Thank you for joining us on this journey.

Katie: Hi Karen.

Karen: Hi Katie. How are you?

Katie: I am not OK. How are you?

Karen: I’m not OK either.

Katie: I mean, I actually am kind of OK, because I’m talking to you, but otherwise, you know, state of the world, not OK.

Karen: Not OK. Of Course I’m Not OK.

Katie: But yes, I’m very happy to be recording yet another episode of our wonderful non-podcast podcast.

Karen: Exactly. Our audio project.

Katie: Our audio project.

Karen: Which Spotify is calling a podcast, but we all know the truth.

Katie: Yes. We know the truth and we will eventually graduate to podcast level. And we will tell all of you listeners when that happens. We will make a big ol’ splash, a podcast splash.

Karen: Oh no, don’t say the word splash.

Karen: RIP, by the way, everyone, my cell phone, which I, this week, dropped in the Chicago River. That happened.

Katie: That happened. Can you take us through that experience a little bit, Karen? Because I would just love to know how this happened.

Karen: OK. Real quick, shoutout to Chicago Electric Boat Company or whatever they’re called that lets yahoos, random yahoos, rent drivable boats on the river. I went with a few coworkers and they have big enough boats, it’s like a big donut, and you can social distance on the donut. We were so excited. We got this coupon cause we went on a Tuesday night. As we were getting on the boat, I dropped my phone into the river.

And so, as I was telling you earlier, everyone was marveling about how calm I was, but I just thought, of course my cell phone has fallen into the river and sunk like a stone, by the way, like the person, shoutout Keegan, thank you so much for trying to help me get my phone. But I mean, it was just like: surface, gone. And thank God for T-Mobile cell phone insurance. I have a replacement phone, but that was my week. I’ve been out of my house five times in five months. And of course during one of them, I dropped my phone in the river.

Katie: Oh, I’m sorry.

Karen: In the river. What?

Katie: Yeah. It’s not really like, you’re going to jump in. I’ve done some kayaking in the Chicago River and it’s not, you know, crystal clear blue. So it’s OK, I mean, it’s a very beautiful place, but not exactly swimming excitement worthy.

Karen: I am, you know what? I loved my cell phone, but it did not occur to me for even a split second to like try to retrieve it. It was just gone.

Katie: Oh no. One second, it’s just gone.

Karen: It was a beautiful trip, though. We left from Belmont and Rockwell, for those of you in Chicago, and went south to North Avenue, there was like one other boat out there and it was so fun and beautiful and serene. And the river may require a sacrifice of you, is all I’m saying. Like you just may end up having to sacrifice some of your technology in order for the beauty to happen for you.

Katie: There you go. And also it’s kind of like you had a disconnected experience, so maybe you were able to enjoy the birds chirping and the lapping of water more. I don’t know. Maybe I’m being a little bit too Pollyanna about this. Cause I’d be pretty pissed if I lost my phone, I’ll be honest.

Karen: I did have to take things in more. And I will, I have to say, my very tech-savvy coworkers had a Bluetooth speaker with us and, we were playing a playlist and then we all started adding to it phone-related songs, as an ode to my phone. And I got to say, Lizzo’s “Where the hell my phone?” really just lands for me totally differently now.

Katie: Oh, hell yes.

Katie: But I’m really excited about today’s topic, Karen. I think it’s amazing. Do you want to explain?

Karen: OK. So let’s see if I can explain. So I feel like you and I are both, you especially, so I’m going to let you go first, are like at kind of a crossroads in different parts of our lives, and are trying to decide if now is the right time, as we’re recording the last day in July, is, does it make sense to make big decisions now? Like does it make sense to change course at all from what we’re doing right now?

Katie: Yes. That’s the topic.

Karen: Uncertainty. Coping with uncertainty in quarantine.

Katie: Yes. So I will pick that right up because for those listeners that don’t know, so I live in the San Francisco Bay area and I have on and off for 16 years and I love it here. It’s my home. I’m from Michigan originally, but I moved here when I was 22 and it’s just, I’ve grown up here. I have a huge community here and it’s really home for me. There’s always been this nagging issue though, which is the affordability of homes here that is just, for my income bracket and the income bracket of my partner and I, we will never be able to afford a home here, like maybe in our 60s, fingers crossed, but like, it’s just, it’s just not a thing. So, and that’s OK. Like it’s just kind of like a reality that I don’t even think about it, to be honest.

But what has been really interesting in the past three weeks, actually, this is so new, is that my husband’s work has always been, tied to a physical office. Whereas my work as a freelance journalist has always been remote and there are so many jobs in the Bay. Like the Bay area is just a hotbed for people who are in his line of work. And so we’ve really just always resigned ourselves to this idea that we’ll be lifelong renters. And we’ve actually surrounded ourselves with people who are lifelong renters, who are in, you know, who are even at ages in their 70s who are still renting. It’s just a thing like, this, it’s not even that weird to rent forever here.

So with COVID, everything has changed. And I will say that like, it’s been really interesting because yes, obviously everyone’s been remote since March when all of this started, but it’s been only in the past month that my partner’s work has started to talk about running out leases of their physical spaces. And simultaneously, interestingly, publications such as the Wall Street Journal have been talking about like the number of commercial, you know, office spaces that are going to be vacant. And the next year, I mean, it’s it’s like, it’s going to be like a wave of just craziness in that respect.

But anyway, so we kind of started talking about it and then, and then it turned out that it was only like a little conversation, and then that conversation became big and his company decided, Oh, guess what? We are going to go permanently remote. It doesn’t matter when COVID ends. Like this is it, like that’s, we’re done. And so, I, you know, I think that I, like, I kind of, it takes me a little bit to kind of metabolize information. Like, it takes me like a few months and I, I’m not a huge proponent of change. Let’s just be honest. Like I, I don’t love change that much. And so I love my house where I live and I don’t really think about, you know, I mean, I get excited about certain things, but massive life changes are what my partner loves.

And so he moved every three years of his life as a child and I never moved, never ever once. And so this is, you know, I’ve only moved twice in my life and they’re both in my adult life. And so, so he, we were going for a walk the other day and he was like, Oh, hey, so what do you think about moving to Oregon? Like, no, just, just, no, disclaimer, just drop that bomb. Like it’s on.

Karen: Boom.

Katie: I mean, it was just boom. Exactly. It was as if he was this chicken, he had all this ammunition in his mind. He continued talking for like, not ammunition, that’s not the right word, but like this content that he had curated and gotten really excited about in his brain without telling me. And so basically I felt that I was like walking into a chicken coop and he was like a hen that had been gestating this egg for like weeks.

And then he just shit it out. And then he was like, by the way, Oregon. And I was like, what?

[dramatic sound effect].

Karen: It’s very vivid.

Katie: It is quite vivid. Also hens, are hens only female? I don’t know.

Karen: Aren’t male chickens roosters?

Katie: Roosters. OK. Let’s go with rooster, better. So he was a rooster.

Karen: But they don’t have eggs . . .

Katie: OK. So anyway, this metaphor completely failed. But you get the idea.

Karen: It’s so good, it’s so good.

Katie: So, so yeah, so he starts talking about Oregon, and I mean, to be fair, we actually have talked about moving to Oregon in past years and it just didn’t really work out. So long story short, fast forward three weeks. And we’re actually thinking legit moving and like, we’re seriously thinking about it. And we’re thinking about the city of Bend, which is like in central Oregon, it’s about three and a half hours south, southeast of Portland. And it’s in the mountains and it has a much slower pace of life as, as far as we know.

But, I mean, do we make these big decisions in the middle of quarantine? I mean, that’s the real question. Like part of me thinks that I’ll wake up in September 2021 in a house in Bend that I own and be like, what the fuck just happened? Like that’s what I’m, I’m thinking like that we’ll all be vaccinated. And then I’ll be like, Oh, I don’t even live in the same state anymore. Like how weird is that?

Karen: Oh right, exactly. That this all feels like this weird fever dream we’re all waiting to wake up from and then you wake up, right, and you’re like, Oh, where am I even? Yeah. Like, do we trust quarantine versions of ourselves to make decisions for future versions of ourselves?

Katie: Oh, hell, yeah. That’s the question of the year, honestly.

Karen: Right? Like, do I trust Quarantine Karen to do anything right now? No. Quarantine Karen dropped her fucking phone in the river. I don’t know if I trust her. Yeah. I mean, you wake up in 2021 and be like, Oh, thank you, Quarantine Katie for bringing us to this beautiful place. Like, I don’t know.

Katie: I don’t know either. And it’s really weird because like I have this really beautiful community here in the Bay area and I’m not able, obviously, to see these people very often. And so in a way it’s actually easier to think about like, Oh, well, I’m not that sad to leave the Bay. Like it’s only an eight-hour drive to Bend. Like even though that actually is a really long drive, but like, I mean, it’s kind of, you know, I think like, Oh no big deal. But the truth is if I was like having dinner parties and going out for drinks with people all the time, would I feel the same? I don’t know.

Karen: Yeah. I mean, it’s kind of you. Yeah. That’s such an interesting way to look at it because yeah, we, you don’t have to do this long goodbye. Like it’s really painful. Change is really painful, anticipation of the change, I feel like, is what’s rough for me. And I hate saying goodbye to people, but you kind of like have already had that. Like you don’t have to do it necessarily the same way.

Katie: Yeah. What about you? Are there big like existential life questions that you’re pondering right now, Karen? Or are you like, Oh no, I’m not going to ponder that until 2026.

Karen: My God. I’ll be so old. You know, I mean, one of the reasons I thought of this topic for both of us is that, you know, I live in downtown Chicago, not my favorite. I feel very fortunate to be here. Anybody listening who’s like, Oh, world’s smallest, violin, you live downtown. But you know, I like trees. I like neighborhoods. I grew up here and I’ve been wanting to move. And I feel like I was finally in a place where like my partner and I, Samantha, that we’re talking like more seriously about moving out of downtown. And now it’s just like, OK, well for us, at least that would mean additional expense. I know that sounds crazy. But it would be additional expense, like is now the time that you make a change, that costs more money, for instance?

Like I just don’t, I don’t like being in holding patterns. I don’t like feeling stuck. Like I feel like Sam and I are the opposite of you guys, because I’m the one who’s like almost constantly changing something about my life. And Sam’s the one who’s just like, Nope, I’m not changin’ shit. So yeah. I feel like I just feel a little, I definitely feel very restless and, and I’m also questioning like, does it make sense to change anything?

Katie: Totally. It’s so confusing also, because I think there’s this feeling of control that all of us feel like we don’t have right now. And that’s one part of the idea of change that is attractive to me because it’s like, OK, I can’t control a lot of things in life right now. I’m really scared about, you know, virus contraction. I’m scared about what’s happening with the election. I’m scared about like, God what’s, I mean, whatever’s in the news at the moment, but it’s like, Oh, what if I could control this one pocket of life where it’s like, what am I doing with my life? I could control that. Would that satiate this idea that we have no control?

Karen: I don’t know. I don’t know. It’s such an interesting, like yeah, your, your home surroundings are one thing that you can definitely control right now.

Katie: Exactly. But then there’s a lot, there’s a lot of questions around like, I mean, if you think about buying a home, if you and Sam wanted to buy, you know, outside of downtown Chicago, like, and I think about the same thing with Oregon. I mean, are we gonna, is it better to buy in six months, what’s going to happen to the economy? You know, all of these things, it’s like so many questions.

Karen: I, you know, I don’t know a lot of people making, actually I know a lot of people around Chicago who have moved into different neighborhoods. I have a couple, I have one friend, oh no, I have two friends who have bought new places during this time. I know a lot of people in big cities who have fled, like, for the hills. Like my friend who lives in Manhattan is in North Carolina, another friend, her roommate moved to South Carolina. Like I feel like people decided they were going to quote unquote, I’m making air quotes, ride out the quarantine with their parents or somewhere where they could get a lot of space or somewhere where there was fresh air. And I feel like I envy those people who kind of anticipated that this was not going to be like a two-month thing.

Katie: Oh my gosh, I was definitely not that person. Like that’s, no, I was like, Oh, this, I have, I looked at my journal the other day, and I was like, Oh, it’s day 17. That’s, It’s so crazy that California is going to be under lockdown for two more weeks. I’m like two more weeks? Like try two years! It’s like, I, yeah. I don’t think I could have handled that if someone had told me that at the time though, I had a hard time digesting what the enormity of the situation.

Karen: I, I have the same problem. And I’m trying to remember when, from when I turned that corner of realizing like, yeah, like the, so I work for the Chicago Reader and we did this series called the Stay at Home Chronicles, and we numbered the days.

Katie: Ooh.

Karen: Up until like maybe day 95. And then we were supposed to be moving into this next phase. Right. So we stopped doing it, but I, I, maybe it was May for me when I realized like, Oh no, we’re done. Maybe it was, I feel like as the Chicagoan, and it was probably the realization that we weren’t going to have summer, like, you tolerate the weather in Chicago, the other nine months for this, for the amazingness of the Chicago summer. And I think it was that realization like, Oh yeah, no, we’re not, all of those things we all look forward to? We’re just not doing that this year. I think maybe that was it for me. Like, oh shit.

Katie: You know, it’s interesting. The other day I was listening to, or I was reading the Wall Street Journal and there was an article that was an excerpt from a book by this author named Bruce Feiler. And he wrote this book, and the book is called Life is in the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age. And it’s interesting because it kind of relates to our conversation where he talks about how in generations it’s been like, throughout generations change has always been a constant of course, but it’s been very different if you compare, let’s say the Great Generation to what you, and I think identify with is Gen X. And so, I mean, I’m definitely on the border of Gen X / Millennial, but I definitely think that, I’m, as you know, in my heart, I’m more Gen X than anything. No offense to Millennials listening, but, um, but yeah, I just, I feel like I moved that direction.

But I was reading this and it was interesting because it talked about how, you know, enormous change in people’s lives up until like the 70s really, maybe 80s were just, it was all based on prescribed things like, Oh, you’re going to move jobs or maybe you’ll move, you know, houses once or twice in your life or you’ll have a child or you’ll get married or whatever.

And there were only a few like specifically with the older generations, like the Baby Boomers and the Great Generation. They didn’t actually change jobs very often. So those changes didn’t happen very often, but now it’s so common to change jobs, you know, every 18 months that it’s like, these changes are happening constantly. But one thing, one important distinction was he was talking, he also mentioned something called the, he calls life quakes, like earthquakes, but life quakes. And he said that there are maybe five of those in your life. And they’re enormous. I mean, it’s pretty self explanatory what they are, but they’re huge disruptors. And like, they are like a divorce or a death of a loved one that’s was really close to you. And usually what happens is there’s a lot of support around like, you know, if you have, if there is a death, then there’s going to be a funeral.

If there is a divorce, like hopefully you can get into, you know, a situation with your friends that you feel supported. But it’s very, very rare, like to not have, other people who are not going through that. So like, I guess it’s a double negative for basically what’s now happening with COVID is it all of us are going through a life quake at the exact same time, which actually has never truly happened. I guess you could say maybe World War II, but like, you know, there’s an example of like all New Yorkers going through a life quake with 911. And like, that makes sense. But like, I think it’s just so interesting because whatever the world is going to look like, but also what our own decision making is going to look like on the other side of this feels like it’s just so hard to grasp or know what that’s going to look like, because we’re all going through this thing simultaneously.

Karen: Exactly. That no one has, again, that no one has any control over. And that is impacting every element of all of our lives. It’s like, I can’t think of any part of my life that is not impacted by this. In some way.

Katie: No nothing. And it’s like, like every part. Yeah, for sure. And I think one of the things was he had, he was on the Today Show and he gave like, I, I recommend if listeners are interested in hearing more about him, Bruce feller, it’s F E I L E R, but he talks about how like some of the things that help people get through these transitional periods, you know, one of them is a support network, like just talking to people and like, you know, I mean, it’s interesting to even talk to you Karen, about like this potential move to Bend is so helpful to me. Cause it’s like, Oh, I’m not just like pinging around like a, you know, like a arcade game inside of my brain. Like I’m actually able to just talk with someone like it’s so helpful.

And then the other thing is to like have rituals around change. So like, you know, there’s like a lot of people, if they’re, if you know, that actually is helpful to your brain chemistry, like if you have a ritual around a major change, it makes it easier to then move to the next stage of your life. Like some people they’ll, you know, embrace rituals, like getting a tattoo of something like sometimes like it’s like that, that permanent. And then other people have like a, you know, some sort of ritual with friends that’s more, you know, more symbolic, I guess, for ceremonial. But, um, I thought that was interesting. I’m like, what kind of ritual do I need right now? Like for all of this change that I’m potentially ushering in. I don’t know. Maybe I should burn some sage on the top of Mount Tamalpais or something, which is near my house. I don’t know.

Karen: And palo santo, sage and palo santo.

Katie: There you go. Palo santo.

Karen: It makes me think of like big changes in my life. Even ones I was really excited about, I didn’t figure out until way too far into therapy, my years of therapy, how important it is to grieve the past or to grieve just the changing. Like you are, something is ending, something is closing something, you know, even if no one died, you are moving on to this next thing. And it’s important to grieve that last thing, even if you kind of hated the last thing, like even leaving a job that’s really shitty. There are parts of it that were good, or you grieved the possibilities that didn’t happen or the people you’re leaving. Like, I feel I didn’t figure that out until later how important that is to like leave space for that, even if it is this very exciting thing, that it’s like, yeah, there is a loss there, the loss of this, of who you were before, what your life was like before, any of it.

Katie: Yes, totally like the honoring of that loss. And like, and just, I feel like for me, in my experience with grief, it’s like just allowing some open space for that because grief is a squiggly little motherfucker. Like I like, it’s like, at least in my experience, it’s like, it comes up in the weirdest ways and it’s, you can’t like prescribe it to like, you know, tell it like, it’s like, OK, grief let’s deal with each other now. Like it kind of like to give it some room is what I’m saying.

Karen: I can’t wait till we start selling our tote bags that say, “Grief is a Squiggly Little Motherfucker.”

Katie: They will be $29.99 on our future website. So, get excited.

Karen: Yep. Nope. Tote bags, coffee mugs. T-shirts, my nightgowns.

Katie: Oh yes. Your nightgowns that will be very Zoom-worthy.

Karen: Yes, exactly. Yeah. No. And I feel like I, you can always tell people in your life who have never had a major loss or never really, done a deep dive of grief, who are just like, who think it’s just this like thing that you like, Oh, you dropped your ice cream and you’re going to cry about it and move on. Like, no, no, the ice cream is going to haunt you for the rest of your life, like, yeah.

Katie: Yeah, exactly. I highly recommend therapy for anyone who’s going through grief. I know that’s helped me tremendously.

Karen: This website, this imaginary website we have, we will share resources. Cause I feel like resources about how to find a therapist because I think that’s what stops a lot of people.That they don’t know how to do it. I mean, there are a million reasons that people don’t go to therapy, but I think one of them is like, unless it’s like court-mandated, how do you even find a therapist? How do you know you have a good one? If you have a bad experience with one, with one, do you then just decide therapy’s not for you? Like, no, you just had a shitty experience with somebody, you should move on and keep trying.

Katie: Yes. Yes. Yes. I do think that that should be on our website, I completely agree with you. I also think that potentially doing an entire episode about therapy would be amazing. Cause I just, I know both of us really embrace that part of our lives and yeah. I mean, I think to wrap up on this whole idea of like how to navigate uncertainty like that, we are kind of dealing with right now with COVID I would say therapy is A Number One. Like that’s, you know, like, I mean, I’m, I’m on Zoom with my therapist, you know, a few times a month and it helps so much. And then also to talk to friends about, you know, just like the whole soup that we’re in right now.

Karen: Absolutely. Yeah, no, I have weekly Zoom therapy and I do feel like that like touchpoint, like that is a stable thing in my life. Like, just like this now checkin with you is just like this like thing, like no matter what else happens, like I know that we have these spaces to like do what we’re doing.

Katie: Yeah. Yeah. That’s a really good point actually. Cause it’s like, if people who are listening have, like, I think that structure for me has helped so much. Like you and I talk every Friday and it’s like without fail, like I’ll be going to, you know, to Oregon in a few weeks. And I’ll, I mean, I’m gonna make sure I have a good internet connection cause it’s just happening. And so, but actually that structure is really helpful mentally, I think. And so like to identify maybe if people, you know, are willing to try to identify a few trusted people in your life to, or even one person to say like, Hey, can we just talk for an hour every Tuesday at 6 PM or whatever time fits into your schedule? Um, I find that that’s just so incredibly helpful.

Karen: Yeah. I totally agree.

Katie: Yeah. Well this has been really, really fun, Karen.

Karen: Thank you.

Katie: Yes, I do feel like this is, this is also a form of therapy for me.

Karen: It is for me, for sure, 100 percent.

Katie: Also RIP your phone.

Karen: Thank you.

Katie: Yeah, I’ll have a moment of silence after this podcast-not-a-podcast.

Karen: Not a podcast.

Katie: But thank you all for listening.

Karen: Thank you.

Katie: See you next time.