We explore the episode takeaways that have helped us and our listeners make lasting changes in our lives.
We just celebrated a big milestone: 50 episodes of Semi-Together! In our 51st episode, we take a look back on the concepts, tips, and takeaways that have changed us the most and gotten the most listener response from our first 50 episodes.
“We like to say that we, “Chuck it in the F**k-it Bucket” when we are fully committed to not committing to something anymore. People that zap energy, trying to check everything off ‘the list’ in any set period of time, guilt about having more than one dessert…nightly. Just a few things I’ve chucked this past year! Making lots more space for the people and things that fill life with real joy.”
Yes! We love this. Keep your F**k It Lists coming. They’re the best.
Top 10 Takeaways
1. Concept: Get It Together/ Got It Together (a segment in nearly every episode)
Get It Together/ Got It Together is a segment that we include in almost every episode. It’s a concept that we’ve heard from listeners really resonates with them, and it’s evolved for us over time. In our first two episodes, one of us would talk about a Get It Together and the other would talk about a Got It Together.
But a listener wrote in to say that she’d like to hear a Get It Together and a Got It Together from each of us, and we thought that was a great way to show that all of us are really Semi-Together. We updated it in Episode 3, and we’ve kept it that way ever since.
The language we used has also changed. In the beginning, we described Get It Together as “something that needs work” and Got It Together as “something that’s going well.” But in the spirit of letting go of words of obligation, like “should” and “need to” (more on that in a minute), we reframed it as “something that we’d like to work on and something that’s going well for us right now.”
2. Minisode: Practice the Pause
We often react automatically to the events in our lives, without thinking. A coworker makes a comment that irritates us. We read a news story, and our anxiety spirals. Someone cuts us off in traffic, and we rage. But when we get ourselves into the habit of pausing and putting a bit of space between what happens and how we react to it, we can interrupt this knee-jerk response. We can tap into our wiser selves and choose how we respond.
Melia saw this quote on Instagram that sums it up well: “Practice the pause. When in doubt, pause. When angry, pause. When tired, pause. When stressed, pause.” The last line varies: “And when you pause, pray.” or “And when you pause, breathe.” Use the one that resonates with you.
3. Episode 13: Stop Shoulding
“Should” is a word rooted in expectation, obligation, and criticism – and we’ve both been consciously working on eliminating it from our vocabulary. Replacing “I should” – and its lookalikes: “I need to,” “have to,” or “supposed to” – with words of possibility, intention and accountability, like “I could,” “I want to” or “I’m going to” is liberating and has significantly boosted our happiness.
Three steps to help you stop shoulding are:
- Start noticing the shoulds (without judgment)
- Question the should
- Rewrite the should
4. Episode 10: Making Your Dreams Real, with Kristen Ley
In our interview with Kristen Ley, the artist and creative entrepreneur behind the company Thimblepress, she said something that many of our listeners told us resonated with them: “You don’t have to be the best to do what you love.”
This is a simple but profound truth, whether the thing you love is making art, playing a sport, dancing, singing, woodworking, whatever. One of our listeners told us she was almost in tears when she heard Kristen’s words. She said, “Boom. I’ve kept myself from doing so many things from the fears you described. Thanks for sharing so openly!!”
5. Episode 40: Good for Her, Not for Me
“Good for her, not for me” is a quote from Amy Poehler’s book, Yes Please, that has helped us both be less judgmental of others when their choices are different from ours.
Caveat: “Good for her, not for me” applies to opinions and decisions that don’t hurt the health, safety, or human rights of others. It does not apply to choices that are clearly harmful to people and society.
We heard from listeners – both women and men – who said this is helping them feel less judged and judgmental.
6. Episode 3: Have I Evolved?
“The spiral curriculum” is a concept that has changed our perspective on the questions: Have I evolved? Have I learned anything, or am I stuck in the same place I was years ago?
Psychologist Jerome Bruner believed that no matter what their age, children can understand difficult ideas, in a simplified way at first, then with more complexity as they get older. Imagine a spiral starting from the ground and circling upward.
You can apply this to the problems you keep encountering. You might feel like you haven’t made any progress, but this time is actually different because you have previous experience to draw from. You’ve moved higher up on the learning spiral – even if only a little – since the last time.
7. Episode 11: Paid Work vs. Real Work
This topic came up years ago when we were recording the beta season of Semi-Together (which we discuss in our first episode).
Gill was talking about having a hard time making time for a creative project because, “There’s always real work to be done.” And Melia pointed out that she said “real work” and not “paid work” – a distinction that has stuck ever since.
Paid work is obviously what you make income doing. But real work can be harder to define. The definition we’ve embraced is that real work is what you consider important, meaningful and core to your identity – heart work, the kind you lose yourself in and would do even if you won the lottery. Your real work may not ever make you money, and it doesn’t have to, unless you want it to.
8. Episode 46: All Vibes Welcome for the Holidays
There’s a weird norm in real life and on social media to appear happy and pulled together at all times – and you’ve probably seen wine glasses printed with “Good vibes only.” It’s baffling because as humans, we experience a whole range of emotions, and treating the uncomfortable ones as “bad” or “wrong” can make you feel that much worse when you feel bad about feeling bad (see Episode 39: Dodging the Second Arrow).
During the holidays, we feel extra pressure to be festive and joyful at all times. But the holidays can be tough or emotional for a lot of reasons. And holidays and other milestones (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.) during COVID have been especially challenging because we can’t celebrate them the way we want to. And if you have young kids, you know that they don’t respect your idea of a relaxing and carefree holiday (or vacation, weekend, etc.).
We’ve come to embrace an “All Vibes Welcome” mindset. We know that we can’t be happy and positive at all times – and trying to force ourselves to be can actually make us miserable. Instead of dodging or denying uncomfortable emotions like sadness, fear, or anger, aim to acknowledge and accept them as real and valid.
9. Episode 44: Pressing the Reset Button (Completing the stress cycle)
The book Burnout: The Secret to Solving the Stress Cycle, sisters Amelia and Emily Nagoski, was life-changing for both of us. What we found most helpful is the differentiation between stress and stressors. A stressor is a thing that is causing you stress – like the pandemic, a stressful job, or losing a loved one, etc. And a lot of stressors are out of your control. But you don’t have to wait for the stressors to go away before you can feel better. You deal with the stress caused by the stressors by completing the stress response cycle. This soothes your body and tells it that it’s safe.
The Nagoskis outline seven Ways to Complete the Stress Cycle:
- Physical activity – any movement of the body (walking, running, dancing, yoga, etc.)
- Breathing – deep, slow breaths that down regulate the stress response
- Positive social interaction – casual moments of connection, even pleasant chit chat with a stranger
- Laughter – big belly laughs, not polite chuckles
- Affection – connection with someone you like, respect, and trust
- Crying – having a big ol’ cry, which may not change the situation that’s stressing you out, but it relieves you of the stress and completes the cycle
- Creative expression – creative activities like art, music, storytelling, theater that give us somewhere to explore our big feelings
10. Episode 50: The F**k It List
This one seemed to strike a chord with listeners; right now most of us are feeling worn out as we come up on the year anniversary of COVID. Just not caring as much about shit that doesn’t matter to us is incredibly liberating – and we literally do not have the bandwidth for it when we’re in survival mode.
We describe it as the anti-Bucket List – instead of “Things to do before you die,” it’s “Things to stop doing so you can fully live.” It’s a list of things that do not bring you closer to the life you want or the person you want to be.
The F**k It List can include big or small things that you may have done out of obligation, or optics, or in service of goals you used to have, but you are consciously letting go of. Remember that you get to decide!
Get It Together / Got It Together
We each share something that we’d like to work on and something that’s going well for us right now.
Melia Get It Together: PASS
Melia’s Got It Together: Getting the kids out the door by 7:10 am the first day back
Gill’s Get It Together: Having a hard time managing time and work
Gill’s Got It Together: Establishing new traditions and things to look forward to
Get In Touch
Did any of these concepts or takeaways especially resonate with you? Have you incorporated any into your life? Email us at podcast[at]semitogether.com or send us a voice memo.
If you haven’t already, take a moment to subscribe to Semi-Together or leave us a rating or review. You can also support the podcast through Patreon at patreon.com/semitogether.
- Minisode: Practice the Pause
- Episode 13: Stop Shoulding
- Episode 10: Making Your Dreams Real, with Kristen Ley
- Episode 40: Good for Her, Not for Me
- Episode 3: Have I Evolved?
- Episode 11: Paid Work vs. Real Work
- Episode 46: All Vibes Welcome for the Holidays
- Episode 44: Pressing the Reset Button
- Episode 50: The F**k It List
- Episode 36: Embracing Emotions at Work, with Liz Fosslien
- Episode 39: Dodging the Second Arrow
- McSweeney’s: I’m a short afternoon walk and you’re putting way too much pressure on me by Emily Delaney