Everything Happens with Kate Bowler

Everything Happens with Kate Bowler

Are you living your best life now? Not always? This is a podcast for you. Duke Professor Kate Bowler is an expert in the stories we tell about success and failure, suffering and happiness. She had Stage IV cancer. Then she didn’t. And since then, all she wants to do is talk to funny and wise people about how to live with the knowledge that, well, everything happens. Find her online at @katecbowler. Sales and Distribution by Lemonada Media https://lemonadamedia.com/


July 16, 2024 49 mins

What do you learn standing so close to the edge with so many people? Listen for wisdom on mortality and hope—like how the habits of love are hard to break and what makes a ‘good funeral’ directly from a thoughtful and funny funeral director himself.

In this episode, Kate and Thomas discuss: 

  • How the habits of love are hard to break, no matter how old the person died who you grieve
  • How those we grieve know our hearts and our lo...
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Our most precious relationships are often our most complicated, aren’t they? Poet and bestselling author Kwame Alexander wrote an honest book of poems and essays that name the difficult and beautiful and heart-wrenching conversations we have (or should be having) with the people we love and with the ones who love us. 

In this conversation, Kwame and Kate discuss: 

  • How we can’t outrun our grief
  • How our own parents love us in th...
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There is a strange tension when we want so badly for the people we love to support us, but want to shield them from the pain at the same time. This is a beautiful, terrible kind of love. 

In this conversation, Kate and bestselling writer Suleika Jaouad discuss:

  • What it is like to be the one suffering—all the guilt and shame and rage and mercy and grace 
  • How we can create better economies of love around those who need it
  • The to...
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June 18, 2024 49 mins

Are some people more empathetic than others? By studying those on the opposite end of the compassion spectrum–those with psychopathy–researcher Dr. Abigail Marsh discovered something surprising. 

In this conversation, Kate and Abigail discuss: 

  • The usefulness of fear
  • What it means to be “brave”
  • How we can all learn to belong to one another
  • The power of empathy (and why it actually feels good to give to others)

This conve...

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June 4, 2024 34 mins

What if your life hasn’t turned out like you thought it would? When writer Heather Lanier’s daughter, Fiona, was born with a rare genetic syndrome, she learned that the world will not always see her beloved as good. In this conversation, Kate and Heather discuss how it’s okay that we are not summed up on bell curves. Perhaps the bodies in which we dwell are whole enough.

In this conversation, Kate and Heather discuss:

  • When our...
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Pain is like a geography—one that isn’t foreign to palliative care physician, Dr. Sunita Puri. Kate and Sunita speak about needing new language for walking the borderlands and how we all might learn to live—and die—with a bit more courage.

In this conversation, Kate and Sunita discuss: 

  • How to walk with one another through life’s ups and downs—especially health ups and downs
  • What “palliative care” means (and how it is distinct...
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When a group of young moms died around the same time, clinicians Dr. Justin Yopp and Dr. Don Rosenstein wanted to refer their widowed spouses to a grief support group… but none existed. So they started their own

In this conversation, Kate, Justin, and Don discuss:

  • The grief of imagined futures 
  • The particular needs of parents with cancer and those of widowed parents
  • How to talk to kids about cancer 
  • How to parent while you h...
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How do we navigate life within these beautiful, terrible days? In this special live episode of the Everything Happens podcast, Kate sits down with American broadcast journalist Judy Woodruff at the historic Sixth & I Synagogue in Washington, DC to discuss Kate’s latest book, Have a Beautiful, Terrible Day! Together, they explore what it means to live through the best of days, the worst of days, and all the in-betweens.


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We become the sum of so many people throughout our lives. Kate speaks with one of the funniest people on the entire planet, comedian Samantha Bee, about the people who made her, her. What virtues did they create? What absurdity ensued? How does she think about how she impacts her own kids? 

In this conversation, Kate and Samantha discuss:

  • Samantha's hand of God moment that changed the trajectory of her life
  • How the people who ...
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Here on the Everything Happens Podcast we don’t shy away from difficult subjects, and today’s episode tackles a topic we’ve been wanting to discuss for awhile—suicide among teens and young adults. My guest today, Dr. Pamela Morris-Perez is someone who approaches this subject with the heart of a grieving mom and the mind of a professor and practitioner who wants to make change possible and wants to teach us how we can help. This is ...

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April 9, 2024 39 mins

Chantal Kreviazuk is a Canadian singer, songwriter, composer, and pianist—her voice is the soundtrack of all Kate’s Canadian’s teenage angst. She has had an incredible career with a passion for helping others. Among many things, she’s a powerful advocate for destigmatizing mental illness—a cause near and dear to her heart after her brother struggled to get adequate care for nearly 20 years. She’s said, “When a family member is sick...

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Sometimes we can fix our lives and sometimes can’t. So when self-help and self-care fall short, what do we need to turn instead? Rainn Wilson (Dwight Schrute of NBC’s The Office) says that what we need is a spiritual revolution. This conversation is rich and challenging and invites us all to think about the virtues we need to sustain a life and how we might cultivate these virtues not just for our own wellbeing but for that of the ...

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March 26, 2024 45 mins

Our lives are rarely predictable or at all in our control. Sometimes what happens to us or around us can reshape our entire trajectory. Nicky Gumbel is someone whose life was dramatically changed. He thought he was going to be a very fancy lawyer… just like everyone else in his family, but that’s not what happened. Nicky became one of the pioneers of the Alpha Course where 30 million people have been introduced to Christian faith a...

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March 19, 2024 44 mins

So much of modern culture emphasizes success, hard work, and ambition. But what if we don’t conquer every problem or reach every mountaintop? How do you live with the hunger for more while letting yourself have limits and be tired and say no and shut it down too?

In this conversation, Kate and Emma Gannon discuss:

  • Why ambition isn’t necessarily a bad thing
  • How Emma reacted to a season of severe burnout and what wisdom she has ...
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These are uncertain times for so many of us. 

But, according to writer Maggie Jackson, perhaps there is deep wisdom to be uncovered too—surprising gifts of curiosity, creative thinking, open-mindedness, and ways forward through the (often) unpredictabilities of life. 

In this conversation, Kate and Maggie Discuss:

  • How uncertainty might foster creativity, resilience, and mutual understanding
  • Why we avoid ambiguity and a few sma...
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March 5, 2024 52 mins

We don’t usually have repeat guests on this podcast… except we’re making an exception for the wonderful and wise Alan Alda. Alan Alda, of course, is an award-winning actor, writer, director, and podcast host. You probably know and love him as Hawkeye on M*A*S*H or Senator Arnie Vinick on The West Wing. He is endlessly curious on just about every topic—which makes him the perfect person to talk to about empathy, learning across diff...

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When we are in deep grief, we can anticipate some of the horrible parts—the sleeplessness, the denial, the loneliness. But what about the moments of surprising lightness and joy? Moments that don’t erase the pain, but make it a bit more bearable. Academy Award-nominated actor Richard E. Grant practices finding these pockets of happiness while grieving his beloved wife. 

In this conversation, Kate and Richard talk about: 

  • the g...
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February 20, 2024 35 mins

How do you have faith that can hold all of reality—the beautiful, the terrible, and everything in-between? The TODAY Show’s Savannah Guthrie thinks carefully about this question, especially given that her job is reporting the news every morning. 

In this conversation, Kate and Savannah discuss:

  • Savannah’s trick for handling difficult news every day
  • How to adjust the dial on fear and hope when there is so much to be afraid of
  • M...
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February 13, 2024 46 mins

Do you ever look back at your childhood and go… certainly that didn’t happen like that? Where were the adults? Academy Award-winning director and childhood actress Sarah Polley describes what it was like to not be believed when she was afraid or when she wanted to stop or when she was in pain or when she was in danger. And how, as adults, we can all better protect those around us and learn to look back on our younger selves with co...

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Today, we’re talking about tragicomedy. And isn’t that all of life? The absurdity. The horror. The laughter that somehow cuts through the most difficult of moments. Our guest today, Stephanie Wittles Wachs wrote a beautiful memoir called Everything is Horrible and Wonderful about the death of her brother to an accidental heroin overdose when he was 30 years old.

In this conversation, Kate and Stephanie discuss:

  • Loving someone ...
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