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/


October 3, 2023 47 mins

How do you sustain a life of service…especially when your job costs you something? Angela Williams has dedicated her life to advocating for others. She joined the military. She became a lawyer. She became a minister. Wait, now she runs one of the largest service organizations in the world, the United Way, as its CEO? Incredible. 

But what’s behind all this is a story about service. About what it takes to stay in the long, slow wor...

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What does it really mean to “survive” when what you survive… lingers? Emi Nietfeld went from being homeless to graduating from Harvard. But the rags-to-riches story isn’t ever completely true. It skips over the hardest parts—complicated families, long-term trauma on brains and bodies, the ways we wish we could go back and undo what has been done.  

This is an incredible story about resilience—what it is, and what it isn’t. You’re ...

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How hard is it to be a parent today? After a pandemic? With social media breathing down our necks? It’s so hard! Navigating the delicate balance between granting independence and providing guidance can be daunting as a parent. 

Dr. Lisa Damour (New York Times bestselling author of The Emotional Lives of Teenagers) has dedicated her life to unraveling the intricacies of adolescence and offering practical, heartfelt advice.

In this...

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Comedians have the ability to be unsparingly honest in ways that buck all cultural norms. It’s a truth-telling that so many of us crave. 

Cue Rob Delaney. 

Rob is a comedian, actor, writer, and director. His memoir, A Heart That Works is an unsparing account of the death of his beautiful son, Henry. Rob lives in London with his family where Kate visited him for this honest and hilarious conversation. 

Kate and Rob discuss:

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September 5, 2023 44 mins

The TODAY Show’s Jenna Bush Hager sits down for a wide-ranging conversation with Kate Bowler. Together, they share about the importance of family and intergenerational relationships (Jenna shares such tender stories about her grandparents), how they hope to let their kids make mistakes and be met with grace, and how they both (try to) find beauty in ordinary, regular days and regular problems. 

In this conversation, Kate and Jenna...

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Are you living your best life now? Not always? GREAT, ME NEITHER. 

My name is Kate Bowler. I’m a professor, speaker, podcast host and New York Times bestselling author. Which makes it sound like I believe in living your “best life.” Don’t worry—I don’t. 

I study the stories we tell about success and failure, suffering and happiness. And hobbies are wasted on me because I’d rather be talking to funny and wise people about how to l...

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How do you live knowing life can just come undone at a moment’s notice? In the span of a few months, Tig Notaro received three life-threatening illnesses, unexpectedly lost her mom, and went through a breakup. Tig is a brilliant comedian whose real life informs her comedy and has a lot to teach us about living honestly in the face of reality. 

In this conversation, Kate and Tig discuss: 

  • Tig’s “hands-off” parents and her journe...
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May 30, 2023 44 mins

What makes a good life? How would you answer that question? Not just life in the abstract… but what makes YOUR life good? Professor Miroslav Volf teaches a popular class at Yale University which guides students through these kinds of questions and might help us all think a little more deeply about what our lives are adding up to be.

In this conversation, Kate and Miroslav discuss:  

  • Why just practicing the habits of a good life...
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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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How do we stay soft in a world that has taught us to be tough? Actress Minka Kelly is known for her roles as Lyla Garrity on Friday Night Lights or as Samantha in HBO’s Euphoria. Despite her fame on the big screen, one might not realize the chaos that surrounded her childhood. Being raised by a single mom who worked as a stripper and struggled with addiction, Minka had to learn how to take care of herself and the adults around her,...

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April 25, 2023 43 mins

Some people are the LEAN IN sort. They lean into your unsolvable problems, show up on your impossible days, and walk with you all the way to the end. How do we become them? How do we create belonging when the people we love experience such uncertainty? Practical theologian and mental health nurse John Swinton knows a thing or two about this kind of love.  

In this conversation, Kate and John discuss: 

  • The importance of lear...
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Maggie Smith (poet and author of books like Keep Moving and You Could Make This Place Beautiful) chronicles the aftermath of a painful divorce she didn’t see coming. How do we raise our kids in the wake of such change? And how do we reconcile who we are and who we are becoming? 

In this conversation, Maggie and Kate discuss:

  • How to support someone going through divorce
  • The metaphor of nesting dolls as how we contain who we wer...
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April 11, 2023 41 mins

What happens when the people we built our lives around stop needing us? Or when we have to pick between our meaningful careers or our family? And what do we do with the ambiguous grief that comes with every expected and unexpected change? Today, Kate takes an honest look at juggling the demands on our time and on our heart with NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly.

Kate and Mary Louise discuss: 

  • Debunking the women can “have it all” paradig...
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How should you show up for people in grief? What do you say? What should you do? Why is it that beauty can exist alongside deep suffering? What can be said at funerals when the person who died was complicated? These are just a few of the questions I wanted to ask Steve Leder—a bestselling author and a rabbi who has presided over a thousand funerals with wisdom and kindness. 

In this conversation, we discuss:  

  • The mysterious wa...
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Historian and Canadian politician Michael Ignatieff explores the cracks in our seamless worldviews… or at least the worldviews we thought were seamless until we’re faced with tragedies of all kinds. In this wide-ranging exploration, Kate and Michael probe humanity's enduring attempt to console ourselves and construct meaning from our pain.

In this conversation, Kate and Michael discuss:

  • Why truth and trust are so important when...
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Supermodel Paulina Porizkova has been in the public eye all her life. But it has been a rollercoaster of soaring successes and deep heartache. Grief and pain comes to us all, and in those moments, we need our shared humanity (and not our super-anythingness) to build a bridge back to others.

In this tender conversation, Kate and Paulina discuss:

  • How to show up to friends in unsolvable pain
  • Why “what doesn’t kill you will make y...
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March 14, 2023 41 mins

The Reverend Tom Long wrote the book on funerals. No, really. When grief threatens to swallow us whole, Tom reminds us of our place in a bigger story of hope and faith, of interdependence and the importance of community. He describes the necessity of ritual to pull us into a wider, truer story than the trite version our culture likes to tell.

In this warm conversation (trust me! You will laugh!), Kate and Tom discuss: 

  • What it ...
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March 7, 2023 40 mins

Over thirty years ago, Elaine Pagels’ young son and husband died within the same year. In this tender conversation, Kate and Elaine discuss surviving the aftermath of such devastation, the painful explanations religion often offers, and how we love and keep loving even after so much tragedy. 

Together, they discuss:

  • The need for connection to others during grief
  • Religion’s often painful and punitive explanations for suffering ...
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February 28, 2023 41 mins

Every problem New York Times columnist Frank Bruni faced had a simple fix. Doctors offered reasonable solutions for reasonable problems. Preventative care guaranteed future health. That is, until he woke up one morning without vision in his eye. This experience forced him to rethink how much of life is in our control and how to live fully in the face of unfixable problems.

In this conversation, Kate and Frank discuss: 

  • Letting ...
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February 21, 2023 51 mins

Beth Moore has been in the limelight for almost thirty years, but during that time, she revealed very little about her formative family history. Now, this world-famous Bible teacher is ready to tell her story for the first time. 

In this episode, Kate and Beth discuss: 

  • How Beth’s faith offered stability during a very unpredictable and unstable childhood 
  • The complicated grief that occurs when family members cause deep, unforg...
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