MILK Podcast: The Loss Season

February and March are not my favorite months of the year under the best of circumstances.  But this February, I tragically lost my friend Heather to fucking cancer, and this March, not as tragically but still devastatingly, I lost my dear Uncle Izzy to old age. This was just after the October massacre at my hometown synagogue, “Tree of Life.” After all of these gut punches, I settled into a moment of intense … not just shock, not just anxiety, not just depression, but like, this dull, encompassing understanding of what it means to be this age and know that there are zero assurances.

Uncle Izzy (Isaac) Benjamin, Los Angeles, CA 2018

Uncle Izzy (Isaac) Benjamin, Los Angeles, CA 2018

This led me into a kind of investigation of loss at a macro level. Because this kind of regular loss talk is happening amongst my peers. At some level, I do live with the constant underlying fear that something terrible will happen. And why is it that I’m kind of ok? How do I feel motivated to make things? It’s like I took a drug trip and learned something. It’s like I arrived somewhere, but in a Dorothy “No Place Like Home” kind of way.

Clearly, I’m in the midst of a moment. It’s midlife ish. It’s not a crisis, but there’s some urgency to it. It’s a loss thing. 

So it feels right to be launching this season of MILK Podcast, which I’m calling “The Loss Season.”  Yet I am living, and feeling life – from my MILKs, from my female friends, from my family, from my beloved neighborhood. All of these things, except the MILKs maybe, drive me crazy in as many ways as they give me pleasure, and they give me life.  I’m trying to look at loss as a positive in some ways, and have been exploring subjects and stories where loss can serve as a way to learn.

My first episode of Season 2 with writer Emily Rapp Black is up now. She lost her son at 2 years old to Tay Sachs disease, and she writes and speaks about it with such poise and passion, but is also frank and hilarious and cool as hell.  I’m editing a wonderful and informative show with  Chanel Reynolds, who put together a website turned book about getting your shit together so you aren’t caught completely off guard financially and legally if something untoward were to happen to you or your spouse. So smart and necessary! I talked to an incredible psychotherapist, Dr. Molly Millwood, about her work with mothers who struggle to maintain their marriages after kids – another form of loss to consider. I spoke to Caroline Schrank, owner of Down to Earth Funerals, about evolving from a career as an event planner and divorced mom of two to a funeral director exploring alternative ceremonies and serving those left behind.

Heather, my mom (as a frog), and Prince

Heather, my mom (as a frog), and Prince

I am so fulfilled creatively when I am meeting these women, and getting to share their stories and contributions. 

I’m also writing a book about loss – a kid’s book, and it’s hard. It’s really just very hard to get the tone right. I’ve done ten drafts and its still not there. But I’m plugging away at it because I think the way we talk to kids about loss and sadness and pain in general is not awesome. We need to give them space and truth to deal with the possibilities that things may not always be rosy. At Heather’s memorial service, my kids, and all of our friends’ kids, were so present and so empathetic and I was very moved by their ability to speak clearly and lovingly about Heather to her husband, daughter and parents. It showed me that children can handle emotions and pain, and that they are capable of exquisite love and support.

My kids have been working very hard this year, my daughter academically as she prepares for the rigorous NYC high school process and her Bat Mitzvah in the fall. My son is doing great in school and outside of school, but there have been some questions (mine, really) about what he can handle socially and emotionally. I am constantly, exhaustively, learning how to meet my kids where they are. I’m trying to be there with them as they navigate their worlds. My work life currently permits that, and I’m so damn grateful for it right now. I’m proud of them, and who they are.

There has been a lot of heaviness, this winter, but there has been beauty and laughter, too.  My female friends sustain me, with their text chains, conversations in real life, and women’s trips. I will never miss another one. 

Spring is here in Brooklyn, and those tough, grey months are behind me. But they will rest inside my heart always and shape how I move through this world. I won’t forget them. In the same way, I won’t forget the months of April and May in 2013 just before my mom died. That was the first major loss of my life, and it made me the mother and friend I am today.

Today is the first day of my kids’ spring break. As I type this, he is at his after school coding class, and she is volunteering at the library. Tomorrow night we will have a Seder. Today, my husband is making a brisket.

Life is sweet today. More soon, from my MILKs. 

 

MILK is Filling Me Up

We are living in crazy ass times, obviously. The tireless outrages of a reckless and racist Administration, sickening abuses exposed every damn day by men in every field, and the isolation of our own minds and anxieties as we sort through the data, trying to put one foot in front of the other. Plus tending to our relationships and families with normal stuff like groceries and viruses and parent teacher conferences and marriage. It’s a lot to manage.  

I cope by laughing with friends on text and sometimes in real life, hugging and squishing my kids as much as they will allow, and with my clichéd, beloved yoga. And MILK, this podcast I’ve been building, has been giving me life in these dark days since just before #prezvoldemort came to reign.

During each interview I record and edit, I learn something new and nuanced about motherhood, about ambition, about creativity, and about how damn competent we are as moms and humans.  I love meeting people I’ve admired from afar, and getting to spend that time in the studio with accomplished authors, activists, and artists is so fulfilling.

me and  MILK episode 3  Novelist Amy Shearn

me and MILK episode 3 Novelist Amy Shearn

It’s also exciting that my audience is growing, and more people are listening. One of the best things about technology is the ease with which content can be now be created and shared. It’s thrilling to record and get these conversations out to you guys right away. The sharing is easy, and the way I hope to grow it further.

When I interviewed Manoush Zomorodi, from the WNYC “Podcast Note to Self” back in October, she asked me if I knew the “other” podcasting mom in our school. No, I did not know Sally Hubbard of “Women Killing It,” but that was easy to remedy. Sally and I had a lunch, made a plan to be on each other’s podcasts, and this week you can hear Sally on MILK HERE.

Sally’s podcast, “Women Killing It,” is Sally interviewing women who are rock stars in their careers, asking them how they got there, and what they do to adapt and grow. An attorney, journalist, expert networker, and all around cool chick, Sally is smart, accomplished and busy as hell and she still makes an episode each week. It is instructive and motivating! Please listen to her interview of me on Women Killing It HERE, and share if you like it.     

Sally, and Manoush, and all of the MILKs so far, have shown me that we need to help each other and build each other up, us women. It’s what we do best, and we do many things well.

I know this little show I make in my apartment isn’t changing things for most, and that most of my guests come from a privileged place, relatively. Most of my guests believe that satisfaction in life and work is attainable because their basic needs are met – and this is not lost on me. But I find it stirring that there are so many stories and people to listen to and learn from, and that when I feel like I’m paralyzed with worry about the state of this planet, I can look to neighbors and friends and friends of friends to see how other women find strength.

Thanks for listening! And please share the MILK.

MILKs Killing It

Sally Hubbard, Creator and Host of "Women Killing It Podcast," is in the MILK Studio.

Through podcast interviews and real-life storytelling, Sally’s mission is to create a movement of women celebrating successes and inspiring one another. Sally attended NYU Law School and later became an investigative journalist, striving to uncover just how do successful women do it?

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Inspired by stories of shattering the proverbial “glass ceiling,” Sally looks to reveal a playbook for how women can kill it in their careers.

We talk, at the tail end of 2017, about the reckoning of male sexual assaulters and harassers, how to keep up the good fight as an activist, and how flexibility in the workplace (and listening to Millennials!) is good for all of us.

Check out our MILK Podcast: Moms I'd Like to Know interview on iTunes.

And go here to listen to Sally interview me on Women Killing It.

CONTEXT: Thinking ABOUT RACIAL INEQUALITY

In Episode 22 of the MILK Podcast, I talk to Singer/Songwriter/Actress Nicole Alifante. She has recently become woke to our culture's broken systems of racial inequality and injustice, and has been working at a local level to listen, understand her part, and to help make change. I asked her for some suggestions of things she's read and listened to, for a starting point for further conversation and action. This is obviously the very tiny tip of the the iceberg.

Books:

The Color Of Law by Richard Rothstein

Between The World and Me by Ta-Nahisi Coates

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

Incarceration Nations by Baz Dreisinger

Magazine Pieces

The Case For Reparations

Donald Trump, The First White President

Podcasts:

SCENE ON RADIO
These first two episodes (and I’m sure the 12 other ones after it) are really amazing in understanding where to start. 

Nicole Alifante on MILK Podcast

Werk It

Two weeks ago I packed up some cute outfits and took my little show on the road to the Werk It Women’s Podcast Festival, produced by WNYC Studios. I wanted to learn more about how I could take my podcast MILK: Mom’s I’d Like to Know, to another level. I also was excited to fly on an airplane without my kids.

The conference was heaven. It evoked that feeling you get when you know everyone in a room understands you (and your radio nerdness). The feeling that you can be open, listen and learn without interruption and distractions from family and work. The feeling where the world is burning all around you, but you have some hopeful ideas about how you can help said world and are in the right spot to do so.  

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Every woman I met at Werk It was doing something interesting: for the environment, for people of color, for feminism. I heard from professionals and newbies about the craft of telling stories, and their struggles getting those stories into the world. I heard how Anna Sale built her reporting into a career at WNYC, and then I saw her in the elevator going for a run at 6 am West Coast time because she’s a mom and was awake anyway. I heard from Note to Self’s Manoush Zomorodi and Happier’s Gretchen Rubin, also two big time MILKs with podcast and book platforms, about how to engage audiences creatively. I heard Kara Swisher of Recode Decode and TV Producer Ilene Chaiken in conversation about The L-Word coming back (!), and being a gay executive in TV now and then.

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I heard from funny and wise hosts like Lisa Chow, of Start Up, Lauren Ober from The Big Listen, Starlee Kine of The Mystery Show and Esther Perel of Where Should We Begin. I heard an excellent panel called “Don’t Point,” about the line between reporting on and gawking at those who have different experiences.

I met other podcasters like Katie Ward, host and producer of The Enthusiasm Enthusiast, who is smart and wonderful and interviews women about feminism and activism. I listened to creative/business people like Jenna Weiss-Berman, who produces podcasts I love, like Women of The Hour and Finding Richard Simmons, and built an independent podcast production company in Brooklyn. I was mentored privately by Eleanor Kagan of Buzzfeed, and was able to interview Manoush Zomorodi for The MILK Podcast. I watched hilarious actors I admire, like Alia Shawkat, Niecy Nash, Lena Waithe and Jessica Williams, perform flawlessly produced live shows at the beautiful and historic ACE Hotel Theater, that made me laugh out loud in real life. 

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On the last day of the conference, I sat at an organic place near the hotel where I happily ate all of my meals. I ate an acai bowl (so LA), and thought about how nice it was to have a break from thinking about my kid’s schedule for a few days, or planning what they were eating for lunch. The Harvey Weinstein story was breaking, because of two female NY Times journalists who were steadfast and smart and badass and finally told this story that reporters have been trying to lock for decades. I read the account breathlessly and with disgust, thinking "YES, they got this one!" and of course, felt such terrible pain for the women who were hurt. That was just the beginning of the story, and more was to come, but like other moments since the election last year when a sexual assaulter took the highest office in this country, I felt something stirring.  Anger at this toxic, sick person and the evil culture that enabled him and others of his ilk, but also solidarity and pride for the helping to surge the tsunami of women's voices. I felt it in the air all week at the conference as we women shared, plotted and supported, and now, two weeks later, back at my computer writing and editing and planning this week’s MILK interviews, I feel more committed and hopeful that we are talking about things we used to bury. Calling out. Asking questions. Telling stories. People will hear our voices. We will make sure of it.

Mid Life MILKs

Welcome to my new digital home. Here, you can meet the women of my MILK Podcast, and check out my children’s book ELLA. There’s also my other voice work, writing, and radio work for you to see and hear as well. 

MILK (Mom’s I’d Like to Know), started out as a list of writers and artists I admired, and morphed into a framework to connect with them. I’ve always loved radio, and creating a podcast in the context of my other interests and career just made sense. I see now too, that I have been seeking a community of sorts, and the permission to ask questions of others that I hold in my own heart. It’s also important for me to laugh and to find sisterhood in a world that can feel isolating and toxic.

Coming up on my 45th birthday this month, I’ve been focused on retaining memories, doing a lot of looking back at photos and journals and reconnecting with sides of myself I’ve felt distanced from since the kids. It's been sort of a mission, examining who the hell am I right now -- and how did I get here? An interesting thing that’s happened in the midst of this mid-life not really crisis, though, is that I see all of who I am as a positive, even if it means I’m not always appreciated or understood by everyone. To actually feel this way and mean it …. well, YAY being 45.

So. I’m proud of these conversations with my MILKs, and excited to see where this podcast, and the rest of my work will take me. I’m happy to have my output in one place, to be able to promote people I admire and share things I love. Through it, I hope to deepen connections and articulate my artistic contributions. There’s a lot I want to do, suddenly, and I want to make it all count.

Please share the site and the podcast with anyone you think might dig.

Xoxo Mallory

why you need to know Amy Shearn: writer, editor, teacher, mom

She's smart, she's hilarious, and man, is she ever a MILK. She's Amy Shearn: novelist, non-fiction writer, editor, teacher, social mediatrix, mother, and the third guest on the MILK Podcast

Amy and I met when my children's book came out last year, and "liked" each other's posts on Facebook a lot before I took her fiction writing class at The Sackett Street Writers Workshop in the spring. 

Then, we liked each other for real. She is inspiring in the amount she manages to get done in a day, and I loved talking to her. Check out our interview here, and if you like it, please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.

talking with yoga instructor Amanda Harding on my MILK podcast

This woman is one of my teachers and a major MILK. Amanda Harding, owner of Prema Yoga in Brooklyn is a graceful and beautiful person. 

I know it's cliche to want to know more about your yoga teacher (or therapist!) but I think our talk should be interesting to many. 

We discuss the importance of the mundane, how to create ritual, some of her ideas for stimulating activism in one's community, and coping with anxiety. She's a wonderful mom and person. 

Check it out on iTunes and Stitcher

singer, songwriter Jamie Leonhart is my first guest MILK podcast guest

Today, we meet Jamie Leonhart, the first guest on my inaugural MILK podcast!

Jamie is truly flawless. She is a singer, songwriter, and mom to Milo. She wrote a beautiful piece of theater with original music called Estuary, all about the trauma and beauty of being a mother and an artist. Then she went on stage with her husband, who is also her musical director, and was honest and funny and real with that crazy voice of hers. 

I ❤️our talk. 

Give it a listen on iTunes and Stitcher.