Michelle Obama: The Light Podcast - "Decoding Fear" with Ellen DeGeneres

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Higher Ground and Audible Originals present Michelle Obama, The Light Podcast.

Thank you so much! Hi! Hello!

I’m very excited to be here. I have to be honest, I stopped filming my show in May,

and I haven’t really spoken to anyone or done anything for however many months that is.

It’s been a while since I’ve spoken to anyone, and my poor show once in a while,

but mostly I’m talking to my dogs all day long, so this could get weird.

Yes, it could.

Who’s going to be a good audience? Who’s going to be a good audience? Huh?

I’m sorry, I haven’t spoken to people.

I love this woman so much, and the book is amazing. You’re going to love it.

If you read, I don’t know who reads anymore, but if you read, you’re going to love this book.

Please welcome my friend, Michelle Obama.

Everyone, Ellen DeGeneres.

Hey everyone, this is Michelle Obama, and you’re listening to The Light Podcast.

I want to talk to you about fear.

Yes, our fears, those little monsters that all of us have to wrestle with.

Maybe you’re afraid of public speaking, or conflict, or what people think of you.

It can be anything really, but we’ve all got them,

and if we don’t take the time to understand them, they can really hold us back.

And then all of a sudden, a fear is not just a fear.

A fear becomes a limit.

Fear might mean that we start shying away from opportunities, or risks, or adventures.

It might mean that we eliminate whole categories of activities, or passions, or people

that might expand our life experience.

And then we have to ask ourselves, is this really how I want to live?

That’s one of the things that I dive into with my good friend, Ellen DeGeneres, in this episode.

Now, Ellen is someone I met when my husband was first running for president.

And I’ve been so thankful that over the years, we’ve built a real durable friendship

that goes beyond our day jobs.

It’s not always easy to sort out who you can genuinely connect with

when you’re First Lady of the United States.

But with Ellen, there was never a question.

We text each other, meet up for dinner, visit each other’s homes.

And to that point, I fully recognize how much she loves her home time.

So it meant a lot to have her travel across the country to join me for this conversation.

Of course, one of the things I know for certain anytime I’m with Ellen

is that I’m in for a good laugh.

And that’s exactly how our conversation started.

With her struggling to sit on that big, beautiful chair I selected for the stage.

I heard the chairs were too big for you.

Listen, Michelle, I came out here to…

They said, see if the chair’s comfortable for you.

Look what she’s done.

It’s my show, my chair size.

So then I had to bring this out.

You got a little booster.

There you go.

She’s tall, you guys. She’s very tall.


Yeah, here I am.

We have taller moderators later on in the tour.

Oh, okay.

These are like lifeguard chairs.

These are huge. I mean, this is like, whoo.


All right.

If I still had my show, the next time you’d be on, I’d have a tiny, low, low chair for you.

Little nursery school chairs.

I have to say, before I start asking you questions about the book,

it’s so good. It’s so beautifully written.

It’s got so many wonderful tools for what we all are needing to have right now.

No, it’s a beautiful, beautiful book.

Thank you, babe. Thank you.

You talk about, in the book, being comfortably afraid,

which is, I think, such a great way to put it.

And it’s a way that I think everybody can understand.

So talk about comfortably afraid.


I spend a lot of time talking about fear,

because when you look over what’s been happening over the course of,

you know, not even just the last years,

we have gotten so used to being engaged by our fear.

It feels like our fear is being used against us.

You look at the headlines every day, every year, every decade.

Each year is worse and worse.

If you just look at the news, you know, if you listen to some of our leaders,

we can’t trust each other, we can’t trust anything.

You should be afraid.

When I think about how fear affects the choices that we make

and the choices of how we treat each other,

a lot of times that’s usually grounded in some fear,

the fear of you’re new, you’re different.

So I started thinking about fear and the fact that we struggle to properly decode fear.

Fear is an important emotion.

It protects us. It saves us.

I write about my first memories of being afraid.

You’re afraid of the dark. You’re afraid of scary movies.

You’re afraid of people who look dangerous.

I was afraid of a stuffed turtle in my Aunt Robbie’s recital when I was four.

The whole notion of a stuffed animal frightened me.

I wouldn’t get on stage.

But I remember clearly overcoming that fear

because I wanted to wear this red velvet dress because I thought I was cute.

I remember telling myself, it’s just a turtle.

It’s just a turtle, girl.

Go on over there. Just pet it.

And then you can just twirl your little butt off.

Because it’s not going to hurt you.

It’s like I remember at a young age decoding my fear

to get to some place I wanted to go.

But then there’s the fear that keeps us stuck.

The fear of other.

The fear of somebody who’s not like you.

The fear of somebody who’s got a different skin color than you.

That’s an irrational fear.

And if we don’t learn to decode it

and to know when our fear is keeping us safe

from when it’s keeping us limited and narrow and small.

If we don’t start thinking about how we process fear.

I know I do.

I’ve had to learn how to determine when my fear is rational

and when it’s just me not wanting to do something that makes me uncomfortable.

And I think the biggest example is when Barack approached me

about running for President of the United States.


I was like, yeah.

That happened.

But he played a, you know, I wouldn’t say played a dirty trick,

but it was sort of like he said, you know,

a lot of people want me to do this.

You know, it’s going to be hard.

And I know this is going to be a lot on our family.

And if you don’t want me to do this, then we just won’t.

And I’m like, really?

You going to put this on me?

He’s like, no, really, really?

So I had to sit with that choice, you know, and think about it.

And for weeks I walked around and I described walking around

with the notion of that in my head.

And my first gut instinct was no, no way, no, heck no.

But then I had to say, well, what is that?

What is that coming from?

And if I’m honest with myself, as I said here,

it’s coming from the fact that I didn’t want change.

I didn’t want discomfort.

It was all about me.

It was all about not wanting to do something that would put me

in an uncomfortable place.

And then I had to ask myself, was that a reason to impact

what could be a historic thing?

Would I want to live in the legacy of many of my ancestors?

I talk about our grandparents who had legitimate fears

because they grew up in Jim Crow and desegregation.

And men like our grandfathers had limited worlds

because they would be in danger

if they stepped too far outside of their comfort zone.

So I saw in my own time my grandfather’s worlds

get smaller and smaller.

You know, one of my grandfathers died of lung cancer

because he just didn’t trust doctors.

He didn’t trust anybody.

He didn’t trust white people.

So he didn’t go to the dentist because that’s all there were

in our community were white dentists.

He didn’t have a tooth in his mouth.

You know, fear, the legacy of some of our grandparents

was small lives because of fear.

Fear that their kids would be harmed.

Don’t try this.

Don’t go away from home because we don’t know

what’s going to happen to you.

Real legitimate fears.

But my mother and father didn’t want us to live

with that legacy of fear and let our worlds be narrowed.

And so those thoughts came into my head and I said,

well, if I say no only because of my fear,

then what am I teaching my girls?

What am I saying to them?

How am I going to look back as an old lady and my kids say,

we hear grandpa could have been president.

And it’s like, yeah, girl, he could have been,

but I don’t want to be bothered with that.

So we still here.

So learning to be comfortably afraid is learning

to rationally deal with your fears

so that you can get to the other side.

And when you get to the other side, nine times out of 10,

there’s a lot of growth and opportunity and possibility

if you can decode it properly.

I grew up with a father that was afraid of everything.

Like he literally lived in fear of everything.

He wouldn’t let me, I never learned to roller skate

because I could have fallen down and hurt myself.

And we didn’t go to doctors

because we were Christian science.

So I would have a split open knee

and bone would be exposed and he’d just pray.

You’ll be fine, baby.

Oh, he gave me some cherries and just prayed.

Yeah, I had a bowl of cherries.

And then he tied a rag around my knee

and then he tied a rag around my knee

and with a mark, cilantro, a smiley face,

which seems like ink could go into the bloodstream.

But anyway, yeah, he was just, he was scared of everything.

And I just grew up with that kind of,

and I didn’t realize at the time how much OCD he had.

He was a very fearful person.

And so I really worked hard to try to grow out.

I didn’t want to become that person.

I didn’t want to be that fearful.

He was fearful of not having enough money.

So we didn’t have enough money because he made that come true.

He thought about it enough that we didn’t have.

So fear to me, and so I’ve pushed myself.

The comfortable fear for me is, you know,

I want to host the Oscars.

I want to do something really dangerous

so that I can like feel good about myself, you know?

Do it.

So, and it’s hard.

It’s hard to push yourself to do something that’s really scary.

And then another thing is that I explore how much fear

affects bigotry and racism and isolation from each other.

And that’s what people try to feed on.

Be afraid of the other person.

You know, be afraid of them.

And that’s why we have to be really careful

when people try to lead us by our fear.

We should be suspicious of that.

Because I live in this country.

I’ve traveled around it.

And I’m going to tell you, people disagree with one another, you know?

But the fear is coming from other places.

Noises in people’s heads.

Things coming from folks phoned.

And I think that’s one of the reasons why I encourage us all

to be mindful of getting out of our comfort zones.

Of reaching out to people who are not like us.

Because, you know, we will not see the truth of each other

if we just sit in our fear and isolation

and assume that what people are telling us about them is true.

Because they’re telling them about us, and that’s not true.

So it can’t just be one way.

So I think decoding fear is a part of us being able to drop our guard

and really learn each other and not be manipulated by power

that’s trying to gain more power because of our fear.

Yeah, I think also, I think we have the noise,

the loudest noise is from extremes.

So we’re hearing extreme, extreme right voices

and extreme, extreme left.

And that’s just noise.

Most of us aren’t feeling or thinking that.

But it just looks like that.

And so the middle part of us, all the smart ones, have to go,

we’re as loud as you people on each side.

It’s just, it’s really hard to quiet that noise.

And it’s a really horrible thing.

Your daughters was scared of Chewbacca,

and yet you brought it to the White House.

I did.

That was a big mommy fail.

We thought we were doing something great.

We invited all the Star Wars characters.

And I forgot that Sasha hates all things big and furry

where you can’t see the face.

That poor child had on the cutest little costume.

You don’t see her here because she’s crying in her room upstairs.

But I eventually got over my fear of stuffed turtles,

and she is now no longer afraid of big, hairy things.

So we are now comfortably afraid together

and moving through life normally.

She’s gotten over that.

She’s good.

That’s good.

I’m a physician.

And being a black woman, it’s not always easy.

So there have been many times where my voice just seemed very muted.

If I made a suggestion or something like that, it wasn’t heard.

Whereas maybe one of my counterparts, who doesn’t look like me, it’s heard.

And so there have been many times where I’ve had to bite my tongue

or kind of pretend like the microaggressions weren’t there, you know,

and just keep moving, keep my head down,

and keep doing what I know that I need to do.

At the end of the day, it’s about patient care.

And if I can’t take a breath and kind of let that roll off a little bit,

then it comes back on them.

And the other thing is, as a black woman,

I always have to be very cognizant of how I’m handling my black patients

because they don’t get to see us all the time.

And so it’s really good that they see somebody that they’re like,

oh, my God, she looks like me and she sounds like me

and her hair is like mine and things like that.

If I get bogged down with that other stuff,

then I don’t get to show up like I need to for them.

You talk about in the book meeting yourself and others with gladness.

And this is your friend Ron who does this.

And I think it’s a really beautiful thing to do that.

It’s a short chapter in the book called Starting Kind.

It’s one of the tools that I learned.

I describe a friend of mine, Ron Kirk.

Some of you may know him.

He used to be the former mayor of Dallas and was in Barack’s administration.

You know, handsome, charismatic, funny, you know,

southern dude who is confident and poised.

He’s a good friend.

His wife is one of my dear friends.

And she would tell me about a habit that Ron would have in the morning.

She’s lying in bed and she’d hear him getting up.

So he gets up early, you know, start his day.

And she’d hear him talking to himself in the mirror.

And he would say, hey, buddy.

You know, I was like, he’d say that out loud.

He’s like, no, no, no.

She’s talking full, hey, buddy, how you doing?

You’re going to have a great day.

And so she tells me, and we’re just cracking up,

because imagining Ron Kirk giving himself that little morning pep talk.

Now, I asked him before I told him.

I said, I’m about to write about you in this book.

And he said, go ahead.

And he just wants the, you know, percentage of the mug sales when it’s

like the hey, buddy mugs that are going to come out of this.

But I share that story because while we teased him, you know,

because he can stand teasing,

is that it is a simple thing that we do not do,

particularly women, for ourselves.

We do not send ourselves simple, kind messages.

Not even, especially not in the morning.

And it is such a simple tool.

It’s a tool that I know I have to practice more and more.

Because those negative thoughts, I don’t care what,

they are sitting comfortably in my head, you know.

Even if I can play it off, that negative thing is like, oh, girl,

your hair didn’t look good, or this didn’t happen, oh, did you gain weight,

and what’s wrong with that wrinkle come from,

and oh, why does your face look like that, you know.

We all just get used to these negative messages,

and we practice that over anything else.

When Michelle told me I was going to be in the book,

I was at first flattered, surprised,

and then a little anxious how a story about somebody

who talks to themselves in the morning might be received.

Most of my life, I’m up at 5.30 in the morning.

My wife is very much not a morning person,

and I just like to think through what I’m going to say,

and so it got to be on Wednesdays,

I like to just remind myself, you got this.

Then it sort of evolved.

I would call and leave myself a voice message if I could.

So I called, and I was like, hey, buddy, it’s me.

You know, you’re going to have a good day.

But I didn’t know she was listening.

My wife never gets up.

So at some point, I think during one of their trips,

she would take her girlfriends,

and she shared this story with Michelle and the group,

and then the next thing I know, when we’re all together

in Martha’s Vineyard a couple of years ago,

Michelle, Barack, everybody’s, hey, buddy, how you doing?

I was like…

So it’s, I can’t believe she remembered that story.

I didn’t know that it resonated like that.

It speaks to her unique talent

to take everyday life stories

and find something of value of them.

I just never dreamed I’d be, you know, one of those stories.

You have been attacked in so many ways,

and people have tried to turn off your light.

And I just, the strength that you have,

and it really is, I think, a big part,

like you said, to your parents,

because they were amazing parents

and really gave you the tools.

But to go through what you’ve gone through,

and how do you keep that light strong

when you have people saying such horrible negative things?

And a lot of people, it’s really interesting,

young people now who know me on this side of it

don’t even remember how bad the attacks were on me

when, you know, Barack was running

and the country didn’t fully know me.

I mean, these are major magazines.

They took the image of a smart, articulate,

outspoken black woman,

and they turned it into a threat.

And so, yes, it definitely hurt.

It was stunning at first,

because it’s like when you see yourself

in a way that is not you,

you wonder, well, wow,

how easily your whole persona can be manipulated

when you’re in the public eye.

Ellen, you’ve experienced as a public figure.

Unfortunately, we often treat it like,

well, that’s the cost of being a public figure.

And it is sad, but sadly, social media and the press,

again, preying on negativity,

preying on fear, preying on anger,

you know, it’s become the easy go-to.

You know, what pain and anger and fear

must you be holding on to

that you would do that to anybody,

let alone a woman, a mother?

What prevents you from seeing my humanity?

Something is broken.

And when you’re the first lady,

your job isn’t to worry about it.

Your job is to figure out how to fix it,

because people are in pain.

People are afraid.

People are afraid of people who aren’t like them

because they don’t have enough.

And that’s the problem with living in a country

where people don’t have enough.

You know, they take their anger and their bitterness

and their loss out on each other.

You know, which is why we should all be promoting

more taxes and more support systems

and better schools for everyone of all races,

because it makes people feel like they have a stake.

And then we don’t have to go after each other.

So I get through it because it’s an armor that I built.

Another tool is that you learn how to not let that stuff in

and to grasp on to the truth of who you know

and to rise above it to see your own light

and to hopefully help them see theirs

so that they’re not in that place.

I overcame the fear of animals by getting an animal.

I was afraid of dogs and cats.

As a child, dogs especially were seen as something scary,

not necessarily as pets,

but as things that chased you down the street.

And we never had pets in my family.

And so someone said a cat might be an easier thing,

so I got a cat.

Prince the 23-pound cat

that started off as a cute little kitten

and became a 23-pound cat.

My biggest fear was for a long time of saying no.

I felt like a lot of the time I would say yes to everything

because if I said no,

then I’d maybe lose the person that I’m saying no to.

But I found out as I got older

that it’s important to say no sometimes

because you have to refuel yourself.

You can’t say yes to everything

because you’re giving more than you’re receiving

when you say yes to everything.

So you have to learn how to say no

just to kind of keep your own sanity.

Well, you’re an inspiration in that way,

that you could take all that

and still stand strong

and still put yourself out there

because, you know, and you had to.

You had no choice.

Well, then there was that.


Yeah, I mean, that’s really tough.

I mean, you know, I say this all the time,

but, like, people say, you know,

you’re in show business, and you have to have thick skin.

You just have to grow thick skin.

And it’s like, I don’t.

I don’t have thick skin.

I don’t want thick skin.

I like being sensitive.

I like feeling things,

and it’s taught me compassion and empathy

because now I know what it feels like

to be attacked and to be judged

and to be criticized,

and I don’t ever want to do that to anybody

because I know what that feels like.

And if I had thick skin,

I wouldn’t know what it felt like.

So I’m happy that I feel things

and I feel good, like I feel good, like you said.

Well, that’s why people love you.

Well, it’s one of the reasons.

It’s, um…

I think that social media,

though, has, you know,

exponentially just, like,

it’s, I think, has created…

And it seems to prey on

all the negative and all the attacks

versus anything nice

that you’re saying about somebody.

They love to keep sharing and spreading

nasty… I mean, I don’t know

what we do about that, but social media

has really hurt.

Well, you know, I don’t think that it’s a coincidence

that we’re seeing, you know,

high rates of anxiety and depression,

especially among our young people.

There are wonderful things

that social media has done.

It’s opened up the world in so many ways.

It has connected us in ways.

It gives you access to information.

My children can now

correct us on point

by going, Mom, you’re stupid.

That’s the right answer. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

And it’s like, ooh, I hate Google.

I hate Google.

Makes parents look stupid.

They do it to my mom all the time.

It’s like, Grandma, that science

experiment didn’t work that way, so…

But we don’t know

where all that is coming from.

And it’s too much information.

It’s like, everybody’s

opinion doesn’t matter.

It really doesn’t need to be heard

and shared. It really doesn’t.

Before, you had a crazy

uncle, and he’d just talk crazy

at the kitchen table.

And now, he’s got


You know?

It’s like,

nobody was supposed to hear

from Uncle Bubba.

Ever. Ever, ever.

We were just like, you just listen and go,


Now he’s spreading that stuff.

It’s just

we haven’t yet figured

out how to manage it.

So I think we have to be

wary, and I think, and it’s hard as

parents to

set those boundaries

for your kids. And we

just escaped it.

Because Malia wasn’t

old enough where she wasn’t

hooked on it like a drug.

Sasha is just right

in that cusp. So I know it’s easier

said than done. But for the

sake of our young people, our young

adults, we’ve got to be, you know,

we don’t know what this is doing to them.

And I think that

it’s just making us all

way more anxious and suspicious.

It is dividing us in ways

that we just have to be careful

of, and

it’s going to take us some time to really

know these effects. But I

am wary of social

media, even though I’m on Instagram

and Twitter and all that stuff.

So follow her.

So follow me on, well, you saw my

community page, so.


you talk about your mom a lot

in the book. She’s amazing, Marion.

But you talk about some


her rules. Do you want to talk about

her rules? Well, the chapter is

called Meet My Mom. Because let me tell you,

you want to know what’s my

source code, what’s my biggest tool

is that I had Marion Robinson as

a mother. She is

common sense, unique

kind of wisdom, but it’s

called Meet My Mom. And

you know, there’s a lot of little Marionisms

in there.

Just to share one, this

notion is you don’t

go to school to be liked. You

come home to be liked. And

this is another thing that helped me get

through some of those tougher times, because

my mother’s view

was, you go to school

to learn. You know, you can’t

control whether the teacher likes you.

What you need to do is get the

math that she has from her

head into yours. You come

home to be liked. That’s just

an example of just the kind of

steadiness that my mother

provided to me and my brother,

our family, her

entire life, and that she

upended her life

to come and live in the White House, which she

did not want to do.

And the only reason she

did it is that her favorite child,

my brother Craig,

convinced her that it was

the best thing for her to do.

So she reluctantly

came and lived in a couple

of suites in the White House to do me a

favor. But it was a

huge favor, creating a

kind of stability. I talk

about the fact that Grandma

lit up for us all those eight

years in the White House.

She was there seeing us as

ourselves, Barack,

the girls, me.

She was that source for me

to come to when

that stuff would happen. I could go up

to her room and just sit and let

out a breath, and she would remind

me who I was,

who we were. You know, if we were

traveling and we wanted to keep the girls

on a schedule and make sure they were

doing what they were supposed to and they didn’t grow

spoiled or pampered or

didn’t take advantage of the staff

there, Grandma was there to be

like, you know what you’re supposed to do. You know

who you are. Don’t come in here

acting new.

All of that


us grounded. So a

gift that I—one of the biggest gifts

in this book is the chapter

on my mom, because there’s

so much that she teaches

us and me.

You know, one other important thing is

that you raise the child you

have. I mean, you don’t try

to change them into another

version of yourself.

And it didn’t make sense

until—not after the first child

but the second, right?

Because the first one, you think

even if it works out,

you think it’s you, right?

You think, oh, I’m such a good parent.

You know, look how normal

they are and how they think and they listen.

And then the second

one comes, and they’re very different.

And I share a story

about when I was about to give up

on parenting, when it was clear

when my children were showing me who they were.

And I share this

story about, you know, it was one of those nights,

Barack is campaigning, kids are

little, it was time for bed, and they

weren’t listening, and I was like, go to bed.

Yee-hee-tee-hee, laughing, laughing.

And I was just, at the end of my rope, I had a long

day, and I had asked too many

times, and I just went upstairs and said, okay,

y’all don’t listen to me, I quit.

You just don’t need a parent,

so I’m out.

You can just do this all on yourself, since

you know so much, I’m just


I’m standing there, I’ve got

Malia, the older one,

who’s empathetic and sweet,

her reaction was, oh, no,

mommy, no, we wouldn’t know

what to do without you, no, don’t.

She walked in her

room, brushed her teeth, hopped in the bed,

and I was like, oh, okay, this works.

And then the little one,


she was about

five, she grabbed her

blankie, and was like, oh, good.

She walked.

And that little

girl was like, I

am so glad you are finally handing

me my life.

This is what I’ve been trying to tell you, you don’t know

what you’re doing.

And I learned right then

and there, two different people,

you know, and I have to

approach them, and it’s

been that way their whole lives.

They are beautiful,

amazing young girls, but they are separate

individuals, and I have to

approach them that way, different kind

of ways to show love, different

ways that they hear it, and that was

something my mother taught me, is like,

don’t turn your child into a mini-me.

You know, you have to parent the

child you have. So that’s just some

of the wisdom. I love that, yeah, and that’s

I think that’s

a lot of the reason that people have kids

is because they think they’re going to, you know,

mold them into exactly

what they want them to be.

Any final thoughts, anything

else you want to say before we say goodnight?

What a night, what a night.

What a night.

I just want to say, you know,

this woman is light.

Ellen, I love you. I am

grateful that you’ve taken time out of

your world to share this stage

with me. Let’s give

Ellen DeGeneres a round of applause.

I love you. I love you.

Thank you, guys.

Good night!

Throughout my life,

my mom’s wisdom has been the

armor that helped me get through

my toughest moments.

Not just when our girls were little,

but as they grew older

and especially during the White House

years. Honestly,

the topics we’ve talked about

in this episode all fit together

because my mother’s

grasp of these smaller truths

gave her a sort of

fearlessness of her own

and she shaped the

way I looked at fear,

the way I see my place in the

world, the way I interact

with all of you.

Because look, we’ll

never completely rid ourselves

of fear and uncertainty.

That’s just a fact.

But when

we fixate too much on our

fears, on the dangers

that might be lurking around the corner,

whether real or perceived,

or when we give too

much power to what other

folks think of us or how

they’ve mistreated us in the past,

we risk

letting our fears dim

our light.

So we’ve

got to get comfortable with our fears.

Sometimes a fear

is like a hater, that you

just brush off and keep it moving.

Other times,

a fear is a true nemesis

that you have to look dead

in the eye and face down

in order to really let your

light shine. And isn’t

that all we’re really here to do?

To kindle our

light, to look in the

mirror and tell ourselves that

we can do this.

And once we do

that, then we

can share our light with

others as well. So I want to thank

Ellen for her friendship,

her perspective,

and for guiding us through such a

wonderful conversation.

And thank you again,

all of you, for listening in.

I’ll talk to you soon.


additional production by

Joyce Sanford, Dan Galucci,

Nancy Golombiski, and Lisa Pollack.

With production support from

Andrew Eapin, Jenna Levin,

and Julia Murray.

Location recording by Jodi Elf.

Special thanks to

Jill Van Lokeren, Crystal Carson,

Alex Maysealy,

Hayley Ewing, Marone Hiley-Meskel,

Sierra Tyler, Carl Ray,

and Jerry Radway.

Meredith Koop, Sarah Corbett,

Tyler Lechtenberg, and

Asra Najam.

The theme song is Unstoppable by Sia.

The closing song is Lovely Day

by Bill Withers.

Audible Head of U.S. Content, Rachel Giazza.

Head of Audible Studios,

Zola Moshariki.

Copyright 2023 by

Higher Ground Audio, LLC.

Sound recording copyright 2023

by Higher Ground Audio, LLC.

Voice over by

Novena Carmel.

This episode was recorded

live at the Warner Theatre in

Washington, D.C.