A Few of the Podcasts I Listened to While On My 17 Hour Flight from Auckland, NZ to NYC. By Dish Stanley

A Few of the Podcasts I Listened to While On My 17 Hour Flight from Auckland, NZ to NYC. By Dish Stanley

. 9 min read

Well, as you can imagine, I had a lot of time on the round trip flights to and from New Zealand (over 32 hours of flying time) to catch up on things I’ve been meaning to listen to (and other content). Here are some things I’d recommend (with more to come in next week’s Letter).

On Friendship.

Listen/Podcast. A Certain Age Hosted by Katie Fogarty: Friendships for Grownups: How to Make, Keep and Release Friendships in Midlife with Laura Tremaine (Episode 10/30/23 #158)

This conversation between host Katie Fogarty and author Laura Tremaine was a thoughtful and productive dive into understanding friendship at this stage of our lives. I recommend listening to the whole thing, but here were my biggest take-aways.

Tremaine thinks there is value in coming up with a “Friendship Philosophy.” I agree that taking the time to come up with some tenets you follow (or aspire to) has value in and of itself in thinking through the kind of friendships you want to have, the kind of friend you want to be and perhaps even, whether you measure up. I’m going to do that right away, but for now, here are three that I’ve cribbed off of Tremaine’s five beliefs. (And, as she urged, I am coming up with an additional two of my own.)

  • friendship is a “to do.” If you don’t make a meaningful effort to stay in touch with friends, you will lose touch. Maybe that’s okay with some friends, but (at least for me) it’s definitely not okay with others. So just like my other “to do’s” I started adding two half-hour slots in my calendar each week to reach out to friends (usually by text). This is “set-aside” time, so it’s in addition to whatever texting I’m already doing naturally with friends. During that “set-aside” time, I consider who is going through a crisis and might want some humor (or just to know I’m thinking of them), who I haven’t been in touch with lately, who I’d like to schedule something with AND (always, because I know how it feels) who is solo and living alone (meaning without another adult). I make sure to reach out to these friends if I haven’t been in touch.
    • Tremaine shared a meaningful anecdote about how she checked out on a friend who was going through a hard time with a sick parent because her default nature is “out of sight out of mind.” The friend was overwhelmed and hadn’t been in touch, and so she had just dropped off Tremaine’s radar. When they finally caught up, her friend called her out on the lack of support, which was the prompt that made her re-evaluate how she does friendships.
  • show up. The last few years have seen a surge in the meme that it’s okay to cancel on your friends if you prefer a night in alone. It makes cancelling on your friends a laudable thing, and pits self-care against tending to friendships. Tremaine believes this has resulted in an increase in the acceptability of cancelling. The truth is that friendships are critical to self-care, and routinely cancelling them damages your friendships. It sends a signal that you don’t value the friendship. “Just go,” she says, is her motto. Mine is similar. “Show up.” You may be tired, but the friendship is worth it, in the long run.
  • believe the best of your friends. This is an obvious point, yet another one that is easy in concept but harder to implement. We all occasionally drop the ball, inadvertently hurt somebody’s feelings, misunderstand the true signal/message, overlook the important need. Interpreting our friend’s actions in the most generous light is the unspoken, yet powerful, gift we give that makes good friendships last. It’s also a good reminder of our need to for humility around our own shortcomings.

Making new friends in midlife - the joys & challenges

Tremaine said, “Old friends get all the glory but new friends are HUGE.“

Why? “New friends … are meeting you wherever you are [now]. Most of us have fought really hard to become whoever we are and new friends like you as that person.”

New friends see you slightly (or a great deal) differently, offer the opportunity for you to bring out, or explore, different sides of you, expose you to new perspectives and ideas. New friends are as exciting as old friends are comforting - you need both! New friends keep you open and fresh.

We all have a tendency to think ”I have no room/time in my life for new friends.” But you’re missing out if you don’t have any room for new friends! Don’t have a closed circle, Tremaine says. “Remain open-hearted in order for this to be a really rich period of life.”

Men tend to put a lot of their relationship capital into one person: their wives. This is both risky and limiting. (I’ve wrote about this in Don’t Touch My Hat: Older Men & Friendship, Loneliness, Depression.)


ON Parenting. And Confidence.

Listen/Podcast. Huberman Lab. Dr. Becky Kennedy: Protocols for Excellent Parenting & Improving Relationships of All Kinds (Episode 2/26/24 #165)

There’s a lot of truly excellent information in here about parenting that’s relevant to being a parent to adult children. As it turns out, it’s relevant to being an adult generally, as we go through life bumping up into colleagues, friends, family, romantic partners. Here’s evidence, an observation on what true confidence is:

Link to confidence clip here.


On Stoicism.

Listen/Podcast. Daily Stoic. It’s Producing Something Good / 20 Inspiring Moments of Stoicism (Episode 2/27/24 #2,2024)

In this episode of the Daily Stoic, after providing a moment of stoicism on the value of getting through suffering (“the obstacle is the way”), Daily Stoic’s host Ryan Holiday spins through 20 “tenets” of stoicism. A terrific refresh (or introduction if stoicism is new to you). Another recent Daily Stoic podcast I’d recommend: Robert Greene and Ryan Holiday on Ego and Power (broadcast of a live discussion).

Watched (& It’s Missable!). Meg Ryan directed and stars, alongside David Duchovny, in the utterly missable rom com. What Happens Later. In it, Meg Ryan (as Wilhelmina Davis but really, as just the grown-up Meg Ryan she has played in all her earlier rom coms) runs into David Duchovny (as William Davis but really, as just the grown-up David Duchovny). ”When people break up there’s the thing that they tell each other, the thing they tell their friends and then there’s the truth,” says Meg Ryan (I mean Wilhelmina Davis) early on. Over the course of running into each other when stranded at an airport going in opposite directions, they discover the truth about why they really split thirty years earlier. Only watchable by die-hard Meg Ryan (qua Meg Ryan) fans, and those trying to dissuade their friendly kiwi neighbors from chatting while on a 17 hour flight from Auckland, NZ to NYC.

Oh, and I stopped in NYC On My Way Home. Here’s what I recommend.

SawAn Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen, adapted by Amy Herzog. Circle on the Square Theater. A powerful performance by Jeremy Strong in the lead role of Dr. Thomas Stockman, a small-town doctor who had made a discovery that could negatively impact the fortunes of its new health spa, and the town. I appreciated certain elements of Herzog’s adaptation, which modernize and shorten the play, including the elimination of the role of Stockman’s wife. But Herzog also changed the ending, replacing the play’s most famous line “The strongest man in the world is the man who stands alone,” with “We just have to imagine that the water will be clean and safe and the truth will be valued.” With that, she elevated the vehicle Ibsen used (environmental harm) to convey the play’s fundamental theme (the duty of the individual in a democracy to adhere to truth and morality) over the theme itself.

Ate at: Chalong (Thai). I will never pull my hair out over finding some place great at a reasonable price before or after seeing something in NYC’s theater district again. I met three friends at this lively Thai restaurant on Ninth Avenue and 49th. We shared all our dishes and had a fabulous meal (and conversation). Our favorite dishes were the Steamed Chilean Sea Bass, Green Curry Brisket and the Wok of Green. Reservations required.

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Another Podcast I Listened to While On My 17 Hour Flight from Auckland, NZ to NYC. By Dish Stanley

Well, as you can imagine, I had a lot of time on the round-trip flights to and from New Zealand (over 32 hours of flying time) to catch up on things I’ve been meaning to listen to (and other content). I’m still recommending things I listened to on those flights.

On Marriage, from a Divorce Lawyer.

Listen/Podcast. Modern Wisdom hosted by Chris Williamson: James Sexton, A Divorce Lawyer’s Perspective on Love & Marriage (Episode 3/14/2024 #757)

James Sexton is a divorce lawyer and the author of If You’re In My Office, It’s Already Too Late (2018). I thought this conversation had a couple of good reminders for all of us in or looking for relationships, and an interesting take on prenups for those getting married.

The biggest take-away for me was the importance of developing, early in a relationship, the skill of having hard conversations. None of us wants to have an uncomfortable conversation with our romantic partners - we want to laugh, have a calm dinner, watch a movie together, etc., but having important conversations is an act of love. It is giving the relationship the respect it deserves. The respect of putting the effort and discomfort into doing what’s necessary.

If you want to have a long-term, strong, happy relationship with somebody, you have to be able to say things like “What happened was not okay with me, and I need to talk about it.”

One way to get comfortable initiating these conversations is to take the perspective that our desire to walk into conflict on an issue is an indication of how seriously we take the relationship. One way to get comfortable (and even appreciative) when you’re on the other side is to recognize the show of respect that this effort demonstrates. On the flipside, an inability to discuss difficult things is a red flag that communicates that a robust, healthy relationship is not a priority, not worth the hassle. A successful relationship requires work, you want to see your partner demonstrate a willingness to do the work required of a successful relationship.

Remember that it is so much easier to do the work of staying happy while you are in a relationship, then it is to become miserable with somebody and try to crawl back to happy again. What “do the work of staying happy” means, in large part, is the willingness to address conflict areas early, when they arise.

Pre-nups. Related to having tough conversations, Sexton is an advocate of prenups. Prenups are protective! How do you raise them? Say “We’re going to have to have hard conversations, and I want us to know how to do that. I want this to be forever, if I didn’t I wouldn’t marry you. But if it doesn’t last forever, what do we owe each other?“ Another way of looking at it is that a prenup is saying “I don’t want you to be in this relationship because you’re afraid that you won’t be able to survive financially if you’re not here … a prenup will spell out how we will fairly split assets so that we can each go on if the marriage is not working.”

Love is never permanently gifted, it’s loaned. And that’s a good thing. Continue to put effort into your relationship and walk the line.

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