The Improbable Upside

I’m starting a podcast, and not just because everybody has one and I feel left out. Rather, I finally landed on a topic that seems worthy of the amount of thought and attention required for such an endeavor.

My husband’s encouraged me to do this for a long time. He even bought me a microphone last year. “It’s for podcasting!” he explained. When I responded with a confused look, he said, “You should start a podcast!” That’s how JR works. Soon after we became housemates in 2001, he came home one day and excitedly presented his new purchase: a Muppet Show DVD. “Cool,” I said. “We don’t have a DVD player.” “Yeah, I know,” he replied. “Guess we need to get one.”

Anyway, here’s how I came upon my podcast theme:

I have a dear friend back in California. Let’s call her Skippy. (I’ll explain later.)

Skippy was brought to mind last week as I worked on a grief therapy assignment – writing out statements of forgiveness, directed at the person whose loss I’m mourning. The assignment included a stern warning: If the person you’re mourning is still alive (like in the case of divorce), DO NOT read your statements of forgiveness to the person. No one wants to hear that you forgive them unless they’ve specifically requested your forgiveness.

As I considered this caveat, I remembered one of my friend Skippy’s quirky, needling behaviors, to which I was subjected many times over the 4+ years we worked together. Periodically, out of the clear blue sky, she’d remark, “Kelly, I forgive you.” I’d look up from my desk like, Huh? Forgive me for what? I didn’t even do anything! And she’d just be typing away at the computer with a mischievous grin on her face. Sometimes she’d follow up with an evil laugh.

I then recalled another of Skippy’s signature traits, one less needlessly damaging to a person’s psyche. Whenever anything bad happened, no matter the severity, she would ask, “What good can come from this? Where’s the positive?” That was her immediate reaction. Always. It was particularly striking to me because I’d never responded to tragedy that way. My thoughts and mood would just plummet straight down a rabbit hole of doom. But with Skippy’s steadfast role modeling, I learned a powerful reframe. Positive things can emerge from catastrophe. Find the good. It’s there.

And that’s the focus of my podcast: Sharing stories of experiences that were chaotic, tragic, or simply ridiculous, then digging down to find the positive. The beauty. The points of clarity, purity, truth. The Improbable Upside.

Now that I have a theme, all I have to do is learn about podcasting. Here is what I know so far: Nothing. But I have a theme AND a microphone! That’s a start, right?

[P.S. How Skippy got her name ~ Each year, she and I walked several miles to raise money for the nonprofit where we worked. I’m very tall, and she’s very short (she calls me Gigante, and I call her Camarón), and as I’m sure you can imagine, it’s challenging for a giant and a shrimp to walk in step. After the fundraiser one year, she explained to one of our volunteers that she had to skip forward every few steps to keep up with my long strides. In her thick Southern drawl, the volunteer replied, “Well, isn’t that nice. I’ll just call you Skippy.” And there ya go. It stuck.]