Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott is the author of seven novels including, Hard Laughter, Rosie, Joe Jones, Blue Shoe, All New People, and Crooked Little Heart (the sequel to Rosie), as well as five bestselling books of non-fiction, Operating Instructions, an account of life as a single mother during her son's first year and Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, a guide to writing and the challenges of a writer's life, Traveling Mercies, a collection of autobiographical essays on faith, and Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith. Anne Lamott has been honored with a Guggenheim Fellowship, and has taught at UC Davis, as well as at writing conferences across the country. Anne's biweekly Salon Magazine "online diary," Word by Word, was voted The Best of the Web by TIME magazine. Filmmaker Freida Mock (who won an Academy Award for her documentary on Maya Lin) has made a documentary on Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird with Annie (1999). Anne's last collection of essays is Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith. Her most recent novel, entitled Imperfect Birds, was published in Spring 2010. In the Fall of 2010 Anne Lamott was inducted into the California Hall of Fame. Her latest book, Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son, is non-fiction and was released in Spring 2012. In her next book, Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers (November 2012), Anne gives us three prayers to assist us in trying times. She is also working on an essay collection entitled As in Life: New and Selected Pieces, about moving through grief and loss.

Author photo © Sam Lamott

Listen to Tami Simon's in-depth audio podcast interview with Anne Lamott:
Radical Self-Care Changes Everything »

Neal Allen

Neal Allen is a writer, spiritual coach and speaker whose chief interest is removing obstacles of the ego. He is the author of Shapes of Truth: Discover God Inside You (Self Published, 2021), and Better Days: Tame Your Inner Critic (Namaste Publishing, 2023). A former journalist and corporate executive, he earned master’s degrees in Political Science and Eastern Classics. He lives with his wife the writer, Anne Lamott, in Northern California.

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Anne Lamott and Neal Allen: Taming Your Inner Critic

Many people have written and taught about the inner critic. But few have illuminated the subject with an approach as refreshing, innovative, and accessible as the one Neal Allen presents in his new book, Better Days—which includes a foreword by his wife, the celebrated writer Anne Lamott. 

In this podcast, Tami Simon sits down with the uniquely talented, often quirky, and always insightful couple to hear how they’ve come to understand and reframe the sneaky inner voice that manifests as an unnecessary source of torment for millions of people. Give a listen as they discuss: vulnerability as a path to relationship—and to the divine; radical silliness; the protective role of the superego (and why it’s so reluctant to give up control); the empty chair technique in gestalt therapy; giving your inner critic a new assignment in life; reclaiming the value of curiosity; destroying your false identities; anxiety and its source; tips for identifying the sometimes subtle voice of the inner critic; the futility of arguing with your inner critic; exploring the truth of who you really are; the “saying yes” practice; acceptance and surrender; and more.

Note: This episode originally aired on Sounds True One, where these special episodes of Insights at the Edge are available to watch live on video and with exclusive access to Q&As with our guests. Learn more at join.soundstrue.com.

Radical Self-Care Changes Everything

Anne Lamott is the celebrated author of many books of fiction, essays, and memoirs. Her works include Bird by Bird, Hallelujah Anyway, and Crooked Little Heart. In this special edition of Insights at the Edge originally recorded for The Self-Acceptance Summit, Tami Simon speaks with Anne about acts of “radical self-care” and how they are essential for anyone’s well-being. Anne talks about self-acceptance as an innately feminist concept, especially around issues of body image and self-esteem. Finally, Anne and Tami discuss how it is necessary to fully accept oneself before being able to show up for others, and why modern society often argues the opposite.

Anne Lamott: Radical Self-Care Changes Everything

Anne Lamott is the celebrated author of many books of fiction, essays, and memoirs. Her works include Bird by Bird, Hallelujah Anyway, and Crooked Little Heart. In this special edition of Insights at the Edge originally recorded for The Self-Acceptance Summit, Tami Simon speaks with Anne about acts of “radical self-care” and how they are essential for anyone’s well-being. Anne talks about self-acceptance as an innately feminist concept, especially around issues of body image and self-esteem. Finally, Anne and Tami discuss how it is necessary to fully accept oneself before being able to show up for others, and why modern society often argues the opposite. (54 minutes)

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Alexandra Roxo: Dare to Feel

There are valid reasons why we sometimes guard our hearts. Yet when we keep them closed, we diminish our capacity to live life to its fullest. Alexandra Roxo has a gift for helping people “meet the difficult places” within us, to heal and open our hearts and “dare to feel” the emotions that were once too painful or overwhelming. 

This episode of Insights at the Edge features Tami Simon in conversation with Alexandra about her new book, Dare to Feel. Inviting us to walk the transformational path of the heart and embrace the totality of our emotional experience, Tami and Alexandra discuss: the emotions of relationship and intimacy; being a warrior of the heart; an overlooked—and wholly avoidable— source of emotional overwhelm; the “spiritual illness” of seeking numbness; the willingness to take risks to nurture and express love, especially with strangers; how contemplative practices help us stay with the full range of our feelings; the intersection of human experience and spiritual experience; pain as a portal to the divine; self-awareness and witness consciousness; emotional resilience and self-trust; practicing feeling; and more.

Note: This episode originally aired on Sounds True One, where these special episodes of Insights at the Edge are available to watch live on video and with exclusive access to Q&As with our guests. Learn more at join.soundstrue.com.

Breaking away from the idea that there is one “right...

We live in a wild world with a wealth of information at our fingertips. This means we can read reviews, check forums, and see what other parents are saying about everything we purchase or do for our children. 

But that is not always a good thing. There is such a thing as too much research. 

I distinctly remember working with a client who had very high expectations around her child’s food. She was concerned with what ingredients were in the food, how it was prepared, how it was served—and anything less than “healthy” felt wrong to her. She was a self-proclaimed perfectionist who wanted the best for her child—she wasn’t going to “lower her standards” at the request of her partner or anyone else. 

As a result of her food concerns, she spent hours upon hours extensively researching topics related to food such as GMOs, toxins, ingredients, and safety. Through her research, she also read that stress could decrease her milk supply—so she shut down any conversations when her family tried to approach her about this or how it had taken over her life. 

This level of research was no longer about the food—postpartum anxiety was in the driver’s seat, pushing her to search for control. 

It’s also important to break away from the idea that there is one “right” way to mother. Just because we have access to information doesn’t mean there isn’t room for nuance. Take “healthy food” as an example. What constitutes a “healthy” diet has been a debated topic for decades and is often a wellness space filled with fads and extremes with each approach contradicting the next. There have been more rules prescribed to our food then I can count that cause people not to trust themselves and leave them seeing food as being good or bad. Food is not black or white. Our approach doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

In my client’s case, research had gone beyond just information-seeking. Sometimes, research is just research. But other times, research is:

  • Trying to find the “right” or “best” way to do something
  • Seeking reassurance
  • Grasping for certainty
  • Feeding your anxiety
  • An attempt to soothe your anxiety

I have seen this pattern play out many times with many of my clients. I believe that in many ways intensive mothering prevents us from seeing signs of anxiety. When we interpret perfectionism and the need to avoid mistakes at all costs as being a good mother, we have a lot of pressure to carry. It’s no wonder that so many of us find ourselves in the research rabbit hole.

Does that mean all research is bad? Of course not. But we need to learn the difference between when it’s helping and when it’s not. Researching should be used to provide you with enough information to make an informed decision. It should have boundaries—not be all-consuming. 

Excerpt from Releasing the Mother Load: How to Carry Less and Enjoy Motherhood More by Erica Djossa.

Erica Djossa

Erica Djossa is a registered psychotherapist, sought-after maternal mental health specialist, and the founder of wellness company Momwell. Her popular Momwell podcast has over a million downloads. Erica’s a regular contributor to publications like the Toronto Star, Scary Mommy, and Medium, and her insights have been shared by celebrities like Ashley Graham, Nia Long, Christy Turlington, and Adrienne Bosh. She lives in Toronto. For more, visit momwell.com

Judson Brewer: Ending Worry Addiction and Unwinding An...

Do you have a habit you just can’t break no matter how hard you try or how badly you want to? Renowned addiction psychiatrist, neuroscientist, and bestselling author Judson Brewer—or Dr. Jud, as he’s widely known—has helped millions of people find freedom from excessive worry, overeating, cigarette smoking, and many other challenging behaviors. In this podcast, Tami Simon speaks with Dr. Jud about his life-changing books—The Craving Mind, Unwinding Anxiety, and most recently, The Hunger Habit—and his compassionate and respectful approach to habit change. 

Enjoy this empowering and “aha!-inducing” conversation about breaking the cycle of anxiety; the process of negative reinforcement; fear of the future vs planning for the future; the three elements of a habit loop: trigger, behavior, reward; the pros and cons of distraction; distress tolerance—a survival skill for our times; changing the reward value of a behavior; karma and reinforcement learning; exploring gratification to its end; the brain as a smoke detector; recalibrating the nervous system after trauma; the concept of dependent origination; the superpower of interest curiosity; hedonic hunger vs homeostatic hunger; paying attention to your “pleasure plateau” when it comes to food; awareness as the key ingredient for behavior change; the mantra “What’s this?”; and more.

Note: This episode originally aired on Sounds True One, where these special episodes of Insights at the Edge are available to watch live on video and with exclusive access to Q&As with our guests. Learn more at join.soundstrue.com.

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