Windows down, sunroof open, podcast on. Where I live in the countryside near Nashville it takes about 15-20 minutes to get almost anywhere. Every few days while driving to the library or grocery store or wherever, I’ll pop in my earbuds and listen to a favorite podcast while my girls listen to music or an audiobook on my ancient 2007 Honda CRV’s CD player. When we get to our destination and I take those earbuds out, I feel refreshed and filled up. At home on the farm, sometimes I’ll listen to an episode while I’m washing eggs at the kitchen sink or starting seed trays in the greenhouse.
We all listen to podcasts for different reasons—perhaps for education, entertainment, or inspiration. Since I’m homeschooling my children and working multiple jobs as an organic farmer and writer, time to myself is a precious commodity. When I do feel like filling that time with a podcast, I tend to gravitate toward ones that inspire me with a greater sense of hope and fresh wind in my sails. Here are some of them:
Here in the Nashville area, we’re right smack-dab in the Land of Dolly. I’ve listened to her haunting ballads and ridden the roller coasters at Dollywood, but there is so much more depth to this woman—and wider influence—than I ever knew. This extremely well-produced podcast series, hosted by Jad Abumrad of RadioLab, was named “The Best Podcast of 2019” by Forbes, and for good reason, I think. Way beyond glitz and cowgirl boots, it explores the “Dolly Parton’s America” we live in today—with topics like our collective humanity, diversity, Southern stereotypes, feminism, and politics. There are only 10 episodes, but I recommend listening to them in order. I finished the series with a strong sense of Dolly’s authenticity that seems to allow her to cross barriers in a way few public figures can.
Our entire lives are really built around story. In this podcast hosted by Donald Miller, guests talk about how they use the storybrand framework (inviting customers into a story where they can be the hero) to grow their businesses and connect with their customers in unique and meaningful ways. I’m consistently taking tidbits from this podcast to help me in our own businesses and just in life. A few of my favorite episodes: 178: How You and Your Family Can Live A Richer Story In 2020, and 158: Adam Savage – 7 Eye-Opening Ways to Be More Creative.
My dear friend Tara Leigh Cobble started this podcast to help people read through the entire Bible chronologically so they can discover the full picture of God’s character. She launches a new episode daily with that day’s reading and a commentary where she shares what she’s learned from studying the ancient text, leading trips through Israel, and reading the entire Bible cover-to-cover 10 times. Episodes are short, and I always leave with a nugget of wisdom that brings the Bible to life in new ways. Tara Leigh lays out the plan for you, and you can jump in anytime.
Emily P. Freeman seriously has a gift. Her soothing voice could put me into a state of meditation, and her podcast is a breath of fresh air. Each short episode shares a story and leaves you with a prayer and a practical way to “do the next right thing in love” in your own life. After listening, I always feel bolstered to do what’s before me with greater hope and peace. My favorite episode is 25: Come Home To Yourself.
This podcast by Annie F. Downs, an old pal of mine from when we worked together at Mocha Club, is full of contagious laughter, thoughtful conversations, and insights about faith and life. I usually end up thinking about them for days afterwards. A few episodes I’ve enjoyed recently: 193: Liz Bohannon + Beginner’s Pluck, 181: Andrew Peterson + Adorning the Dark, and 201: Jennie Allen.
6. Wild + Free
This podcast from the Wild + Free homeschool community (inspired by the Thoreau quote, “All good things are wild and free.”) isn’t just for homeschoolers—it’s for any mother who wants to be inspired to keep wonder, adventure, and creativity alive for our children and protect the things that matter to our families. Listening to it is like drinking a warm cup of something comforting.
I feel like Ian Morgan Cron was talking about the Enneagram before it became insanely popular. If you’re into the Enneagram at all, this one’s a keeper! In these episodes, I feel camaraderie with other enneagram 9s like me, while learning how to have better relationships with friends and family who are wired completely differently than I am.
I’ve loved doing pilates at home with Robin Long of The Balanced Life for six years now, since right after I had my second baby, and it’s been so life-giving to me. Her new-ish podcast is encouraging, empowering, and real for all kinds of women in different careers and stages of life.
On this podcast, endearing mom and author Sarah Mackenzie highlights books for all ages, interviews legendary authors, and gives tips on how we can make meaningful connections with our kids through books. I highly recommend the downloadable book lists on her website, too.
10. WOW In the World
Our whole family loves this funny and educational NPR podcast for kids about science, our brains, and other wonders in the world around us. Where else can you learn about bees, cheese, wombat poop, and the galaxy, all in one place?
11. Sparkle Stories
Husband and wife team, David and Lisbeth McCann, create beautiful stories that promote “kindness, empathy, and respect to help build a gentler world.” They’re rich in imaginative original characters, like our favorites, Martin and Sylvia. You can get several of the stories for free and then subscribe monthly for unlimited access to the entire Storybox with thousands more episodes and characters.
This is my husband Steven’s podcast where he shares meaningful, unedited conversations with guests about life, business, food and everything in between. A new season will be launching soon with Steven and I together on a podcast for the first time, so that’s kinda fun!
13. The Good List
Thank you for continuing to inspire us, Tsh. What I always loved about the Simple podcast, years before I ever knew I’d have the joy of being a co-host, was that it inspired me to live my own real life better, not to want someone else’s life (this remains one of my favorite episodes). Now, The Good List is something I look forward to at the end of each week for a little burst of happiness and even the possibility of learning something new.
Ok, your turn…what are some of the podcasts you listen to regularly? Share in the comments so we can all add some new ones to our list!