A Day in My Life: Top 5 Podcasts Editions

Photo by  Annie Spratt  on  Unsplash

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Podcasts are a huge part of my life. I wake up — I usually listen to a podcast. I'm working on something — I'm often listening to a podcast. I take a break — what a great time for a podcast! Long drives? PLEASE. I have podcasts on podcasts on podcasts on deck! So now, delve into a typical day of podcast life with me. Learn, laugh, listen.

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7:30 AM
aka the time my room gets too bright to continue sleeping, so I've got to get up

The Daily is my favorite way to wake up these days. Just twenty minutes covering whatever story is going to drive that day of news at the New York Times. Almost aways topics I know near to nothing about. The last episode I listened to covered the new appointee to the Environmental Protection Agency. 

Extra: Apparently, the show is made in what used to be a large storage closet. How fun is that!

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10:00 AM
aka working time

Radiolab is probably my favorite podcast of all time. They'll take a simple topic and unwind it into an hour of deep, story-driven learning. I love listening to this while doing design work. 

The latest episode I listened to focused on 16 words in the Constitution: "Congress shall have the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes." And how these impacted the country, from one wheat farmer, to racial segregation, to way more.

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12:00 PM
aka food break time, which usually involves Netflix if I'm being honest but... if I did a podcast instead it'd be this one

This American Life was where it all began for me, hence my school-girl-like voice-crush on Ira Glass. It's all about story, all about taking big topics and hearing real people.

The best episode I've listened to lately was a two-part series called Our Town, about what actually happened when a large group of undocumented immigrants moved into Albertville, Alabama. Here's a quote that stuck with me:

"After all these years, it's hard not to notice that there's a symmetry in the lives of the old-time workers like Pat and the immigrants who arrived to work alongside them. Both groups never finished high school. Both groups used the chicken plants as a way to pull their families out of working in the fields. Both are incredibly proud that this is what let them buy a house, cars, send their kids to school, make sure they finished and didn't end up at the plants like them. And they've both seen their real wages drop over the last 20 years...

The thing is, even if Sessions had managed to block immigrants from ever coming to Albertville in the first place, or if the administration he serves figures out how to do that now, the main things in America driving down wages weren't immigrants at all."

3:00 PM
aka back to working time

Science Vs is a very approaching facts and numbers type of show. Usually about half an hour in length, their episodes have covered a ton of topics. Organic food, attachment parenting, gun control, hypnosis, birth control, and yeah — a ton more. The last one I listened to was Vitamins & Supplements - Are They Worth It?

I tend to take this show with a grain of salt. They list great resources on their website, as well as a full transcript with footnotes, so there's always more digging that can be done.

And, as the show makes clear, our scientific understanding of many things changes over time. There's a big difference between science showing something doesn't work and there not being enough science yet to show us how or why something does or doesn't work. That said, I'm not running to buy a box of multivitamins anytime soon. Cause capitalism is real. Not everything in the health industry is made with best intentions.

6:00 PM
aka could be working, could be eating, could be chilling time

Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me is just the best. Give me laughter and something new I didn't know. I'm happy. One day I'm going to call in like, "I'm Cheyenne from Richmond, VA!" and Paula Poundstone or Alonzo Bodden will say hi to me and I'll be SO HAPPY.

Did you know Britain has a Minister of Loneliness? Or that when archeologists recently reconstructed the face of a 9000 year old teenager, they concluded she looked pissed, proving teenagers never change? Now you do, thanks to Wait, Wait. Your'e welcome!


4 Things I’m Telling My Representatives in Congress This Week

Photo by  Estée Janssens  on  Unsplash

This week I learned about a little something called Resistbot. Just text RESIST to 50409 and Resistbot with send your representatives a fax of whatever you want to say. Remember that list of mobile apps that'll keep you politically engaged I posted a while ago? Between Resistbot and Countable, in just a few hours I had four messages for my reps I could just copy and paste and send, just like that. I hope you'll send messages of your own, too.

Sexual Misconduct Loses My Vote + Also Pass the Me Too Act

This whole situation with Alabama Senator Roy Moore is blowing my mind. This video clip from Samantha Bee covers most of my thoughts on that mess. And I’m sorry, but did you know that taxpayer funds go toward lawmakers’ settlement payments??

This crap has been going on in the dark for far too long. Now that it’s coming into the light, let’s do something concrete about it, like get the Me Too Act signed into law.


Dear Rep. A. McEachin, Senator Mark Warner + Senator Timothy Kaine,

As the floodgates of sexual misconduct disclosures continue to open — and Americans, including your fellow congressmen, react in a variety of ways — from shock, to anger, to denial, to evasion — I would like to remind you that I, a registered voter in your state, find sexual misconduct to be absolutely repulsive. I will not vote for someone who has committed sexual assault to represent me in the Senate — and, moreover, I will not vote for someone who knowingly defends an assaulter for political reasons. In fact, I hope that you would have no reservations condemning the actions of any colleague who has shown this kind of behavior, even if it cost you politically.

If you agree that sexual misconduct has no place in the Congress, I ask you to support the ME TOO Congress Act. Prevent future harassment and provide better support for victims.

Sincerely,
Cheyenne



Please Destroy This Tax Bill

So I was absolutely appalled when I heard that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in both the House and the Senate — BUT — what I didn’t remember from school was that before a bill can make it to the President for a signature the Senate and House versions have to MATCH, AND then both the House and the Senate have to vote on the matching version AGAIN!

Let me be entirely clear. I didn't like the sound of this bill when I first heard about it, but after I actually learned more (link, link, link, link) now, I completely despise it.

(1) It is deeply cutting taxes for high-earning businesses and individuals, on the basis of the “trickle-down” theory, which has yet to actually do what it says it does, trickle down economic prosperity beyond the wealthy

(2) It says it’s cutting taxes for middle-income households too, but by much less and potentially not for long or at all

(3) It might have a variety of negative side effects, like fewer people having health insurance and ending needed tax deductions for teachers and students

In the words of Arnold Hiatt, "This tax bill is a grand deception... It hurts the most vulnerable, and hurts health care and education, which are essential for a healthy economy."


Dear Rep. A. McEachin, Senator Mark Warner + Senator Timothy Kaine,

Thank you for voting No to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that unfortunately passed in both the House and the Senate this month. Your vote shows me that you understand how terribly this bill would impact the lives of so many people, in Virginia and throughout the country.

Please continue to do all that is within your power to prevent this bill becoming law. And more than that, please continue to do all that is within your power to protect the rights and wellness of all Americans, especially the most vulnerable.

Best,
Cheyenne



Object to New Limits on Food Stamps

The food stamps program, called SNAP, is a federal nutrition program that helps folks stretch their food budget and buy healthy food. It can be used to purchase food at grocery stores,

convenience stores, and some farmers' markets and co-op food programs.

Apparently some people in Congress are trying to get greater flexibility for states in how they administer food stamps, including requiring drug testing or increased work requirements for recipients. 44 million Americans receive food stamps today, with the average benefit at $125 a month (which is way less than I spend on groceries in a month, idk about you).


Dear Rep. A. McEachin, Senator Mark Warner + Senator Timothy Kaine,

I’m writing to you today because I’ve learned that the USDA signaled plans to give states greater flexibility over how they administer food stamps, potentially opening the door to stricter work requirements or drug testing on recipients.

I would like to ask you to do all that is within your power to prevent these kinds of changes, which may result in those who need the financial assistance of food stamps from receiving them.

Someone who tests positive on a drug test needs medical help, not less healthy food — or no food at all. Someone who’s struggling with unemployment or not enough employment — does not need less or no food.

And finally, someone who's been on food stamps for many years, doesn't need them taken away "so they can become self-reliant," but needs the kinds of opportunities that enable them to afford food without them.

If you can urge this kind of perspective in Congress, and reflect it in your choices with various bills that arise during your time in Congress, I will notice and greatly appreciate it.

Best,
Cheyenne



Do Everything You Can To Protect the CHIP

The Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP) currently provides health insurance for 9 million low to moderate income children and 370,000 pregnant women. Right now congressmen disagree about whether and/or how to extend funding for this program. If someone could explain to me how it could be bad to increase national debt for this but toooootaally fiiine to increase national debt by $1 TRILLION for corporate and high-income tax cuts, yeah… I’d greatly appreciate that. Oh and also… you should know that Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah said this about funding the CHIP,

“I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger, and expect the federal government to do everything… Unfortunately, the liberal philosophy has created millions of people that way, who believe everything they are or ever hope to be depend on the federal government rather than the opportunities that this great country grants them.”

BARF.


Dear Rep. A. McEachin, Senator Mark Warner + Senator Timothy Kaine,

I’m writing you today to ask that you protect the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in any way that you can. Talk about it. Write about it. Sing about it. Dance about it. Whatever you can do to turn the attitudes of your colleagues, like Senator Hatch for example, who seems to believe that people who utilize CHIP are people who won’t help themselves and expect the government to do everything for them.

I know — and I hope that you also know — that this is far from the truth. The truth is that America is a land of opportunity AND millions of individual stories full of obstacles, challenges and circumstances that mean that we can’t all provide for ourselves in the ways we would like to be able to. Whether for a short time or a long time, we all need help sometimes.

Protect our ability to access the help we need for our pregnant people and children’s health. Please protect the CHIP.

Best,
Cheyenne

What do you want Resistbot to send to your representatives? Tell me in the comments below!

4 Things I Learned Seeing Birth at My Local Birth Center

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This year I had the amazing opportunity to intern at Embrace Midwifery Care & Birth Center as a birth doula. Once a month, interning doulas would meet, sometimes even with midwife Corina Hossle, to share skills, practice and learn new things about our work. And of course, the most impactful part of the experience was being right beside parents as they birthed a new child into our world. 

As I listened, engaged, and watched, here are a few things that stuck out to me about birthing at a birth center like Embrace:

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Tone & Language Matter

From the moment parents arrive, it's clear that midwives spend a lot of time with their patients before labor. There's always a little laughter and natural banter and hugging, creating a much more familial feeling than a clinical one.

When a midwife checked-in on labor, communication between them and parents flowed freely. Updates were always given, and often involved the words, "here are some things we could do next."

In the instances I saw in which birth plans began changing, or concerns arose, voices and language remained calm and smooth, even when they grew more direct or firm.

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Birth Centers Are Fully Stocked

People often worry that a birth outside of a hospital won't be well-equipped, but watching labors unfold at Embrace showed me just how much they have to offer. 

They have water proof dopplers to monitor baby throughout labor, all the equipment to watch parents' vital signs, IVs, antibiotics for Group B Strep positive parents, sterile tools such as scissors to cut the cord, resuscitation equipment, baby scales, herbal tinctures, homeopathy, medicines, and more.

Plus, you can't forget the birthing tubs! Embrace has two rooms, each equipped with deep soaking tubs well-suited for labor and birth.

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Transfers Happen (& Can Still Be Calm)

A common question from parents thinking about using a birth center is, "What if I have to go to the hospital?" While interning, I was doula for a family whose long labor resulted in just that.

The midwife kept close contact with this mama throughout her labor, giving encouragement, recognizing what was difficult, and suggesting a variety of positions, herbs, an IV, and other practices before confirming the transfer decision, 24 hours after her water had broken.

The process of transferring, itself – a big change for any labor – went smoothly and quickly, with everyone on board, and ready for the change.

At the hospital, the parents were met by another midwife, as well as myself and the RN from the birth center. After nearly a day at the birth center and a few hours at the hospital, baby was still born vaginally, with minimal interventions. 

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Accidental Home Birth Happens, Too!

When I got the late night text from one birth center mom that contractions were picking up, I checked my birth bag, made sure her number was excused from my "Do Not Disturb" setting, and got ready for go-time. But early that morning, I woke to a very different text, that went something like: "Baby's here! And we're still at home! Call you tomorrow!"

These second-time parents had told me during our prenatal how comfortable they felt with labor and how they weren't sure they'd need much! How true! When baby came quickly at home, they had just called the birth center to confirm they were on their way. Within a few minutes, midwife Corina was on her way to them instead!

When I checked-in that week, the mom told me the whole beautiful story. It was a little messier than they were anticipating, but healthy mom and healthy baby were both very happy, and had had access to all the support they needed.

After watching how families are served at Embrace — from the moment they step in the door, to after baby goes home — all I have to say is, "Can we have more of these?!" "How can we let more people know?" "How can we ensure this is more accessible?"

I'm very grateful to have been able to be a part of Embrace's story this year. And to any parent considering a birth center — give your local one a visit! 


5 Reflections On Being a Rebel and an Entrepreneur

On Friday last week, I attended one day of this amazing event, RebelleCon, a lifestyle design conference for entrepreneurial women. Sound fancy? It was fancy — matcha latte shots fancy — wine in a pretty teal can with golden straws fancy — and it was all-around amazing!

As a young, Black entrepreneur, this event really appealed to me as an opportunity to learn some things I've been struggling to figure out on my own, and to meet some like-minded people — those in similar positions to me, and those who've been walking this road much longer. I need community!!

"How could you afford such a fancy, amazing conference, Cheyenne?" I couldn't! I volunteered one day of the event (BAM BUDGET WIN) and — ohhhhh — I’m so glad! Here are few thoughts that really stuck with me post-conference:

Don’t be afraid to start now.

This whole conference was a testament to the power we have when we believe in the things we envision. The women of RebelleCon (Anika and Shannon, y'all amaze me) planned this conference in about 11 weeks. Yes. I’m going to say 11 weeks again. Because 11 freaking weeks. There are 52 weeks in the year and this team of amazing women planned a 3-day conference with over 70 attendees, 9 sponsors, over 15 other major supporters, 12 speakers, and multiple venues in 11 OF THEM. And you know what? I only attended one day, and just that one day totally blew me away.

So yes, that’s why I won’t tell myself “I can’t.” I can. I can! I absolutely can. When you have an idea you’re passionate about, something you know is missing in the world, or someone will appreciate, you just believe you can and you just start. It won't go perfectly, you'll make some mistakes, there will be hard moments, AND it will all be worth it and beautiful, and amazing.


Treat wellness like an investment in yourself, instead of an expense, or damage control.

If you work work work work work without taking care of yourself... you probably already know what happens. It's not sustainable! But then... sometimes feely healthy doesn't feel possible!

With beauty, laughter and grace, Jessamyn Stanley shared what that looked like in her life, going from meltdown graduate student to stereotype-defying yoga teacher. It was not a straight-line journey.

My favorite part of Jessamyn's talk is how she took the idea of going to yoga as simply something you do some weeks to "be healthy" to a practice that can literally shine light on the dark little fortresses we all have inside — walls we create that hide our insecurities and hold us back from seeing ourselves fully and loving ourselves deeply and reaching our goals.

Investing in your physical and mental wellness is investing in your life, and investing in your life is investing in your work. At the end of the day, no matter what kind of title goes before or after your name, you've got to make sure that simple, wonderful, beautiful YOU is well. Because YOU are enough without running yourself ragged for whatever it is you may think you need to run for. Seriously, you are.

It's easy to forget that in a world run by money and status and fine print documents. But those things are man-made. We exist within their framework, but who we are — our worth — those things are far beyond them.

For me, sometimes I literally look in the mirror and I point to myself and I say, “Now you take good care of her, you hear?” It makes me laugh, and it reminds me that I haven’t taken my multivitamin yet. So then I go do that and run out of the door in a mad dash for whatever thing I forgot to put on my calendar.

But seriously, I’ve been trying hard to this year to make some financial and disciplinary investments in my health and wellbeing, from regular yoga to desperately trying to learn how to make myself simple, healthy meals.


You CAN create high-value work and stay grounded and stay accessible to your community.

Pricing has been one of my biggest struggles, literally keeping me awake at night. How do I set my prices? What does it say about me if I charge this much an hour or that much? Will I be undervaluing my peers? Will I be selling myself short? Will I scare off potential clients? Make them feel like I’m not for them? Or cause some organization to have to skimp on something else they really need if they choose me?

Because I’ve been grappling with this for a while, I took the opportunity at RebelleCon to ask my question about charging your worth and supporting your community to Tonya Rapley, founder of My Fab Finance.

Tonya is incredible. Poised, funny, sincere, and down-to-earth. She shared her story — how she left a nonprofit that severely undervalued her, how she'd been featured on a cover of Black Enterprise Magazine, and how suddenly people were asking her to coach them! What to do? She thought, Uhhh, $50 for three sessions? And not long after that, she knew she had to think again. That pricing just wasn't sustainable for her and her family.

As for my question, Tonya answered it really beautifully. It’s about the communication. And I look at it like this: I set my general hourly rate based on the value of the work that I provide. When I talk to clients, I want them to know, This service I’m offering you, it’s really valuable! But I also want my clients to know, If you can’t afford to spend this much on this service right now, I can still be here for you. Let's talk about what it can look like. Both need to be clear.

My work’s value doesn’t change if I do a task for a lower price. The case-by-case process of making it work with the client in front of me is how I can show that I’m accessible to them, that I am here for them, and that I care about them way beyond dollars and cents. Which is how I always hope people receive me and the work that I do. Way beyond dollars and cents.


When we invest in each other’s lives and work instead of competing, we all win.

I’m really not competitive. I played soccer for a few years in elementary school, ran track for less than a year in middle school, and dropped all sports by high school. Wins and losses all kind of rolled off; I’d quickly explain myself out of whichever feeling and move on to working on my latest novel (not joking, I really wanted to be a 16-year old published author, lol).

I get really frustrated with competition, especially in the doula world. I’ve been a part of a lot of meet and mingle events where parents come and interview a handful of doulas. I’ve left some of those events to find an email or a call offering me a job, and I’ve left some of those events to nothing! Because those parents didn’t pick me, they picked someone else.

I mean, it's okay to feel bummed by the loss of a potential job or client, especially when you're really passionate about the work you're doing, and you're working really hard to stay afloat.

What's the best thing for my potential client, anyway? Not only that they hire someone who can do the work, but someone they’re comfortable with and feel connected to. If I don’t fit that latter end, then I didn’t lose anything at all. That client wasn’t mine. They were that other amazing kickass entrepreneur’s.

And how amazing will it be to partner with that entrepreneur on something that neither of you could do alone? We're creators, people. We're not just out here to find work; we're here to create amazing new products and events and services — together!

Win. Win. Win.


There is so much amazing growth and friendship and opportunity yet to be known.

My favorite thing about being in a room of over 70 amazing entrepreneurs is knowing that there are over 70 amazing, inspiring stories all overlapping at that moment, and any one of those stories may intersect with mine at any time! Suspense!

I connected and reconnected with so many people on Friday that my happy little introvert soul could hardly handle it! I left during the last mingling session, drove straight home and hibernated all day Saturday.  

But I have a list of folks I’m planning to reach out to and meet up with real soon — and in fact, I met with one amazing woman, pediatrician Dr. Janet West of MyRVABaby, this morning! 

RebelleCon...? More like... Reb-HELL YES-Con! (Can I do that? Or too much?)

So from the bottom of my heart, thank you to all those who put together, participated in and supported RebelleCon. And I can't wait for next year when I'll be a speaker! 😂 (JK. Unless it actually happens. Cause you know, who knows!)


This Month in Music: October Vibes

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I listen to music constantly. Work, eat, workout, play — these are some songs that have been traveling with me through October. What songs have been getting you through your month?

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