For many of us, the COVID-19 pandemic has meant experiencing lockdown at home on and off for the last 18 months or two years or so. Throughout this time, Brett and I have been busy with building our house on our lot and, simultaneously, I have been fortunate to work on a number of consultancies remotely from our tiny house. Last year I worked for UNHCR and this year I have been engaged by Corus International, the ChildFund Alliance, CIVICUS, ChildFund Australia and the shíshálh Nation on a number of interesting projects, which have not only greatly inspired me, but they have also kept me up to date on new developments in the international humanitarian and development sectors and enabled us to progress to the next stage of our house build by keeping pace with rising costs in building materials and services.
Working remotely from home has many great benefits but it is not always easy, especially if you happen to be a great procrastinator like I am! I do like to dither. Well, it’s probably more akin to daydreaming really. Sometimes my head is so full of creative ideas and projects that I would love to do, I find it hard to focus and get down to the task in hand. I can always engage in displacement behaviour….right, now I will put the kettle on and make a cup of tea, then I will start work….oh first let me check on the plants…..did I water them?…then I will open my laptop…..oh let me check my emails etc. You get the picture!
To overcome procrastination and my ability to be easily distracted, I have found several podcasts on iTunes, which have accompanied me through lockdown and my daily work, while I tap away on my laptop. This may seem odd, as I usually can’t focus on work if there are loud background noises or incessant chattering and interruptions, but soothing narratives and calming melodies do seem to help.
Through them, I have not only learned so much, but also felt greatly inspired, encouraged, comforted and calm.
I would like to share them with you all now in case you would like to explore them too.
So here goes, come with me on this exciting audible voyage through my current podcast playlist in no particular order of priority:
By Damh The Bard from the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids.
This is my go to podcast series. I discovered Druidcast over a year ago. My friend Alan, recommended that I listen to the music of Damh the Bard, (pronounced Darv) a pagan musician and Druid. His music is beautiful and inspiring and shortly after sitting enraptured, while listening to his songs, I found out that he is the host of Druidcast, a monthly podcast that he produces on behalf of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, a global Druid Order, with headquarters in the south of England. Damh releases each podcast on or around the 20th of each month and you can listen to them for free on iTunes or Spotify.
Damh has a really engaging, humble, intelligent and humorous style and the programmes are often a mix of magical songs and pieces of music composed and performed by fellow Druids, some are solo artists and others are duos or bands from all over the world, covering several different types of musical genre. Usually there is also a talky bit, where Damh has had the pleasure of interviewing a Druid or a group of Druids about their Druid path and their creations, or their sacred places that they describe while on walkabout, or there will be a recording of a scholarly lecture that relates to the history of Druidry, or myths and legends, famous stories, faeries, ceremonial magic, permaculture, forest schools and so on. The possibilities are endless. I have learned so much during a year of binge listening to the entire back catalog and I have learned to appreciate the incredible diversity of the Druid family all over the world – a wonderful, collection of peace loving, nature loving, wise, kind, humorous, intelligent and incredibly creative souls.
Part way through listening to the previous podcast episodes, I decided to send off for the introductory course to the Bardic Grade and I am now following the Bardic path of Druidry. This podcast series will be of interest to those of you, who would like to know more about nature-based spirituality.
2. Smokehole Sessions
A friend of mine, called Mike, who is a climate change and sustainability expert, educator, writer, musician and founder of Sound Matters recommended the works of Dr Martin Shaw a few years ago and I had to check him out. Dr Shaw is a master storyteller like no other, a former drummer of a band, a troubadour, artist, author and educator – he runs a School of Myth in the west country. He also used to host wilderness retreats on a mountain, providing a rite of passage for a number of young people to enable them to face adulthood with wisdom and grace. He appears other-worldly at times and yet, simultaneously firmly rooted in the earth of Dartmoor. I have been devouring and savouring every book of his that I can get my hands on and I definitely recommend that you start with reading the Branch from the Lightening Tree. You can find all of his books on the Cista Mystica website.
I was delighted when he announced a series of podcasts based on one of his latest books called Smokehole. The official blurb states:
‟Author and master storyteller Martin Shaw brings us the Smoke Hole Sessions – a series of vital conversations with inspirational people, in the hope that in the crackle of the thinking, the fire of the language, the visioning and the wildness of the exchanges, we may find breadcrumbs that lead us out of the forest again, and into a deeper life. Inspired by his new book Smoke Hole, Martin speaks to some of today’s most admired writers, musicians, comedians, activists and more about their own work and what the last year has meant to them.“
I cannot recommend this series highly enough! I was completely rivetted!
3. Impact the World
By Lee Harris
Lee Harris is an energy intuitive, channeller, artist, author, motivational speaker and musician. I really enjoy listening to his monthly energy updates. Lee is incredibly warm, down to earth and practical and I have followed his work for a number of years. His work as an energy intuitive has particularly resonated with me as he has enabled me to feel more comfortable with being a highly intuitive and sensitive empath, giving me practical tools to navigate through day-to-day life and healing work.
In addition to his abundant talents, he hosts a podcast series called Impact the World, especially for entrepreneurs and creatives. They are uplifting one-to-one interviews with creatives and entrepreneurs from all over the world, delving into what inspires them and taking a look behind the scenes at their creative journey, including the highs and lows, synchronicities and experiences of how their work unfolds to contribute to making the world a better place for everyone.
4. Sustainable World Radio
Sustainable World Radio covers two topics close to my heart – ecology and permaculture. I feel I have come full circle from studying biology and rural resource management at university through actively pursuing a full on humanitarian career until now, when I have begun to explore how my husband Brett and I can live a more sustainable lifestyle in harmony with nature, here on Salt Spring Island. This podcast series is really interesting and practical, revealing many positive solutions to environmental challenges that adhere to the permaculture ethics of Earth Care, People Care, and Fair Share.
There is something for everyone, whether you live in an urban environment and want to learn more about urban homesteading, or whether you live in a more remote, rural setting where you are keen to plant a food forest or learn about herbal remedies. The interviews showcase permaculture projects from around the world in a friendly and down-to earth way that listeners can engage with and feel inspired to have a go themselves!
5. Positive Head
By Brandon Beachum
The Positive Head podcast is hosted by Brandon Beachum, whose enthusiasm and positivity is infectious. This podcast series encourages listeners to maintain a higher state of vibrational energy throughout the week. It may be an acquired taste for some, that’s for sure, but I like to dip in and out of this now and again, especially when I feel like listening to some different perspectives and get motivated by a good old proverbial kick up the bum!
On Wednesdays Brandon interviews ‟a new consciousness change-maker helping humanity’s transition into a state of expanded awareness. On the other weekdays, Brandon and Dr. Erica Middlemiss take turns discussing clips from various philosophers and teachers, answering questions from listeners, featuring Mystic Manor retreat guests, and they dig into topics to help expand your perspective and keep your soul fed on a regular basis”.
6. Under the Skin
To tell you the honest truth I used to think Russell Brand was a bit of a prat with a gigantic ego but I now confess that I have totally changed my opinion (you can you know!) and I am a fan. Many of you will be familiar with his work as a world famous and controversial comedian, actor, author, activist and spiritual seeker. He is also a recovering addict, who is very open and honest about his struggles to overcome addictions.
Through his Under the Skin podcast series we meet Russell, the man, who genuinely seeks to engage with people from all different walks of life, backgrounds, faith and no faith positions, political standpoints etc and often interviews those he knows hold radically different views and opinions to himself, in order to understand, learn, grow and encourage other people to work together to find common ground and forge a peaceful path forwards towards a better and more egalitarian world for everyone, including all sentient beings of this planet. Often humorous and surprisingly humble, his interview technique is intelligent, incisive and witty and if you want to be challenged, excited, inspired, puzzled and led down various paths of inquiry into intellectual and spiritual gardens of wonder then give him a chance.
7. A Calmer You
By Chloe Brotheridge
The Calmer You podcast is ideal if you are experiencing stress, anxiety or burnout, which, let’s face it, are sadly all too familiar to most humanitarians and development workers I know. Like so many, I have navigated my way through all of these at various points in my career, including two periods of burnout, one of which was compounded by a bout of reactionary depression. I remember starkly the moment when I sat on the floor in my flat, completely exhausted, in despair and wondering what the hell I was doing with my life. That moment of staring up bleakly from the abyss to the skyline over Battersea kickstarted a journey of discovery towards creating a better lifestyle and work-life balance and improved overall health and wellness. I began tentatively by doing a four week course by Marianne Cantwell on becoming a free range human and through her work, I discovered Chloe Brotheridge.
Chloe Brotheridge is a hypnotherapist, coach and author. Her Calmer You podcast is all about helping listeners to heal anxiety, quiet the inner critic and live a more expansive life of calm and confidence. I particularly like the episodes about personal resilience. They have certainly accompanied me on the road to freelancing and now I feel I am not only more in control of my working hours and workload but also much happier, fulfilled and have plenty of room to explore other creative pursuits.
8. The Mike Harding Folk Show
Some of you may already be aware that I am a huge fan of folk music and particularly acoustic folk music from around the world. One of the changes I have made to improve my lifestyle/work balance has been to create space for pursuing the things I love the most and brings me joy. So I am gradually taking up music again, playing various instruments that I had set aside to focus on my humanitarian career, singing folk songs and resuming writing and performing my own original pieces.
Mike Harding is a legendary champion of folk music in the UK, a nifty banjo player and singer, radio host and an avid fly fisherman. I used to listen to his radio show a lot, when I was younger and especially during the time when I sang at folk clubs in Wales and the south of England. Dissatisfied with the BBC’s treatment of folk music, Mike broke away to produce his own Mike Harding Folk Show podcast, which you can find on numerous podcasting platforms. Mike aims to showcase the very best in folk, roots and acoustic music and he achieves this in spades accompanied by his ready wit and finger picking prowess. It does what it says on the tin! ‘Nuff said.
9. My Camino
My Camino the podcast found us one day during a road trip to Kenora back in October. It started playing all by itself on CarPlay from Brett’s iPhone. Spooky! He had not even bookmarked it. In fact neither of us knew it existed until that moment! How’s that for a random synchronicity? Anyhow, Aussie Dan Mullins, a musician, raconteur, Sydney-based broadcaster and podcast host soon drew us in with his beautiful, deep, yet soothing radio voice, vivid descriptions of el Camino de Santiago and gentle, engaging interview style.
This is a weekly podcast featuring interviews with pilgrims from around the world who have walked the many paths to the remains of Christ’s Apostle St James in Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. Dan explores pilgrims’ motivation for undertaking their Camino, what they carried, where they stayed, how far they walked each day and many other questions. Dan and his guests also explore the mystical nature of the Camino ~ and what makes it so special to so many pilgrims from around the globe. If you are thinking of walking el Camino de Santiago then do not hesitate to listen to this podcast series.
Many of you, who have been following this blog may remember that I walked the Camino Frances route of el Camino de Santiago for the first time in 2015 to honour my mum, who had passed away from terminal cancer. The journey of pilgrimage was tough, truly transformative and joyful. The following year I returned to the Camino to walk the Caminho Portuguès with Brett as newlyweds – it was an amazing adventure and yes, we were still married by the end and in 2019 we both returned to the Camino Frances to walk it together in the spring time. You see once a pilgrim – always a pilgrim! You are welcome to watch the short film called A Poetic Journey along el Camino de Santiago, which we made based on our best photos, short video clips and original poems if you would like to get a feel for what the whole journey looks like. If the Camino has called you, heed the call and go. You won’t regret it! Buen Camino and ultreïa et suseïa!
Right, well I’d best be off now to do some work… 🙂
Thanks for sticking with this lengthy blog post. It is my sincere wish that it is useful to you or someone you know, so please do pass it on. If you found this post helpful or interesting then please subscribe for more, using the subscribe box below.
For now, take care and happy listening!