“Best of Both Worlds” Podcast Run-Down

This week, the guest on Laura Vanderkam and Sarah Hart-Unger’s podcast “Best of Both Worlds” was– me! To those of you who are joining us from Laura’s or Sarah’s websites, welcome! I’m so excited to have you here, and hope you’ll stick around to read and comment on posts old and new. I’d also love for you to sign up for my newsletter, The Perspective Post, so that we can make a more personal connection via email.

If you haven’t heard the episode yet, you can listen in one of two ways. If you have a podcast app, simply search for “Best of Both Worlds” and click on episode 25, “Combining Work and Life with Leanne Sowul.” If you don’t have an app, you can listen to the episode at this link. (The interview starts around 6.45.) You can also check out the discussion threads on Laura Vanderkam’s and Sarah Hart-Unger’s blogs: both comment sections are full of spirited discussion!

But first, today I’m going to give you all the details of this podcast recording: why I wanted to be a guest, what the interview was like, and how the preparation changed the way I think of my schedule and even my deepest values. 

The “Yes”

It all started back in early fall. “Best of Both Worlds” was several episodes in, and it had already become one of my must-listens for my Tuesday commute. As I said in the opening of the podcast (and as longtime readers will know), I’ve been a fan of Laura’s for many years, and quickly became a fan of Sarah’s through the podcast. In one of those early episodes, they put out a call for working moms to contact them for potential interviews.

Confession time: I’ve always had a secret dream of becoming a public speaker. Being interviewed on a podcast isn’t exactly the same thing, but I immediately wanted to jump on the opporunity. I emailed Laura and pitched her some potential angles for an interview. She wrote back with a YES! After double-checking that my school district would allow me to talk about work (yes, as long as I didn’t plan to say anything damaging) we were ready to go. We eventually set a record date for early January.

Practice Time

The week before, Laura emailed me some sample questions, and I began preparing. I’ve never given an interview this long before, nor with such a large audience (the podcast just passed 100,000 downloads this week) and I wanted to present my best self. I spent a few days journaling about the questions and rehearsing answers. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my brother-in-law Mark, a former podcast host, who did a practice run with me using the same recording platform that Laura and Sarah use. After talking with Mark, I wasn’t happy with the direction my answers were taking, so I went back to journaling and talking to myself. Thank goodness it’s now normal to see a person alone in a car talking out loud– I’m sure people just thought I was on my hands-free phone! I was also able to improve my audio after Mark’s recording by connecting a microphone that my husband uses to record his music students.

The Big Day: Podcast Recording

I had a lot of nervous excitement before the scheduled recording time, but once the microphone was on, all my nerves calmed and I really enjoyed myself. I think this is something I can translate from all my years playing and conducting concerts: once the stage lights are on, I’m able to let go and just let things unfold. This is not something I’m particularly good at in my everyday life, but I’ve been working on accessing that feeling in other situations.

And, of course, Laura and Sarah were both lovely. They asked great follow-up questions and made insightful comments that made me feel as though my contribution to the podcast was valued.

The only glitch was that I started losing my voice about halfway through– I had taught band that morning, and my “teacher voice” sometimes makes me hoarse– but fortunately most of my throat-clearing was edited out, and I had my water bottle in hand for the rest of the recording session!

I did not know exactly when the episode would be released, and I was happily surprised on the morning of Tuesday, January 23, when I opened my Overcast app to listen to the new BOBW episode, only to discover it was the one I’d recorded!

Learning Experience

In preparation for the interview, I took a look at my schedule on the micro and macro level, and discovered I was placing a high priority on getting into a creative mindset as often as possible. This is not a surprise to anyone who knows me, because creativity is one of my core values, but I hadn’t thought about it in terms of scheduling my time. In my ideal schedule, I would be in a deeply creative space most of the day, whether writing, teaching or parenting. The “parenting as a creative act” idea seemed to resonate with many, including co-host Sarah, who emailed me the next day to thank me for that particular piece of perspective.

While I loved the experience of the interview itself, and am still enjoying the aftereffects of hearing from others who enjoyed listening to it, my biggest takeaway is something that goes even deeper: the affirmation that being mindful and intentional about my daily commitments is helping me to live my best life.

Have you ever looked at your daily commitments through the lens of your core values? Were you pleased or displeased with what you learned? 

Again, I’d like to say thank you to those of you who listened to the podcast and followed the trail to the Words From The Sowul community here at Please introduce yourself in the comments, and let me know what you thought of the episode!

18 Responses to ““Best of Both Worlds” Podcast Run-Down”

  1. Jackie says:

    Hello! I found you via the BOBW podcast. I was blown away by how much you accomplish while still making time for creative exploration and your family. You truly make every minute of the day count. And the way you juggle three fulfilling careers is incredibly inspiring! I’m someone who does a ton of writing that never sees the light of day because I just don’t know where to start with publishing. Seeing how you did it makes me feel like maybe I can do it, too. Added your blog to my feed, and I look forward to reading more from you!

    • Leanne Sowul says:

      Welcome, Jackie! I’m so happy you came! I love connecting with fellow writers. It has taken me a very long time to understand the publishing game– and I know I barely have one foot on the ladder. But I do think the time I had to devote to learning about publishing was worth the time away from writing– it was an investment in the future I wanted for myself. Let me know if you’d like me to recommend books or websites. And again–welcome!

  2. Byrd says:

    Hi! This was my favorite episode so far – really inspiring. Could you post your music recommendations that you discussed with Laura and Sarah? I can’t find it in their blogs, don’t see show notes, and I even tried to re-listen to the podcast and Stitchr seemingly won’t let me.

    • Leanne Sowul says:

      Welcome, Byrd! I’m so glad you’re here! I actually wasn’t the one who recommended music (though it would have made sense if I had)– that was Sarah. But I went back to the episode and here’s what she said:
      1. Laura Marlings, Semper Femina
      2. Phoebe Bridgers, Stranger in the Alps
      3. The Overcoats, Young
      I may have spelled something wrong because I’m just doing it by ear. I hope you find them!

  3. Lucille says:

    Bravo Leanne! I enjoyed listening to your interview in my car today As you know I’ve been a huge fan of your blog and newsletter for a long time and this was one of my favorites. . Thank you for introducing me to Laura and Sarah’s podcast. I will be adding it to my favorites.

  4. Mary Beth Patnaude says:

    I enjoyed the podcast! I, like you, found Laura V. through the “168 Hours” book. I am a college professor, mother of 5 boys, and a doctoral student, so I undersatnd how important it is to make the most of every minute. I have been fortunate to be able to do some professional writing in some occupational therapy textbooks. My husband and I also met through music. He was a budding opera singer whom I met in church choir. All our boys sing and play insrtuments. I have a fourth grader who just started the trumpet. I look forward to reading more of your work!

    • Leanne Sowul says:

      Welcome, Mary Beth! You sound like an incredibly accomplished woman– I can’t imagine the kind of schedule you must juggle with 5 children and work and study. Do you have any particular planning/scheduling/prioritization secrets to share?
      Fourth grader starting the trumpet– yay! I teach more trumpets than anything else these days, it’s quite popular. When I first learned it in college, I found it very difficult, but now it’s one of my favorite instruments to teach.
      Thank you for visiting and commenting– I hope to hear from you again!

  5. Jenny says:

    I really enjoyed both this post and your episode. I’ve always been very curious about the”behind the scenes” aspect of recording a podcast, so thanks for pulling back the curtain a bit! I’ve added your blog to my reader and look forward to getting to read more from you.

    • Leanne Sowul says:

      Welcome, Jenny! I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed the post and the episode. Thank you for adding me to your feed! (It’s the only way to keep track of blogs, isn’t it? I’d be lost without my Feedly.)

  6. Anne says:

    Hi Leanne, I found your blog (and Instagram feed) from the podcast too. I really enjoyed hearing your interview and also reading this behind the scenes summary. I look forward to reading more!

  7. Aly says:

    You are a breath of fresh air. Loved your podcast!!!!

  8. How exciting, Leanne! I’m woefully behind in reading blogs and I just came across this one. I did not hear the podcast (because I haven’t yet figured out how to add podcast listening into my life!), but after reading your description of how you prepared, I’m not at all surprised that you did so well :).

    I also love how thoughtfully you approach your busy working mom life. My life is much less busy than yours, and I’ve become lazy about thinking about my core values when evaluating my daily commitments. I always feel “busy” but I’m never happy with with what I accomplish. I just finished reading Courtney Carver’s Soulful Simplicity, and it really resonated with me. Between her words and yours, I have a lot to think about!

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