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Looking Back And Looking Forward

SOLO 50 | Looking Back

 

This week, we celebrate the 50th episode of Solo. To do so, Peter McGraw invites back Julie Nirvelli and Kym Terribile, who joined him on Episode 1 – an Introduction to Solo. He starts by presenting how far the project has come, from its exponential listener growth, fueled by listener word of mouth, to the new Instagram account @unapologetically_unattached. They revisit the themes he set out for the podcast, discuss their favorite episodes, and talk about where the project is headed.

One more thing before we start Solo has its second sponsor: Wax Crescent, a boulder-based company that makes small batch candles hand poured. Founded by a solo entrepreneur and contributor to the podcast. Kym Terrible, her candles are made with soy wax and infused with wonderful fragrances and essential oils.   Each candle is topped with a crystal. Yes, a crystal. Kym sells other hippie dippie stuff on there too. Don’t worry, gentleman, Wax Crescent has guy friendly candles, or as I like to call them, MANdles. Peter’s favorites are Wild Wonder and Imagine.

Use code: SOLO20 for 20% off your first order at waxcrescent.com.

Listen to Episode #50 here:

Looking Back And Looking Forward

This episode, we celebrate the 50th episode of the show. To do so, I invited back two of my friends, Kym Terribile and Julie Nirvelli, who joined me on episode one, An Introduction to Solo. I started by presenting how far the project has come from the exponential reader growth fueled by your word of mouth to the new Instagram handle, @Unapologetically_Unattached. Julie, Kym, and I revisit the themes I set out for. At the beginning of the show, we discussed our favorite episodes and talked about where the project is headed. As always, please rate and review, tell your friends and family, and most importantly, thank you for reading. I appreciate you. I hope you enjoy this episode. Let’s get started.

Our first guest is Julie Nirvelli. She was born and raised in San Jose, California and earned her college degree from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. She has lived in Colorado for many years as a strong, independent and fun-loving person. She embraces the solo life. She appeared in episode 10, What Makes a Life Remarkable? and episode 18, Solo Entrepreneurship. Welcome back, Julie.

Thanks for having me. I’m excited.

Our second guest is Kym Terribile. She is a writer and entrepreneur. She is the solo Founder of Wax Crescent, a candle company focused on the idea of self-care and intentional living. Kym holds a degree in English Literature from the University of Hawaii. She’s single and lives in Boulder, Colorado with her two dogs. Kym was a guest co-host in episode four, Why Are Superheroes Single? Welcome back, Kym.

Thanks for having me.

In addition to the previously mentioned episodes, readers may remember both of you from episode one, An Introduction to Solo, which is why I invited you back here, 50 episodes later. We will be talking about how it’s going and where Solo is headed. Here’s our agenda. We’re going to start by looking back at episode one and revisit some of the themes for the show. I’ll ask the two of you to bring forth your three favorite episodes since then that we’ll talk about and we’re going to finish with a conversation about where Solo is headed as a podcast and beyond. Have you done your homework?

I didn’t reread episode one. That’s been a long time ago.

I did, for all of us. Before that, I want to give our readers and the two of you an update on what’s been happening. It’s surprisingly difficult to figure out accounts so I google podcasts, iTunes, and so on. They don’t publish that stuff. You have to figure it out. One piece of information I have from the company that I use is as of the moment, we already have 110,000 downloads. That feels impressive, especially because I do not promote this show. I put it on social media and stuff, but no one follows me.

I know why it’s growing. All of us readers, when we go on dates, we tell people about it.

That’s true. I had an audience who went on three dates in one day and told each of the dates about the show. You’re right, Julie, there’s a ton of word of mouth. I can’t tell you the number of people who said, “I’ve told ten people about this thing.”

I know because I have.

How many people do you think that each of you has told?

I’ve told a dozen because I wanted them all to read episode one. I told everyone who follows me on social media.

That’s true, but as a personal recommendation, probably fifteen-ish.

That’s the first place people are finding out about it. I’ve told this story before and I’ll tell it again. We did a live Zoom call and there was a woman between 35 and 42. She heard about it from her 22-year-old nephew. That’s crazy that those two demographics are both reading. The other place is search. If they send me a note about how they’re enjoying it, I ask, “How did you hear about it?” They say, “A friend told me or I was searching in iTunes or through podcasts.” That has me excited like, “I am going to get serious about promoting this.”

There was a big jump in readership in late July and another one in early September. It’s not because I had some famous person on, but something happened around those times. Two-thirds of the reads have happened since July. The soft-launched was at the end of December 2019 and the real launch was the first week in January 2020. There are nonlinear effects that are happening so that’s good. The sound quality was pretty good generally when we were all in person, but because now almost everything is remote, I’ve gotten much better about microphones, internet quality, coaching my guests and so on.

I don’t think our sound quality was ever terrible, but it was less than ideal, so thanks to everyone for making it through that. We’ve had some sponsors. We have Wrapture Masks. This is a machine washable antimicrobial mask. I wear my Wrapture Mask all the time. A pro-tip, get the upgraded one because it fits better, especially if you have a nice long face as I do. Kym has also been a sponsor. She sponsored one episode, which is exciting, Wax Crescent candles. I even plug Kym, your MANdles.

There are more MANdles coming so get ready people.

I like a good candle and also fall is coming, so that’s perfect.

These are no ordinary candles. They are the coolest candles ever. There are little surprises in them.

That was on the What The Buck episode with Michael Buckley. He is one of our remarkable singles, I’ve been doing a monthly Zoom call. I keep screwing up the right time and date to get it done. If you sign up at the Solo page on PeterMcGraw.org, you can get your email when there’s going to be a monthly Zoom call. I love the monthly Zoom calls because you get to meet people who are readers and get feedback. People have gotten connected. At the last Zoom call, someone in San Diego, Salt Lake City and Milan all got connected and that is good. Speaking of connecting, I have launched a forum on our website and it has been a total failure. It’s not user-friendly and not getting any traction, so I am shuttering it. We’re going to be doing a Slack channel, but it’s going to be invite-only.

You have to apply to be part of the Solo community on Slack. If you go to PeterMcGraw.org on the Solo page, you will be able to do that. I have also launched an Instagram page, @Unapologetically_Unattached. I realized that that is the longest Instagram handle out there. It’s getting mixed reviews, but that is happening. Please look for us there. I’ll be doing episode announcements on there. Also, my good old inspirational quotes and cheekiness, but we’re also going to be doing Solo Community Member Profiles. Julie is going to be the first one. Let’s see what it looks like and Kym will be coming down the road.

That’s okay. I’ll wait for my turn.

Things are happening. That’s exciting and feels good. I’m spending more time than ever on this thing. Way more time than I did in my previous show, but the feedback keeps coming in that I am having a great time.

SOLO 50 | Looking Back
What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding: A Memoir

It has momentum.

We will get into it as we talk about moving forward some of the things that are happening that I think are kind of exciting. It’s off to a good start. I’m going to keep doing at least 50 more. I’m certain of that. We’re going to do the show like you should do a marriage, which is you do it for a while, then you sit and assess like, “This is going well. Let’s keep doing this.” Let’s talk about episode one. I reread the episode. It’s okay that you two haven’t. I want to revisit some of the themes that were in that episode. What I wanted to do with the show was to have a discussion of the benefits, opportunities, and pitfalls of solo living. I wanted to have experts on nutrition, finance and fashion. Kym outed me about my stylist.

I didn’t realize I outed you until I went back to the episode with the stylist.

You didn’t really out me. I was planning to have her on, at some point, so you previewed it.

It was a little teaser.

I could have edited your teasing of my teaser out there. I’ve even talked to a barber so we’ve had a wide range of experts. I also wanted to talk to remarkable singles. I had an episode with Lisa Slavid climbing her second mountain, Jill Cohen with you, Julie, about what makes life remarkable. I’ve mentioned earlier, the What The Buck episode with Michael Buckley, who is a former YouTube star now turned coach. Here are the themes. I want you to respond to these. If you guys are regular readers, do you think we’re hitting the mark so far with these? The first one is that I wanted the project to have a positive view. There’s a lot of single stuff that’s whiny, complainy and look at how bad things are. “I want to celebrate singlehood. I don’t want to be anti-marriage.” What do you think so far?

I’m going to get all emotional. One of the biggest inspirations of 2019 for me is it is such a positive and empowering thing that you’re doing. You’re celebrating the solo life, what it means and the freedoms that are associated with it. I tune in and every time I’m done with an episode, I feel incredibly empowered and grateful that for the first time in my life, I feel like there’s a community of people who are able to model the lifestyle that I want.

It’s been very positive. If it was whiny and all of that, it wouldn’t be growing and getting the support it’s getting. It’s been a great tone.

Initially, one of the things you set out to do, I remember during episode one, you were like, “I don’t want this to be something where we’re bashing married people or people in relationships.” The fact that you have many readers that are in relationships and are married, it shows you’re creating this thing. It’s celebrating singlehood, but it’s also something for anyone who wants to be independent and empowered in their life.

That’s nice because I’m not anti-marriage. I just think it’s overprescribed. I am not sure that 9 out of 10 people should do it or even 3 out of every 4 or that you should try to do it all the time for your whole life. They’re complementary in that way. It’s just that one shouldn’t have special status. I do feel that I have gotten a little more serious since the beginning. Some of that is because of COVID stuff, some of it is because there are thousands of people reading that I feel more pressured to perform.

You’re not having performance anxiety, are you?

No, but I have been prepping a lot more. Sometimes I feel like, “I’ve got to stick to the script and the agenda.” That’s something that I’m feeling a little bit, but I don’t know if anyone else has noticed it. The world’s gotten a little more serious also and that’s something I want to move back to a little bit more fun and lightness.

I like that idea because thinking back to episode one, we were cracking jokes and we laughed a lot. Not that that hasn’t happened, but I do feel like that was a light episode.

The second one is that I want the project to be inspirational. Kym touched on that a little bit. For example, I had mentioned Lisa Slavid as one of our remarkable singles. I think that Lisa’s Second Mountain episode is one of those things that, “Here’s someone who’s retiring early and becoming a digital nomad in her 50s.” That’s a big thing to a degree that we can inspire people to live better lives that the guests, the experts and me can do that. There are enough episodes you can point to that have that inspirational quality.

It’s also inspiring people to think outside the box. There are many opportunities to do some amazing off the beaten path things. I think a lot of people are limited to their exposure of what those opportunities can be. These amazing people you have and even if you don’t want to become a traveling nurse, as Jill was, maybe there’s some other traveling profession you can do or you can take your own profession now that people work remotely so much. When we can start to travel again, maybe you can incorporate that. It’s innovative and sparks new ideas.

The next one was stretching oneself, this idea of living on your edge. Finding and putting yourself in a situation where you’re not overly stressed, but you’re also not bored. You’re constantly challenging yourself. I think about the episode on psychedelics as a potentially stretching thing for someone to try that it might inspire them to do something like that on less of a stretch. It might be the Boxing episode, where you might go and try a boxing class. I’ve never punched anything before, what would that be like? I like the idea of stretching oneself.

If you’re going to embrace single living, it’s going to be a natural stretch. In a world built for married people, it’s going to naturally stretch your comfort zone because of the conversations that you’re going to have, the people you’re going to encounter, and the opportunities that you’re going to have. I want it to be broad, not just about relationships. We’ve had some relationship-focused episodes and they’ve been fun, but I don’t think anyone’s going to say this skews too heavy on sex, dating and relationships.

It’s been a small percentage of episodes.

It’s important and you have to cover those topics.

It is part of single living or can be for some people, not for everybody.

How do you fit relationships into being single? How do you stand in contrast to a marriage or relationship? How do you navigate this? That’s one of those, but this is not a sex and dating series in that way. Next is I want it to be inclusive. I want it to be applicable for both men and women. I’m conscious of the fact that I’m a male host, creator and producer of this so I’ve worked hard to have that inclusiveness reflected in guests and cohosts, not just in terms of gender, but also age and other forms of diversity, sexual orientation and so on. That’s something that is on my radar. It’s something that I’m trying to pursue. I think we’re off to a good start. One of my readers, who’s a friend, he was giving me a hard time about some of the pictures on my website of some of the guests. I sent him an analysis of the diversity of all of the stuff. He said, “Pete, the fact that you’re paying attention is enough for me.”

Do you get those kinds of stats about the audience, gender, age and things like that?

No, I just have country. Obviously, this is big in the United States followed by Canada, the UK and Australia. That’s not surprising but occasionally, I have a reader in Guatemala or something like that. The last one is I want to build a community. I don’t want this to be a show that is one direction, broadcasting out into the world. I want to give singles a chance to talk and get to know each other. The Zoom calls have been an initial foray into this community. The Slack channel will be the next step. COVID has put a kibosh on any events for now, but I could imagine eventually having events. I think Denver and Los Angeles will be the first places that I would do something like that. Overall, it was fun to go back at those themes. It’s important to have themes to have goals and it was a good reminder to see how far we’ve come in 50 episodes.

It is what you thought it would be when you set out to start it. You had this idea in mind and it does seem to be what you thought it would be.

SOLO 50 | Looking Back
The Hero with a Thousand Faces

I love my one-pagers. I like to write a one-pager for a project. If you do that well, it gives the project a tone. It helps create language and it presents guidance, so you’re going to rely on it. When I think about the one-pager that I wrote for the show, and I look back on these themes and at the execution, it’s fitting well. At times, it feels a little haphazard, it bounces around a bit. You don’t quite know what you’re going to get every week. I don’t know if that’s a feature or a bug. Kym, you’ve already previewed this, so maybe this will be a little bit more for Julie. Let me ask you this, how have you been affected by the project and by your participation in it? You two have been heavily involved as guests or guest cohost to this point. When you think about it overall, before we get into these episodes, is there anything that comes to mind?

It has expanded my thinking about how to be in the world as a solo person. There are a lot of different ways you can do that. It’s shifted my thought process about that. As far as my participation in it, it’s been uplifting and fun to be involved. I was telling my neighbor that I was going to be recording this. She said, “Congratulations.” I was like, “It’s my friend’s show.” I’ve had a couple of people say that, “It’s such a cool idea.” It’s congratulations that you’ve been involved with something so cool because it’s such a unique idea. I love thinking about it and giving my feedback and participating. Thank you for including me.

I appreciate both of you so much from the beginning of the encouragement offline and then the encouragement online. One of the things that’s fascinating about doing this show is the number of ideas I get. There are lots of ways to be single versus one way to be married. I always talk about optionality. The singles have more options and that’s both a blessing and a curse because it can create uncertainty of, “I don’t know what to do,” versus when you head down the traditional conventional route, the relationship escalator. You know exactly what to do and have a sense of the timeline. I like the idea that there are lots of ways to do singlehood and thankfully, lots of ways to do it well. That’s what the goal is, how to thrive. How about you, Kym, anything that you want to add from your tearful acceptance speech?

Every time you asked me to be on this, I’m shocked because I’m new to the single life. I’ve been in long-term relationships since I was sixteen. I feel like as you’re starting this project, I was a year into a solo lifestyle. I feel like I’m still learning and gaining my footing in this world. This show is showing me all the different experiences I can have and all the different things I can do. I feel like everything you’ve talked about are things that I’ve experimented with and tried out, from entrepreneurship to figuring out how to go on a date to traveling alone.

It’s good to have a voice, the two of you. You’re not experts. You’re real people living it. You’re in the trenches. You both have good voices. Let’s get into these episodes. I asked each of you to prepare your three favorite episodes. I’ve also done that for myself. You should tell me what they are so I can be prepared. All three of us had one episode on our list. We all separately made our lists and we all had the same episode on it. That episode is the Relationship Escalator.

That was initially one of mine.

Let’s talk about that episode because that talks about having your view of the world changed. Kym, why did you put it on your list at first?

It is because I thought it was important. That’s what I was raised with. That’s what you do. That’s all I knew. Reading that episode, I was like, “There are other ways to go about this. There are other things I can do with my life. I don’t have to find a partner and go through life with them.”

In the Relationship Escalator, Amy Gahran sets forth this model, by which to think about this prototypical relationship in society.

Imagine you’re on the escalator and you get off at the top, which is until death do us part or that type of idea. What I liked about Amy was it opened your mind about various ways to be solo in the world. She talked about inclusivity when you were saying that that was one of your goals. That’s what I thought of was all of her ideas. I am naive when it comes to all of that so it was interesting to me to hear various ways and different ideas.

In this episode, she talks about these characteristics of the relationship escalator. Consistency, you start with the person, you finish with the person. There are no in-between people. You’re monogamous. You merge your lives, your finances, your living arrangements and so on. This relationship has a special status. That partner is granted special status in your life. For example, you get invited to a wedding. People expect you to bring your relationship escalator partner, not your friend from second grade, these kinds of things. What she does with this model and with her book as we talked about in the episode is when you start deviating from those characteristics, you start to become unconventional. Amy lives an unconventional life. She’s what you would call solopoly. She lives alone, but she has two as she calls them sweeties. Those two people are not in a relationship with each other. They’re connected to each other through her. That is quite nonstandard, but it works quite well for Amy. Amy had lived the old relationship escalator. She had been married earlier in her life.

What was interesting is of her two sweethearts, one chose to be monogamous with her and the other is not.

That’s where we get to this thing. There’s one way to be married, but there’s an infinite number of ways to be single or solo. That’s the other thing, the follow up is this solo mentality that you don’t even need to be single to have this autonomous view of how you want yourself to be in the world. What are the reasons why that became one of your episodes, for the two of you?

The idea about, even if you have a partner or multiple partners, you make life decisions based on what’s best for you and you’re not necessarily consulting another person or making life decisions jointly with that person. She said one of her partners was planning on retiring on an island somewhere, but he’s not going to let his relationship with her stop that lifelong dream of his. I thought that was interesting too to be more solo in that way.

What’s uplifting about that is if he does that, it doesn’t make the relationship a failure. If you strip away consistency as one of the characteristics, if you loosen that constraint, then if their relationship ends because he moves to a desert island, there’s no grieving. They haven’t failed in that sense. Just because a relationship ends doesn’t mean that that’s bad. That is a huge idea that relationships might have their place in time or place in space because something moves someone out of that space or they change whatever happens and it ends. That doesn’t mean that there’s any failure. If there is anything, this might end because of a moment of growth that happens. I think also the idea of, if we could license people to not necessarily live together, they might be happier. How much stress comes from the fact that you have to share a space with someone who you may love and care about and love spending time with, but your lifestyle is different. Your hours, your messiness, your temperature preferences are different.

I have a friend and her mom’s husband lives across the street from each other.

I think that’s great, but the rest of the world is like, “What’s going on over there?” Once you understand the escalator, then you could start thinking about how you’re going to tweak the characteristics of the escalator to have relationships that make you happy, even if they make other people uncomfortable.

That’s what Amy was saying too. Once you meet nonconventional people, it boggles their minds like, “What do you mean? How do I process this? I don’t understand that.” I thought that was interesting too.

At best you have some conversations, which you have to do a little bit of teaching and educating if someone approaches it with an open mind. Certainly, if you’re comfortable against those unconventional relationships, you don’t have to be on the defensive. What bothers me is many single people are on the defensive. Many solos are playing and they are trying to explain this way because of the type of questions that they’re getting have all this value associated with them. It’s not just, “I don’t understand this. Can you help me understand? Why don’t you live with your husband?” There’s a big difference to saying, “You’re the first person I’ve met who doesn’t live with their partner. Why do you guys do that?” That’s a great way to approach that question versus, “Why don’t you guys live together?”

A good answer would be, “It is because I don’t want to get divorced. I want to stay married.”

It’s one conversation you have to have with someone. It is an uncomfortable conversation about your lifestyle choice and the rest of the time, you’re happy with your lifestyle choice.

I’m going to do an entire episode on these kinds of conversations and how to have them. One of the previous guests, Kris Marsh dropped this gem into an episode when someone asks, “You’re 36 years old. Why aren’t you married?” She said, “What do you mean by that?” That’s her response. She says, most people drop it at that point, but some people get it. It clicks for them and she’s like, “You don’t have to be aggressive.” Sadly, we have to do this education about how to have conversations about this, but we do because there’s the conventional and then there’s the unconventional that’s there.

I agree with you two. It’s such an empowering idea and it’s licensing once you start understanding, because what it can say is, person A is happy to have a relationship, but they’re not into monogamy. Person B might want monogamy, but they don’t want to live together. Person C is not interested in a lifelong partnership, 1.5 years is good for them. The other one is if you strip away the special status, then all three of those types of relationships are meaningful, valuable, and worthwhile for the people in them assuming that they both want that. Kym, what was the one that you substituted for the Relationship Escalator?

SOLO 50 | Looking Back
The Virgin’s Promise: Writing Stories of Feminine Creative, Spiritual and Sexual Awakening

I substituted the Entrepreneurship. I did the Kristin Newman, What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding What I was Doing While You Were Breeding. I read that five times. She has a cool voice too and she’s super entertaining. It is interesting to read that because you had done that before you had released it. It was number five so you had no idea what solo was or what it could be. You even talked in it. You’re like, “I have no idea what’s going to happen with this show, but let’s do it.” Here we are at number 50.

What is it that you liked about that one so much?

My biggest takeaway and I have this on my paper written in bold is to make the most of this time. Make the most of when you’re single because I don’t know if this is going to be forever. I could meet someone and be swept off my feet or I could decide this is the life I want, but enjoy this time, explore and have adventures.

For people who haven’t read that episode yet, Kristin Newman is a comedy writer in Los Angeles and in her 30s. Mostly through the 30s, what happens a lot of times if you work in Hollywood, you kill yourself on a project for X months and then you take a vacation. It’s a common thing in Hollywood. It’s not like the normal 9:00 to 5:00 for 50 weeks a year and then a two-week vacation. It’s like 9:00 to 9:00 for months at a time, and then you take off for a substantial period of time. She traveled a lot. She traveled to South America, Europe and so on. She fooled around.

She met men in these different places and had relationships and had a lot of fun. She traveled with girlfriends sometimes. The book is funny. It’s called What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding, while all her other friends were starting families and getting married. To your point, she later did marry and have kids. She’s living the relationship escalator, to my knowledge. That’s connected to this idea that I like to say, “For now or forever.” It doesn’t have to be that one. Is there anything else about that one, Kym?

I liked it because as a female, sometimes I want to go on vacation. I don’t necessarily have a partner to go with. A lot of my friends at this point are married or they have children and can’t go. I like to travel alone, but I go back to the same places that I’ve already been. She gives a lot of awesome tips on how to meet people when you’re traveling solo. Go back, read the episode, and get those tips. I thought it was fun and super empowering. I can’t wait to take a trip once COVID is over.

It’s easier now with the dating apps, but as a woman, you have to do a little bit more work if you want to get the attention of a man when you’re out and about. She was talking about how that doesn’t feel natural to do that. The other one is like, how forthright you need to because a lot of times, people don’t approach you. They won’t talk to you, especially in a world of dating apps because that’s where the go-to is. That was a good one. I enjoyed it.

I had planned a solo trip last December 2019 to go to Oaxaca, Mexico, which had been somewhere I’d wanted to go forever. I had found this cool hostel, and they have rooftop activities every evening. They had a walking tour of the city at 10:00 every morning. You could get plugged right into a group of other people traveling alone. I had a friend jump in ten days before and say he wanted to join me. He’s one of my best friends. He was like, “I am not staying in a hostel,” but we did the walking tour of the city and we had such a blast. We met many great people that we ended up hanging out with together on the rest of our trip, but I do want to plan a solo trip when we’re able to start traveling again.

I can imagine you wanting to go back or wanting to go somewhere like that again and try to recreate that on your own.

I think that would be a blast.

What are the other episodes on your list besides Relationship Escalator?

The Ethical Non-Monogamy episode. Like the Relationship Escalator, it was an eye-opener for me in terms of how to think about things differently and open your mind to other options. I created a Facebook group for singles in my area. From my perspective, it was to have more people to do things with and not to try to meet other people. I invited everyone I knew who was single and I had a friend email me and say, “I got your invitation. I’m in a relationship, but they don’t seem to last long. I’ll let you know when that changes.” Two weeks later, he’s like, “I’m in to the group.” I said, “You should read Solo. It’s awesome.” We read the episode number one and then he messaged me and said, “Should I go in order? Can I jump around? What do you recommend?”

I said, “Ethical Non-Monogamy, that’s been my favorite episode.” This was fairly early on, but he was blown away by the concept of that as well. Shaking people and saying, “There are other ways to do this where you can thrive, be happy and be in remarkable different kinds of relationships. Even if you’re casually dating someone, that’s “a relationship” or a kind of relationship, thinking about different ways to navigate those and be open about them and communicate about them. One of your themes that I love that comes up in many episodes is ask for what you want. You can’t get what you want necessarily if you don’t ask for it. That was one of my big takeaways from that Ethical Non-Monogamy episode was ask for what you want and be clear.

It’s connected to the Relationship Escalator because it allows a period of non-monogamy while you’re dating someone at first. You might be dating multiple people and fooling around with multiple people. At some point, you’ve got to lock it down with one person. It’s like the model accommodates non-monogamy, but it has to be temporary. It has to be in with a goal to not be non-monogamous. Sometimes, some of this for me is like, “I know all this stuff now,” but there have been times in my life where I go, “That’s right.” One of the nice things about that episode is it gives you a language and principles. It’s a primer, it’s just a start. This is not what someone who is a full-on expert in this and not being savage. This is someone who lives ethically non-monogamous and does so in a way that works well for her and that she’s quite comfortable with it. She does a good job of articulating that.

For me, one of the biggest takeaways from that episode was honesty was the word that kept coming up. That was at the forefront of how to do this in an ethical way. You want to have consideration for your partners and you don’t want to be deceptive or lying. It’s being open with your lifestyle and stating what you want and what you want out of your relationships. It’s funny because I still shy away from anyone on a dating app who says, “Ethically non-monogamous.” I’m like, “I don’t know how to handle that.”

Why don’t you go on a date with one of those people and see? It would be a stretch and to get more information and learn about that like, “Tell me more about that.”

That’s my goal.

Kym, I’m going to have you give one of yours and I’m going to do one.

My next favorite episode is Tips for the Solo Entrepreneur. Julie, you were a guest on this one. I have my own business that I started in 2019. I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m learning as I go, but there were some nice little tidbits in there. My biggest takeaway, funny enough, was the one-pager. You give this tip, Pete, Write It or Regret It, as you called it. If I have written a one-pager for my business before I started it, I probably wouldn’t have a business.

Why do you say that?

Even now, I don’t have a lot of clarity on what I’m doing and I realized I need to sit down and become clear on what my focus is of my business and what I’m doing, but I’m learning as I go. This is an experiment for me. It’s something you guys talked a lot about the difference between being a solo entrepreneur versus in a partnership. I’m finding that I have a lot more time to dedicate to this than I would if I had a partner. I have the financial freedom because I’m not paying for a child and for all the things that go along with married or partner life. I’m throwing all that money away on candle making.

First of all, since I’ve got to know you, Kym, you’ve had three revolutionary things that have happened in your life. The first one is that you have gotten serious about your writing. You have something that most writers don’t have and that’s talent. You have a natural talent, but you weren’t taking advantage of it. You have leaned into that creative work. The second thing is launching this company. That is taking steps to create something that’s yours, that you don’t have to rely on someone else to pay you, to hire you. You get to set your hours, you get to build something that’s yours.

Will it succeed? I don’t know, but even if it doesn’t succeed, it’s not a failure. Just because a relationship breaks up doesn’t mean it’s a failure. I think you have great products. The candles are cool. You do all these neat things. It has potential. It’s also stretching you. You’re learning about running a business. You have this creative side, but you’re also trying to develop this more analytical, strategic business side. The third thing I’m going to save for your next episode that you’re going to talk about. Don’t think of this as a waste of time in any way.

I don’t, but it’s new to me. As you said, it is stretching me. I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m learning every day. I’m learning how to do everything on my own from marketing to building my own website to how to ship stuff, how to figure out how to ship stuff. This is probably one of the most valuable experiences of my life. It’s teaching me so much so my next business will be a success.

You also might be surprised sometimes, you start something that’s on the side. One of the things that in that episode with Julie and Darwyn Metzger, we talked about product-market-founder fit. What you’re looking for as an entrepreneur is, is the market speaking? Am I getting orders? Are people happy versus you having to push all the time? It’s like, “I’m pushing, I’m convincing, I’m selling, I’m doing all this stuff.” It seems to me that you have product/market fit.

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I had Kym’s candles already. When we went on lockdown with COVID, lighting a candle every day, one of Kym’s candles, helped me feel grounded, peaceful and warmth in my home. It became a ritual every morning. I’m lighting one of these candles and it brought a lot of value in a time of, “What is going on?”

It’s all the moon charged crystals I put on there. I do Reiki on the crystals before I put them in the candles.

This is where the founder fit comes in. For example, if I tried to launch Wax Crescent and I had potions, I would call them rocks. I threw some rocks in the candles, but you walk the talk. You’re doing all of this stuff that is consistent with the brand, with the type of product that people want. Where the fit might not exist yet is that you are not a natural entrepreneur. You’re an artist first. You’re not a business person in the way that Julie has turned into a solid business person. She knows how to run a company. She knows how to build things. She knows how to market and sell and so on. You can learn that stuff.

That’s where Schmonday comes in.

For people who don’t know the Schmonday joke, it is late afternoon or evening on a Sunday where you might go into the office or crack open your laptop and prepare for the week, knock out a bunch of emails, go through your calendar and get some tasks done so on Monday morning, you’re not answering emails, but you’re doing creative work. You’re doing value-based work. Anything else for the solo entrepreneur one, Kym?

I think just networking. One of Julie’s tips in the episode was to form a community of other entrepreneurs and connect with them. That’s been huge for me, finding other women who have their own businesses and are growing their own businesses and taking inspiration from them and inspiring other people to create.

I don’t remember saying this specifically in that episode, but when you have a partner, sometimes the person that you ramble on about your business and process your ideas, saying it out loud helps tremendously, rather than thinking about it in your brain. That’s why it’s important to have people that you can have those conversations with and keep your thoughts churning, getting feedback and things like that.

This idea of solo versus partnered as an entrepreneur is a fascinating one. That episode had rock-solid advice in general, regardless of which category you’re in. We did touch on how there’s the freedom and the optionality. If you want to work all day and night, you can do that. This is connected to an episode that I did where I was responding to this writer in the Atlantic who was lamenting success addicts. The people who miss recitals and birthdays and so on because they’re on business trips and all this kind of stuff. Speaking of language and one-pager and so on, I had this line that I had written, which is like, “How many more world-changing vaccines are going to be delayed because someone has to be home for dinner?”

This idea that we have to be careful to see the world through a relationship escalator view, which is you need to be home for dinner because you’ve got a family. You don’t want to be a neglectful parent versus there are some people in the world if they want to work twelve-hour a day, we want them to work twelve hours a day. We want them to work twelve hours a day if they’re living their best life in it. It also can be riskier because you don’t have a cushion. There’s not a second income perhaps that exists that’s there. I love the entrepreneurship one because it’s an episode about making stuff. I’m obsessed with making things because I have recognized that the process of making something is even more important than the actual finishing it. It’s a way to create a lively life, day in and day out. I’m thrilled that you’ve built this company and it’s got a shot.

We’re moving into candle season now.

I’m going to present one of my most meaningful episodes. One of mine that has reshaped the way I think about things is The Solo’s Promise episode with Kimberly Kessler. That’s the second part of a two-part episode. The first episode is, Are You The Hero in the Story of Your Life? This is an idea that I care a lot about. I believe that single people, the solos, need to see themselves as an important person and living a life that has energy, challenge and growth. One of the things that we struggle with, if you step away from the normal narrative of what you’re supposed to do as an adult is you need another narrative. You need another story. If the story is not going to be, go to school, graduate, get a job, meet someone, get married, have kids, raise kids and retire. That’s the normal thing.

Once you start cutting those things out, you start cutting out the marriage, the kids, and all these kinds of things out, you don’t have the same narrative. I was searching for a narrative. I initially and prematurely settled on The Hero’s Journey as a narrative. Joseph Campbell’s, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. It is a very common story structure, the archetype of the hero. In the first episode with Kym, we talked about The Hero’s Journey. We talked about movies and stories that have that structure and they’re pervasive. They’re the stories of mythology, the stories of Indiana Jones, and so on. At the end of that episode, she drops the bomb on me. She goes, “Pete, this is all well and good, but I don’t think The Hero’s Journey is the best story for the Solo.”

[She said, “There’s an alternative, a complementary narrative that’s a more feminine nature and it has its roots in fairytales, not in mythology. That’s called The Virgin’s Promise.” This woman, Kim Hudson, this is much more recent than Joseph Campbell, identified an alternative story structure. Instead of one, which is robust going out into the world and slaying dragons, this is one about learning to live your true self, becoming your full-self blossoming. It’s not an external narrative. It’s an internal one. I called the episode, The Solo’s Promise, can we, as single people, realize and recognize our promise?

Kym, this is what’s exciting about you being new to this because you’re having this awakening. You’ve never left older. You’ve never left your house in order to have this change. You didn’t have to be Luke Skywalker and leave the planet that you grew up on in order to have the transformation. This is the story of Cinderella and Frozen. This is one of my favorites, she talked about Billy Elliot. If you’ve seen Billy Elliot, it is about this young boy who grows up in this steel town in the UK. His dad is a very blue-collar, masculine, and wants him to box, but Billy wants to dance. Billy realizes his promise and becomes a good dancer and accepted by the community.

He forces the community to accept him by being his true self. That is a powerful idea. What it suggests, these are loose thoughts, at some point, I’m going to do a Solo Thought later in the year where I properly articulate this. I’ve been fussing around with thinking about this. I talk about this as recognition. We’ve talked a lot about recognition, to recognize the world for what it is, the human domestication that we are faced with, the world is trying to get us to behave the way it wants us to behave.

There’s then an active resistance that’s like, “I’m not going to do that.” I’m not going to do that because I don’t like being told what to do, that’s not me, that’s not my best life, and that’s not my best path. What follows from that act of resistance is reinvention, to reinvent your life as a Solo to be your best life. I think that that’s what I’ve seen this with you, Julie, because we’ve been friends for many years now. Kym, you’re a much newer friend, but I’ve seen both of you do this in different ways at different times where you are different people than when I first met you. You have different values. Both of you are more powerful now than when I first met you.

For example, Julie, you do something that I love, which is you do mountain bike rides. You do not cancel a mountain bike ride for a man. That was an evolution. You are like, “This brings me joy. This makes my life better. I’m going to have this until I die. I don’t know who this schmuck is. He doesn’t deserve any special treatment. He’s not more important than my mountain bike and my mountain.” I’ve already talked about yours, Kym, and to recognize how the world is trying to get you to behave, to resist it, and then to change yourself.

One of the elements of The Virgin’s Promise is called dressing the part. When Cinderella puts on the ball gown, she is transformed into Cinderella, into her true being. That’s why I like the Clothing The Solo episode, for example, because it’s done surprisingly well. It’s quickly become one of the more popular episodes. That Solo’s Promise one is such a powerful idea because what it can do is give you a narrative that’s different than the one. It explains what life is like at Thanksgiving dinner for single people. It can also then give you a chance to be able to resist so you don’t have to be on the defensive. You can say, “What do you mean by that?” That’s an act of resistance. That’s one of the ones that has been big. It’s big that I bought the book and on a reading retreat I read it and took twelve pages of notes on it.

I want to know what a reading retreat is.

I don’t have trouble writing. I don’t have trouble making stuff, but sometimes, my pile of books gets so big that I will go somewhere like a hotel. I’ll bring 12 to 20 books, yellow legal tablets, and a bunch of pens. I’ll go and read for hours a day and go through all these books. Sometimes, I’ll spend six hours on a book and sometimes, I’ll spend 30 minutes on a book, depending on the book.

What’s the name of the book you wrote twelve pages of notes?

The Virgin’s Promise, the Kim Hudson book. Julie, do you want to do the next one?

I love the Superheroes episode and part of it was William. He is entertaining. As you said, you wanted to find people who are not the best at what they do, but the most enthusiastic about their knowledge base.

I got this from my The Humor Code, coauthor, Joel Warner, magnificent obsessives. William is a magnificent obsessive. The episode is called Why Are Superheroes Single? Kym was the cohost on it.

It was entertaining and then empowering. What popped into my brain, Pete, since you reread episode one, I remembered that I came up with a single superhero girl name in episode one. What was it?

Is it Bachelor Girl? The timing of this one is great because, in that episode, I start talking about being the director in the movie of your life. The idea that life’s not happening to you, you’re happening to life. That’s an important idea. William Kuskin got this switch and he clicks. He flips this switch. He is a world expert on superheroes, so that certainly helps, but he also is entertaining. The issue is he answers the question, why are superheroes? It’s because being superhero benefits from being unencumbered. When you don’t have to be home for dinner, you can be out fighting the Joker.

We don’t want our superheroes to have to go on a family vacation. We want him to be working all the time. There’s something about doing this job better. You’re worse off partnered as a superhero. One of the things that’s fascinating about superheroes is that they’re not always alone. There are teams of superheroes. There’s The Avengers, The X‑Men and the Fantastic Four. Keeping this idea that to flourish as a single person is you need to build a team. I like the fact that superheroes might be loners, but they also might be part of a team.

Also, building a community. They have their community that they connect with and they have similar values and all that.

One of the things about superhero teams is no one has the same powers. They’re complementary in that sense. Kym, the last thing about you that I’ve seen a major change is how you have opened yourself to dating, which I recognize is something that is challenging to do. It’s not been easy for you to do. Is that the perfect introduction to your last favorite episode?

It’s my last and most favorite probably. I was telling Julie, I feel like it was curated especially for me. I feel like you did this episode because I was constantly texting you. I would text you questions like, “How do you meet people? How do you not get on the apps? What do you do?” You did this episode and it was fun. You had many different perspectives. It was the male perspective you, Daliya, who you had on another episode, and Jill, who was on another episode as well. You have three different personalities and three different perspectives. The chemistry of all three of you together was great. After reading it, I booked six dates in a week.

It was a lot and I was exhausted, but it was a different approach. I think it was the first time in my life anyone had ever given me permission to date for fun and date without expectation. I know we had talked in episode one about since you’re not looking to get married or have essentially a lifelong partner, maybe if you would date people outside of who you would normally date. Julie, it was you who said, did I have fun on this experience and would I like to do it again? Having that approach, there are guys I went out with that I would have never considered going out with. It was a blast to meet people and have conversations. Some of them are friends. Some of them I’ve hooked up with other people for business ventures. You just don’t know who you’re going to meet.

The episode title was, How To Go On A Date. Daliya is a professional dating coach. It’s my turn to out you, Kym. Jill is good at dating. I’m semi-good at dating, but one of the things that Daliya says, “Stop putting so much pressure on a first date. It’s two hours of your time. You don’t know where it’s going to go. Maybe it turns into something that’s good. Maybe the person becomes a friend. Maybe they become a business partner. Maybe you hook them up with another friend. Just go out and approach it with a sense of fun and possibility versus all this pressure for it to be.”

Go out and chill out.

I have been playing around with the generosity project. This will be a call back to the psychedelics episode. I did mushrooms in 2019 for the first time. I didn’t have any major breakthroughs. The biggest breakthrough I had was I was trying to figure out, am I generous? That was the problem I was tussling within my head because along the trip, I ran into a guy who was incredibly generous and I was comparing myself to him. We don’t have time to answer the question of whether I’m generous or not, but I hatched this plan that I was going to look for opportunities to spend a few hundred dollars on some friends with a limit of about $300.

The idea was, I’m going to try to identify situations where I can spend about that amount of money, but the potential reward is infinite. It’s like a 10x investment. For example, I had a friend who had knee problems, who couldn’t run. I was like, “You need to see Charlie Merrill. Charlie was a previous guest. He’s a physical therapist and he is the best. Charlie doesn’t take insurance so I paid for two sessions for her to see Charlie. At the end of the session, she can run again. I’m on the lookout for those things. Kym gave me one of those opportunities and I treated her to a coaching session with Daliya after the episode. Kym, how did it go?

It changed my life. It was honestly the best present anyone had ever given me in my whole life. Daliya is not a therapist, she’s a coach, therefore she can say, “This is what you need to do. Stop doing these things,” which your therapist can’t do. She pointed out patterns to me. It was life-changing and dating is a fun, entertaining thing and I can do what I want to and take a break from when I don’t want to do it.

You’re being a little abstract. Give an example of something or a transformation you had as a result of that coaching session.

One of the things she pointed out to me was my patterns with men. I tend to go for men where I’m giving too much. I’m the one reaching out. I’m the one trying to set a plan. I’m the caregiver. She was like, “Don’t do that. Don’t be the caregiver. It’s not your job to make sure someone else is having a good time. It’s not your job to keep the conversation going.” I’d be out with these guys and I wouldn’t ask questions. I wouldn’t make it my responsibility. If there was an awkward pause, I’d let it sit and not say anything. Eventually, they’d say something. For her, dating is a numbers game. Go out with everyone. It’s just a cup of coffee. I would meet sometimes two guys at night or in the afternoon for a cup of coffee back to back. I’d show up for the second one jacked up on caffeine.

I wanted people to get an idea of how that works. Kym is good about communicating. She sent me the nicest text after this session, which I was thrilled to hear. I think we’re going to bring it to a close here. I want to finish with a few things that I’m looking forward to. I’m going to start doing some mini-series with this. I had a little mini-series about marriage, at one point, where I did 2 or 3 episodes in a row that were marriage-focused. I am working on one on singles in the marketplace. That’s going to be an episode on the Rise of Solo Living, how there are more of us than ever both in terms of number and percentage. This trend is largely worldwide.

We’re going to do an episode on selling to singles, which Julie is going to be part of. We’re going to try to bring the band back together for that. I’m doing an episode on the best innovations for singles. What has been invented in the world that makes single living better, possible and so on? The other mini-series of sorts that I’m planning on, I don’t have a title for it, but I’m going to do three episodes. This was inspired by the Solo Caregiving episode. The idea that singles disproportionately caregive their elderly parents, because you’ve got more time. You’ve got more flexibility. I got to raise these kids, “Will you take care of this?” This is an extension of that. We’re going to talk about an aging single.

What is it that you might need to take into account as you get older and might be on your own? Retiring single and how that might be different and dying single. What are the life considerations? If you’re married with children and you die, it’s pretty clear what you do with your shit. The escalator has ended and that other person gets all your shit. I’ve got some fun ideas about, what does a solo will look like? How might it be different than a partnered will? I’m going to try to shoot for some bigger names. I want to get what be Whoopi Goldberg on the show. Why not aim high? If you know Whoopi Goldberg, let me know, people.

Six degrees of separation.

We’re not going to do bonus material for this episode. I’ve been doing less of it because the episodes have been going longer and longer, but I’m going to start putting the bonus episode in the Slack channel. It’s going to become private and part of the community. Lastly, the big goal is that this is not a show, this becomes a movement. This is bigger than that. I want to start thinking about this as a movement and I need to get some books about movements for my next reading retreat to figure out how do you start a movement.

I know an expert on starting movements. She’s very cool. As a reader, you have a lot of themes that come up in multiple episodes. Ask for what you want is one that we talked about here and in some format, maybe it’s not an episode, but maybe it is. I am just reiterating those things.

Julie, we know where that’s going to be. I need to write a book.

That would be fantastic. You need to write a one-pager.

I already did. Kym, do you have anything that you would add for the future?

I enjoy all the episodes. I enjoy the surprise of not knowing what the next episode is going to be when I tune in because it’s everywhere. It’s all over the place and I like that. I might end up reading something I normally wouldn’t gravitate towards that surprises me.

It’s hard to judge an episode by its title.

Thank you so much for saying that. I tried to title them in ways that are appealing, but it’s hard to know that. The top episodes are the earliest episodes. Introducing Solo is number one, The Science of Single Living is number two, What Makes a Life Remarkable is number three, What is Ethical Non-Monogamy? is number four and Living Remarkably During a Pandemic- The Coronavirus Edition is number five. What’s fascinating is the next five is What Kristin Newman Was Doing While You Were Breeding, Dating Friends And Sleeping with Strangers — A Valentine’s Day Episode, Why Are Superheroes Single? and number nine, Boxing. Number ten is Financial Freedom with Money Amy.

Those tend to be on the earlier side because there’s been more time for people to be able to read them. Sometimes there’s a nugget in an episode that makes the entire episode worth reading to, in my opinion, at least. Fifty episodes later, we’re still kicking. It feels good. I’m working harder than ever on this and it’s been worth it. It’s no Joe Rogan, but we’re getting going. I want to say thank you to the two of you who have dedicated time, energy, thought, and then your wonderful personalities to making this a good experience, both for me and readers. I want to say thank you to you and cheers.

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