Episode Thirty-Five: Attention, Social Media and Technology with Neen James (Part 1)


Technology, social media and attention. These are hot button issues that we all struggle with to some extent. This week I chatted with speaker and author Neen James, who wrote the book on attention, about our dependency and in some cases addiction to technology and social media, how we can break the cycle and the graceful reminders we can all use with this topic.

Neen and I had so much to chat about that this is just part one of the conversation! Tune in next week to hear the rest.

Connect with Neen! Find her at her website, on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram! And check out her books, including her newest, Attention Pays.

Also discussed in this episode:

Atlantic article “The Dangers of Distracted Parenting

Episode Thirty-Four: Issues in the Trans Community with Jessica Pettitt


This week I’m talking to author, speaker and the “Margaret Cho” of Diversity Trainers, Jessica Pettitt about issues facing the Trans community.  It was through Jessica’s work in Student Affairs, as a college administrator that she realized her love for the conversations across difference.  Our conversation today covered it all: how to talk about the topic, definitions and terms, trans kids, legislation affecting the trans community and Jess’ experience as a lesbian woman married to a transman. 

Connect with Jess!  Her website is www.goodenoughnow.com.  Find her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as well.  And check out her book Good Enough Now!

Also mentioned in the episode

The article Jess wrote “Fierce Dyke Caught Doing Husband’s Laundry”

When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron

The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander

Find the freebies Jess mentioned HERE!

Episode Thirty-Three: Work Philosophy and Company Culture with Mike Ganino


Do you live to work or work to live?  On today’s episode work place culture guru Mike Ganino and I discussed these two philosophies and how work place culture affects all of our lives.  It may not seem like a polarizing topic at first glance, but our workplaces affect so many aspects of our lives and how we engage with them can vary from person to person.

Connect with Mike!  Check out his YouTube channel and website and follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  Also- take a look at his book Company Culture for Dummies

Also Discussed in the episode

A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Managing Ourselves by Ari Weinzweig

Episode Thirty-Two: Climate Change with Terry Quain


Today we are talking climate change!  I sat down with former physics teacher Terry Quain to talk about climate change and an organization that she is a part of called Citizen’s Climate Lobby.  CCL has a brilliant, achievable plan to help turn the boat around with regard to the damage climate change is doing to our world.  I think you are going to learn a lot from today’s conversation.

Check out the Citizen’s Climate Lobby website for more information about this organization and follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.  If you are local to the Chicago area and looking for more information about a local chapter check out the Greater Naperville Area Chapter’s facebook page or Instagram account.

Also discussed in the show:

The Carbon Fee and Dividend Calculator

The Case for a Carbon Tax  by Dr. Shi-Ling Hsu

Episode Thirty-One: Feminism in Islam with Shaykha Tamara Gray


This week I sat down with Islamic scholar, author, educator, mentor and motivational speaker Tamara Gray to discuss feminism in Islam.  This was an enlightening and engaging conversation and I found myself facing my own preconceived notions with regard to this topic.  If you thought feminism and Islam were mutually exclusive, Tamara is here to challenge your assumption!

Follow Tamara on social media!  Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!  Be sure to visit her website!  And go check out her book Joy Jots!

Also discussed in the episode:

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Episode Thirty: What We Learned Episodes 22-29


It's a recap episode!  Producer Maddie is finishing her season with us and we sat down to talk about the past eight episodes she played a role in.  Maddie shares her thoughts about what she learned from these conversations as well as what is was like to get the "man on the street" audio.



Also discussed in this episode:

"Americans are Being Held Hostage and Terrorized by the Fringes" (politico article)

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

Episode Twenty-Nine: Confronting Bias and Understanding Both Sides of an Issue with Mia Welch


This week a listener has become a guest on the show!  Mia Welch got in touch to share some of her thoughts about our episode on the refugee crisis, which had been shaped by her own experience volunteering at one of the largest refugee camps in Greece.  After chatting with Mia and hearing how that experience helped her to confront her own biases and recognize the complexities of this crisis, as well as how both sides are necessary voices when tackling issues like this, I knew I wanted to have Mia on the show.  I think you’ll really love her humble and thoughtful approach to these issues as well as her hard won wisdom.


Mia is a self-proclaimed social entrepreneur with a background in the non-profit sector and poverty alleviation.  She currently lives in the “Land of Enchantment” (New Mexico) with her husband, Kevin, and three year old daughter, Sofi.  You can find Mia in our private Facebook group!  Join today!

Below are a few photos from Mia's time in Greece:

Picture Mia took while watching for refugee boats.  The land you see is Turkey.

Picture Mia took while watching for refugee boats.  The land you see is Turkey.

picture of the lifejacket graveyard that Mia mentioned.

picture of the lifejacket graveyard that Mia mentioned.

life jacket grave yard

life jacket grave yard

sign Mia helped create to help overcome the language barrier and meet the needs of the refugees

sign Mia helped create to help overcome the language barrier and meet the needs of the refugees

Also mentioned on the show:

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Episode Twenty-Eight: The NFL Anthem Protests with Darius Fleming


This week I chatted with Darius Fleming about the NFL Anthem demonstrations and all that has gone along with that.  Darius Fleming is a Chicago native and graduate of the university of Notre Dame. He was drafted by the 49ers in the 2012 draft and later went to win super bowl 49 with the patriots in 2014. 


It was really interesting to hear Darius’ perspective as a player, and one who was there on Colin’s team when it all started.  Darius cut to the core of what these demonstrations are about and why they matter.


Connect with Darius!  Follow him on Twitter or Instagram.


Also mentioned in the show

Video about Colin's protest and his conversation with veteran Nate Boyer

Move the Ball by Jennifer A. Garrett


Episode Twenty-Seven: Evangelicalism with Aaron Niequist


Today I sat down with author, liturgist and pastor Aaron Niequist to talk about Evangelicalism.

After leading worship at Mars Hill Church (Grand Rapids, MI) and Willow Creek Church (Barrington, IL), Aaron created A New Liturgy - a collection of modern liturgical worship recordings. He then curated a discipleship-focused, formational, ecumenical, practice-based community at Willow Creek called “The Practice”. Aaron recently finished a book called The Eternal Current: How a Practice-based Faith can Save us from Drowning, and continues to create resources to help others flesh it out.  But that’s just job stuff.  The best part of his life is his wife Shauna, and their sons Henry and Mac. 

In this conversation we discuss Evangelicalism, its problematic connection to politics and power, the good stuff, the baggage and everything in between.  Aaron and I are both deeply connected to Evangelical culture and this topic is both personal and tender.  Aaron was both prophetically honest and lovingly graceful with this expression of Christianity and our conversation impacted me in many ways.

Find more information about Aaron at his website.  Follow him on twitter, instagram and Facebook.  And buy his book!  The Eternal Current: How a Practice-based Faith can Save us from Drowning is out now and available where ever books are sold!  You can meet Aaron this Sunday (August 12) at The Practice at Willow Creek church.


Also mentioned on the show.

Include and Transcend video

The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard


Episode Twenty-Six: Abortion with Karen Swallow Prior


This week I sat down with professor, author, speaker and pro-life activist Karen Swallow Prior to talk about abortion. This issue is complex, nuanced and emotional and Karen and I worked hard to be respectful and thoughtful throughout the discussion.  There are no easy answers with this topic and Karen’s beliefs are compassionate and consistent.


This was another conversation that was at times almost more about how we have this conversation than it was about the conversation itself.  I appreciated Karen’s respect and conviction and she gave me a lot to think about.


Here are some articles to read with regard to this topic.  Check out Karen’s beliefs on the issue in her own words.  This is Lisa Sharon Harper’s call to Evangelicals to hit pause on the culture war and the greater implications that will come with our supreme court nominations, which I found very interesting.


Connect with Karen!  Follow her on twitter or find her over at her website.  And take a look at her new book coming out this fall, On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life Through Great Literature.  Her other books are Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me (T. S. Poetry Press, 2012), Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More—Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist 


Also discussed in the episode:

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens


Episode Twenty-Five: Local Politics Part Two- Republicans


It's time for part two of our local politics series!  This week Marty Keller was in the hot seat.  Marty is a lifelong republican who was elected and served his township as an elected trustee.  Marty and Colleen talked about why Marty is a republican, some ways the party has changed and what serving at the local level has looked like for him. 


Marty is currently the executive director of Milton Township’s CERT program, a program designed to help prepare the community to respond in emergency situations.  He also serves as the vice president of DuPage County’s historical museum foundation and as a board member of the Wheaton Chamber of Commerce.  Up until recently Marty was elected to and served on our township’s trustee board.



Also mentioned in the episode:

I’m Still Here Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown (in intro)

Centennial by James Michener

Episode Twenty-Four: Local Politics Part One- Democrats


We're tackling the most contentions of issues- politics.  In part one I sat down with Walt Zlotow, the chairman of my township's democratic party.  We talked about the Democratic party, why Walt's identified with this party and what it looks like to serve in politics at the local level.


Walt has been the Chairman of the Milton Township Democratic party for four years, active in local politics for the past fourteen years and a democrat his whole adult life.   He’s a retired Glen Ellyn resident for 31 years and is passionate about progressive causes 


You can find more of Walt’s thoughts on politics and progressive issues over on his blog Heartland Progressive.  Check it out!


Also discussed in the episode:

Arsenal Democracy by A.J. Baime


Episode Twenty-Three: Diversity in Literature with Tayyaba Syed


We’re talking about diversity in Children’s lit this week!  Joining me is author Tayyaba Syed.  Tayyaba is a writer, wife, mother and Muslim woman who is on a mission to give her children and other Muslim kids mirrors in the books they read.  We chatted about why this is important, what she’s found as she started exploring how Muslim’s were represented in literature and the way things are changing.

Connect with Tayyaba!  Find more info about her on her website, or follow her on instagram or facebook!  And be sure to check out her books, particularly The Blessed Bananas.



Also mentioned on the show:

The Blessed Bananas by Tayyaba Syed

Ms. Marvel (Muslim superhero)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl


Episode Twenty-Two: Fake News and the Media with Tim Race


We’re back!!  Today’s episode has been a long time coming!  This week I sat down with Tim Race.  Tim is a former editor of the New York Times, among other things and we discussed fake news, the media and how to be a responsible consumer of news in today’s society.  This is a topic that comes up again and again as people grapple with the polarization of our society and how it’s stoked and played out in our news media.  I was thankful for Tim’s thoughtful perspective.



Connect with Tim!  Find him on twitter or linkedin.  Or you can even email him directly at timrace@gmail.com


Also discussed in the episode:

BBC News

All Sides website

The Attention Merchants by Tim Wu

American Pastoral by Phillip Roth

Bonus Episode: Special Announcement for A Year of Listening Listeners

Hey there!  So you may have noticed that this week’s episode is a much shorter than normal.  Last week I presented another recap episode where I sat down with a few friends and discussed what we’d learned from listening to episodes 12-20, the second set of conversations.  A Year of Listening will be taking a short break for the next few weeks so I can gather my thoughts, find great guests and continue to have quality, civil conversations about hot button issues.  


I will be active on our social media pages and would love for you all to join the fun.  If you don’t follow A Year of Listening on Instagram and Twitter can I make a request for you to consider doing so?  I’ll be posting book recommendations, article suggestions and soliciting feedback for future topics.  You can find us on Instagram and Twitter @yearoflistening.  Additionally, I’ve started a closed facebook group for the show.  Anyone is welcome to join, but I’ve chosen to make the space closed so that people can honestly post their thoughts and questions about these conversations.  A closed group just means that you have to join in order to post and see what others have posted.  My hope is that this becomes a virtual community where people can wrestle with hard issues, listen to opposing viewpoints and dialogue respectfully.  I have been hesitant to dive into the Facebook world with the show because, well frankly, Facebook has been a frustrating space for these conversations.  BUT I’ve come to see some real value in closed groups and I want to see if this could be a good community building space for the show.  So if you are a regular listener to the show, or you want a safe place to practice civil dialogue and good listening, come on over.  Search for the A Year of Listening Podcast group on facebook (or just click right on that link!), request to join and I’ll be sure to include you.  


Also, I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to hear from you!  I want to hear your ideas, your questions, your suggestions, your pushback, all of it.  I’d love to get guest recommendations.  Or maybe you feel passionate about something you’d like to discuss with me.  You don’t have to be an expert about the topic, you just have to be willing to have a thoughtful, nuanced conversation. So, get in touch, slide into my DM’s or email the show at ayearoflistening@gmail.com.


So, I’ll be back on June 28 with a new conversation and in the meantime, catch up on old episodes you may have missed, read something that challenges you, follow a new voice that’s different from your own.  And, if you feel so inclined, give the show a positive rating or review on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts.  Whatever you do, keep listening to others.  I’ll be back soon!

Episode Twenty-One: What We Learned (Episodes 12-20)

My sister Ryann, with whom I'd be lost without...

My sister Ryann, with whom I'd be lost without...

She's been a favorite for over 15 years now...

She's been a favorite for over 15 years now...

Time for another recap episode!  Every 9-10 episodes I'll pause and sit down with some listeners to discuss what they (and I) learned from listening to others through these conversations.  This time I'm talking with my sister, Ryann Kehoe and long-time friend Sarah Ruger to discuss the conversations in episodes 12-20.  We discuss what they learned from listening to these conversations, common themes that emerged and things that challenged us.  Ryann and Sarah are thoughtful, insightful women and it was really neat to see what emerged from their reflections on the conversations!



Episode Twenty: School Choice with Ashley Frasier


This week I'm sitting down with teacher, coach and all around amazing woman, Ashley Frasier.  Ashley is one of my oldest and dearest friends.  She's been in education for more than 15 years and has worked in both public and charter schools.  We sit down this week to discuss school choice.  

School choice has been a hot button issue lately with the idea of vouchers being a polarizing topic in education.  Ashley and I break down the different choices in school and talk about what school choice does and could look like in communities who don’t currently have many options.


Also discussed in this episode

Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee



Episode Nineteen: #ChurchToo and What to Do with Caryn Rivadeneira

Me and Beast On Steps.jpg

This week I sit down with author and ministry worker Caryn Rivandeneira to talk about what happens when sexual harassment happens in church. Do we treat it the same as when it happens in secular workplaces? Is there room for grace and redemption for the perpetrator? What is the best way for churches to support victims? Caryn and I delve into all of this and more on this week's episode.

The #MeToo movement has opened our eyes to the prevalence of harassment in the workplace, and #ChurchToo helped us see that it wasn't just a problem for the secular world.  It seems that in the church the problem has both greater capacity to harm and also a greater call to respond in a way that loves and protects the victim first and foremost but also loves appropriately the perpetrator.  It's messy, challenging work, but Caryn and I explore what that might look like this week.

Connect with Caryn!  You can find her information at her website or follow her on Twitter and FaceBook.

Also discussed in the show:

The Age of Innocence by Edit Wharton

Wonder by R.J. Palacio



Episode Eighteen: Empowerment and Equality are Not Zero Sum Games with Jennifer Iannolo


This week's guest is Jennifer Iannolo, a speaker, entrepreneur, and all around go-getter who sat down with me to discuss empowerment, equality and equity.  Jennifer is the founder of the Concordia Project, a non-profit designed to disrupt the conversation about empowerment through think tanks, salon dinners and global studies.  Jennifer has a new way of thinking about empowerment that focuses on self-direction and empowerment for everyone freely.  There isn't a limited amount of power that we're passing off between each other.  What I appreciated most about this conversation was that it addressed the growing concern I have about the effect our current dialogue about empowerment is effecting young boys.  In man ways this conversation furthers the one that Melissa Agnes and I had a few months ago.


Find out more about Jennifer on her website.  And check out The Concordia Project and consider how you might get involved with this incredible work!  You can find Jennifer on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.


Also discussed in this episode:

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

The Physiology of Taste by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin




Episode Seventeen: A Conversation about President Trump with Boone Cutler


This week we brought back episode thirteen's guest, Boone Cutler.  You'll remember Boone as a veteran, radio host, author, and creator of the Spartan Pledge, a pledge for Warfighters designed to combat the epidemic of veteran suicide.  Boone is also a long time supporter of President Trump.  He and I sit down to chat about President Trump.  Ultimately this conversation had less to do with Trump and more to do with how we talk about this polarizing figure, the assumptions we make about people who disagree with us, and how we can move forward as a country.

I'll be very honest, I'm nervous to put this episode out into the world.  From every side, this conversation leaves room for someone to be angry, disappointed, frustrated or unhappy.  There are plenty of people who will hope this conversation is a winner take all situation, with one person laying out the exact perfect argument that will leave the other side speechless, defeated.

But that's not real life.  And that wasn't the point of this conversation.  Neither one of us was ever going to convince the other person of our "rightness."  The point of this conversation was to listen.  To speak our truth and viewpoint as kindly as we know how.  To stay in even if there's tension or disagreement.  To learn something from the other person.

This conversation was two humans trying to do just that.  We didn't do it perfectly.  I'm sure there are a million things people wish both of us said differently.  But this was the very real conversation we had.  And I think it was a worthwhile one.  Because we left it well.  We found some middle ground.  We held the tension and sought peace.  

And for me, I had some big takeaways.  First and foremost, I've got to stop dehumanizing people with whom I disagree.  I have to be able to believe the best about them.  Even if I don't want to.  Listen, it would have been much easier to just assume the worst about Boone and try to argue my way through that conversation.  Hell, it would have been easiest to just avoid the conversation and Boone all together.  I can live in peace and harmony with every one who agrees with me all the live long day.  But I don't think that's the way forward and I don't think that's helpful for the bigger picture.  There is a tension that needs to be held in these conversations.  I can absolutely believe that President Trump has used racism and bigotry to gain power, but I don't have to believe that Boone is racist because he doesn't see it that way.  Calling him a racist doesn't get us anywhere.  Believing the worst about him doesn't continue the conversation.  

Another takeaway is listening respectfully to what someone says doesn't mean I agree with them. There was plenty of stuff I said that I'm sure Boone vehemently disagrees with.  But he listened respectfully.  And that matters.  If we can continue showing up to conversations like these without shutting down stuff we don't agree with, we can continue having the conversations.  These are conversations that happen over time, with thoughtful dialogue.  No one is persuaded away from their beliefs by bullying or 140 characters.

And, Boone made a comment towards the end of our conversation that stuck with me.  He said something to the effect that if we start our conversation around the polarizing thing we're going to get stuck.  We should approach these kinds of issues around where we agree.  I loved his idea of listing what is important to us for our country.  I think he's right that our priorities around these lists will be different, but there will be agreement and that's a good place to start.

I am very thankful to Boone for being willing to have the conversation.  I hope and trust that my listeners will be respectful and appreciative as well.  It is no small thing to put oneself out there like he did.  It was risky and vulnerable and I'm thankful he showed up to the conversation.  


Find information about Boone on his website.  Connect with him on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.