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Episode 048: “Best of 2021”

Today we’re revisiting a few of our favorite conversations from throughout the year. This episode features interviews from fan-favorites Mike McHargue, Carlos Whitaker, Hillary McBride, Shauna Niequist, Annie F. Downs, Rory Feek, and more!

Thanks so much for joining us this year—we can’t wait to continue the journey with you in 2022. Sending you light and love this holiday season.

Meet this episode’s experts

Annie F. Downs

New York Times Best-selling Author, Speaker, and Podcast Host

Annie F. Downs is a New York Times bestselling author, sought-after speaker, and successful podcast host based in Nashville, Tennessee. Engaging and honest, she makes readers and listeners alike feel as if they’ve been longtime friends. Founder of the That Sounds Fun Network-which includes her aptly named flagship show, That Sounds Fun-and author of multiple bestselling books like 100 Days to Brave and Remember God, Annie shoots straight and doesn’t shy away from the tough topics. But she always finds her way back to the truth that God is good and that life is a gift. Annie is a huge fan of laughing with friends, confetti, soccer, and boiled peanuts (preferably from a backroads Georgia gas station). Read more at and find her (embarrassingly easily) all over the internet at @anniefdowns.

Laura Ramey

Laura serves the therapeutic community as an Approved Supervisor for licensure seeking counselors in Tennessee and has is trained in several trauma therapy modalities including Internal Family Systems (IFS), EMDR, Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), and Trauma Sensitive Yoga 

Laura is passionate about connecting people with their stories, and the ever-changing seasons and roles of their lives, while staying connected to their own hearts and needs. Laura’s work has primarily focused on the mind-body connection using Internal Family Systems (IFS) or “parts work” to help clients identify thoughts and beliefs that may be stuck in the body and may also be released as physical symptoms. Even if no physical symptoms are present, this language and awareness can help clients unblend from negative beliefs, trauma, grief, and unwanted habits that may be buried in the subconscious brain and blocking them from centered living

Morgan Harper Nichols

Bestselling Author, Artist, and Poet

Morgan Harper Nichols is a Wall Street Journal bestselling author, artist, and poet based in Arizona, USA. She creates artwork inspired by stories.She is the author of “All Along You Were Blooming” and her new book “How Far You Have Come.”

Dr. Hillary McBride

Therapist, Speaker, Author, Researcher + Podcaster

Dr. Hillary McBride is best known for her work in the podcasting world, taking mental health and psychology out of the classroom and therapy room and into daily life. But that work has only been possible with years of clinical practice and research as a psychologist, a base of expertise that includes work at the intersection of spirituality and mental health, trauma treatment, body image, eating disorders, sex and sexuality, and feminist approaches to psychology. Her first book, Mothers, Daughters, and Body Image: Learning to Love Ourselves as We Are, was published in 2017; textbook on embodiment followed in 2018. Her next book, The Wisdom of the Body: Finding healing, wholeness, and connection through embodied living, will be out in October 2021. She has been recognized by the American Psychological Association, and the Canadian Psychological Association for her research addressing our relationships with our bodies across the life span, and is currently on faculty at the University of British Columbia. Hillary makes her home in Vancouver, BC, and will never turn down a cup of chai.

Carlos Whittaker

Author, Speaker, DisrupterCarlos Whittaker is a self proclaimed “Hope Dealer” who spends the majority of his time telling stories on stages and phone screens across the world that lead people towards action.
He’s a Peoples Choice Award winner and the author of three books, Moment Maker, Kill The Spider, & Enter Wild which all lead people towards freedom in some way, shape, or form.
Carlos speaks at some of the largest churches in America as well as some of the largest leadership conferences as well. Carlos is the host of the popular podcast “Human Hope w/ Carlos Whittaker” & lives with his wife and 3 kids in Nashville TN.

Shauna Niequist

New York Times Best-Selling Author

Shauna Niequist is the New York Times best-selling author of five books, including Bread & Wine and Present Over Perfect. Shauna and her husband Aaron and their sons Henry and Mac live in New York City. She is a bookworm, a beachbum, and a passionate gatherer of people, especially around the table.

Courtney Leak, LCSW, LISW-CP

Therapist, Speaker, Podcaster and Onsite Guide

Courtney Leak, LCSW, LISW-CP is a dynamic therapist, wellness curator and empowerment speaker who utilizes direct honesty wrapped in humor in order to spread the message of living a life that is whole and full of purpose and courage. Courtney received her Masters of Social Work from Winthrop University and has over 10 years of experience working with in the mental health field as a therapist. She specializes in working with those who have experienced trauma, grief and loss, attachment disorders, relationship complications and the mental health needs of marginalized populations. Courtney is trained in EMDR, Experiential therapy and Psychodrama. Courtney currently sits on the board for the International Society for Experiential Professionals (ISEP). She also holds the Certified Experiential Therapist, level 2 credential with ISEP. She has presented at various conferences and symposiums focusing on the journey back to wholeness. Through her own experiences and the experiences of the numerous individuals, couples, and families that she has worked with over the years, Courtney has developed insight into the struggles of everyday living and how they are often compounded by the history and patterns of pain that so many people are living with today. Courtney’s fundamental belief is that everyone is naturally equipped with what they need to find and meet their purpose but it is often hidden under fear, hurt, and negative views of ourselves. However, if we are willing to own our story, minus the fear and shame, we can embrace our true selves and live abundantly in our purpose.

Mike McHargue

Author, Podcaster, and Public Educator

Mike McHargue is a public educator trusted by millions to use empathy and deep scientific insights to help them navigate some of the most difficult parts of the human experience. He’s the host of The Cozy Robot Show, is the bestselling author of Finding God in the Waves, and You’re a Miracle (and a Pain in the Ass), and works as a science advisor and story consultant for film and television working with clients including Marvel Studios and Pete Holmes. 

Mike has been featured in The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, The Huffington Post, and scores of other notable publications. Mike is an in-demand speaker appearing all over the world—including appearances at Google and MIT. Mike’s next book You are a Miracle (and a Pain in the Ass) comes out on April 28, 2020. 

Mike co-founded The Liturgists and was a host of The Liturgists Podcast, but left the company and the podcast in 2019. Mike launched a podcast called Ask Science Mike in 2014 which ran for six years before transitioning into the live, multiformat program, The Cozy Robot Show. 

Mike lives in Los Angeles, CA with his wife Jenny, his daughters Madison and Macey, and their beloved dog, Ruby.

Jonathan Merritt

Critically-Acclaimed Author 

Jonathan Merritt is one of America’s most popular writers on issues of faith and culture. He is author of several critically-acclaimed books, including Learning to Speak God from Scratch: Why Sacred Words are Vanishing – and How We Can Revive Them, named “Book of the Year” by the Englewood Review of Books.
Jonathan is an award-winning contributor for The Atlantic, a contributing editor for The Week, and a regular columnist for Religion News Service. He has published more than 3000 articles in respected outlets such as The New York Times, USA Today, Buzzfeed, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast and Christianity Today.
In addition to the written word, Jonathan regularly contributes commentary to television, print, and radio news outlets. He has been interviewed by ABC World News, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, NPR, PBS, and CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

Jonathan currently resides in New York City. He is an aspiring dog dad, a college football fan, and intolerable before coffee.

Marc Pimsler, MA, LCP

Mark has worked in a variety of coaching, counseling, and consulting capacities since 2004. Marc is passionate about recovery, both his own as well as his participants’, believing that sometimes all we need is a helping hand and a fresh perspective. Grounded in the belief system that everyone has the capacity to recover, Marc brings humor and spirituality to everything he is involved in.

Rory Feek

Grammy-Winning Country Music Singer-Songwriter

Farmer and filmmaker, author and artist, Rory Feek is a true renaissance man. He’s a world-class storyteller that crosses all creative mediums from music and film to books and digital media.  

As a musical artist, Rory is one-half of the Grammy-award-winning duo, Joey+Rory. He and his wife, Joey, toured the world and sold nearly a million records, before her untimely passing in March 2016. Rory’s highly anticipated first solo album “Gentle Man” which is set to be released June of 2021.  

As a songwriter, Rory has written multiple number-one songs, including “Some Beach” by Blake Shelton and “A Little More Country Than That” by Easton Corbin.  

As an author, Rory’s memoir, This Life I Live, debuted at the top of the New York Times Bestseller List, and his children’s books are family favorites everywhere.  

As a blogger, Rory shares his heart and story in real-time through his personal blog that has 2.6 million followers. The love story of him and his wife, Joey, told through his writing and video vignettes, show how an unwavering faith and hope in the face of tragedy can inspire millions of readers who follow their story.  

As a filmmaker and storyteller, Rory wrote, shot much of, and edited his docu-series, This Life I Live, which premiered on television in March of 2020, bringing his blog-style storytelling to life to more than 50 million homes. He has also made the feature-length film Finding Josephine (2019), the full-length documentary To Joey, With Love (2016), and dozens of music videos over his career as a musician and songwriter.  

Rory and his 7-year-old daughter, Indiana, live an hour south of Nashville on a historic farm where she attends a one-room schoolhouse right on the property with more than a dozen other children from the community.

Mentioned in this episode

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Annie Downs
Dr. Hillary McBride
Jonathan Merritt