Marianne Elliott

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Do you love a good story? This is for you.

Saturday, October 3, 2015 by Marianne Elliott

I’ve become someone who secretly looks forward to travel delays. If I get stuck on a train for an unexpected hour, no sweat. If my flight is delayed by a few hours, or I can’t find a good connection so I have to spend half a day in an airport in the middle of who-knows-where, no problem. Why? Because of podcasts.

I’m utterly, delightedly addicted to podcasts.

But not just any kind of podcast, I love podcasts that tell true stories in beautifully curated ways. Apparently yesterday was International Podcast Day, so I thought I’d share some of my favourite podcasts with you.


I’ve recently discovered the wonderful Strangers podcast by Lea Thau and I’ve been binging on it ever since. Thau describes Strangers as featuring “true stories about people we meet, the heartbreaks we suffer, the kindnesses we encounter, and those frightful moments when we discover that we aren’t even who we thought we were.” I’ve found it to be intimate, moving and delightful.


I’ve also been listening to back to back episodes of Criminal which features stories of “people who’ve done wrong, been wronged, or gotten caught somewhere in the middle.” As a lover of real crime and good storytelling, I highly recommend this beautifully produced show by Phoebe Judge and Lauren Spohrer.

The Story

I’ve also recently starting listening to The Story. I can’t quite believe I hadn’t found it sooner, it’s so utterly my cup of tea. It ran from 2006 until 2013, and each episode features someone telling their own story, usually in conversation with the host Dick Gordon. Today, out on a long run, I listened to two great episodes. One was about the man who helped track, capture and relocate wolves from Canada to re-establish the wolf population in the U.S. The other was about the largely forgotten residents still living in what was once the United State’s largest leprosy treatment centre.

This American Life

Like so many people the first podcast I ever loved was This American Life with Ira Glass, so if you are yet to discover this, perhaps the godfather of this recent new wave of narrative non-fiction podcasts, I highly recommend you check it out.


Last year I fell completely under the spell of Serial, a spin-off from This American Life which told the story of Sarah Koenig’s investigation into the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, a popular high-school senior, and the trial and conviction of her classmate and ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, for her murder. Season two of Serial is due to begin soon, and will follow the case of United States Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl who was held captive in Afghanistan by the Haqqani Network, and insurgent group connected to the Taleban. He was released after five Guantanamo Bay detainees were released.

Dear Sugar

Every Sunday I hang out for the new episode of Dear Sugar Radio with Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond like ‘normal’ people hang out for long talks with old friends. This is largely because listening to Cheryl and Steve respond to letters from their listeners – Dear Sugar was first an advice column on The Rumpus – is like listening to wise, compassionate old friends.

The Good Fight

The podcast that keeps me inspired to fight the good fight at ActionStation is the wonderful The Good Fight with Ben Wikler, which tells the story of people who are, as you might expect, fighting the good fight. People who help mobilise grassroots movements, or launch campaigns to bring about a more fair, kind and decent world. Exactly the kind of people, in other words, we launched ActionStation to support. This show, perhaps more than any other, has been inspiring me to consider starting my own podcast!

Magic Lessons

Finally, I’m currently reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book, Big Magic, and have been enjoying her companion podcast, Magic Lessons, for an injection of joyful, creative inspiration and encouragement.

So yes, I may have a bit of a podcast addiction. But as a long distance runner and frequent flyer, that seems to work out okay for me. The beauty of podcasts is that you can listen to them while you exercise, on the train or bus, while you clean the house or lying in bed late at night when you are too tired to read but needing some soul nourishment.

If you haven’t listened to any of these podcasts, I recommend you have a listen. You might find something that is just your cup of tea.

A story of change, Part IV

Saturday, September 26, 2015 by Marianne Elliott

This is the fourth and final part of a the story I told at the Extraordinary Tales event recently. You can read the first part here, the second part here, and the third part here. After Afghanistan, I came home again. Home to Wellington, where I wrote a book about my experiences in Afghanistan, opened a restaurant […]

A story of change, Part III

Friday, September 25, 2015 by Marianne Elliott

This is the third part of a the story I told at the Extraordinary Tales event recently. You can read the first part here and the second part here. After five years at the New Zealand Human Rights Commission – with a new foundation of family and friendship to keep my feet on the ground, and bind […]

A story of change, Part II

Thursday, September 24, 2015 by Marianne Elliott

This is the second part of a the story I told at the Extraordinary Tales event recently. You can read the first part here. So – as Kim Hill put it – I walked off my divorce in Africa – what next? The walk ended in Jerusalem, where I stayed in a hostel run by […]

A story of change, Part I

Wednesday, September 23, 2015 by Marianne Elliott

Recently I was invited to tell a story at this extraordinary event. This is the first part of that story. More to come in the next few days.  What I wanted to tell you today was the story of how change happens. Because it’s the story I’m obsessed with. Because it’s a big important story. And because […]

Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff…

Sunday, September 13, 2015 by Marianne Elliott

Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us […]

Where you can find me in the next few months…

Monday, August 10, 2015 by Marianne Elliott

After a year of focusing pretty much exclusively on ActionStation, I have a few teaching and presenting events coming up: Muse Camp 2015 – August 21st-23rd, Bend OR Yoga in Action: Off the Mat, Sept-Oct, Wellington, NZ Game Changers: Yoga Journal Live Event, 27 Sept-1 Oct, Colorado Muse Camp 2015 August 21st-23rd, Bend OR Muse […]

What I’ve been learning, reading & writing

Sunday, August 9, 2015 by Marianne Elliott

It’s been a long time since I wrote here. Not because I haven’t had anything to say, but because I’ve been utterly consumed by the work of launching, nurturing and getting ActionStation through something known in the start-up world as the ‘Valley of Death’. Over the past month I really feel that we’ve emerged from that […]

A #mycourage round-up!

Monday, April 20, 2015 by Marianne Elliott

These last few weeks I’ve been honored to share the brave stories of friends who are making their way through the world one courageous step at a time. At home. At work. In the neighborhood. In themselves. They really have blown me away, but I shouldn’t be surprised. This is how it happens for all […]

The Bravest Yes

Saturday, April 18, 2015 by Marianne Elliott

A guest post from Christine Mason Miller

This essay was originally published in Skirt! magazine in 2011, and provided the inspiration for a book Christine is currently writing about her family.

I had been mired in angst as my husband’s son’s wedding drew closer. It would be an intimate gathering—only 50 guests—taking place on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, with a week’s worth of sun, surf and celebration leading up to the ceremony. Houses were rented, flights were booked and a taco joint reserved for the rehearsal dinner. A family wedding in paradise—what could be wrong with that? But that was the problem. It was a family wedding, and who was I? No one important—just the dad’s wife.

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