Staying Active…And Adventurous…In Retirement

Heidi Herman AuthorThis week on Sage Aging

If you listened to episode 37 last week, you know that we talked about how using self-reflection will set the stage for a fantastic year. (How’s that going? I would love to hear your thoughts!). Learning to focus on ourselves without guilt is a great segway into this week’s conversation in episode 38 about staying active…and adventurous…in retirement. As always, the full transcript for this episode can be found at the bottom of the page.

My Guest

I was happy to welcome Heidi Herman, author of on with the butter spread more living on to everyday life to the show this week. Heidi was inspired by her 93-year-old mother Ieda, who undertook a challenge to have 93 new experiences before her 94th birthday to prove you’re never too old for something new. Heidi tagged along on much of the year-long adventure with her mom, which ultimately became a book called Never Too Late. The experience so inspired Heidi that she decided to inspire others to live with that same vitality. To learn more about Heidi and all of her books, be sure to check out the link section below.

My Favorite Takeaway

I am definitely a person who has a lot on her plate and spontaneity is not always my mo, but Heidi’s philosophy is one that piqued my interest. It’s pretty simple really. Just say yes! When you come upon an unexpected adventure, say yes. When you receive an invitation from a friend, say yes. When a beautiful day is calling your name, say yes! Obviously, it is not always possible to say yes, but the point is to enjoy being spontaneous and stop making excuses for why you “can’t” do something.

Links We Mentioned
Thanks for listening!

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Transcript
Closed Captioning

Recorded January, 2021

SPEAKERS

Liz Craven, Heidi Herman

 

Liz Craven  00:01

What’s the secret to having an adventurous and active life after retirement? If that’s a question you’d like the answer to then this is the podcast episode for you.

 

Liz Craven  00:14

The Sage Aging podcast is brought to you by Polk ElderCare Guide. Your guide to all things senior care and resources. Find the 2021 guide in English and Spanish at Polkeldercare.com.

 

Liz Craven  00:40

Welcome to the Sage Aging podcast. I’m your host Liz Craven. Sage Aging will connect you to information and resources that will empower you to master the aging and caregiving journey. Weekly, I’ll bring you education, inspiration, amazing and district guests, and caregiver spotlights to shed some light on topics of aging. There’ll even be some freebies and giveaways too. So grab a cup of coffee, sit back and relax as we chat. Are you ready? Hit subscribe now and let’s get started.

 

Liz Craven  01:17

Hello, and welcome to Episode 38 of the Sage Aging podcast. I’m your host Liz Craven. In the dawn of a new year, it’s customary for many to take a look in the mirror and see if the reflection looking back is something that they’re proud of. And if you listened to Episode 37, you learned what my personal self reflection process looks like. It’s such a great exercise to set the stage for a successful year. And if you missed that episode, you definitely want to circle back and give it a listen. Or you can catch the recap and get a free self reflection worksheet in the blog post for Episode 37 at Sageaging.us. The act of our self reflection ultimately leads us to an area or two in our life that we’d like to play some focus on. When we’re younger and growing our careers and raising our families. our priorities tend to land there. But what happens when kids are all grown and you retire? Life changes a whole lot. And it’s very easy to become an old person if you will, overnight, and that has nothing to do with age. How is it that when some retire the adventure of a lifetime begins, but when others retire life as they know it simply ends? We touched on this topic a bit in Episode 33 with Richard Haiduck, author of Shifting Gears, and again in Episode 36 with blogger Helene, Liatsos. In this episode, we’re going to continue that conversation. If you’re a regular here, you know that I like definitions. So here’s your definition for the day. retirement, the withdrawal from one’s position or occupation or from one’s active working life. I want you to notice that nowhere in that definition does it say withdrawal from the rest of your life. So you’ve retired. What now? What does your new normal look like? How do you make the most of every day and find new adventures to light your fire? Well, my guest today is going to help us answer those questions. I’m happy to welcome Heidi Herman, author of on with the butter spread more living on to everyday life. Inspired by her 93 year old mother EDA who undertook a challenge to have 93 new experiences before her 94th birthday. To prove you’re never too old for something new, Heidi jurnee the year long adventure with her mom, which ultimately became a book called never too late. The experience so inspired Heidi that she decided to inspire others to live with that same vitality. Now to learn more about Heidi and all of her books, be sure to check out the link section of the blog post for Episode 38 at Sage aging.us. Or you can find it in the show notes in your favorite podcast app. Welcome to the show. Heidi, thanks so much for joining me today.

 

Heidi Herman  04:25

Thank you so much. I’m happy to be here.

 

Liz Craven  04:29

It’s always fun to have these kinds of conversations. And I’m so happy to have you here. This is a really great extension of the conversation that we had in Episode 37 about self reflection. And for a lot of us taking the time to do adventurous things or things that bring us joy or peace. They tend to take a backseat to everything else. So I think we could all use your inspiration and guidance to make those things happen more often. Before we dive into that, let’s talk a little bit about you. Your inspiration as an author stems back to your mother and your childhood. It doesn’t it? It, it does. Yes.

 

Heidi Herman  05:10

My mom was always one to be adventurous. I can remember from my childhood when I was probably 10 years old, we would just go for car trips and go exploring different parts of the county we’d never been to before, or would go have a picnic in a cemetery and go look at gravestones and learn about history or go to a Shakespeare Festival. It just always something. And having learned that very young, I sort of carried that with me throughout life. But it wasn’t until I was getting into my late 40s. And my mom was looking at her 90s, that some of that impact and realization about how she lived, and how I learned to live really kind of made sense. And I started to focus on it a lot more.

 

Liz Craven  06:13

That is such a gift that your mother gave you by instilling that kind of adventure in you. I’m just I’m inspired by thinking of that. It’s very easy to get caught up in everyday life. But it sounds like she tried to live every day to the fullest.

 

Heidi Herman  06:29

Absolutely. And it’s it’s not just sort of being like obsessed with a What am I going to do today? I think for her, it was more maintaining almost a childlike sense of awe about life around you. Whether it’s driving along and saying My goodness, the park over there is absolutely beautiful. I want to stop and walk through or standing out in the yard and watching the birds or, you know, somebody saying, hey, let’s go zip lining. Oh, my goodness, yes. Let’s do that. That sounds like fun. And to just have that whole world around you and whatever it presents you to say, oh, okay, yeah, let’s do that.

 

Liz Craven  07:20

I love that too. And that’s not something that has to be limited to a certain age group. You know, we we obviously are, are honing in today on retirees and people who are kind of past the child rearing years, but not all of our listeners are there. We have a lot of sandwich generation, folks who listen, so you’ve got our millennials and Gen Xers who are still there. But this, like you said, a childlike attitude toward what’s around you. I think that that’s amazing. It kind of lifts the senses a bit and inspires recognizing what’s around you, rather than just kind of passing through and driving down that same road every day and not noticing that something different is happening.

 

Heidi Herman  08:06

Exactly, yes. And it it can apply, like you said to so many different age groups. When we are in that 50 Plus or retirement age group. It’s a matter of seeing what’s around us and being inspired to try new things or recall something from our childhood that we used to enjoy and kind of getting back into those hobbies or interests. But those that are younger, those are ideas to take your children today and teach them how to be outside and be inspired by the world around you. And whether it’s nature, or science or technology or whatever it might be to really embrace that world around you and instill that creativity in children and no no matter what your age.

 

Liz Craven  09:01

Absolutely, I couldn’t agree more. So tell me more about your inspiration for on with the butter. I know that some of that stemmed from a really fun, adventurous journey that your mom decided to take.

 

Heidi Herman  09:16

Yes. And that that journey itself was actually an interesting how it unfolded. That she was. I would say when she got into her 80s she really started to try to do more activities that she had never done before. When she was 88. Her one of my sisters had given her a tandem paragliding experience. And she went paragliding for the first time at 88 years old and there happened to be a Journalist here, and he wrote a little article about 88 and feeling great. And she just thought that was so much fun. That the next year on her birthday, she said she was 89 and feeling fine. And so every year, she tried to come up with a little tagline. And that’s really how this year of new experiences came about, is because she thought, Oh, how about 93? And new to me? And I thought, Okay, well, then, that sounds like fun. I said, Can we come up with 93 things that are new to you, you know, that places you’ve never been or things you’ve never done? She’s like, what I don’t know. And so we sat down, and we started making a list. And it was everything from, you know, brainstorming crazy things. Like she’s like, I’ve never seen the Great Barrier Reef. Okay, I’m sure there’s a lot of people who could say that. But we, we’ve, we just started writing all this stuff down. And some of it was like she said, I once read an article about the swallows at San Juan Capistrano in California. That seemed really cool, I might want to do that. So we just, we just sat and we wrote all these things down, and ended up with like, 55. And then we thought, Oh, how fun would it be to involve other people? So she reached out to different friends and family members and, and made plans to visit each one during that year and say, okay, while I’m visiting you, let’s do something we’ve never done before. And so that that’s how the year came about. Oh, my gosh, what a great year that must have been. It was, it was a lot of fun. So I personally did, oh, probably half the events with her. But then she went with her sisters, one older and one younger, and some of her other children and did these wonderful activities with them. And that ended up going into a book called never too late. But as I was putting that book together with her, she she passed away while we were writing that book, I’m sorry. I’m a she she was he lived every day to the fullest up until the very last. So…

 

Liz Craven  12:39

She went out with a bang didn’t she?

 

Heidi Herman  12:41

Yeah. She did.I still miss her. But she had a wonderful, wonderful life. And this legacy lives on. And that’s part of what inspired me is I thought, it’s wonderful to be able to share this book of everything that she did. But I felt like I wanted to go one step farther, and maybe empower or provide tools to readers, that they can sort of map out a plan on how they could live a life like that as well. Because I felt like that’s what was missing. You know, it’s it’s one thing to read about an amazing person, but it’s quite another to get those steps into how to emulat e that yourself. You know?

 

Liz Craven  13:27

Right Absolutely. I think it’s brilliant if and if you’re a person like me, you know, I like things a certain way. I like lists. I like definitions. You’ve heard me mentioned before that it’s the silliest thing to like, but I like it. I like to look at those words, and what does that really mean? And how does that apply to life. And this book, allows for a person like me to really take that in. But I love that you’ve really outlined so many things. And we’ll get to talking more about the book in a moment. But it’s just a very easy to follow guide almost to help somebody step outside the box just a little bit. Because we all tend to stay in our comfort zones. It’s really easy to stay there. But to just step outside a little bit, dip your toe in and try something new. I think that’s life changing for anyone that does it.

 

Heidi Herman  14:24

Absolutely. Absolutely. That’s that’s what we need to do to truly experience life. We need to challenge ourselves now and then or try something new. And to just take a step back and look at something from a fresh perspective. And with a fresh attitude and that’s that’s how we learn and grow as people.

 

Liz Craven  14:48

That is very much the truth and that is a great recap of what we talked about last week, you know taking that step back and and just re evaluating ourselves. No, I like to do an annual self reflection. What am I doing really well? What do I need to work on? And am I making sure to enjoy myself along the way? This is a great follow up to that conversation. So I’m so glad to have this conversation with you. So I’m curious, how did your mom’s adventure change your outlook for your own retirement years? Because you were approaching your retirement years at that time, weren’t you?

 

Heidi Herman  15:28

Yes, yes, I had, when, when I was in my 20s, I had set a goal for myself to retire at 48. And I missed that goal by a couple years, I didn’t retire until I was 50. But going through that year with my mom, and it’s kind of funny that you say that you’re a planner, and you like your lists. And I’ve always been like that. And I have always been the one to go on to calendar websites. And you know, I find the Chamber of Commerce or the Economic Development Center. And I will look at bulletin boards and write things down and take little notes. So I’ve always been the one to know what’s going on and where, and where’s the chocolate festival? And when is the apple festiv al? And where’s the car show? Just all of that.

 

Liz Craven  16:23

I’m going to follow you to all the things you do. Those all sound really great!

 

Heidi Herman  16:28

But that, for me, it was almost like I over planned it. And every time a weekend was coming up, you know, I could look at my phone or look at my calendar and say, Okay, here’s all the things there are to do. And I was sort of stuck in that rut of pre planning. And I didn’t really look around very much. And that’s one thing that my mom was a master at is she was actually not much of a planner. But she was a total fly by the seat of your pants. And oh, look, what’s that. And then off, she would go. And that’s what made it so much fun to do things together is because I would plan things. And then she and I would kind of adventure together and end up doing things I hadn’t planned, just because of her spontaneity and just kind of like, oh, where do you think that road goes? Or, you know, it’s so it made for a lot of fun. And that’s it really taught me. And that’s why I put those chapters in of like, Just say yes, or go off the beaten path to allow yourself that planned spontaneity, if you will?

 

Liz Craven  17:51

Absolutely. Well, let’s take a step back so that our audience knows what we’re talking about. I’ve had the benefit of reading your book. And I loved it, I thought it was just such a great tool for people who really need a little nudge just to get out there. So tell us about on with the butter, and about how you’ve structured that book.

 

Heidi Herman  18:14

Okay, well, the title comes from one of my mom’s favorite expressions, she was always just encouraging people to just keep moving, just, you know, find something to do just keep moving, don’t sit around in your chair. And there’s an Icelandic expression that is a from myths more than which literally translates to on with the butter. And it’s an expression similar to the American expression, you know, get the lead out or get a move on or light a fire under it. So it is this encouragement to literally just keep moving. And I wanted to provide a way to sort of share stories of myself, my mom and many other people of how they have approached activity, and then give people ideas on lots of different areas of life where they could use the book as a starting point. So the first chapter I titled Just say yes, and it’s all about recognizing activities and, and movement opportunities around you every day. And just be open to say, yes, somebody asked you out to coffee or for dinner, just say yes. You know, if somebody says, Hey, I got an extra ticket to go to the ballet. Well, you may not love the ballet, but you know what? Just say yes, because the company might be fun. Or maybe I’d have a nice dinner on the way or who knows you might meet interesting people in the lobby, you just don’t know. And in today’s COVID times you You never know what’s Somebody might ask you to do or what the opportunity might be. It could be, hey, let’s have a, you know, online dinner party and listen to a comedy club. Like, okay, that seems a little odd. I’ve never done that before. No, I don’t want to do that. Oh, no, just say yes. Do it.

 

Liz Craven  20:21

Yes, absolutely. Technology. A lot of people are having to say yes to technology right now, huh?

 

Heidi Herman  20:29

Exactly. We’re learning all kinds of things like, I myself was thrilled to be able to take Icelandic language lessons, because my teacher is now doing online classes. And she’s never done that before. So sometimes when you live in an area where you can’t get to some of these great university classes, now all of a sudden, wow, they’re online, and you can do things you’ve never done before.

 

Liz Craven  20:56

The world is becoming smaller day by day, which I love. I know for myself ever since COVID. And coming home and being home since March of last year, I have met the most fascinating and wonderful people through the online avenues, you know, you you have to change the way that you’re doing things. And so I embraced that fully when we had to stay home. And I’m not sure that the way I interact with people will ever be the same as it was before because I’ve found this whole new world out there. And this morning, for example, people from three different countries sitting in a chat together who’ve never met before, but have found a lot of things in common and enjoy each other’s company. How wonderful is that?

 

Heidi Herman  21:45

Oh, that is fabulous. I love that. And like you say how it can expand everything. Now we can connect with people we’ve never connected before. But we can still go back and do some of those other things that we used to do. As long as we don’t migrate so much that we ended up staying in our houses and not getting any sunshine anymore, we still need that right? To be able to take all this new connection and new technology and apply it in so many new ways. It’s very exciting. It’s very exciting.

 

Liz Craven  22:25

And one of the things I like about your book is that each chapter has a checklist a challenge that you offer to readers for how to kind of get outside of their box, talk about those a little bit.

 

Heidi Herman  22:41

That’s one thing that I really wanted to include in this book is because I didn’t want it to just be stories and ideas. But I wanted to encourage readers to say, here’s a great starting point, I worked with my editor to make sure that we included some very easy things up to some very challenging things. For instance, on walk on the wild side is is one chapter that we put in there, that’s that’s chapter three. And I’m just going to share a couple from that chapter on the checklist. We have everything from go out to a movie or dinner by yourself. Enter a contest, maybe a poetry writing or baking. Attend a masquerade party in an unlikely costume, something that’s completely addict. Maybe go horseback riding, or sign up for a five k walk or perform in front of a group of people and attend something you’ve always assumed you would dislike, like the ballet or an escape room, or even an educational seminar. So what we’ve done is tried to give you 10 or 12 actual challenges as a starting point. So use the challenges, but then take these ideas come up with some of your own that you had never really thought of before. One of the funniest things, one that my mom did in her 93 things. She went up to Vancouver where my brother lives, and she signed up for the Vancouver Sun run. It is a five K, and she never actually had any intention of running it. But she was gonna walk that and she practiced and walked a mile every day in preparation for this. And when they finally got there on the day, they were so excited is kind of a cold day. They got downtown and they got to the starting line. And they’re at the end of the group because they’re in the walkers group. And just about the time they were ready to go, the skies opened up and it started hailing. I mean Like, almost a golf ball sized hail. Everybody is like, running for shelter, but just because she she wanted to say that she started it, she went back to that starting line. And she crossed the starting line, just to be able to say she started.

 

Heidi Herman  25:22

Now she didn’t finish.And actually they they shut the race down. And they didn’t even give them the opportunity to go if they had wanted to. But it’s, it’s not always about accomplishing a goal. But as long as you give yourself a challenge, and you take yourself right to the edge of that, and know that you’ve started it, you know, sometimes it’s not about finishing it, sometimes it’s just about starting it. Soyeah…

 

Liz Craven  25:54

I love that you add that in there, because some of us again may miss organized over here, if I start something I’d like to finish it and drives me a little bit crazy. If I don’t, however, many people listening to this podcast, their caregivers, and they might be sandwich generation caregivers, and they’re juggling children, family full time work all of it all at the same time. Some of them are caring for a spouse, maybe they’re both retired and a spouse with a condition that requires a lot of attention can monopolize a caregivers time and so they don’t have a lot of time and maybe can’t finish everything that they start. But how can folks in that situation apply this philosophy to their lives?

 

Heidi Herman  26:41

I think they focus should really be on experiences of life. It doesn’t have to be the big travel plans of Oh, I want to go to the Grand Canyon, or I want to go to Hawaii, those are great. But it also can be something of just taking a couple hours. And I happened to be in Phoenix right now. And maybe I could go to the zoo for an hour to get out and just experience a little bit of change of environment a little outside hiking or something, I can go to a nature preserve, maybe I can go to the white tank mountains and and do a trail for an hour, I may not have the time to really go to the Grand Canyon and hike down to the bottom and spend that eight hour hike like I would want to. But I can do other things. Or I can say I need to take an hour for myself and just do something completely different. Maybe, maybe I want to go to a farmers market and browse through and find some food that I’ve never tried before, and then come home and prepare it or research recipes and come up with something new to do. It’s it’s about sort of a reset and refresh and trying something new to just keep experiencing life staying engaged, staying active and challenged. So it’s it’s not necessarily about Wow, I want to learn a whole new foreign language, which is great. But if you don’t have the time to commit to that, how about learning to say hello in 15 languages. Now that might be a goal that’s a little easier to accomplish rather than to committing to learning a whole new language. So we can adjust our goals and adjust our expectations to fit into what we have available in time or resources.

 

Liz Craven  28:54

That’s great advice. Really good advice. So one single message do you want people to remember from this book?

 

Heidi Herman  29:04

Really, to just keep moving and embrace life. Because life is not over until your last day. We should not be looking at retirement as something that’s a time to Oh, it’s my time to rest and relax and I’m going to sit in the rocking chair and wait until my time is done. No, we need to grab on to every day and embrace it and my own personal definition of retirement although I like the one that you provided at the beginning of of this episode. I have I’ve always thought my personal definition of retirement is waking up every day and choosing how to spend that day. It’s not necessarily about no longer earning a living or no longer Being part of the workforce, you know, maybe my idea of retirement is volunteering and supporting new entrepreneurs. So I never gave up my spot in the business world. I just maybe stopped earning a paycheck. And now I’m giving back and being just as involved in business by helping other people. Or I love that. Maybe Maybe I’m consulting and still earning money, but I do it on my terms. So it’s, it’s all about every morning when you wake up, what do you want to do today? And, you know, maybe it’s, maybe it’s something crafty, maybe it’s making Christmas decorations for for the yard? Are you know, maybe it’s getting in shape for a five k? Or, you know, maybe it’s volunteering? Or who knows? Well, the

 

Liz Craven  30:59

Options are just limitless. Yep, there are no limits to what’s available. I think that there’s a big old world out there. And it’s just waiting for all of us to come and take a bite.

 

Heidi Herman  31:12

Exactly, yes. And taste it all.

 

Liz Craven  31:17

Yes. So what comes next? Do you have any other projects in the works that we should know about?

 

Heidi Herman  31:25

Oh, my goodness, ah, life is so full. I am truly been blessed. I have loved working on this book. I am working on a couple of workshops, following up on this book. But I’ve got a couple other books that I am working on. Now. Before I did this one, I had done several in Icelandic heritage. I’ve done a cookbook and some children’s books and folklore, and a novel. So I have a couple more books. in those areas that I’m working on.

 

Liz Craven  32:04

You’ve been a busy lady.

 

Heidi Herman  32:08

Well, there is just so much to do, and so many fun things to do. And like my mom used to say, I just I just want to go and I want to see and I want to do and yeah, that’s that’s what it’s all about.

 

Liz Craven  32:23

So where can listeners purchase your books and connect with you.

 

Heidi Herman  32:28

I have all my books on Amazon and apple and Barnes and Noble, I have social media, Facebook, Instagram, and my website where people can follow and learn about my new projects and what presentations I’m going to be doing next. I’ve got a couple coming up that are online that people can jump on and have some fun video with my mom that I’d like to share on those. And yeah, so that would be Heidi Herman author, both on Facebook and Instagram, and my website is Heidi Herman author.com.

 

Liz Craven  33:17

Fantastic. And I will be sure to link all of those places for you in the show notes and in the blog post for Episode 38 at Sageaging.us. And I’m thinking I’ve got this copy of your book that I had the opportunity to read and thoroughly enjoyed it. So everybody who’s listening, if you pay attention over the next few weeks, I think I may do a giveaway, and pass my copy on to someone else to enjoy. So keep your ears open for that we’ll do something fun and do a giveaway later on this month. Well, Heidi, thank you so much for joining me today. This has been a lot of fun and makes me want to just put everything away for the day and go outside and play for a while.

 

Heidi Herman  34:05

There you go. That sounds perfect. Yes,

 

Liz Craven  34:07

It really is. It’s a beautiful sunny day in Florida. And I think it is calling my name and you’ve inspired me to take some time.

 

Heidi Herman  34:17

Sounds great. Well, thank you so much. This is really been great.

 

Liz Craven  34:22

I’m glad you enjoyed it. And thank all of you for listening. I hope that you enjoyed today’s conversation too. And I’d really appreciate it if you would click Subscribe now and share the Sage Aging podcast with a friend. If you have any topic ideas you’d like to share. We’d love to hear from you. drop me a line at info@Sageaging.us Thanks for listening, everyone. We’ll talk real soon.

 

Liz Craven

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As I’ve been preparing to launch this podcast I’ve enjoyed revisiting stages of my own life and reflecting on how this topic became such a passion for me. While I’ve built my career on helping older adults and their families connect to needed education and resources, my connection to the aging and care process goes much deeper.

Some of my earliest childhood memories are of my own multi-generational family living together in one home. I was 4 or 5 when my grandmother moved into our home to help care for my sisters and I while our parents worked. Soon after, her father and grandfather moved in as well. We had 5 generations living under one roof! That was a beautifully chaotic adventure and knowing what I know now, I have so much respect for what my parents and grandmother did.

Fast forward to age 24. Newly married and pregnant with our first child, I spent several months with my in-laws to help care for my husband’s grandmother who had Alzheimer’s. Fast forward again to about 2009 – Wes and I have two teenagers about to head to college and his mother is diagnosed with cancer. Several years later, my mother is diagnosed with cancer. Several years after that Wes’ stepdad is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and his father is suffering from severe dementia. You can see where this is going right? For the better part of the last 10 years we have been the caregivers. We see it as an honor and privilege to have been able to do that for our parents.

The key to navigating our later years is being proactive about gathering information before we get there and staying engaged once we do. To be sage is to be wise. There is wisdom in taking the time to ask questions, seek solutions and know your options before the need arises.

Each week we will discuss relevant topics of aging with experts who can help us to understand and be better prepared for aging. We’ll also introduce you to some Sage Agers who are totally owning their journeys through life. No topic will be off limits and we will deliver open and honest conversation meant to educate and empower our listeners. Each episode will also be available in video and blog formats.

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