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Ep 24: It’s Our Birthaversary: A Look Back and the Future of the Podcast

One year!! Can you believe we made it this far, friends? Because we sure can’t. You Don’t Want a Hug has officially been published for a year, and it has been a wild ride.


In today’s episode, we’re sharing joy, frustration, hope, and gratitude as we look back on this last year of podcasting. We’ll be discussing the many lessons we’ve learned, both from guests and just from this experience as a whole. 


We’ll also be reading notes sent to us by you lovely listeners, offering advice here and there (need tips on navigating swim lessons for autistic kids?), and we’re going to be pretty raw and honest about the future of the podcast. 


Quite frankly, we need your help to keep this podcast going. If you want to support us and the production of YDWAHR, consider donating to our GoFundMe here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/fund-the-future-of-you-dont-want-a-hug?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_lico+share-sheet&attribution_id=sl:05e43f5c-1789-4820-8549-9a5b3e1f75f6 

This fun little episode is one you can’t miss! Let’s dive in!



In this episode, you’ll learn...

  • [01:04] Gwen and Kristen celebrate a very special birthaversary

  • [02:52] Gwen’s Rylanism that captures the very real feelings she’s having about her kids today

  • [09:15] What Gwen and Kristen have learned after a year of podcasting

  • [12:02] Listener emails we’ve received covering isolation from local community, finding reassurance and joy in this podcast, and affirmations for Gwen’s bird obsession

  • [18:05] Kristen’s advice on teaching autistic children how to swim

  • [26:03] The future of You Don’t Want a Hug, Right?





If you just can't get enough of us, don’t forget to join our newsletter and check out our other projects.


Resources for this episode…




Transcript for "It’s Our Birthaversary: A Look Back and the Future of the Podcast"

Gwen:

If you have an appreciation for honest and sometimes irreverent conversations about parenting and walking alongside neurodivergent humans, you are in the right place. I'm Gwen.

Kristen:

And I'm Kristen. And together, we have decades of experience parenting fiercely amazing neurodivergent humans, as well as teaching, writing, advocating, and consulting. All of this has provided us with an endless supply of stories of inspiring failures and heartbreaking wins.

Gwen:

Welcome to You Don't Want A Hug. We promise to come at you each episode as our true selves, sharing the hilarity and delight in the midst of the heart of our journeys. You'll also hear directly from our kids at the end of each episode.

Kristen:

Most importantly, we hope to remind you of your immense value as a human outside of the caretaking role you play. So, grab a cozy blanket and a beverage and go hide in a closet nearest you.

Gwen:

KK.

Kristen:

Gwen.

Gwen:

They say it's your birthday. But not Kristen's birthday.

Kristen:

Nope, not mine.

Gwen:

It's our birthday.

Kristen:

It's our collective birthday, friends.

Gwen:

You're Going to Want A Hug B-day, or we are trying to decide anniversary or birthday, and then we both said anniversary, but birthday's fun too. So, it's our birth-the-naire.

Kristen:

Birth-aversary.

Gwen:

Birth-aversary. I like that. It's our birth-aversary.

Kristen:

One year.

Gwen:

We've been doing this podcast thing for a whole year. I don't even know what to do about that.

Kristen:

Doesn't seem possible.

Gwen:

It doesn't really seem possible. We've put out, this is our 23rd episode, which may not seem a lot, but let me tell you, it's a lot.

Kristen:

It's a lot considering that I have anxiety before every single episode, thinking-

Gwen:

You do?

Kristen:

I do. Because I think maybe we won't have anything to say or we won't know what to say. I don't know what. I don't know.

Gwen:

Ludicrous.

Kristen:

It's my social anxiety.

Gwen:

When have we ever looked at each other and gone, "I wonder what we can talk about?" We both just said, "Oh, we don't have any Graham-isms and Rylan-isms really to share this time." And then all of a sudden I started talking and we're like, "Oh, okay. Turns out that's a Rylan-ism for this episode." And you know what I was thinking? It's a very appropriate Rylan-ism because it really highlights what this podcast is all about. The hilarity in the midst of the hard. Doesn't it?

Kristen:

Yeah. The hilarity amidst the a-holiness of teenage people with the tizz.

Gwen:

All right, so my Rylan-ism, I wasn't going to share this, but I think it's such a good example that people can relate with and then talk about. We had my brother and sister-in-law and my nephew over on Saturday night for dinner, and my nephew is eight and we adore him and he has really gotten into Pokemon because of his big cousin Rylan.

So, he brought over a bunch of these cards that he got graded, which I don't know if any of you know what that is. It is you ship out your cards, they grade it and put it in this very thick, I'm talking a tornado wouldn't break it case. And then they grade on a scale of, I don't know, one to 10, the value of it, and then the value increases magically.

Anyway, so my nephew brought these cards to show his big cousin and he brings them out and my son just walks out of the room and goes, "You know what? I don't appreciate when you come over here and just flaunt all of your best stuff in front of my face, all the things that I don't have."

Kristen:

And brag.

Gwen:

"And brag about them." And I am just standing there. And thank God that my brother and sister-in-law, they know him and love him and they just kind of put their heads down like, "Oh, Rylan."

But my nephew, I just looked at my nephew's hurt little face and Rylan is out. So, I go in the other room and I'm like, "That was so rude. You were just such a jerk to Jackson." He goes, "Yeah. You know what? You need to stop telling me when I'm being a jerk. I don't think it's inappropriate. And you do. So, what are you going to do about that?" So, then I said, "You know what? I'm going to need you to go sit at the dining room table next to Jackson and just look at the cards because he was very excited to show them to you and he needs to see that you support him and that you are a kind big cousin." He goes, "I'm sitting there. I won't look." And he did. He sat there like a total a-hole, looked the other way while Jackson showed me the cards and talked about them. And Rylan goes, "Yeah, cool, cool." And then looked the opposite direction.

Kristen:

Guys, let me just tell you how I'm reveling in this right now, because you don't know how many times Graham has done that to Rylan, when they both love Pokemon and Graham's like, "Yeah, I don't do the cards, dude. I only do the game online," and so rude and so mean, and they just don't see it as rude at all because when we would hang up, I'd be like, "Graham, why did you treat him like that?" He'd be like, "What? I just collect the cards."

Gwen:

Well, I think this is a little more a-holey than that, don't you? With your little sweet cousin, he's like, "I wasn't happy to see them, mom. Stop telling me that I need to act different." So, there's the question for the day, listeners. What do we do in situations like that? What would our friend Becca say in this situation? I really do. That's what goes through my mind now. What would Becca say? Should I just excuse that reaction? Because it's how he feels. I don't think I should.

Kristen:

Yeah, it's so tough.

Gwen:

But it doesn't change it because our coming down on them makes them even more defiant.

Kristen:

And uncomfortable because they have not yet and maybe they never will, to Becca's point, developed that sense of this is how we interact. I don't know, it's a mystery, and puberty, as we discussed last time, has just made this all so much more challenging.

Gwen:

It has, it really has. The old Rylan would have been like, "Oh, that's cool. Maybe I should do that." But not the new Rylan. The new Rylan's like, "Stop bragging, little punk."

Kristen:

Oh man.

Gwen:

So, then I go on hyperdrive and I'm like, "Oh my gosh, these are amazing. Can I look at them again?"

Kristen:

I would have had to drink an entire bottle of wine if I were there. Not only watching Rylan, but watching you overcompensate would have sent me right under the table.

Gwen:

Well, I did have two margaritas, so that helped. My brother's a drink master. So, anyway, it's not the best Rylan-ism, but that's just the real of it.

Kristen:

Yeah, it's so true. The social component with peers and they do so beautifully with adults and you think, "Oh, we've come so far." And then you see them with a peer, i.e. anybody their age or younger.

Gwen:

Right. Including infants.

Kristen:

Yes, because they do not differentiate between a three-year-old and a teenager. They're like, "Get out of my face."

Gwen:

Our neighbors have a newborn, and so I've become like Auntie Gwen and this newborn is in my arms whenever I can possibly get him. I brought the baby in to see Rylan and I'm holding the baby. Listeners, you won't be able to see my face, but it's like this. I'll let Kristen describe it. This is what Rylan did.

Kristen:

Oh. Just pure disgust, pure terror and disgust.

Gwen:

Looks like he's constipated, like his neck went back the opposite of a turtle. It went back and he saw a spider or something. And then he did this little thumbs up towards the baby. I said, "Buddy, he's smiling at you," and he's like, "Awkward." He's like two months old. Oh my goodness. Oh, these are the moments. These are the moments.

Kristen:

They are the moments. Speaking of these are the moments, since we are having our birth-aversary.

Gwen:

Birth-aversary.

Kristen:

Birth-aversary. We thought it might be fun to do some reflections on emails that listeners have sent us, both questions and comments.

Gwen:

As well as maybe what we have learned and what we're loving over the course of our podcasting journey. Should we start with that?

Kristen:

Yeah.

Gwen:

What have we loved about this podcasting life? What has been challenging? What have we learned?

Kristen:

We've learned that it takes an awful lot to produce a podcast. We have learned that you don't just throw a microphone on and just start talking. That would be great, but there's so much involved in putting the content together and finding guests and doing research and then show notes and transcriptions and podcast management and the marketing and the-

Gwen:

Social media.

Kristen:

Yeah, the social. Okay. We hate it. We hate it. We do hate it. We're not very good at it, as you can tell, because we don't do it that often. But-

Gwen:

We could be good at it, but we hate it so much.

Kristen:

Yeah, we could be good at it.

Gwen:

But we love doing the work. So, that's what we've learned. It's a lot, but we love it.

Kristen:

We've learned that we love it. We've learned that it matters to some people, which is just a wonderful feeling to know that not only are we having fun, which honestly, that's why we started doing this because we thought it would be really fun, but we're actually helping some people and that makes us really happy to know that we're creating community and connection for people who might feel really lonely and isolated in this experience. So, that's been really cool and in a way that we've never done before, because we've taught, we've done support groups, we've provided that support in a lot of ways. We've never done it in this way while learning a whole new modality, which has been pretty cool.

Gwen:

Yeah, challenging and cool.

Kristen:

Challenging and cool. Turns out I also get anxious before every time we have to talk.

Gwen:

Yeah, yeah. I don't.

Kristen:

No. You sure don't.

Gwen:

I think something I've learned is that there's so much that we still don't know and when we have guests on and we are digging into research, that we're both still learning, which is fantastic. I mean, I don't think that we thought we had all the answers, but a lot.

Kristen:

Yeah, we think quite highly of ourselves, so we thought we really knew a lot. Turns out-

Gwen:

Me too. I've learned so much, namely talking to neurodivergent guests and reading from the perspective of neurodivergent people and listening to our kids too.

Kristen:

Yeah, learning a lot from our kids has been interesting. Just learning what their perspective is on things that have occurred in our family life has been really insightful and I think given them the opportunity to participate in having some agency and some self-determination themselves. So, that's been really cool.

Gwen:

For sure. Can we start with an email that we got from Janna? So, Janna sent us a message. This one was just a couple weeks ago, and Janna writes, "My long-lost best friends." That's us.

Kristen:

That's us. You and me.

Gwen:

"I just stumbled upon your podcast this morning and I have a feeling it will be life-changing for me. I feel so seen. I have three kiddos, two of them are neurodiverse, and we live in a very high-functioning sports-driven community." We hear you, sister. "While everyone is participating in soccer, football, and cheerleading teams and birthday parties, here we are, attending physical therapy, occupational therapy, talk therapy, all the therapies, just trying to make it through the school day without any crisis and tolerating people. It is so isolating and I have been feeling so low this weekend and like a failure of a parent. Then I hear your podcast and I'm able to laugh and feel more understood. Thank you." With three exclamation points. Oh, Janna.

Kristen:

Janna.

Gwen:

That's why we do it. That's why we do it.

Kristen:

100 percent why we do it. And boy, do we hear you on all the therapies as opposed to all of the sports-driven activity going on around you and how isolating that is. I mean, we've talked about it in previous podcasts. It's one of the hardest things that we've had to deal with. I think it's really interesting that you bring up the idea of being a failure of a parent because if we're not participating in those kind of cultural components of our community, we feel like we're failing.

Gwen:

Well, and maybe we're looked at as we're failing too. If our kids are having behaviors in public, we get looked at like we're failing. If we aren't able to successfully attend a birthday party, that might look like failing. If we're not able to smile and be super excited about our friend's kid's traveling soccer team.

Kristen:

So hard. So hard.

Gwen:

Maybe we need to do an episode on just feeling like failures as parents because Janna, you are not a failure as a parent.

Kristen:

Nope.

Gwen:

Let's just be clear. And if we need to get on a plane wherever you live, I don't think she mentioned, and just say it to your face, we will. It would be great if you paid for airfare, but we will come and tell you.

Kristen:

And if we could stay at your house, that'd be great.

Gwen:

That'd be great. Oh my gosh. So, that was a good one from Janna. Oh, I think I'll let you read Frances.

Kristen:

Oh, God.

Gwen:

Go ahead, girl.

Kristen:

Help us, listeners. Okay. Frances D. says, "I started listening because I have a grandson with autism. Levi is nine, and I really enjoy learning what it's like for you moms to raise these special children. My daughter is doing a wonderful job, but it breaks my heart watching how difficult it is for their family to find resources they need to support Levi. I'm able to better understand what it's like for them listening to you both talk about your lives. I'm also a fellow bird-lover like Gwen, and just wanted to encourage you to keep learning about birds."

Gwen:

Oh, Frances.

Kristen:

"Outside my kitchen window is a feeder, and my favorite sightings here in Lincoln, Nebraska are the rose-breasted Grosbeak and the Baltimore orioles."

Gwen:

Oh, yes.

Kristen:

Keep up the good work, ladies.

Gwen:

Frances.

Kristen:

You have no idea what you've done, Frances.

Gwen:

My bird feeder is empty and I purposely didn't refill it this morning because I knew we were recording and Kristen always gets mad at me when there's fresh seed.

Kristen:

Because she's constantly going, "There's a... What do you even have there?"

Gwen:

Listen to me, Frances, I hear you on the rose-breasted Grosbeaks. I just got my first one. It has a bright red rectangle on its chest and it's so beautiful.

Kristen:

Oh my goodness. Yes.

Gwen:

I have never seen a Baltimore oriole on my feeder, but I know they're back there because my app records the birds and tells me what song it is. I hear the oriole per my app.

Kristen:

Yeah. So, this is why all the memes are going around on the social about how you know you're over 40 when your sudden interest in birds takes over your life.

Gwen:

I spent two hours by the creek in my backyard in a chair just recording the bird songs. I didn't have a book. I didn't have a book. I didn't have a pen or paper, just my bird app. And I made video after video to share with my husband and he just didn't care. That's all right. It's all right.

Kristen:

But at least he didn't tell you you were bragging about your birds and he wasn't interested.

Gwen:

He didn't.

Kristen:

Because he loves Grosbeaks too. He suffered in silence as he's been taught.

Gwen:

Oh my gosh. Frances, outside of the birds, we're so glad that you're listening. I think it's so amazing that grandparents are listening.

Kristen:

Yeah, that is really cool.

Gwen:

That makes my heart happy.

All right, I am going to read this one is a question to you. Sarah G. says, "I'm a twin mom of two-year-olds, a boy and a girl. Our son was recently diagnosed with autism. A friend of mine recommended your podcast and it has been a lifeline to hearing you ladies convey the rollercoaster that we're going through. You allow me to laugh while I bawl my eyes out. Kristen, my kids are drawn to water and I know you've talked about living in San Diego and your water," which is true. You lived in San Diego.

Kristen:

Yes, I did.

Gwen:

"Your current neighborhood has a lake. How did you teach your kids how to swim? It terrifies me." That's a great question.

Kristen:

It is a great question and I think probably relevant to many listeners because we know that our kids on the spectrum tend to be drawn to water and are less likely to know how to swim.

Gwen:

Correct.

Kristen:

So, it can be real dangerous for our kids. And as a fellow mom of multiples, how the hell do you pull that off, especially when you have one or two or three who are neurodivergent?

Gwen:

Correct.

Kristen:

So, we spent a lot of time at our local rec center in Colorado. We have this unbelievable recreation center system and we have them everywhere. And we have one really close to us with a pool that has a river, like a walking river thing. And then it also has a beach entry into the pool. And we worked really hard to get our kids to tolerate the floaties and then we just had them in a vest at all times and we tried the typical approach of swim lessons and I could take an episode telling you what that was like because obviously Graham would have been biting or scratching the eyes out of whoever was next to him in the water.

Gwen:

Obviously.

Kristen:

Jameson would have been terrified and Hayden would have been stimming on the water as it rolled over the tiles.

Gwen:

Hold on. Can you paint a picture of what that looks like, stimming on the tile?

Kristen:

So, the water line kind of floating along the tile at the top of the water, he would be looking at out of the corner, his peripheral vision, so he would look at it over and over again really close up, and miss all of the lesson while he was doing that and so we determined that maybe group lessons isn't how our kids are going to learn, P.S. learn anything really. So, one-on-one lessons were with somebody who was familiar with our population and could manhandle Graham into submission.

Gwen:

So, did you just spend four hours at a time then at the rec center?

Kristen:

Yeah, it was a pretty lengthy process. And they all swim really well and love the water.

And the other piece, I think, that's really important is when you're at the beach or at a pool, that's a situation in which disclosure is probably worth the emotional risk of telling the lifeguard that your child has autism because they may not listen to verbal directions, like anybody does in those pool situations when those young lifeguards are yelling at the kids to get off the line or do something. Nobody listens, but especially our kids aren't going to listen because there's too much sensory stuff happening.

And to that point, I do think that swimming is such a sensory experience and one of the reasons our kids love it so much, that you get a lot of resistance in the water. There's a lot of sensory input with that experience. So, thank you, Sarah. Don't be terrified. Put those floaty vests on and get in there, girl, and do some one-on-one lessons with a teacher who gets our kids.

Gwen:

Yeah. Good luck finding that though, Sarah.

Kristen:

Good luck, Sarah.

Gwen:

Rylan was also always drawn to water, but for him it's the waves. It's the input that he gets with waves crashing in on him. I mean, he did love pools, so we also did one-on-one lessons for him because that definitely worked best or like a two-kid, maybe three at the most, but good luck getting him to just stay on the wall when it's not his turn.

Kristen:

Right, right.

Gwen:

That was really hard. But the wave input is what he loves the most. I don't know, it just feels like a weighted vest just coming in at him maybe.

Kristen:

Yeah, yeah, for sure. And I think paying attention to an instructor in a group when there's that much sensory input happening, really tough. They're just so immersed in the experience that if you don't have somebody that's really right there with you, they can't really pay attention in that group setting. It's tough.

Gwen:

We have one more listener comment from Tyler. Do you want to take that one?

Kristen:

Yeah. Tyler says, "I am a family therapist focused on neurodivergent families. I've heard you talk about stages of grief throughout various episodes. So many of the parents I work with are surprised when I introduce the concept of grief during our sessions. It's as if families don't think they deserve to acknowledge grief through their journeys. I'd love to hear an episode focused on the topic. Thanks for putting this podcast out there. I refer clients to you regularly." Thank you, Tyler.

Gwen:

Thank you, Tyler. And that is super interesting, the grief. I mean, we've talked about grief maybe sporadically throughout our podcast, but the stages of grief probably does need its very own episode.

Kristen:

It does. And it's something that I actually do a lot of trainings on for parents and teachers in school settings so that teams can understand that families are often in this grief process. And for us, it's not a stages of grief that you work through and you're done. It's a very cyclical process where different phases can be triggered by different experiences and the more you know how you operate and the way you communicate when you're in those different phases, the better you can alert your team or adjust your behavior or the team can adjust their expectations depending on where you are. If you're in a phase of grief that's really passive and you just can't act on anything and you're really emotional or you're in hyperdrive, you're like the black ops mom who's going to get every support and service known to man and God help you if you get in the way.

We all have these different reactions to kind of these different experiences and there are so many triggers in our daily lives and in our school lives that put us in these places. And the more you know, the better you're able to operate and the less you feel like you're a crazy person.

Gwen:

Yeah. And Kristen does these workshops pretty consistently locally in the Denver area, and people just love, love, love the workshops that she does. So, you can go on our website and connect with her if you are looking to have those workshops done. And Kristen and I have also talked about doing recorded online workshops that you can just download and use those within your professional environment or in your family environment. And so that's something that we've talked about doing in the future as well.

And there's a lot of episodes that we would love to record in the future. We have some interesting ones coming up, but this might be a good time to let our listeners know that a year has flown by and we have learned that we do love this work and that it is valued by so many people, many of whom I'm sure we'll never hear from, but we just trust. We have watched our stats and Buzzsprout sends us the data on how well we're doing and we would like to thank our listeners because we consistently rate in the top 30% of all podcasts out there as far as consistency of listenership and consistency in growth. So, we are shocked and honored and encouraged by that data, knowing that this podcast is doing great things. We're also humbled by that fact as well.

Kristen:

And it's really helped us think about our future and moving forward. We've taken this time with our birth-aversary to evaluate how are we doing? What are we doing? Should we keep doing it? Do we think it's impactful? Does it matter? And we've come to the conclusion that yes, to all of those things, it is impactful, it does matter. We do love doing it and we want to expand what we're doing and keep doing it.

Gwen:

So, we are coming to you with an ask, and we haven't done this before and we really didn't want to do this, but podcasters typically will make money by adding ads into their podcasts. And we do not want to add advertisements into our work.

And so before we have to resort to that, we have decided to put together a help-support-the-podcast GoFundMe campaign, for our listeners and friends and family to be able to contribute. Our goal right now is to do six more months and then reevaluate where we are at financially. Our ultimate goal would be to sell this podcast to a production company and be a part of a larger network. That takes a lot of time and effort to get that kind of support, more than a year. And so in the meantime, we just can't keep funding this ourselves is kind of where we're landing. We're both going through a lot of transition career-wise. My husband's going through some transition career-wise coming up in the near future and we just can't keep paying to put this content out there.

So, we are asking for some help. We have a goal right now of raising $5,000 and that will pay for six months. So, that gives you an idea of what we're each putting into this out of our own pockets and that we just can't keep doing for much longer. So, the GoFundMe account is going to be posted to our website, to the show notes and on social media, and our goal is to raise $5,000 in the next 30 days.

Kristen:

So, help us out so we can keep doing this work that we love. And just to clarify, some of the costs that we're incurring are that we've hired a really great podcast manager and that group supports us in audio production. So, they do our editing, they post our show notes and put together some of our social media and that costs a good deal of money. So, in order for us to do it rather professionally and have it sound somewhat professional, we have to engage people who actually know what they're doing because we wouldn't know how to do that. So, the money that we're asking for wouldn't be to pay us. It would all go to paying the costs that we incur from that service.

Gwen:

Yeah, I mean, our time, we are willing and able to give our time. It's just the financial resources we can't, we just can't keep doing. But we do trust that we're just going to keep following the arrows that are placed in front of us with this podcast work and with what comes with it. There's a lot of additional projects that we want to do that stem from this podcast, but this needs to be the core of what we're doing. So, thank you for listening. Thank you for spreading the word. Thank you for supporting us. If you are able to do this financial support in addition, we would be super appreciative and we trust that this thing's going to keep on going.

Kristen:

We do. So, thank you for your support.

Gwen:

And we're not going to hand it over to our kids because we don't feel like it today. We're not into them today. We're not into our kids today. All right, bye, friends.

Kristen:

Bye.

Gwen:

Thanks for joining us for this episode of You Don't Want A Hug, right? We'd sure appreciate it if you'd subscribe to our show in your favorite podcast app, and if you want to win Listener of the Month, you can rate and review the show, preferably with five stars.

Kristen:

If you'd like to stay up on all our happenings, resources and bonus material, join our newsletter at YouDontWantAHug.com.

Gwen:

Remember, even the best caretakers make panic rooms out of their closets. No judgment here, friends. So, shoulders back, double chins up. We are all in this together.





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