47 episodes

Vanessa Zoltan and Casper ter Kuile learned in divinity school about the art of paying attention. In this podcast, they turn that attention to a variety of everyday scenarios in their own lives to see what’s really at stake. Each week, Vanessa and Casper walk each other through the process of figuring out what their ‘real’ questions are with help from texts ranging from movie musicals to theological treatises. In this intimate, thoughtful podcast we explore how friendship can be a tool for living a more intentional life.
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The Real Question Not Sorry

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.9 • 298 Ratings

Vanessa Zoltan and Casper ter Kuile learned in divinity school about the art of paying attention. In this podcast, they turn that attention to a variety of everyday scenarios in their own lives to see what’s really at stake. Each week, Vanessa and Casper walk each other through the process of figuring out what their ‘real’ questions are with help from texts ranging from movie musicals to theological treatises. In this intimate, thoughtful podcast we explore how friendship can be a tool for living a more intentional life.
See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

    Quitting

    Quitting

    Marie-Hélène is the kind of person who changed her major a million times during college. But after a while, this habit started to feel embarrassing. So she made a promise to herself: “I am going to become the kind of person who commits to things and sees them through.” Now she’s been at the same job for seven years and is starting to feel antsy. But she can’t tell - is it because her old habit is rearing its head? Or is it because it’s really time to move on? 
    With help from Independent People by Halldór Laxness and The Life of Pi by Yann Martel, Marie-Hélène, Vanessa, and Casper explore what it means to trust yourself when you feel like sometimes your instincts come from the wrong place.

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    • 44 min
    Roommates

    Roommates

    Dani has always wanted to live alone. Now, at 28, she’s living the dream. She owns her condo and doesn’t foresee needing a roommate. But looking ahead at the rest of her life, she’s a little worried about what she sees. If she lives alone forever, is she closing the door on an important kind of intimacy and support? 
    With help from a song from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and a scene from Friends, Dani, Vanessa, and Casper explore society’s expectations around partnership, family and long-term relationships.

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    • 44 min
    Hard Conversations

    Hard Conversations

    A few years ago, Lindsay left an abusive relationship. Since then she has almost completely cut her abuser out of her life. But there’s one friend they still share - and that friend is getting married. Lindsay has never talked to her friend about the abuse. But now, with her ex likely invited to the wedding, questions are coming up: Should she tell her friend about the abuse? What if he doesn’t believe her? Or still wants her abuser at his wedding? 
    With help from In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado and Hunger by Roxane Gay, Lindsay, Vanessa and Casper discuss strategies for how to be vulnerable when you don’t know how a hard conversation will go. 

    If you or someone you know is experiencing intimate partner violence, The National Domestic Violence Hotline has great resources and are available 24/7 help.


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    • 42 min
    Non-Binary

    Non-Binary

    Ruth has been a woman their whole life, but that label has never quite felt right. Recently they had an experience where a stranger gendered them “wrongly” and it felt amazing. Since then they’ve been wondering, should they identify as non-binary? 
    With help from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and an article by Tre’vell Anderson, Ruth, Vanessa, and Casper explore the confines of gendered language and the possibilities we have to expand it. 

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    • 41 min
    Diagnosis

    Diagnosis

    Maya Gosh has been in pain for years. She’s been going to doctors, trying to figure out what's going on with her body, but nobody seems to think anything is wrong with her. And lately she’s started to feel like the whole process of trying to get good healthcare is more painful emotionally and psychologically than the physical pain she’s in. Should she stop trying and protect her mental health? Or is that giving up?
    With help from Mythbusters and the Liverpool Football Club, Maya, Vanessa and Casper discuss everything that's at stake in trying to get a diagnosis.

    --
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    • 37 min
    Break-Ups

    Break-Ups

    Last fall, Sophie Clark broke up with her long-term partner and it was one of the hardest things she’s ever done. Trying to organize her grief, she began a weekly ritual - lighting candles and journaling about the break-up. But now, several months later, the ritual is feeling a little flat. What can she do to reimagine her practice to better fit where she is now in the grief process? 
    With help from Jane Eyre and a William Prince song, Sophie, Vanessa and Casper explore what kind of thoughts and feelings surround a big break-up and what it means to heal. 
    At the end of today’s episode, you’ll hear an original song by Sophie! You can hear more of her music here.

    --
    We are so grateful to our supporters on Patreon who make this show possible. If you can, please considering chipping in!

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    • 41 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
298 Ratings

298 Ratings

VFB94 ,

Grateful they started this project

Thank you to Casper & Vanessa for making this podcast and engaging deeply. It is truly a gift in these times.

trekTnek ,

The Risa Episode

Y’all. Do this ^every^ time! The two of you trading off on these topics and then coming back together to reflect on what you have been learning from your community together is beautiful. And the advice you give is so so useful. Keep up the great work!! Congratulations!!

ali-18 ,

The podcast I didn’t know I needed

If you ever feel like you have big (or medium-sized but still sticky) life questions that you don’t know how to deal with on your own but you also don’t know who to turn to for advice, this podcast is for you. This podcast brings all the beautiful wisdom, grace, and brilliance of HPST to real life issues that are specific to Vanessa/Casper and yet so ubiquitous. Every episode, I learn something (usually many things) helpful and applicable to my own life. I love how Casper and Vanessa bring the texts to life and find delightful and surprising insights in them every time. I think of you both as my friends at this point even though you don’t know me (though we have hugged!). I’m so grateful for Vanessa and Casper’s presence in my life and for this podcast!

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