Julie Merica is the creator, host, and advice aficionado behind the podcast, Make Your Damn Bed. Empowered with an infectious aura and a truly rare sense of empathy, Merica makes for a sharply keen podcast host. However, as the captain of her daily podcast, she also makes for an in-demand agony aunt and alarm clock too. In fact, so many individuals choose Julie’s voice to soundtrack their mornings that Make Your Damn Bed recently graced the top of the Spotify charts. We sat down to talk to Julie about the art of giving advice, boundaries, and tennis.
Hi Julie! Please introduce yourself and your podcast to our readers.
Hello! My name is Julie Merica and I am the host of the Make Your Damn Bed Podcast which is a morning motivation podcast to help you get out of your bed and well, start making it.
I understand your podcast is a pandemic baby! What inspired you to start it?
Well, I’m a big fan of podcasts in general. I work full-time as a freelancer and during the pandemic, I found it hard to get out of bed and stay inspired. Everything felt so monotonous. As someone that suffers from anxiety and depression, it became difficult to keep negative thought cycles and unproductivity at bay.
To motivate myself, I started looking for a daily podcast that would trigger me to get moving in the mornings, but I couldn’t find one. All of the ones on the market were either intensely aggressive or too idealistic. There was no middle ground that gave people space to digest their thoughts and realistically look at the world, no structured but easy listening show that taught people to live with a little bit of optimism, so I decided to start one myself.
Producing, creating, and launching an episode a day must be quite a task. How do you manage your creative process?
Well, I am a total ADHD baby so I have a weird thing about processes in general. I prefer to operate intuitively as opposed to harshly and the routine I practice for the podcast reflects that.
One of the reasons I’ve always worked for myself is because I don’t enjoy forcing creativity. Podcasting means I can create and backlog episodes when I’m in the right headspace, but it also allows me to be kind to myself when I’m not feeling creative. It’s not like standup or photography where you have a gig or a shoot and you have to be on your a-game at a certain time no matter what, it is more reflective of your real-time emotional state.
Your show is released every day but it’s also segmented into seasons, each being 66 episodes long. Why did you chapter each season into this specific number?
I did a bunch of research on how long it takes for the average person to form a habit, and while doing so varies from person to person, it generally takes a person around two months. One particular study noted that it takes a person 66 days. I found this number so funny and specific that I set it as the duration for a season.
I wanted my voice to become this gentle call to action, you know? This thing that you would hear in the morning would trigger you to achieve one goal, no matter how small, so that you began your day feeling proud and productive.
And how does that feel, knowing that your voice is a CTA for so many people?
Pretty bizarre. I never envisaged the podcast becoming what it is today. I make it at home by myself so the notion that there are so many people listening to it feels properly detached from my own experience of creating it.
Do you think of any specific listeners going about their mornings with you as their soundtrack when you’re creating your podcast?
Honestly, I try not to do that. I keep the advice as general as I can. I have received some beautiful responses from listeners about the podcast and while I feel empowered by their special words, I find that if I concentrate on a particular listener then I focus too much on how the specific piece of advice I am sharing pertains to one singular person.
I understand that every piece of advice I give won’t resonate with every listener, but I try my best to make sure that it doesn’t ostracise a singular gender or identity of sexuality. I aim for the advice to be rooted in general adulting and psychology, simple wisdom that when applied correctly can genuinely change the way you see the world. People are free then to feel inspired by it and apply it to their lives in whatever way feels right. I trust them to do that.
That’s interesting. I was curious because I know you also work in photography and comedy and both those fields you watch an audience respond in real-time to your art, however in podcasting you kind of create into the abyss. How does that juxtaposition feel?
I’ve never thought of it like that, but you’re right. I mean, podcasting certainly feels different from both those fields, but in particular, it feels different from comedy.
When you perform as a comic, you rarely have anything to show for your work. You tend to work your butt off writing and rehearsing a show only to perform it and call it quits straight after. Podcasting isn’t like that. You have this tangible thing to show as evidence of your time and work. That’s something you don’t have with comedy.
What piece of advice have you given on the podcast that you rely on in your own life?
Honestly, I carry a lot of the affirmations from the podcast around with me. I find they truly help me I need a mindset shift in general. They center me and empower me with this ability to check myself and to live in the moment and in turn, that’s enabled me to refuse negative thoughts any space, making them less impactful and brutal.
I like to think of negative or anxious thoughts as a little pitbull, one that’s there to protect me but that’s also scared, bitter, and in need of reassurance. I remind myself that while she’s there for a natural reason, just like our anxious thoughts, her feelings aren’t always grounded in sense. It’s my job to sieve through her reactions and to remind her that while having negative emotions is normal, acting on them is not always productive.
On that, do you tend to wear the hat of the advice-giving friend in your social circles?
Yes absolutely. I love life hacks. I love psychology. I really enjoy analyzing emotional situations, and despite sometimes failing to always utilize those skills in my own life, I have always been that person that people would turn to when they needed help navigating theirs.
In fact, I used to over-exhaust myself with other people’s problems. I used to think that interrupting my own life for someone else was a way to show other people that I care for them, but it isn’t, it is just a way for two people to carry heavy emotions instead of one.
It’s more helpful to be a sturdy, trustworthy shoulder for a friend to cry on than it is to be a tired drained mirror of what a friend is feeling themselves. There’s a big difference between sensitivity and fragility. It took me a long time to realize that.
Was there a person who acted as this beacon of advice for you?
Not particularly. I had a difficult childhood and so when I was very young, I didn’t have those adults around me who I could truly feel guided by or trust.
Do you think you became this beacon because of that space perhaps?
That’s a deep read, but, yes, I suppose you’re exactly on the ball. However, once I went to high school I moved in with my grandmother and she became that person for me. She was never judgy. She was always real. I remember she spoke to me about birth control when I was fourteen and at the time, nobody was speaking to teenagers about that stuff, but she did it with such grace and impartiality. It made me respect her so much.
My grandmother has always been my biggest number one fan. I like to think that I channel her energy, the magic of someone patient who loves you and wants the best for you, in my podcast because she was always like that with me.
Well as a daily listener, it certainly feels like you do. This podcast feels like a beautiful way to honor her.
You’re going to make me cry. Thank you. That’s so sweet. I know she’d be really proud of it. She would hate the cussing, but she’d be proud of it.
And to finish, what is your favorite sound?
Well, I used to play tennis and if you’ve ever opened a fresh, sealed can of tennis balls, you have heard my favorite sound in the world.
I remember lifting the lid of the can off like a can of soup and hearing this pop and peel sound that was so immensely satisfying. I wasn’t even very good at tennis but that sound, actually any popping sound like a cork or a biscuit tin, is my favorite sound in the world. It just promises good vibes. It feels like a luxury. It says good things are coming.
interview by Alice O’Brien, for Bear Radio