#255: 21 Common English Phrases [from Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday Podcast]

Oct 19, 2022 | English Conversation

Imagine listening to a podcast with your favorite English-speaking actress or author or innovator and understanding every word. Idioms, phrasal verbs, and all. No feeling lost or confused.

How would you describe that feeling?

  • Accomplished
  • Motivated
  • Proud
  • Relieved

All of the above?

That’s how I want you to feel after this Confident English lesson.

Together we’ll explore a specific episode of Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, a personal development talk show and podcast. Every episode aims to help you awaken your best self and forge a deeper connection with the world around you.

We’ll focus on the episode, Elizabeth Gilbert: The Curiosity Driven Life, and uncover the meaning of 21 Common English Phrases including idioms, phrasal verbs, collocations, and more from the episode.

After watching, I recommend that you listen to the specific episode to hear how these common English phrases are used in context. 

Doing so will significantly increase your ability to remember what you learn so the next time you hear the specific idiom or phrase in a podcast, you’ll know exactly what it means AND you can use these phrases in your English conversations.

21 Common English Phrases [from Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday Podcast]

 In the episode, Elizabeth Gilbert: The Curiosity Driven Life, the author of Eat, Pray, Love shares her take on following one’s passion and an alternative, powerful point of view to showcase that ‘passion’ can trigger feelings of stress or anxiety.

Instead, Elizabeth encourages everyone to trade passion for curiosity and allow passion to be a happy by-product of following your curiosity.

To make her case, Elizabeth shares:

  • Her initial perspective on the advice ‘follow your passion’
  • The shocking letter she received from an audience member
  • The ill-fitting nature of forcing passion to be your sole guide in life
  • The importance of laying down the burden of “passion” and following your curiosities.

Throughout the episode, Elizabeth uses a plethora of rich phrases to express her thoughts with impact and accuracy. 

To help organize what you’ll learn today, I’ve divided the podcast into sections, identified the time stamps, written a brief summary of the main points, and shared the context/examples for each phrase. 

Part 1: Passion Is Everything (0:00) 

In Part 1, Elizabeth shares her initial perspective on the “follow your passion” advice often shared for how to succeed in life. 

While sharing, Elizabeth uses the following phrases: 

  • Speak out against [sth/sb]
    • Def: To give one’s opinions on something, in public (usually an opposing opinion)
    • Context: “I am here today to speak out against passion.”
    • Ex. Jessi decided that she would speak out against the changes to workplace policies.
  • Piece [sth] together
    • Def: to try to understand or discover the truth by collecting and making sense of pieces of information
    • Context: “I remember I pieced it together at last.”
    • Ex. Fans listened to the album and tried to piece together the underlying message from the artist. 
  • Appear out of the ether
    • Def: to appear out of thin air, or from the heavens
    • Context: “Books do not just magically appear out of the ether, but people make them.”
    • Ex. Money doesn’t appear out of the ether. 
  • Stay in the game
    • Def: to remain involved and continue to make an effort, despite encountering obstacles to success
    • Context: “My passion for writing was so big that it made me stay in the game.”
    • Ex. You must put your blood, sweat, and tears into growing your business to stay in the game.
  • Give a dog and pony show
    • Def: to arrange an event that is designed to impress others or encourage them to invest their money
    • Context: “I was doing my thing, my passion, my dog and pony show in my passion.”
    • Ex. When I seek advice, I don’t want to be given a dog and pony show. 

Part 2: Passion Isn’t Everything (6:23) 

In Part 2, Elizabeth shares the shocking letter she receives and her revelation. 

While describing her stream of thought, she uses the following phrases:

  • (Not) Keep up with [sth/sb]
    • Def: to do what may be necessary to remain at the same level or equal
    • Context: “I almost feel like I can’t always keep up with all the interests that I have.”
    • Ex. When I run with my husband, I have to work hard to keep up with him.
  • Take a step back from [sth/sb]
    • Def: to withdraw or remove oneself to consider a broader, or more objective, perspective
    • Context: “When was the last time I actually took a step back from this…”
    • Ex. I needed to take a step back and to think deeply about possible solutions. 
  • Tear [sth/sb] apart
    • Def: to severely criticize and pick apart
    • Context: “I have been tearing myself apart for years…”
    • Ex. The critics tore apart her first book, but she kept trying anyway.

Part 3: Bouncing Through Life (13:08) 

In Part 3, Elizabeth describes the journeys of her friend and her husband; both exemplify people who allowed themselves to follow their curiosities and redefine passion. 

While describing the two most important people in her life, Elizabeth uses the following phrases: 

  • Have a checkered journey/past
    • Def: to have a past characterized by ill behavior or decisions
    • Context: “That’s what Raia’s checkered, convoluted, weird, random journey made her into…”
    • Ex. The current political candidate has a checkered past with the law.
  • Face plant
    • Def: to fall over with one’s face hitting the ground first
    • Context: “But, when I’m lost and broken, and I’ve taken a face plant in the middle of my life…[t]he very first phone call I make is to my friend.”
    • Ex. I’ve face planted more times than I can count while working towards my goals.
  • Be golden
    • Def: to be of the greatest value, not in the wrong, or totally fine.
    • Context: “…and she is golden in my heart – golden.”
    • Ex. Thank you for all your help. You’re absolutely golden.
  • Bounce through/around
    • Def: to move in an energetic and enthusiastic manner, possibly from one thing to another.
    • Context: “…bounces around Europe for four years…”
    • Ex. Ellen’s bouncing through life and enjoying every minute of her retired life. 
  • Be at ease with [sth/sb]
    • Def: to be calm or comfortable with something or someone
    • Context: “I know that some of them are really at ease with the shape of their journey.”
    • Ex. I feel at ease with my current stage in life. 

Part 4: Take Passion Off The Table (20:44) 

Finally, in Part 4, Elizabeth urges everyone to follow their curiosity rather than their passion. She reiterates that passion, while an important factor, can be demanding and stressful. 

To emphasize these essential takeaways, Elizabeth uses the following phrases: 

  • Take [sth] off the table (my CWC members should definitely know this expression!)
    • Def: To remove something as an option or a topic of discussion
    • Context:  “Do yourself a great kindness and just for now just take the word passion off the table.”
    • Ex. Let’s not take curiosity and interests off the table.
  • Take everything out of [sth/sb]
    • Def:  to drain or take all time and energy from something or someone
    • Context:  “It insists that you take everything out of you.”
    • Ex. It took everything out of me to write my exams and pass. 
  • Look back at [sth/sb]
    • Def: to think about someone or something that happened in the past.
    • Context:  “I want you all to just pause for a moment, and each and every one of you to look back at your own history…”
    • Ex. When I look back at it, I can’t help but laugh at the situation. 
  • Do a scavenger hunt (of your life)
    • Def: to participate in a game of finding and collecting items to bring back (into your life)
    • Context:  “…and what it gives you are clues on the incredible scavenger hunt of your life.”
    • Ex. The children did a scavenger hunt to find all the puzzle pieces as quickly as possible. 
  • (Not) be into [sth/sb]
    • Def: to (not) be interested in something or someone
    • Context:  “No, I guess I’m not into that.”
    • Ex. I love to cook but I’m not into baking. 
  • Follow a trail of breadcrumbs
    • Def: to follow a series of clues
    • Context:  “There’s something in your life, always, on every day that you’re a little bit curious about – that is to follow the trail of breadcrumbs.”
    • Ex. Sometimes, we need to follow a trail of breadcrumbs to truly discover our purpose in life.
  • Let go of [sth/sb]
    • Def: to stop holding on to something or someone
    • Context:  “In other words, you can let go of passion and follow your curiosity.”
    • Ex. To truly relax, let go of the anxiety and pressures surrounding you. 
  • Be pushed around
    • Def: to be bulldozed or forced to do something
    • Context:  “Never let a passion bully like me push you around again.”
    • Ex. I still remember my grandmother’s words, “do not let yourself be pushed around by others”. 

After you watch…

First, I recommend that you listen to the full podcast.

While you do, listen for the specific phrases you learned today. Note how they are used. 

Then, after you listen, follow these steps:

  1. Choose 2-3 phrases from today’s lesson. 
  2. Study the examples and determine whether the phrases have a negative or positive context. 
  3. Create your own example sentence for each of the chosen phrases. 
  4. Practice using the phrases in your daily English conversations. 
  5. Repeat these steps for other phrases in today’s lessons and/or phrases you encounter in other podcasts.

You can share your thoughts and your questions for me in the comments below.

~ Annemarie


P.S. Are you looking for a community to provide support, help you stay motivated, and guarantee that you grow? Check out our Confident Women Community.

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