Perennials Podcast
Episode 34: Lights Up with Felicia Russell

Episode 34: Lights Up with Felicia Russell

October 14, 2019

In today’s episode, I’m talking with my (nine years younger, nine inches taller) sister Felicia Russell about what she’s learned from ten years in the world of theater. Felicia has performed in nineteen musicals or plays over the course of the past ten years, and has auditioned for somewhere around 40 or 50. Her first public performance was at our town’s talent show when she was five years old, and later that same year she went on her first audition for a local community theater production of The Sound of Music.

I used to watch in awe as my little sister, who was still just a kid, went to auditions and rehearsals with a sense of professionalism, dedication, passion and love way beyond her years. It’s been incredible to watch her relationship to this art form deepen and evolve as she’s grown up.

Today, Felicia is sharing wisdom she’s gleaned from ten years of auditions, rejections, rehearsals, and live shows. Whether you like to be onstage, backstage or in the audience, there's a lesson here for you: about trusting your instincts, grappling with rejection and critique, retaining hope, learning how to care but not cling, the importance of responsibility and respect, and what it means to take something and leave something from each important experience you have.

You can learn more about Felicia and today's episode on the Shownotes page.

Episode 33: Traveling with Anxiety

Episode 33: Traveling with Anxiety

October 8, 2019

Do you get anxiety about traveling? Me too! But that's okay, because we can manage it. Anxiety doesn't have to keep us locked in our homes all the time. In addition to whatever treatment methods we're using to manage anxiety in our everyday lives, there are some basic practices that we can take with us wherever we go. In today's episode, I'm sharing 10 tips, tricks and tools for managing travel anxiety that I used on my recent trip to Montana, complete with stories about irrational obsessing over footwear, an almost-ill-fated camping trip, and the playlists that get me through long flights. 

If you're in the mood to travel, why not come visit lovely Madison, New Jersey for the very first Perennials Podcast live show?? I'll be having a conversation about the psychology of Harry Potter with Dr. Jill Cermele, professor of Psychology at Drew University, at Short Stories Bookshop & Community Hub from 7-9 pm on Friday, October 25. Head to the Facebook event to learn more and RSVP to this free, sure-to-be-super-fun event!

Episode 32: Ditching Diets and Ripping Off Halos with Jessie Haims: Part Two

Episode 32: Ditching Diets and Ripping Off Halos with Jessie Haims: Part Two

September 18, 2019

In Part Two of our conversation, Jessie and I are talking about how obsession with purity and perfection leads to destructive thoughts and behaviors. We talk about common motivations behind restrictive diets and how food can get wrapped up with a person's sense of self-worth and belonging. We also discuss how fatphobia and judgment show up everywhere from yoga studios to doctor's offices. And we share our struggles with body image and trying to untangle our sense of value and lovability from our age and looks. 

You can learn more about Jessie and today's episode by visiting the Shownotes page.

Episode 31 Ditching Diets and Ripping Off Halos with Jessie Haims: Part One

Episode 31 Ditching Diets and Ripping Off Halos with Jessie Haims: Part One

September 10, 2019

Jessie Haims is an incredible woman--a survivor of cancer and orthorexia, a yoga teacher and student of exercise and nutrition, she has become a fearless voice against diet culture. 

Jessie developed a disordered relationship to food at just eight years old, a relationship that continued for nearly two decades. Last year, at age 26, she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and decided that enough was enough--she didn't want to waste any more time starving herself and trying to disappear. She finally decided to seek help, and therapy transformed her life. Now, Jessie has an entirely different relationship to food and fitness, and a whole new outlook on health and wellness.

In Part One of our conversation, Jessie talks about the conditions that led to her eating disorder; how therapy has helped her to navigate difficult conversations with loved ones; and how she still struggles with shame around being enough as a woman. She and I discuss how internalized patriarchy makes it difficult to shift our behavior and beliefs about ourselves and our worth, no matter how much we believe in gender equity. 

Visit the Shownotes page to learn more about Jessie and today's episode, and check back next week for Part Two of our conversation. 

Episode 30 Not Babysitting with Alex Baron

Episode 30 Not Babysitting with Alex Baron

September 4, 2019

Alex Baron is not a babysitter. When he wakes up with his daughter at 5:30 a.m., when he changes her diapers or feeds her, he’s not doing it because he has to or because his wife asked him to--he’s doing it because he wants to. Because he loves being Addison’s dad. 

Recent studies from the Pew Research Center show that American fathers who live with their children are spending more time with them than in the past, yet fear that they still aren’t giving enough time to their families. In today’s episode, Alex and I talk about his experience of balancing his different roles, the importance of work places supporting fathers in showing up for their families, and how it’s hard to find a community of dads online who aren’t obsessed with high speed strollers. 

We also discuss the lessons Alex brings from his childhood into parenting Addie, and what he’s learning from Addie now. For those out there like me who aren't parents, there are also lessons in this episode about learning to parent ourselves, and the importance of healthy separateness in any close relationship. 

You can learn more about Alex and today's episode by visiting the Shownotes page.


Episode 29: The Mystery of the Missing Statue with Mallory Mortillaro

Episode 29: The Mystery of the Missing Statue with Mallory Mortillaro

August 26, 2019

A few years ago, Mallory Mortillaro was a 22-year-old college graduate and middle school English teacher putting her Art History degree to good use doing part-time archival work. One day on the job, she discovered, tucked in the corner of a town council chamber, a lost Rodin statue. So began a one-year journey to officially authenticating the marble bust of Napoleon, a path that led to lots of media and international attention and to Mallory delivering a commencement address to Drew University’s graduating class of 2018, just five years after she and I graduated from Drew.

In this episode, Mallory and I not only talk about her discovery of the Rodin and what she learned about trust and hard work, but also discuss our experiences of college as two introverts who found the extroverted social scene pretty overwhelming. We also explore ways that we’ve remained committed to continuing our education as post-grads, learning through experience and continuing to follow our curiosity and pursue our passions outside of a formal academic setting.

You can learn more about Mallory and today's episode by visiting the Shownotes page.

Episode 28: A Perennials Birth Story

Episode 28: A Perennials Birth Story

August 20, 2019

In today's episode, the tables have been turned--I'm the one answering questions! 

Lauren Roberts, previously my guest in Episode 23, is interviewing me about the origins of the podcast, and my current take on the themes of "growing up, getting wise and trying to live a good life." 

We talk about my post-grad quarter life crisis, slowly shedding the pressure to be a "good girl," moving out of my parents' house and balancing my need for quiet and alone time with social connection and engagement with the world.

I share some of what I've been learning lately about what it means to belong to myself and share myself with others--through connecting to my body and creativity, loosening up on trying to find the "one right way" to do things, and learning to be more authentic wherever I go and whoever I'm with. 

You can learn more about this episode on the Shownotes page.

Episode 27: And How Does That Make You Feel? with Jessica Gaeta

Episode 27: And How Does That Make You Feel? with Jessica Gaeta

August 12, 2019

Jessica Gaeta is your new favorite Jersey Italian mom. She's loud, she's funny, she makes a mean lasagna, and she's got the biggest heart. 

For almost ten years now, Jess has worked for the American Cancer Society, first in fundraising and income development and now as a Volunteer Care Manager. She received her Masters in Public Administration from Seton Hall University and lives in New Jersey with husband Alex and their adorable baby girl Addie. 

I sat down with Jess to pick her brain about her relationship to resiliency and adversity, how she coped after losing both of her parents by the time she was 20 years old, and how humor helps her find light even in dark times.

We dive deep talking about therapy and how it has helped us both to grow in self-awareness and self-love. We talk about the most helpful and unhelpful things we've experienced in therapy sessions, the ways in which therapy is a lot like dating, and how Jess's therapist's dog threw her for a self-esteem loop. We also discuss the importance of being seen, known and cared for by someone who offers us space to be ourselves, and learning to be more accepting of our feelings. 

Episode 26: The Nature of Presence with David Crews

Episode 26: The Nature of Presence with David Crews

August 6, 2019

In today’s episode, I’m talking to David Crews, author of Wander-Thrush: Lyric Essays of the Adirondacks and High Peaks, a poetry collection that catalogs his hiking of the “Adirondack 46ers” in upstate New York. 

David talks about his passion for wild and rugged terrain, why he doesn’t bring a phone or camera on his hikes, and how he strives to become more present in nature and in life.

We discuss the importance of retreating in order to reflect on how we can better engage with the world, especially in an age of rapid advances in technology and information. We talk about striving for balance and what it means to be in right relationship--with ourselves, each other and the planet. And we talk about love, a thread that runs through it all.

To learn more about David and the topics covered and references made in today's episode, visit the Shownotes page.

Episode 25: Belonging in Our Bodies with Cindy Goncalves

Episode 25: Belonging in Our Bodies with Cindy Goncalves

July 29, 2019

Cindy Goncalves is a Luso-American queer, feminist twenty-something, the daughter of immigrants currently working as a school counselor. 

In today's episode, she and I talk about her experience of sex education growing up, and what she later learned as a sex-positive educator. We talk about how she “stumbled upon” her own sexuality as a teenager, the symbolic power of cutting her hair short, and how she shows her students that queer people can lead happy, successful, meaningful lives full of love.

And we also talk about the hard stuff—her experience of being outed to her family, their long journey to acceptance, her struggles with body image, and experiencing burnout as a mental health professional.

We explore the limited and limiting messages our dominant culture perpetuates about what is “normal” sex and sexuality, and we discuss how sex is about so much more than a certain action or outcome.

We talk about feeling that we belong in our bodies and our bodies belong to us, and how we can all connect to a sense of creativity, intimacy and aliveness.

To learn more about Cindy and topics covered/references made in this episode, visit the Shownotes page.