Perennials Podcast

Shownotes II

February 28, 2020

Episode 40: Stories that Change Us with Lily Percy



Liliana Maria (Lily) Percy Ruíz Liliana Maria is one of the founding team of four that brought On Being with Krista Tippett to independence in 2013. Born in Cali, Colombia, Liliana Maria immigrated to Miami with her family at the age of four. Like many public radio listeners, she fell in love with the medium while sitting in a car, listening to Click and Clack in the backseat of her father’s Honda Accord.

Liliana Maria studied English Literature and Film Studies at Florida International University. She has worked as an associate editor at MovieMaker magazine, and as a producer for StoryCorps and NPR’s “All Things Considered” on the weekends, where she produced the series “Movies I’ve Seen A Million Times.” In 2012, she received the Religion Newswriters Association Radio/Podcast Religion Report of the Year Award for her profile of four Roman Catholic Womenpriests.

Liliana Maria is the host of the podcast This Movie Changed Me, and proudly serves on the board of Centro Tyrone Guzman, the oldest and largest multi-service Latino organization in Minneapolis.


  • The story behind the name Lily Percy / Liliana Maria Percy Ruiz 
  • Learning that our identity and what we believe is fluid, and that we are always continuing to grow
  • Realizing that the longest relationship you’ll have is with yourself 
  • Talking about the unhealthy messages we got about love and romantic relationships from movies
  • How movies affect us as sensitive people, and learning what types of movies aren’t good for us to watch
  • Understanding that wise people make mistakes too, and even older people don’t have everything figured out
  • Choosing not to be on social media
  • Learning to reach out to others when we’re experiencing pain or heartbreak



Episode 39: True Love with Sarah Koestner


Sarah Koestner is a certified professional coach who received her training through Leadership That Works: Coaching for Transformation at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. She specializes in coaching highly sensitive people navigate transitions with greater ease and less anxiety. It is her passion and joy to co-create tools that deepen her clients self-trust so they are able to live a more grounded and courageous life. Sarah sees coaching as a true partnership, where together we face your fears so you can access the gold underneath.


  • Messages about love that Sarah received early on from Cinderella, from her experiences of being bullied, and from the model of her parents’ relationship
  • Myth #1: You should “just know” that you’re with the “right one”
  • Making decisions based on your values rather than based on gut feelings
  • The impossibility of knowing whether you love someone “enough”
  • Myth #2: If you don’t feel head over heels with your partner all the time, something is wrong
  • How comparison (especially comparison that comes from social media/the internet) can make us feel like we're the only ones experiencing certain thoughts and feelings in our relationships
  • The power and importance of having multiple safe, loving relationships in your life
  • Myth #3: Your partner should complete you/fulfill you/save you/be your everything
  • Myth #4: You can’t love someone else until you’ve learned how to love yourself



Episode 38: Spiritual Direction for Christmas with Karen Florance


  • What is spiritual direciton, and what is the role of a Spiritual Director?
  • What is advent?
  • Resistance to contemplation and prayer, and some ways to address it
  • The gentleness of God, and the Christian idea of God being with you in suffering
  • James Martin’s meditation about Advent as a time to explore your desire
  • Exploring during Advent: Where are we experiencing darkness and despair? What are our longings?
  • The concept of “t’shuvah” -- returning 
  • Asking ourselves: does this bring me joy?
  • Finding God’s love in the world and how our experiences of relationships with other people shape our relationship to God
  • Spiritual freedom



Episode 37: Let's Save the Planet with Ananya Singh


Ananya Singh discovered her passion for activism nearly 5 years ago after attending the Youth Empowered Action Camp, a week-long activist summer camp, when she was twelve years old. The experience not only showed her that young people can make a powerful impact, but inspired her to take action on pressing environmental issues, including the climate crisis. She began by talking to her friends and family, researching the issue, and speaking in front of her middle school peers. With some support from teachers, resources from organizations, and a supportive mentor, Ananya was able to turn that energy into a small activist group at her local library. Since then, she has made strides as a leader, expanded the scope of her work, and found an interest in thinking about the structures and systems that support youth leadership. She currently serves as the CEO of Greening Forward, a youth-led environmental organization, and Partnerships Coordinator for the New Jersey Student Sustainability Coalition.



  • How YEA camp changed Ananya’s life and turned her into an activist
  • What helped Ananya keep her passion for activism alive after she got home from YEA camp
  • Ananya’s advice for how to get started in activism
  • Why Ananya came to focus on environmentalism 
  • The different strains of environmentalism, how their narratives and values are different, and how they can come together
  • The contradiction that exists in doing social good while connected by funding to corporations that do harm
  • Learning, as a leader, to push past fear of conflict and hold the tension that sometimes occurs when trying to be authentic and honest while also being kind and empathetic
  • Ananya’s values and where they come from
  • The spiritual side of activism
  • Marshall Ganz's work on barriers to action and how we can overcome them
  • How Ananya responds to despair and tries to protect herself from burnout
  • First steps for people interested in getting involved with environmental activism



Episode 36: Grown Ups Vote with Lauren Roberts


Lauren is a coach and teacher who loves connecting women with their power to create change. Through one-on-one and group sessions, Lauren draws on more than a decade of experience working with political leaders and social entrepreneurs to help her collaborators transform their lives, their communities, and the world. As a yoga teacher and trauma survivor, she shares practices that she’s learned along the way for staying resilient, no matter what. Outside of coaching and teaching, Lauren collaborates with other system-shakers like CTZNWELL, where she’s been the community manager since 2017, and the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault. She also founded INDY YOGA VOTES, a campaign to bridge her local yoga community with political action, and has worked in spaces like the United States Senate, Planned Parenthood, Haven Yoga Studio, VoteRunLead, Conscious Transitions, Practice Indie Yoga, Growing Places Indy, and the Kurt Vonnegut Museum & Library. You can find Lauren on Instagram @laurenkayroberts and @democracywitch



  • Addressing the question: why should people vote?
  • “The only way to fix our broken system is to overwhelm it with participation.”
  • The exciting current movement towards greater and more diverse civic participation
  • How voting can impact problems with our political and voting systems like gerrymandering
  • The importance and power of voting on the local level 
  • Politics as collective care 
  • Voting as a spiritual practice 
  • The importance of social influence and social support for people wanting to get more civically involved 
  • Figuring out how to talk to people about voting without shaming them
  • Building confidence in our own knowledge and understanding of our political systems
  • Learning how to vet candidates for ourselves more thoroughly and learning about individual candidates vs. voting purely based on party affiliation 
  • Struggling with the two party system in the U.S.
  • Working with fear of making the wrong choice



Episode 35: The Psychology of Harry Potter


Dr. Jill Cermele is a professor of psychology and an affiliated faculty member of the Women’s and Gender Studies program at Drew University. Her research and teaching interests include gender violence and women’s resistance, outcomes and perceptions of self-defense training, feminist psychology and pedagogy and issues of gender in mental health. And of course, Jill is an avid Harry Potter fan and teaches a course in the Psychology of Harry Potter.

Topics covered:

  • The impact of “sorting” people 
  • The role of choice and freedom in who we are and how we live
  • Fear of making choices
  • Finding safety at Hogwarts
  • What Harry Potter can teach us about helpful and unhelpful “magical thinking”
  • The factors that help people build resilience 
  • What Dumbledore’s Army shows us about how to disobey illegitimate, abusive or coercive power
  • The importance of self-complexity (and seeing other peoples’ complexity, too)

References made:


Episode 34: Lights Up with Felicia Russell


Felicia Russell is a 19-year-old college freshman from Middletown, New Jersey. She has been singing since before she can remember, but began her theater career ten years ago. Since then, she’s been in numerous local productions. In her spare time she reads, listens to Kacey Musgraves, draws, plays guitar and sinks her teeth into whatever creative outlet she can.

You can check out the Spotify playlist that Felicia curated to go along with this episode here.

Topics covered:

  • How being the fourth child out of five may have factored into Felicia’s desire for the limelight ;) 
  • Felicia’s early experiences with auditioning for musicals and how she fell in love with theater
  • The importance of trusting your instincts and not just trying to please and obey
  • Learning how to really care about things and also being able to let them go when you need to
  • Keeping hope even when you hear “no”
  • Realizing that when you receive constructive feedback, it doesn’t mean you’re bad or wrong
  • The responsibility that comes along with being part of a show, and how you have to be respectful to others and responsible for yourself 
  • How her role in Ragtime changed Felicia
  • How Felicia dealt with playing a traumatized character without taking on too much emotionally
  • What Felicia has brought to and taken from her characters
  • Felicia’s dream roles



Episode 33: Traveling with Anxiety


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



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


Jessica Haims is a yogi-turned-wellness-rebel who seeks to become a voice in the anti-diet culture world. Through her experience of cancer and orthorexia she had the wake up call of a lifetime. Now, she’s hoping that by speaking out against diet culture, specifically in the realm of yoga and fitness, she can help other people heal. 

Jessie has taught yoga for the last 7 years and has had the honor and pleasure to teach anatomy to yoga teacher trainings, assist in top notch workshops, lead her own workshops, and assist retreats. She has also seen the dark side of the yoga world and how many people have unhealthy relationships to food and their body. She is working towards either a master’s in exercise science and sports nutrition or solely nutrition. Her hope is to use this knowledge to help educate people and break the health halo. 

You can find Jessie on Instagram @adancingyogini



  • How bullying led to Jessie’s disordered relationship with food when she was eight years old
  • Fatphobia in our culture
  • What it’s like to share our most difficult stories, and the therapeutic technique of writing letters (that you may never send) 
  • Choosing not to comment on people’s appearances, and navigating how to ask our partners for what we need when it comes to what they praise about us
  • How the traits that we struggle with the most also serve us in positive ways 
  • One of the reasons we don’t seek help, like therapy, when we’re struggling with our mental health
  • How Jessie’s cancer diagnosis gave her the wake-up call she needed to seek help for her eating disorder
  • The disconnect between what we can understand intellectually about what’s best for us, and how we actually behave 
  • Shame around being “bad feminists”



Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon
The F*ck it Diet by Caroline Dooner
Body Respect by Linda Bacon
Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch
Don't Salt my Game by Laura Thompson
Food Psych by Christy Harrison


Episode 30: Not Babysitting with Alex Baron


Alex Baron is originally from New York and has been a New Jerseyian for about 8 years.  He went to school at the University at Albany and studied political science and history.  Alex started volunteering for the American Cancer Society shortly after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer when he was fifteen years old and has been volunteering ever since. Alex has worked with ACS for almost thirteen years and has been in a few different roles, currently as Senior Manager, Survivor and Mission Engagement for the Development and Marketing Department. Alex is a new dad to almost 8 month old Addison James and is married to previous podcast guest, Jessica Gaeta.  He volunteers for the Relay For Life of Rutherford and the Nikhil Badlani Foundation.  He is also a licensed Real Estate agent in NJ and has been doing that as a side hustle for almost 2 years.  He’s a huge Giants fan, and if he passes one thing on to Addison, Giants fandom will be that that thing.


  • A typical week in Alex’s life right now and how he balances his roles of being a father, a husband, and his work at the American Cancer Society and as a licensed realtor 
  • The importance of paternity leave
  • What Alex learned from his parents about parenting, and the importance of choosing to be there as a parent and showing your child that you like them and are happy they’re here
  • Alex’s experience of Jess’s pregnancy and his paternity leave
  • Some of the biggest challenges Alex faces as a new dad
  • Alex’s take on when and where from whom to seek advice and guidance on parenting
  • Learning to parent ourselves
  • Alex’s approach to nurturing and raising a child who is accepted and celebrated for whoever she is and whatever she loves
  • Giving kids a sense of purpose and confidence
  • How it’s harder for dads to find online community with each other
  • Some general differences in friendships between women and friendships between men
  • The importance of parents retaining their individual lives and selves in addition to their familial relationships 
  • The importance of supporting parents, and especially supporting single parents
  • One of Alex’s favorite Addie stories
  • Having empathy for other people, listening better and learning about intent v. impact
  • What we have to learn from younger generations about being more accepting 


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


Mallory Mortillaro graduated from Drew University in 2013 where she studied art history and English.  In 2015 she graduated from Drew’s Caspersen School of Graduate Studies with a Master of Arts in Teaching degree.  Today, Mallory is also an English teacher at the Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School.

Mallory also serves as the Curator of Collections for the Hartley Dodge Foundation in Madison, NJ.  Hired to catalog the artwork housed inside of the Harley Dodge Memorial, she uncovered a Rodin marble bust of Napoleon, a piece lost to the art world since the 1930’s.  After a year of research the piece was authenticated as an official work by Auguste Rodin. Mallory continues to oversee and research the collection of the Hartley Dodge Foundation.  


  • Mallory’s commencement address to Drew University’s class of 2018, and how she felt when she was graduating from college
  • How we both were good students and introverted people who struggled with the transition to college and the extroverted social scene
  • Mallory’s experience of finding and authenticating a lost Rodin statue while doing archival work for the Hartley Dodge Foundation
  • What it was like to receive a lot of media and even international attention for the statue discovery
  • What Mallory learned about herself through the experience of authenticating the Rodin
  • The importance of learning through experience
  • Luck = when opportunity and preparedness meet 
  • Finding ways to continue our education and pursue our passions without accruing more student debt
  • Mallory’s relationship to self-trust and elements in her life that have given her strength, stability and confidence 
  • Learning to love ourselves through being loved well by others



Episode 28: Perennials: A Birth Story



  • How graduating from college, and all the change it brought, sparked my “quarter-life crisis”
  • Creating the Perennials Podcast as part of my search for wisdom to help me through my quarter-life crisis/growing up into young adulthood 
  • Shedding the pressure to be a “good girl”
  • Learning more about race and gender dynamics in the world and in my life and asking, what power do I have right now? And how am I using it?
  • How my body helps me to learn that there is no one right way to do life 
  • My ambivalent relationship to responsibility
  • Learning that I can’t do everything on my own
  • Moving out of my parents’ house, and learning to strike a balance between alone time and nourishing socializing time
  • Struggling with traditional meditative and contemplative practices and learning to find my own approach to spirituality and contemplation
  • Learning to notice things in my body and my environment without immediately attaching a (negative) story to those things 
  • What I learned from my Creative Writing professor, Patrick Phillips, about bringing playfulness and joy to creativity rather than always taking it super seriously
  • How the podcast and social media have helped me learn to let myself be seen and heard for who I really am 
  • Coming to a stronger sense of belonging in my body and knowing that my body belongs to me
  • Grappling with trust and jealousy issues in relationships, and learning to take responsibility for my emotional power and how I yield it 
  • How my boyfriend moving 2,000 miles away for six months gave me the final push I needed to start the podcast
  • Wanting to choose freedom rather than remaining stuck in limiting, and even harmful or hurtful, patterns of behavior
  • Becoming more integrated
  • Joy as an act of resistance



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




Episode 26: The Nature of Presence with David Crews


David Crews is author of Wander-Thrush: Lyric Essays of the Adirondacks (Ra Press, 2018) and High Peaks (Ra Press, 2015)—a poetry collection that catalogs his hiking of the “Adirondack 46ers” in upstate New York. He holds an MFA from Drew University where he studied with poets Ross Gay, Aracelis Girmay, Ira Sadoff, and Judith Vollmer. 

Crews serves as poetry editor for The Platform Review and The Platform Chapbook Series both with ARTS By the People, as well as the writers workshop leader for Moving Words—a project also supported by ABTP—that makes possible international collaboration among artists of prose, poetry, voice acting, and animation. His poems and essays have appeared in Tar River Poetry, Southeast Review, Greensboro Review, Paterson Literary Review, The Carolina Quarterly, and elsewhere. He has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

He is currently at work on an essay inspired by the work of the nonprofit Northeast Wilderness Trust and their 550-acre Howland Research Forest in Edinburg, Maine, where for over ten years scientists from the University of Maine-Orono have been accumulating ground-breaking data on climate change and carbon sequestration in old-growth forests.


  • The complexity of naming the natural environment around us
  • The way that physical exertion on strenuous hikes can take over your whole mind and body
  • The beauty and the frightening nature of wilderness
  • Our modern conception of nature vs. how it has been seen in the past
  • Why David doesn’t bring a phone or camera on hikes
  • Shedding a sense of urgency for a sense of presence
  • Is it possible to ever be fully present?
  • The importance of boredom 
  • The double edged sword of social media 
  • Retreating in order to learn about how to engage with the world better
  • How the themes of love and loss arise in David’s work, and in our relationship to ourselves, each other and the planet
  • Striving for balance 
  • Finding moments of retreat and presence in daily life
  • Wrestling with history that was created through European, white male perspective
  • Evolving as a person and a writer while learning about other perspectives, experiences, identities, cultures and points of view
  • What David is learning about taking ownership of his masculinity (and toxic masculinity, too)




Episode 25: Belonging in Our Bodies with Cindy Goncalves


Cindy Goncalves is a Luso-American queer, feminist twenty-something. She received a BA in psychology from Rutgers University and an MA in counseling with a concentration in school counseling from Kean University. Cindywas a featured Newark Voices poet in the 2016 Dodge Poetry Festival and continues to work with the Dodge Foundation as a visiting poet in the Poetry in the Schools program. In 2017, she was the honorary poet of Newark’s Pride Festival. Cindy’s work has appeared in the Journal of New Jersey Poets. She is also one-eighth of Brick City Collective, a multicultural, multimedia group of Newark-native writers and artists working as agents for social change through literature and art.


  • Cindy’s experience of sexual education and understanding her own sexual identity and sexual health while growing up
  • The limiting, one-size-fits-all, outcome-oriented attitude that we often have about sex in dominant Western culture 
  • Expanding our sense of what is “normal” when it comes to sex and sexuality
  • Cindy’s experience working as a school counselor with LGBTQ students 
  • Cindy’s hair--its symbolic importance for her family, and what it meant when she cut it very short 
  • How Cindy’s immigrant parents were undocumented for a long time, which meant staying under the radar and not making themselves known or drawing any attention, and how, once they became documented, Cindy began to recognize her sexuality for what it was 
  • Cindy’s experience of having her sexuality outed to her parents by someone else, and the journey towards greater acceptance from her parents 
  • Struggling with cultivating a loving body image and a generous attitudes towards ourselves and our own pleasure 
  • Dealing with different health conditions or pain that means sex for you might not look like it does in the movies--and that doesn’t make you broken or less of a person
  • The effect of growing up with external and internalized patriarchy and misogyny, and the vulnerability it takes to sit with your feelings about it and choose a different way forward
  • Figuring out your own path of self-actualization and healing that works for you vs. trying to fit a certain mold
  • Dealing with burnout as a mental health professional and trying to find a balance between engagement and retreat 
  • What makes Cindy feel connected to the erotic--to her creativity, to connection, to her lifeforce 




Episode 24: Containing Multitudes with Grisel Acosta


Dr. Grisel Y. Acosta an associate professor at the City University of New York-Bronx Community College. She is the editor of Latina Outsiders Remaking Latina Identity (Routledge, 2019). Other scholarly and creative work is found in: The Lauryn Hill Reader, The Routledge Companion to Latino Literature, American Studies Journal, Dialogo, African American Women's Language, The Handbook on Latinos and Education, Western American Literature, Kweli Journal, Paterson Literary Review, Pembroke Magazine, Chicana/Latina Studies: The Journal of Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social, BASTA: 100 Latinas Write on Violence Against Women, The Reproductive Freedom Anthology, In Full Color: A Collection of Stories by Women of Color, and the forthcoming sci-fi anthology, The Latinx Archive. Dr. Acosta is also a Macondo Fellow and a Geraldine Dodge Poetry Fellow.

You can find Grisel online at 


  • The story of Grisel’s parents; how her Colombian father met her Cuban mother, and eventually they moved to Chicago, where they became community activists for their church and neighborhood 
  • The rich intellectual, social, activism-oriented and artistic life that Grisel’s parents created for Grisel and her brothers
  • How Grisel’s parents taught her to stay true to her own vision, even when they didn’t fully understand her or her art
  • What it was like to grow up as a spiky-haired Latina punk rocker minister’s daughter in Logan Square, Chicago 
  • The youth-led artist community Club Naked where Grisel loved to go dancing as a teenager
  • Grusel’s experience of embodiment through dance, and how punk empowered her and other women 
  • Grisel’s article for VIDA: “The Invisible Latina Intellectual” (2016) 
  • Latina intellectuals and stereotypical images of Latinas in the media
  • Grisel’s anthology, Latina Outsiders Remaking Latina Identity 
  • How to take the good from any community you’re part of, but also question and critique from just outside
  • Where Grisel derives her sense of belonging and okay-ness
  • Learning to accept a leadership role


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