Perennials Podcast
Episode 43: Holding Space with Zoe Gillis

Episode 43: Holding Space with Zoe Gillis

March 27, 2020

I'm so grateful for this conversation with Zoe Gillis, a licensed marriage and family therapist who in today's episode is helping us to get as grounded as we can and try to stay present during a time of great global anxiety.

There's a lot of uncertainty right now, and a lot that we can't control. Zoe reminds us to focus on what we can control; to meet our own feelings and suffering so that we can work with it and use what we learn to meet the suffering of others; and to look for the good where we can.

Zoe also talks about accessing the healing power of nature, acknowledging that looks very different for people depending on their circumstances.

I mention in the intro that we had technical difficulties with our call dropping a lot (hello uncertainty and lack of control!), but don't worry--I edited the episode so you won't be able to tell!

To find out more about today's episode, and to learn about Zoe, her immersive wilderness retreats, and her upcoming virtual events, visit the Shownotes page and follow Zoe on Instagram @zoegillismft

Episode 42: Perennials Book Club, Chapter 1, Anne of Green Gables

Episode 42: Perennials Book Club, Chapter 1, Anne of Green Gables

March 25, 2020

During this difficult and strange time of social distancing amidst a pandemic, I wanted to offer some extra comfort and connection. So I decided to start a Perennials Podcast Book Club! Thanks to all who voted on Instagram and via e-mail for our first Book Club pick: Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery. 

In addition to my typical conversation episodes, I’ll be sharing regular mini-episodes in which I’ll read a chapter of the book and then end with some thoughts on the chapter. 

Please note: as of July 14, 2020, you can find episodes of the Perennials Podcast Book Club (and all subsequent chapters of Anne of Green Gables) here. 

I’m also inviting you to join me for virtual Book Club meetings to talk about the book. Anyone is welcome--feel free to invite a friend and pop in whenever you want, for however long you want.

I will post detailed information about joining the meeting on the Book Club page soon. You can sign up for a Book Club email list here to get updates on episodes and meetings, and access Anne of Green Gables free online if you want to read along with the text.

My reading of Chapter 1 runs from 3:12 - 18:07, and my thoughts about the chapter/topics for Book Club discussion runs from 18:09 - the end of the episode at 23:30 

Episode 41: Enjoying the Climb with Gillian Herbert

Episode 41: Enjoying the Climb with Gillian Herbert

March 6, 2020

Gillian Herbert is an avid hiker and rock climber who hiked the Appalachian Trail after high school graduation, which led her to reassess her plans for college and inspired her to study biology. Gillian is now a fourth year veterinary student. 

Gillian and I talk about how the AT helped her gain more confidence in herself and widen her ideas about what she's capable of. We also discussed how rock climbing helps her to get out of her head and work with fear in a new way.

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

Episode 40: Stories that Change Us with Lily Percy

Episode 40: Stories that Change Us with Lily Percy

February 28, 2020

In episode 40, one of my dreams comes true--I get to have a conversation with a producer for the podcast that made me fall in love with podcasts, On Being with Krista Tippett. Lily Percy is one of the founding members who brought On Being to independence in 2013; she's also the host of the delightful podcast This Movie Changed Me, and formerly worked for StoryCorps and NPR's All Things Considered. 

In today's episode, Lily and I talk about what she's learned from her years of loving movies and listening in on conversations with incredible people reflecting on what it means to be human.

We talk about some of the movies Lily loves, how romantic movies always end at the beginning, and our sensitivity when it comes to watching films that are violent or disturbing. We also talk about the wisdom Lily has gleaned from both younger and older generations, from unfixed ideas about identity, to realizing some of the wisest people also face deep struggles throughout their lives.

To learn more about today's episode, visit the Shownotes page.

Episode 39: True Love with Sarah Koestner

Episode 39: True Love with Sarah Koestner

February 14, 2020

Some of the most common myths about love that we hear over and over again can create real anxiety and distress for people who begin to believe that there's something wrong with them, their partner, or their relationship when their experience doesn't match those myths. Today's episode is about unpacking some of our false beliefs and confronting the reality that love, like everything else in life, includes an element of uncertainty--and that it's way more expansive than perhaps we've been led to believe.

Join me and coach Sarah Koestner as we consider questions like "If I experience doubt in my relationship, does that mean something is wrong?" "How do I know if I love my partner enough?" and "Can you love someone else before you've learned to love yourself?" 

Visit the Shownotes page to learn more about Sarah and the episode.

Episode 38: Spiritual Direction for Christmas with Karen Florance

Episode 38: Spiritual Direction for Christmas with Karen Florance

December 16, 2019

As we in the Northern Hemisphere contend with shorter, darker days and the coming of winter, as well as the busy end-of-year and holiday season, it can be easy to become overwhelmed. With just about a week left until Christmas, I'm talking to Spiritual Director Karen Florance about the season of advent and how we can take time to slow down, check in with ourselves and cultivate greater gentleness, compassion and acceptance during this time of darkness and light.

For those like me who struggle with religion and God, who aren't sure what we believe but who are drawn to spiritual people like Karen, I hope this episode encourages you to have patience with yourself, to accept yourself wherever you are, to embrace your own goodness and look for the good in others.

You can learn more about topics covered and references made in this episode on the Shownotes page.

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

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

November 13, 2019

At just sixteen years old, Ananya Singh is the CEO of Greening Forward, a youth-led environmental organization, and is Partnerships Coordinator for the New Jersey Student Sustainability Coalition.

Ananya’s passion for activism ignited when she was twelve years old and attended the Youth Empowered Action Camp. Since then, she’s learned a lot about what it means to organize and lead, and in today's episode, she's sharing some of those lessons. We discuss how Ananya keeps her activist fire going, how to overcome barriers to action, and how Ananya responds to despair and burnout. Plus, Ananya talks about different types of environmentalism, intersectionality in environmental movements, and what she's learning as a leader about balancing authenticity with compassion. 

Visit the Shownotes page to learn more about Ananya and today's episode.

Episode 36: Grown Ups Vote with Lauren Roberts

Episode 36: Grown Ups Vote with Lauren Roberts

November 4, 2019

This episode is for anyone (like myself) who cares about humanity and wants to get more informed about how our government works and how to be more civically active, but who has struggled with feeling overwhelmed or even repulsed by our political system and the process of voting.

In the U.S. this week, there are 49,000 elections happening across 34 states. U.S. citizens are granted the right to vote at age 18, just as we're becoming adults. It's an important part of growing up, and yet many people (myself included) don’t always exercise this privilege and responsibility. In today’s episode, I’m talking with Lauren Roberts, who has worked in the U.S. Senate, collaborates with CTZNWELL and founded INDY YOGA VOTES, a campaign to bridge her local yoga community with political action. We’re discussing why it’s important to vote even though the system is broken, the power of local elections, some common obstacles to voting and civic participation and how we can overcome those obstacles. 

You can check on your voter registration status and learn more about your local elections at or

And learn more about today's episode on the Shownotes page.

Episode 35: The Psychology of Harry Potter with Dr. Jill Cermele (Live Show!)

Episode 35: The Psychology of Harry Potter with Dr. Jill Cermele (Live Show!)

October 29, 2019

For the first ever Perennials Podcast live show, I sat down with Dr. Jill Cermele, professor of Psychology at Drew University, who teaches a course called "The Psychology of Harry Potter." We talked all about what J.K. Rowling's fantasy series can teach us about growing up, getting wise and trying to live a good life.

What can we learn about identity exploration from the Sorting Hat and Hogwarts houses? How can we laugh at our own boggarts, conjure protective patronuses, and avoid counterproductive magical thinking? What makes some people join Dumbledore's Army while others become Death Eaters? Why is it important for us to see ourselves and others in all our complexity, not as all-good or all-bad?

Find out in today's episode! 

Thank you to Short Stories Book Shop & Community Hub in Madison, NJ for hosting and to Andy Feldman for running sound and mixing this episode!

You can learn more about today's episode over at the Shownotes page.

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.

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