GIRL Talk is a podcast for girls, hosted by Girl Scouts River Valleys. Join Hannah and Shanna as they dive into topics like careers, STEM, culture, advocacy, nature, failure, and what it takes to be a leader. Featuring interviews with subject-matter experts, community leaders, women with cool careers, and girls like you who are out there doing amazing things. G.I.R.L.—Go-Getter, Innovator, Risk-Taker, Leader
Episode 024: Peace & Happiness through Stoicism with Sarah Mikutel
In this episode we welcomed a special guest, Sarah Mikutel, to talk about Stoicism. Sarah runs her own business as a transformation coach, using the Enneagram and Stoicism to help women replace anxiety, overwhelm, and procrastination with calm, confidence, and fast action. She is a location-independent world traveler, entrepreneur, writer, and experienced podcaster, but what makes Sarah a particularly special guest, is that she works behind the scenes on GIRL Talk as our editor!
Sarah’s newest podcast, Part of Something Greater, is devoted to Stoicism and the Enneagram, and she and Idelle had a great conversation about how we can use tools from Stoicism to reduce anxiety and live happy, peaceful lives.
Sarah breaks down the difference between the common understanding of what it means to be stoic, versus Stoicism. She talks about how Stoicism isn't about suppressing emotion, being the "strong silent type" or having a "stiff upper lip," but that it's actually the opposite. Stoicism is about empathy, listening, being in tune with your body and mind, and gaining tools for understanding your emotions in order to manage anxiety and react more positively to tough situations.
Stoicism is also about staying in the moment and bringing presence to your life, which most of us would probably agree we could use a little more of. Sarah shares her personal strategies for bringing this type of mindfulness to her day, which include morning journaling and a practice of reflecting on her day before bed in order to let go of negative feelings that she might be hanging onto.
We hope you'll find something in this conversation that resonates with you! And as always, we hope you're safe and healthy. See you next time :-)
Sarah hosts three podcasts of her own: Podcasting Step by Step, Part of Something Greater, and the Postcard Academy, which you can find on your favorite podcast app. Find out more about Sarah and her work on her website, sarahmikutel.com.
Episode 023: Hmong Shamanism – Kalue’s Experience
In this episode we welcomed our Girl Scout colleague Kalue Her to the podcast to talk about Hmong Shamanism through her personal experiences. Shamanism focuses on health and balance in body and soul, and helping and healing individuals, families, and communities. It's all about love, healing, and a connection and respect for nature and living things, and is rooted in the belief that everything has a soul.
Shamanism is a practice of healing and protecting family members - providing balance. Shamans have many duties and a variety of specific skill sets for helping their families. It's a huge responsibility and doesn't come with material wealth or a lot of recognition, but it's important and rewarding. Kalue talked about the increase in women taking on the shaman role, including herself, and shared the surprising story of how she came to accept it as her path.
Shamanism can sometimes be seen in the wrong way - as barbaric or outdated, and not as the traditional practice of religious healing, spiritual care, loving, and light that it really is. This can make it challenging for young people to be open about their family's practice of Shamanism. Kalue is hoping to change this with her own kids, sharing her experience and passing it on to them in a positive way.
We talked about stereotypes related to what Shamanism is and the impression we had of what it means. Kalue talks about working to change the face of Shamanism and breaking through stereotypes and stigma within the Hmong community. She shared with us what the practice of Shamanism looks like in her family and the importance of having a spiritual leader. It isn't always easy, she and her husband walk a fine line with their own kids of teaching them about Shamanism but not wanting them to feel like they are different or outsiders in their school or neighborhood.
As our takeaway, Kalue shared some advice for Hmong girls:
Find people who support you, learn, ask questions. Seek out a wise person like a teacher, caregiver, parent, troop leader - someone you trust. Shamanism is evolving and changing, and in order to experience the love and healing it offers, you have to first love and accept yourself.
What a great message! For those of you who are new to learning about Hmong Shamanism, We hope you find this conversation as interesting and eye-opening as we did. Take care of yourselves out there, GIRL Talk listeners.
Episode 022: Midwest Dirt Legion – Building Equity in the Mountain Biking Community
In this episode we're talking with two guests, Ash Murray and Steph Aich, who are the founders of Midwest Dirt Legion - a riding club for cisgender women, gender non-conforming, and transgender mountain bikers. Ash also works with Girl Scouts River Valleys’ Girls in Gear mountain bike program, teaching Girl Scouts technical skills and taking them out to tear up the trails on our new mountain bike course at Camp Elk River in Zimmerman, Minnesota.
Ash and Steph started Midwest Dirt Legion with a goal to build more gender equity in the mountain biking community in the Twin Cities. They saw what a big difference it made to have spaces for a diverse set of genders (not just male or female, but non-binary and trans folks as well) when they were doing track bike racing, and they wanted to create that same space for mountain bikers. They started with pretty much nothing but an idea, and found that there were a ton of other people interested in what they were doing.
Part of the work they do with their organized rides and events is providing skills clinics and an introduction to mountain biking to new riders. They start where people are at, and help them get comfortable. We talked about how they have both had experiences in the broader mountain biking community with other riders' elitism and a masculine culture getting in the way of riding certain trails, taking certain skills clinics, or even just feeling like they're seen as "real" mountain bikers. They try to eliminate those barriers for their own participants, creating experiences that encourage a lifelong love of the sport.
Another goal of Midwest Dirt Legion is to make mountain biking more accessible. It can be an expensive hobby, requiring lots of gear and ability to travel. Ash and Steph focus on making their events as local as possible and helping people get there, and work to break through the common belief that you need a lot of expensive top-line gear to be legit (not true!). They also do broader advocacy work through social media to expand their reach.
We talked about what it takes to start a club or organization like this to address a need in a community, and how hard work and gaining support are more important than money. One of our big takeaways was that you can solve a problem without having a lot of money or experience - you can get started, run with an idea, and learn along the way! Especially if you put together the right team.
You can learn more about Ash and Steph and Midwest Dirt Legion on their website midwestdirtlegion.com, or in this great article on The Radivist. You can follow them on Instagram @midwestdirtlegion and join their social group on Facebook called Friends of Midwest Dirt Legion.
Girl Scouts River Valleys would like to say thank you to our funders and partners that have helped make the Girls in Gear mountain bike program possible: Hugh J. Andersen Family Foundation, the Hardenbergh Foundation, Quality Bike Products, Tonka Cycle and Ski, and Salsa Cycles. Girl Scouts River Valleys, with support from these companies, has made this one-of-a-kind outdoor adventure possible for girls. Together, we can ensure that every girl pushes past their limits and builds the confidence they need to take on any challenge.
Episode 021: Lead Like You – with LA Film School President Tammy Elliott
This episode features a conversation about leadership with Los Angeles Film School President Tammy Elliott. How did we get such a prestigious guest, you might ask? Spoiler alert - she's Hannah's mom! Tammy has built an amazing career as a leader in higher education, and she shared with us some truly amazing nuggets of wisdom about how she got there and what it takes to lead her team with kindness and grace.
Girl Scouts is a leadership organization, and we love hearing people's leadership stories. Tammy told us hers, which included a lot of trial and error that led to eventually finding her purpose in a place that allowed her to do what she loves - working with people. She talks about being told "keep doing what you're doing" and having supervisors and colleagues who saw qualities in her that she didn't necessarily see in herself, leading her to take leaps into new positions that challenged her and opened up her perception of her own capabilities.
Tammy talked about seeking counsel from people who have your best interest at heart when you're trying to decide whether to take on a new challenge, which means finding people who love you and who you trust to help you make big decisions. We talked about the importance of being thoughtful when making decisions, like taking on a new job or other big life change.
One of the insights Tammy shared with us is that being a good leader is about the power of words, the power of kindness, and the power of connection - being strong but kind - and that those are often missing. Her goal when leading people is to seek understanding and deliver the message that she cares about them and is working for and with them. She also keeps her work joyful and tries share that joy with her teams, even though that's sometimes really hard to do.
We talked about conflict, and the importance of finding connection and understanding in order to get through it. In a leadership position you often have to make hard decisions and get into those conflict situations, and it can take time to get good at it.
One of the main things we wanted to talk to Tammy about is differences between what leadership looks like in women vs. men. She talks about how there is space for both, but that her own style involves bringing thoughtfulness and patience to her work as a leader. We talked through gender roles in our society, and how they pressure us and make it harder to lead like ourselves and find our natural style.
When it comes to growing and developing as a leader, go easy on yourself! Don't feel like you need to be perfect and like you can't make mistakes. Take time and opportunities to grow, and give yourself grace. Tammy left us with a few words to sum up her leadership style: grit, gratitude, grace, and strength. We'll take those with us.
Take care of yourselves, GIRL Talk listeners. We'll talk soon.
Reach out to our podcast team at girltalk.girlscoutsrv.org/contact.
Episode 020: Finding Your Calling – Veterinary Medicine with Dr. Amanda Doran
For this episode we welcomed Dr. Amanda Doran to the show for a conversation about her unique journey in the field of veterinary medicine. We know a lot of girls are passionate about helping animals and making the world a better place, and Dr. Doran has found a way to do both of those things through her career. We think you'll will be interested in hearing about the way she is able to care for animals and people, and how she recognized her calling.
Dr. Doran talks about why she became a veterinarian - she never even considered doing anything else! She shares about her love of her mom's family's dairy farm, how much she cared about animals and helping them, and why she always wanted to be the magical green healing crystal in the game Tales of the Crystals when she was a kid.
Dr. Doran started out in general practice, which is what we usually think about when we think about a vet, then got into emergency medicine, then pathology and research, but she wanted something more from her career as a vet and just didn't feel like what she was doing was satisfying or sustainable. Dr. Doran had a personal experience with her own dog that made her realize her real passion, and now she's headed in a new direction working with animal hospice and at-home euthanasia helping animals and their families through end-of-life care. She helps bring comfort and care, pain management, and quality of life to pets that have a terminal illness or are at the end of their lives, while supporting their families and taking into account beliefs and needs.
Dr. Doran talks about learning about herself, setting boundaries, and taking a big risk with her life and career. She recognizes that at one point she was hiding from the world, feeling a little defeated and like she had to settle for something that wasn't fulfilling. She talks about finally tuning into what would make her happy and feel like her heart was on fire, and that finding your calling, passion, or gift isn't always easy or obvious. It can be scary and hard! It took a lot of mentors and supports to guide her on her path. She talks about the "hero's journey," like Harry Potter, Frodo, Katniss…and the journey she's on to help pets and their families and ultimately change the face of end-of-life care for animals and people.
Science fields aren't just about facts and figures, there's an interpersonal, connected, and very helpful piece that plays into a lot of STEM careers too, especially veterinary medicine. Dr. Doran's experience is so moving, we really appreciate how open and honest she was with us in sharing her personal story.
We had so many great takeaways from this conversation, we hope you will too.
As always, stay tuned at the end for Would You Rather and Girls Pick. We hope you're all safe and well - see you next time!
Reach out to our podcast team at girltalk.girlscoutsrv.org/contact.
Episode 019: Finding Yourself Outside with Grace Heneghan
In this episode we're talking with Grace Heneghan. Grace is an expert in the field of wilderness guiding and is passionate about connecting wilderness tripping with gender, feminism, identity, and the environment.
Grace talks about how she really didn't have a lot of interest in the outdoors as a kid until she started going on trips with YMCA Camp Widjiwagan, and discovered a love for being in the wilderness even though at times it can be super challenging. She found where she fit in and found out things about herself that she didn't expect. Having these experiences helped her discover things about her own identities in an accepting and supportive space.
Grace started going on longer trips and expeditions as a young adult where she was empowered by stretching the limits of her body and mind. She met other women and queer identified people who helped pave the way for her to figure out what she wanted for her future and make college and career choices.
We talked about how helpful and even healing it can be for some of us to discover informal learning spaces like those related to outdoor education. Some people fit right into the traditional classroom learning setting and thrive with that structure (like Hannah), while others (like Grace and Idelle) do better in a more informal space where learning is more hands-on, and sometimes even outside!
We got to hear about some of Grace's favorite trips - so cool! She told us about some of her own successes and failures, and what it means to have "type 1" or "type 2" fun and the good parts about both. She also talks about how lonely guiding and backcountry travel can be, and why self-care is so important but is so easily ignored.
There's a lot of risk that goes into wilderness travel, and Grace talks about how she learned and became proficient in the skills she needed to be safe and keep her groups safe. Like with anything else, it's important to push yourself and take risks to grow, but also to recognize your limits and where you need to learn more or lean on others to be safe and successful.
Some things Grace focuses on that can be overlooked or not really talked about enough are being queer in the outdoors, being fat in the outdoors (Grace talks about claiming the word "fat" as an empowering term for herself), being femme in the outdoors, whiteness in the outdoors, and identity politics in the outdoors. She talks about always wearing earrings when she's on a wilderness trip to connect to her femme/feminist queer identities. We also get into social media and representation in the outdoors and how it can often look very white and masculine, and not representative of BIPOC identified folks, people with queer identities, or people with disabilities.
This was such a great conversation, we're so grateful for Grace's willingness to share her personal experiences and expert advice. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did! A couple of our takeaways - if you're interested in the outdoors, or if you're looking to get started, recognize where you're at in your outdoor journey and be proud of it. If you're new to outdoor activities and travel, start small and close by. If you already have experience, push yourself a little and try something new like taking on a challenging trip at a camp or with a guide, or even working at a camp!
Stay tuned at the end for Would You Rather and Girls Pick.
Reach out to our team at girltalk.girlscoutsrv.org/contact.
During our conversation Grace shares her strategy for curating a social media feed that's empowering and not isolating. Here’s a list of Instagram accounts she follows to find inspiration:
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I am 31 years old, and I love this podcast. It makes me so happy to know there are great resources like this out in the world for girls and women of all ages.
Great for young girls.
As a fairly young girl, I was looking for a good podcast for me. I searched for a lot of things I liked, and finally found something I could watch with a positive effect on my character and was funny, too. That something is definitely Girl Talk😁
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