Women’s Fire

with Michelle Thomas

Women’s Fire is inspired by the many hours of conversation I’ve had with women over the years. A few years ago I started hosting women’s fires at my house as a way of building community and creating a space for women to share their stories and struggles and for others to offer comfort, support, and encouragement.

 

As I sit in spaces with other women I am always amazed at the lives ordinary women are living: the chances they take, the fears they have, the lessons they’ve learned. So I decided to create a space here to bring those stories and journeys to a larger circle of women. There is so much gained when we share our lives with one another.

 

I hope this Women’s Fire podcast is a place you can come to listen, to learn, to feel inspired, to feel supported, and to feel a part of the larger community of women no matter where you are listening from. Everyone is welcome here.
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Kirsten Layer

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Kirsten Layer
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Please welcome Kirsten Layer to the Fire! Kirsten was one of the first friends I made when we moved to Viroqua and she’s one of my favorite people I’ve ever met. The two of us could talk about almost anything but I thought it would be fun to start with a conversation about sex education. Kirsten is the Healthy Relationships & Sex Ed teacher at Youth Initiative High School so we talk about our experiences with sex ed when we were in school and how things have changed since then. We also talk about why Healthy Relationships is so important to emphasize when teaching sex ed and how it is a detriment to both men and women when it’s left out of the discussion.

Dena Eakles

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Dena Eakles
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Please give a warm welcome to Dena Eakles as she joins us around the fire today. Dena is the owner of Echo Valley Farm near Ontario, WI. We talk about Dena’s journey from Pennsylvania to Chicago to rural Wisconsin and how she followed a calling to the work she does now. Dena is a deeply spiritual person and she shares how that guides her in her life and the choices she makes as the farm continues to evolve. We also talk about Dena’s work as an activist and what she’s looking forward to in the coming years. You can learn more about Dena and the Farm on her website: www.echovalleyfarmwisconsin.com

Martha Buche is Back!

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Martha Buche is Back!
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Please give a warm “Welcome Back!” to Martha Buche. Martha was on the podcast last year and in many ways it felt like we barely scratched the surface of Parenting, Parent Development, and Child Development. In this episode we dive a little deeper into the authoritative and interpretive stages of parenting (early elementary school thru middle school), but we touch on a little bit of everything else, too. I share what I’m learning as I move through stages of parenting and we talk about the beauty and wisdom that is on the other side of parenting challenges.

Martha Buche

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Martha Buche
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**Martha is coming back for another episode (Part 2!) next week so I’m re-releasing this episode in case you missed it the first time. 

Martha Buche (or Ms. Martha as she’s affectionately known in our house) is here today! Oh my goodness could we all use a bit of Martha in our back pocket. Martha is an early childhood educator extraordinaire and she is here to talk about child development and parenting. We talk about what children need to grow and develop but also what parents need to grow and develop. It was such a fun, informative conversation and in many ways we barely scratched the surface. I’m already calling for a Part 2!

Dina Yehia

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Dina Yehia
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Happy New Year everyone and Welcome back to Women’s Fire. I squeezed in a recording last week because it felt important and timely. My guest is Dina Yehia. Dina is from Egypt and has had a front row seat to the Isreali-Palestinian wars since she was a child. Dina now lives here in the Driftless area and is working with others in the region to promote the Palestinian perspective and calls for peace in the region as a member of Driftless Palestinian Solidarity. Dina shares her knowledge of history and current perspective of the conflict and what she thinks is the way forward.

Vicky Reeves

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Vicky Reeves
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Vicky Reeves is a fellow female podcaster in the Driftless area, and also just so happens to be a delightful human being. Vicky shares with us her journey from being a Presbyterian elder by the age of 16, through Buddhism, to where she is now as a life coach and spiritually curious woman. We talk about burnout, how taking care of others starts with taking care of ourselves, and how embracing our pain points is the key to joy and love. I truly loved recording this episode and I hope you will love it, too. You can find out more about Vicky on her website: shinefreely.com

Prudence Tippins

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Prudence Tippins
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A warm, cozy welcome to Prudence Tippins! Prudence is here to talk about her journey through menopause. It was a transformative experience for her as she discovered the lack of information about this stage of a woman’s life and ended up doing a lot of research on her own. She shares gratitude for her journey along with information she wishes she would have known along the way. This is a really great conversation and I hope you all leave feeling informed and inspired.

Joy Miller

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Joy Miller
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Yay! Joy Miller is here everyone! Let’s give her a warm welcome. Joy is a farmer and owner of Keewaydin Farms in rural La Farge, WI. During COVID she began getting requests for people to be able to come out and be in nature at their property and these were the first seeds that were planted for what is now Driftless Curiosity. In the episode we talk about how Joy never saw herself as a farmer until she fell in love with one and how this role has left her with deep connection to the earth, one she wants to share with as many people as she can. For more information on the work Joy is doing in the world and how you can get involved you can check out driftlesscuriosity.org.

Susan Townsley

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Susan Townsley
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A round of applause for Susan as she joins us around the fire. Seriously, this women is doing so much to effect change in Vernon County, and she does it with much grace and determination. Susan is a part of the Vernon County Domestic Abuse Project and as part of that project she is helping start the Helping End Abuse Response Team (HEART). We talk about her early work as a therapist and what called her to the work she does today. There is also information on how you can get involved at the end of the show.

Kaitlyn & Cassandra Torguin

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Kaitlyn & Cassandra Torguin
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Welcome welcome welcome everyone!! It’s good to be back together with you. I’m so excited about this episode because it was just such a fun and sweet and honest conversation to record. In this episode Kaitlyn & Cassandra tell us about their journey to becoming parents. As anyone who has had to try to get pregnant using medical interventions will tell you it can be a long, emotionally draining process. Kaitlyn’s and Cassandra’s sense of humor and candid retelling of their story will make you feel less alone, and honestly, it gives me hope for the next generation that they are out there parenting in the world. This is a long episode and you won’t want to miss any of it, so get comfy and enjoy!

Season 2

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Season 2
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Welcome back to the fire! Since it’s been a few months I think it makes sense to call this a new season of Women’s Fire. Last season included a whopping 25 episodes (what?!?) and this season promises to be just as fruitful. I’m so excited to gather around with you all again. Keep an eye out for new episodes starting this Sunday, September 17. See you at the Fire!

Check-In #2

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Check-In #2
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Hi everyone! Quick check-in. I thought since I was on an extended hiatus from the podcast for about 2 months I would do a little check in. If you haven’t checked in with your people in a while, maybe this is a great reminder to do so. In this mini episode I discuss some media I’ve been consuming as well as a check in about work, marriage, and parenting.

Nora McLaughlin

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Nora McLaughlin
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Please give a warm welcome to Nora! Nora is a large animal veterinarian here in rural Wisconsin and I wanted to have her on to talk about her experience as a woman in this field. In this episode we talk about what drew her to be a large animal vet, how she came to Wisconsin having grown up in a suburb of NYC, how becoming a mother brought her closer to the emotional life of the animals she works with, and how she and her husband work together to support their careers and be present parents.

Erin Ford

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Erin Ford
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Welcome back to Women’s Fire everyone! I’m so glad to be getting back in the studio and making new episodes for you. My guest today is Erin Ford. Erin is an Afro-Indigenous queer woman who spent 20 years doing advocacy work here in rural Wisconsin. She talks about her experience doing this work during contentious times and how it eventually led to her to move out of the region and closer to a city, where she felt she would have more impact. This conversation was recorded in June 2022. Thank you to Erin for letting me re-release it as part of Women’s Fire.

Denise Semanchin

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Denise Semanchin
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Welcome to another Women’s Fire! I’m very excited about my guest today because it’s not often I get to geek out over relationships with someone. Denise is a relationship coach and today we talk about her work with couples seeking long term relationships and our own experiences with our partners of over 20 years. Denise shares with us some foundational work she does with couples and we discuss why long term relationships can be hard but are totally worth it. I just know that every listener is going to walk away with some nuggets they can use in their own life. You can learn more about Denise and the work she does at www.connectedcouple.com

Dr. Rebecca Gustafson, ND

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Dr. Rebecca Gustafson, ND
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Dr. Gustafson is here today to talk about her passion for naturopathic medicine and her journey to become a naturopathic doctor. We discuss how her own chronic health issues as a young adult started her on her journey and how she works within a culture of Western medicine. We also talk about how doctors of natural medicine differ from at-home herbalists and why many of her patients start by seeking her out as a last resort for chronic issues traditional medicine hasn’t been able to help.
www.wildrosenaturalmedicine.com

Sarah Caldwell

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Sarah Caldwell
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*Trigger Warning*- In this episode we discuss the topic of sex trafficking and child sexual abuse

Sarah Caldwell reached out to me saying she felt called to tell her story in a more public way and she thought my platform would be a safe space to do so. Sarah has been on a healing journey for over 20 years as a survivor of sex trafficking and child sexual abuse. In this episode Sarah talks about her emotionally abusive home life and how that left her seeking love and affection which made her a target for sexual predators. Sarah also talks about how she removed herself from that traumatic situation and how she’s been finding her way to health and healing along the way. I admire Sarah for telling her story in the hopes others can find healing in the own trauma journeys.
Resources: 888-373-7888 National Human Trafficking Hotline, humantraffickinghotline.org

Check-In

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Check-In
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I’ve got a special mini episode here for you today. Check-ins have been an integral part of women’s fires I’ve hosted and attended. It gives a chance for everyone to say a little something about what’s going on in their life so everyone else can offer support, excitement, or feedback depending on what’s coming up for them. In this episode I share with you what’s going on in my life right now. I share how I’m navigating a seasonal shift in family dynamics, how I’m working through a new stage of parenting (teens), and a book I’m really excited to tell you about. I encourage you to check in, too! Comment below if you want to share with the community, or just call up a friend or special person in your life and tell them how you’re doing and ask how they’re doing. We all do better when we share a bit of ourselves and our lives with others.

Theater Ladies

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Theater Ladies
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I’m so excited o have Joeann Tesar and Mary Beth Specht around the fire today. I met these two talented ladies when we performed together in the Viroqua Community Theater production of Chicago in the summer of 2019. As someone who was a theater major for a hot minute I was inspired by their persistence to continue their craft and curate spaces where their talents can be shared. I am so happy to know them and I know you will be so happy to meet them as well. They are pure joy!

Martha Buche

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Martha Buche
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Martha Buche (or Ms. Martha as she’s affectionately known in our house) is here today! Oh my goodness could we all use a bit of Martha in our back pocket. Martha is an early childhood educator extraordinaire and she is here to talk about child development and parenting. We talk about what children need to grow and develop but also what parents need to grow and develop. It was such a fun, informative conversation and in many ways we barely scratched the surface. I’m already calling for a Part 2!

Josefine Jaynes

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Josefine Jaynes
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Please give a warm welcome to Josefine Jaynes. Josefine is on Women’s Fire to talk about taking her gap year to run for Wisconsin State Assembly in 2020 when she was just 18 years old. This is a very earnest and sincere conversation that had us both in tears a couple of times. Josefine talks about her early interest in politics, what inspired her to run for office, and what she’s up to now as a college student. This conversation left me inspired by the youth who will one day run this country!

Harriet Behar

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Harriet Behar
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You will be so happy to meet Harriet. She is a long time organic farmer advocate, educator, inspector, and farmer. She currently grows and dries organic herbs for culinary and medicinal use and is a supplier to the local co-op and LuSa Organics. Harriet has been in the organic farming community for over 40 years and is one of the first employees of what is now Organic Valley. Harriet doesn’t just see problems, she sees solutions and works to improve the world around her. To learn more about her teachings and organic farming resources you can head to www.wiwic.org

Sarah Clemens

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Sarah Clemens
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Happy New Year! I am so excited to start the new year with this conversation. Sarah is a delightful human being and also a total badass when it comes to having a vision and following a dream. Sarah talks about her journey from working in a cheese shop to owning/operating her very own. I was very much inspired by her perseverance, willingness to be supported, and how she keep perspective all along the way. https://www.noblerind.com/

Rachel Jepson Wolf

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Rachel Jepson Wolf
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Rachel Jepson Wolf almost needs no introduction to many of you listeners. For those of you who don’t know, Rachel is a writer, a photographer, a blogger, a homeschool parent, and the owner and founder of LuSa Organics, and she writes about her life and her family on her blog, Rachel Wolf Clean (rachelwolfclean.com). Since Rachel shares so much of herself and you can go to her blog to read about her experience as a mother, an entrepreneur, and a small business owner, I thought this would be a good opportunity to go beyond her basic story and dig a little deeper. So that’s just what we did!
rachelwolfclean.com
www.lusaorganics.com
@lusa_mama

Mandy Herrick pt.2

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Mandy Herrick pt.2
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Mandy Herrick is back to continue our conversation about dance, movement, and being in our bodies. We discuss the fact that it is often easier for children to be in their bodies than adults and how to reclaim that embodiment. If you would like to learn more about Mandy and her dance/movement/art, check out her website http://www.mandyherrick.com/

Mandy Herrick pt.1

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Mandy Herrick pt.1
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Yes, you read that right, this is a two-parter! Mandy was one of my first guests on a show I used to host called Conversations. I had Mandy on the show to talk about her life as a dancer and the journey she has taken from in-the-box dancing to movement-as-art dancing. When I asked Mandy if I could use that episode for my podcast she agreed but said that when she thinks about that conversation she thinks she would answer some of those questions differently. Well, I think this is a perfect opportunity for a follow-up! Enjoy our original conversation and stay tuned next week for part 2.

Danielle Boerson

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Danielle Boerson
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Danielle and her husband, Mat, own and operate Boerson Farm in Green Lake, WI. Danielle is on the podcast today to talk about her journey to becoming a regenerative farmer when she originally went into theater after high school. Danielle and Mat ended up traveling abroad, learning about regenerative agriculture, and eventually settled back in their hometown to start their farming adventure. They are now in their 10th year of farming and have recently settled onto a property that they hope to see farmed responsibly for generations to come.

Harmonie O’Loughlin

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Harmonie O'Loughlin
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Harmonie is the owner of Flora’s Feast botanical skincare line and the founder of the Plant Wonder Collective. Harmonie came to Women’s Fire today to talk about how she started her small business and how it has expanded to include online collaboration in an effort to make botanical knowledge more accessible.
https://www.florasfeast.com/
https://plantwondercollective.com/

Jess Krueger

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Jess Krueger
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Jess is here today to talk about her work as a doula in rural Wisconsin. We talked about her journey to becoming a doula and how the birth landscape has changed over the last 20 years. It has been a while since I’ve gotten to talk about birth work so this we really fun for me.

Asha Myers

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Asha Myers
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Asha Myers is an writer who has experience as a blogger, a ghostwriter, and published author. She came into the studio to talk about her experiences traveling the world, how blogging turned into paid writing gigs, and how she enjoys being a vessel for other people’s stories as a ghostwriter.

Havvah Spicer

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Havvah Spicer
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Do you like to have fun? Do you even know how to have fun? These are questions I’ve been asking myself for the past two years. I’ve come to realize that I have a slightly dysfunctional relationship with fun and I’d like to change it. When I decided to do an episode about this I knew who I wanted as a guest because there is one woman on my social media who seems to be having more fun than the rest of us and wanted to know her secret. Luckily it isn’t a secret and it’s accessible to all of us.

Smockettes Muralists

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Smockettes Muralists
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The Smockettes are an artistic collaboration between Stella Greendeer, Natalie Hinahara, and Anna Kimm. Together they design and create beautiful murals and today we talk about why public art is important and how it benefits communities. We also discuss their design process, collaboration between women, and how we all benefit when we collaborate rather than compete.

Jenny Seiler

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Jenny Seiler
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Jenny came to Women’s Fire today to talk about her family’s move to the Driftless region and what is taking them back to California. We discuss the mindset of being transient in search for the community and space to raise your family in. 

Debra Wallace, LMFT

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Debra Wallace, LMFT
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Debra is a licensed marriage & family therapist and a friend of mine from graduate school. She came to Women’s Fire to talk about parenting and trauma and how to heal your own trauma so you don’t hand it down to your kids. 

Kathryn Ashely-Wright

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Kathryn Ashely-Wright
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Kathryn is an entrepreneur, an artist, a craftswoman, a businesswoman, a wife, and a mother. She started her business, Ewetopia Fiber Shop, in 2007 and it has largely been a success from day one. She has grown her business to include a fiber mill where she designs, dyes, and spins her own yarn. 

Various Voices

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Various Voices
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In this first episode of Women’s Fire I wanted to hear from women of different life stages. I was able to talk to 7 women, from age 15 to 71, as they answered the following questions:

1. What women influenced you growing up?

2. What are you enjoying about this phase of life?

3. What are you finding challenging?

4. What are you looking forward to in the next 10 years?

5. What advice would you give your younger self?

Introduction

Women's Fire
Women's Fire
Introduction



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