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Chatting to a Friend

Chatting to a Friend

Author: Catie Friend

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Welcome to Chatting to a Friend. In this podcast I am chatting to incredible women from all walks of life about friendship, community, self care, adventure, sex, grief, boundaries and asking them how they look after themselves, how they manage their mental health and what drives them. It’s an enormous privilege to have the time and opportunity to learn from some truly remarkable women. I hope you enjoy it.

58 Episodes
Jenny is a joy to chat to. Funny, self aware and full of Scottish banter.We recorded this epsiode about a million years ago but her book as just come out so it’s finally time to release the chat about teenage motherhood, growing up alongside her little boy and re-discovering her own passions.Heavily featured is the world record breaking round the world cycle which makes her the fastest woman to circumnavigate the planet on a bike.Instagram: @jennygrahamis_
Chatting to Amy Aed

Chatting to Amy Aed


Amy Aed walked the length of the Danube River. It was not the journey she planned. In fact, she hadn’t really planned at all so it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that there were ups and down, stops and re-starts. However, sometimes that makes for the best kind of adventures. Join me as I chat to her about setting off with grand expectations, managing injury and travelling as a woman in a same sex relationship in countries where that’s not yet the norm.Instagram: @wandering_everywhere
Since recording this with Laura, more months ago than is polite to still not have published, she has gone on to win Badminton. Listen in though as we talk about early beginnings in horses, a life threatening accident and coming back to win gold at Tokyo 2021. Inspiring stuff!Instagram: @laura_collett
Listen as Victoria Evans relives her voyage across the Atlantic to become the Guinness World Record holder. Recorded quite some time ago, my apologies to Victoria for the delay, but I promise it’s worth the listen!Instagram: @seachangesport
Preet Chandi was a tennis prodigy from a traditional British Punjabi family, living away from home from a very early age. She left school with very few qualifications, joined the army reserves without telling her family, got into university, became an officer in the regular army, got a masters and decided to go to the South Pole on her own.This is a two parter in one episode about the grit, determination and drive of an extraordinary woman. She would tell she’s not extraordinary, but I challenge you to listen to this without being inspired to do something bigger than you, against all the odds and pre-conceptions of society.I spoke to Preet before she left to eventually become the first woman of colour to reach the South Pole unsupported (spoiler alert) and then had the pleasure of catching up with her not long before she went back again to attempt to cross the whole of Antarctica unsupported, with the goal of being the first woman to do so.The change in tone between the first half and the second is interesting. The talkative, enthusiasm is still there but you can hear very clearly the gravity that such an endeavour bestowed upon her. A maturity, a worldliness and perhaps a little bit of the unresolved frustrations she has experienced since her return.Preet is out of the ice as I publish (Dec 2022) in her Phase 2 and you can follow her on IG @polarpreet and on her website
Ursula Martin is also known as “One Woman Walks” after she walked thousands of miles across Wales and then across Europe. Her Welsh walk started when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and our conversation takes us all over the place (literally) although actually we talk less about the logistical achievement of crossing Europe on foot during covid than how someone who needed a change of scenery took to adventure and never really looked back.  It’s a very personal conversation, full of insights and thoughtful meanderings which I don’t think either of us were really expecting to get into. I loved chatting to Ursula. She’s very real and very modest with a dry sense of humour which I suspect has helped her through many of the struggles she’s faced. Catch up with her here, where there is a link to her book “One Woman Walks Wales” or on Instagram @onewomanwalks
South African mountaineer Cathy O’Dowd was the first woman in the world to climb Mount Everest from both sides. Her most challenging Himalayan epic was as part of team forging a new route on an 8000 metre peak. Her many expeditions provided extensive experience with individuals and teams facing stress, risk and overwhelming challenge. She developed these insights into a 25-year career as an internationally acclaimed corporate motivational speaker. Cathy remains an active adventurer. She lives in Andorra in the Pyrenees and spends her time canyoning, ski-touring, climbing, mountaineering and sea-kayaking. Covid allowing, in the summer of 2022 she will be taking part in an exploratory sea kayak expedition along the coast of Greenland.I first came across Cathy when I reqad her book in around 2003. I was awe struck and have remained a fan ever since. Her no nonsense approach to everything may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I find in equal measure a tiny bit intimidating and a huge amount inspiring. There is a part of me that wishes I could be as bold and forthright in my dealings with life. This is well worth a listen.Website Instagram @CathyODowd Facebook @CathyODowdEverest
Freelance Social Media goto and lover of big days outside, Frankie Dewar is a climber, hiker, skier and general fun seeker Frankie has cycled 3,000km around the UK to interview people older than herself about the outdoors to show that you don't have to "do it whilst you're young". In this conversation, we cover everything from how the podcast came about to how she coped as a young carer to her mum and how she burst into her 20s tyring to make up for time “lost” during her childhood. How envy can be a powerful motivator, musing over what “being enough” means, how to manage when the work you do is so closely aligned with your own identity and how to support a loved one on a journey, both physical and spiritual.
Running began for Lucy when she was 15 years old as a way to spend time with her Dad. When he decided to run a 100km race through the blue mountains 5 years ago she trained alongside him for every step of the way. On race day, she ran from place to place to see him and accidentally ran her first ultra. Then she decided that she wanted to complete a race of this distance and ran side by side with her Dad for 100Km, finishing in 12:36:00 and smiling. She was in love, not only with the physical and mental side of performing the art of ultra-running but the community and the environments it took her to.The following year she entered this race again and ran solo finishing in a time of 9:30:00 to place her second female and suddenly she had emerged into this sport with potential. She then wanted to keep pushing the limits and so competed in a 6-day multi-stage race in the Simpson Desert in Australia finishing 2nd female and 2nd overall.Fast forward a few years and in 2014 she ran as part of the Australian/New Zealand Skyrunning team in Chamonix, France winning the junior division of the Mont Blanc Marathon to become the junior world family Skyrunning champion. She then competed in the Ultra distance world championships of 85kms where she won the junior category to become the world ultra-junior trail running champion.A second place in the 2018 Western States race catapulted her into the public eye but when she lined up again in the same race a year later, after a reassessment of her diet, lifestyle and health, her body shape had changed and that same public demanded to know why she was no longer the same runner.This led to a recaculating of what was important, what she loved and a chance to take it back to basics and remembering the “why”. This conversation covers everything from her start in running, her relationship with her parents, her body and her sport.We discuss at length her movie “Running Out”, where she ran the 231km Larapinta Trail in the Autralian Outback and the extreme challenge that presented as well as where is “the line” when it comes to pushing your body. I cannot recommend the movie enough!Lucy is a bright, bubbly spark of joy and inspiration and I loved chatting to her.IG: @lucy_bartholomew
At the time of the episode release (January 2022) Victoria Evans is about to depart in February to become the 8th British woman to solo row the Atlantic Ocean. Setting off from Tenerife, she will row 3000 miles over the course of nearly two months to reach Port St Charles in Barbados. It’s a challenge that’s been 3 years in the making, with Victoria forced to postpone last minute at the start of 2021 due to COVID restrictions . It’s an endeavour she’s undertaking to raise awareness about, and money for, UK Charity ‘Women in Sport’. A sports lawyer herself, she didn’t start being active until her late twenties when she moved to Switzerland for work. Access to the transformational benefit of sport for all women and girls is a cause that she’s passionate about on both a personal and professional level.We talk about her awakening into sport, equality for women in sport, how the culture needs to change, why she decided to do this row and how she got into sport relatively late in life and how much benefit she has gained from it. Finally, we talk about the row and what she hopes to get out of it. Part two will be after her row is completed and we’ll get to hear how the dream compared to the reality.I didn’t ask her for a #challengecatie but I will when she gets back!IG: @seachangesport
Originally from Germany, Monika moved after high school to the US to play volleyball for a university team. After an uncomfortable start at one college, she graduated from another with a summa cum laude and was accepted with a full scholarship to the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. After graduation, she worked for the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.But she felt there was an inner urge that there was more than settling for a job she was not completely passionate about.So she quit that career-aspiring job with the World Bank and went to pursue her dream to become a professional cyclist while going for a Sports degree at the University of Minnesota.But during this time, she realized that professional cycling is not what she wanted and she had trouble finding a suitable career in sports. To return on the “right career track”, she applied to any job everywhere and got accepted to a prestigious consulting firm as IT management consultant. She worked first in Switzerland and then Australia.But while now financially secure and on the path she was supposed to be on, the very same urge as two years earlier emerged in her wanting more from life.She studied the world map looking for that place she would love to live. She packed her bike and flew with a one-way ticket to Malaga, Spain, where she decided to become the first woman to cycle the entire three-week long Vuelta de Espana just hours before the all male professionals did it. It was a decisive moment of whether to stay in her comfort zone or to take a huge leap outside of it and face her fears of failure and pursuing something that seemed beyond her limits.We talk diversity, decisions and doubts. How to make your own goals, leaving out the opinions and fears of others and how to accept when a decision you made is not serving you anymore. I encourage you to take on the #challengecatie with me. It’s really quite an exciting one that involves nothing more extreme than sitting with a pen and paper and facing your lifetime of decision making.Watch Monika’s TEDx talk here.www.monikasattler.comIG: @rad_monika
Chatting to Dot Bekker

Chatting to Dot Bekker


At 58 Dot Bekker left an unhappy marriage determined that with her 35 plastic crates she would start life from scratch. At 60 she drove, on her own, through West Africa to return to the country of her birth, Zimbabwe.Since then, she has written a book about her journey, is raising scholarship funds for girls to ensure they escape early marriage and more and get into high school, she is collaborating with a water charity to bring much needed water to rural homes and developing opportunities in the rural area where she will soon be building a mud home amongst the community.For Dot a new life began at 60.We talk leaving why she moved away from Africa in the first place, leaving her increasingly unhappy marriage, the incredible charities and projects she’s been involved in since her return. Then we get into the guts of it and talk about her journey through 18 African countries and 20,000km in her 2 wheel drive van, Bluebell.She tells me what she learned, how she re-found her joy and sets me the most incredible Challenge Catie.Website: www.goinghometoafrica.comFacebook & Instagram: @goinghometoafrica
Chatting to Tracie May

Chatting to Tracie May


Born and raised in NY, Tracie May grew up being influenced by artist’s work she had the opportunity to encounter as a child. From Picasso’s Guernica to Basquiat, and the Egyptian exhibits of King Tutankhamun at the Met to Salvador Dali, and contemporary artists of the Whitney Biennial, she was exposed to a wide variety of creative geniuses starting at an early age.  Tracie knew as a child that she would become an artist with skills in multiple media. Upon graduating high school on Long Island, she left NY and found herself at Washington University in Saint Lewis. She graduated with honors and a BFA, and was also coxswain for her varsity crew team.  That allowed her to combine her love of sports and art. Then she moved on to graduate school at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan where she earned her MFA with a concentration in sculpture.  Her breadth of knowledge in contemporary art and her skills in all media including video, photography, installation, sculpture, metals, jewelry, glass blowing, sewing, construction, painting and more, quickly won Tracie an Artist in Residence award at the Cité International des Art in Paris, France.  From there, she moved back to NY full of ideas and motivation. It was during this time that Tracie rented a large loft in the now famous Chelsea region of NYC. She was able to create an artist’s collective in which she and fellow artisans could exhibit their work and create without the pressure of the gallery mindset.  She began revisiting her fondness for athletics and started ski racing again in upstate NY. She was quickly recognized for her prowess in speed while racing with her sister and was invited to the national speed ski championships in Colorado, where she placed 3rd in her first race. She was hooked and didn’t want to take a complete break from art while she pursued a speed ski career, so she found work at some of New York City’s finest museums. Working as a freelance metalsmith for the Guggenheim, American Museum of Natural History and the Brooklyn Museum to name a few, enabled her to simultaneously pursue an athletic career in speed skiing.  Tracie found her job as a freelance mount maker at the Guggenheim the most satisfying of all the museums she worked at. This creative environment was just what she needed in the downtime of her athletic career, which was skyrocketing quickly for her to become the best in the world. During 14 years of hard work at the Guggenheim, Tracie also became a 5 time World Cup Champion, Pro world Champion, FIS World Champion and American Women’s record holder with a speed of 238.57 km/ hour or 148.57 mph. That is a record that has held since 2006, astonishingly over a decade.  This achievement was recognized in 2018 when she was inducted into the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. Recently she was nominated as one of 6 ahtletes for the US national Ski Hall of fame. While Tracie is now retired from competitive Speed Skiing, she is still connected to the sport as a ski instructor in the Swiss Alps and a ski technician for her husband who still races.  She is currently getting her studio back in shape after a cancer diagnosis in 2019. She has been fighting hard and has finished her radiation treatments. She is relieved to have that segment of her cancer journey completed and knows she will have to fight more. She feels this will only give her more ammunition to be creative and continue to create artwork to share with the world. Her specialty and true love is still silver-smithing and jewelry.  IG:                               @swissbijouJewellery website: website:
Caroline George is a passionate alpinist and internationally certified mountain guide who has worked and played all over the world with a penchant for ice climbing, in which she competed on the world cup circuit for three years.  She is a mother to a little girl, which has empowered her to use the mountains as a vector for more equality and inclusivity for future genretions. She was the guide for the Swiss Alpine Club’s first women expedition team and is currently the technical coordinator, ambassador and consultant for Swiss Tourism’s peak challenge, a platform that aims to get more women to the mountains and in the outdoors.  Caroline feels that spending time outdoors is the alchemy of life. This is a fascinating chat ranging from Caroline’s adventurous parents who took her to do all sorts of things as a child but nonetheless encouraged her to get “a real job”, to her training as a lawyer at the same time as she discovered ice climbing and a mountain community that gave her a sense of belonging that she hadn’t felt before. We talk about inclusivity in the mountains and the “invisible mountain” that women have to climb before they even get to the foot of the real thing. The shattering facts - that the Swiss Alpine Club did not accept women into mountain huts until 1980 and that for a very long time the British Alpine Club would allow dogs as members but not women - are jaw-dropping. The ripples and effects from the successful 100% Women Peak Challenge have been so exciting and we talk about how leadership roles become more attainable for women who have challenged themselves to do something physically hard which gives them the confidence to take on more roles, which in turn inspires younger women to do the same. We stray into the territory of how language and art make men the dominant gender and women the “other” and then on to a female guide is just as safe and experienced as a male guide with the same training and hours in the mountain. We finish with the #challengecatie which, I can report for the first time ever, was completed before the release of the episode and which was a 95% success… Listen to the end to hear all about it and understand that a trip to the cinema crumbled my resolve! IG:                   @carolinewaregeorgeWebsite:
Belinda Kirk is an explorer and the leading campaigner promoting the benefits of adventure on wellbeing.  She is the author of the first book to explain why adventure is essential for our wellbeing: 'Adventure Revolution'. The life-changing power of choosing challenge. It’s the first book to explain why adventure is essential to wellbeing. Drawing on lessons learnt from leading groups into the wilderness and the latest findings in neuroscience and psychology, Belinda shows how adventure has the power to transform the timid into the confident, the addicted into the recovering, and the lost into the intentionally wandering For the past twenty-five years, she has led dozens of international expeditions and remote filming trips. Belinda has walked through Nicaragua, sailed across the Atlantic, searched for camels in China’s Desert of Death, discovered ancient rock paintings in Lesotho and gained a Guinness World Record for rowing unsupported around Britain.  She has led numerous youth development challenges, pioneered inclusive expeditions for people with disabilities and managed scientific research missions in the Amazon, Sinai and Alaska.  In 2009, Belinda established Explorers Connect, a non-profit organisation connecting people to adventure and has encouraged 30,000 ordinary people to engage in outdoor challenges. In 2020 she launched the first conference to explore the positive impact that adventurous activity has on wellbeing.  IG:       @explorerbelinda#explorersconnect (For Belinda’s amazing sounding conference in March 2022).
Chatting to Sunny Lawrence

Chatting to Sunny Lawrence


Sunny Jo Lawrence is a Utah native and has a college degree from Utah Valley University in the field of Psychology. She married James Lawrence (the Iron Cowboy) in December of 2000. They have five children: four daughters and one son. She has always loved being a mum, as well as James’ #1 supporter through all his accomplishments. Sunny has been an athlete for most years of her life and has enjoyed the calmed down version now that she is entering the next chapter of life. She is perhaps best known for being the backbone and chief supporter of her husband as he sets himself and achieves ever increasingly difficult physical challenges, setting world records and pushing the limits of his body and mind. His most notable challenges have been the 50 ironman distance triathlons in 50 days in all 50 states in the US, and more recently the Conquer 100; 100 ironman distance triathlons in 100 days. (Ironman distance triathlon is 3.8km swim, 180km bike and a marathon).In this conversation we cover her early, sport-obsessed childhood, wishing she were a boy with a mohawk to getting into triathlon and to the stage of not enjoying competitive sport and switching it to being for fun, fitness and therapy.Going back to university while having five children and supporting her highly driven, unconventional husband as he decided what he wanted to do with his life are just some of the challenges she has faced. We also chat about how she manages the unpredictability of being married to James and how this is her greatest challenge and test to her faith.There is a great section about managing her emotions and taking responsibility for how she feels and reacts to the next big challenge and all that that means for her personally. This clearly took some time and work on her part to work out when they were first married.And finally we cover how her goal is to become the greatest female public speaker in the world. A lofty and courageous goal and one which I have no doubt she will attain.IG: @sunnyjolawrenceFB: @sunnyjohatfieldlawrence
Jane Harries is a “soft” adventurer, a magazine editor, a former lawyer and a survivor of a prophylactic double mastectomy that went horribly awry. She has travelled the world doing adventures including the Camino de Santiago, the Marathon des Sables, crossing the Karakorum Highway and white water rafting in the Zambeze river, settling in Australia for many years. She qualified for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships by accident (hear the full story in the interview), is a fierce advocate for indigenous cultures, including her beloved native Welsh. In her early 40s, the huge decision to have a double mastectomy to prevent her from the breast cancer that killed her mother and one of her aunts turned into years of pain, illness and suffering.  We chat about her favourite adventures, why she set up her magazine Adventure She to tell more women’s stories, the years of her illness, gratitude for her friends, paying it forward and how she plans to adventure into her old age. Facebook: @AdventuresheWebsite: www.adventureshe.comIG: @adventure_sheTwitter: @adventure_she
Originally from Canada, Ingrid Mackinnon is a dancer, movement director, choreographer and teacher.  Her movement direction credits include Regents Park, Royal Shakespeare Company, Arcola Theatre and Lyric. She teaches at dance and actor movement at schools such as Guildhall, Mountview and Royal Central School of Speech & Drama.  As a performer her credits include Dallas Black Dance Theater and Disney’s The Lion King in the west end. She has an MA in Movement: Direction & Teaching from Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. She lives in south London with her husband and son. In this conversation, we talk about growing up in Canada combining her love of dance with her mother’s insistence that she maintain straight As. She tells me about seeing a stage full of dancers of colour for the first time and how that spurred her on to become a professional dancer. How her stints of dancing around the world, meeting her husband, moving to London, becoming a mum all shaped and moulded her into being the person she is today and how still often being the only of woman of colour in the room has influenced her growth as a person, a dancer and a movement director. IG @ingridmackinnonTwitter @ingridmackinnon
Jenny Davis is a lawyer turned professional athlete. She spends her time travelling the globe to compete in some of the world’s toughest races, events and expeditions.Most recently she completed a solo and unassisted trek to the South Pole. For the last 100km, she was suffering from polar thigh, a condition that caused her flesh to start to rot and caused her unimaginable pain. Despite this she refused to be medivac’d out and persevered. Our conversation ranges from this particular expedition to mindset, to her support of women in sport around the world, growing up in Borneo and adventures in the jungle with her brothers.We also cover grit and resilience and how it can be learned and improved. We chat about being a new mum and how to test whether she still has the drive to adventure (she does!) and how that looks, with regards to sponsors and family support.It’s a great conversation and while I completely forgot to ask her for her #challengecatie, you will hear perhaps a challenge to beat all challenges!IG -
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