In honor of Women’s History Month, Amy Edelstein was invited by Villanova University's School of Business to unpack what it takes to pursue our own calling, break limits, and strive to for excellence in our work, our personal growth, and our contribution to the world.
These days, we are pressured to achieve in so many spheres, from the obligation, as leaders, to the bottom line to our own desire for a positive and holistic value set that takes into account our planet, our community, and our own interior life. As women, we're told the glass ceiling no longer exists, and yet we still find ourselves rubbing the bruises when we bump into it.
In this session, Amy shares insights and successes to help us orient our life around passion and purpose, while also standing out as leaders in an increasingly competitive and divisive world. She spent three decades researching the impact of cultural assumptions on our own ability to succeed as well as transformational and contemplative methodologies that help individuals and groups realize their higher potentials. In 2014, she founded Inner Strength Education in Philadelphia, which has grown into a successful non-profit and is now one of the largest school-based teen mindfulness programs in the US, having trained more than 22,000 high school students in Philadelphia, with evidence-based results.
Amy unpacks lessons learned to reveal how, in the classroom and in the world, we can pursue authenticity as well as traditional notions of success, and gain valuable insights into how a life well lived may perhaps be the greatest contribution we can make to our world in these fractured and difficult times.
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welcome to bsb, O DS Women's History on Spotlight Speaker series. We are excited to have Amy Stein as our guest speaker as she talks about what it takes for women to answer their calling break limits and strive for excellence in their work for personal growth and contribution to the world. Before I introduce Amy, we'd like to let you know that Dr. Holly Ferrera, our office director of faculty and research, will moderate q a session at the end of the presentation. So if you have a question, please put a cue and add your question to the, add your question to the chat during the presentation so Holly can find it when the presentation, or you can raise your zoom hand and Holly will acknowledge your gesture. We also ask that you stay muted unless instructed otherwise, and approach this presentation with an open mind and heart. Now, who is Amy Elson? Amy is a nonprofit leader, educator, author, and a powerful communicator of ideas that can help transform ourselves and our culture. She's the founder and executive director of Inner Strength Education nonprofit organization that supports youth development. Through its innovative mindfulness and systems thinking program, Inner Strength has empowered 22,000 high school students from under resourced schools in Philadelphia is endorsed by the Collaborative, academic, social and Emotional Learning and their free team Wellness Mobile Act, and her Strength, which received best nonprofit app award in the year of its release, a recognition of the impact of her work. Amy was awarded a Philadelphia Social Innovators Award, Cornell University College scholar. Amy has more than 40 years of experience, contemplative practice, and transformational philosophies. She is the author of six books and the recipient of Nautilus. Ben Franklin, IPPY let's give Amy a warm Villanova welcome. wonderful. Thank you so much. Pleasure. It's a pleasure, a privilege, and really my deepest honor to be. Part of this speaker series and to speak for Women's History Month. And so there's a lot I want to share and I also want to make sure that it's relevant for you. So as we start, if you could just put one question or area of this work that came to mind, what drew you to this talk? What do you want to reflect on? What do you want to contemplate? And I will try to shape what I have to say around that. And what I'm going to try to do is use my life to illustrate some of the main philosophical, cultural, and personal themes that we need to reflect on as we reflect on the role of women in history, the history makers, and our own position right now. What the two pictures are is one is me on an adventure that I'll tell you about four years I lived in North India. I went on my own at the age of 20 before the world of G P s and cell phones. And I'll tell you about that and on. The opposite side of the screen is myself with a group of wonderful students from Carver High School on one of our teen retreats, which I'll also tell you a little bit more about. But I wanted to start with women's history and why Women's History Month matters. And I was over getting ready for this talk. I started watching some of the movies that they've been highlighting and I watched, she Said, which is about the New York Times, breaking the story of the Harvey Weinstein saga. I watched feminists, what were they thinking, which is interviews with these women who were photographed in a book in the seventies. And I watched Taylor Swift's reputation. Now they're, they seem to be from very different. Angles. And yet there was a really similar theme coming through women finding their voice. Women feel getting to that point in their own being where they were unafraid and they were unafraid because they had no choice but to step forward into a different way of being in the world. They didn't lose their fear, they didn't lose their reticence, but something else came to a point that compelled them to move through. And all of the voices also spoke about feeling alone, of feeling confused, of feeling like they were somehow. Odd or offbeat, or didn't have the right to feel the way they did or feel pushed up against limitation. Taylor Swift at one point in this movie, in this documentary, she's talking to a friend in her dining room and she says something strong and then she apologizes and she says, I'm apologizing for speaking loud in my own house that I bought with my own money that I earned by writing my own songs about my own life. And I'm still apologizing. And I thought that was really telling. I found myself moved and in tears often as I felt in my own journey. These same themes. And I also felt in my own journey that I never really identified as a feminist, even though I was in part of the second wave, the late, the tail end of the second wave of feminists movement. When I was at Cornell in Ithaca, New York in the early eighties, there were some radical feminists Shulamit Firestone and other people like that were there regularly, and they were motivating young women like myself to read Susan Brown Miller's book about the prevalence, the widespread prevalence of domestic abuse, which I read when I was 19 and. It shocked and shook me and made me recognize that moving through the world in a female body was often a risky position simply by being. And I think that we are aware on a visceral level of our vulnerability now, I never felt vulnerable. I was, I was five foot two when I was 11, so I always thought, I'm still five foot two. People always say, you're so small when they meet me. But my self image is of being very big because I was always in the back row of the school photos and grades in grade school. So I never felt weak or small or but I was aware. From, I don't know how old, but from a very young age that I was more fragile in this world. Now, I never let that stop me. I never let it inhibit what I was willing to do. And as a product of the seventies, I was always pushing back. So if anyone told me not to do something, it was usually a stimulus for me to push forward. So I say all this, if you come on this call, wondering if identifying as a feminist is relevant, whether there are other issues and systemic limitations, including systemic racism. The oppression and othering of those who are not gender dominant or, identify in a, the, this, the typical way or you find yourself not able bodied or other marginalized identities. And if you feel that those are more on the forefront and they're more your cause, I can understand that, that there's, and there's really important work to do and there's somehow a feeling that women's, the need for support of women's, the women's movement shouldn't really be an issue anymore. And after all, women aren't really, And under they, they're not really in, in some ways we're underrepresented, but in another way, women hold up half the sky. So there are 50% women in this world. So we think that we shouldn't have to identify ourselves and we should identify with other also very important issues. And I think that's part of the confusion in the feminist movement. And I think it's part of the confusion in ourselves. Cuz oftentimes I find myself, even now as the founder of a nonprofit that it, the successful business that I grew from Scotch Tape and Paperclips in 2014 to a million dollar business now with 16 people and serving, we've served 20 high schools in Philadelphia. I still feel that I should be taking out the trash and I should be wiping down the desks and I should be doing everything else before I prepare for important meetings because we somehow don't belong in leadership that were there somewhat by accident, and it's very hard to own our own authority and our own accomplishments. So if you find yourself, I know that this is sponsored by the business school and many women in the business school are probably thinking that they're beyond the struggles of the seventies and eighties, beyond the struggle for equal pay for equal work that we have to insist on that. We're not, we still internalize the culture around us, and it's still something that we is important to identify in ourselves and know that we're not crazy, we're not hypersensitive, we're not reactive, we're not overemotional. But those limitations and those barriers and that need, that culturally absorbed belief that we have to push is definitely part of the world that we live in. I'm going to share again and just give you some images of. These are some of the things that I feel we want to pay attention to that are important to us. Courage. What if I don't have it, which I want to talk about innovation. Can I own my own innovation or do I always defer to everyone else even if they know less? Even if they came after me, even if they contribute less. Do I always have to extend to another so I'm not seen as selfish, hierarchical, non-inclusive, unkind, loud, aggressive. When you find yourself as a woman stepping out, there's often the question, who can I count on? Who do I go to for guidance? Where are the elders? Can I trust other women? Because we live in a culture that is defined and has been by the male leaders. And so when we're in a container that's been defined by viewpoints and perspectives that are limiting to us, balancing off of that often brings out behaviors in us that aren't our best. And it was really only when women started to come together in these consciousness raising groups that they started to see that everyone felt the same way. That we could form a sisterhood or we didn't even need to form one, that there was one that already existed, that we were already in our own ways internalizing the same thing. And once we could created those safe spaces, we were able to find our voice, share our experience, and all of the competition and backlash and undermining that. Men always said that women due to each other started to disappear. So we have to remember that we're always internalizing the culture around us. We're always bouncing off of that As a woman stepping out, it's scary and there's often nobody there guiding us because we are still breaking ground, believe it or not. And there's the question of when does it get easy? In my experience, it actually doesn't I enjoy more maybe than I did when I was 20 setting out on my own. But they're always greater plateaus and stepping through is always a challenge. And I'm going to talk a little bit about where stamina comes from because it doesn't come from our will. In my experience, it comes from our passion that when we care. When we are motivated and moved and drawn by a vision that's bigger than ourselves, we find our, we find ourselves doing things that if the things that I've done, people say, weren't you afraid? And how did you have the courage? And that was so amazing of you and I always have to squint and try to understand what they see. Because for me, the things that I did, I had no choice. I was propelled, I was influenced and inspired by others, but much more I was propelled by my own calling. As I said, I grew up in I came of age really in the seventies, and I went to school in Pittsburgh. I actually literally lived in Mr. Rogers neighborhood. He lived about four blocks from my grade school and, he would go to the local barbershop, around the corner where all the men did. And my high school was a school of about 2000 students and nobody knew my name. And it was a very alienating inner city experience. And I also started getting, coming up against the ideas of my teachers that women weren't smart. I had a chemistry teacher who. Outright said that women can't do science. Now I know for some of you who are young and in school, you'd be you. You can't imagine that I'm not that old when it really did happen. And being the outspoken student, I would never have wanted to have me as a teenager. I fought back and I accused him of, chauvinist ideas and I got a 97 in the class, but I only attended like 48% of scheduled school. So he failed me for not the final grade, but during one of the quarters because of lack of attendance. And that was when I really started feeling okay, something's not adding up. Something's not adding up in the world around me. So I started looking for people. I felt were wise. For people who I felt were deep. I started reading poetry, I started doing yoga. I started meditating as a sophomore in high school in 1978. And that was when I started to feel like, there are people who are pushing for us to actualize our higher creative and human potentials who are not just trying to make change in structure in culture, but they're really trying to change us as people. They're trying to get us to evolve. They're trying to get us to find an elevated and beautiful expression of our humanity. And that's what got me going. And so for the next 40 years, really that is what I did with my life. I. I spent, I'm going to come back to this. So I, I decided that I wanted to meet up close and personal. Those people, I really felt had something to offer to our example of human potential. I worked in alternative communities in Israel. I worked in, I was volunteer in a development town that was a sister town of a Jewish town and an Arab town who were experimenting. That was in 1979. It was a short period of peace in the Middle East. It was the time of the camp David Accords with an GaN and Jimmy Carter, where there was peace in that area for a short-lived time. And that's when I happened to be there. So there was a lot of optimism and hope and possibility and new dialogues opening up and unpacking millennia old oppressions and hatreds. And I was really motivated by wanting to make change. And then of course, everything disintegrated. And I won't go into the politics of it, but I, that was a dark night of the soul for me when I realized that. There were people who had ideals, but the reality on the ground was really difficult and I didn't want to be part of that. So I went back to Cornell and I studied, I basically did an independent major so I could get out of any requirements, so nobody would tell me what to do. So you can see that there was a theme, and I studied educational theory, regional development, and political science, because I wanted to figure out what are the structures that we can physically build to bring out our higher human potentials. I had phenomenal professors. I did a lot of work with feminist thinkers and alternative political theories, civil liberties, civil disobedience general development in preschool children, and how, what seems natural according to the physiology, what seems socialized, what's the relationship between the two? And it was wonderful, but I realized after a couple of years that my professors were smart and good people, but they weren't wise. They didn't have. Whatever it was that I was looking for, that I felt okay, this is somebody who embodies a humanity. That's amazing. And so at 20, I took a leave of absence and I was ostensibly going to Japan to study gender role development in Japan and the role of rural women in Japanese culture. And I stopped in Thailand before going to Japan. And once I got there, somebody told me about this tiny little country named Burma and being the Good American, I was, I had no idea where Burma was. It's called me Myanmar Now, and everyone's heard of it because of some, very difficult situations over the LA recent years there and p apply to the Rohinga. But at the time I didn't know anything about it, but I took a left and I went to Burma. I went to Bangladesh, and then I ended up in Nepal and that's when I started doing intensive retreat. I spent four years in North India, 12 months walking in the Himalayan Mountains on my own. So I was at that point 21. I had a big Indian army map that was paper and not very exact. There were no cell phones, there was no g p s. There were no roads where I was I was, I walked. The longest walk I did away from any automobiles was probably about six or eight weeks. And I met people who were living in this rarefied valley. It's the highest valley in the world. The floor of the valley's, 3000 meters. The highest I went was without ropes in my tennis shoes without a guide was 17,000 feet, which is higher than the Rocky Mountains. So I just walked and I met people who showed me. Through their generosity that one could live in harmony. And I found in that valley, which is the oldest Buddhist valley in the world, that people at that point 30, it was 1983, so it's a long time ago now, that they were living according to the ideal that you, every action that you make in this world affects those around you. You're trying to put in motion good af, good momentum, positive momentum by kind and generous acts, and that will serve you in the future. And that your goal is to realize enlightenment. Now, what I think enlightenment is, it's the metaphor for our highest potential. And they literally lived according to that. And they were the happiest people I'd ever met. And. Seeing people like that who weren't individuals who were extraordinary, they were regular people living in a culture that was beautiful. And the women were really very free women in that culture can marry up to four men. They usually married brothers. And the reason why is because the men would often, the rivers freeze in the winter, and the men would take their horses and go up in the rivers. They'd go as far as Turkey to trade and explore. And the women were very forthright and they asked me all kinds of humorous and embodied questions and, They would invite me into afternoon women's rice, barley wine drinking festivals where they would dance and sing and breastfeed each other's babies and then go home. And I had never experienced that kind of happiness and joy and life and sharing, and it gave me incredible faith in what's possible. I know we're living in times that are so fractured and that are fraught. And there are that. So the way that our social media has both allowed for the spread of important information and issues and it's documented, important oppressions that would never be able to come to light so objectively, so there are a lot of. There's a lot of advancement that's coming from it. But it's also in a lot of ways, and especially in the youth that I teach, it's siloed us so that we're fed information based on our likes and we're no longer able to explore and have conversations with others who have much to show us and who are so different. So I say that by a way of contrasting that with my experience in this region of zanskar to say that once you've experienced that sense that the human family can come together, that we're not by nature against each other, although there's a lot of. Let me call it ignorance in the definition of Eastern philosophy, where ignorance means not knowing where there's so much dust covering people's eyes, that they act in ways that are so harmful to others. But if we want to rise above this, I found in myself, I have to keep holding out that possibility that when we can connect with other humans, human to human, then we find underneath the ideologies and the philosophies and the experiences that we all our hearts speak the same, and that there is possibility for humanity to change. As a woman in this, of course with when we come to the point where we have the Women's March in 2017, and I don't know, many of you might have been, down at the art museum as I was on the Women's March in Philadelphia, and I felt that flood of despair that we were at this point again and joy to be with so many others where I didn't feel afraid in a crowd and that I felt the courage of people's voices. And I felt the resistance and I felt, I could see how there was so much unity, it was so threatening. And what happened to that women's movement, if you start digging a little bit there was an intentional move by some people in the media and other people of power to sow division and to silo people once again. So there wouldn't be this collective movement. There hasn't been enough written about it, but I think it's a really interesting thing to consider cuz that movement didn't die because women didn't care. There wasn't enough momentum. That movement got fragmented. And so we want to be aware when we feel that splintering in ourselves and when we feel that moving back and moving away and separating to look more deeply. And see where that might be coming from and why so much? I want to say I pulled this picture of Simone Biles because there was one thing that she said that I, that it really stood out for me and that I loved, and when she was going for her medals, they said, are you aspiring to be the next Michael Phelps because of all the medals that he won as a swimmer? And she said, no, I'm Simone Biles, and it was just like, but it just came out of her like, man, it was just like, don't compare me to anyone. Don't set me against a man. Don't set me against what you hold as the authority. I am myself. I am. And she's someone who exemplifies so much courage, difficult backgrounds, so much dedication. How much she had to fight coaches that were abusive and then she had the courage and the necessity to publicly say, my mental health is affecting my performance. It could affect my life, so I'm not going to compete. And she opened the door for so many to be able to recognize that when we are not okay, it's real. It has physiological. Symptoms, it has consequences. It can be life-threatening. And as a woman who fights so hard to get to the top, you know how many of us go to work sick? How many of us go to work when we're work? We're just barely hanging on. How many of us say, I'm fine. I'm okay. When we know that we're not. Now, I believe that we should all be strong and that we should all push ourselves and aspire. But there's a difference between holding out a high ideal and not look, not letting ourselves be victimized or precious or irresponsible or, all of those things. But there's another aspect that we, especially as women have absorbed, which is we're survivors and we have to make it through no matter what, because nobody else is going to pick up the pieces or we've made it this far and if we don't push ourselves through, then we're going to be letting down everyone that we're a role model for. And I think when Simone did that, she showed that strength is also walking through taboos for good reason in what she did in that. And. It's something that we talk a lot about our feelings and our culture now in a way that we didn't used to, but we don't talk a lot about where we're heading. And that's why I like to say that courage is really a byproduct. It's a byproduct of our own sense of a higher goal, a sense of something in the future that is so very important. It's pulling us forward and. You can see, I forget to move my slides. I just wanted to highlight these two books that I wrote because Adventure in Zanskar was my Covid project. I was busier than ever with my nonprofit. We were, school was virtual in Philadelphia and teachers were desperate, so we were teaching 70 classrooms of high school kids by Zoom a week, which was twice as many as we had taught the year prior to Covid. And during that time, part of keeping my sanity with all the pressure was to write a book. Everybody has their own escapes. And mine was to write a book about a specific time of that four year period in India, which I was describing a little bit to you called Adventure in Zanskar. It's a fun read, it's a travel log, it's an adventure story. It's all true. And I pulled out my dusty journals after decades. The only ones I'd kept from that time and wrote that book. And the book on the left is the Conscious Classroom, which is the found the philosophical foundations of my work in school. So I know I want to leave a lot of time for questions, so I'll talk a little bit about that. I spent, like I said, I spent most of my time looking for role models. I got to meet extraordinary people. I had the privilege of meeting Nelson Mandela. I had the privilege of interviewing Jane Goodall. I had the privilege of being in Mother Teresa's Center. I had the privilege of living where the Dalai Lama lives for a year studying Tibetan language with a monk at his monastery going to his teachings where he used to teach for 10 days at a time. And all the monks would come and all the Tibetans would come cuz it was before he'd won the Nobel Peace Prize. And he was little known at the time. And I was exposed to really some people who represented to me the kind of lightness of being, joy of life, recognition of the suffering of humanity. But who carried it all. Tremendous compassion and grace. And I thought those were the people I wanted to be around. I wanted to be influenced by, and I studied as much as I could. I ended up co-founding a meditation center, residential center, which had centers around the world and a magazine that used to be sold at Whole Foods. It ended in 2013, but I was a, I lived in a residential community for 27 years and one of the things that I did was I worked very closely with a small group of about 25 women over 15 years exploring women's conditioning. One of my co-conspirators was one of the authors of Mother-Daughter Revolution, which was a, I think it was a New York Times bestseller. She was on Oprah a few times. She had her doctorate in education from Harvard. She's Smart Cookie. A lot of the women I worked with were really smart cookies and we were leaning in our own kind of combination of what does the experience of deep mindfulness show you about cultural conditioning and what specifically do we have to learn as women? So that's been a part of my understanding and narrative and that'll be a another talk in the future for what, what we learned from that. But out of all this different experience, I ended up, as that center closed, my husband and I moved to Philadelphia and I wanted to do something that would connect with the people I was now living with. I'm a Pennsylvania girl, but I did live in Pittsburgh. And I have to say I was a Steelers fan. haven't changed much, but I love Philadelphia and. Like I said, I was a terrible student in high school, very outspoken and rebellious, and I hadn't set foot back in high school since 1979 until I started this program called Inner Strength Education in Philadelphia in 2014. The program is a three month social-emotional learning, critical thinking evolutionary development and mindfulness-based curriculum where we, myself and my instructors have a, I have a set curriculum. We go into the classrooms. We work with the same students once a week for 45 minutes for three. So we work with them for 12 weeks and over the last state and a half years, we've worked with 22,000 youth in this three month program during school time, during academic school time. And these are some of the freshmen on one of the few retreats where we took them offsite and had a lot of fun. And the goal of this program is to really make contemplative tools and wellness tools and systems thinking by systems thinking, really understanding that we're the product of deep time. So we look at 300 million years of evolutionary brain development. We look at the last thousand years of global culture change. So for example, with the culture change, we're looking at a thousand years ago, it was mostly small villages. There was deep social support, but very little individuation. You couldn't choose your hairstyle, you couldn't choose your shoes, you couldn't choose your outfit, you couldn't choose your song list. Everybody did the same thing. And that's the way life was. There was support, there was a sense of belonging, there was a sense of knowing where you were. And now there's tremendous possibility for individual age agency and expression, and very little social support. So we take high school kids and we get them to explore their experience based on those things. And it's been amazing, schools from Kensington Health Sciences, south Philly, Furness, Bartram george Washington to Masterman Central Carver Bodine. So for some of you, you may know the school system in Philadelphia. Some of you who are students may not. But the schools I named are the school. Some of the schools we've worked with, they range from very challenged name under resourced neighborhood Schools like Bartram, lost two students to gun violence. One right on the school campus last year has regular, difficulties in the neighborhood. It is so hard for the students. And Central is, 150 years old and has an excellent education and a much better resourced school. But you working with students on both sides, we see that in Philadelphia right now for youth. There's so much challenge to. Feel inspired to feel a sense of possibility, to feel a sense of inspiration. And initially my goal was to make these wellness tools, like mindfulness and like critical thinking in this way of contemplative work accessible to people who don't have disposable time and income to learn. And no, they're not going to do what I did. They're not going to go off to Asia for four years and live on$15 a month and walk in tennis shoes in the mountains. Not many people are going to do that and it's a different world. So I really wanted to share as much as possible the depth of my experience, not necessarily the stories themselves, cuz there's just such a gap between that experience and most of these kids, what they're exposed to. But I want them to get the sense that there's a place in themselves to anchor. There's a place in themselves that is whole prior to what's happened to them. And when they access that sense of inner goodness, that's where they can draw the resources to heal from. That's where they can draw the resources to find their way up and through just enormous hurdles. So that's what I've devoted my time to and there's a business aspect to it, which is not my favorite, but I lean into that. And here I am, so many decades after those early years when I really felt that I didn't want to be limited by what society told me that I could do. And. A lot of those voices were speaking to me as a young girl and what girls could do versus what my brother could do, and I just didn't accept that. And it's led to being here, talking to all of you. So I think that's that's where I'll leave it. We have 15 minutes for questions. I know that it was my life is a it's covered ma many different angles. So I hope in those stories you could see what I'm trying to share, which is we never think we're the ones, we never think that we're the chosen ones. We're the leaders, we're the next head of something, or we just find ourselves there by accident, by following what we care about and what's important to share in the world. So I'm happy to take any questions. Thank you, Amy. I think what I'll ask folks to do is to put their questions into the chat if you have some questions, and then I have a few that came up for me as we were talking while people are doing that, and also one that came in on the chat. So the first one is that you talked a lot about finding role models and wise people. You talked about wisdom several times to help you find your highest being. What is your advice, especially as you think about both students, faculty and staff in the room here today? Who what's your advice to people who want to seek their purpose and meaning in life? It's a great question. I probably have two answers. One is listen. Listen to yourself. I always journaled and that would be my way of just, I wouldn't try to write anything. I just journal. I just needed to somehow see what I was thinking. If I just thought on my own, it didn't help. But, so whatever you do that allows you to think about what you really care about. And then there are also some powerful contemplation tools, and if you really think about, if when everything's done, when your whole life is done, and it's hard to do when your're young, but when your whole life is done, what would you want to reflect back on? What would you want to feel like? I grew in that way and that just my growing in that way was of service. So look inner as well as outer, not just those attainments. I want to be an executive. I want to earn this much. I want to be in this field. I want to fix certain things in the world, but also look inner because when we're really connected with our own passion for, that's not just selfish, not just for me, but for me for a reason. As Victor Frankl said, those with purpose, were able to make it through an incredible hardship. So really identify, spend time thinking about purpose. Spend time thinking about what's important to you. Spend time thinking about what's important for the human race. What do we need to do? Like those Ansari people, for them they live by. It was important to perfect, compassion, generosity, loving kindness awakening, clear perception. And then talk to everyone you can. If role models, they're not that hard to reach. It's it's surprising, but oftentimes people who are real role models they maybe have busy lives, but they are also accessible in ways that you might be surprised. So seek out those professors. Have a one-on-one conversation. You hear of somebody who's giving a talk somewhere else, go and wait for them afterwards and stand in line and just get a sense of them. Connect with the people that you're curious about. And it's worth pursuing because in those encounters, they'll leave a mark of their own. Being and presence on you, and you'll say, great, they've got something. I want to figure out what they know and I want to know it too. Or, interesting. That's not, that doesn't resonate for me, but that encounter will help. Great. So I heard you saying a few things just to recap and maybe if there's anything you want to expound on, but thinking about listening to yourself and then, and establishing some practice, maybe a journal practice, but doesn't have to be that there's some way of hearing from yourself as well as talking a lot to other folks, going different places to hear from people and then talking to them once you get there. And using contemplation tools as well. I think one of the things that I also found interesting was you made this line that says, making the hidden and solitary. Visible and collective. And I just wonder if you could say a little bit more about that. What kinds of things you find yourself making that were hidden and that were individual, making those more collective and more visible. Could you just tell us a little bit about what you mean by Sure. What just flashed me was just the feeling I had at the women's march in 2017 was feeling so isolated, feeling so frustrated, feeling like I was beyond that feeling like I had a good life. Feeling like I have a deep meditation practice. I still meditate every day and do retreats. Feeling like I had a circle of people who I could explore with and feeling like I had work that was valuable. And so feeling. That I wasn't aware consciously until I was standing, in front of the art museum, these hundreds and hundreds of women, how much I felt like I was still holding everything up. On my own. And, That's when I realized again that no, the women's movement wasn't just, in 1980 when I was young and it was the tail end of feminism and, went into the background. But that experience of being alone and ne, needing to still like gerd myself and hold myself up and do more and express more and be better against some measuring stick that I didn't even know I had, but that the culture has for us. How much do you weigh? How do you look? How old are you? How do you speak whether your credentials do you really belong in this room with all the men? We'll let you hear kind of attitude. And I didn't realize how much I was holding that because I had felt that I was in some way. Not beyond it, but that through my own meditation practice that I had been a little bit outside of mainstream. So I wasn't, but we all live in the culture of 2023. We live, we all live in the same world, and in the small worlds we create, it doesn't shield us from that. So being surrounded by the sea of hundreds of people, I realized, okay, I am feeling, I may, my life may look different but I'm feeling a lot of the same things. And that was an awakening of some kind, because I thought I was in some way graduated or, no, we haven't. We haven't. So holding that personally and holding that up without being together, I didn't realize how much of a strain it was. Yeah. So I love this idea that, women, I think, and then if you think intersectionally too, right? That we often are thinking that we are alone in our struggles. And then in places like protests, we're able to see that there are other people who feel the ways that we do, maybe also in, in art and books and things like that. I think that it's interesting though to think maybe as I think about this, how you can make those, these struggles that are hidden and solitary, more collective and visible, and then there's also a backlash, as you said, people try to destroy that movement. And ev I think, Increasingly when there are protests and things, people are saying, there's a woke that is divisive and destructive. So maybe you could also help students and all of us to think about as we try to make these struggles and our purpose as we try to share this, make it collective, how do we also deal with this, the backlash? Yeah. And there is a woke that's destructive. I've seen it, I've experienced it. You know where in the name of Yeah. Where there's a, there, there's a lack of tolerance and a lack of engagement and dialogue. So that does exist actually. And it's the. Yeah, it's, it we're living in really, they're really interesting times. They're really challenging times. And what I find what I find important, which is also as I mentioned when I was talking about the teen program and for me was really the ex, the deep experiences I've had of non-separation. My dad was a particle physicist, and when I was four, he used to tell me, because that was what he had to share. So he would talk about his experiments of, accelerating electrons and blowing them into the center of atoms and exploding them into these subatomic poly particles. And so he would say that matter is more space than solid. And he would explain this to me, from the time I was very young and when I got older, around, I remember when I was probably in like second grade, I remember vividly sitting at the dinner table and taking my hand and pressing it against the table and trying to figure out where my hand and the table where one ended and the other began. Because if there's really just space, if we're touching two things together and there's so much space around the electron between the electrons and the nuclei, how come when I would press my hand against the table, they would still remain as two. And I started to realize that when you really break things down, there's a continuity even between different objects that we can't see. But on very infinitesimally, small levels, there's connection. There's sameness. And I started to experience that also as I did more and more meditation practice and having those experiences of a sense of interconnectedness, a sense of process. How there aren't really hard ends and hard beginnings that we flow into one another. Where do I start? Do I start when I was born? Do I start when you know, there was fertilization of the egg? Do I start when my parents were born? Do I start when the plants they ate were, you start to realize that it depends on how you look at things, but there isn't really a hard end and a hard beginning. And when you start to see that interconnection and a visceral experiential way, then it's easier to not draw these hard divisions. And to be a little more open-minded. So just looking through a political or social justice lens will reveal inequity and, very harsh and painful systems that need to be undone, but we need to have other contexts and lenses that show us the ultimate non-separation. Otherwise we get too siloed and we become too fractured and it's very discouraging. Yeah. And I think we're just about at time, so I, I want to leave Shakia you the last few minutes. Thank you for that closing about thinking about our interdependence and, the larger collective as well. Yeah. Thank you Great questions. Yes. Thank you so much, Amy.