A Founder's Journey: Holding onto Resilience and Hope with Lesley Mazzotta

May 27, 2022 00:52:42
A Founder's Journey: Holding onto Resilience and Hope with Lesley Mazzotta
Lavish Hope
A Founder's Journey: Holding onto Resilience and Hope with Lesley Mazzotta

May 27 2022 | 00:52:42

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Hosted By

Rev. Liz Testa

Show Notes

It's been a heavy week for a lot of us this week. Spiritually, we struggle to make sense of it all. Lesley Mazzotta's calling as a spiritual director and her own life journey have equipped her to offer guidance for navigating these times with resilience and hope. She also happens to be Liz Testa's guest for this week's season 3 finale of Lavish Hope! We encourage you to take some time to listen to their powerful conversation.

Lesley is an innovative non-profit visionary, educator and certified spiritual director, with many years' experience empowering women and girls. She is the founder and executive director of One World Girl, a non-profit organization in the New York metro area that equips girls to become changemakers. As part of her commitment to this work, Lesley has been on her own journey of healing past trauma and embracing how to live fully and joyfully even in the midst of the challenges brought on by COVID-19. Lesley’s expertise as a spiritual director shines brightly as she shares best practices for navigating isolation and anxiety, making time to cultivate peace within, and taking courageous steps into new opportunities that God brings. She also gives us a glimpse into what it’s like to start a non-profit (spoiler alert: it is not for the faint of heart!) and the resiliency and agility needed to bring a creative vision to life and help it to thrive and grow.

Listen here: https://www.faithward.org/lavish-hope-podcast/.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 Welcome to lavish hope season three, I'm your host, Liz Tesa in this season finale. I'm so excited to be joined by Leslie Mazada. My good friend and former colleague, who's an innovative nonprofit, visionary educator and certified spiritual director for seven years. She was an instrumental presence on the binational staff of the reform church in America, where I work. And as part of my team help develop transformational retreats and leadership courses to help women honor their stories, explore their God-given gifts and live into their callings. Leslie is the founder and executive director of one world girl, a nonprofit organization in the New York Metro area that equips girls to become change makers through art based learning the power of diversity and taking action. She also works as director of youth leadership at her regional, Y w C a as part of her commitment to this portfolio of work. Speaker 0 00:00:58 She has been on her own journey recently to heal past trauma and embrace how to live fully and joyfully, even in the midst of the many challenges brought on by COVID 19 Leslie's expertise as a spiritual director, shines brightly as she shares tips and best practices for navigating isolation and anxiety, making time to cultivate peace within and taking courageous steps into the new opportunities that God brings. She also gives us a glimpse into what it's like to found a nonprofit spoiler alert. It's not for the faint of heart and the resiliency and agility needed to bring a creative vision to life and help it to thrive and grow. So let's jump in. Well, here we are on the lavish hope podcast. We are finishing up season three and I'm so excited to have my good friend and colleague, uh, Leslie Mazada, joining us on the podcast to share her stories of hope, resilience and overcoming. Welcome, Leslie. Speaker 2 00:02:04 Hello. Hi Liz. It's good to hear you see you. Yes. I'm delighted to be part of this. Speaker 0 00:02:11 Yeah. So glad that you could, you could, uh, join us and, you know, Leslie, you and I have shared, um, a lot in these past years. And so just really excited for our listeners to be inspired by your journey and by what thank you, um, what God has put on your heart to share today. So let's jump right in the first question that I like to ask my guess is what does resilience mean to you? Speaker 2 00:02:36 Well, I thought a lot about this question, cause I feel like it is, um, it's something that we inspired in all the women that we worked with at the RCA. So for me, resilience is I guess, making an intentional choice every day to be brave and curious, creative and determined to live life as fully as possible to keep walking the path that God's put you on. And I guess to find ways to fulfill your dreams and hopes in your life, no matter what challenges come along. Um, I think that it's also about seeing challenges and failure as part of the journey actually expected on the journey and to use them as stepping stones to move forward, as opposed to things that might stop you from living as fully as possible. Speaker 0 00:03:29 I love that. What a beautiful vision. Speaker 2 00:03:31 Thank you. Speaker 0 00:03:32 And so can you share a little bit about like, how has this beautiful, robust multi-layered concept of resilience? How has it been shaped by your past and maybe been changed or deepened by your experiences? Speaker 2 00:03:47 Yeah, well, I think I learned resilience as a very young child, as I'm sure many people did because I had a childhood that had quite a bit of trauma and dysfunction. And so I experienced a lot of unhealthy messages and experiences that challenged me. And as a child, I don't think you have the same options as you do as an adult, cuz you don't know how unhealthy things are until you actually step out and step into your own full adult life. And so when I did that as a young adult, I had a lot of work to do to unpack thoughts and beliefs and habits and actions that challenged me to live this life that I feel called to. And that I hope I, um, am living as bravely, as I said, courageously as possible. So I had to relearn a lot of things and learn who I was, what healthy meant, how to be in this world, how to create healthy relationships with myself and others, how to continue to live fully into dreams and hopes and believe that they're possible. And so I think that I had to learn resilience so that I kept taking steps every day as I was unpacking all of these things that weren't serving me anymore and little by little and even now, um, in mid age, I'm not gonna say my full age <laugh> Speaker 2 00:05:13 Um, it's still, it's still the journey. And I think it is for everyone. And I think it is especially for women as we get into our forties and our fifties to really claim all of who we are. And as we taught so many years together that what are the spiritual saboteurs that stop you from living fully? And so anytime you step out and you claim a, a new narrative, a new story, a new belief that is godly, that is not unhealthy, but that is godly and loving and supportive and, and brave, then that is resilience working. Speaker 0 00:05:49 That's really beautiful and so inspiring. Um, can you share a story of resilience and overcoming that might help illustrate what you're talking about? Speaker 2 00:06:01 Yeah, well, um, I've had a really challenging, I guess 10 months since August. Uh, I, I got, COVID like so many people did on August 9th, 2021 and it was a very, very mild case. I was lucky that it just felt like a head cold or a sinus infection, but I was really alone for two weeks because you know, COVID is, is this time where the minute that you get it, it's the time you want people to be around you. You want people to be caring for you and showing you that you're not alone and that you're loved and it's the exact opposite had to happen. And so I was really alone for the full two weeks with my own thoughts and my own, um, stirrings and without working. So basically my whole, all of my life was kind of stripped away and I think COVID did that to all of us. Speaker 2 00:06:54 We couldn't travel, we couldn't even go to work the way we used to kids. Couldn't go to school, didn't have that social engagement. And I think that's when God forced me, <laugh> in his loving way to really look more deeply at myself because the, the, the 14th day when COVID ended, I had a panic attack and I've always been a very anxious person, um, and dealt with it very well. And, um, but I never really had a panic attack until my dad passed away a couple years earlier. And I had really been healing and working through them and working through some of the childhood stuff that were the triggers of it, but COVID kicked something within me and, and stirred up things that were not healed yet. And since then, until now I've been on a journey and it's been a really, really hard journey where resilience and hope and faith and trust just had to be there. Speaker 2 00:07:54 And I just had to dig deep and find it because there were days, months on end, where I would be in fight flight at some point during the day where I was so uncomfortable and felt so unsafe in my body that I would go through the motions, but I was not present in any way, shape or form. And so I just jumped in and I, you know, started praying. And I started talking with people who could support me and I started therapy and I started herbs and supplements and things like that. I did not take any medication. I would've, if I felt like I had to, cuz I believe God gives you a whole wealth of materials and opportunities and, and resources. But luckily I have slowly and with a lot of patience and faith and a lot of exhaustion at times worked through this and really unpacked, even more of the things that needed to be released from me and needed to just be shaken loose so that I could step even more fully into my story. And so that is my story of overcoming at the moment. And I would say that I have mostly beautiful, amazingly full, wonderful days, some with anxiety, some without, and I'm so much more aware of what I need and what's, God's asking me to do and how to move fully. So that life is joyful, no matter what, Speaker 0 00:09:34 God bless you. Speaker 2 00:09:35 Thank you. Speaker 0 00:09:36 That really is a journey. And um, and so where, where do you find resilience, Leslie, when you don't have it, what were some things that, that you've done over these last months to help you? Yeah. Or maybe, you know, at other times in your life as well? Of course. Speaker 2 00:09:53 No. I mean, I think, um, the one thing I will say that I learned through this particular phase of my, of my path or my, this particular chapter of my story is that I found it mostly within, I think that I was somebody who, the minute something was wrong, the minute something was challenged me, I looked outward for help. Um, whether I turned to a friend or went to a specialist or, you know, it was all outside of me and something about this particular journey since August really helped me understand that I could stop and pause. I didn't have to constantly be like racing, be flighting, you know, and turn inward. And so that was really a big change for me. And it's still something that's hard for me because the first thing you want just like with COVID is to be surrounded by people telling you everything's okay. Speaker 2 00:10:51 And what I think I realized is that just through prayer and meditation and connecting inward and sitting with the discomfort of sitting still, that I was able to really find that re resilience and allow myself to rest and know that I'm safe and know that I'm moving forward. And, and remember with gratitude, all the beautiful things in my life and then continue along and in. But in addition to that, I also find resilience. I mean, I'm lucky to have moved from New York city up to Westchester, um, in the early 20, 21. And I have this beautiful patio with the trees and the birds, um, and all of nature around me. And I find so much strength and connectedness and peace just in that, which I think would've been different if I was still in the hospital and bustle of the city, which I absolutely love. So I think also finding it in nature and just the beauty of the world, you know, where there's so much beautiful energy and we're all that same energy, you know, mm-hmm <affirmative>. Speaker 2 00:11:59 And then I think the third thing is through my friends and loved ones, I have an amazing community of church women who support me and keep in touch and also lifelong friends. And I think that not only their prayer, but just having fun and spending time with them and knowing that they're there and that they know me and know my story is something that's so powerful and can't be underestimated. Cause I think also when you come from a traumatic childhood, you don't know your story and you don't wanna claim the story you lived fully because it was so painful. And so you kind of have to integrate all of that. And so when you meet people in your life and God brings you people who knows your story hears, it loves you completely and can support you as you move through difficult times. There's nothing better, there's nothing more powerful and there's nothing more beautiful and more loving. So all those things have helped me have resilience, particularly in this, as I said, this last little chapter, Speaker 0 00:13:11 It's powerful, Leslie, just the way that you've, you're kind of connected the dots on, on that need for connectedness. And, you know, we've heard so much right now about people that are suffering so much from this isolation. Yep. And I, I so appreciate your vulnerability and your honesty at opening up and just sharing about how things got triggered, you know, from your, from your near past, perhaps, but also your remote past, right. From when you were a child. And I'm wondering, uh, I'm, I'm feeling like we, we, we probably have some listeners out there that are kind of wondering about how they, how, who have had a similar experience perhaps. Yeah. And are just wondering, like how do they even get started to deal with this? Speaker 2 00:13:57 Yeah. I mean, it's such a good question and I have felt the collective loneliness and fear as I'm sure we all have with COVID and also with all of the craziness that's happening in our world right now, mm-hmm <affirmative>, it is scary. And, and I think that the isolation I've seen it in the girls that I work with, I've seen it in some of my friends. So how do you you're right. And I think for me, the first thing is, is that I think we have to, it's kind of like Brene brown, be courageous and vulnerable. At the same time, I got to a point where, and this was early in my twenties where I was no longer pretending that my life was wonderful, that my childhood was perfect and that I didn't have all of these challenges that I wanted to work through. I mean, nothing horrific, um, because I recognize how blessed and how grateful and beautiful my life ha has always been even in the trauma and everything. Speaker 2 00:15:01 But I think that we try and put on those masks and we cover, and we play those roles for all the different people in the world. And it's kind of like, there's a gap between who we actually are and who we show ourselves to be in the world. And so maybe my whole journey has been about integrating the two of them and being vulnerable enough and being brave enough to say to someone, a friend, a loved one, a parent, this is what's going on in my life and not feel like you're gonna be judged by it, but know that the per the people that are in your life are there to support all of who you are. And that it's only through sharing that part of your story, that you're gonna be able to heal. I mean, Brene brown says that shame can't survive. If you tell the story, because if you shine a light on it, then it already starts to dissolve mm-hmm <affirmative>. Speaker 2 00:15:52 And I feel like any sort of healing journey requires that and requires that you're telling the deep, authentic, painful part of who you are so that not so that you live in it, but so that you free it up and you loosen it up a little bit so that you then go on to integrate it. You know, I'm, I feel like I'm teaching our RCA women. Now the wounded healer, you know, Henry Allen talks about you don't heal the wounds, you bind them up so that they don't hurt you anymore, but they're still there so that you become a blessing for the next person. So I think that's a long winded way of saying, tell your story and tell it honestly, and don't be afraid to show all the different colors and all the different parts of it. Um, cuz it's who you are and it was your experience. Speaker 0 00:16:44 Yeah. Yeah. That's so good, Leslie. And you know, it's, as you're just speaking on all of this, I was just thinking, yep. That's our certified spiritual director at her finest sharing her pearls of wisdom, um, for our listeners and you know, for, for the audience. And just to say that, I mean, that is something that we did find, um, was very fruitful in our common work together, uh, in the reform church in America when we were both assigned by God and by others <laugh> to steward this work around, uh, what we call women's transformation and leadership. Yeah. And one of the first things we realized, right, was that we, women needed to share their stories and more than just for our purposes, um, more than just sharing them, we needed to honor their stories. And so that was, um, and you were so foundational bringing your expertise and your wisdom and all of this into it, but giving them the chance to share the joys and the challenges and to create that brave space, authentic space, vulnerable space, um, and how important that's been. And that there's that both and Leslie of it's both healing for the person it's also healing for the community. Speaker 2 00:18:01 Yes. Speaker 0 00:18:02 And that's, uh, I think that's something that's Speaker 2 00:18:06 That Speaker 0 00:18:07 It's got a, it's got a broader ripple effect benefit. Speaker 2 00:18:10 I completely agree. And I think, you know, I, there's no surprise that this is what I was teaching with you because I needed to reminded of myself over and over and over again. And even though we created a space for women to share their stories, as I taught, I shared part of my story too. And every time I stood up and shared some of the details of the childhood that was traumatizing, it loosened me up and it also then created a space for other people to feel safe enough to share. And I don't think that when anybody starts a healing journey, they they're doing it with the thought of it's gonna help other people when they're sometimes so desperate to just find the healing and a little bit more relief, but it is what happens. And now, as I tell my stories, it, it's almost always about how I can support the other person while also reminding me of how far I've come, what I've needed on the journey of what, where God has led me. And it makes meaning out of the challenge, which is also something I think that's so important when you're healing mm-hmm Speaker 0 00:19:20 <affirmative> and you know, as people who are on a spiritual journey and for us, you know, our context is, is the Christian faith. But for, for anyone who is on a faith journey, that that's part of it, right. Is to be able to see that, how does, how do you make meaning out of life suffering? Yeah. Um, and how do you transform it? And I've always appreciated how you've given voice to that aspect of it. And you, you mentioned it earlier, I'm just gonna say the name again, in case some of our listeners didn't quite catch it. You said the name Henry Nowan, he's a, a Christian theologian. Um, and so you have based some of the, the processes that processes that you developed for our purposes were grounded in his work, on what, uh, the book he calls the wounded healer. Speaker 2 00:20:05 Yes, absolutely. And that your, your greatest challenges is someone's El else's greatest blessing. And that as a spiritual leader, which we all are, we're called to sort of step into the wilderness before the person so that we can come back and say, I know the way I know the journey. And so let me, let me support you on it. So, Speaker 0 00:20:29 Yeah. So I just, I wanna really encourage our listeners who, you know, some, uh, some of our friends who listen to this are well, well, uh, accustomed to that type of practice, but for those, for whom it might be something new. Um, I just really wanna encourage you to be brave and to, to think about what Leslie's saying and to try it out and see what happens because it does, it is so rewarding. It really does. It really is a, a mutual blessing. Um, if you can just start to take just one or two steps in that direction. Yeah. Yeah. It's good stuff. Yeah. So tell us, where's a place that you find hope that's a big open-end ended question. You can answer it any way you like Speaker 2 00:21:12 <laugh>. Well, if anybody knows me, they know how much I love Cape Cod Speaker 0 00:21:17 Mm-hmm <affirmative>, Speaker 2 00:21:18 And it's where I was lucky enough to grow up in the summers. And, um, we still have a family home there and there's something about the ocean for me. And I'm sure many, many people that where I feel close to God, I feel like the Cape is where I first recognize God in my life, cuz I was going there since I was born. And it's also a place that's held me through all of the ups and downs and joys and challenges of life and continues to the same beach, the same home, the same loved ones, luckily coming there. And so I think I can't help, but go to that place where I'm lucky to be going to, um, this weekend <laugh> and um, and just again, sit and go inside and also just be so thankful for the beauty that is there. I mean, if you stand in front of the ocean, I think like the mountains, you can't help, but feel really small and recognize how short life is because this ocean, this mountain, this part of nature is gonna be here long after you're gone and has been there for many, many, many decades millennials before you came. Speaker 2 00:22:37 And so I find, I think it's the nature again, just, I it's so funny. I lived in New York city for 25 years. Yeah. <laugh> but Speaker 0 00:22:46 I, with the sirens outside your window, Speaker 2 00:22:48 The sirens on outside window. Exactly. But there's just something about always being able to go out to nature that sort of replenished me. And so I think that that that's a place. And then also just the nature and being in my new home, it's nice to have moved in 2021 and had so much newness happen at a time during COVID with it was shutting so much down mm-hmm <affirmative>. So even with masks and social distancing and stuff, I still had my, a new home. I still had my new job. I still had my new dog that I adopted. Hmm. You know, all the things and it, it stirs things up in you, which probably also added to my journey because nothing's familiar. And so it, it allows for more dreaming and more imagining I think. And just you're, you're not on autopilot or I'm not on autopilot as much as I was before because my refrigerator's not over here. It's over here now. And I have to go to the grocery store this way. And um, oh, I have to water my plants that are outside now because I have an outside and right. You know, whatever Speaker 0 00:23:58 You have to drive to the grocery store instead. Speaker 2 00:23:59 Yes, exactly. Instead of instead Speaker 0 00:24:00 Take your little cart and go yeah. Speaker 2 00:24:02 Yes, exactly. So I think that, um, all those things brings on new on hope. And so I just think whether you've moved, gotten a new job, new dog, whatever, I think we can all do something new, learn something new. And then that creates like new energy in our brain and our body and our spirit. And, um, it helps stir up hope and dreams and all the things that make life so special. Speaker 0 00:24:29 Well, Leslie, this is, you know, I think there there's some people right now listening that are like, wait a minute, newness is an anxiety provoking. It is like a chance to dream. It's a chance to embrace holy imagination. Right. So I think that is a really interesting concept. Um, is there like, were there any like particular practices or like a mindset that you adopted or just lived into to help you to be able to, to embrace that as like new is good and desirable and creative, as opposed to like, ah, it's something new and I gotta figure this out and this is, Speaker 2 00:25:08 Well, I, I always think I was doing that latter part as, oh my God. I have to figure this out because I was, as I said in starting mid-August of last year, I was so anxious and so unsettled in my body. But then as I've gone along and gotten more settled, I think that for me, it's like one thing at a time Uhhuh it's being fully present. I am always in my head. I'm always racing from one thing to the next. I'm always watching the clock because I have so much on my plate. I'm always worrying about getting the next thing done. And then I realized, well, if I just stayed, present in what I'm doing in this very moment and didn't stress out about it, then I'd be having not only a relaxing experience while I'm doing it. But then when I go to the next thing, I'll be even more relaxed for that. Speaker 2 00:26:01 And then by the end of the day, I can look back and say, well, I didn't get everything done. And this part wasn't great, but this part was wonderful, but it was a really good day. And I know that sounds really simple, but it it's really, really, really hard to do. I find mm-hmm <affirmative> because we have our phones, our computers, our like all of this technology zooming at us. And also since I work with young people, young middle school, high school age girls, they're texting their Facebook chatting. They, they, they like, they come at me in a million different ways. So like everything's ringing at once, but it's really hard I think, to, to stay present to that. But I think that that's been my biggest, my newest, um, practice is to literally like shut off everything. And if I'm doing one thing and focusing on that and not worrying about what's next, Speaker 0 00:26:58 You know, that is such a great, great tip, um, is in this world where it's multitasking and so much technology just coming at us from a million different places and information too. Right. We're like in the information age, um, uh, on steroids, even that, that it really is important for us to be able to take that breath and to be able to cut out some of those, the ways that the information is coming at us. Yeah. Because we can only take so much. Right. Speaker 2 00:27:30 Well, and we, and so much comes at us even when we're trying to eliminate it. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, I mean, I guess there, there was, I could be making this number up, but like 7,000 advertising messages come at us in a day in America. That's crazy. That was, I think a statistic from a couple months ago when I used to teach it as part of the work that we did. And, and so it's so unconscious too. I mean, you open a magazine and especially as a woman, it tells you a million things right then and there about how you should look, how you sh what age you should be, the clothing you should wear, et cetera, et cetera. So for men and women, these messages, and then you've got all of the challenges across the world that's happening. And then you've got sort of the incivility that's happening in our world, in our country right now, particularly in the political world. Speaker 2 00:28:23 And then you add to that, the fear of COVID and get the shot, don't get the shot, get this shot. Don't I mean, there's just so much. And so I think part of what I've done, especially recently is limit how much news I watch and make sure that I, I turn off my, my technology a couple hours before and just watch TV and read. And I feel like that seems almost too simplistic, but over time it's, it's worked for me. Yeah. And that's allowed me to then take all the energy that I would normally be using around worrying and whatever, and start to take it from worrying into, well, what do I wanna use it for with creativity? How can I use it? What one thing could I do today to help this vision come to fruition? Even if it's the smallest little step. And then some days I don't do anything, except just enjoy the beautiful sunshine and spend time with friends. And don't think about anything except the day. You know? So it's like with healing and journeying, there's days you dig in and there's days you have fun and you relax and there's days you get too much social media and there's days you don't get enough. And yeah, it's all kind of a balance, but I don't know if that answered your question, but Speaker 0 00:29:46 Yeah, no, it's great. It's great. Speaker 2 00:29:48 But I, but I think newness and we were so used to the familiar that anything new, stirs it up and we can move through it in the same way. We'd move through anything else with recognizing that this is a new opportunity that we can step fully into and have resilience and hope to, to help us on that journey. Speaker 0 00:30:14 It's reminding me of one of my former guests, Reverend Donna, OSU ANSA, and she does a whole treatment around holy imagination and creativity and rest as being generative. That if you take that rest, it's exactly what you just said. I love it. That like you take that rest and then that actually helps you to generate your creativity. It helps you to, to, to create. And, you know, we think like if we just try more, if we just, you know, exert more, if we have more energy and throw more energy into our creativity, that's gonna make it better when actually, um, if you kind of flip it and you pull back, that's where your creativity and what, you know, I, I love this term, holy imagination, where that, that can start to get, um, it's like got fertile soil yeah. For those little seeds to get planted and grow in. And that's, that's what I'm hearing you say. And I, I love that. I think that's, it's so healthy and necessary for us to continually be reminded of that in our world today. Speaker 2 00:31:16 Exactly. Cuz I think that there's this huge taboo against resting mm-hmm <affirmative> I think it's seen as laziness. I think it's seen as wasted time. And um, and I mean, I look at the girls that I serve and they are going from one thing to another, to another to another, their time is so tightly and, and every time I meet with them and we do a mindfulness activity to start the session, they all talk about how stressed they are. Yeah. So it's um, and I struggle with resting. I really do. Mm-hmm <affirmative> like, that's when I start to get anxious and I, and I'm trying to figure out why that is. Yeah. Yeah. Cause God even mandated God even held us to, you know, Uhhuh, but no, we don't, I don't do it well. Speaker 0 00:32:01 Well, it's a very, you know, it's, it's a very Western ideal. It's a very, um, you know, in the us, it's like, you know, you gotta be productive. It's all about productivity. And so it's, what is the value around what is actually seen as productive? Exactly. And so, you know, and also this kind of Western mentality of, of yeah. Needing to always be working and time also, you know, gotta make the most of your time, you need to be efficient. Um, and so all of those things I think get mixed up with what God's purposes are around, uh, Kairos time, right around what, how we are to engage our time and just being able to get into a healthier, um, yeah, April feet, Reverend April feet. Another one of my, uh, one of my guests has, you know, created this beautiful book, uh, sacred pulse, um, around, uh, creating sacred rhythms for overworked souls. So, um, yeah. I see a theme here, so thank you. Absolutely. You're kind of synthesizing it for us. Well, Speaker 2 00:32:58 Those, those are all my women too, so yes, Speaker 0 00:33:00 Exactly, exactly. Speaker 2 00:33:01 My teachers April. Speaker 0 00:33:03 <laugh> exactly. So we're all connected there. That's so beautiful. So Leslie, I'm wondering if you have a favorite verse or quote that inspires you to embrace hope and being resilient? Speaker 2 00:33:13 Well, I thought a lot about that cause I have a lot of scripted. Speaker 0 00:33:16 Yes I could imagine. Speaker 2 00:33:18 But instead it's a poem from Mary Oliver, this beloved poet. I know a lot of your listeners, if they have done any of our programs, retreats processes has it. And there's one that I've been reading every day called when I am among the trees. And it's very short if I could read it. Um, please. So it says, when I am among the trees, especially the willows and the honey locust equally the beach, the Oaks and the Pines, they give off such hints of gladness. I would almost say that they save me and daily. I am so distant from the hope of myself in which I have goodness and discernment and never hurry through the world, but walk slowly and bow often around me, the trees stir in their leaves and call out, stay awhile. The light flows from their branches and they call again, it's simple. They say, and you two have come into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled with light and to shine. Speaker 2 00:34:28 So she's one of my favorite poets and it, every poem speaks to me, but that one in particular, you know, when I don't think any of us at this moment in time are feeling the hope of ourselves with everything that's going on. But in order to like stay a while and just know that we are called to be filled with light and to shine, it's just a reminder each day that I can keep stepping forward. I don't need to be afraid and I can be who God's calling me to be, which just shine your light and um, step forward with hope and faith. Speaker 0 00:35:12 Yeah. So beautiful. Speaker 2 00:35:15 Thanks. Speaker 0 00:35:16 So how are you cultivating hope today Speaker 2 00:35:20 In this very moment? <laugh> Speaker 0 00:35:22 It could be this very, you know, whatever the moment means to you. Speaker 2 00:35:25 Well, I mean, I think my, my continued journey towards releasing this anxiety, these triggers the things that aren't serving me, I think there's nothing that gives me more hope when I have moments throughout my day, where other long or short that make me feel centered and whole and joyful and grateful. Um, I think when that inner life and is stirring and, and at peace, there's nothing that feels better. And I think that that's why having health is so, so important, whether it's mental, physical, spiritual, and I think it's all one to me mm-hmm <affirmative> um, then that kind of allows me to sort of step out and, um, reconnect with friends and dig more deeply into my work and take moments of rest and have more balance. And um, I mean, cultivating hope, just living in a new town, it's exciting to explore new places and find new little treasures, whether it's my favorite new coffee place or, you know, an independent bookstore or, um, where everyone should buy their books because <laugh>, they need to they've survived greatly in this time. Um, or just get a lot of good work done, whatever it is. It's, it's sort of hope, hope for me, cultivating hope is this internal thing for me, because I've struggled for so long without it mm-hmm, <affirmative> on a consistent basis that the more consistency I have in that, then everything else works out fine. Speaker 0 00:37:07 Yeah. That's good. And you know, I'm also thinking about, you've got this kind of personal journey that you've been on, but I just think about, you know, it, it's so beautiful how God works, right. To take those challenges that we have personally, and then kind of sh shares with us a vision for how we might be able to, to help others. Yeah. Right. And so, um, you know, my next question is, you know, do you have a project you're working on or do you know, do you wanna share with us about, um, you know, what yeah. What, what your project is that you're working on or what your vocation is that that is part of your story. And I just am seeing such a beautiful synergy there of this cultivating hope and taking care of yourself and then how that is impacting. And particularly now in this season, you're, you're now your, your, your, your audience, your, your constituency base is, is young girls is young women, right. Yeah. As girls. So I just am really excited about that. And, and I I'd love to hear more about that. Speaker 2 00:38:09 Well, I just first wanna say that I, I love what you say about, you know, taking your challenges while we talked about taking your challenges and using it to, to be a blessing for others or find meaning. And, and I feel like that's intentional. I think that there, I'm sure there are many, many people that don't choose this journey and there's, it's no not right or wrong, but, or maybe there they are, there's too much healing to be done. But I think that part of resilience for me is making that choice. So, and I don't do it well every day or every day, but I think that that's, that's an intention that I sort of set. So, um, but in terms of my project, I would say that it's my nonprofit one world girl, which I know you know about, and you've supported so much when I was working with you. Speaker 2 00:39:06 Um, one world girl is a nonprofit that I started in 2017, uh, works in the New York metropolitan area. And it helps equip girls to be change makers. Um, we have sort of been a small and mighty organization since we started in 2017, COVID hit us and, um, you know, sort of funding stopped and growth stopped, but we still continued to, um, live into our mission, which is working with girls on sort of a yearly basis. We have a youth advisory council that goes through a year of mentoring and leadership programs and all different sorts of workshops and community opportunities. And they create what we call a take action project at the end of their school year that picks a societal issue that matters to them that they're passionate about. And then they step out and they create some sort of project that helps bring about positive change. Speaker 2 00:40:02 Um, and so I think one of the blessings for me is that with COVID, and also then with my move up to Westchester and, um, getting other work outside of the RCA where I'm also serving girls through the Y WCA of central Westchester and white Plains, I really was able to hone in on what makes one world girl unique, what, how it's specifically serving girls in ways that others may not be, and how do I wanna go forward so that it's very meaningful and I'm really stepping into where God's calling me. And so I think that's really the project I'm working on now is I'm sort of tweaking and adjusting from all the things I've learned in the past three years and getting ready to relaunch in the New York metropolitan area, particularly up here in Westchester, where we're gonna be offering this one year mentoring program. Speaker 2 00:41:00 As I explained the youth advisory council for girls to really go on a journey with us, there's so many wonderful programs. A lot of them though are one offs where you go in and out of a school, you go in and out of an organization. And this allows these young women to travel with us for the 10 months of the school year. And we can really see transformation, really see growth. And it's not just about them becoming leaders and change makers, but it's about supporting them fully mind, body spirit. There's a huge mental health component in what we do, cuz everybody needs mindfulness and needs to connect within. Um, so that's what I'm hoping for this summer to sort of get all the pieces together and relaunch it in a way that works for the, my evolving story and also within the community and serves that need. Speaker 0 00:41:51 Yeah, that's so inspiring. Um, can you maybe just share a little bit about like where the idea for one world girl came from and sure. Just tell us a little bit more about the backstory because you know, um, it's always so exciting for, for, uh, you know, those of us that are part of this lavish hope community to kind of hear of like, how did it get started, right? Like when, when God calls us to do this, these kind of brave things, right. Like just launch an non-profit like, I know it's no small thing, right. Speaker 2 00:42:20 Not for the faint of heart at Speaker 0 00:42:21 All. Right, right. So just a little, little tidbit, maybe about, um, little overview of how, how that idea came up and how you got it going and all of that and Speaker 2 00:42:29 Sure. Hear, well, I will say in hindsight I had no idea what I was getting into and building a nonprofit from scratch without one scent in the bank is not for the faint of heart, but I was at in 2017. Um, I had been serving a church community out on long island and that, that, uh, job actually en ended. And I was trying to figure out what was next. And I'd already started doing some work with you at the RCA, but I also had sort of half my week to play with. And I recognized that I really wanted to continue serving women and girls. And there were a couple of things because of my own life journey that were important to me. And one were the arts as a tool for learning. I, I was lucky to work on Broadway and the theater community doing theater arts education. Speaker 2 00:43:19 And I saw the power of arts based learning and creative learning to not only build leadership skills, but build life lessons and help outta the box, thinking collaboration, self confidence, and all those things that we want to have. And we want our young people to have, I also saw the real challenges that were growing in our country around the other, around the fear of diversity of difference of incivility around difference. And so I really wanted to bring girls together and have, um, conversations of with girls of different experiences and backgrounds and beliefs. And that also came from all of the global travel I got, got to do at the RCA and on my own where I met women and girls from different parts of the world with different religious beliefs, different cultures, ethnicities, and that only strengthened my own faith and my own beliefs in what I believed about myself. Speaker 2 00:44:15 So arts based, learning diversity, and then the idea of taking action. Like I wanted to create something like I've always lived up my faith through action, through serving, and it's always given me much more than I think the people that I've served. And so I really wanted to create a program that not just taught them leadership in theory, but gave them opportunities to use their voice, to take action. And so those three things, um, art space learning, bringing together girls from diverse backgrounds and creating programs where they actually got to take action in their community were the, are really the three priorities of one world girl and I've always been. And so I think that taking that, all those things are infused in our year long council, youth advisory council program, and is something that I think for me, helped change my life and helped me grow and expand. And I hope the same for the girls that are part of our part of our program. Speaker 0 00:45:17 That's fantastic. Leslie, thank you. What a, what an inspiration and I'm, I'm so glad you ju you know, like you came alive when you just shared this. I know. So I'm so glad we're, we're closing out this, uh, this interview, this conversation with like real lots of energy and, um, and just, I think it is exciting because it's like, you know, when in scripture it says, you know, behold, I'm doing a new thing, says the Lord, do you not perceive it? Right. So it's like where, right, right. Um, uh, Isaiah 43 and 19 anyone that's, that's wondering. Uh, but, but it is important that we attend to those things that God is stirring in us. Right. And that, even though it's not for the faint of heart and like, if you knew then what you know now and know all that kind of stuff, right. Speaker 0 00:45:56 That sometimes, you know, we just, we just step out in faith and, and make it happen. And, you know, I know I've seen, um, I've seen you at work over these past years with one world girl. And, um, I've attended some of the events, my own, my own daughters and other community members. My niece have, have attended events and, and just seen the impact that it has. And I love this, um, this piece around the arts based learning, Leslie, um, we didn't have a whole lot of time to talk about that today, but I think that that's another piece, you know, you were talking so much about, you know, God's, uh, uh, the natural, right. The general revelation of God, which is the beauty of God's creation right. In nature. And then part of, I think, how we're able to connect with that is also like through the arts. Speaker 0 00:46:42 Right. There's something that's so important. And, um, yeah. Can you just say a little something about that art space? I know you had that, you know, you had your experience with Broadway and I know you, like you did this amazing, um, you know, you went down and helped those kids post, uh, post hurricane Katrina down in new Orleans. And then you've just been able to, um, to avail certain, especially like kids from underserved communities, given them opportunities to engage in the arts as a place of healing. Um, and so can, can you just maybe give us a little snippet of that? Speaker 2 00:47:12 Yeah. Well, I mean, I think Speaker 0 00:47:13 It's so beautiful Speaker 2 00:47:14 For me. The arts creates this safe space. I mean, I think if you asked any adult to stand up and do a dance class, a lot of them would like run away <laugh>. But when, when you're, when you're given crayons and markers, or you're asked to think use a different part of your brain to create something, I think it creates a safe space for you to talk about issues that might be hard for you to talk about. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. I mean, that's why there's so many beautiful, amazing plays and musicals on really hard topics. Cause people will be able to go and see it and, and absorb it as entertainment, but still leave with the lessons. And so I think that there's, I read this really interesting article about, and I might get some of this wrong, but primary imagination versus secondary imagination and primary imagination is what the students learn from what I understand when they go to school and memorize, memorize dates and stuff for tests, the secondary imagination is when you learn something with the whole of your body. Speaker 2 00:48:20 So when you're drawing and you're using your arms and your fingers to work with clay or draw, when you're moving your body through movement, or you're acting something out in improv, you're getting a deeper sense of learning in a way that just memorizing dates and reading books don't do. And it actually, um, solidifies more, more in your body. And so I, we, I didn't choose arts for that because I think arts just in general, just opens up a world of, you know, your ability to use your voice and share who you are and, and, and play and role play and, and imagine, and dream and all the things that our faith journey teaches us is important. But I think it's, I think for me, it's really about play and it allows us to do it in a way that's not scary. And so for me, the arts, don't not only entertain and just have incredibly incredible talent and stuff, but it also is a way of healing and transforming and learning about ourselves and using our voice in a way that's not so scary. And that's fun. Speaker 0 00:49:31 Yeah. So it's, it, it sounds like it's, um, it's a welcoming space, right? For, for one, to be able to explore these things that in other spaces it might feel, um, scary as you said, or constrictive. Yep. So really beautiful. Well, Leslie, thank you so much. You're welcome. You've given us so much to think about and, and, um, and just sharing your, you know, the, the transformation that you've experienced yourself, thank you for your, um, your willingness to share that journey. Um, it is, uh, it was interesting listening to your, uh, your sharing today, as I'm reflecting on, this is gonna air in may the month of may, and that is mental health awareness month. And so that's just a sign of God's <laugh> God's grace on us connecting us in that way that, um, that this will be also a blessing to those who are seeking resourcing around that. So thank you so much for that feel welcome. Oh yeah. And God bless you as you, uh, do your reboot of one world girl. And thank you all of the young women that are gonna be blessed and encouraged and lifted up and transformed in leadership, uh, through that program. So all the best to you is you, uh, move through the summer. Thank you so much for being here today. Speaker 2 00:50:37 You're welcome. It's my pleasure. And Speaker 0 00:50:48 Thanks so much for listening to this final episode of lavish hope. Season three. I hope this episode has offered insights and sparked ideas for what lavish hope, resilience and overcoming mean for your own life in calling as well as those around you. If you'd like to connect with Leslie, she'd love to hear from you. You can email [email protected] and that's L E S L E Y [email protected], or visit her [email protected] world, girl.org. If you've enjoyed this lavish hope podcast, please subscribe, leave a review and reshare any place here on social. You can also connect with me directly at ESA, rca.org. We look forward to being with you again for season four in the fall of 2022. This episode is brought to you by faith word.org, an online learning community where you'll find ideas for living out your faith reflections on scripture and church stories about how other Christians are following God's call and resources to bring your own church or organization along for the ride. Speaker 0 00:51:57 The lavish show podcast is produced by Anna Radcliffe with assistant production by Lorraine Parker sound designed by Garrett Steyer and web support by grace Reuter hosted by yours, truly Liz Tesa. And let me just add as this season three concludes that this truly is a team effort. So big shout out to all my colleagues and the wonderful ways that they help bring this podcast to all of you. I also wanna say thank you to you, my faithful listeners, what a beautiful community of lavish hope we've created. Thanks so much for being a part of it until next time, may you find ways to cultivate lavish hope and build resilience each and every day. God bless you.

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