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Wake Up to the Joy of You, with Agapi Stassinopoulos

Wake Up to the Joy of You, with Agapi Stassinopoulos


Episode 56: Wake Up to the Joy of You, with Agapi Stassinopoulos

Agapi Stassinopoulos inspires people around the world to find the joy in their lives. She believes that all humans go through the same things but yet we feel separated, so she encourages us to be open to connecting with others and become more mindful. In this episode, Agapi talks about gratitude, finding our center, making your own destiny, and dealing with your inner critic. This special episode also includes a guided meditation for you to follow along.


Episode Transcript

[music]

00:01 RG: Welcome to the Ellevate Podcast: Conversations With Women Changing the Face of Business. And now your hosts, Kristy Wallace and Maricella Herrera.

00:13 Kristy Wallace: Welcome to the Ellevate Podcast. You may be listening to us in the car, on a plane, walking to work on the subway, maybe on the treadmill. If you are, please send me your good exercise vibes. But wherever you're listening, we thank you for listening. I cannot tell you, and I know I've said this before, and I'm gonna keep saying it because it's important; thank you, thank you, thank you for your tweets, for your emails, and for coming up to us at events and on the street and all over to tell us how much you love this podcast because that's why we're doing it; we want to share stories of amazing women with you. We want to inspire you. We want to really leverage the power of the Ellevate Network community to lift each other up, to support each other, to inspire one another, and to also show that it's okay to fail, it's okay to fall because we're all right here behind you, making sure that you don't fall far.

01:12 KW: So today, we have a really inspirational speaker. Her name is Agapi. And Maricella, I feel like I wanna give you a hug after my conversation with Agapi in which she and I also hugged because she really believes in the power of supporting one another and hugging.

01:36 Maricella Herrera: I'm nodding.

01:36 KW: Can I give you a hug?

[chuckle]

01:38 KW: I'm looking at you, [01:38] ____ like, "Do you wanna hug me, Maricella?"

01:40 MH: Maybe later, Kristy. [chuckle] I did hear in the interview that you guys were like, "Oh, we'll hug after this," which was really fun.

01:49 KW: We hugged during it. We did hug during it. We were being filmed. So we are starting to do the podcasts live. We did a Facebook Live, while we were taping it. So if you're not following us on Facebook, I hope you will and check out our Facebook Live. And we have some exciting news about another live event. You wanna share that, Maricella?

02:11 MH: Yeah. So actually, we'll be doing the Ellevate Podcast live from New York City. It'll be Kristy, myself and a few guests who will be joining us up on stage for some conversations. So if you're in New York, please join us live. If you are not in New York, we will be also live-streaming it, and then airing the recording afterwards, through the podcast. You can find details on our website at ellevatenetwork.com.

02:41 KW: Cool. It's gonna be fun. It will really be a fun time. I'm already coming up with some good questions to embarrass people.

[chuckle]

02:49 KW: But yeah, Agapi, great interview today. I can't wait for you to hear it. We talk a lot about meditation, about just how to deal with certain stressors and situations that we all come across that can overwhelm us, that can kind of get us down, but just some great coping mechanisms to really deal with that. And she's got a fantastically inspirational story, as well. For those that don't know, she is Arianna Huffington's sister, and those genes in that family, it's all about women taking names and taking charge. The genes in that family, there's some pretty amazing women.

03:33 MH: Yeah. Honestly, even when Agapi was here, you could see how she's happy. She just really looks happy, and you just can't not see it.

03:46 KW: Yeah. Well, so she shared some of her tricks with us, but [chuckle] I haven't started following all of them yet. One of which is that you should not be looking at your phone within, I think, an hour of bedtime. And she's trying to hold me to that. She's been really good about making sure that I abide by that, but I haven't started. That's really hard for me.

04:08 MH: I can't. That's so hard.

04:11 KW: Yeah. I don't know. I'm gonna commit to it. I'm gonna try. So do we have questions or polls, today?

04:17 MH: We have a poll! We asked our community how they deal with their inner critic. How do you deal with your inner critic?

04:25 KW: Not well. Not well. I'm one of those people, I'm still berating myself, mentally, about things that happened when I was 18. Yeah. It's not great.

04:36 MH: Yeah. I'm pretty much the same way. I have a very hard time. I'm a Virgo, and so are you.

04:43 KW: Libra.

04:44 MH: Oh, you're a Libra? Yeah, I remember... You're September, too. But I am a Virgo, and we are the most judgmental people ever, and it's usually directed at ourselves. So, anyway, we did ask our members how they deal with their inner critic, and 41% said they look for ways to improve themselves, which is not surprising with women and our desire for lifelong learning, I would say. 22% said they reach out to their support network for feedback. 14% meditate, some of what you were talking about. 8% say they make a list of all the things that they've accomplished. 6% don't; do not deal with that. And 4% ignore it, which I guess the "don't" is really that they don't know how to.

05:33 KW: Yeah.

05:35 MH: [chuckle] And someone actually wrote that they remind themselves that, "They are not their thoughts," which I thought was kind of nice.

05:41 KW: Yeah, I like that. I do like that. That's good. Well, for all of you that answered our poll, and for everyone else who's interested in learning how to cope with your thoughts in day-to-day situations, we hope that you'll learn from this podcast and tell us about it. Share with us your thoughts. You can tweet at us @EllevateNtwk, #EllevatePod. Send us an email podcast@elevatenetwork.com; we wanna hear from you. And as always, thanks so much for your support. We would love it if you would tell your friends, your family, your co-workers about this fantastic podcast that we are producing for you. Rate it, review it, share your love. It means so much, and definitely helps to keep us going. So thanks to all of you for listening, and we hope you enjoy this interview with Agapi.

[music]

06:47 KW: I'm so happy to have you here.

06:48 Agapi: So happy to be here.

06:49 KW: This is gonna wake up your day. Everyone who is watching us, who's participating in this; get ready for just a high impact, intense, exciting conversation around the little things that we can do every day, every week, every year to wake up to the joy of you. Check it out, but we're gonna give you a sneak peek today to talk all about what went into creating this fantastic guide. This is a book I couldn't put down. And I truly, honestly am not just saying that because it's real, it's relevant, small, bite-size, easy to digest chapters with action items. It's a great book.

07:29 Agapi: Thank you so much.

07:31 KW: We're happy to have you here.

07:31 Agapi: Thank you sou much. I'm so happy to be here. I love Ellevate. I love everything that Ellevate is doing. And I just love the concept of Ellevate because that's one of the things and the principles I believe in, if we could start a day with being elevated and "How do you stay elevated till the end of your day?" Then it's a good day.

07:52 KW: And how do you surround yourself with those that are elevating you, as well?

07:56 Agapi: Exactly.

07:56 KW: Not just mentally, but in your career, and in your life and helping to get you ahead?

08:01 Agapi: Exactly. And how do we do that for each other? And I feel very blessed because as you know, Ariana and I are very close, my sister. And we work together, we work together now with... We live together actually, too, which is...

08:17 KW: I did not know that.

08:18 Agapi: Yeah, we live together. It's the Greek tradition, you get married, divorced and then you move back with your family [laughter]

08:22 KW: Okay. That works.

08:24 Agapi: I don't necessarily recommend the divorce part, but if you happen to be... We're just very, very blessed that we have each other, and I say that because I'm very proactive in helping women support each other in everything they do, and being transparent. And I think part of the thing that happens, Kristy, is that we hide ourselves in our true emotions. And as you know, I talk a lot about that in the book, is "How do you be transparent?" Because all of us go through the same things, and to pretend we don't is a disservice to our heart. And we suffer. We suffer this pain, this separation... And know the feelings, that's why I wrote about them. This feeling of feeling separate. And at some point in my life I said, "I'm gonna be the one who makes the first move. I'm gonna be transparent. I'm gonna say how I feel. I'm gonna open up my heart to people." And people really, really wanted that. People want the connection.

09:28 KW: They do. They absolutely do. And you talk a lot in the book just about when we're in relationships with others, and a relationship could be a marriage, or it could be "I just met you on the street for the first, and we had some sort of interaction."

09:49 Agapi: Yes.

09:50 KW: All these interactions, and how we are able to process and respond to those interactions. And you had told a story yesterday about an interaction with someone who was negative, and that was a part of the book that really resonated with me because I have a hard time when I'm with somebody who's negative; knowing how to respond to that and it, oftentimes, impacts me very deeply.

10:13 Agapi: Yes. Well, let's just take the basic thing: Airports.

10:16 KW: Yeah.

10:17 Agapi: You go into those lines of... I mean, that's a very basic... Everybody goes through that in the security line, and the people behind your are edgy, the people in front of you are edgy. And have you ever seen when you take too long, the people who check you out are stressed? So you want to have a good flight... By the time you arrive on your flight, you have everybody stressed.

10:41 KW: Yeah, you need a double Dewar's...

[laughter]

10:43 KW: Just to process, right? But maybe that's just me.

10:48 Agapi: Or something. I won't say, "Well, hug someone." [chuckle]

10:53 KW: Maybe that's a little bit cheaper and better for you. [chuckle]

10:55 Agapi: You know what, by the way, I was at the UN yesterday, and I was speaking at a conference for social entrepreneurs and people who were doing amazing work, and everybody was networking and so intense saving the problems of world. And I did a guided meditation for them. And before I started I said, "Now, I know you've met a lot of people, and you shook a lot of hands, but how many of you have really hugged here? Each other?" And I said, "Turn to somebody and hug them." Well, I have to tell you, the whole room lit up. It's so simple, just a hug, opens up the bridge. And people at first are a little shy, but then they love it. And I feel every day, we have to make that heartfelt connection, that's... Do you feel that's something that we could possibly do?

11:43 KW: Yes. Do you want a hug right now?

11:45 Agapi: Oh, my God! Let's hug.

11:49 KW: Alright. That's good.

11:49 Agapi: Oh, my God! When you came in here, I just wanted to hug you because you were glowing. And I felt like, "I want to hug that woman," but then you first connect. But I think...

12:00 KW: I feel really happy right now. That was great. You're a good hugger.

12:04 Agapi: I'm a good hugger, yes. Remember that when you meet me, ask for a hug. But I feel the challenges we all have with these people who are shut down or unhappy, and don't you feel that we all get affected because we feel each other's emotions?

12:19 KW: Oh, yes. Absolutely.

12:21 Agapi: So one of my keys that I have in the book, and one of the chapters that I love, Kristy, is called "Finding your linchpin," and finding the thing that really centers you. So start your day with something, a little practice, where you don't immediately take your devices, because that's, most of us, what they do. You get up, and you go, "Oh, my God. The day! I've got so much going on." But even just putting your hand in your heart and your tummy, connecting the emotions, the emotional center, the child-self, your heart, and taking even deep breaths right now. Do you know most of us don't breathe? We have very shallow breaths. And then we operate from fight-or-flight, we get into a panic. And there's no reason to panic about anything, even when things are not going your way, especially then.

13:13 Agapi: If you come into your calmness and center yourself and take deep breaths, and there are so many guided meditations... I mean, in this book I have 32 guided meditations, where I help people, "Slow down your breath. Bring in a beautiful light-filled energy. Create your waves of calmness, and start to practice how you can be more connected to yourself, and when you have butterflies or things that are making you anxious, address them." Ask yourself, "What's making you anxious now, Agapi? What's going on?" And most of it is mental.

13:51 Agapi: We create these catastrophic, disastrous thinkings in our heads, and we have to train ourselves. And part of the art of meditation is that we can train ourselves, and the greatest key is gratitude. If you're grateful for this moment... I'm grateful right here being at these gorgeous offices, talking to all of you, talking this beautiful woman, who is a mom as well as a wife and a career woman and going... I feel your calmness and your centeredness. So connecting and appreciating and being grateful for each other and yourself. I started the New Year by saying to everybody, "If you want to have a better year and a better life, write a thank you letter to yourself about all the things you did last year, and don't take yourself for granted."

14:42 KW: Yep. I love that. So the listeners of the Ellevate podcast know that I, in the past few months, started meditating. I was feeling stressed, and I was feeling overwhelmed, and made an effort to start meditating every day. And like you say in the book, it takes some time, I think, for us to to learn how to clear your mind, to let things go, to really ease into just the full moment and impact, but it's 10 minutes a day for me. I schedule it in my calendar.

15:23 Agapi: Oh, my God. That's so beautiful.

15:25 KW: It has had such an impact, and calming. You said I seem so calm, it's because I'm meditating, but it's had such an impact. And the breathing has been huge. There's so many times when I'm starting to feel overwhelmed, I'm feeling stressed, I'm feeling frustrated. I was sitting at home last night, my son knocked an entire glass of wine all over my couch and I just was like...

15:51 Agapi: Breathe. Yes. It's on the couch.

15:54 KW: I'm like, "Okay. Alright. This is okay. I can deal with this." But it does, as you're saying...

16:00 Agapi: Perspective.

16:00 KW: It centers you and gives you that moment to just take a second and then react.

16:09 Agapi: And really, when you practice that, it becomes second nature. But like everything else, like brushing your teeth, or going to the gym, or whatever we do, building these habits is something that is not gonna happen overnight. And that's why I wanted to write a book that was a year-long book because I don't believe in quick fixes. And I think we get very impatient with ourselves and we go, "Oh, God, I got upset again. Oh, God... " And, yes, okay, you got upset about this, or you reacted, or you shut down, or you judged something, or you judged yourself, or you compared yourself; comparison is something we all do constantly. An in the chapter that I have, is called "The art of letting go," I love this [16:49] ____, you just observe it. You just observe it. What gets us to feel really locked in, in ourselves, is we judge it. We judge it. So it's okay you got upset, maybe when your son spilled, but when you judge it, and you judge him, and then you feel you suddenly get trapped in our own judgments.

17:12 Agapi: And I think part... That's why I talk about gratitude, and that's why I talk about loving, make nothing more important than the loving because we are loving people. And we have these pressures, we do, on ourselves of thinking we should be more, we should be doing more and I would say, "You're not a human doing, you're a human being." But our world, and especially in New York, we get so attached to doing more, and hurrying, and doing the next thing and the next thing and the next thing. Suddenly, you go to bed, and you go, "What's the point? I just did so much, but I wasn't connected to myself, to my heart, to another human being."

17:56 KW: What role do you see technology playing in being the problem, but in also being the solution?

18:03 Agapi: Well, technology is a great gift, but we have allowed technology to be the masters of our lives. So that, how many of us... Social media is an incredible gift, but at the same time, the pressure that we should catch up, we should be posting all the time, who has how many likes, we compare ourselves. And so social media, instead of supporting us, becomes something that we can also use against ourselves. You agree? Do you find that?

18:35 KW: Yes, absolutely.

18:37 Agapi: And I say, really be ruthless with yourself, saying, "I'm not gonna go down the line and look at what everybody's children, cats and clothes look like." I've just really been ruthless with myself to say, "Cut it down." Not allowing ourselves to be less creative, because this thing pulls you. The world of the social media is so magnetic, and before you know it, you've gone down the line and you've lost half an hour, an hour, thinking about what all these other people are doing.

19:13 KW: I mean, for me, personally, technology has become... I mean, it's great. I'm connected to people that I likely would not be without technology, but to your point, it's become a mechanism with which I judge myself, "I'm not that skinny like she is. Or I'm not a great parent, or I'm not traveling. I don't have this... "

19:35 Agapi: Or I didn't go to the Caribbean?

19:38 KW: I want that, I want, I want. And it's also created a mechanism by which I'm always on all the time. And you have mentioned earlier, not waking up in the morning and immediately grabbing your phone; I wake up in the morning and I immediately grab my phone. The last thing I do at night, and the first thing I do in the morning, involves technology and I know that that's a bad practice.

20:01 Agapi: Yes. And at Thrive Global, we talk a lot about that. Okay, how about if I become your joy-buddy, and I support you for 32 days? And I will support you, and you can support me as well, where we actually take half an hour before? How about half an hour before bed?

20:23 KW: Okay.

20:23 Agapi: Would you all do that with us? Kristy and I, are gonna be buddies on this.

20:26 KW: Let's do it. I'm committed.

20:27 Agapi: And then we can text each other. Yesterday a friend of mine, I was texting... I just came back from LA, so I'm still on West Coast time, and Ariana and I have this rule to go to bed before midnight because that's a good time to.

20:42 KW: That's a good rule.

20:43 Agapi: And I always break that rule. [chuckle]

20:48 KW: So you're a night owl?

20:48 Agapi: Yesterday, at 11:30, and I texted a friend who is part of our tribe and she said, "Go to bed, now. Go to sleep, now." I said, "Okay, you are my last text, and it's a good text to end the day with." And she supported me. And then I took my Rumi book, I love poetry.

21:07 KW: Oh, nice.

21:08 Agapi: And I was reading Rumi, and I play my music before I go to bed; very calming music, which I will share with you. And I went to bed feeling so much calmer... And that's the other thing, I take my devices... If you remember nothing else, please, please take your devices and take them, escort them out of the bedroom. Put them outside in the hallway, plug them in. Make a habit of that because, subconsciously, you're connecting to your world. When we go to sleep, we've got to disconnect to go back into our soul, to our spirit and charge ourselves, and have that moment.

21:49 Agapi: And always, even if you don't write it down, just tell yourself, "Thank you for today. I'm grateful for this day. I'm grateful for all these things that happened. I'm grateful, even, for the tests that came." So go to bed thanking yourself and life, and then start your day without immediately going... If they're not next to your bed, have your water, brush your teeth and then take ten minutes, five minutes to just center. And if it is walking out of the house and going for a walk, whatever it takes, before you connect back to the world. I think our life is more like, "Connect and disconnect. Plug in and un-plug in."

22:31 KW: Yep. And a lot of is is about that perspective too. For those that work with me, I'm a bit of an over-sharer, but I shared that I am having a big birthday this year, and leading up to that, I've spent all this time almost berating myself over the things that I felt that I hadn't accomplished.

22:52 Agapi: Yes. Such a bad habit, huh?

22:53 KW: And then, I sort of just changed my perspective, and celebrated what I had accomplished and all the possibilities for me to accomplish in the future. Just like that change of how I looked at it.

23:04 Agapi: That switch, yes.

23:06 KW: Instead of, "I haven't done X, Y and Z," but, "Wow, I have years ahead of me to do X, Y and Z. And I'm gonna do it."

23:15 Agapi: So beautiful.

23:17 KW: And so looking at that perspective and we, as part of the Ellevate team, recently did an exercise, we talked about the things that we can do every day, and one of which is write down what you've accomplished, "So what did you do today?" And write down what made you happy that day.

23:33 Agapi: Yes.

23:34 KW: And so at the end of that week, at the end of the month, at the end of the year, you can look back and be like, "Look at everything I accomplished! And these are the things that made me happy. And what brings me joy, let me continue to do that in my life. And so we move so fast with technology, and life, and careers and everything else, that we don't stop to really think about what are the things that I'm doing...

23:56 Agapi: And acknowledge ourselves, and take... Yes, of course.

23:58 KW: And everybody, all of you, are doing so much.

24:00 Agapi: Yes. So much. And to really be conscious of having the joy and write what we're doing. In fact, if your joy isn't present in what you're doing, why not? I mean, check it out. Find your joy. There's this great quote that Stevenson has at the book, and it says, "Find your joy far beyond singing. Give it a voice because to miss the joy is to miss all." And I think part of what kills our joy is that we are so hard on ourselves. And it's the inner critic, the obnoxious roommate, that's always saying, "Oh, really? You think you look good? Well, those jeans don't fit you anymore. And what about those wrinkles? And you haven't done much. Look at Mary; she's done way more than you." And it's constantly undermining us. And we have to be ruthless with that.

24:54 Agapi: Do you know that in the chapter, "Make your health a priority," I have the facts about the body and what we're made of. And one of the facts that I love to tell people is that we have approximately 70,000 thoughts a day, and 70% of them are negative. So we have our work cut out for us. We have to support each other, to remind each other. There's not enough good things we can tell each other about each other. Always, please, when you are around other women, and men, support them. Do you know when I tell people, "Thank you so much. I think you are amazing.". And people look at and say, "Really?" I said, "Yes, I think you're amazing."

25:36 Agapi: First of all, the fact that you have three kids, to me, that is like if you never did another thing in your life, [chuckle] you're a Goddess to me. I mean, this woman has three kids. Try to run life while you have three kids to manage as well. And so many of you... I know single moms who say, "I haven't done enough." And I say, "You're a single mom. You're raising a child. You have a career." But we need to reaffirm to each other, and I have an affirmation a friend of mine gave me that I love, which is, "I surrender the need to do more and be more and to be all things to all people. I surrender the need to do more and be more." Because this thing of "I haven't done enough," is what I call in this book "enough of not feeling enough." It's an underlining thing that we have, right?

26:27 KW: Enough.

26:27 Agapi: Enough.

26:28 KW: We are all worthy, and you are.

26:30 Agapi: Yes, and deserving.

26:32 KW: Yes, and you are. We are fantastic. You are fantastic, I'm telling you, right now, you are fantastic!

26:37 Agapi: Thank you.

26:37 KW: What is your favorite chapter of the book?

26:40 Agapi: I love them all. They're like all my kids, but I love the confidence chapter; how to find your confidence and be bold because for many years in my life... I was an actress, originally. I started as an actress, and my career wasn't happening. And I ended up finding my calling in a New York City bus where I performed for one woman after I hadn't gotten an part in a Greek, big series in plays. And I thought, "Well, I'm Greek. I'll get a little something." And that woman turned to me and said, "My dear girl, you are so talent... " I didn't know this woman. She was like an angel from heaven. And she cried when I performed for her Joan of Arc. She said to me, "My dear girl, you are so talented, why are you waiting for anybody to hire you? Go do your own thing. Go do your own thing." And it's almost like she woke me up. It was like a bomb went inside of me, and I realized that I was waiting and I was being the victim of my career. And when she said that, the whole creativity in me started to spark. And a few months later, I came up with this idea to do a one-woman show, and it was called, "Conversations with a Goddess." It's what basically started my career in everything.

28:09 Agapi: But what happened is that I became the leading person in my life. I started to take the lead actions, and I wasn't waiting for anybody to hire me. So that's why I love this chapter. And let me tell you something, out there, my friends, when you are about to do something that takes courage, you don't feel comfortable. You don't feel, "Well, now I'm gonna do a one-woman show, and it's great." You feel terrified. You shake, you go, "Oh, my God, I can't believe I'm gonna do that." And every part of you who doubt you is going crazy inside of you. And it says, "Don't do that. It's gonna fail. You're gonna be terrible. You can't do that." And it starts to stop you. And it's going beyond that fear, and beyond that resistance, and beyond those voices in your head, and doing it. And I guarantee you if you ask any person who has started something new and who has made something happen, they by-passed their fear, they became bigger than their fear, and then they realized what the stuff they're made of. The stuff we're made of is mighty: Our spirit, our hearts, our intelligence. But we have to give ourselves permission to go there.

29:26 KW: So you had written about giving yourself permission to be the unique person you are?

29:31 Agapi: Yes, exactly.

29:32 KW: Many of the things we talked about today were, "It's okay to be afraid, but you should challenge yourself."

29:38 Agapi: Absolutely.

29:39 KW: But if you have your linchpin, you kind of meditate and you breathe and you sort of center yourself, and it's almost like your armor that will help you tackle that challenge, head-on. Because the more we sort of go outside of our comfort zone, the more we're able to continue elevating ourselves.

30:01 Agapi: One of the greatest fears is that "I'm gonna be ridiculed. I'm gonna fail. They're not gonna like me. I'm not gonna fit in." And it doesn't matter. It's not about them. It's really not about them. Your life is about you. And the other thing that I want to...

30:19 KW: I wanna tattoo that right here. Your life is... It's about me. [chuckle]

30:23 Agapi: It's about me.

30:24 KW: For me, right?

30:25 Agapi: It doesn't matter what people think of me...

30:26 KW: I'm living for me.

30:27 Agapi: I'm living for me. That's it. Right? I'm living for me. There you go. We just got a new affirmation, "I'm living for me."

30:34 KW: #@2017. [chuckle]

30:36 Agapi: Yes. I'm living for me, and then it doesn't matter. And they're gonna like it. And if they don't like it, it's none of your business. What people feel or think about you, it's none of your business. We're such amazing women, such amazing, caring, loving women. We have such power and such love inside of us, and we hide it because we think we should be more.

31:00 KW: We're often told that it's a negative to be emotional. It's a negative just to lead with your heart.

31:07 Agapi: And that's such an error, Kristy, because the heart is an intelligence that's far beyond even the mind. It's the wisdom. And I think, as women, we've abandoned our wisdom and try to fit in in a model of the men, and take that model and we're not gonna succeed that way. Because when you look at a woman who stands in her power, in her heart, in her wisdom, in her compassion, isn't she powerful?

31:36 KW: Yes!

31:37 Agapi: I mean, that's power.

31:38 KW: We need to redefine how we put each other in ourselves, into these set buckets of "You need to think with your mind. You need to have a thick skin. You need to do this you need to do that." And it's so many... Oftentimes, us saying what you need to be versus who you are.

31:54 Agapi: Thick skin. That's beautiful. My God! I forgot to tell us that. Yes. "You need to be like a man." Be who you are.

32:00 KW: Be you.

32:01 Agapi: Be you. It's disarming to see people who are... And it's so rare. And we have a lot of role models these days of women who also are themselves, and they're amazing. Find your own model inside of you and test it. I mean, your life is supposed to be your own script, your own story and, basically, create your life, and start writing your own script, start telling your own story. You matter and you count, just the way you are, like Bruno Mars said.

32:39 KW: Yes. So we wanted to end the podcast today with a guided meditation, which I'm really excited about. This is the first time we're ever doing this. So you're all listening to our first ever guided meditation on the Ellevate podcast, but it's great.

32:47 Agapi: Yes! It's going to be short and sweet. So wherever you are, unless you're driving, but if you're at the desk, if you're at home working, wherever you're listening to, other than a car, take a few moments right now and just relax, close your eyes. It's good to uncross your hands and uncross your feet so the energy flows throughout your body. And I'm just going to count to four, and we're going to be slowing down our breath. So take a deep breath with one, two, three, four. And now hold your breath one, two, three, four. As you exhale, exhale with the sound in the count of four. Ahh. Nice. Shake your shoulders. So often our shoulders get very tight because we carry the burden of the world. Turn your neck around left and right, just stretch your neck a little bit to the left and the right. And start to attune yourself to the rising and the falling of your breath. So you watch yourself take a very slowing down the breath, it's a very powerful technique to come into your calmness. You hold it for a second and as you exhale, exhale all your tensions, your worries, the pre-occupations of the day, and allow yourself to center in your heart.

34:42 Agapi: You can put your hand in your heart if you like, and connect with your belly where the emotional heart is centered. So build a bridge between your heart and your feelings and your emotions so you feel connected to yourself. Take a deep breath again and experience yourself being breathed. If your thoughts come about all the things you need to do for the day, it's okay. Just observe the thoughts. You're gonna get right back to them after this moment for yourself. Nothing is gonna go away. Everything is gonna get done. Just observe the thoughts coming in. Don't judge them. Don't make them wrong. Don't try to push them away. Just clouds coming in. Center back to your breath. Your breath is the portal to great worlds of your inner self. Your very breath is the gift of life. As you take your next breath allow allow yourself to receive your breath. Don't take it, just receive it.

36:06 Agapi: And as you exhale, come fully present in your heart. It's like turning your whole attention inside yourself. You can focus in your third eye, which is located between your two eyes in the middle of your forehead, right between your eye brows, is your third eye. It's a good place to put your focus. And this time, as you breathe in, just take a moment to marvel at the gift of your breath. Your breath is given to you as a gift. You have nothing to do with it. In taking in your breath and allowing it to flow through you, you are witnessing the life force that breathes all of us, all of us being breathed by the same breath. So when you experience the power of your gift of your breath, you start to feel a sense of gratitude. How amazing it is that you're being breathed and we're, all of us, being breathed. So allow yourself to receive this gift. You allow yourself to feel your whole body, down to your toes, all the way up to your head. Imagine now that there are just waves of calmness, and you send a positive thought to yourself, your goodness.

37:49 Agapi: You remember what an amazingly beautiful human being you are, no matter what. That you are enough, and that your heart is at ease, knowing that that is yours will never miss you. And that that misses you was never meant for you. So you start to trust your very life force. You project this goodness into your day. You project joy into your day. You project unexpected joy, anticipating joy, and you start to transform anything that you don't want in your thoughts that's not of a positive nature to goodness. Your intention that it's gonna be a good day, good will happen to you, and good is going to meet you; your good meets you.

38:49 Agapi: Fill your heart. Take a deep breath, again. Remember, throughout the day, to slow down the breath and to breathe deeply. All the way, filling your lungs with the gift of your breath. Now, exhale. Come into your stillness, your presence, your trust, your strength, your joy. And as you exhale this time, you can gently open your eyes, come present in the room, wiggle your hands, wiggle your feet, wiggle your shoulders, shake them up, don't be stiff, be loose inside, and see you moving ahead in your day with such joy, calmness and positivity. There you have it.

39:46 KW: Thank you for that. Thank you, Agapi. That was amazing. And I feel centered and lifted, and ready to take on the world.

39:55 Agapi: It's beautiful. It's so simple, so simple. Slowing down the breath is important and the gift of our breath.

40:01 KW: What you were saying earlier, we don't spend enough time really thinking about our breathing but it is so important.

40:05 Agapi: Yes. We take it for granted. Our very breath is our life. I mean, that's it. If we didn't breathe, we wouldn't be alive. Have a beautiful day, my friends.

40:15 KW: Thank you. Thanks so much for joining us.

40:17 Agapi: Thank you, Kristy. Thank you for having me today.

[music]

40:23 KW: Thanks so much for listening to Ellevate. If you like what you hear; help a girl out. Subscribe to the Ellevate podcast on iTunes. Give us five stars and share your review. Also don't forget to follow us on Twitter @ellevatentwk, that's Ellevate network, and become a member. And you can learn all about membership and all the great things that Ellevate network is doing at our website www.ellevatenetwork.com. That's E L L E V A T E network.com. And special thanks to our producer, Katharine Heller, she rocks. And to our voiceover artist, Rachel Griesinger. Thanks so much, and join us next week.


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