Taking in The Together Tour

There’s a lot I don’t know, and that’s putting it mildly.

But I’m a natural seeker, and so I crave knowledge, whether it’s regarding history (say, examining the personal papers of the Founding Fathers for insight into the Great American Experiment) or science (how far has that glacier in Alaska really receded since I stood next to it as a college freshman?) or the spirit (how do the great religious leaders, across the faiths, really feel about redemption?). I like knowing things; always have.

As I age, however, I find myself more and more comfortable with not knowing all the answers. It doesn’t mean that I quit seeking — never that — but it does mean I’m making my way to being okay with the mystery. This is downright wonderful. An incredible relief. A gift.

That being said, I’d like to tell y’all about my night last night: to share with you some of the things I learned.

Because last night I was lucky enough to sit in Atlanta’s Fox Theatre, listening as four astounding women — healers, teachers, faith leaders, writers and activists — shared their stories. As part of something called the Together Tour, speakers Glennon Doyle Melton, Dr. Jacqui Lewis, Seane Corn and Valarie Kaur met onstage as part of “an inclusive, multi-generational gathering where everyone is needed and the audience’s voices are just as important as the storytellers who share the stage.”

Along with several friends, I’d bought a ticket to this event in early summer. I’d heard Glennon Doyle Melton speak two years ago, and fell in love with her beautiful, gut-busting, messy truth-telling. I figured: these days, the world feels particularly rough to me — or, perhaps more likely, I feel more sensitive to the world — and I’m in need of some sheroes (yep, sheroes). Women doing the big, bad, brutal good work.

By the time the event date rolled around, I found myself longing for peace during the clang and clamor of election season. Despite the fact the event was three hours away on a Wednesday night, and meant rearranging everything — kids, dog, work — plus banking on the good grace of my husband, and a dark-as-pitch drive back up into the mountains at one o’clock in the morning, I hoped it would be worth it. I needed it, desperately, to be worth it.

So, despite not knowing much at all, here are some things I know to be true. Things I heard these women say over the course of my evening in Atlanta; things that pinged inside me, in that sweet spot where soul, intellect, and heart meet. I wrote them down in the margins of my program while I sat in the balcony beside my friends. I missed a lot, because each of these brave people had much to say, and I couldn’t write fast enough.

Here goes:

Seane Corne is a yoga teacher and humanitarian. She spoke of losing her beloved father to cancer, and one of the topics she covered was the experience of grief. Grief is an emotion — a scary one — which we tend to numb ourselves to in this country, Corn said. However, it’s a part of the journey, and there is a need for us “to bear witness to the journey as it is.”

Corn said that while lying in bed with her dying father, he shared his regrets, how proud he was of her, how much he loved her, and more. But that she found herself disassociating from the pain, pulling out of the moment. It took many tries for her to really be present, to hear him. She said, “We need to normalize the experience of grief.”

Glennon Doyle Melton talked about the need for us to run towards the pain and the scary things in life, instead of away from them. That we need to do this in spite of the fact that the world tells us — especially us women — to be small and quiet, in oh so many ways. Despite the fact that, “We only talk about shiny feelings in our culture.”

Melton said, “The only thing that grows us is love and pain,” and that, “Grief is just the price of love.” Then — and this one knocked me right in the kisser — she told the audience that we think of growing up and getting older as a series of “becoming,” whether it’s becoming a wife, a mother, a writer, a skinnier, richer version of ourselves. But adulthood, she said, is a process of unbecoming.

Run into the fire of whatever pain you are feeling, Melton said. “It’s not safe, but it’s where the magic is.” And, finally, this: “First the pain and then the rising.”

This is a mere taste of the truths shared over the course of the evening. I only wish all of you—women and men, old and young alike—could’ve been there with me. I walked away with my tank filled. Not absent of fear or free of heartsick for the world, but a bit more ready to walk forward into the mystery.

For more information about the Together Tour and the speakers mentioned above, go to www.togetherlive.com.

Katherine Scott Crawford is a novelist, college English teacher, hiker and mom living in Western North Carolina. Contact her at thewritingscott@gmail.com.

INTERVIEW WITH JENNIFER RUDOLPH WALSH: LITERARY BOSS & TOGETHER CREATOR

“My mission on earth is to share stories so people feel less alone.”

 

I love speaking with people who are passionate. They give off such an infectious vibe that feeds your spirit and leaves you smiling. That is exactly what happened when I spoke with the one and only Jennifer Rudolph Walsh.

 

Known for slaying the literary world as Head of the World Wide Literary Department at William Morris Endeavor (WME) and working with clients such as Oprah Winfrey and Arianna Huffington. She is taking on a whole new adventure as creator of Together. An organization dedicated to connecting people through story and fulfilling your purpose.

 

“There is this magical power storytelling has to transform people’s lives.”

 

When speaking of the success of Together’s first 6 city US tour, which had speakers from Hollywood royalty like Alicia Keys, Ciara, and Sophia Bush to Olympic gold medalist, Abby Wambach, and award-winning filmmaker and founder of Groundswell Movement, Valarie Kaur. I couldn’t help but feel I was in a prime position to learn from a powerful woman that has managed to build a career she loves while creating an organization she’s passionate about.

 

During our interview I asked, “What advice would you give yourself knowing what you know now?” Here’s what she said:

 

Follow the breadcrumbs that lead you to your purpose. These breadcrumbs are the things that make time fly, that people come to you for and that fill you with energy instead of depleting you. I found my purpose in storytelling and helping thought leaders share their stories far and wide. Once I started to pay attention to my breadcrumbs, I realized people felt enlightened, healed, and lifted up by my work and passion for using storytelling as a way to connect people. From there, my path as a literary agent, mother, friend, and human being became clear and much easier to follow.

 
Surround your with people who make you feel positive and inspired. Don’t waste time with people who make you feel small and unimportant.
Make time for self care and that includes self kindness. Talk to your self the way you would talk to your dear friend, with love and compassion. I call myself sweetheart sometimes, as in “It’s okay, sweetheart. Everyone makes mistakes. Now you know better so you’ll do better.

 
Instead of trying harder, try easier. Don’t force things. Follow the unfolding and realize you do not always have to make things happen. This applies to your personal life, career, and everything in between. Sometimes, when we’re working to force something to happen, we interfere with the process of letting it happen. If you allow things to unfold, the universe will often work things out in your favor.

 
It’s okay to not know the answer. Ask questions. Sleep on things. Save as a draft. Only act when you feel ready, not because you feel compelled to move forward at any cost.

 

In the mist of building a career and a brand that I’m passionate about these words hold truth. I’m a true believer in the power of storytelling and the things you learn from each and every one of them.

 

These words of wisdom may not have been told in a story fashion but that is exactly where they came from. Her personal story of how she got to where she is and where she plans to go.

 

Together is working on their second US tour with plans to start in Spring 2017. For more information about this powerful organization of thought leaders and visionaries visit Together online or to become apart of the Together movement download their app Together Live.

 

Psst…I did!

How Meditating Is Helping Alicia Keys Be a More Mindful Mom: ‘It’s Given Me a Whole New Perspective’

For Grammy-winning artist Alicia Keys, becoming mom to sons Egypt, 6, and Genesis, 21 months, helped her learn to take time for herself in order to best care for others.

 

“It definitely has given me a whole new perspective,” The Voice coach said on stage during the Brooklyn leg of WME’s Together conference, a national tour moderated by Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, on Monday. “I’m overly accommodating, like sickeningly so. I’m becoming better at that.”

 

When Walsh offered the metaphor that taking care of yourself is crucial in the same way that donning your own oxygen mask is imperative before helping others on a plane, Keys laughed in agreement.

 

“That’s my favorite thing they say on the plane,” she said. “Like, ‘You don’t do that, you don’t secure your own mask? What’s the matter with you?’ And somehow I do that same thing.”

 

Want all the latest pregnancy and birth announcements, plus celebrity mom blogs? Click here to get those and more in the PEOPLE Babies newsletter.

 

Keys explained that she needed a personal overhaul in order to become a more mindful mother and artist.

 

“I needed to clear the negative space, the negative people in my space… [which] probably should’ve happened years ago,” she says. “But now, there’s even more of a reason. My purpose is so much bigger, it’s so much bigger than me.”

 

So now, having “never quite committed to the ‘mental’ before,” Keys meditates daily.

 

“It’s been really important for me,” she says of her practice. “I started time and time [again], tried it, fell asleep. But now it’s a need. It’s a yearning, a desire.”

 
Her time alone has become non-negotiable.

 

“Some days I have 15 minutes, some days I have 40 minutes, some days I have five minutes where I have to take that time, because if I don’t I literally feel off,” she says. “And I can tell the difference in the choices that I’m making… my center is off. I feel shaken a bit more, but when I do it I feel sturdy.”

INC.com: The Nationwide Tour that’s Helping Women Win – Together

A new tour is taking the country by storm. Here’s how it started – and where it’s going.

A well-respected figure in the literary world, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh is known for running the Worldwide Literary Department at William Morris Endeavor (WME), and has been named to the Hollywood Reporter’s Women in Entertainment list for five consecutive years.

 

If that wasn’t enough, lately she’s been tackling an entirely new challenge: launching a new event series and community-based movement, Together, aimed at women. The Together tour features, “a voice for every single type of perspective,” as Walsh puts it.

 

For as long as she remembers, she’s been in love with storytelling, so it seemed natural for her to dedicate her entire life to storytellers and their “vulnerable truths.” Walsh has a penchant for being tuned in to authentic voices. “When I hear it, I know it.” She has a near messianic desire “to spread the light of truth.”

 

In a lot of ways, Together is organized around the principle that everyone needs purpose. “Purpose is not just something for famous people,” says Walsh “Every single person needs a purpose. It’s a necessity.” She believes it’s incredibly vital to people’s well being.

 

The Inspiration to Create a Movement
After helping create Arianna Huffington’s Thrive conference and Oprah Winfrey’s The Life You Want tour, Walsh uncovered a newfound passion for the power of live events.

 

At the same time, she discovered there was a market need. The energy of these tours and conferences often waned afterwards; there was no mechanism for keeping continuity with this community that had been created. Walsh would work on these large-scale events but then when she got home, she crashed back to reality. She began thinking of an event series could keep that excitement going afterwards, so that “when we come back to your town next year, it’s like a reunion.”

 

At the same time, the conference might not even be an annual thing. “I’m not convinced about annual,” she says – not because of a lack of interest, but perhaps because there’s too much interest to wait a year. One company in Portland, for example, said if Together came back sooner, they’d buy out the whole theater. “Maybe it’s twice a year. Maybe it’s three times a year.”

 

Eager to sustain that type of community in between live events, Walsh dreamt up Together, an annual “unconference” that brings women of different backgrounds together to support one another in the name of change. Moreover, Together would be designed to become a community post-event. To ensure the conversation keeps going post-event, the tour is accompanied by an app, Together Live, designed to foster community over the long-term.

 

The Tour so Far
Together, which kicked off in September 2016 across six US cities (tickets are still on sale for its final stops in Atlanta and Denver), considers itself to be “flipping the script” on typical women’s empowerment events. Those events tend to be focused on topics such as breaking the glass ceiling, work-life balance, and “leaning in.” By contrast, Together frames itself as a generation and background-agnostic attempt to bring women together in the name of “action, love, well-being, and connection.”

 

The Together tour features a diverse set of inspirational speakers such as author Glennon Doyle Melton, internationally celebrated yoga teacher Seane Corn, filmmaker Valarie Kaur and activist Reverend Dr. Jacqui Lewis. Moreover, each city Together visits features special guests: Alicia Keys recently joined the tour in Brooklyn.

 

Lessons Learned
Unsurprisingly, putting on an event series isn’t child’s play. Plenty of mistakes are made along the way, so Walsh has had a chance to learn from previous events she’s worked on. One event went on sale four months early, which was a big mistake in her eyes: these days, most people are unwilling to commit to just about anything that far in advance. Another good lesson: a lower price point makes sense if you’re trying to make something inclusive.

 

Most conferences of this type are focused on limiting space and including serious price tags; Walsh leaned in the opposite direction when creating Together, with prices as low as $25 for admission. “I can’t say this is about building together, healing together, if it’s not inclusive.” Together’s embrace of inclusiveness is mission critical to her, which led her to seek out sponsors like Life Reimagined by AARP and State Farm. Of course, WME has also been a huge proponent of the Together conference.

 

Thinking Long-term
Walsh’s advice to others looking to starting a movement: it has to be close to your heart. In many ways, it’s a labor of love – and without that love, the hours of hard labor won’t seem worth it. After all, most labors of love tend to be additional projects intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs take on in addition to their typical workload, and Walsh is no exception. She sits on WME’s board; moreover, her department accounts for more New York Times bestsellers than any other literary agency in the world: sixty percent, by some accounts. She has worked with some of the biggest names in the literary industry, including Ann Brashares (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants), Ken Burns (The Civil War), and Marcus Buckingham (First Break All the Rules), among many others.

 

Despite all of that, Together is a long-term focus for her. “I want this to be global,” she says. “I want people to be renting RVs to get here.” Down the line, she’s love to even use virtual reality to improve accessibility – and what’s a better way to bring a community, well, together?

 

Does this sound ambitious? Probably. “People said you can’t do all things,” says Walsh. “Well, watch us.”

SELF: How Bestselling Author Glennon Doyle Melton Is Healing Others By Healing Herself

Glennon Doyle Melton understands the importance of being honest. That’s why she’s sharing her story on the Together Live tour.

Bestselling author Glennon Doyle Melton spent 20 years of her life battling bulimia, alcoholism, and drug addiction. In 2002, she became pregnant, and she decided to get sober. Since then, Melton has started an award-winning blog and written two New York Times bestsellers, including her newest book, Love Warrior, a memoir about her journey of self-discovery after the breakdown of her marriage. She’s passionate about healing others by inspiring them to speak honestly about their experiences and their fears—and she leads by example, always ready to share her own story.
Melton’s latest endeavor is the Together Live tour, an event that’s all about inspiring and empowering women around the country. Melton co-created the tour with William Morris Endeavor Entertainment board member Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, yoga teacher and activist Seane Corn, and community organizer and filmmaker Valarie Kaur—all with the mission of uniting women through honesty (look out for Kaur’s moving essay in our November issue, on newsstands later this month). The national tour is stopping in six cities, and features appearances from celebrities like Sophia Bush and Alicia Keys.
Here, Melton shares her advice for young women and reveals what inspired her to get involved with Together Live.
On why she started writing.
“I was trying to stay sober. I started going to recovery meetings and fell in love with the brutal honesty that was happening. I thought, ‘If this is how people stay sober and survive, why can’t we do this everywhere?’ So I decided to start blogging, and it grew organically from there.”
On why honesty matters.
“One of the reasons we stay so alone in our lives is because we’re ashamed to talk about the hard stuff. It’s as simple as that. We’re all in pain in different ways, and we don’t get the help we need because we’re too ashamed to talk about the pain. It’s not the pain that takes us out of the game—it’s the shame. I was lucky enough to know from recovery that talking about hard stuff in respectful ways works. So I’m using the same strategy to heal the world that I did to heal myself: truth telling.”
On what it’s like to be a bestselling author.
“It’s really busy, and it’s confusing sometimes. I keep reminding myself of something my dad says: ‘When you get to the party, you dance with the one who brought you.’ So I’m focusing on truth telling and service. You go on the road, you tell the truth, and you serve the ones you see.”
On finding time for self-care.
“This is the busiest I’ve ever been. But the one thing that heals me is water. Whether it’s a glass of water, sweat from the elliptical, a good cry (which I do about every other day), or the Gulf of Mexico—I get some water involved in my life whenever I need a break.”
On her advice for women everywhere.
“Figure out what breaks your heart. We all have this misunderstanding about heartbreak, which is we think we should avoid it. But what I think is that heartache is a clue toward the work we’re supposed to be doing in the world. What breaks each person’s heart is different—be it racial injustice, war, or animals. And when you figure out what it is that breaks yours, go toward it. That’s where you’ll find the people doing world healing work. I really think all we’re here for is purpose and connection, so follow your heartbreak.”
On the Together Live tour.
“I’m taking my own advice about following heartbreak. Book tours are super hard for me as a raging introvert. I love humanity, but actual humans are hard for me. So something like a book tour—where I’m constantly on the road—scares the hell out of me. But I decided to use this time to do good work—that’s how I’d survive. Jennifer and I got together and thought, ‘What does the world need right now?’ And we decided that in this heated, divisive time in our country, we needed a movement of women who were leading with love and strength. We want to celebrate differences. What I’ve learned is that if you want peace, all you really have to do is introduce people to each other. The closer you get to people who are different than you, the more you learn that we’re all same.”

 

Hear from Melton and several other incredible women on the Together Live tour this October. The tour has already traveled to Portland, and is heading to Los Angeles, Chicago, Brooklyn, Atlanta, and Denver in the coming weeks. Click here to buy tickets and to learn more about the tour. You can also join the Together Live community by downloading the free app.