The Question That Shaped It All

Last month, we read an inspiring On Being column by Courtney E. Martin about the very first ‘big’ question she asked in life that got her thinking on her own. It was the first big question she posed to tackle life’s challenges as a child, and through the years to follow. Whether consciously or not, this question has defined the choices and decisions she’s made throughout her life.

This prompt sparked a fascinating group discussion with friends and colleagues about what our first big questions were. For a friend who liked to push the limits, yet grew up with very strict parents, she questioned, ‘But why?’ when the answer was no. For the youngest, often overshadowed sibling of five, a colleague remembered asking ‘How can my voice be heard?’ Witnessing her parents go through a messy divorce, a friend often questioned, ‘Why is it so difficult to tell the truth?’

For Courtney, she uncovered that to some degree, she’s always asked ‘How can we wake up from our delusions of perfection?’ These big questions have shaped the stories of our lives, and we can’t wait to hear yours. What was your first big question? Send them to us at togetherliveteam@gmail.com.

Here’s What Were Talking About This Week: The Girls of our Generation 

Sunday night marked the end of an era for fans of the hit TV show Girls, a ‘dramedy’ created by Lena Dunham about four 20-something women in Brooklyn, New York. Through storylines touching on everything from the uncomfortable and chaotic reality of sex, to post-collegiate social struggles, to gender politics, Girls explored real issues in a raw and unconventional way. Whether or not you followed along with Hannah Horvath’s journey, the series tested social limits and started new conversations. We’re sad to see it end, but hope to see a rise of more unconventional stories on TV.

Here are a few other things we’ve been chatting about this week:

  • We’re incredibly inspired by Troop 6000, the first New York City Girl Scout troop solely for homeless girls. In recent interviews, the girls talked about what they want to be when they grow up; check out their aspirations here.
  • Curious about how to bridge the gap between being an amateur to a professional? Take a look at these seven things you could do differently to achieve your dreams.
  • It’s a beautiful time of year to get outdoors and get involved. Find out how you can help care for our national parks by volunteering with the National Park Service. Click here to get started or find a park near you.

Here’s What We’re Talking About This Week

Researchers believe that the extent to which we can generate positive emotions, even in the midst of life’s daily stresses, can limit our risk for a variety of health problems. Dr. Fredrickson, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina, believes that taking the time to learn the skills to self-generate positive emotions can help us become healthier and more resilient versions of ourselves. Check out these tips for how to see the glass half-full more often.

 

Here are a few other things we’ve been chatting about this week:

  • At the Women in the World Summit last week, Hilary Clinton sat down for his first public interview since the election. She tackled a variety of topics including her post-election emotions, Donald Trump’s presidency and women’s rights around the world. Take a look at the highlight’s here.
  • We’re boosting our brainpower this week with these 21 smartphone games to help keep us entertained during our commute. Not a gamer? Send us your favorite ways to stay engaged to & from the office at togetherliveteam@gmail.com.
  • Your right to vote is important. Ahead of upcoming local, state and special elections, make sure your voice is heard by checking on your voter registration status and marking your calendars for key upcoming dates.

 

This is 50: Jennifer Rudolph Walsh on how she’s following the breadcrumbs of her life toward her next chapter

Together founder Jennifer Rudolph Walsh on how she continues to serve her purpose-driven mission.

Turning 50 on Valentine’s Day was all kinds of awesome. My grandfather always told me that the 50’s was the decade of great reward for people who did the hard work in their 30’s and 40’s. I always held that promise out like a beacon of light as I did the hard work during those decades.

In my 30’s, I built a family, which my heart beats for, and I dedicated myself to the work of bringing people’s stories into the world in the biggest, most impactful way possible. And I tried as hard as I could every day to be of service. I literally used to tear up watching Thomas the Train with my youngest son Wyatt because, like Thomas, I just hoped to be a useful engine. I wanted to leave my mark on the world but if I’m being completely honest, I wasn’t exactly sure what my mark was.

In my 40’s, I worked just as hard but it began to feel lighter. I learned to breathe through meditation. I learned the power of saying no and the importance of prioritizing what matters. I let go of people and things that made me feel small. I judged less and listened more. I began to ask more questions and worry less about the answers. I felt the power of my positive thinking to actually manifest the things I wished for. The more I believed, the more things happened; a beautiful, virtuous cycle. I still gave way to negative thinking or obsessive rumination, but I learned to recover faster, turn the page, and forgive myself for slipping backwards. The more I forgave myself for my humanity, the easier it became to forgive others for theirs.

In the last year of my 40’s, we launched the Together Tour, gathering 15,000 women across the country to use the power of storytelling to find purpose and take community-minded social action. For me it was proof positive that anything is possible when you surround yourself with amazing people and believe in the magic of the universe, which is designed to help you live your purpose, and along the way, help you to make even your wildest dreams come true.

As I mentioned, my purpose wasn’t always clear to me. I had to follow the breadcrumbs of my life to point me in the right direction. Once I realized that I’m at my best when I’m using the power of storytelling to shine the light forward so others feel elevated, healed, less alone, and inspired to action, I dedicated the rest of my life to only doing things that serve my purpose-driven mission. Miraculously, the rest fell away and all the right people appeared. It’s a work in progress, of course, and I feel delighted to have the opportunity to keep growing and stretching. Like a great mystery novel, the fun is not getting to the end but instead living inside the thrill of the pages. Something tells me my Grandfather had this exactly right.