I've been back for about two weeks from Thailand and India and it's given me time to reflect on yet another incredible journey East.
Thailand is a pretty spectacular and beautiful place: greens like I've never seen, butterflies the size of birds flying everywhere, and there were sweet, angel elephants that we volunteered with one day. However, when the plane touched down at New Delhi airport in India, I literally felt my body breathing differently. The connection I feel to the land and people of India is hard for me to put into words. There were, however, some special moments on the trip that I would like to share.
I was in India for the International Yoga Festival, which happens around this time every year in Rishikesh, a village by the Himalayan Mountains on the banks of the Ganges River. There are Swamis, saints, leaders and instructors from all over the word teaching yoga and giving lectures throughout the week.
One afternoon there was a women's empowerment lecture and that morning one of the women giving the lecture came up to me and asked if she could call me up on stage to share my story. My stomach dropped. Just the day before I had written a speech that I wanted to give at the schools for The Farley Project, and as nervous as I was I thought, "This will be excellent practice!" I was honored, but felt a swell of anxiety at the same time.
As I was sitting in the crowd watching the lecture, I kept looking at the amazing three leaders on stage and thought to myself, "I can't do this. I don't belong up there with them. Whatever I could possibly say right now will not compare to these women." I started staring at the woman who asked me to speak so she could see that I was shaking my head "No!" and mouth "Do not call me up there!"
She never looked at me. The next thing I knew, I was introduced and found myself walking up to the stage. I swear I left my body at this point, and still had no idea what I was going to say or talk about.
I couldn't believe that I was sitting on that stage, the one that I was audience to all week, listening to brilliant Swamis give lectures about the meaning of the life. Right as I was introduced and asked to share my story, one of the other women on stage took the microphone. She assists the head of the Ashram and is someone who I have admired from a far for many years.
She said, "How often in life when asked to share our stories, we tell people the same story we've been telling ourselves about our life. That we shouldn't be so comfortable with it, and at any given moment in time we have the power to change our story and make it what we want." Tears started dripping down my face. I didn't even bother to wipe them. The next thing I knew the microphone was in my hand.
Up until that very moment in time, my story has been a version of "My name is Elissa Kravetz. I am 34 years old, live in West Hollywood, originally from Massachusetts and own a PR agency with my sister. I was bullied really badly when I was in seventh grade and now am in the process of creating an anti-bullying organization called the Farley Project." It was like a record that played over and over. I talked about how my whole life I've always looked up to powerful women, admired them, felt a bit envious of them and wanted to be them. I've looked at others in my work field, wondering, "How do I get there? How can I be like that?"
I decided to change my story then and there. I looked out to the audience and said how from this moment in time, my story is not how I envy other powerful women, but rather how I am a powerful woman. I am a smart, loving, beautiful woman who wants to help make the world a better place.
I like this story and repeat it to myself every day now.
For days I wanted to feed the stray cows and dogs in Rishikesh. I would think about it, talk about it, but never do it. After the lecture, I left the Ashram and went outside to buy some spinach, and cow by cow, street by street, I started feeding them. I did it for hours. The next day I fed the cows and the dogs. As many as I could. I literally spent the rest of the trip, leaving the Ashram for hours just feeding the sweet animals -- the animals that get ignored and left behind. It wasn't much, and I knew they would be hungry again, but it was something that was in my power to do right then and there.
I look at bullies as hungry cows and dogs. They are screaming for love. They are screaming for affection, for someone to notice them. Sometimes I get overwhelmed because I feel like there is so much work to do in getting The Farley Project off the ground. So much we need to tackle. The Bully movie is coming out this week; see it please. It is brilliant. Let me know if you want to use your personal power to help stop this epidemic, and I would be thrilled to have each and every one of you involved in The Farley Project!
Follow Elissa Kravetz on Twitter: www.twitter.com/farleyproject