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For some reason, long flights on airplanes are always where I get my simplest and strongest inspiration for living my life, and my flight home from teaching in Paris was no exception.

After wondering about this show for months, I watched a potent compilation of clips from several interviews from Amanda de Cadenet’s show The Conversation.

Amanda and I worked together years ago, just before and at the beginning of her pregnancy with her twins, and I adore and respect her deeply (just so the reader is clear on my total bias). Watching the show, I was smitten with Amanda’s casual, pointed style of engagement and the way in which she makes it safe for each woman to speak freely. Naturally, I began taking notes. In boldface, interspersed with my notes about each interview, are thoughts offered by each.

Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda, now seventy-three years young and lit up with the most infectious confidence, shared that she had spent a year prior to turning sixty actively researching her life, her actions, and her choices. Together, she and Amanda arrived at some weighty conclusions that touched my heart and are well worth sharing.

We must eventually arrive at the fact that nobody is coming to make our lives better. Only we can do that for ourselves.

She shared that with each marriage her lesson was the same. Each lacked intimacy of the highest sort, and she had to learn that she had chosen, once, twice, three times, to forsake intimacy for men who were veritable powerhouses in their respective fields. She was clear on the fact that she is now unwilling to trade that closeness for power any longer. Watching her speak, I felt revitalized and ready to age gorgeously.

As women, if we abandon ourselves, we are, in essence, teaching others to abandon us.

Gwyneth Paltrow Martin

Gwyneth Paltrow Martin, one of my favorite humans, whom I’ve also taught during her pregnancy with her son, was impeccable. She exuded comfort in her body throughout the interview, and as she spoke about losing her father Bruce quite suddenly, she remained composed and clear, effortlessly sharing the gift she had discovered in this profound loss.

It’s our responsibility to find the legacy in any loss; nobody is going to love me more than I can love myself.

She also spoke candidly about her post-natal depression after the birth of her son and how it sparked her curiosity about spirituality. She invites women to cease shaming each other on matters of parenting.

We’re all in this together. It’s so hard anyway. Can’t we (women) just be on each others’ side and help each other get through it?

And when asked what she lies about, she brought it.

I don’t have the energy for dishonesty anymore.

Sarah Silverman

Amanda also sat down with Sarah Silverman, who’s been labeled as patently offensive for her comedic talents. Sarah rocked it, reminding us that perhaps we might consider that shows currently running on primetime television might actually be more offensive: the ones in which women compete, cut each other down, and openly rip each other apart, such as Real Housewives or The Bachelor.

She points out that there should be a warning on these shows that says THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR. Sarah lamented the fact that we’re raised to think there’s one special girl and the rest aren’t. “It’s in the ether that one woman’s success is another woman’s failure—and that needs to change.”

Only good will come from women illuminating the goodness of other women.

Zoe Saldana

Zoe Saldana noted that we need to respect the men in our lives and cease abusing our power with them. Part of being equal is really treating them how we want to be treated. Our men have their own set of experiences, and we need to acknowledge them and not take advantage of their weaknesses.

We women have the power of our word, and we can make or break a man with just a sentence. To abuse that power is as crippling as men who abuse women.

When each was asked what she would tell her fourteen-year-old self:

It’s okay to say no.—Jane Fonda

Keep your overhead low. And tell great stories.—Sarah Silverman

Your attitude, how you feel, your spirit is an inside job.Jane Fonda

Follow the signs and trust in them. We all should be following our own truth. What’s the point in holding yourself back?—Gwyneth Paltrow Martin

And lastly, when asked about vices, there were some pretty normal ones—wine, cigarettes, anxiety—but Jane Fonda’s made me smile: She loves an In N Out Burger.

Me too.


Elena Brower, founder and co-owner of VIRAYOGA and author of Art of Attention, offers a realistic and reverent approach to the world through her teaching and writing. Her first book, Art of Attention: Book One, will be released in December 2012. For more on Elena, please visit her website and follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

*Photo by mckaysavage.