amy’s keynote speech, (the one she walked through fear to give….)

My greatest wish, my fervent wish is that all women awaken to their greatness.
This is my prayer, my wish, my goal, my desire.
This is what I wake up desiring.
This is what I go to bed hoping for.
That all women awaken to their greatness.

I am thrilled to be here.
There is a thread, my thread, a lifeline here in this room.
An enormous gorgeous, glorious, tapestry.
The comaraderie, the connections, the community.
I love that women lift each other, support each other, carry & nurture each other.
Individually we are unique, stunning, glorious creatures.
Collectively we are dynamic, powerful and spirited – there isn’t anything we cannot accomplish.

We lead by example.

For years and years I’ve been talking about how women should complete and not compete with each other. And I often wondered where this passion, mission came from.

I think I found the kernel…
That first common thread…

Let me share this story.

Years ago … many, many years ago, when I was much younger and thinner, actually, truthfully – I was a little girl and I was skinny as a rail – it was Hanukah. And I loved Hanukah. And all I wanted, all that I prayed for, longed for, wished for and waited for was the brand new hot off the conveyor belt Barbie doll. My mother found it at one of the big stores – in their toy department. The big night came, the big Hanukah night, and I feverishly ripped open the wrapping paper and there she was… absolutely fucking gorgeous.

My dream doll.

The doll I wanted, longed for, wished for, and prayed for.
I fell instantly in love.
I wanted all of my clothing to have velcro and I wanted to live in a plastic house.
A few days later, we were going to Brooklyn, to visit my aunt Gertie and her family. We lived out on Long Island, so this was somewhat of a tradition. Hanukah. Brooklyn. Brookyln, Hanukah. My mom’s other sister was coming – visiting – from Indiana. And she was bringing my cousin – she and I are a couple of years apart. After all the kissing and hugging and oohing and aahing, and oh my god you look so good, and oh my god you look too thin and oh my god oh my god…

I show my cousin my brand new gorgeous Barbie doll and to say she swooned would be an understatement. She loved my Barbie. And In that moment I knew that she wanted my Barbie. My aunt told my mother that she had looked high and low for the doll, but that it was sold out. My mother turned to me and said, I want you to be a good girl and give her your Barbie doll.

I reluctantly and tearfully handed over my gorgeous beautiful doll – the one I prayed for, asked for, longed for, and wanted more than anything.
My cousin was ecstatic.
My mother felt powerful.
And more than that – she felt loved.
I was heartbroken.
That moment was imprinted on “my little girl soul.”

My mother thought – believed – she was being generous, kind, loving… but in truth,  she had often competed with her sisters for their love and by giving my cousin the doll she was proving that she was the better mom.

And I suppose being true to being my mothers daughter would have been much easier had I not wanted to be out in the world fully.

I wanted to be a writer.

And while writing is very solitary, very singular… my passion, my desire, was working, creating, collaborating with others. My passion required collaboration.

And so this where the little girl and the mother part ways.

Every single day we collaborate, work with others. Because all of life – every single bit of it – is about relationships. Some relationships are toxic and bad and aren’t worth the pursuit. Some are complicated, take time and have moments of grand difficulty but are most definitely worth navigating through.
And every single relationship teaches you something.

For example: my editing partner doesn’t like surprises, and last week, I surprised her twice. She sent me a kind loving email explaining – telling me – how she needed me to have her back. Her email made me respect her more. Like her more. Love her more. Not only do I have her back, but yes, god yes, she has mine, and neither one of us got our backs up within that exchange.

A loving honest collaboration.

I have had the great fortune in the past twenty odd years to work with some women who are extraordinary collaborators. Not all were perfect matches, but the ones that didn’t quite fit, didn’t match … taught me a valuable lesson.

Collaboration isn’t about everyone agreeing.
No, not at all.
It’s not about that.
It’s about bringing out the best in someone.
It’s about creating an environment where folks feel good and proud, and empowered.
It’s about being heard and being seen.
It’s about being able to say “I’m wrong, or… you’re right, this doesn’t work,”
It’s about being able to hear opinions and comments.
it’s about wanting others to be huge, and successful and rooting them on.

It’s about being able to let go. letting go of: the need to be right, the need to be the center of attention, the need to be the best, the brightest, the smartest.

Collaboration – a good collaboration – is hard work.
It requires acceptance.

It requires patience, and kindness and the desire for all – everyone – to shine, to be huge.
It requires generosity of spirit and creativity.
It requires cultivating the passion and desire to be good, really good at your craft, really good at your life.
It requires stepping aside, and letting others have a voice, a space, an opportunity to step up and stand up.

It requires becoming whole.
Coming together, and yes, completing each other.

Wanting the very best for each other.

It requires love.

There isn’t a women in this room who doesn’t wish to be loved, supported, encouraged, inspired, held, lifted, nurtured, empowered.

to feel wanted.

to know that their voice, their life matters.

There isn’t a woman in this room who doesn’t long to feel hope, to believe in the beauty of her own life.
There isn’t a woman here who wouldn’t welcome generosity with open arms and an open heart.
There isn’t a woman here who doesn’t deserve to awaken to their greatness.

And so, the grown up Amy would tell her mother, “Oh Mom…Mom, you don’t need to give anything away to be loved.”


Category: Uncategorized 9 comments »

9 Responses to “amy’s keynote speech, (the one she walked through fear to give….)”

  1. Elaine Howe

    AWESOME , as always , Amy ! <3 <3 <3

  2. Karen McCullough Ray

    As always, a great story from you, Amy. And, again as always, a lesson learned. Thank you.

  3. Alice

    Oh, Amy: I cried when I read this; I wish I could have been there, but am financially embarrassed, LOL…hopefully, next year…

    Would you e-mail me? I would like to share my story.

    I am a Freshman at age 66. Why? Because I wrote about my life and won a scholarship (just $ for books, which runs out soon!)

    Thanks and love and Mazeltov!

    Alice, Overcomer, wounded healer, dancer, singer, author, poetess, veteran and student!

  4. Reticula

    Great speech. I have memories of my cousins breaking my most precious toys because I was forced to share them. I always told my kids to put away any toys they didn’t want to share if other kids were coming over. Saves a lot of heartbreak.

    One reason I dislike a popular children’s book titled _The Rainbow Fish_ is because this beautiful fish has to give away her lovely, unique scales so the other fish will like her. The lesson is brutal, even if there is a grain of truth to it. I learned it too well as a child, and I certainly don’t want to perpetuate it. We should not have to give away what makes us unique and beautiful so that others will like us.

    Thanks for sharing your speech.

  5. Kathleen

    Amy , Brilliant and so from the heart~can fell the passion, strength and wisdom. Thank you for connecting women from so many diversified backgrounds to come together for each other. Love You Dear Friend~

  6. Gilbey Strub

    It is almost eerie how relevant this was to the day I had today. I am going to be doing some deep thinking on this!

  7. alice barden

    It was so beautiful hearing this again. Thank you so much for living it. I am still high from Women at Woodstock and want to go back and kidnap you all.

    Wish I could hear you lovelies read tonight, but my baby business is having a temper tantrum and I have to set boundaries for her.

    Miss you (and tell Hollye and Robin I am there in spirit!!!)
    Alice Barden

  8. Carol Nofi

    Oh, Amy, I so wished I was there and got to spend more than 2 minutes with you! Someday, that day will be soon I hope. You are such an inspiration to me, all of us! thank you for the love <3

  9. kristine

    Oh my sweet friend. You are so inspiring, and so courageous. You delivered each word with compassion, truth and such lovely authenticity. So proud to be your friend, and to walk along side you on this miraculous journey.

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