Elizabeth Lesser

in conversation with Isabel Allende

Recorded Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

Share this event

Elizabeth Lesser in conversation with Isabel Allende

Log in or register to watch the archive.

Share this with someone who loves books.

Elizabeth Lesser’s newest book Cassandra Speaks: When Women are the Storytellers, the Human Story Changes reveals how humanity has outgrown its origin tales and hero myths, and empowers women to trust their instincts, find their voice, and tell new guiding stories.

Elizabeth is a bestselling author and the cofounder of Omega Institute, the renowned conference and retreat center located in Rhinebeck, New York. Elizabeth’s first book, The Seeker’s Guide, chronicles her years at Omega and distills lessons learned into a potent guide for growth and healing. Her New York Times bestselling book, Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow, has sold more than 300,000 copies and has been translated into 20 languages. Her Marrow: Love, Loss and What Matters Most is a memoir about Elizabeth and her younger sister, Maggie, and the process they went through when Elizabeth was the donor for Maggie’s bone marrow transplant.

Elizabeth cofounded Omega Institute in 1977—a time when a variety of fresh ideas were sprouting in American culture. Since then, the institute has been at the forefront of holistic education, offering workshops and trainings in: integrative medicine, prevention, nutrition, and the mind/body connection; meditation and yoga; cross-cultural arts and creativity; ecumenical spirituality; and social change movements like women’s empowerment and environmental sustainability. Elizabeth is also the cofounder of Omega’s Women’s Leadership Center, which grew out of the popular Women & Power conference series featuring women leaders, activists, authors and artists from around the world. Each year more than 30,000 people participate in Omega’s programs on its campus in Rhinebeck, New York and at urban and travel sites, and more than a million people visit its website for online learning.

A student of the Sufi master, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan for many years, Elizabeth has also studied with spiritual teachers, healers, psychologists, and philosophers from other traditions. In 2008 she helped Oprah Winfrey produce a ten-week, online seminar based on Eckhart Tolle’s book, A New Earth. The webinar was viewed by more than 8 million people worldwide. She was a frequent host on Oprah’s Soul Series, a weekly radio show on Sirius/XM, and a guest on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday television show. In 2011, she gave a popular TED talk called “Take The Other to Lunch,” a call for civility and understanding as we negotiate our differences as human beings.

Elizabeth attended Barnard College, where she studied literature, and San Francisco State University, where she received a teaching degree. In 2011 she received an honorary doctorate from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, in Palo Alto, California. Early in her career she was a lay midwife and birth educator.

Today, besides writing and her work at Omega Institute, she lends her time to social and environmental causes, and is an avid walker, cook, gardener, friend, mother, grandmother, and homebody. She and her husband live in New York’s Hudson River Valley.

Isabel Allende—novelist, feminist, and philanthropist—is one of the most widely-read authors in the world, having sold more than 74 million books. In addition to her work as a writer, Allende devotes much of her time to human rights causes. In 1996, following the death of her daughter Paula, she established a charitable foundation in her honor, which has awarded grants to more than 100 nonprofits worldwide, delivering life-changing care to hundreds of thousands of women and girls. More than 8 million have watched her TED Talks on leading a passionate life.

“How strange that the nature of life is change, yet the nature of human beings is to resist change. And how ironic that the difficult times we fear might ruin us are the very ones that can break us open and help us blossom into who we were meant to be.”

—Elizabeth Lesser, Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow .

Get ready to join Elizabeth in conversation, Wednesday, October 14th.

In the meantime, we invite you to take a moment now to help shape this upcoming conversation.

Check out the list of questions submitted by other registered attendees, and then vote to support any that match your interests.

Feel free to add your own question. Then spread the word to make sure others have the chance to help move your question to the top of the shared list.

  • 8

    votes

    Which authors do you find inspiration in? Who are you reading now?

  • 4

    votes

    I write what I termed “American Magic Realism.” I’ve read that the term “Magical Feminism” has been attributed to Isabel Allende. How do you feel about the term and what meaning does it carry for you?

  • 4

    votes

    What is your opinion on creating and writing characters of marginalized people if you are not yourself from that particular group? Toni Morrison once said about this, think [write] of somebody you don’t know. But today’s climate in literature is changing in this regard. Thoughts?

  • 3

    votes

    This is such an insane time to be alive!! How has the pandemic influenced your writing?

  • 3

    votes

    What was the research process like writing your memoir compared to your novels?

  • 3

    votes

    What is the last thing you saw or read that moved you?

  • 2

    votes

    What inspired you to fund the Omega Institute? What was the process like of building the institute into what it is?

  • 2

    votes

    How much of your own life do you weave into your fictional stories?

  • 2

    votes

    Who are some of your favorite authors, whether fiction or non-fiction, and have they influenced your writing?

  • 1

    votes

    When starting a novel and you are drafting scenes … do you pull novel together with an outline or continue writing backstory and random segments to let the story organically come to life, THEN work on organizing the material? At present I have an exciting mess on my hands – still spilling out segments of the first draft. Thank you!

  • 1

    votes

    What are your goals as writers? How do you think your books impact this society?

  • 1

    votes

    What inspired you to write “cassandra speaks” ?

  • 1

    votes

    Why are siblings such a large theme in your books?

  • 1

    votes

    What role do midwives play in activism? What did you learn from your years as a midwife?

  • 0

    votes

    In the Midst of winter, a white man is chosen to drive a dead-body because nobody would blame him if caught. My question is: How can our psyche diffuse white privilege?

  • 0

    votes

    What advice would give for times of Sadness and Loneliness?

  • 0

    votes

    We are living in such turbulent times. What is the role of writers in helping us reflect, question and make sense of what we are experiencing?

  • 0

    votes

    If stranded at the southern hemisphere…. which constellation (s) would guide you….

  • 0

    votes

    Isabel should know which constellation rules the souther hemisphere… question stands , if stranded at the souther hemisphere, which constellation would you search in order to guide you…

  • 0

    votes

    If we had female rulers, would the world be vastly different than it is today?

  • 0

    votes

    If you could live anywhere else in the world right now where would that be?

  • 0

    votes

    Why do women continue to allow their voices to be suppressed and what is your antidote?

  • 0

    votes

    For women, does the true, authentic hero’s journey necessitate breaking out of the primordial whore/madonna dichotomy which exists cross culture?

Explore these Book Passage favorites: