33. Can We Redefine What It Means to Surrender? With Kute Blackson
In our culture, the word “surrender” usually carries with it negative connotations. It means quitting, giving up, conceding. Author and motivational speaker Kute Blackson wants us to redefine the idea of what surrendering means — from something seen as weak or passive to the most powerful thing a human being can do. With surrender, he says, comes possibilities we never thought possible. Kute tells Claire how we can open ourselves up to surrender and what positive changes could happen as a result.
Resources from the show
- Check out Kute’s latest book, “The Magic of Surrender: Finding the Courage to Let Go”
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Claire, Kute Blackson
Hi, New Day listeners. There’s another Lemonada Series we wanted to let you know about called Burnout. Burnout is a new four-part series hosted by YouTube sensation and mental health advocate Connor Franta. What do people mean when they say they’re burned out? There are books about it and breaking news. You hear about Burnout from your friends, and you’ve felt it in your gut. But what exactly is this phenomenon that’s making us miserable and wrecking our health? Burnout has recently become the internet’s favorite buzzword and diagnosis for why we hate our jobs. But it has a long, complex history that’s rooted in our culture and systems. Let’s talk about the who, why, what, where and when of burnout, and how we as a culture can work to combat it. Search for burnout wherever you get your podcasts and make sure you subscribe so that you never miss an episode.
Hi, I’m Claire Bidwell Smith. Welcome to NEW DAY. What comes to mind when you hear the word surrender, giving up, quitting? More likely than not that word surrender conjures up a negative connotation. We think of defeated armies surrendering, you can be forced to surrender something as punishment. It’s even used in sports. One team surrendered the lead to the other. All of these are negative associations with the word surrender. Today’s guest has a completely different perspective on surrender. He says surrendering is the most powerful thing we can do as human beings. Kute Blackson is an author and inspirational speaker most known for his book, you are the one. But the book he and I focus on today is his most recent one. The Magic of Surrender: Finding The Courage To Let Go. Kit says we’ve been conditioned to believe that surrender is scary, that it’s hard and unnatural. But in reality, he said it’s more natural to hold on to things in our life, the more natural step is to let go. So while you listen, ask yourself could surrendering helped me in my life?
I have to preface this by saying there’s a wild turkey in my yard. And you hear them, it’s mating season. And that guy is out there looking for a friend. Did you hear that? Anyway, it’s so nice to meet you. Thank you so much for coming on the show.
Thanks for having me.
Yeah, I start every episode of this podcast by asking my guests How are you doing? But how are you really doing?
Good. You know, I just moved back to Los Angeles after a year and a half or so. So overall, excited, fulfilled and focused.
Those are great things to feel. There’s the turkey. We’re going to talk today about surrender. Your new book is called the magic of surrender, finding the courage to let go. And surrender is such an interesting word and topic and philosophy. How do you describe surrender?
I think surrender was the most powerful thing that we can punish human beings. I think surrender is the password to freedom. I think surrender is the key to the next level of our lives, the key to manifestation. So I think in our culture today, there are so many misconceptions and myths around surrender. I think in our culture today, there’s this idea that surrender was weak. That surrender was passive, that if you said that surrender means giving up that it means waving the white flag that if you surrender, you’re going to get left behind, you’re going to be a doormat, you’re going to be a victim, you’re going to be trodden on, you won’t manifest your goals, your dreams, your desires that if you surrender, you’re going to get less in life. And I’m actually wanting to reframe this idea of surrender to what if you didn’t get less, but you got more, more than you could even imagine, more than you could even plan, more than you could have strategized and figured out with your conscious mind and awareness. So letting go of control, letting go of trying to manipulate and force life to fit into your limited idea of how you think it should be and what you want it to be, and this kind of force thing. So it’s about letting go of the idea of who you think you should be and how you think your life should look so that you can truly just open to the authentic impulse, the authentic expression of life that is seeking to unfold. And so I think when we surrender, we take the limits off of life and we were open and truly open and available to life unfolding in life revealing itself in ways that we cannot imagine. So that’s kind of the context of surrender.
Wow, yes. I think that this is so hard and so scary for so many people, though, I think that, you know, I hear everything you’re saying. And I know for myself, in the times of my life, when I have surrendered, it’s come from almost being forced to maybe in a pandemic way or kind of hitting rock bottom in a certain way. And so there’s been times when I have surrendered, but almost because there was no choice left. So if you’re not at that point, and you are seeking to surrender, I know it has to feel so scary for so many people to just give up this idea of control and to trust that life is going to go into alignment when you surrender. Tell me about this.
So here’s what I would say. First, I just want to say that, yes, on one level, I do want to acknowledge it can feel hard to surrender. It can feel hard, I’m going to polish that. But what I want to just preface as a context is on us as human beings to take off of our awareness is affirmation, it’s so hard to swim, because we keep telling ourselves that it’s hard, which it seems that way, it’s going to be hard. And we’re going to get conditioned into health difficulties. I’m actually going to start by saying as I answer your question, that is surrender is easy. Like surrender is natural, I wanted to blow people sort of paradigms from, surrender is easy, is the most natural thing to do is just that we have been conditioned to resist condition to hold on. For instance, right now I’m holding a pen with my face. And I’m tightening this face, and I’m holding on very tightly, and the more I hold on the tighter it feels, it feels a little hard. But if I hold on enough, it starts feeling natural, this holding on positionality, and way of being feels natural, but this is how we go through life, it starts feeling the holding on a resistance feels more natural, but really, just drop the pen. Letting go is actually so easy and natural is just that we’ve been conditioned to hold on, we’ve been conditioned in a to be, you know, from childhood, to develop all sorts of strategies and mechanisms and defense mechanisms to get love validation and approval, and we hold tightly to this identity that we think we are, then we learn all sorts of defense mechanisms to avoid pain, not be heard, to function and survive. And so before, you know, no, it would become a collection of patterns that we hold tightly to that we call me isn’t this is just who I am, I’m just me. And we think this is who we are. And so to surrender, to let go can seem scary for the idea of who we think we are, our ego, it can feel like the reason it feels so scary is it feels like a death. Because to let go of an idea, to let go of control, the egos job is to reinforce its existence, one of the ways that the ego, our perceived sense of self based on conditioning, thoughts, experiences, memories, etc, etc. From the past, one of the ways that eagle reinforces its sense of I exist is to control, to be in control and to control everything. Because if I control everything, then I exist. And so from that perspective, for our perceived sense of self, the ego, it can feel terrifying to surrender and let go.
And I think that this is so interesting, because I think you’ve written and talked about this, but there’s a grief that comes with surrendering, right? Tell me more about this.
I think this is a piece that most people miss when it comes to surrender. There’s a few phases of surrender. And I think grief is the phase that most people miss. And that’s why they never fully move into full surrender. And so the first stage is like, we live unconsciously in the mail. And I’m going to just go very quick, we live in unconscious and unconscious and in denial, then we start waking up and we read, we go to therapy, and we start questioning ourselves, but the ego which is locked in a certain identity, we start resisting, and then that resists from that resistance, we begin to negotiate, well, maybe I don’t have to really let go, maybe I can hold on to what’s not working. And so the negotiation continues, then we start realizing that this is not really going to work no matter how much I negotiate my reality, my experience I am who I am my spouse or certainly our life is what it is. I’m going to have to move into acceptance but surrender is an open-hearted participation and so grief between acceptance and surrender the phase, the portal to real, authentic, open-hearted surrender is great. grieving. Grieving is a phase that is often missed, and why people are unable to fully let go and fully open because to something that isn’t death to surrender is a death of an ID a death of a dream, a death for who you thought you were going to be when you were 20 years old, a death of a phase of one’s life as we begin to age 20, 30, 40, shit, I’m not like 20 years old anymore, I’m getting 50, and my body is changing and my mortality. And so surrender requires grieving and that grieving is, you know, requires the willingness to allow oneself, to feel the grief, to feel those feelings, to feel the sadness, those human emotions, to fully be not to wallow in it. But to fully be able to release, to fully be able to honored what was to honor that relationship to honor who you weren’t, honor that phase of your life, and set it free and let it go. And when we don’t fully allow ourselves to grieve, and we carry that energy with us, we kind of stay stuck in the past and parts of us are not fully available to the new.
Do you think people get tripped up where if they let themselves acknowledge sadness or pain around something they’re letting go of, then that means they’re not really letting go of it?
I think there’s a few reasons why we sometimes don’t acknowledge the grief or the sadness, number one, we feel it’s going to last forever, you know, we feel we won’t be able to handle it, we feel it will break us and it’ll be overwhelming. Sometimes, I found that we don’t fully allow ourselves to acknowledge the grief. Because if I really acknowledge the grief like that this relationship is over, I’m gonna have to like really admit that it’s over. And so sometimes not acknowledging the grief denying the grief, pretending, not feeling the grief, I can live in a kind of fantasy, but it’s not really over yet, and I can live in that delusion. Or if I don’t acknowledge that my mother or father has died, and I don’t have to feel the grief fully, then I don’t have to let go them fully and I can always kind of have a piece of them. And so sometimes the not grieving or the resistance to the grieving is a way to hold on to what was so to speak. I remember about four years ago. And I write about this in the magical surrender at least the story, but this piece I did, my mother passed away from stomach cancer. And, and she was the person I was closest to on the planet. And when she passed away, you know, I knew that she’s an infinite being who and that she wasn’t just her body, and her soul will be with me forever. And I feel closer to her now than even before. And yet on a human level, there was tremendous grief, tremendous grief. And because I had the understanding, I really just allowed myself to on a human level process and feel the grief fully and complete. And I have found that one of the quickest ways through something is to feel it fully. To lean it fully and completely not wallow in it, but to feel it fully and completely. And for me what happened in feeling the grief, which is part of what allowed me to let go and move through it actually quite quickly in stages and layers was it was so when I felt the grieving. And I allowed myself to feel that layer of sadness, it felt as though my heart or the shape of my heart, my heart broke, so to speak, it felt like my heart broke, and it broke open. And then the shape of, my hearts common shape and capacity, just called broke. And then there was more grief and it broke again. And there was more grief and it broke. And what I realized was, My heart doesn’t break. It just keeps breaking open too big, the dimensions and capacity to hold love. And so through the grief, there was an expansion of loving for my own capacity, for my mother, my ability to now it was intense, I’m kind of shortening the process and it was a lot of tears. But that capacity to hold love really expanded, you know, really expanding.
I’ve always said that grief is transformational, you know, when you do let it break you up and you become someone even more than you were before. There’s so much there.
And it’s sometimes grieving for not just for the loss of a person or loss of a job or loss of a career. But it’s grieving for that part of ourselves, that that thing representing, you know, and letting go of that part of ourselves. One thing I found last thing I’ll say about that is one thing I found that has helped me is sometimes people say but could have been feeling and feeling and feeling and I can’t let it go. And what I realize is sometimes we think that we’re feeling but we’re thinking about the feeling and we’re analyzing the feeling rather than feeling. And so what I’ve done, what I’ve encouraged folks to do is take the label off of the feeling, take the name of the feeling as even grief or sadness or whatever the feeling is. And allow yourself to experience the sensation and the energy, the sensation and energy of that feeling in your body. And allow it to move through without a label without analysis without thinking and allow yourself to experience the sensation of the grieving, we won’t call it grieving, but the grieving in your body, because you’ll notice it has a cycle, and it has a cycle that moves and completes. And so for me, that was really helpful because I was no longer thinking about the grief, but just feeling the energy of it fully and allowing that to complete itself in the way that it needed to complete itself.
What does surrender look like on a really practical level, say someone has just hit 40. And they’re looking at their life, and nothing is going the way that they want it to. And they’re trying to control things and change things. What is surrender look like?
Yeah, I would say one place, if you’re in that place that you just mentioned, one place that people can maybe start, or one thing that keeps us stuck or resisting surrendering, are all the ways that we lie to ourselves, as human beings, I think out of survival mechanisms consciously or unconsciously, we lie to ourselves, we stay in situations that aren’t working. But we stay in them because they’re familiar. I mean, sometimes we even get caught in a trap of success, maybe four years old, things are working, everything’s working, but you no longer feel alive. And you keep doing what you know how to do and keep making money and keep getting accolades. But you know, you’re not connected to the reason you’re doing and is no longer in alignment with your purpose, but you feel trapped in a trap of success. And so I think one place that people can start, is the willingness to tell themselves the radical, authentic, uncompromising truth, no BS. So ask yourself question number one. What lies am I telling myself? Through what lies? Am I telling myself, we must want the truth more than we want what we want, we must want the truth more than we want, what we have. And when we want to be free, truly free. If you’re at the stage of 14, I’m not really happy, do you really want to be free? Because if you want to be free, more than you want, what you want, nothing will stop the question I asked people this, in my events is, what do you want more than anything else? Sounds like a simple question, what do you want more than anything else? Challenges many of us, and I’ve been there, we want comfort more than freedom. We want our safety more than freedom. We want you know, our security more than being free. But if you get really clear, you know what, I’m going to steal my life where I want my freedom, whatever that means to you. I want my freedom more than anything else, then it requires the truth. What lies am I telling myself? Truly, and I think we’re often afraid of telling ourselves the truth, because we’re afraid of the consequences of what the truth might mean.
Right, I mean, does this look like up ending your whole life? Like suddenly you leave a relationship, you move out of a house, you quit a job. Like, is it, does it have to be extreme? What does this look like?
So it doesn’t have to be extreme. This is what I say, take the pressure off of having to take any action whatsoever. Like, you don’t have to act, you don’t have to do anything, just acknowledge the truth. I hate my job. Don’t leave, I hate my job. Just sometimes we don’t allow ourselves to acknowledge that I hate my job because we’re afraid of what that will mean. doesn’t have to mean anything other than I hate my job. And let that begin a gentle process and so, you know, I’m no longer in love. I’m not in love. I haven’t been in love for five years. I’m not in love with this person. We’re no longer aligned. We’re no longer growing and you know, what is this relationship is not working and it’s done. Don’t have to divorce but just feel that and let that begin a process. The truth starts a process of marinating inside that you can move gently to the next step. And so you don’t have to apply in July. But just acknowledging the truth is the beginning. There is no freedom, there is no transformation, there is no change unless you get yourself into relationship with truth and enter relationship with what is to be true is real spirituality. Truth is real yoga; truth is real therapy. Truth is the foundation. And so while I am telling myself number two, kind of a deeper dimension of the same question, what am I pretending to not know? Because many times we play a game of confusion, but we know deep down what the truth is, but I’m not sure what my purpose is. I don’t know if this relationship is right for me when deep down, we know, we have an inkling, I think at the deepest level, the deepest level, the deepest level, we know.
How do we how do we listen to that level? How do we find it?
Maybe you’ve had an experience, I’ve had an experience for sure. Were you in a relationship in the past? And you’re like back and forth? Should I stay? Is it going to work? I’m not sure, back and forth a year or two you speak to your friends about on the weekend, it was clear as day to your friends, but you couldn’t figure it out, then you finally broke up with that person. And the moment you broke up with that person who told your friends, you know, I knew that wasn’t gonna work. I just had a feeling I just knew; we have an inkling and unknowing. And so I think it just requires the willingness to just remove the distractions, we distract ourselves, there’s a war for our attention right now in the world, you know, noises and social media and advertising media has no interest in you and not being free you and I being in touch with our truth because touch with our truth of who we are and what’s real, and what’s true. And the fact that we are whole, perfect and complete, we can no longer be sold and control. And so remove distractions, remove as many distractions and that’s why I think as human beings, sometimes we busy ourselves so much because we know shit if I if I actually let myself be still. And really listen quietly, I’m gonna feel the inkling of something’s off, something’s not right, something’s telling me to turn left, something’s telling me to leave. And because that scares me. Let me just stay busy. Let me run around. And I think that was one of the universal gifts of the pandemic, because it was like the universe say, everybody, you guys are going to be still for a second, get in touch with your truth. And a lot of things change. People got divorce; people realize I don’t want to go back to work. I don’t want to do this job. In fact, I don’t even want to live here. I’m going to move and then delete. And so I think that gave us a whole profound transformational opportunity. So rather than waiting for the universe to throw a pandemic on you.
What do we do? Is it meditation? Is it journaling? Is it therapy?
I will just say, even on a daily basis, sit for 10-15 minutes, and just be and breathe, and listen. Without agenda. Listen, when you be still just listening without agenda, preconceived ideas, you feel like something’s not right here. But we just don’t allow ourselves to be still, get a great therapist who can help reflect back to you what you’re not wanting to tell yourself, but you actually feel inside, because therapist has no agenda. And sometimes the eyeball can’t see itself. So go get a great therapist, I would say, you know, make sure you surround yourself with a peer group of friends that see who you really are, and are committed truly committed to your growth and evolution that won’t let you get away with your BS, because sometimes we can convince ourselves that anything means anything just to keep ourselves safe. But a true friend will say, hey, you know, you’re BSing yourself right now, I see that you were, out of love, I’m not gonna let you get away with that. And we will let ourselves get away with things. And so I think all of that helps meditation, but just even a ruthless willingness to say, I’m going to commit to telling myself the truth, and feeling the truth and acknowledging the truth. What lies am I telling myself? What am I’m pretending to not know? And what is it costing me anywhere in the stillness, allowing yourself to feel the pain. We don’t allow ourselves to feel the pain which allows us to keep continue in a situation, continue in a toxic relationship continue from 40 to 50, working in a job that we hate, because we don’t really allow ourselves to feel the impact and the pain because we distract ourselves in some way. And so I think those things can all help us make shifts, but I think truth is the foundation.
Where does spirituality come into play with surrender? Do you have to be a spiritual person? Do you have to have some kind of faith or some sense of a larger design? Or can you not have any of that and still begin a life of surrender?
I think surrender has nothing to do with spirituality. You don’t have to be spiritual don’t have to believe in God. You don’t have to believe anything. You don’t have to believe in zero. But I think just the process of saying, am I going to resist? Or am I going to embrace and accept and grow and learn to me real surrender is when you’re willing, even in a difficult situation, to see life as a school. And I think if you see life as a school, then you realize this part spiritual, but you don’t have to kind of believing in anything sort of spiritual, you know, I believe that we’re souls, and we incarnate as souls into the shooting experience. And to me, life is a learning, life is a school, and every experience is a part of the curriculum for our soul’s evolution. And that being the case, then every moment is an opportunity to learn to grow and evolve. And so I think, if you’re able to say, okay, in any situation, why did I attract this situation? Why did I attract this person? Why did I attract this lesson? What is the opportunity that my soul is seeking to learn in this situation, in this moment in this relationship, then no matter even if it’s difficult, the surrender isn’t just to the situation, the surrender was to learning the lesson. And growing through that experience.
Is there an accountability factor here, you know, you’ve mentioned victimhood or, you know, owning that you brought a relationship into your life? Or you found yourself in this place? Where’s that balance? Where’s that fine line?
Yeah, yeah, I think, you know, this might challenge a few people. But I think if you really understand or see yourself from a soul perspective, okay, I’m so having this human experience, then I say, there’s no accident for where you’re going to where you’re going. On some level, what is difficult situation, a difficult relationship, a difficult experience. There’s something that you are ready to learn from that moment. And so at that soul level, there’s no victims. At that soul level. There’s something that your soul is seeking to evolve through and grow through and learn so that you can realize more of who you are, realize more of your potential and become more of your authentic self. Look at Nelson Mandela. 26 years in prison. I mean, if anyone could be a victim, that would be Nelson Mandela, I’m not sure of how I would handle that situation. But we could say, well, was he a victim? Should he have not spent 26 years in prison? What if he didn’t spend 26 years in prison, he probably wouldn’t have become the Nelson Mandela that we know today. And so I think that every situation, if we really start seeing life, from a soul perspective, and realizing we’re souls, first and foremost, then we’re able to use every situation for our growth, learning and opportunity. And from that level, we’re not victims, our souls are choosing to go through that experience. Maybe our personality in this moment, isn’t understanding why we’re going through there. But I think that’s the opportunity for us to say, not why am I going through it from a victim standpoint, but why am I going through from the standpoint of learning like, why am I going through? Why am I going through this situation? What is this situation reflecting to me about myself about just beliefs, about what I believe and feel about myself? What is this person reflecting to be about myself, that I need to integrate, that I need to embrace, that I need to own that I need to heal within myself, then we can use every experience as an evolutionary moment. And so from that standpoint, we’re not victims.
So much good stuff to think about here. Last question, is surrender a practice? Is it something we do over and over? Or is it like a one and done kind of thing?
Yeah, I wish it was a one and done. I mean, I think the nature of life is surrender. But I do think as human beings because of our conditioning and our conditioned nature and the way we’ve been conditioned, we get to breathe and remember surrender and breathe into surrender, kind of practicing surrender moment to moment to moment in another situation, okay, that the surrender bit more here, you know, even if we can just ask yourself, Okay, how can I surrender a bit more right now? Doesn’t have to be some big thing. How can I surrender a bit more? How can I trust a bit more? And I just want people to kind of think about for a second. How can we not put because people won’t be thinking how can I trust, I’m thinking, how can we not trust Like if you look at life, okay, it’s not perfect, life, every moment of life is a demonstration that we can trust it, like, literally you and I have been having this beautiful conversation. And you’ve been breathing, I’ve been breathing, breath has been happening. But we’ve kind of forgotten because we’ve gotten so distracted. The same breath that’s breathing you is breathing me is breathing and functioning all 8 billion people of existence. So I would say, take a moment and just connect with your breath. Feel your breath, as a reminder, connect with your body. There is an intelligence an innate intelligence in your body that is miraculous, but we kind of forgot about this mechanism of what is breathing, you feel that for a second, meditate on that for a moment, connect with nature, spend time in nature, look at nature, the sun, the stars, the season, is there ever a day that the sun didn’t rise up, and at midday, it was pitch black, but the sun forgot to sort of come out that day, every day, life and nature was reminding us you can trust life. But somehow we as human beings, in our separate sense of ego, have forgotten that we are a part of this nature. We are part of the like, we trust Siri, on our phone. But we trust Siri on our phone more than we trust life. Siri, okay, how do I get to such and such restaurant turn left, turn right, we don’t even question. Siri could be taking us into it off a cliff and we would just drive there. But our soul says, you know, turn left. What do you mean? So what like, why should I go that? Maybe? We question so much. And so I think if we really look at meditate on our bodies, meditative nature, observe nature, observe how many things have worked out better than we could imagine. You know, observe life, observe, even take a poll in our lives and look at the best things that have happened in our lives. Did we even plan them, meeting your soulmate, meeting your loved one, having that child meeting you better, we didn’t plan them and they just kind of happen. And so I think when we start getting into relationship with life, we can start trusting a bit more. And I think when we trust a bit more, then more opens up and we trust a bit more and more opens up and we trust a bit more and more opens up. And so you don’t have to know where you’re going in order to get to exactly where you need to be. So I invite people to give up the need to constantly know and embrace being curious, curiosity is a key to surrender, where you’re willing to be curious and allow life to lead you, to me it’s part of surrender, the willingness to allow life to lead you.
Good, thank you so much. The book is the magic of surrender. I can’t wait for everyone to read this and keep surrendering. Thank you so much for the work you’re doing in the world. And for this beautiful conversation.
I thought about this interview for days. I loved what Kute had to say about cutting out the BS and confronting the lies we tell ourselves. If I’m being honest, I’m a little nervous to think about sitting down and evaluating that in my own life. But I also think it’s reassuring that Jute said, we don’t have to take action based on the radical, authentic, uncompromising truth. We don’t have to do anything. We can acknowledge the truth, like saying to yourself, you know what, I do hate my job. And that’s enough. We don’t have to take an extreme action once the truth is out there. We don’t have to quit that job. Just allowing ourselves to know the truth. That’s enough. And that’s not so scary. Thanks for joining me on our first Friday episode. Be sure to check out all three new day episodes each week, and submit questions for me to answer on those Monday and Wednesday episodes by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great weekend. See you Monday.
NEW DAY is a Lemonada Media Original. The show is produced by Kryssy Pease and Erianna Jiles. Kat Yore is our engineer. Music is by Hannis Brown. Our VP of weekly content is Steve Nelson. And our executive producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Jessica Cordova Kramer, and me, Claire Bidwell Smith. NEW DAY is produced in partnership with the Well Being Trust, The Jed Foundation and Education Development Center. Help others find our show by leaving us a rating and writing a review. Follow us at @LemonadaMedia across all social platforms, or find me at clairebidwellsmith.com. Join our Facebook group to connect with me and fellow NEW DAY listeners at facebook.com/groups/newdaypod. You can also get bonus content and behind the scenes material by subscribing to Lemonada Premium on Apple podcasts. Thanks for listening. See you next week.