The Academi of Life regularly invites inspirational thought-leaders to share their wisdoms in enlightening Evenings in Conversation. These conversations touch on a range of life lessons, from neuroscience and spirituality, money and morality, commitment, happiness, and much more. Here, everyone has something to teach as well as learn- it’s all a part of conversation.

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People of all ages are interested in love, relationships and marriage. We are either on the lookout for the right person or we are trying to make a marriage work over decades. Finding lasting love can be a challenge, but is there a formula for creating a perfect match? Cornell University professor Karl Pillemer, seems to think so. He asked over 700 people averaging 43 years of marriage each, to tell him the secret to a happy marriage and they poured their hearts out. He shares what he learned in his new book, “30 Lessons for Loving: Advice from the Wisest Americans on Love, Relationships, and Marriage.” Here are some of the gems they shared: Marriage is hard. It takes spirit and resilience. Marriage is something that you work at and get better at, but it is never completed. And when you "look back from the finish line over a half century or more of marriage, lifelong marriage is incredibly good. It's almost indescribable. It's such a source of joy. Pillemer gathered these insights and many others after spending the last four years conducting the Marriage Advice Project. The sample included some retirees who were widowed and some same-sex couples. It also included folks who had been happily married for years, and those who had been through multiple marriages and divorces. The longest marriage was 76 years between a 101-year-old woman and 98-year-old man. Pillemer has been married for 36 years to his high school sweetheart, Clare McMillan. So if you are, searching for a mate, in relationships where you are considering marriage, married and need some new tips, then join us for this fresh, wise, surprising and compelling conversation on “what makes for an amazing love life that stands the test of time.”
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Colette Baron-Reid started out as a singer in Toronto, Canada, and didn't realize her calling as a spiritual intuitive until she was 28. Since then, she has released three books on spiritual practice and for three years toured as the opening speaker at publisher Hay House Inc. multi-speaker events and conferences. She has performed spiritual readings for over 50,000 people in nearly 30 countries, and released several music and meditation CDs. She is most well-known for her lecture style, performing inspirational speeches based on consciousness and spirituality. She has the voice of an angel, is a "life strategist" as well as a world-renowned intuitive counselor, and her goal is to empower everyone she meets to be self-actualizing, awake and authentic. Deeply spiritual, Colette Baron-Reid encourages people to develop meaning and purpose in their lives. Over the past 25 years, her words have reached nearly 150,000 people through speeches and one-on-one counseling sessions. A trusted advisor to an international coterie of celebrities, politicians and CEOs, Colette's mission is to deliver inspired self-revelation. Her purpose is to help individuals understand where they are, how they got there, where they are heading, and how to live life to its fullest potential and meaningful purpose. Dubbed the "intuitive's intuitive" by W magazine, Baron-Reid is praised by many of her well-known clients for her objectivity, accuracy and highly detailed readings. She is the real deal when she makes a prediction, and her goal is to provide people with perspective on who they are, where their lives are going, and how they fit into the broader scheme of things. She is a storyteller and believes in the power of the poignant details that make up our lives. Clients are amazed when she can pick up on these intimate details in their lives. As the year ends, join us for this playful yet informative and intriguing evening of conversation, music and readings. Colette will share with us how to access our divine intelligence, potential and power through our intuition. She will help us remember our future as we plan the New Year. “We need to open our minds, she says, and explore our miraculous, spiritually profound world rather than denying it, fetishizing it or being afraid of it.” – Colette Baron Reid
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Every person has a family member who is either: Mentally ill Autistic Deaf Transgendered Disabled Down's Syndrome A Criminal A Dwarf A Prodigy Conceived from rape "It's the family secret that everybody shares," says award-winning writer Andrew Solomon. No one has thought or written more about the dignity and worth of all human beings than Solomon. He spent eleven years interviewing hundreds of families, exploring how they grew stronger or fell apart while coping with raising children who were profoundly different. He wanted to understand and share how parents deal with raising a child who isn't what they expected him or her to be. What he discovered is revealed in twelve astonishingly acute, riveting and compassionate chapters of his latest book, Far From the Tree. In it, Solomon shares stories of children who have been heartbreakingly tragic victims of intense prejudices - and also stories of parents who have embraced their children's differences and tried to alter the world's understanding of their conditions. Solomon is a man who understands and has had experience with mental illness and depression and as a gay man, knows a bit about being rejected because you are 'different'. This phenomenally brilliant writer and master storyteller will help us understand the dignity and worth of all individuals, the unconditional love of parents for their children, and the desire for all humans to be valued as individuals. He will teach us how to love the people in our lives who are different -- no matter what! This conversation and fund-raising event is on Veterans Day. This day was chosen to also highlight and discuss the mental well-being of veterans returning from war. Across the country, nearly 60 million American live with mental illness and each day over 23 veterans commit suicide. These statistics are frightening and "sadly underscore the urgent need for a sustained, national effort to ensure all our vets get the care and support they deserve," says Paul Rieckhoff, CEO and founder of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. A charitable donation will be made to Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America and National Alliance on Mental Illness from proceeds from the event. "People don't talk about mental health issues or mental illness because of the shame and brokenness surrounding the topic" - Rebecca Thiegs
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Addiction is an epidemic that's affecting all layers of American society. More than 100 people die from overdoses every day -- it's the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S. -- more than traffic fatalities. Every family in America is impacted by this but do we truly understand the nature of this epidemic and the profile of drug users? We hold many stereotypes about what drug addiction is like, and what the users are like. Addiction can exist in people's lives that are very accomplished and very educated. The stereotypes usually don't match reality. Dr. Carl Hart, an Associate Professor in the departments of Psychology and Psychiatry at Columbia University has written a book, High Price: A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society, based on 22 years of research as a groundbreaking neuropsychopharmacologist about the science of drug addiction. He asks us to get our facts right about drugs and drug use and believes that dispelling some of the myths and stereotypes, may help us effectively fight our drug problems through re-education and effective drug policies. Did you know that: More than 20 million Americans use illegal drugs regularly 85% of drug users are not addicted Around half of all people with drug addictions are employed full time A huge proportion of people having difficulties with prescription drugs are women "Much of what we are doing in terms of drug education, treatment, and public policy is inconsistent with scientific data." – Dr. Carl Hart
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