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April 6, 2023

253. From Fearing God to Embodying Love: A Yogi's Journey - Troy Hadeed

Troy Hadeed was at the lowest point in his life, feeling helpless and broken hearted, when a mysterious little girl with a divine mission brought him to his knees, inspiring him to write a book on faith and remind us all of the power of love. In this...

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Troy Hadeed was at the lowest point in his life, feeling helpless and broken hearted, when a mysterious little girl with a divine mission brought him to his knees, inspiring him to write a book on faith and remind us all of the power of love.

In this episode you will learn:
1. How did yoga find Troy Hadeed, and what does the embodiment of yoga mean to him? 
2. What is the relationship between love and fear in religion?
3. The remarkable story behind the little girl who visited Troy at the beach, and how it shaped his understanding of faith?

Troy Hadeed is a yoga teacher, author, and social entrepreneur who is committed to making God more accessible and discovering what it truly means to embody love.





Other episodes you'll enjoy:

188. Phenomenal Transformation - Timothy Stuetz

197. Transformative Yoga - Lily Allen-Duenas

213. Empowerment and Food - John Farinelli


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Kara Goodwin00:00:15

Hello, and welcome to The Meditation Conversation, the podcast to support your spiritual revolution. I'm your host, Kara Goodwin. And today I'm joined by Troy Hadeed. Troy is a yoga teacher, author, and social entrepreneur who is continuously excavating the human experience while aiming to make God more accessible. He wants to discover what it truly means to embody love and aid humanity in realizing that we are far more connected than we've been led to believe. So welcome, Troy. I'm so happy to meet you.


Troy Hadeed 00:01:51 Thank you. Same here, Kara. Thanks for having me. It is such an honor anytime I'm given a space to share, so I really do value this time, so thank you.

Kara Goodwin 00:02:02 Well, I'm so happy to be connected. And you're joining from Trinidad, right?

Troy Hadeed 00:02:08 Yeah, I am. Yeah, we just reopened our yoga studio about a week ago.

Kara Goodwin 00:02:19 Was it closed from COVID I guess.

Troy Hadeed 00:02:21 It has something to do with COVID but we pretty much got evicted by our landlords.

Kara Goodwin 00:02:27 Okay.

Troy Hadeed 00:02:27 I don't think they wanted us there anymore.

Kara Goodwin 00:02:30 So you have a new location?

Troy Hadeed 00:02:32 Yeah, we have a new location. Things always align, and sometimes when we don't think things are going away, they actually are. And this definitely was. So we have a beautiful space that's.

Kara Goodwin 00:02:49 So important to be highlighted. I think it's something that a lot of people know or they've heard before. But to hear it at the right time and be reminded of because somebody could be listening right now and they're deep in the throes of some challenge that came out of the blue, and it feels like they're cursed. And it can be the catalyst to the right thing. And like I said so often, we know that intellectually, but when we're in it, it can be hard to remember.

Troy Hadeed 00:03:24 Yeah. I'm not too sure where I pick this up from, but when it's someone's birthday, I always tell them, I pray that your dreams do not come through, because there's an intelligence that dreams far greater than we do, and our dreams are so limited. And I think it's important to recognize that there is that intelligence. We talk about it all the time, but in so many ways, we're a little disconnected from it. And that intelligence had dreams that are so far greater for us than we could ever possibly conceive.

Kara Goodwin 00:04:03 I love that. A friend of mine was just saying yesterday because I'm on the tail end of a little cold, and he was like, oh, do you have a cold? And I said, yeah, it's just working its way out. It's almost gone. And then as we were finishing up, he said, I feel like we need to tell each other more. Like, I hope you feel better, but even if you're feeling great, I hope you feel better, because even if you're on cloud nine, you could still feel better. So it's like, I want the peak experience for you, and we reserve that for like, oh, you're not feeling well, I hope you feel better to get back to what that mediocre is.

Troy Hadeed 00:04:50 Yeah, and it's so funny this comes up now, Kara, because just this morning well, recently I was listening to another podcast with Neil Donnell Walsh, author Conversations with God. And now that I've been guesting on a lot of podcasts, I'm actually starting to listen to a lot of podcasts and he's one of my favorite authors. But he said something in that podcast that has stayed with me since and I've been using it a lot. And he said, every time you see someone on any given day, you should tell yourself your life is going to be better. Because I just walked into it.

Kara Goodwin 00:05:34 Was that my podcast? He said that on my podcast.

Troy Hadeed 00:05:37 He did. Amazing. Beautiful. I can't believe it was actually Shiman Direct. I think I was listening, but I have a post pending around that and I've been talking about it a lot because naturally and rightfully, he said, don't tell someone to their face. Tell them. Say it in your head or they'll think you're crazy. But for me it's like but why? Because we believe in the power of word or we say we do. We believe any power of intention or we say we do. So why is it so wrong of me to say to you that, Kara, your life and the life of your listeners are better because they've come across the podcast today? Why is that so wrong? Why does that land so differently? And I just think it's really important because would we not wish that for anyone? I would assume that anyone in human form today would wish that they make you will a better place, that they impact someone's life. Even if in this moment I'm rubbing someone the wrong way and they aren't happy with what I have to see, I believe that at some point that brings them growth and transformation and that I make their life better.

Kara Goodwin 00:07:04 I love that and I agree with you. And I think that people, maybe they need to be open to a certain level to be able to really let it land, maybe, and not be triggering or not to think that you're being condescending or you know what? I mean, to really get to the truth, like the actual truth that's in it rather than what can be interpreted that it's wrapped in based on somebody else's shadows and so forth.

Troy Hadeed 00:07:41 And what comes up for me again, I actually just came from a funeral.

Kara Goodwin 00:07:46 Oh, I'm sorry.

Troy Hadeed 00:07:48 That's okay. They went really close to me. They were a friend's mom who I don't think I ever met, but yeah, made she rise in beauty and peace. But I grew up in a Catholic home. And I'm sharing this because I think what dawned on me this morning is really relevant to what we're seeing. But I grew up in a Catholic home and from a really young age of course, I was noticing all the misalignments and inaccuracies misunderstandings I see of the church or organized religion. So while I have nothing against religion, there are many ways in which I no longer connect to it. And I was in a mass and a ceremony this morning. And when we go to receive Holy Communion, it's so funny that for generations, I'm sure you have different practices within religion, but at least any churches I grew up in, we actually utter the words, I am not worthy to receive you. And I was like, how disconnected is that? Of course I am. Of course I'm worthy to receive you. We always talk about word and sound and intention, and we can't always connect to dots to realize that where we're actually creating a negative reality with our words and our belief and this narrative that we keep reinforcing.

Kara Goodwin 00:09:25 Yes, thank you for sharing that. And it's so funny. We seem to be very aligned right now, at least because yesterday I was putting laundry away and for some reason, it came into my mind about how in traditional religions, there's this, like, people want they're taught, and then they really latch onto that we're meant to fear God, and that is the right way to worship, is in fear. And that this is like never forget that you need to be afraid of this massive power. And of course, God is omnipresent, omnipotent and has power beyond what we could even fathom. I mean, yeah, God could do anything at any time with just great ease that could cause complete destruction. But that also assumes that there's this remoteness of God or that there's this punishing disconnect. And that doesn't resonate at all, I believe, with how I experience God, and that fear is actually such a hindrance in our development, where it's like when we're in fear, we are closed off and we can't get to a more expanded state. It's very limiting. So it's just very interesting because it's this, again, also like a traditional across many different religious traditions, where that fear is really meant to be a top priority. And it's kind of like, have we misunderstood or is that intentional? It's a lot easier to control people if they are afraid. And so I'm kind of back and forth about like, did we get it wrong? Or was that a very intentional play by the power?

Troy Hadeed 00:11:38 Oh, you get me started, Kara. I'm not sleeping. I'm rolling up my sleeves. I wrote about this recently too, and I'll say a few things with regards to the fear of God. One is that you can never truly know or love someone you are afraid of. That's the very first thing it's impossible to really know intimately and love someone you are afraid of. And I think this is one of the greatest things, greatest inaccuracies and misalignments in historic times and religion, as you would call it. Secondly, I would invite someone to understand right. And we've also brought this into our relationships, which is so sad. But I would also invite someone to understand this. If I do anything because I am afraid of the repercussions, if I don't, then that act is actually self serving. That is a selfish act. It is not an act of love. Right. And I would imagine if I was in an intimate relationship, which we are with God, I am with God. I would imagine that God would much rather act in accordance to his desire that I do because I love Him and I see his hand in all of creation, even the areas of light, a will that appears, darkness. God doesn't want me to behave or act in a certain way because I am afraid of his punishment. That's like a bribe, right? It's a selfish act. I'm doing something because I'm afraid of his reaction. And unfortunately, that has transcended our relationships, our daily relationships. I call it emotional corruption. We act or behave in a certain way to gain affection or support or love. And if someone doesn't act in a way that pleases us, that we want them to act, we withdraw our support, we withdraw our love, we give them silent treatment. All of that is corruption. But the currency we're using is the most valuable of all. It's our love, it's our attention.

Kara Goodwin 00:14:15 Wow, that's really powerful. Thank you. Well, Troy, we went straight into depth, big time. And I didn't really give you the opportunity to even explain kind of who you are and how you kind of got to where you are. I'd love to hear a little bit about your origin story or what you feel called to share with us there.

Troy Hadeed 00:14:39 Yeah, so we got sucked into it for real, like a vortex, it was.

Kara Goodwin 00:14:45 And I love it. I love it. But I do want to give you a chance to introduce yourself too.

Troy Hadeed 00:14:50 Well, I was born in Trinidad to a father of Syrian and Middle Eastern ancestry and a mother of Irish and European ancestry. And I lived my entire life in Trinidad. From a very young age, I would say people ask all the time, how did I get into yoga? Because I've been teaching yoga now for over 15 years. I think yoga got me. I don't think I found yoga. I think yoga found me and just wrapped me in. And I had no idea whatsoever. From a really young age, though, I remember when I graduated university, people asked, well, I came back to Trinidad and I opened Trinidad for his hemp store, which I'm very clear it was not a head shop or smoke shop, it was a hemp shop. And people used to ask before that, they were like, what are you going to do? I'm going to teach yoga. And they would say, well, do you do yoga? I was like, no, but I know I'm going to teach yoga. And to me, the essence of yoga. Kara has nothing to do with postures or meditation. For me, the greatest yogi that ever walked the planet. For me, my teacher is a man called Christ outside the context of religion, and I think he was one of the greatest yogis that ever walked the planet. So now that I believe I have an understanding of what the embodiment of yoga is, what the real practice of yoga is, I can acknowledge that. I understood that from a really young age, and I began to dial into what it meant to live yoga from a really young age through the teachings of Christ that I felt was sometimes absent in organized religion. So that's how I grew up. And there's a cool story as to how yoga found me, but that might take ten minutes, so I'll save that to see if we have time. And then after I ran a hemp store for seven years, and then I opened waste coconut oil recycling business, and I opened a yoga studio, and I've been teaching yoga internationally now for about 15 years. And I just finished writing my Facebook, and I'm onto my second book.

Kara Goodwin 00:17:14 Wow. Congratulations.

Troy Hadeed 00:17:16 Thank you. I do hope that if Facebook comes out this year, I hope that everything I do in some way reminds us what it means to love and connects people to their own individual understanding of God and gives them the permission to do that.

Kara Goodwin 00:17:35 Yeah. Thank you. That's beautiful. And I love what you say about Jesus and him being such a great yogi. And I just had this mental image, as you were saying it, of Jesus walking through the desert and then just throwing his arms up, like, greatest of all time. Greatest yogi of all time, everybody.

Troy Hadeed 00:17:55 Yeah.

Kara Goodwin 00:17:56 So christ like.

Troy Hadeed 00:17:59 Have you ever read a book, Kara, called Yoga of Jesus?

Kara Goodwin 00:18:04 Yeah, I love her month yogananda. I actually don't know if I did read that one in particular. I can't remember, but I've read lots of yoga now.

Troy Hadeed 00:18:13 Yeah, he's good. But that's me in a nutshell.

Kara Goodwin 00:18:17 I love that. Now, is your story about how you were pulled into yoga, is that the story about being visited by the little girl?

Troy Hadeed 00:18:27 No, that's a whole different story. Which one do you want?

Kara Goodwin 00:18:33 Well, I have in my notes that I would love to hear about when you were heartbroken and you were visited by a little girl. So maybe we go that direction.

Troy Hadeed 00:18:42 All right, let's go there first. Let's go there first. So one of my best friends, her name is Jade, she's actually in a room next to me. She manages our yoga studio now, and she now has a beautiful little boy and a beautiful family and husband who I'm really close with. But we dated for three years, three and a half years. When we broke up. I could go far back into that story, but when we first got together, a lot of people didn't see it working because we kind of live very different lives. And I had just come back with teaching yoga JEE, it was kind of like partying kind of live, that kind of. But there was something within me that really called and said it was almost like a voice that said, yeah, this is for you. And I couldn't resist it at all. So we had a beautiful relationship, probably for about three and a half years. But towards the end of that there was a lot of resistance and conflict, if you want to call it that. But when we finally broke up, I was heartbroken. I was completely torn. I didn't want to break up, not even a little bit of needed. So I was having a hard time. I've lived pretty much a really blessed life, Kara. And if there was a point in my life where I could say life brought me to my knees, I think that was one of those moments. Yeah. What I did one day is I had my recycling business at the time and I remember just leaving the office and saying, f this, I'm out. I couldn't take any of it anymore. Not that I would take my life or anything. I just needed to escape. And I went to this little secluded, magical beach where I go to to watch his sunset. If anyone's been to Trinidad, it's called Macary. And I was walking in, and as I walked in, I walked on like 100 stairs and I walked onto the beach and saw this lady who I kind of knew. Her face was familiar and she had with her a friend and a little girl who had never seen before. Right. They looked like tourists. So I went into the lifeguard booth, which was my plan, which was about ten by ten, and I laid down my yoga mat and I began to practice. I put on some Krishna Das on a little radio, and that was my plan, to go there and practice at sunset and wash it all away. About 15 minutes into my practice, I would say this little girl walked in. I came up into upward facing dog, if anyone that knows vinyasa yoga. And in front of me was standing this little girl, the same little girl I saw blue eyes, brown hair, looks kind of like yoga. And she was standing right there in front of me. And I was in a podcast and dog. So I practiced for a minute or two again, just to see what would happen. I just kept practicing. And she began to walk around me in circles and I was just really present to all of it. So I just kept practicing. And the style of vaniards I practiced it's really slow moving, intimate, graceful, not aerobic, kind of just a steady scene. And this little girl, after making a few circles around me, she sat down in a corner of a lifeguard booth and just looked at me do yoga. Now, just to explain, this is about 4ft off my mat because Booth is only about ten by ten or twelve by twelve at the most. So she sat there and she just looked at me do yoga. So I came down and I invited her onto my mat to see if she wanted to come and talk or meditate. And she didn't move, she just looked at me. So I said okay. She seemed happy. So I went back to my practice and then I asked him. Maybe about ten minutes later, she's still sitting there looking at me practice, and I hear these footsteps coming up the stairs. And what I assume is a mum, who I assume is a mum, walks in and sits down next to her. So now they're both looking at me practice yoga about 4ft off the top of my mat. So I remember thinking, well, her mom is here, maybe they're more comfortable. So I stopped practicing. I call them both onto my yoga mat to come and share space. And they came and we all three satisfies sat in meditation with eyes closed. I can't really tell you how much time passed, but his mum eventually said something which sounded like French. And the energy I got from it was like a telling girl, it's time to go. So they got up the wave goodbye. No words were spoken. They left. I went back to my practice. So I'm in Downward facing Dog, and there are two flights upstairs out of a lifeguard booth. And where I was, I could be in Dama Dog, and I could see the bottom of his staircase. So I'm in Dama Dog looking underneath my feet, or through my feet, and I could see them at the bottom of the staircase. And Mum is holding her little daughter's hand, and a little girl pulls her hand from her mum, turns around and walks back up into a lifeguard booth. So I'm in Dharma Dog and I see these two little feet up there underneath me. And she leans over and she kisses me on your left side of my ribcage and then she leaves. For anyone on video, I put a tattoo on the left side of my ribcage because I knew that I would never think that actually happened, that I would doubt whether that experience ever really happened. And I knew I had to have some way to remember that experience. And for me, that was God. That was God coming to say, listen, I got you. I know it might hurt right now, but I got you. And I look at my life today and Jeez still in it.

Kara Goodwin 00:25:22 Yeah.

Troy Hadeed 00:25:22 And I'm part of his family and I love his little boy, and I love her husband and her husband. I give him so much respect and love for allowing me to be in the life the way I am. It's just really beautiful and it's a reminder to me what it really means to have faith, because we often confuse hope and faith, and hope and faith are not the same thing. Hope is actually an absence of faith. Hope is a lack of faith. Hope leaves room for doubt and uncertainty, where faith is an absolute knowing that we are held and protected by a great intelligence.

Kara Goodwin 00:26:11 Thank you for sharing that. Can you tell us a little bit more about the significance of this encounter? I feel like there's a lot that's just energetic and really hard to communicate with language. But what separated that particular experience from it being ordinary and just like, oh, I had this encounter with this little girl, and it was really sweet, but you went and it was so meaningful for you that you were afraid you were going to forget it. And then you have this amazing tattoo then to kind of seal it in type of thing.

Troy Hadeed 00:26:59 Yeah. Well, first off, Kara, I can't imagine any little girl playing out that scenario as fun and games. Like, the energy I got from this little girl was that she was dead on business. She didn't come to play and smile and do handstands, and she was there on business, and she was doing work while she was there. And the energy to me of her presence, even with hitachi on my ribcage, do I still doubt what I remember feeling and how I remember that experience occurring? Sure I do. But I also have to tell myself it doesn't matter. Even if Kara, even if I fell asleep in Shavasana, and if it was five minutes and that whole thing was a dream. Doesn't divinity communicate via dreams, via our thoughts? Like, there's so many ways in which divinity communicates with us. Why does it actually matter whether it happened in physical form or not? I mean, I know it did, and I know that that experience is etched in my memory. And what's this is all in book two, by the way. This is like I've started book two, and this is a huge part of it. But another part of the story is some years later, I was teaching. I used to do these amazing, or still do these amazing full moonlight music classes with some musicians I'm friends with, and 200 plus people would come out, and it's such an amazing practice. But I remember one night, I saw that woman who I saw that day in Macarib, that friend, that woman I was familiar with, and I remember asking her, do you remember that day I saw you in Macarib? And she said, yeah. I said, you were with a lady and a little girl. Do you remember? She's like, yeah. And I asked that little girl, and she said her name is Anika, and she was actually named after this lady, Anika.

Kara Goodwin 00:29:37 Oh, no kidding.

Troy Hadeed 00:29:38 Yeah. So I now know that little girl's name is Anika, and I am going to put out there that one day I know I'm going to meet Anika. And I could only hope that in some way I impacted her life the way she impacted mine.

Kara Goodwin 00:29:58 Yeah, that's amazing. I really love that. Thank you.

Troy Hadeed 00:30:03 Yeah.

Kara Goodwin 00:30:08 Do you have a home in the forest?

Troy Hadeed 00:30:11 Yeah, I live on a place called Paramount on the north coast of Trinidad, which is absolute magic, and it's only about 30 minutes out of the city. And I grew up in a city. As much as I love nature, when people refer to me as a bushman, I'm like, yeah, I'm not a bushman, I'm just a sticky boy that lives in the bush.

Kara Goodwin 00:30:36 Well, can you tell us about your first night in your home in the forest?

Troy Hadeed 00:30:42 Yeah, I remember it so clearly because second, I stood on that lot of land, I knew I had to live there and I probably didn't build anything on it for a few months. And I knew I couldn't afford to build a house, a proper house. So I built like a little tree house, a little cabin of sorts, and I figured that I was in a tree. We call it treehouse. It wasn't actually in a tree. It hung off the edge of a mountain, so it was level and surrounded with trees, but it wasn't actually in a tree.

Kara Goodwin 00:31:22 Oh, that sounds like paradise.

Troy Hadeed 00:31:24 Yeah. And of course, it was all made of wood from Milan and so on. It had a tree house feel to it. But my intention was not to live there. I never thought I could live there. It was just a getaway to go and hang out with friends or go and spend time. But the first night I spent there, I knew I was like, there's no way that's in my home now. I have to live here. And I lived there for six years before it pretty much was falling down. And then I sold my recycling business and could afford to build a proper house, which is what I live in now. But that first night Kara I always say that I think this is important. Being told of God and knowing God are two very different things. And I think a lot of people in our world, they have been told of God and they regurgitate and repeat and adopt the narrative they've been told. But to know God is a very different experience. And here's how I described that first night. Remember, I'm a city boy, right? So I was in this tree house, which had no doors and no windows and any forest, and just set the stage for it. I could scream and no one could hear me, so I was pretty much there alone, or at least I thought I was. So it gets dark and you have all the creatures of a forest come out and all the noises of the forest come out and we have these decades little insects that fly into you and, like, bombard you like torpedoes. It got kind of eerie, and I started to get very uncomfortable and very we also have a very venomous snake that lives up there. So my mind starts thinking, snakes, scorpions, everything that could possibly go wrong, right? Everything around me that I was unfamiliar with. And there came a point where I was in a hammock, and I just kind of wrapped myself up and started to breathe deeply. And then I opened up a hammock again and began to actually see, rather than seeing everything as a threat, I began to see moonlight on trees that were hundreds of feet tall, probably hundreds of years old, and I began to see with a different lens, and I realized that I was a threat. The only reason I felt threatened was because I saw myself as separate from everything else. So naturally, I felt threatened by everything around me. But once I could remember that I was actually a part of it all, that I am interwoven in all of this creation, that there's no way I could be threatened because I am a part of it. And once I took on that lens and began to see that the divinity and God in all of it, then that kind of faded away, and I realized that I was safe. And I could feel that that forest and that experience had so much to teach me and still teaches me to this very day to be immersed in nature in that way that is profound.

Kara Goodwin 00:35:09 And I love how you started that with learning about God and experiencing God are two different things. And it's not to say that learning about it is wrong or, you know, but it it's part of the evolution, and it's this transference of intellectual understanding, whether that is that you were brought up in a religious household, and you have to parse through, like, what is universal truth versus what was something else? Or let's say you're a student of shamanism, and anywhere that you're learning that shamanism is a much more experiential path. It's very much feeling that divinity, experiencing it and letting it flow through you. But every place is going to start with an intellectual understanding, at least at this point, with where we are with humanity and consciousness. But it really is one of those, like, as we go deeper, it's an embodiment, and it's an understanding. And it's through that experience that we start to actually embody and understand things where it's I mean, so many times I've had journeys with multi dimensional journeys, for instance, and I realized that things that I thought were metaphors are literally true. So, like you're talking about, I realized I was a part of this whole fabric of everything that I'm witnessing. Like, I'm a part of it. I'm not threatened by it, and I can choose to be, but I'm, like, interwoven into it. And it's that type of thing that. We can understand. I can listen to you say that and be like, yeah, unified field, as above, so below and all that. We can rattle off these ways that we understand that, but there comes this point where we do start to experience things and that type of knowledge and knowing is a completely different beast and there's only so much language that we can use to be able to express it, but it can be really profound.

Troy Hadeed 00:37:42 Yeah. I think, Kara, that we have a responsibility, and I'll apologize to listen in advance for putting this on them because it carries weight, but we have a responsibility to question everything we've been told, because if not, what ends up happening is we just repeat the cycle, we repeat the disconnect, just in a different form. But we have to question everything we've been told and really listen and feel and have the courage to call out the misalignments or the inaccuracies that have been carried over generations.

Kara Goodwin 00:38:30 Yeah, that's beautiful. Thank you. Yeah, well, Troy, this has been so enlightening and so much fun. It's such a deep, heartfelt connection. So I thank you so much for being here. Please tell everybody how they can connect with you, talk about your book and anything else you want to share.

Troy Hadeed 00:38:54 Yeah, well, Troyhadeed.com is my website, so that's my go to. I would love people to go and sign up for newsletter. I'm also quite active on Instagram and if anyone has any questions or wants to reach out at all, please do, feel free. I do do yoga teacher trainings and I have one coming up this September if anyone's interested in Tobago. I also would really encourage people to join a mailing list and follow on Instagram because there's going to be news of a book coming out and you do not want to miss that.

Kara Goodwin 00:39:37 Awesome. I love it. Well, Troy, thank you so much for being here. It's been such a joy to connect with you.

Troy Hadeed 00:39:44 Same, Kara, and thank you for having me. I'll be back. Anytime you need, you let me know. I love to come back and chat more.

Kara Goodwin 00:39:51 Absolutely. Thank you.