"You have to fall back on your resources and you have to experience what life is like without all of the props," she says.
Ellen says being forced to beg for money opened her eyes to certain truths about humanity that she's carried with her ever since. "A couple of weeks later, I forgot my wallet. I was in New York City and when I realized I didn't have my wallet I went, 'Oh, I forgot my wallet. I have no money. I have no driver's license.' And I said, 'Wait a minute. It's just like the street retreat.' And suddenly all the people in New York didn't seem like strangers anymore."