My Dearest Livi Rabbit on Your Sixth Birthday

 

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My Dearest Livi Rabbit:

Yesterday you turned six and my heart hurt a little. In that bittersweet mom way that includes memories and pride. In that way that makes me want to wrap you up in my arms and tell you that I’ve got this, you don’t have to grow up any more, I’ll take it from here. You’ve already told me that’s not possible and I love the way you are so logical and so funny at the same time. You have the best sense of humor and dear God, girl, sense of self. I won’t have to worry about you in life. You know who you are and I promise that I will always honor that about you.

I love watching the new facets of your personality shine forth. I giggled inside when you hit the Emergency Stop button on the escalator at Dillards and then pretended you didn’t know who did it when the alarm went off. You slid your little hand in mine, your co-conspirator, eyes straight ahead as you trusted me to get you safely away without telling on you, “I won’t do that again.” I love that you trust me and oh how I hope that when you are hitting life’s Emergency buttons in the future you will trust that I’m still a soft place to land.

When you downloaded over $300 worth of Apple apps I shook my head. You very responsibly helped with chores around the house until we “paid off” your debt. Your heart hurts that I hide my passcode from your sneaky little eyes now, but we had a gorgeous conversation about responsibility and I saw how conscientious you are through and through.

I love what a big heart you have and I have adored watching you become a big sister to your dad’s new baby. Your voice becomes very soft and nurturing when you talk to him. You have a maternal quality about you and he is very lucky to have you. You will be the most important influence in his life and I know this because I know you. You leave little pieces of yourself with everyone you touch.

The other night you crawled into bed with me because your growing pains were keeping you up. You snuggled your head into my neck and told me I smelled like lavender before your breathing slowed and you fell asleep. I felt a tear slide down my cheek as I remember a very specific night in your nursery when you were only a few months old. I had just slathered lavender lotion on you, fed you a bottle and swaddled you. You dug your little upturned nose into my neck and made the same little sweet sounds as you breathed deeply at first and then fell asleep. I know these moments will be fewer and farther between, but I will always be here to comfort you, lavender or not.

As I told you the morning you were born – I will always choose you. I will always be here to advocate for you, hold you, help you, be your biggest cheerleader and safety net. I will try to do it in a thoughtful way so that you are wise and prepared when you experience the bad things we all have to in order to grow. When those lessons and heartbreaks come your way, I will be there with bandaids, snacks, be it Goldfish or wine, and a soul’s worth of support. You will never doubt that you can slide your little hand in mine.

You, my love, are so bright. You have the world awaiting you and I adore your strength, your voice, your inquisitive nature. You have pure light running through your veins. I am truly honored to be your mother. Thank you for picking me.

Love you to the moon and back, bigger than the Universe, deeper than the Ocean and more than chocolate or shoes,

Mom

 

 

 

 

 

Keep An Open Heart

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We took a selfie one day, giggling in the snow. The snowflakes stayed in tact when they landed in her soft curls while my hair looked every bit wet dog. It’s an image, a moment, I can’t find in my phone, but forever burned in my brain.

We’d ski, drink spiked hot chocolate and share crazy stories. There were so many trips, date nights and dinners in pajamas with glasses of wine. Our friendship was one of ease and in the past few weeks I have seen her everywhere. In the profile of a woman at a conference in Salt Lake. In dark curls bouncing through a crowd. The freckles in someone else’s Instagram post. I randomly found myself in the same restaurant we were in during a blizzard in Utah. I ordered her favorite salad without even realizing that’s what it was until it was placed in front of me.

What are you trying to tell me, Briar?

I hold enormous guilt. You see, we had a falling out before she died. I was there for her the day she was diagnosed with brain cancer and I was there for a long while. When she first fell into a coma her husband and I walked behind the bed the surgeons were wheeling her away in as we clutched each other and cried the big tears that you don’t wipe away. Then I went through a divorce and stories were twisted and I saw how the pain of my breakup was hurting her. After I shared my tearful side of the story I heard her sob after she thought I’d hung up the phone. I felt selfish. She was undergoing hardcore chemo and radiation therapies and I was talking about my problems. I decided not to talk to her about it anymore.

She tried to get us back together. She begged. She asked me to keep an open heart, to listen to her, to accept a marriage intervention of sorts. I stopped talking to her altogether because I was in pain. I was hurting and I was hurting her and it was easier to hide inside myself. So I did. She sent me emails, texts. I explained that it was hard to see her because I knew she was spending time with my ex and that we used to be couple friends. That I just needed some time to get over everything.

I didn’t have time.

She didn’t have time.

My ex husband called me almost two years ago, “Jeanette, Briar is dying and you are going to regret it if you don’t see her.”

The doctor had determined it was the end. She had maybe a week and I immediately left the office and went straight over to her house. I felt her in my chest as soon as I entered the room. It almost knocked me over. Her pastor and several friends were sitting with her while I wished them away. I finally realized they were there for her and whatever was about to transpire. They knew our rift was the last thing she had to resolve so were firmly planted, no excuses.

I took a deep breath to steel myself, “I have to say this….” The room got incredibly quiet, “Briar, I was never mad at you.”

She immediately started crying, “I know.”

“I was hurting and I was so broken and I didn’t want to talk to you about it. I was losing my family and never once was I ever mad at you. Never once. I need you to know that.”

Now, in hindsight, I realize I probably could’ve included another sentence or three, “I knew I was losing you as well. I was too weak to handle all of that loss at the same time. I’m a jerk.”

We both sat there crying, softly sobbing and nodding. No more words needed to be said and before long her pastor asked if he could say a prayer.

Briar lost consciousness soon after my visit and passed away several days later.

Sometime before that day and between the emails, texts and tears, I shared the biggest gift she ever gave me and I know it filled her heart. She brought me back to faith. I’d forgotten the God of my childhood and I found some semblance of him; different, more amenable and forgiving, in the prayers that came after Briar’s first seizure. I thanked her for helping me find the courage to give something bigger than me a chance again.

At her funeral her mother and I locked eyes and moved directly into each others arms, crying. I apologized through sobs and she shushed me, “She loved you so much. That was her unfinished business. You helped her let go. Thank you.”

I felt guilty for my tears, guilty that I was mourning someone I’d abandoned. I didn’t feel deserving of my grief or time with Briar before she passed. I ran from the loss rather than facing it head on. I also didn’t know that I was still carrying all of this with me until this past week.

When I saw flickers of my friend in the life of others.

I’d like to believe she was sending me a message. That she’s ok. That she’s at peace. That WE are at peace and all is forgiven. I don’t think she’d say it exactly that way. I’m pretty sure it would be like, “I’ve seen your tears. Cut that shit out. We’re good. Have you seen my wings? They’re ridiculous.”

She’d probably have a beer in hand.

Say the things you need to say to the people you love. Say them before you can’t. Forgive like its your job. Love them when they’re in front of you. Love them hard.

And, in the words of my friend, “Keep an open heart.”

Miss you Briar.

xo

Love Yourself Some You

loving-yourself-revolutionMy inside-and-out beautiful friends at Kaia Fit asked me to guest blog for Valentine’s Day and I jumped up and down and said, “Yes, pick me!” It felt fitting as LORE turns two today! I’ve reposted my article for them below and I am so excited to spend a week with them in Belize in March to dig into the love letters process. Well, in between all the diving, hiking, yoga and such, I need a vacation.

Happy Valentine’s Day, lovers!

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, love is on the mind. I’d like to use this occasion to remind you of the most important love affair of all and that is the one with yourself.

I first began collecting and publishing love letters from women to their younger selves over a year ago. Successful women took off their shine to virally mentor those women who are still in the struggle. What I didn’t expect (nor did they) was the deep, cathartic work the writers would undertake. As I began to interview them about the process, it became clear I was on to something pretty amazing. Since that time I’ve been gifted stunning letters by incredible women. Donna Brazile, the former Chair of the Democratic National Committee, shared that she felt it was important to reflect, pause, and give yourself credit for what you’ve accomplished. Emily Nolan, a plus-sized model and author, expressed the deep love she found for herself after years of severe body dysmorphia. Many themes bubbled up around forgiveness, boundaries within relationships and learning to ask for what you want in your life. Every woman shared how important the work had been, but one message stood out among the rest and on the heels of Valentine’s Day, consider it our gift:

You have to love yourself. First. Foremost. Always.

Easier to read than practice, granted. I’m not talking self care. Self care is now almost medically approved. Many studies have been done to show the direct correlation between self care in all its iterations and life happiness, longevity and the avoidance of disease. I argue that one of the most loving things you can do for yourself is to dig in, do the work, learn who you are under all the layers you’ve put on and start to love yourself some you. Release all the stories you’ve been told and in that blissful, painful work you will begin to see the you your children and lover see. I’m here to get you started.

The instructions are easy. Imagine a younger version of yourself. Is she 5? Is she 8? Is she a teenager? When you see her, really see her, trust your gut. What do you want her to know? When I began this exercise I was completely blown away by my first sentence. I had an overwhelming desire to tell this dejected little girl I imagined that she was so loved, so worthy. The first sentence hit me like a ton of bricks,

“You will spend most of your life believing you are unlovable.”

I had to take a deep breath and sit back for a moment, shocked at how true that sentence was and how it had colored so much of my life and relationships. It is ok to take a moment as you write. Just don’t leave it because the feelings are too heavy. There is no growth without pain, my love. If you have to wait until the kids are in bed and you have your glass of wine and a box of Kleenex you do it. Give yourself the gift of time to feel your feelings. If that means you write one sentence and have to process it for several days before you get back to it, you are still on the path. I have found most women need time, because the unlocking of these truths have a bit of a whiplash effect. They bring up memories and misgivings that no child should believe about themselves. With all that said, if you begin unlocking repressed memories or find yourself reeling or having dark thoughts from what you begin to feel, please seek the counsel of a professional therapist.

As women have complete these exercises I have found that the ages they choose are typically aligned with the moment right before or during a tragic or painful event or memory. One writer, Chelli Wolford, a survivor of sexual violence, wrote to the four year old that was being molested by her uncle, “It’s not your fault.” It took her until she was forty to realize she’d carried so much of the responsibility for the behaviors of others on her shoulders and what a relief to finally put them down.

You will also notice that your tone changes. The harshness which you likely view yourself today, get it together, sister, falls away and is replaced with, it’s not your fault or you are perfect the way you are, love. You will find that you begin to guide your younger self with the tone of an older sister. One writer suggested that if we could be as gentle with ourselves today how much healthier we would be.

Once you imagine that younger version of yourself and start with your first sentence of the letter, begin to scan over the distance between that version of yourself and who you are today. How did that first message you’d share with your younger self play out over the course of your life and do you want to carry it with you?

Some questions to ask yourself:

What is one thing I’ve always known about myself? My greatest strength?

What is one thing I’ve always known about myself that was negative? How was it originally triggered? Was it reinforced by my family? Is it true?

What is the best thing that has ever happened to me?

What was your most humbling experience and what was the lesson?

What was I missing as a child?

Who or what do I need to forgive? Is that person me?

The act of writing the letter and referring back to it helps excavate old programming, memories and feelings that you’d like to release and offers you a chance to start fresh at a new point in your growth.

If, after you’ve written your letter, you realize you have something you’d like to share with other women or girls to further help our gender, I have the platform to do that and would love to publish your letters for others to read. If you would like to keep it personal, then thank you for having faith and trust in yourself to do the work and I hope you will share your experience with me.

I will be teaching a workshop at the Kaia Retreat in Belize in March and so look forward to meeting you lovely Kaia women in person!

Happy writing!

Love,

Me

An accomplished author and public speaker, Jeanette founded LORE Advocacy, a network of professional women who aspire to change the world through a gender lens. Jeanette also founded “LORE and Little Things” in 2015. It is a platform for women to discuss issues relevant to professional women and mothers. Her articles and “Love Letters to Myself,” a viral mentorship program, have been seen on Huffington Post.

During the day Jeanette is a Senior Vice President and Institutional Client Advisor within the financial services industry. She serves on the boards of Spread the Word Nevada, the President’s Advisory Council for The Smith Center for the Performing Arts and a large charitable foundation. She is a member of the Hall of Fame of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Nevada and a 2016 Vegas, Inc. Woman to Watch.

Connect with Jeanette at www.loreandlittlethings.com, on Twitter @msjwrites or Instagram @msjwrites and @loreandlittle. Letters can be sent to jeanetteschneider@gmail.com.

“Love, Me” featuring Emily Nolan

The Love Letters project began a year ago with Jessica Moore’s letter to her younger self. I found that as I got to know the writers I was privy to insights and gems readers were not. I had questions about their struggles and how they overcame, which they very openly shared. I wanted to make the experience more dimensional for everyone involved and began filming interviews over the summer.

We had fits and starts as we worked through storylines and production, but the result is gorgeous. I am so excited to debut the very first “Love, Me” webisode featuring model and author, Emily Nolan. We sat down in Phoenix in August to discuss her love letter (see below) and I was taken by Emily’s willingness to be vulnerable and her deep faith in something Divine. She was a few weeks out from a breast explant and spoke so openly about her lifetime struggle with body dysmorphia and what she hopes to share with every woman and girl.

**Please see submission guidelines if you are interested in sharing your love letter**

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Emily Nolan –

Dear Emily,

You are eighteen years younger than I am and you’re already so incredibly smart, strong and beautiful inside and out. You are the greatest gift God’s ever given the world and you are perfect just the way you are. You were born to be a brave leader. And, most importantly, you’re a fierce lover. You lead with love so divinely well; it’s a special gift you’ll always had unlimited access to. Use love as much as possible.

Dear warrior, use your bravery to listen in to who you are throughout the years. There will be challenging moments that make your heart break, sadly, and you’ll need to be there to love yourself fiercely. You’ll need your friends and family, too, to lean on for help, because you can’t do everything, always. Sometimes you’ll need help. Everyone does.

Those moments of listening to yourself feel like “listening to your gut,” and choosing not to believe in a bully or someone else’s unremarkable opinion of who they think you should be or what you should look like. Later in life, you’ll know those brave moments to be God’s grace. Which is also your own divine grace.

You’re a child of God, Emily. Your parents’ divorce and the bullying at school, and other moments to come that might make you feel icky and sad inside, they do not decide your worthiness. God does. You do. And because you get to decide what a miracle you are, continue to be brave enough to listen in and honor your own inner voice that says, “I’m awesome!” This way, no one will be able to rent valuable space in that precious little noggin of yours. You are a holy vessel. Be brave enough to always believe that. It’s not arrogant to think your God’s greatest gift, its love. And remember, love is what you’re best at.

You’re strength is in being bravely unique. You’ll feel that looking like everyone else is boring and has very little divine purpose. Like, what in the world are we accomplishing here by trying to look pretty? Aren’t there bigger fish to fry? Like who’s on second base and how we’re going to get the third out?

Your fierce bravery will be a rising tide that lifts all boats. Most of your girlfriends are waiting for you to make the move, to feel good enough, just the way that you are, and to allow them the same feeling by being brave enough to own it. They’ll thank you for your courage and permission to be beautiful, just the way they are. And they will support you immensely in the years to come. That bravery you own will make you feel full and good and happy. You’ll say things like, “I’ve never felt closer to God. I’ve never felt closer to myself.” Little me, you were born to be pretty brave.

Being an athlete has taught you that your body is a tool to be used for movement that’s fun and life-giving. Your body is not meant to look a certain way, it’s meant to work! To be useful! Being an athlete makes you a leader; leadership and teamwork will be as important to you as going to school and learning. All of the leadership training you’re getting now, by wearing heavy catcher’s gear every weekend, shouting directions across the field to your teammates, committing to team goals, attending every practice, calling the signals and telling your teammates what to do when the ball comes to them, conflict management with girl drama, all of these skills will be absolutely necessary in your life.

One day, you’re going to have enough courage and leadership skills to believe in yourself. You’ll believe that you can teach women and men and girls and boys that they’re great enough, just the way they are. You will share your love with them in so many kind and gentle and generous ways.

I also want you to know that you’re brave enough now, to ask Mom for help, whenever you need it. Bullies, diets, body image, questions about your body, questions about boys and friendships, ask Mom; she wants to see you win, not suffer in silence. She wants to elevate your bravery, lift you up! That’s her medicine, let her support you. Never feel ashamed to ask her questions. Talking to Mom is always going to help you and you’ll feel so good you did it. Your thirty-year-old self promises.

You are a remarkable young woman, Emily. I love your pigtail braids, dirt smeared across your chin from your catcher’s mask, and your fierce bravery, going onto the softball field shouting out positive affirmations to your teammates. You’re going to use all of these lessons in the next eighteen years as tools to inspire and motivate others to keep moving forward on their own journey until they find the light, which is essentially the love, for everything and everyone, including themselves.

You’re a complete magic trick—how could your precious, pure spirit be so perfectly tucked into that beautiful, capable Earth Suit of yours? I just love you so much. You are a miracle. How could you not be, Emily? You’re a child of God. And you are perfect, just the way you are.

I love you forever,

Emily

Emily Nolan is the author of My Kind of Life.com. She’s also a model and the founder of TOPLESS yoga. #TOPLESSbyemily is a bras on, bellies out self-confidence event used as a tool for self-love. This event is about exposing vulnerabilities by practicing radical self-acceptance.

Emily’s effort to share what is real and authentic in media was the catalyst for the #HealthyBellySelfie social media project contributing to the global conversation around body image.

Emily publicly speaks about her journey through 10 years of disordered eating, plastic surgery, body dysmorphic disorder and shame. She believes that honesty in conversation can spark individual transformation. 

Emily is on Instagram and Twitter @iamemilynolan and Snapchat / Periscope @MyKindofLife_Em

Dear Lil’ TK by Tania Katan

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Tania Katan doesn’t take the stage. She becomes the stage. She also becomes the inspiration for those who have the privilege of watching her shine as they sit breathless wondering, what’s next? Few have such a gift.

I met Tania at Girls For Progress 2016, a conference for girls. It was created by the very talented 12 year old entrepreneur and philanthropist, Aleena Valdez. Aleena asked both Tania and I to speak and what came next was pure magic. Tania very quickly achieved rock star status for the 12-17 year old girls that lined up for an autograph and a selfie with the lady wearing a cape that gives them hope. She is the brains/soul behind the #itwasneveradress campaign. I now see signs of her influence wherever I go. I recently spoke at Kaia Fit’s Annual Konference, which was hosted at South Lake Tahoe High School, and stopped short on my way to the girl’s rest room. Even without the official #itwasneveradress swag, girls across the country are inspired by this amazing woman.

I asked her to write a love letter and send in a photo of her younger self. Of course she sent me a shot of her as SuperGirl at age 4.

We call this foreshadowing in the writer world.

 

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Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the very unreal Tania Katan – 

 

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Dear Lil’ TK,

You come from a long line of outsiders; people who didn’t, and would never, fit in. Suckiest DNA ever! Especially because, right now, the ONLY thing you want to do is fit in. I know. You want parents who pack snacks for you, who have ordinary jobs, who eat dinner at a certain time, who own a freaking dining room table! You want to live in a home, with married parents, not a shitty little apartment with one parent and the other parent on the lam. You want a mother who isn’t a French citizen, doesn’t make you look up words in the dictionary because she doesn’t know English. You want a father who went to school and knows the nuances of his native language, English. You want some other 8 year-old to learn phrases like “ends meet” and “Section 8 housing.” You want a mother who doesn’t throw parties with belly dancers and stinky French cheeses and artists and joy. You want a father who doesn’t have “BIG IDEAS” that compel him to bet on horses and get-rich-quick schemes. You want friends. You want normal. You want consistency and you want it NOW!

Well, I gotta tell you, Lil’ TK, it’s BECAUSE of your outsider birthright, not in spite of it, that you will do—and be—some amazing things!

All the times you eat lunch by yourself and wish you had friends so instead you write skits, plays, jokes, and funny operas in your notebook; all the ways you rewrite poverty, how you use humor to reframe a crappy-and-routinely-magical childhood. These practices will create a foundation for you to leap from.

Eventually, you’ll realize that the same parents who embarrassed you by being themselves are delightfully idiosyncratic, which in turn, inspires you to be delightfully yourself. You’ll realize that your single-mom worked two jobs and took care of three unruly kids (you, included), and yet somehow managed to take you to every arts festival, event, and space under the sun! And even though she had trouble making ends meet, Mom always found a little cash (usually stashed in her bra) to buy art supplies. Mom will show us that commerce can be a creative pursuit with the Barter System. To this day she still pays the guy who fixes broken stuff around her house with homemade quiche!

Dad also found creative ways to provide for us, namely, gambling. Once, Dad found himself down to his last 100 bucks. Instead of getting a job, Dad gambled his life savings on a craps table in Laughlin (couldn’t even afford the real Vegas). Within 20 minutes of rolling the dice, Dad turned his misfortune into a $500 jackpot. One could say that Dad was the outsider pioneer of the “work smarter, not harder” movement. Or one could not. It’s a fine line.

Our parents inadvertently taught us how to be creative, value creativity, gamble and have fun! Which are pretty much the hallmarks of arts, innovation, and everything else worth doing/being in this world!

You will go to university and study Theatre. You will meet other outsiders in Theatre, the freaks and geeks who compete in Speech and Debate, write plays and stand upstage left—which is really to the audiences’ right (still confusing). You will finally feel like you fit in, just in time to jump into the workforce. Don’t panic! You will have many jobs, most of which won’t make any sense to you or your employers; that’s ok, it’s part of what makes you awesome later in life.

You will spend years selling crap, bagging groceries, serving pizzas, slinging coffee. You will wonder how you can be creative while working in non-creative fields. You will write plays and stories and even books that will be performed and read and published all while working day-jobs.

In your thirties you will realize that when you hate your job, it’s because you’re not doing your work. You will start doing your work, the work of a creative, even in places that aren’t designated CREATIVE. This shift in consciousness will lead you to your calling, your vocation, which is sneaking creativity into all the nooks and crannies of work and life, even when people and places say KEEP OUT or NO SOLICITING or NO TRESPASSING, you will go inside with all of your outsider skills. You will call this Creative Trespassing.

So, hang in there little tiger, keep writing, observing, and performing because you’re gonna win awards for your writing, travel across oceans to perform, and help create a campaign that millions of people around the world will embrace as an emblem that celebrates outsiders everywhere!

Love,

Me

Tania Katan is an award-winning author, keynote speaker and creative trespasser who believes in storytelling at all costs! Katan has performed her stories at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, NPR, Comedy Central Stage +. Her work has been written about in the New York Times, Huffington Post, BuzzFeed +. She has been a featured speaker at Business of Software, S.H.E. Summit, TEDx +. As Brand Evangelist for B2B SaaS company, Axosoft, she cut her teeth on Agile + Scrum methods. She holds a degree in Theatre, is a graduate of Creative Capital’s Professional Development Program and is certified as an Anti-Bias & Diversity Trainer. As a Speaking Coach, she works with best-selling authors, TED speakers and CEOs empowering them with the tools and techniques to engage and inspire audiences. Katan is a whiz in disruptive marketing strategies, audience engagement and radically activating spaces online and off.

You can find Tania at www.taniakatan.com or on Twitter @theunrealtaniakatan.

 

Insecurity Is A Waste of Time

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A few times over the last few years I’ve been asked for a favorite quote or expression that is important to me. Once was for a female small business owner who was building her own blow dry bar. She wanted a wall of famous women’s quotes to act as a backdrop for women who’d just had their hair done. A few months later I stood before it while celebrating the opening of Blowout Dollhouse with a proud new business owner.

Last week I was asked again for quotes for an event where I’ll be speaking this week. I took a few days, mulling over all the gifs and pretty sayings that decorate my phone and my office. I again found myself drawn to the same one and I always smile to myself when I share it.

The back story is a good one, if I do say so myself.

It was roughly four years ago. I’d flown in from one city to realize that while changing out dry cleaning to fly to another, divorce was on the horizon. I wiped tears as I headed to West Palm Beach. I sank into the Florida humidity upon arriving, feeling as if my home state was going to help soften the blow. I had to get it together and fast. I was going to spend a weekend with the most successful women in financial services. They wore Laboutins and sparkling things, all brains and verve. I was intimidated in my state.

I prepped for my mission: looking like them. I would seem poised and polished while my insides were caving in upon themselves. Yes, definitely. They wouldn’t notice that I didn’t belong.

Then a funny thing happened.

They were honest about all the things on my mind. There were maybe twenty men to the thousand women and my God, how women speak differently when we are around our sisters. Yes, there were talks about economies and global trends, but there were also talks about how you have to take time for yourself, how it is hard to juggle career, marriage and children, solidarity sister.

One woman shared that while she had gotten kids to school, ran meetings, thawed dinner, made soccer and took a red eye out of New York, all she wanted to do was fill her brain with mindless drivel. She tucked herself into an InStyle magazine. Her seat mate, however, had her laptop out and was making notes while flipping through graphs and reports. After realizing they were heading to the very same conference, she told the very focused woman, “Wow, I feel incredibly lazy.” The woman laughed and I will never forget what she said, “No, you don’t understand. I’m the keynote speaker tomorrow. I just had a baby and she’s sick. My husband has been sending me updates every few minutes. This is the only time I’ve had to prepare.”

She was the Chief Economist for a large firm.

They then talked babies and balance.

She nailed her keynote.

Every woman at the conference was her most beautiful, natural, smart and nurturing self. These women were so enlightened and encouraged by the way a male-dominated industry feels when the men aren’t in the room. When women come together to inspire one another, to make you feel less alone, less anomaly, its a beautiful thing.

We talked about the guilt, my God, the guilt. We talked about marriage and personal relationships, messy and glorious, I try so hard to be present. We talked about the children we were raising, I try so hard to be present. We talked about who we become when the men are in the room, the layers we put on, the children we forget for a lunch meeting, because you can’t be a mom. We talked about the health concerns we don’t share with our male colleagues and clients, because then you are a woman. We talked about how you are scared to take maternity leave, because then they look at you with the wondering, soft eyes.

The weekend ended with a final keynote by Diane von Furstenberg. She had a Power Point presentation with pictures of herself as a child, as a Princess, as a mom and finally, the pinnacle photo of the wrap dress that turned her into a design house. She talked about her regrets as a mother, her role as a grandmother, her career frustrations and failures.

When asked what she lived by, what drove her to continue, she said as self-confidently as you can imagine a former princess to espouse, “Insecurity is a waste of time.”

Isn’t it just?

Can you imagine if every woman in that room confidently owned each relationship she had and all the hats she wears, no insecurities? I think through conversations I’ve had, meetings I’ve walked into, moments I’ve silenced myself and worried that I was too… something. Too soft, too hard, too feminine, too masculine, too talkative, too expressive, too… all the things that make me who I am.

There sometimes comes a time in your life and in your career that you find your value. And, most will tell you even when you find it, life has a funny way of saying, “Are you sure?” and offering you missteps and ego to dig through so that you finally find your footing and say, “Yes, I’m sure. This is who I am and what I do well. And you know what? Here are the things I don’t do well. I’m going to own them too.”

Ms. DVF herself, in her very poignant, clipped comments, asked us to learn who we were, all our iterations, and own them. Own who you are today, find your why, your reason, your gifts.

Then stand up and introduce yourself.

No apologies allowed.

 

You Are So Powerful: A Love Letter by Jessica Leigh Lyons

 

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A few have asked if I’ve written my letter yet and while it is in my heart, it hasn’t hit paper, it’s complicated.

As I’ve tried to figure out what I want to say I realize there is too much. I find myself hoping that the collection of letters will scratch some of the topics I’d like to cover. You see, my letter wouldn’t just be to my younger self, it would also be to the girls that grew up in my poverty stricken neighborhood. While I was raised by a minister, the girls across the street weren’t so lucky. My letter would be to the women and girls who were trafficked out of my neighbor’s houses. It would be to the women who were beaten and choked when they got too mouthy.

I would tell them they are not where they came from and not the things that have happened to them even though they can’t imagine deserving anything more.

I would tell them they are not the person described to them by those who have taken ownership of them.

My letter would be to all the little girls who don’t yet believe in themselves, and may not, if they’re not guided to find the squeaky little voice inside. This is why Jess Lyons’ letter below resonates with me.

I hope someone who does not have access to the women writing earnestly each week stumbles across this site and realizes there is so much more. It is like a viral hug from women that hope you figure it out much earlier than they did.

Please send your love letters to loreandlittlethings@gmail.com

I reached out to Jessica upon finding her Twitter feed filled with positivity and girl-centric messages of hope and asked her to write from her heart.

She did that in spades.

Ladies and gentlemen, Jessica Leigh Lyons

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A teenager blew me away this weekend.

Sitting in a circle of women at a workshop, a 16 year old woman shared her thoughts on power. She spoke about the girls at her school. She watched as her girlfriends changed themselves to be like the boys; joking like boys, tearing each other down. They changed their dress, their makeup, their hair. The girls actively morphed themselves into some contortion of what they thought boys wanted.

This young woman looked each of us — 30-somethings and 40-somethings — in the eyes as she spoke.

This young woman was courage — unafraid to be in the wrestle.

Women of my heart, I cried.

I cried for my younger self who knew about my deepest heart’s desire, which I contorted to fit into my surroundings.

I cried for the journey of my 20s — finding myself, losing myself, selling everything, traveling, moving, and returning home.

I cried for the tears that I had spent, for the shame-talking I had engaged in.  

I cried because in this space, I could. I was surrounded by bad-ass women who grieved the losses of their younger selves and had risen stronger.

I cried because this young woman is so beautiful–in her deep knowing, in her courageous wrestle, in her coming of age.

I cried because she will go on her journey, too.

I cried because watching her, I deeply wanted to reflect back …

You are so powerful.

I shared this reflection with her.. I wrote her a letter which doubles as a reminder to my younger self AND to my future self; for those moments I feel as though I’ve lost my power.

It is this:

“I know you will be afraid that you are doing the ‘right’ thing. There will be angst because you must walk through YOUR OWN LANDSCAPE. The first time will be difficult and you will not know what to bring. But the second time will be easier, you will have more tools for the journey. And finally on the four-hundredth time, you will speak lovingly to yourself even through the difficult passes.”

And you must distinguish your truth from what women are told and what women are not told.

We are told to get it together, figure out your life, your passion and your purpose in order to achieve fulfillment… yesterday.

We are told that you are only worthy of success if you figure it out on your own.

We are told that we must stay happy and positive in order for others to love us.

We are told to say yes to what comes along because we might not get what we really desire.

I do not believe what we have been told. Rather, I’ve found my truth in what we are not told.

WE ARE NOT TOLD that OUR POWER COMES from FEELING, from SHARING, from BEING SEEN.

WE ARE NOT TOLD that TRANSFORMATION COMES from being with, from expressing our deepest emotions & letting them run their course through us, from emptying so that we can be full again.

WE ARE NOT TOLD that WE MUST CRY-LAUGH in a cycle, surrounded by women and their curves, and their fierce, and their nurturing in order to experience deep healing.

WE ARE NOT TOLD that we can BE WITH ALL OF EACH OTHER AND THEREFORE ourselves.

WE ARE NOT TOLD that anyone can handle you IF you want to be handled.

WE ARE NOT TOLD THAT WE CAN BE WITH ALL THAT IS AND THEN SOME because we are powerful just by being.

To all the 16 year olds, and the 6 year olds, and the 56 year olds: your truth is your power. This is an invitation to share the story of your journey and proclaim your power.

It is only by being SEEN — in the struggle, in the wrestle– by speaking what is true for ourselves, that we heal.

You NEED NOT KNOW YET for what purpose.

You, my sweet, wild, fierce, courageous woman, are powerful regardless of your knowing.

Please trust in your path. Please ask, seek, beg, open, receive, and create the support you desire. We are here to bear witness to your power.

In so much love + deep healing belly laughter,

Jess

Jessica Leigh Lyons is a life coach dedicated to liberating women from their stories of self-doubt and creating the biggest boldest vision of themselves. She leads an event called Storybowl, a place for women to gather and speak truth, which she is taking around the country in April 2016.

In addition to her private practice, she regularly leads training on mindfulness and happiness at Bossed Up Bootcamp, a workshop to create sustainable success and she is the Director of Desire, Goals, and Planning for Inner Glow Circle, a powerful sisterhood of possibility and personal development.

Jess can be found on Twitter @JessLyons_ and Instagram @JessicaLeighLyons

Dear Young Amy Jo by Amy Jo Martin

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Every love letter seems as if it was written to or for me, arriving at the moment a question arises within or another idea regarding content is tucked into my iPhone Notes. The thing that makes my heart soar and shine, however, is that every single woman that has approached me has found a letter that resonated as well. Over the course of the past several weeks I have had people approach me at work functions, charity events and holiday parties to say, “Kimberly spoke to my heart,” or, “I use one of Jessica’s points as my daily mantra,” or, “Tracy was in my head!”

Forget Marc’s. His went viral and was picked up by God Updates.

The magical part? I am having conversations with people I don’t know about how we are all connected. We are talking about failure and freedom, why don’t we believe in ourselves more?

Another thing I’m finding that I didn’t expect is that letters are promised, but delayed. Every person that wants to share insists their words be meaningful, “I know what I want to say, but I have to get to a place.” There is a vulnerability and an openness that speaks, but it can be a scary journey.

Be scared.

Fear is the fraud, not us.

We are lighting the way for others; inspiring, impassioning, incandescent.

Send your love letters to loreandlittlethings@gmail.com 

We’re waiting.

I reached out to Amy Jo Martin after seeing a few of her empowered posts, but was blown away when I watched her Inbound talk, THE RENEGADE FACTOR: EVOLVING “PRETTY” TO “PRETTY DAMN RAD” FOR THE NEXT GENERATION. MEN REQUIRED.

When I received her letter I was sitting in my car outside of my daughter’s school having just dropped Olivia to her teachers with a hug and a kiss and a promise that swim class is tomorrow night, don’t worry. Preschool conversations, share day and my next meeting fell away as I read Amy Jo’s words, nodding my head, eyes watering.

This is good stuff, y’all, and I love Amy Jo’s voice. It is math brain meets soft soul.

Ladies and gentlemen, Amy Jo Martin

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Dear Young Amy Jo:

I write this letter to you on a plane as I fly back to U.S. soil after spending time in Asia. As I boarded the plane in Hong Kong, yet another mass shooting in the U.S. topped global news. The more we’re exposed to in this world, the more we realize how little we know or understand. That said, please take what’s useful from this advice and leave behind what is not. You will create your own journey which makes you unique.

Btw, we’re quite stubborn and it’s possible you won’t listen to the advice below. Regardless, you will still live a fulfilling life (at least until you’re 36). And, we think in bullet points and absorb content best in the form of bullet points so here goes . . .

  • You’re going to experience some amazing things. Humble yourself or the universe will do it for you. The world is much bigger than us and it doesn’t revolve around us. The people we respect the most, including our mentors, are the humblest people we’ll ever meet.
  • We can’t bank sleep. Meaning, we can’t deposit and save up hours into a fictitious sleep account and withdraw rest when needed. This strategy simply doesn’t net out well regardless of what grades we earn in math. After averaging 4-5 hours a night for several years, our 36-year-old version has finally learned to respect sleep. She guards it fiercely. I encourage you to protect your sleep at a younger age. (PS – math is one of our sweet spots. It’s our jam. We like black and white answers and scenarios. This poses challenges for us. Read on.)
  • Learn to push your own buttons. Inspire yourself. Everyone else is busy. It’s wonderful and convenient when others inspire us but there will be droughts between the supply and demand. Subsidizing with a self-sufficient supply of inspiration serves as our safety net. This is how we make inspiration sustainable and scalable. Personally, our strongest source of inspiration is nature – being outdoors.
  • In third grade, you will be put in a ‘special’ reading and writing class because you’re not quite performing up to par with your classmates. Accept, listen and learn. We will apply these skills years down the road when we write our first New York Times bestselling book. We must always appreciate the opportunity we are given to slow down, listen and learn. Timing is everything. Trust the process.
  • Where purpose, passion and skill collide, bliss resides. This sounds like fluffy BS but it’s your reason for not worrying about knowing what path or profession you want to choose when you enter college – just be open, try everything and listen to how you feel. Purpose. Passion. Skill. Collide them. (Heads-up, they change so don’t get too comfy)
  • Don’t let other people rent space in your head for free. That’s valuable real estate. What other people think of you is none of your business. Be you and let go. Repeat. This is a tough one for us. It requires constant practice. We struggle and trip over this one at times.
  • Learn when to make things happen vs. when to let things happen. When you’re feeling strongly about one or the other, move confidently in that one direction. Down the road, if you don’t like that path after you’ve given it a red hot go, then simply choose again. If you are torn on whether to let something happen or make it happen then sit down at the fork in the road and pause. Hint: We have a tendency to make things happen (force it) at times. Ease up, sister.
  • Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is extremely powerful. It takes daily practice. Take risks. When in doubt, ask yourself: What’s the worst thing that could happen if I try ____? And then what? And then what? Also ask: Is ____ safe enough to try?
  • Read. Read. Read. Make it a part of your day, your world. Surround yourself with people who also love to read. Give books as gifts. The benefits are unmatched.
  • Travel. Even if it’s an hour from where you live. Exploring will open your mind. If you have an opportunity to travel due to your career, take the ticket and explore while working – especially while you’re young and have less geographic anchors. Don’t spend 36 hours in Australia for the first time because it’s a “quick work trip”. Add a few more days and explore, chances are that nobody will question the request. Hint: You just have to ask.
  • Words matter. With all relationships, exchange “we” vs. “me” as much as possible.
  • Try not to worry so much about: your career, your weight, your finances, your future, etc. It all works out. We are warriors, not worriers.
  • Your career is going to take off, but please, please don’t get caught up. Make family a priority. I didn’t attend my grandmother’s funeral because I had a business trip that was “critical to my career.” We are one of 19 grandchildren and only two of us didn’t make it to the funeral. To this day, I don’t remember what that very important “career-altering” opportunity was. Show up for family. It matters.
  • Be kind and smile. It’s good for the soul, it’s a mood-changer, it’s contagious and … it attracts. Kindness and a smile are the ultimate positive boomerangs.

I love you and hope you learn to love yourself at an earlier stage than I did.

Ajo

Amy Jo, author of New York Times best-seller Renegades Write the Rules, founded Digital Royalty in 2009 to help corporations, celebrities and sports entities humanize their brands online through social communication channels. Amy Jo has worked closely with world-renowned brands such as Hilton Worldwide, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal to successfully humanize their presence. Her motto is, humans connect with humans, not logos.

Amy Jo herself has a social media following of more than a 1.1 million people and was named the third most powerful woman on Twitter by Forbes. She travels the world to speak about the latest trends in innovation, the future of social communication and women in business.

In 2012 Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, and Baron Davis, NBA player, invested in Amy Jo and her company. After a successful seven-year run as the Founder & CEO of Digital Royalty and growing the business globally into ten different countries, Amy Jo recently exited the company.

Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Amy Jo began working for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns during their 2005-06 season. These were the wild wild west days of social media and there were no rules or regulations in place. After asking for a lot of forgiveness instead of permission she became recognized as a social media pioneer while trailblazing through this new unchartered territory.

As a young female building her career in male-centric industries, Amy Jo has developed a passion for helping women thrive in business leadership. She is currently spending her time investing in other female entrepreneurs so they can reach their full potential.

Amy can be found at www.amyjomartin.com or The Guild Agency. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AmyJoMartin.

Dear She, Love He by Marc Graham

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This one really needs no introduction.

Just read it and then make yourself aware of the #heforshe campaign that is growing in strength and numbers. These are men that are standing up for women. It’s gorgeous.

So is this letter.

Please click our Love Letters link for details and email yours to loreandlittlethings@gmail.com

If you work with at risk populations, have worked with (or are) survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking, are a woman that has overcome adversity – we’d love to hear from you.

We’d love to post love notes from students to their moms and teachers. Email them, screenshot them, send them our way!

When I received this letter I could only sit quietly, moved. I couldn’t wrap my head around big, feeling words, simply emailing Marc, “It’s beautiful.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, Marc Graham –

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Men are strange creatures. Frankly, I don’t know what you people see in us, or why you put up with our shenanigans, but I’m grateful you do. Much of what we truly feel goes unsaid, and what we try to say comes out wrong most of the time. So, for the times I’ve misspoken, when he said the wrong thing, when we completely biffed a conversation because our tiny brains were trying to process a message from our big hearts, here’s this.

Dearest She,

Thank you.

Among the many things I forget to say, this is right up there. You do so much every day, every moment. Things that aren’t necessarily your responsibility, but that need to be done and if you don’t do them, who will? So (1) please know that you don’t have to do it all and it’s okay to ask for help. And (2) I recognize all you do, and I’m so thankful.

I’m sorry.

Two words don’t adequately cover it, but there it is. I’m sorry for the times I judged you, rather than trying to understand you. I’m sorry for the times I made you feel less ­than, rather than celebrating all that you are. I’m sorry for just hearing you instead of listening to you, looking at you instead of seeing you, touching you instead of feeling you. Mostly, I’m sorry for when I acted like a boy instead of a man.

You balance me.

It’s become a lovely and sentimental notion to say, “You complete me.” It’s also unfair to you. Boys­, ­those needy, selfish creatures­­ naturally look to woman as a source of nourishment. That’s straight biology. But if I’m the man you deserve­­, whether my role is brother or partner, friend or lover­­, I’m complete already. Still growing, still learning, still changing, but complete. What I need is balance, and you do it perfectly. You counter my weaknesses with your strength. You temper my arrogance with your sound judgment. You smooth my rough edges with your gentle touch. You make me better, and you make me want to be better.

I’m proud of you.

Let’s face it, I’m awfully proud as it is, so I hesitate to use this phrase. Male pride is too often focused on self rather than others. But this is all you. You awe me. You’ve accomplished so much, in the face of challenges that would have had me cowering in a corner, tucked into a fetal position. The world puts so much on your plate, and you handle it with grace, which amazes me. And where you really shine, what makes my heart burst with admiration, is when you gently and courageously say, No. When you set your needs and higher goals above the expectations of others. When you recognize that, astounding as you are, even you can only do so much, and your energies are best spent on those things that matter and that feed your soul. You are a rock star.

You’re beautiful.

I mean it. You have a gorgeous soul, and when you let that shine through, when you’re being authentically Who You Are, you take my breath away. That way you smile and your eyes light up, because there’s so much Light inside you that has to come out. That way you laugh too loud, because your joy must be expressed. Even when you ugly-­cry, because you’re capable of feeling so much and so deeply that your body can’t contain it, that’s beauty. Oh, and those little things you try to cover up, those blemishes you try to hide? Don’t. Not for me. Those scars, those wrinkles, those stretch ­marks, all those so ­called imperfections tell the story of you, and are part of how you came to be who you are. Who you are is beautiful, and they are all part of that.

I love you.

Nothing more, no elaboration or justification. I just, plain love you.

Always,

He

Marc Graham is a writer, actor, singer, engineer, bard, and novice alchemist. His debut novel, Of Ashes and Dust, is slated for publication in 2017. He and his wife, Laura, live with their Greater Swiss Mountain Dog in Colorado’s Front Range.

Dear Daydreamers by Tracy Brogan

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I love this letter.

Fine, I love all the letters, but that’s because I know the intention of them. I know the notes that come in from readers who feel as if someone has walked around in their head or let them in just a little, I had no idea. I know that women around the country are working on their letters, hoping their voices, struggles and triumphs may help another. I also know there’s a teacher out there that has turned this into a project for her students.

Everyone asks, “What do I write?”

Write from your heart.

I can’t wait to share Love Letters from Readers. From moms, from daughters, from little girls to their moms and grandmas, from grandmas to the littles they see opening their eyes in a much different world. Boys are welcome to join us as well, who do you celebrate and why? What do you want us to know? There is so much wisdom and good intention in the world. Let’s dig into it.

If there are any teachers out there that would like to include letters from their students, please share!

Please email your questions, comments and love letters to loreandlittlethings@gmail.com.

We’re waiting.

I find I’ve had a reason for loving each letter and the reason I love Tracy’s is because I was with her at the first writer’s conference she mentions in her letter. I was there at the hotel cafe the day she walked in and acted as if the meeting of the agents was only a step in the achievement of her dream, This lady is determined. We stood outside the New York Public Library and announced our books would be on those shelves one day. She bet she’d get there first. She was right.

I had no idea that in the realization of her dream she would be subject to something we all struggle with and I thank her for sharing.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Tracy Brogan

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Dear Daydream Believers – and Those Who Aren’t,

It’s an honor to share this space with you and I hope what I have to say is helpful. My advice is from the heart, and if it touches yours then I’ll feel that I have done my job.

Today I am wearing a silver bracelet with three words engraved on it. Imagine. Believe, Achieve. If I ever actually get a tattoo, that’s what it will say – in some sort of artsy, elegant, and hopefully painless, font.

Imagine. Believe. Achieve.

Individually, the words and their meaning are beautiful. Strung together, they form a philosophy that has impacted my life immeasurably.

Here’s how…

From the age of fourteen onward I started telling people I was going to write a book someday. I told high school friends, college friends, co-workers. I told my husband on our first date. But I never really believed it when I said it. Not deep down – down inside the secret place where we keep our true, vulnerable selves. Because I wasn’t an author. Not like a real author.

Sure, I had endless story ideas swirling, twirling in my brain like cotton candy, but just as spun sugar is apt to be, the ideas were thin, translucent, only slightly sticky. There was never enough substance. Nothing I could grab onto or sink my writerly teeth into, and after a while the ideas would melt away and I’d be on to something else.

But always I had the hope of becoming an author. Someday.

Some might say hope without action is just a dream. A hollow wish.

Okay.

Sure.

Maybe.

But it’s still a good place to start, right? Because if you can’t even imagine something, how can you ever create it? How can you move toward a dream if you don’t know what it looks like?

So a few years ago (okay, several years ago) when I saw that engraved bracelet at a craft show bearing the words imagine, believe, achieve I decided to buy it.

And then I did something foolishly, naively miraculous. I decided to live it.

This was a mind-bendingly provocative action on my part. As a recovering Irish-Catholic-Capricorn-Midwesterner, I’m not prone to indulging in flights of fancy. Whims are not my thing. But I decided, for once, to gift myself permission to imagine all the possibilities. The plausible. The far-fetched. All the impossible possibilities that were certainly far beyond my grasp.

“What if” became my question for everything. What if I really put the time into writing a book? What if I committed to finishing a manuscript? What if I actually sent it out into the world? My pragmatic brain was quick to point out all the reasons why these things were pointless, but I’d look at my bracelet and remind myself to imagine it all working out. The line between fantasy and goal-setting became blurred.

After some practice, the imagining became second nature. I indulged it, nurtured it, enjoyed it. But the next part was infinitely harder. To believe. I had to give myself permission to believe in possibility, too.

I have a friend who says, “Self-delusion is so much more productive than self-doubt.” She was kidding, mostly, but the phrase stuck with me – because it’s true. Self-doubt means you’ve failed before you’ve even begun and that’s where so many of us get stuck. So I fought against that insecurity and forged ahead in my blissful ignorance. And yes, I was very probably delusional when I sat down in 2010 and finally decided yes, I could write a book. I was definitely wearing Santa-sized crazy-pants when I signed up for my first writer’s conference in New York city a few months later. And I was certainly quite, quite insane when I submitted my first completed manuscript to literary agents.

But guess what? All the crazysauce paid off.

In 2012, my first book was published, followed by five more.  And I have a contract for another five books to come out over the next few years.

So I should be wicked proud of myself, right? I should feel gloriously accomplished. Because technically, I am accomplished. I imagined it, and I achieved it. I worked hard, and learned innumerable lessons along the way because back when I started this journey I didn’t even know what I didn’t even know. Now I do. I know what it takes to write a book, I know how hard it is, and I know I can do it.

But here’s the most fascinating thing. A slightly diabolical and sad thing, too. It’s virtually impossible for me to embrace the accomplishment. To own it. To believe in me. You see, it turns out that even after achieving a dream, the believing part doesn’t always come naturally. In spite of my efforts, in spite of what I’ve learned, and in spite of my success, the only one who still struggles to believe in me is me. Deep down I feel as if I’ve just gotten lucky. Although I’m grateful for my success, I don’t feel deserving of it. And that fear of being discovered as a fraud, a person only posing as a bestselling author, is paralyzing.

In her book, THE GIFTS OF IMPERFECTION, author and researcher Brene Brown talks about how so many of us “hustle for our worthiness.” We shift from feeling unworthy to asking ourselves who do you think you are?  Sounds as if we are screwed either way, but don’t worry. There is a solution. Brown goes on to say that in order to halt that emotional pendulum from swinging between self-doubt and fear of arrogance, we need to trust deep down in our soul that we are worthy. Whether we succeed or fail, we are worthy of love, attention, recognition, and belonging. Living in an age of air-brushed perfection and endless Facebook posts about other people’s good fortune, it can be difficult to believe we are equally entitled, equally beautiful, equally valuable. But we are. So if there is any message I would want to send out to other women, it’s this:

You can fake it ‘til you make it, but until you believe you are worthy of all your big dreams, they’ll still feel shallow even when you achieve them.

The good news is, you are worthy. No matter what it is that you want, you ARE worthy of it. Of course you are! You are beautiful and unique and never in the history of ever has there been another person just like you. And never again in the future of forever will there be another soul just like yours. The world needs you. It really, really does. So make the most of that.

Yes, life can be a glorious, sometimes unattractive mess, and sometimes it’s easy to feel that that everyone else is smarter/funnier/skinnier but so what? Stop comparing yourself to them. They’re not YOU. Their journey is their journey. Your journey is YOURS. Focus on yours. Focus on your dreams. Your big, Big, BIG dreams, and your little, tiny, sweet dreams, too. Imagine it all and believe that whatever you crave is within your grasp. Believe it’s possible. But most of all, believe you deserve it. Because you do.

Big love to you,

Tracy

Amazon and Wall Street Journal Bestselling author Tracy Brogan writes fun, funny stories about ordinary people finding extraordinary love. She’s a two-time Romance Writers of America® RITA award nominee for Best First Book in 2013, and Best Contemporary Romance in 2015, a Booksellers Best winner, and a three-time Golden Quill winner in both contemporary and historical romance. Her books have been translated into several languages including German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Hebrew, and Japanese, and have placed in the Amazon Top 100 bestsellers list in both 2013 and 2014. She’s honored to have received the Amazon Publishing Diamond Award for sales exceeding one million copies. Her most recent release, a Christmas novella titled JINGLE BELL HARBOR, is now available exclusively on Kindle. Brogan lives in Michigan with her bemused husband, her well-above-average children, and their mindlessly hedonistic dogs.

You can find Tracy Brogan at www.tracybrogan.com.