I can now officially relate to my grandmother who at the end of every year would address all the happenings from around the world with criticism and in gratitude. As she would say, “there is always room for improvement” and I whole-heartedly believe that. It’s been quite the year. Last week Karen and I had a conversation about how the year started in anger and protest over some very ugly politics and it seems to be ending with empowerment and hope. Hope. I love that word. If I could visually cue what hope looks like to me cue in the sun rising through mountains, a redwood standing straight in a forest, a baby laughing, looking up on a warm night to a sky adorned with brilliant stars. Hope is seeing through the other side even when it feels impossible.
We women are a powerful source of hope. We seem to always be looking out for the greater good with endless hope. That got us thinking about you. We want to honor your hope and we want to share it with you and what you’ve meant to us over the years. We want to unveil who you are. You are our hero. Because of you (I’m going to speak for myself from herein, but I know Karen and team LBF feel similarly) I have hope. I’ve been able to follow my dreams, travel, create, explore and discover a side of myself I wasn’t quite aware of. There have been days over the last few years that I have wanted to crawl into a hole and weep, but then I would hear from one of you and you would share a story about how something you purchased from our line helped and made you feel confident and beautiful. Sometimes you sent us emails sharing little parts of your life with us or tagged us through social media with lovely photos and words of encouragement. I feel as though I know some of you personally, as well as your families. When one of our Bellas lost her mom to a long batter with cancer and shared that experience I felt her pain and her loss. When The Hermes Hippie (aka Lola Gusman) had her baby I was giddy with joy and couldn’t help but send her baby a gift. Recently one of our Bellas proudly announced being accepted into grad school and I felt pure elation for her. So you see…how could I not want to continue doing what I do for you? I promise, you have inspired me (and all of us) to do our jobs better and run a company with you in mind with every direction we take.
A little over a month ago real life came down hard on me and my family. My mom had an accident and suffered a serious injury. I felt my head spinning as I attempted to process how I would care for her and work during our busiest season. For a brief moment I thought I could multi-task and began to compartmentalize how I would do it all. I sat down to draw out a plan on how I would do it. It was a fleeting thought because I suddenly felt incredible stress swell in my chest knowing it would be nearly impossible to manage. I have this inner voice that I listen to constantly and that voice said, “put everything aside and focus on your mom. This is real life and everything else will just have to wait.” That’s exactly what I did, but it wasn’t without a sense of guilt. I know that’s silly, but I feel such responsibility for my work. In the end I had to forgive myself for not getting all that I wanted to accomplish done. My mom and her situation mattered more. Everything else would wait.
Watching a parent go through something hard like illness or an accident that renders them extremely vulnerable is difficult. For me it was excruciating to see my mom in so much pain. I just kind of wanted to take it on for her. My mom is a strong lady. She raised four children as a single parent during times when it wasn’t as accepting. She taught me to be tough and she encouraged me to believe in myself. When I was seven she put me on a public bus to get to school because she had no one to take me and no other choice. She said, “You’re smart and confident. You’ll be fine.” I tried my best to be brave because I was a bit terrified being in the world on my own. I did get lost that day, but you know what? I figured out my way to school and I stayed calm and took care of myself. I‘ve learned how to do that well over the years and it’s garnered a taste for adventure and independence. How else can one explain starting a company in the midst of a recession and pursuing goals with such passion? I owe that fervor to my mother. I owe a lot to her actually and I realized it so succinctly when she was in the hospital. One day she was having an especially hard day and was feeling overwhelmed and she said, “I need you.” I had never heard her say that. I felt tears sting my eyes and the floodgates gush out. I was glad I was there for her and not at work. I also realized that if we’re lucky, really lucky in this life we’re allowed to show those that have loved us and cared for us a chance to return it all back to them. You can do that when you’ve been lucky enough to have been loved well. Mom is doing better and is home now recovering and looking forward to walking again so she can go visit her first great-grandchild in Arizona. I feel truly and utterly grateful.
Whatever is happening in your “real” life right now I want you to know that you too have an inner voice to guide you through the tunnel. Listen to it. Make the moments that will matter in the end your priority because we can’t multi-task our way to being at peace with our decisions. We’re all doing the best we can and that’s all that matters. You do the best you can and you forgive yourself when you can’t.
My hope for you is to enjoy this holiday season with those you love. I hope you feel peace, gratitude and joy. I hope that those that haven’t been loved in a while keep their hope alive and for the light to shine brighter for them. I wish each and every one of you reading this right now all the love in the world.