I have a love/hate relationship with the memories feature on FaceBook. I cringe at some of the dumb things I’ve written, and critique the photos I posted. But once in a while a gem shows up. The ones that bring back a memory, and maybe you get a little misty eyed but its the feels that always get me.
I had a gem from 3 years ago pop up in my memories today, and like all gems, the memories came flooding back and the feels caught me right in my heart and who am I kidding, I was full on happy tears, ugly crying.
It was a basic post, just words, no pictures, but in hind sight, it spoke VOLUMES! “I’ve been working on a project that is very near and dear to my
heart. It has been essential to my healing. This weekend it has really come together as divine inspiration has lead me to the exact words and layouts I’ve struggled to get just right. Today, I showed Jorja (my daughter who was 11 at the time), explained the concept and showed her the designs. She got this huge, genuine smile on her face and said ”Mom, this will make you world famous.” Oh, my heart, my self doubt erased by the sincere words of my child who believes in me, and a Father in Heaven who is guiding me. Big things are coming and I can’t wait to share it with you all!”
At the time I wrote that post I was living in a shelter, Safe Harbor, a transitional housing shelter for women who have left domestic violence and sexual assault. I was homeless, I was hopeless, I was depressed and broken.
I was suicidal, I was exhausted and I had no idea what my future would look like. It was a time when my son often asked if I was ever going to stop crying.
It was a time when me, 3 of my children and my support dog Archie, lived in a tiny but safe, 2 bedroom apartment.
I was alone and defeated and I desperately needed validation.
It was a time when I did freelance graphic design work. To bring in extra money I designed and printed T-shirts for other people.
On really bad days I had to focus on getting through the hour. Just one hour. I couldn’t think about the next hour, just this hour. One.Hour.At.A.Time. On bad days, I focused on getting through the day, just that day. Thinking beyond that day was so overwhelming and terrifying that I had to just get through the day. It was on those days I would close my eyes and repeat, “Don’t give up, don’t give up”....usually with tears streaming down my face. It was an exhausting emotional war that raged in my head hour by hour, day by day. Living during that time was the hardest thing I have ever done, but I NEVER GAVE UP! More than once people would say ”You’re so strong. How do you do it?”. I didn’t really have an answer. They had no idea that behind my smile, jokes and hard work was a woman about to break, I was just doing what had to be done. I was simply stronger than I ever thought I could be, because I had to.
So on this day 3 years ago, I showed Jorja a shirt I had made, an idea I had been playing with, a design that had a unique feature, a shirt I’d made for myself. I figured if it looked stupid I would just wear to bed. I held it up and she read it out loud, “Stronger than I ever thought possible”. And then I took her to the full length mirror and we looked in it together. She gasp as the words were crisp and clear in our reflection. I read with tears in my eyes, “Never Give Up”. With a huge genuine smile she said “Mom, this will make you world famous.” And that is where Be ME Clothing was born. In a shelter, by a broken and hopeless woman in survival mode who needed to see powerful words on her body to give her validation every time she looked in the mirror.
At that time I had no idea where or if that idea would become anything, but 3 years later and with the blessing of hindsight, I can see how this was the beginning of a beautiful and healing journey. Be ME Clothing shirts are pretty amaze-balls, I’m not going to lie, and I super love what I do, but it’s never been about the article of clothing. Its about using my story and experiences through the shirts to make connections with other women. As I share my story it releases the pain and frees up space for more beautiful things like love and empathy. Its about building a community of women who support and relate to one another. Be ME Clothing is my passion and purpose to lift women and to give back. I would not be where I’m at without the help of others.
So from time to time Jorja jokingly asks if I’m world famous yet, (and FYI, world famous has become to mean being on the Ellen show) and I have to say not yet. I do have a pretty sweet photoshopped picture of me on the set with Ellen, so there’s that and I do have a pretty awesome following from Australia, half-way around the world, mainly because a company there with really bad customer service has a similar name to Be ME and I get angry emails from their customers), but I’m not Ellen world famous..... Yet. That day will come. But what I am is extremely humbled by the out pouring of love and support I have gotten. I am extremely grateful for the strangers who have become dear friends from shared experiences. I am extremely honored by the customers who out of millions of choices, have purchase my shirts. I am extremely blessed to have this amazing opportunity for growth and learning. And I am extremely humbled by the very personal stories and experiences you have shared with me.
Today I pulled out that very first, well loved and slightly tighter fitting shirt and took a proud selfie. Sometime down the road, you’ll look back at the memories and see that it was the little things, the hard things, and the painful things that were the building blocks of the very place you’re standing today because you are Stronger than you ever thought possible and you chose to Never Give Up.
Oh, and Ellen, I’ve got a special Be ME Clothing design just for you. You’d look amaze-balls in it, It’s on the house, just have your peeps contact me.