My soon-to-be released children’s book Stella’s Brave Voice is all about a little girl, Stella, learning to speak up for herself and use her voice bravely and proudly.
Though the inspiration for this book came largely from the dynamic between my own daughters — a set of twins and a singleton — after the manuscript was completed I realized it was also about me. For my entire life, I’ve been fearful of speaking up, of sharing MY brave voice for fear it might hurt, offend or rub someone the wrong way. I remember as a child my mom urging me to just “go with the flow; keep your opinions to yourself and just smile. No one likes a difficult person.”
I took that to heart. Oh did I take that seriously to heart. As I grow up — I’m 43 years young! — I’m finally realizing that speaking my truth is important, not just for my own health and wellbeing, but for authenticity’s sake and the health and wellbeing of all relationships I care about. I’ve declared to myself and those in my circle that this is THE YEAR I start speaking up. I’m so grateful to my own girls, and to Stella, for reminding me of the power and worthiness of my own voice.
Over the last many, many, many months something has happened. Something I’ve kept my mouth shut about — and it’s been hard and painful to do so. Though I still will not share publicly, as it’s simply not the right thing to do, I’m no longer taking it; no longer burying it, internalizing it, letting it burn me from the inside out.
But let me just say, for those out there who have had been harassed, slandered, bullied, shamed or worse…. I am truly so sorry. You don’t need to stay silent. This book is for all of you too. May we all learn to SPEAK UP. To use our brave voices with clarity, conviction and abashed certainty.
With heartfelt empathy and love… and a strong, brave voice.