What is all involved in the movement of “Project To Love Ourselves” and how did it all begin?
Although I didn’t know it at the time, “Project to Love Ourselves” began years ago when I was a girl struggling with insecurities. Like many other women, I worried about who I was. Was I too tall? Was I pretty enough, smart enough? Was I funny? Did people like me? Even though I had very encouraging parents and mentors, I still wrestled with questions that all were rooted in the same worry: am I good enough?
“Project to Love Ourselves” is my mission to tell women they are enough. I do that through one-on-one coaching, after school workshops, weekend retreats, speaking engagements, and “The Letter Project”. Through these activities, my goal is to remind women they can stop hustling for their worth because it is inherent in who they are. Christ designed each person to exist and, because of that, they are already enough. The deed is done!
One of your blogs speaks about quitting your full time job to pursue this passion? How did you make this decision? What was the process like? What were you excited about? What made you nervous? (We want to get inside your head & hear about)!
Oh boy! Quitting my job was a huge decision, and it took me a long time to be brave enough to take the plunge.
In 2013, after reading Love Does, I called Bob Goff (his number is in the back of the book). After about two minutes on the phone with him, I agreed to go on his next trip to Uganda. While I was there, I was talking with a 20-year-old local girl about her life. She started talking about boys, dating, and how much she wanted to be in love. In that moment, it hit me. Even though we grew up thousands of miles apart, with wildly different life experiences, as women, we wanted the same things: to be loved, to be understood, and to know we are worthy. Just like me, she wanted to know she was good enough.
Once I realized this, I got really interested in working with women to understand their worth. I began the certification process to be a life coach, and started taking clients. The more I worked with women, the more certain I felt this was a bigger issue. Women question whether they are good enough, and I felt passionate about telling them they are. All around me, I saw women hustling for their worth, and I believed they didn’t need to. They are inherently worthy in who Christ has designed them to be.
From there, “Project to Love Ourselves” was born. PtLO is essentially my mission to tell women, every day, that they are enough. I do this through blogging, public speaking, coaching, and The Letter Project.
Of course, the way I explained it makes it sound like it was a buttoned up, simple decision. It wasn’t! It was messy, and took three years for me to do. I would pray, feel led to leave, get brave enough to do it, and then freak out. I would doubt God’s plan and question what I’d heard. I worried about money (!), insurance, and my future. I wondered whether I was throwing my corporate career away. I stood on the edge of the cliff waiting to take the plunge for almost three years. But, eventually, you get to the point where standing on the edge and looking at the jump, is harder than the fall will ever be. I got to that point.I knew I had to let go and see what would happen!
What is the “Letter Project”? What need did you see and how has it met that need? Do you have a story or two of recipients and how they have been effected?
The Letter Project is the nonprofit portion of “Project to Love Ourselves.” (Currently applying for 5013 status!). If a girl or woman is going through a hard time, her mom (/sister/friend/teacher) can nominate her to receive letters of encouragement from women around the US. We’ll send her story (just her first name) out to our 300+ volunteers and 10-15 of them will sign up to write her letters. From there, we bundle them up with ribbon and send them to her.
It has been incredible to see how quickly the project has grown! In just 2 months we’ve sent more than 800 letters. We wrote to a sweet, little girl who was just diagnosed with epilepsy and is scared by all of the medical appointments. We wrote to a woman who is going through a divorce and is having doubts. We wrote to a teenager who is having a hard time making friends in a new school. With each one, I am reminded that the things that break our heart in the moment – the things that feel really painful and hard – become the knowledge and the wisdom we can share with someone else. Many of our writers have been impacted by epilepsy, too. It was incredible to see the wisdom they were able to give that sweet little girl. They have been there and they get it.
The entire project is the chance to say, me too. It is the chance to say: I have been there, I get it. You are not alone. We are rooting for you.
What has been your success in starting something so unique on your own? What has been really encouraging? How is it sustainable? What has been hardest? What tips might you have for women trying to start something out-of-the-box on their own?
The coolest part of the project has been watching it resonated with other women. So many people have told me they wish they had had this resource when they were younger. People have told me that writing the letters has been therapeutic. It has been so encouraging to watch women’s eyes light up about it. It has been life giving!
Also, something that is unexpectedly sustainable is women love to draw/make signs. I always loved writing pretty notes to my friends growing up, and this is a chance to do that as adults and make it productive!
The hardest parts have been being totally alone all day after six years in a corporate environment with AWESOME coworkers. I get lonely, and sometimes wish I had someone with whom I could collaborate. It is also hard not having a salary, but I feel the Lord encouraging me to wrestle with it. I don’t want to be afraid of the hard stuff – I am trying to admit that it isn’t always rainbows & fun coffee shops. But, I am still really glad I took the leap, because the highs completely outweigh the lows.
Is this something you do full time? What does a day in the life look like?
Yes! I am doing it full time. Every day changes because I am working on a lot of different things. I always start the day with quiet time, which consists of journaling and reading my Bible. After that, I normally hit the gym.Then it’s coffee time!
From there, it varies. Some days, I am blogging or working on my (hopeful!) book. Other days, I am reading and sorting letters. Still on other days, I’m trying to network – to find places I can go speak or find more volunteers to write. I love the variety. I call it à la carte work, and it totally suits me. A little of this, a little of that! You never get bored!
What is the one thing you wish more women in their 20s knew?
I wish I could tell every woman in her 20s that she is OK. She is doing great! She is not alone in her struggles. Being a girl in your 20s is hard, and nobody really warns you. It is a tough transition from graduation to your 20s, and the playing field is constantly shifting. There is a ton of pressure to hurry up and get to your future – to get a good job, meet a man, get married, buy a house, and have babies. I wish every girl knew that it unfolds at a different pace for each one of us, and she doesn’t need to feel pressured to get there quickly. The pace at which she is moving is perfect. She is doing enough, earning enough, and accomplishing enough. She is enough.