On stories… December 6, 2017 by Jamie WestermanNever judge a book by its cover. Let me tell you a story… There once was a girl with a magical childhood. She had the most loving parents who spoiled her in all the right ways. She was blessed with two siblings and surrounded by family and friends. She was taught that she was smart and beautiful and special. She was taught to love herself and to be confident. She was taught that life is about people and adventures and experiences, not money and things and position. She played and created and dreamed. She was grateful. As she grew, the world became bigger and she was influenced outside of her guarded home. She began to compare and hold herself to unrealistic standards. She watched as people around her valued things above relationships, accomplishments above attempts, perfection over authenticity. She was a leader and others followed her example so a self-imposed pressure of achievement and excellence in all things became her priority. She balanced what she felt in her heart and what her head told her. She decided perfection was simply a standard she had to maintain. Over time the impossible measuring stick grew longer and longer. She forgot about the magic and the love and how simple life can be when it’s sincere. She blocked out the blessings, feeling undeserving. She didn’t enjoy her experiences as she once did because she didn’t know how to play any longer. She denied herself relationships because her heart was broken and love was painful. Until. Until one day she became a mommy. She wanted her babies to have a magical childhood of their own. She remembered what it felt like to play and create and dream again. She saw the world from the wide-open perspective of her children. Her heart grew so full with love for these perfect little humans she created. She ached to give them the security and unconditional devotion she felt as a child from her own parents. But she knew she would have to change to make that possible. She knew her babies deserved her best self and she knew to become that she would have to create the courage to find it. Her changes would be scary changes. She would have to close some chapters. She didn’t know if she was brave enough, strong enough, herself enough. She didn’t know what to do, so she just started. She set down the measuring stick. She accepted failures as lessons. She ignored self-doubt. She forgot about perfection. She followed her heart to better relationships and opportunities. She chose vulnerability. Slowly, so slowly she started to see a glimpse of her confidence which had been on the sidelines for so long. She started to write a new story, a better story, her own story. Her children grew brighter as she did. They began to experience the magic as she did, and blessings found her little family. They laughed and loved and cried and were grateful. She told them they were smart and beautiful and special. She gave them adventures and experiences. She followed her dreams so they never doubted they could follow their own. She taught them to love without condition or limitations. She taught them to be kind and see the good in people and situations. She taught them to be accepting and empathetic. She taught them to never make assumptions. She taught them to never judge a book by its cover, as we each write our own story and you can never be sure which chapter someone is on. She continues to narrate her life and is grateful for each page. Having come through some challenging territory, she now realizes that she is brave and powerful. She knows she has surrounded herself with enough love to lift her up the next time she falls. She knows her babies have the mom they deserve. She anxiously awaits their own stories. She only hopes that as they author their own lives, they know their worth and value their heart and have the courage to write an epic tale.