Hello friends. I have a confession to make. I’ve never in my life dreamed of starting a company. In fact, as a child, I dreamed of becoming one thing… a singer. That’s right, I wanted to be a songstress–a.k.a. a pop star! I laugh now, but back in middle school, I was serious about my call. I spent countless hours listening to the radio, recording my favorite songs (why did the DJ’s always talk over the first part?!) so that I could memorize all the words. I worked on my stage presence at my cousin Janie’s house, taking turns with the Mr. Microphone, belting out Journey lyrics that were conveniently printed on the back of the album cover. I sang wherever anyone would let me–at church, in the car, at school in the 6th grade musical. In my mind, I was set for the stage! It made me feel alive and full of promise. Then came my first big rejection. In choir class, my teacher announced auditions for a solo part in an upcoming performance. I, of course, leapt at the chance, and set out to pick the perfect song. When try-outs came, I stood before all of my classmates and sang with all my heart. Despite my best efforts, I came up short. The teacher picked someone else and shared with me (and the rest of the room) feedback I’ll never forget: “You shout when you sing.” I was crushed. Out of immaturity, insecurity, frustration and shame, I quit. The dream of using my voice ended right there… or so I thought.
Today, as we take a leap of faith and launch ShineUP into the world, I realize that the same dream I had long ago is still inside. Only now, it springs forth with new life and a clearer vision. I may not be singing on a stage, but you can bet I’ll be using my voice as a powerful instrument to affect others for good. After years of self reflection, I now know that my purpose, my “lifesong”, is to lift up those who are often unsung–women all around us who are changing the world through their everyday acts of service. Because of them, I can no longer entertain the thought of quitting or losing heart. They are my heros and I can’t wait to uncover their stories, plant seeds of beauty in their lives and watch as a vibrant culture of honor grows. This time around, if someone happens to declare that my voice is too loud, I’ll take it as the highest compliment, knowing that a mighty shout will serve as my greatest strength when singing the praises of others.
With love and encouragement,