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Friday, July 23, 2010

“You are loved,” Rosie said, pulling the classroom door shut behind her.

As teachers and dear friends, those words, You are Loved, had become our code to one another. We were kindred spirits and both of us had a strong belief in words, their power, their ability to heal, their ability to connect. When we said, “you are loved” to each other, what we were saying was that our love for each other was active, that it was affirming, that it was real and tangible and a declarative sentence. More than ten years later, it is still how we talk to one another, and it is the root of how we talk to others.

Today, we have both found ways to make our classrooms bigger than just the physical space we occupy with our students. Rosie is an author and activist, using words and voice to heal and inspire. And I have started You are Loved Designs so that the power of these words we embraced years ago and new phrases that have inspired me since can be part of the global conversation.

The company idea started because of another set of girlfriends. Each year, on our annual girls trip, my girlfriends and I surprise one another and exchange 3 to 5 favorite things from the year. By the end we all have 15-25 little gifts! In the spring of 2010 on of my favorite things was a "you are loved" t-shirt that I had custom made. I loved that they would feel loved wearing the shirt and that others would feel loved reading the message. They loved their shirts, too, and I started thinking about making the shirts more widely available. There was one thing though. As I was drying my hair in the mirror, I could not read the words. Hence, The mirror image design was born. Next year, the mirror image design will have to be one of my favorite things!
But it is not just You are loved that I want to put out into the universe.

My Godmother and Aunt Andrea is enduring hard core chemotherapy treatment in her battle against ovarian cancer. She has never felt so hopeless as she endures and fights. I have never felt so helpless as I watch. I picture her brushing her teeth in the morning trying to muster up enough energy to fight another day and feel helpless that I am not there to hold her up. I believe there is power in words. Sometimes seeing is believing. She needs affirmation. you are strength… you are courage….you are loved. This is what I want to tell Aunt Andrea in mirror image so that when she is brushing her teeth trying to find the strength or courage she will need to fight another day, she is reminded that she already has it.

As this company grows, I am excited about seeing my daughter, Kylie, pull a shirt over her head. She will need affirmation that she is loved, strong, and courageous as she journeys through the natural challenges of middle school, and high school, and finds the identity of a young woman she is becoming. Being a high school teacher, I know she may struggle without my even knowing it. I believe the power of these words may bring her through a tough time.

The future of this company is bright! In the dreams that have fostered the vision for this company, I envision dropping a batch of t-shirts off at a camp that helps work on the self-esteem of young girls, or sending shirts to a team in training raising money to combat disease, or sending a basket full of tees to treatment centers where chemotherapy patients need the affirmation. As my company grows, I hope to make my dreams reality!