#SelfCare17: Quiet the Noise

It’s easy to think of peace and quiet as a luxury. We reserve it for vacations or yoga sessions.  But an occasional break from the noise of our daily lives can be an integral part of self-care. This week, practice being quiet. Silence your cell phone, log out of social media, no music, no talking. Take a relaxing break, and indulge in the gift of peaceful solitude.

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How Three Words Changed My Life

As a young girl, I was a storyteller. Only I didn’t know it. That’s not what I called myself. I didn’t think I did anything out of the ordinary. My stories (like most kids) were my companions, my way of working out the tough stuff happening at school, and most of all, just…fun. I made up all types of stories: romance novel escapades (from a 9 year old’s mind) to epic heroic adventures to after school special type dramas full of lessons and social morals.

 

Naturally, I had no interest in keeping these elaborate stories to myself and would eagerly run into the living room hoping that I could find someone — anyone — to share them with.

 

It was my Grandpa Michael who would patiently listen to my breathless recounts of action and emotion and then he would give me the most maddening advice. “Don’t forget to write it down,” he would say.

 

Write it down?

 

Who has the time to stop and write the story down when you’re nine?!

 

My mind carried a variety of vibrant tales and I had things to do!

 

Still, he was persistent with his advice:  “Write it down.”

 

Eventually, I did write them down and learned that (gasp) I could make a living doing so. But I knew that wasn’t really what my Grandpa had in mind. He wanted me to mark those moments of creation by taking the time to document the magic. To take the ethereal and make it material.

 

Finally, when I was ready to write my first book (and had been thinking about it for a zillion days), his words literally woke me up one night: “Write it down.” So, I shuffled out of bed and I wrote. I wrote for eight hours straight and as night became morning, I had a book proposal that I soon sent off and sold just a few months later.  Unfortunately, he was no longer here with us for me to share the news – but I knew…that he knew.

 

Looking back, my evolution as a creator was always spurred by my grandfather’s advice.

 

He showed me that my stories had value and that my ideas were worthy of being remembered. He saw my potential in all of those early stories. Those dreams, written down over the years, became the roadmap by which I have built my career. That’s why this Father’s Day, I wanted to partner with Dove Men+Care to celebrate all of the men who have been there to care for us.

 

My grandfather was — and still is — my writing muse.

 

In fact, he’s the one who told me to write this story down.

#SelfCare17: Listen

With the constant stream of tweets and think pieces, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the number of voices weighing in on the world we live in. It’s not just about being inundated with facts and figures; we’re consistently entertaining others’ opinions. It can be useful, but sometimes we must simply listen to ourselves. Take a moment to really hear what your inner voice is saying, and let that voice guide you on this self-care journey.

#SelfCare17: Develop a Mantra

“Hakunah Matata” might mean no worries, but it’s certainly not a motto for everyone. The words we say and the messages we send ourselves are a huge part of self-care. It’s not enough to regurgitate old sayings and positive talk you’ve overheard. Instead figure out what works for you, find words that have meaning, and give yourself positive motivation. Develop a mantra of your own that can lift you up when you’re feeling low and send you even higher when you’re feeling good.

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#SelfCare17: Let Your Mind Wander

Wondering about the world is one way to make connections that a hyper-focused mind may not see. Mind wandering may not let you discover a new place the same way physical wandering does, but it is a lot cheaper and easier to do. In our rapidly-changing world, sometimes we need to escape the here and now to protect our creative thinking. We need the space to create our vision for the future, to dig deeper into lessons and wisdom learned from past mistakes, and to put ourselves in other people’s shoes to exercise empathy. Mind-wandering is what allows us to be creative and lights the spark of innovation. In the long-run, it’s wandering that exercises our creative muscles and gives us a safe space to use our imagination when approaching our plans and possibilities for the future.

#SelfCare17: Celebrate Progress

When working toward a goal whether social justice or self-confidence it’s easy to be discouraged if you’re not exactly where you’d like to be. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the distance between you and your goal. That’s why celebrating progress can be an effective way to practice self-care. Take a look at where you are in the struggle at this moment and be grateful for how far you’ve come. Give yourself credit for taking on a challenge and not giving up! It’ll energize you to keep pushing forward and help face the fight ahead.

 

My Mom 2.0 Summit Recap

I had such an incredible time down in Orlando for the Mom 2.0 Summit with my friends at Dove #RealBeauty!

 

This trip was extra special because we brought the Talk to Jess Podcast on the road! To help celebrate Dove’s 60th Anniversary, we partnered with Dove Real Beauty Productions to capture conversations with inspiring women around the journey of self-discovery and redefining beauty.

 

This was definitely one of my favorite trips to the summit. If you were there in Orlando with me, take a walk down memory lane below — And if you weren’t able to make it, take a peek at the fun!

 

DAY ONE:

 

We hit the ground running to get prepared for our special edition podcast episodes!

Can you believe this month also marks the 1st anniversary of the #TTJPodcast?!  

I had to take a moment to reflect. You can listen to my anniversary prelude right now!

Talk to Jess powered by Dove Real Beauty Productions

 

Later in the afternoon, some of my favorite people were presenting a panel on the new film, Everything, Everything! One of my humans Karen Walrond moderated a fantastic panel on diversity in storytelling with YA author Nicola Yoon (love her!) and Ana De la Reguera, one of the stars of the film.  

Karen Walrond, Ana De la Reguera, and Nicola Yoon

 

We ended the day by catching up with old friends (and new!) poolside at the Welcome Dinner. Nicola Yoon was hosting a book signing and you could feel the palpable energy from each person waiting in line. It makes me excited for the movie opening on Friday!! Plus, is there a more stunning backdrop than a Florida sunset? 

 

P.S. Go see “Everything, Everything” opening on 5/19!

“Everything, Everything” book signing by the pool

 

DAY TWO:

 

Day two kicked off with an insightful keynote conversation with the amazingly talented, Julianna Margulies. She radiates #RealBeauty inside and out!

 

What I love about keynoting at Mom 2 is the insane Twitter storm that happens while we speak.

In conversation with Julianna Margulies

Afterward, my new BFF Julianna and I sat down for the #TTJPodcast. We talked about how we both acted out fairytale stories with our dads when we were kids and how she and her husband are intentionally raising a feminist son. This special edition episode coming soon!

(Follow me on Twitter to be the 1st to know when it’s live!)

With Julianna Margulies

 

Then, later that afternoon, I led one of our world-famous self-esteem workshops from Dove with some beautiful Mom 2.0 attendees.

 

We talked about how we can all work to change the beauty narrative from social media to mainstream media.

Dove Self-Esteem workshop attendees

 

Then we rushed back to our studio to do a few more podcast recordings before coming back for round two of the Dove workshops. This time, we partnered with The Boys and Girls Club of America from local Orlando chapters. These incredible girls partnered up with some of our Mom 2.0 participants and together, they dove deep into how we can change the current beauty conversation.

 

This workshop filled my heart and was a fantastic reminder of why I love the work that I do. The future looks bright, my friends!

Girls from BGCA and Mom 2.0 attendees

Leading with girls from BGCA and Mom 2.0 attendees

 

DAY THREE:

 

Day three of Mom 2.0 Summit was a podcast palooza! Each of the women I interviewed shared incredible insights on how they have navigated their journey of self-discovery alongside motherhood and successful careers. I can’t thank them enough for their honesty and for their humor.

With Ilana Wiles (Mommy Shorts)

 

Of the many conversations I had at the summit, one message rang loud and clear:

 

Women are (more) than ready to see themselves reflected in authentic stories across all media platforms.  

 

And we are going to make it happen!

 

#ChangeIsAWeThing

 

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#SelfCare17: Share Your Story

In the constant struggle for social justice, it’s easy to get frazzled. Emotions run high, and the stakes feel even higher. It’s difficult not to be consumed by the cause, but it’s important to remember that your individual value only adds to the movement. Sharing your story and the lessons you’ve learned with someone you trust is a great way to practice self-care. By embracing vulnerability and connecting with others over our lived experiences, we are strengthened and empowered to continue living with purpose.

Why Telling Your Story is an Act of Self-Care

Raise your hand if you’ve felt like you don’t have a story worth telling? Maybe you’ve doubted the impact you could make? Maybe you are waiting for a better ending before you talk about the journey?

 

I get it.

But I ask you to reconsider.

 

Putting ourselves center-stage to tell our story can be intimidating. Sometimes we feel what we have to say “isn’t enough;” therefore, “isn’t important.” It’s common to shy away from an opportunity to share something personal out of fear of being judged by others. We may feel like no one else will be able to relate to the experiences we’ve been through (Far from the truth!). But, sharing your story validates your experiences for YOU. You tell yourself that your experiences are valuable and important; therefore, you discover your loudest voice and scream to the world (and yourself) “I AM ENOUGH!”

 

If anyone knows the power in sharing your story (or stories), it’s me. In fact, I’ve been able to craft my entire career around sharing my personal story. I know first-hand that there are multiple opportunities that can knock at your door when you’re willing to open up and share from a place of truth and wisdom. When I first started opening up about my story (more than 20 years ago), I had no idea that I would begin a journey that leads me to share in front of massive crowds or even get me to connect with over a million people worldwide as Dove’s Global Self-esteem Ambassador. I’ve been able to help and offer insight to people who are facing similar experiences I’ve been through, which makes me feel EXTREMELY fulfilled! WOAH, storytelling changed my life!

 

When we consistently amplify our voices, we create change. We naturally begin to filter out people who don’t connect with our message (get with it, or get going). We also shine a light that filters in those who were meant to be a part of our journey, building a loyal, supportive audience along the way. This is important because these are the people who eventually turn into our community allies and supporters.

 

At the end of the day, we all want to feel the same things: We want allies and good people who like us. We want supporters and the resources to do well in life. We want to feel valuable and we want to be happy! When we look at the 30-thousand-foot view of each individual, it’s easy to see that our experiences are not separate, but connected. So, start opening up with just one person each day. Sharing your story is both an act of giving to others and an act of self-care for you.

10 Favorite Media Platforms for Women and Girls

Most content for women and girls online – especially around empowerment – is usually what I call “S.F.S.N.” (Sounds Fabulous, Signifies Nothing). Which means that it’s usually all Rah-Rah and not a lot of real. I’m all for the sizzle but I’d like a heavy side order of substance, please.

 

That’s why I am taking the time to applaud the amazing platforms that pack substance in the content they deliver for women and girls. Right now, we are in an age where it’s critical for our girls to see themselves as the world-changing thought-leaders they are!

 

Here are my 10 favorite platforms:

 

Teen Vogue – Teen Vogue is playing at the highest level when it comes to telling stories that matter to today’s teenage girl (and well, everyone, really). Not only do they make relevant news and social topics easily digestible and engaging for teens, they also do a phenomenal job at giving girls the opportunity to write their own stories.

 

Bustle – I’ve been a contributor to Bustle in the past and I’d surely do it again. They serve as a prime source for healthy lifestyle tips and advice. If you love my #SelfCare17 campaign, you will love reading content on Bustle!

 

Equality for Her – Equality for Her is dedicated to uplifting the voices and identities of people across the femme spectrum. Inclusive to all femme-identifying people, their mission is to generate awareness about issues affecting the global femme community.

 

Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls – One of my forever faves, APSG will always be held near and dear to my heart. They have always been and will continue to be dedicated to cultivating the authentic, smart girl (which is every girl).

 

Sesi Magazine – Sesi is on a mission to fill the void in mainstream media, where there is a gap for African-American girls. Sesi is released each quarter of the year with the simple yet vital mission of celebrating African-American teen girls.

 

GirlGaze – The founders of GirlGaze and I share a vision of putting more content in the world that is created through the eyes of girls. This platform is a shining a spotlight on the visual masterpieces and photographs captured by girls while building a virtual community of the world’s top female creatives.

 

Lenny Letter – Lenny features real, intimate stories from real women; a concept that is so simple, yet extremely effective in making a connection with the reader. They also post beautiful graphic illustrations of the women featured in their stories to accompany each article.

 

Awesomely Luvvie – If you prefer to read your news in a tone of “brutally honest and painfully humorous,” Luvvie is your reporter. Luvvie has a gift for taking any piece of news and making it 100 times more enjoyable to consume. She holds no punches and delivers pop culture content in a voice that you cannot deny.

 

MuslimGirl – This is the biggest and only digital platform specifically dedicated to amplifying the voices of Muslim girls. Even if you’re not Muslim, I guarantee you will read and watch stories that you can connect with and learn from on this platform

 

UpWorthy – UpWorthy is another one of my go-to websites for news happening in culture. The writers for this platform have an amazing way of making each story feel connected to the reader and I always feel inspired to take action once I complete an article.

 

Huffington Post (Voices) – HuffPo Voices is what I consider one of the hubs of intersectional media. I can always count on catching up to speed on the relevant day-to-day news through this website. It’s also a great place to read a variety of diverse voices and perspectives on countless topics.