After competing in my umpteenth (!) figure show this past weekend, so many people are hungry for information on the how’s and why’s of why I do what I do, including the diet, the exercise plan and the mental and emotional focus (not to mention the paint-on tan, glued-on lashes, etc!) that is required to step on the stage and look and feel my best in a string bikini and 4 inch heels. They are befuddled, seek to understand. Trying to figure out who I am and what drives me to live what appears to them, on the edge, out there. Exposed. EEK!

And you know, this time really did feel different. Frankly, I found myself asking the same questions: “Why DO I do what I do? What drives me to put myself up there, exposed, yet strong and sassy in my 48 year old finest?”

And today, I came to a very telling, knock the wind out of me, realization. I do it because I can. Because I want to show other women that we can celebrate our strength and our vulnerability as a woman, get knocked down (placing fifth was a blow for me, I must be honest) and stand back up, and rock on. This time around, the judges just didn’t like me! Is it because I was too perky? Too bubbly? Too soft? Not pretty enough? Too different in my posing style from the other competitors? And how about, too confident?

Tear stream down my face as I write this because what I realize is this: gosh darn it, this IS who I am: confident, perky, bubbly, and….. uniquely DIFFERENT! And also what people don’t always see, but I know, lies within me is a steely resolve that I will embrace who I am, will not be made to feel small for celebrating this, because I know from the day I was born that I was placed here to be just that: to serve as a role model for my children, my friends and anyone I meet this truth: that we can and we must be true to who we ARE. Anything else is cutting ourselves short. Please don’t do that.

So grab a friend, your partner, your mom, your daughter, your son. Embrace them, forgive them, love them. And then I want you to do what is the most courageous thing of all: do the same thing for yourself. Embrace yourself. Forgive yourself. Love yourself. Cry if you need to do (I am), feel foolish for a moment, but do it. You deserve it. You are worthy.

With tears and relief , and LOVE always,