Last week, I had the incredible privilege to not only attend, but also to speak at event organized by Sento Bene Wine. Sento Bene founder Theresa Gonella (pictured above) has long been a friend and inspiration to me, and I was overjoyed to join her choice crop of thinkers, taste makers, entrepreneurs and altogether incredible women.
I was my awkward, limby self in the speech, but was asked so often after the event to share it that I’ve decided to offer it as it’s own post.
ALSO: In the next season, HerAfter will be going mobile, working in both Los Angeles and NYC. For booking information in the next year, please email RachaelAfter@gmail.com.
Welcome – greeting
I am so incredibly grateful to be here with all of you, to get to know you, and to start this adventure.
My name is Rachael Yahne, I am the blogger and creator behind HerAfter, a website for women after cancer, and all of life’s big struggles. I have found that whether it was cancer, or a break up, or any major life event, nothing looks quite the same and things are put into a new perspective. HerAfter tries to share that perspective while talking about the things that matter to women – beauty, health, style, and more.
My writing career began at 16 when I was first published as an intern at a local paper. From there, after beating cancer at 17 and graduating college, I moved to Seattle where I wrote a blog of interviews showcasing local designers and artists. It was chosen as an affiliate by The Seattle Times, published through their website, and won Fashion Blog of the Year. I then moved to Los Angeles to work in fashion full time, which led me to realize the dream that has become HerAfter. I saw a disconnect between what women are talking about and buying and wanting, and what they really need to hear and feel, so I created HerAfter to share my story in a way that would help other women realize their own potential and power.
Tonight, we were brought physically here by the work and vision of a single woman. A woman who believes in the strength of numbers, who believes in the power of women, and who sees ahead a community – us – and a culture – everyone – in which all ideas and all dreams are possible. In which people help each other, inspire each other, and thrive together.
When Theresa asked me to be part of this, I was ecstatic. Because if there is one person impeccable with her word, it’s Theresa. Our word is an important thing, one that must be honored. Theresa is as true with her word as she is with her commitments, as she is with herself. She’s honest. She expects the best from herself, and I knew she’d bring about only the choice crop of women she’s met in NYC to be part of this, and I am humbled and honored to be one of them.
Along with Theresa’s intention, we are brought emotionally here by our individual journeys. We could see that evident in all the different ways everyone present was working to better our culture. Individually, we arrived at this gathering from our own path, led by our own lessons, answering to the questions of a society in need.
We saw a void, and we’re here looking for the solutions to fill it. We have seen a need, and are answering the call to resolve it.
So now as we close the night, let’s commit to be true to our word tonight. Whatever we create together, whatever ways we found to collaborate or help each other. And most importantly, let’s commit to follow through with whatever inspired us tonight. To leave here and keep at the forefront of our work, the ideas and inspirations we found here, and keep working on them.
Sometimes, when we cannot see the potential in ourselves, it is helpful to see the potential someone else sees in us. Theresa has been that person for me since we met, and I hope I can be that person for you. This space should be just that, a place where we find the best in ourselves and help to lift up each other.
In my work at HerAfter, the mission is simple: to show every woman that she is beautiful and powerful and whole, and to love herself because I think that will lead to world peace.
That no matter what physical scars or emotional bruises, she should respect and love herself. And in doing so she’ll teach others to respect and love her, and to respect and love themselves.
When women are at peace with themselves, THAT will bring about world peace.
I don’t always know how to do it or what to write to help her see that, but I keep trying. It’s an incredibly messy process – lots of tears, lots of posts that never get shared, lots of abandoned paths and awkward photo shoots. It doesn’t always make sense.
But the truth is, no one really knows what the hell they’re doing. Most of the time in my professional life, I just feel like a mouse, constantly on the lookout for little bites, little trails to follow here and there and not get smashed. And that’s from a person who’s pretty confident in her path!
But the truth of the matter is no one knows what they’re doing. We’re all just doing our best to do what feels right, and to make a positive impact. Even though there’s so much pressure on us as women to be steadfast, to never show any kind of weakness or we’ll be criticized and not taken seriously,
it’s ok to admit at least to yourself that you’re somewhat just fumbling in the dark. That’s one of the beautiful aspects of entrepreneurship and beginning a new career path. It’s all uncharted territory! If it feels safe, if it all makes total and perfect sense and you never, ever have to commit to something huge and figure out how the hell to accomplish along the way, you’re probably doing it wrong.
Uncomfortability, fear, trepidation, excitement, they are all your friends. I like to say that all those feelings are just “symptoms of your growth”. You’re expanding. You’re becoming bigger than you were before. And it’s scary and uncomfortable and thats how you know it’s going well. And if you ever need reassurance in that, call me. I’m around.
When I was sick, fear was something I became very, very comfortable with. Sometimes, as much as we want to, we can’t know what’s ahead. We can’t have all the answers. What cancer taught me is that you can be scared out of your mind of what’s to come, if all your hard work is going to pay off, and you can still love life, and feel gratitude. No matter how scared you are, fear is not a handicap. It’s a feeling like anything else. It should never, ever be something that stops you.
We are women stepping into a world and into our industries dominated by men. Our working in a man’s world is not only because men have kept us from having these positions. It is because we have raised a generation of men and women to take into different fields in our roles. Everyone in this room is part of a new frontier that is changing those roles. In that, we are setting a new precedence, so no matter what your venture is, every little way you interact with it matters for generations to come. Just like mothers and daughters, what you create today affects the women of tomorrow.
We are the first of many, many generations to come of women who fearlessly step into the roles of leadership, especially as entrepreneurs, no longer questioning whether they can, but instead fully knowing they’d been born to do so.
In our first meeting, we talked about not pushing out men, discriminating men, but recruiting them. This coming together is not a discrimination against men. This is not about bashing or trash talking anyone for our having struggles to overcome, obstacles to surpass.
In taking on the task of fixing the void you’ve seen in our society, you must give up the ability to play the victim of anything. You are not a victim of the work ahead of you, or the vision you see possible. You are not a victim of your own potential and mission in this life.
So much is said about trailblazing women, my favorite being that women are only meant to get married, procreate, love men. So if anyone is to say that women are only meant to be lovers, let us love.
If we were only meant to love and be loved, to be married off, then maybe they’re right!
Let’s love this world.
Lets love what we do.
Let’s be married to our work and married to our own lives.
Let us do our work with extreme love.
Let us love each other, our enemies, our competition, our naysayers, any and everything that either teaches us or makes us better or stronger. Let us live and create and experience the fruition of our work with love.
With that, I’ll say I love you all. I’m so excited to be part of this movement with all of you. I can’t wait to see how we collaborate, and where we take our visions. I can’t wait to see what the world has next for all of us. Because if we are here, tonight, we prove to the universe that we are ready. That we will step out into the unknown, meeting new people and taking new risks, and as I always say on HerAfter, the universe responds in kind.