Private heart in the public eyeI put myself out there.  It’s part of the deal when you’re an entrepreneur where your brand is, well, YOU.  Often times, it’s a beautiful, wonderful thing.  Opening up, expressing yourself, being vulnerable, sharing your story can lead to absolutely amazing connections.  When you put yourself out there, really just about all out there, you can inspire people in ways you never imagined.  No sale needs to be made, no product pushed- a recipe here, a workout picture there and you can motivate folks to start fixing healthier meals or going for a walk instead of plopping in front of the television after work.  And, that my friends, is a very very good thing.

Sadly, it can also lead to not so beautiful & wondrous things.  Hateful comments by anonymous users who hide behind a username.  I’ve been called the B word, received probably the most bizarre voice mail message ever & had some YouTuber pose the oh-so-horrible question, “I don’t know who’s uglier- her or the dog” in a video featuring me along with our beloved Frug (french bulldog & Pug) Pepper.  Classy, right? And sometimes the hate isn’t about me at all.  Rather, it’s directed at the person pictured in a before & after I shared-  scathing criticisms of the person’s face and/or body or the fit-shaming gem, “she looked better in the before photo!” or the classic accusations of plastic surgery and/or Photoshop.

Sometimes people forget or ignore the fact that it’s a real person with real feelings who they’re attacking.  It’s easier to do when you’re not standing face to face.  When the only connection you have is an image on a screen.

I won’t blame or judge or counter-attack.  But I can choose to ignore the hatred and focus on all the positive that comes from opening myself up and wearing that heart on my sleeve.  I share my story not for the haters.  They may be part of the package but they’re just such a small, insignificant part.  Instead, I’ll focus on the brighter, bigger and better part…and that is those who may be inspired and motivated by my story as I continue to share it.

I’m a believer in the power of personal testimony.  I believe those who’ve transformed their lives for the better- whether it be kicking an addiction, starting a business from the ground up, losing weight & improving their fitness, overcoming incredible obstacles have a duty to share their stories, to mentor others to make the same kinds of positive changes.  To show people that whatever the goal, it CAN be achieved.  That heart is going to stay on that sleeve.  Come what may, I’ll fight to keep it there.

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