I can't believe I am telling you this...

A friend asked me why I love taking photographs. 

I knew this friend would see right through the "creative outlet" answer, so I dug a little deeper and a series of moments began to flicker through my mind...

The moment the beautiful mama of two little angel boys apologized for how heavy she was, ashamed that she still hadn't lost the weight. Or the moment another gorgeous mama asked me not to take photos of her and to focus only on her children because she was embarrassed of the way she looked. And how all I see when I look at these women through my lens is beauty. When I am home, editing and seeing their faces over and over, up close, smiling, blinking, laughing, embracing...the only thing I see is their beauty and their light. 

And then comes my favorite part...delivering the images to them and literally feeling them gasp as they see themselves in a way they don't. Holding space with them while they see their inward beauty boldly displaying itself on the outside.

And it's almost as if, in that split second, they are free...of the guilt, shame, anger, fear, despair, frustration, self-hatred, pinching, prodding, hiding, escaping...that has become their constant.

I feel the same way about helping people build their dream brands too. I feel that in reflecting back someone's brilliance I am, in effect, empowering them to believe that anything is possible. And this feeling sets my world on fire.


Last night, I participated in a one-hour speed reading session with writer, psychic, coach Licia Morelli over on her facebook page (if you have been reading my posts, you would notice I am totally Brand crushin' on Licia right now and this just totally upped the ante). So, for one hour she was answering questions on her page and tuning in with her psychic abilities to provide us with some answers. I literally sprinted to my computer when the clock struck 9:00 pm.

Here was my question: 

And here was her incredibly profound answer:

And just like that, it all became very, very clear to me.

I can't just show other's their light and pretend that mine doesn't exist. 

I spend a lot of time highlighting everyone else's beauty and strengths and power while constantly diminishing my own behind the scenes. Which reminds me of the time two girls in our 8th grade class started a notebook in which they wrote something about everyone in our grade. It was a huge scandal and I remember being totally panicked about what they might say after hearing some of the mean things they said about my friends. So when I got to finally see the sacred notebook, do you want to know what they wrote?  

"Amber can't take a compliment."  

Woah...talk about 8th grade wisdom at its finest...and a continual gut punch over the last 20 years as I realize I still struggle with it to this day. 

There is no doubt I have improved at hearing the compliment and allowing it to enter my ear canals and nodding appropriately, acting the part. Whole-heartedly feeling gracious and grateful for the love this person is extending to me, yet internally still maintaining a mechanism that deflects and disallows the truth in the words to penetrate my soul.

Gah. How incredibly maddening...and awakening all at once. 

As Licia so eloquently put it, I'm a star wrapped in a net and I'm still shining; but, in refusing to set myself free I continue to limit my reach.

I can't truly inspire others if I don't allow myself to fully feel the power of my shine. 

So here goes...

I want to be a female Tony Robbins...with my own swag...coherently and clairvoyantly sharing my message on big stages. My own version of a stellar, rockstar public speaker who energizes and thrills audiences to think differently and recognize that the ability to create change in their lives is already there.

I want to inspire others to embrace their brilliance and go out and change the world. I can literally feel my pulse quickening and my heart leaping around in my chest as I type these words.

So in honor of embracing my fear and my shine, I am putting myself out there....I put together this speaking bio page over the weekend (know anyone looking for a motivational speaker?).

I recorded my signature talk and I am ready to hit the stage and share my story with the world, live and in color. I am ready to get out there in a rockin' outfit to stand in front of lots of people and feel their energy coming right back at me. I'm ready to stand back stage, feeling like I am going to pee (again), pacing and taking deep breaths, knowing that it's just fear making a guest appearance and I've totally got this.

I'm even more ready to tell fear to take a flying leap because this story needs to be shared and there are brilliant people sitting in the audience who are living in fear too. And maybe, just maybe, by my daring to shine more brightly, I will encourage a few others to do the same. 

Amber LilyestromComment