#RoadToReal: The Southeast

As some of you know, this past May I partnered with T.J.Maxx to launch a 16-city nationwide tour called the Road to Real. During this journey, I am traveling across the country to talk with women about their lives and giving them a platform to share their stories. You may remember from my last post, but when I signed on for this project I really had no idea what to expect or what I would learn. I understood the concept, but I did not realize how this experience would affect me personally and the way I now live my life.

We just wrapped leg three of the tour which kicked off in Charlotte followed by Atlanta, Miami, and Houston. What I’ve found thus far is that every woman I’ve spoken with is living life to the best of their ability – if they struggle or fall down, they persevere and get right back up, but most importantly they all stressed the importance of love.

Each day I interview around twenty women and to be completely transparent, this leg of the tour truly tested me as a person. I don’t know if it was because I was more comfortable interviewing the women, but I found the stories to be especially raw and open. The women talked about everything — heartwarming love stories about relationships, family and life, that make me excited about my future and heart-breaking stories about losing loved ones, trying to make ends meet, and experiencing feelings of defeat.

These conversations have lead me to feel overwhelmed by my own emotions – I’ve cried, laughed and thought deeply about my life – but these stories are also as REAL as it gets, and I can’t help but absorb them and try to learn a lesson from each journey. A few lessons I’ve learned from this leg that I’d like to share with you are:

  • No matter what happens in life, the most important thing is to LOVE one another
  • Helping others will always fulfill you and make you feel good
  • Follow your passions and never give up on your dreams
  • Choose to look at the good in life and focus on what you have, not what you don’t
  • Life is a balancing act, it’s okay if every day is not perfect and you fall off the beam…you can always get back on tomorrow

I’d like to share a few of my favorite quotes from the women I spoke with. I feel very blessed that these women felt comfortable enough to open up to me, and I can’t wait to hear other inspiring stories during the next leg of the tour! Make sure you follow along with the hashtag #RoadToReal as we head to New Orleans and Denver next!

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  • On her love of helping others: “When you struggle and you struggle and you get above it you understand. So you reach back and help, because if we don’t who else is going to help the people? Sometimes people just need a chance.” – Annie, Charlotte 
  • Why she and her husband would like to foster children: “We’re able to have a child physically, but if we’re also able to foster then why wouldn’t we? Why wouldn’t we take in children that don’t have a home, don’t have someone to love them?” – Shelby, Charlotte
  • What she’s passionate about: “Animals. I recently rescued a puppy born with no arms and I made her a wheel chair… I’ve also done wildlife rescue with local indigenous wildlife – anything that’s not a cat or a dog.” – Magdalena, Miami
  • Why she loves fitness: “I try to stay fit and eat right by practicing yoga and playing racquet ball. I’ve seen family and friends struggle with weight, and I didn’t want to be like that. I wanted to keep it tight and right.” – Lavern, Miami
  • On her passion for travel: “I generally like to travel by myself and I enjoy it. Because if you can’t have a good time by yourself, then you have a real problem!” – Shara, Houston
  • On why she started a career in speech pathology: “With speech pathology, I could work with kids, adults, singers, cancer patients, literally anyone I want. And I could never hurt them, only help them.” – Halla, Houston
  • What it’s like being a mother to a recovering addict: “Over time you learn that only he can fix himself, I can’t. So every morning, you get up, pray about it, rant, scream, cry for 30 minutes, set a timer, and then you say, I’m done untill tomorrow. So anytime, it creeps in, you say, no, I already did that today. I’m saving that for tomorrow.” -Laura, Atlanta
  • On balancing a career and motherhood: “What drives us to really live life and be happy outside of, ‘my children are happy?’I want to find my happiness within me. I think we get bogged down with the day-to-day, working long hours, but also being with the kids before and after. So by 9PM, you’re exhausted but you’ve got to put a little bit into your husband and then where’s that time for you? That’s the struggle i’m in… it’s a little overwhelming, but I hope and pray that it gets a little easier or I get better at balancing it.” – Neha, Atlanta

Thank you to T.J.Maxx for sponsoring this post!

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