#RoadToReal Tour: The West Coast

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A little over a month ago I began the “Road To Real” tour, partnering with T.J.Maxx in a sixteen city tour to uncover authentic stories from everyday women. The tour began on the East Coast but the second leg of the tour, we stayed closer to home, beginning with Seattle, then Los Angeles, and wrapping it up in San Diego.

The West coast leg has been equally if not even more inspiring. Without fail, every woman I met and interviewed had an incredible story to tell. I feel so lucky to be able to connect with complete strangers, and walk away feeling inspired, energized and in awe of these women’s stories. The journey of life that we are all on, is such an interesting one. There are so many emotions and experiences we face; the highs and lows, happiness and sadness, life and death, bliss and despair. Every woman, no matter her age, her background, or her ethnicity; all have loved, struggled, persevered, and lived. What inspires me most is to see and hear how women have lived and continue to live their lives. When I hear a woman’s story about being knocked down so many times and experiencing such hardship, yet she has not allowed life to harden her; THAT inspires me. This tour has taught me that no matter who I am talking to, I always have something to learn. I never thought I could take away so much from literally every woman I have encountered so far, but this experience has continued to remind me that whether I’m talking to my family, friends or every day woman in T.J.Maxx stores, we all have a story to tell and everyone is inspiring in their own way. A lot of the time we think we need have to have similar journeys, experiences, or backgrounds in order to connect and learn from someone, however I now know firsthand that just by listening to someone else’s experiences, you can learn something truly valuable – this is why I am so passionate about this project, because T.J.Maxx has given a platform to everyday women to share their stories, and in return they not only are inspiring me, but other women across the country.

I wanted to share some of the women’s stories that I found to be extra inspirational from the second part of this tour.

Seattle_Day1_09

Lee, SEATTLE –Lee has two grown children and has lived in Washington for nearly 20 years. Thanks to social media, she recently became reacquainted with her second daughter after giving her up for adoption almost 34 years prior. When asked about meeting her daughter for the first time she explained, “My parents want to thank you.” I told her, “You were a gift. You w ere a gift I gave to somebody who couldn’t have a child.”

LA_Day1_04_Sade

Sade, LOS ANGELES; Sade, a social worker with a passion for helping others with mental illness, just received her Masters from USC. When asked why she chose her profession, she explained that as a teenager, a close friend was diagnosed with early onset schizophrenia and she saw firsthand how mental illness can affect the loved ones around you. This experience drove her to become a stronger woman and made her want to “do better in life and do something that helps others.” Now, Sade works with kids at a local LA inner-city school, many of whom suffer from poverty.

SanDiego_Day2_0802_Tracy + Friends

Tracy, SAN DIEGO; Tracy was traveling with two friends for a girls weekend. The three women met on an online grief support group after Tracy lost her husband to cancer almost seven years ago. The group meets a couple of times a year to talk about what it means to be a widow, how to move on and to really just support one another. Tracy says, “Everyone believes the answer to my pain is to find another man, but that’s not the answer. My answer is to learn to deal with the pain, learn to move forward and do the best you can with your life. I spend my time helping charities, supporting others coping with grief, and doing random acts of kindness throughout the day to make a difference to those around me.”

I know I said this before, but every woman I interview has an inspirational story that should be heard, so make sure you continue to follow along as I embark on the journey through the Midwest next using #RoadToReal! And share your inspirational story too!

Thank you to T.J.Maxx for partnering on this post!

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