I've tried to write this post a million times but it's been difficult to find the right words. Yesterday, however, I received a photo that gave me all the encouragement I needed to finally find the words I've been looking for. 

2016 has probably been my most challenging year to date. And I don't mean that in a bad way, because there have been some truly wonderful moments as well. But getting a new job, moving to a new city, and "adulting" added a whole new element of challenge to my life that I hadn't experienced before. To be honest, I let all of that get to me at first. I chose to wallow in sadness and longing for a while. I thought about my girls in Houston all the time and I cried pretty much every day for a solid 3 months. I forgot about what was important to me and I lost myself while trying to just stay above water. The stress of trying to figure out a way to educate hormonal 12-year-olds had taken over my life and my passions were buried so deep that I hardly talked about them anymore. The identity I had built in Houston was not at all who I was in DC. loved the person I had become in Houston. I discovered my dream, I followed through on it, I had wonderful people around me who supported my dream, and things were moving in the right direction. Moving to DC shook everything up. I knew this would happen but I guess I didn't realize how painful it would be

They tried to bury us. 
I was so buried in stress at work that even RISE wasn't fun for me anymore. It felt like a chore that I was only doing out of obligation, and not because I actually enjoyed it. Because no one here knows about it, I found myself having to defend why it was important, and that just didn't feel right. I kept comparing my original group of girls to my new group of girls and I was disappointed that it wasn't the same. I started to let that insecure voice creep back in about whether or not I could ever actually make this dream happen. And the sad part is that I actually listened to that voice and started to believe it could be true. I let the newness of everything bury me. I let the stress bury me. I let the opinions of others bury me. I let my insecurities bury me. 

They didn't know we were seeds. 
Things are getting more tolerable at work and I'm feeling more comfortable in my new city. I'm starting to feel more like myself again and with that, my dreams are feeling alive again. Every time I get to talk to one of my girls in Houston or see pictures of them on Facebook, I feel encouraged because I know I created something great. Although my girls are the most amazing human beings on the planet, it's not a coincidence that everything worked out the way that it did. RISE like a girl is a super special program that has something incredible to offer. I can't just keep this special gift to myself - it has to be shared. So, basically what I'm saying is that I can't let RISE be buried. I have to push through and be the person I always inspired my girls to be. I can't let the inopportune timing and lack of excitement from others stop me from pursuing something that is so innately me. I need to feel the fire again that I used to feel every time I talked about it. I need to believe in this more than I've ever believed in anything before. In 2017, I'm committing to using the challenges I faced in 2016 as incentive to grow. RISE like a girl is a seed waiting to grow into something beautiful. I'm not giving up and I'm not letting it go. I have something special to share with the world and it's up to me to make it happen. 

RISE girls rocking their shirts to see the movie Hidden Figures
during their winter break! 
As always, thank you for supporting us all throughout the year. Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2017!