September is Alopecia and Suicide Awareness Month
Let's talk about it!! September is back to school month for many, and it's also Alopecia and Suicide Awareness months. I'm a big champion for the power of conversations! It's amazing the things we make up in our head -- which turns out isn't always a safe place to hang out. There are some major moments I made things up that weren't true that made my life wildly more difficult. At age 11, when I lost all my hair, I told myself there was something wrong with me, that I'd never have any friends, or be able to do the things I loved to do. That wasn't the truth -- but I said it to myself enough that I believed it. I also got my first bad grade from Mrs. Erickson in penmanship, a P- in the 2nd grade. I was devastated and ashamed, and for years I made it mean I was a bad writer -- not that I write unbelievably messy when I don't pay attention, which is still the case today! Oddly enough, I often get complimented on my handwriting, and people frequently use the word penmanship - when I'm taking my time signing books. I always consider it a God-wink from Mrs. E and life itself!
Back to my bald head -- did you know I wouldn't look in a mirror without a wig on from the time I was 11, till I was 21, and then it was still another nine years till I tossed the wigs and became...The Bald Chick. It was just after I had the idea for I Love You More and I didn't realize how connected it all was, until I began visiting schools and had the AWESOME OPPORTUNITY to share about the power and freedom that comes from being yourself. Now, as far as Alopecia goes, and any other challenge, everyone is on their own journey, though my wish for everyone with hair loss specifically, is that if you are wearing a wig - it is because you are choosing to wear a wig, not because you feel like you have to - that was my experience. Now I rarely choose to cover my head -- it's part of what makes me uniquely, boldly and baldly beautiful!
A few things I did that made a huge impact -- The Landmark Forum - actually their "Curriculum for Living" which includes three programs: The Forum, The Advanced Course and Self-Expression and Leadership. They talk about the meaning we assign things like my bald head, or that bad grade -- the stories I told myself weren't true, and I gained a tremendous amount of FREEDOM when I stepped into that epic awareness. Michael Singer in his brilliant book The Untethered Soul describes it as LIBERATION -- YES, YES, YES - LADY LIBERTY! I also attended my first National Alopecia Areata Foundation (NAAF) conference just about a month before I shed the wigs and it was life changing to finally meet other people who had my same or similar experience. I shortly after became involved with the Children's Alopecia Project as a mentor. Joining these organizations at their national conferences, local meetings and camps is a beautiful way to feel connected and understood. Please visit their websites -- and if you know someone who has Alopecia - especially if they seem to be struggling, and even if they don't seem to be speaking about it yet -- ask them if they are aware of these resources. Being willing to have the conversation, or even sending a note, can help open up a whole new world.
I love visiting schools and when there's a child with Alopecia it's a bonus - though I always share a bit about my experience - how challenging it was, and how much better it got, how important it is to look out for one another, and to choose kindness! One of the best parts of the day is "Lunch with Laura" when I gather with a small group of students and share a meal -- we have a conversation about life, sometimes the big things going on in the world, or things that they are personally experiencing. Our time together is always magical. I'm always willing to share first, as we look to see the good that might be coming from the tough things we're going and growing through. Earlier this year we lost a young middle school girl Rio who died by suicide after being relentlessly bullied at school, because of her Alopecia. I know that conversations could have made a difference here - with the parents, students, educators, community -- when we see something like this happening we want to be bold and brave enough to speak up. I also am a big believer that we can't ask our children to act better than we are willing to - so please mind what you say and post about people who don't look, act, vote or believe the same way you do. Paraphrasing Michael Singer -- be in AWE that it took 13.8 billion years to get to this very moment in front of you, treat it with love, appreciation, kindness, wonder, respect -- as it is, as are YOU, and everyone in this swirl with you, a MAGNIFICENT GIFT!!
PS...meet my friend SAGE below -- we met when she was 3 and had a few patches from Alopecia Areata that grew back, she's 6 now and lost all her hair. Attending CAP and NAAF events, as well as meeting other children and adults with Alopecia, has helped her and her family know that they are going to rock this condition, not let it rock them!
PPS.... People can call or text 988 to the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline
Please be sure to download your free PDF ebook of You Are a Gift to the World/ The World is a Gift to You by signing up for Laura's Love Letters newsletter. Send me an email if you're interested in a hard copy of this book - I'll send you the details on how to get one with your child's name it.
If you aren't able to attend a live event, you can always purchase signed books through my website. They're great gifts for baby showers, toddler birthdays, first readers, teacher gifts, little ones, older ones, loved ones -- all the ones!! You'll find I Love You More and signed padded board book set's of I Love You More and I'll Hug You More
Laura's Love Note:
Please feel free to download or screenshot and share — tag #lauraduksta #iloveyoumore #ilym and follow me on social! If we see your post we'll for sure repost it!
Love in Action Activity:
AWARENESS MONTHS: find a cause and make a difference. You might be surprised at how big little ones hearts can be. Talk to your children - young ones and older ones about different challenges people in your family, community, country and world are facing. Ask and discuss with them what solutions they might see, or heart and brain storm different ways to help. Come up with an idea or two -- maybe a lemonade stand, joining a local 5K, writing letters, creating care packages, beach clean up, etc and then take action. Let me know what you do or create!
Rosie and her family are an awesome example of this - with her Coming Up Rosies Project. She has a Miles for Smiles event in Chicago on September 25th. Sage is also part of a national team fundraising effort for NAAF and they're doing a local Lemonade Stand in South Florida to support the Children's Alopecia Project -- stop by or donate if you're able!! Also, Heal the Planet, another organization I'm honored to be a part of has a 5k coming up Oct 1st in Fort Lauderdale.
Love Live Events:
- I have had an awesome time this summer at the Marshfield, Cohasset and Hingham Farmers Markets -check my website for upcoming events
- End of June - September: Road tripping up the east coast - if you know of a festival, market, camp, school or church I should visit, send me a message!
It's time to book them! Please visit my website for more info and reach out to Jaime to get the ball rolling! I'm happy to travel to YOU virtually, or in person, wherever you are in the world! Email Jaime Here