The Proposal: How I Wed my Work Wives

“Ugh… but she’s so much better than me,” I groaned for the four millionth time in the span of an hour.

As I hung my head and slumped my shoulders, my gaze settled on the updated social media analytics, and confirmed my deepest fear. She was DEFINITELY better than me, and I had the data to prove it.

Deep down, I had anticipated this might be the case. Within moments of being introduced many months before, I had sensed her talent and immediately declared that we were supposed to work together. Fast forward a bit, and we scheduled a phone call during which I shared how much I ADORE creating this Project, how fulfilled I am by this constant connection to my purpose… but I also opened up about the weight of it.

I let her see past the way I wanted to be perceived, and straight into the place inside of me that was beginning to feel burdened by my commitment to creating this beautifull thing.

I was tired.

And instead of allowing this Project to go the way of my past passions - the ones that burned too bright and fizzled into oblivion before their time - I was determined to do this differently. I knew I needed to acknowledge my own limitations and ask for help.

So I did.

I told her I needed a little break from creating new content, and invited her to guest blog the entire month of November. She agreed without reservation, and I welcomed her willingness to help a girl out.

She wrote her first piece, and after just a tiny bit of creative nudging, she produced a finished product that took my breath away. I mean, this woman can write… like the sacred kind of writing that moves the soul… and I was so very grateful to know that The Project would be in such capable hands.

Until her piece hit social media and took over the internet for a minute.

Ya, I needed her to be good, but THAT good? Like “better than me” good? I had not prepared for that, and before I could stop it, the ugliest parts of me bubbled to the surface.

I was jealous.

And felt fiercely competitive.

And painfully insecure.

And for the next three days, my inner critic took up residence inside of my head, whispering the least creative, most self-deprecating insults of all time. It sounded a little like this:

“You’re not a real writer. She’s a real writer. You need to just stop pretending to be something you’re not.”

“Who do you think you ARE?!?! You have no business believing you belong here.”

“Quit. Go back to your real job. Failure is the only way this ends.”

Good news.. I’ve got a LOT of practice under my belt when it comes to entertaining my inner critic. This voice and I have been together for as long as I can recall, and I know the most certain way to silence it is to just let it move through me. My only job is to be certain that none of the words stick.

Teflon, baby.. I spent three days as emotional Teflon.

And then, BAM! Day four. I woke and recognized that the voice had changed. Having grown weary of my refusal to the play the “I’m an awful fraud” game, the critic had taken leave of my mind, creating a perfectly-sized space for ordinary genius to take up residence. And when you make space for that kind of genius, you usually don’t have to invite it twice. It just comes rushing in.

Or at least it did for me.

I thought of my teenage children.. you know, the ones who used to need me to be at the center of their lives. The ones who held my hand to cross the street and couldn’t sleep without snuggles.

The ones who now demand the right to take up space on their own.

They don’t need me at the center of their lives now. They need me near them. They need me to be their champion.

They still need to belong with me, but they no longer belong to me, and I don’t get to shrink them because I’m afraid of what it will mean for me if they expand beyond my reach.

And the exact same truth is true of The Beautiful Project.

it was never meant to be small.

Like my babies, it was always intended to grow beyond my reach, And it would be the worst form of self-centered fear for me to keep out the people who can make this baby bigger.

And in that moment I knew what I needed. I needed a permanent partner. I needed to become one part of a working whole.

I needed a work wife in the worst possible way and I knew just the person for this proposal.

So, I asked my new blogging badass friend Kate to join me for coffee, and nervously prepared to propose to the work wife woman of my dreams.

And she said YES

With all of the love and enthusiasm and commitment I needed to ease my worried mind.

As we talked in a rush of excitement about our big, full plans for this Project, I quickly realized that our team of two was a good start, but was still too thin to hold the weight of this message. We needed more - more minds to bring big ideas to the table, more eyes to see things I might miss, more hearts to expand this space of belonging for women who are searching for a place to call their own.

I mean, I’m a fan of monogamy in my personal life, but is it really possible to have too many work wives?

Umm… hell no. Not ever.

Wives are the absolute best thing in the world.

And so I proceeded to propose two more times over the next few weeks, calling together a team of ordinary women with extraordinary talent. Women who have the capacity to make this baby as big as it needs to be. Women who are willing to take up space, to use their voice, and to be full in ways they never imagined so that you can do the same.

And so it is with great joy that I present to you my team - my harem of work wives - my own personal creative force intended to help me make a world where women belong with substance and strength.

Beautifull- US-18.jpg

Over the next few weeks, we will feature full length bios on each of these ladies, but for now, let me just give you a brief introduction.

On the far left, we have Nicole Cisne-Durbin - she is a mama, an activist, and an artist. She brings life to this Project with her command of color and her capacity for love. She’s a force and I’m grateful she’s ours.

Next we have Kate Johnson - that’s my badass blogger who called out my deepest fears and set them at ease. She’s a mama, a writer, a PR guru, and the other side of my brain. While I might have birthed this baby, she’s gonna make it big. She’s a force and I’m grateful she’s ours.

Next to Kate, we have Jessica - she is a wife, a mama, a photographer and a storyteller. Jessica has been the creative genius behind nearly every photograph the Project has posted this past year. She brings an eye for capturing the real and the raw in her work. She is a force and I am grateful she’s ours.

And finally, there’s me… the mama on the end. You know me. I’m a writer, a seeker, a giant fan of love and human connection.

And if you’re looking for me, I’ll still be here… I’m the woman with tears in her eyes and an enormous amount of pride in her heart.

Just look at my baby.

She is big and breathtaking.

And I cannot wait to see what she will become.

Sarah Stevens