PUBLISHER'S NOTE Live Authentically in the New Year E very now and then, you get to hear words that make you change the course of your life. This fall, Gazelle STL was the media sponsor for Gabrielle Union’s sold-out book signing at St. Louis County Library. Gabrielle’s book, “We’re Going to Need More Wine,” is funny, complicated and her truth, and by the end of it, I sure felt like I needed a glass of wine. I was so excited to attend with one of my best friends, Makele. As two educated, strong, black women navigating careers, kids and relationships, we identify with Gabrielle. She is an actor, businesswoman, wife of basketball star Dwayne Wade and stepmother to his children. If you follow her on social media, you know that she is very opinionated, strong-willed, sassy, sophisticated, and by her own admission, a work in progress. Aren’t we all? Imagine a room full of women from all walks of life (and a few men), listening intently to a conversation between Gabrielle and event moderator Debra Bass (formerly of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch), and feeling as though you are sitting with a couple of girlfriends taking in the words and wisdom being shared, knowing that at some point in life, each person in the room has experienced a bit of what is being said. Gabrielle candidly talked about her father’s infidelity and how later, she was not faithful in her own first marriage. She admitted that she was insecure as a dark-skinned black woman. She talked about the turmoil of being raped, and how she must face her fears before walking into a store, telling herself that the odds of it happening again are low. She talked about how ambitious she was in building her career, which made her do things that were not necessarily right for her like trying to be a video vixen and auditioning for a Tupac video. She shared her struggles with infertility, and her challenges as an actress fighting to gain the same respect and compensation as everyone else with her stardom and experience. In a nutshell, Gabrielle is working on her “stuff.” She has been in therapy for 25 years, since being raped by a stranger while working at a Payless shoe store. It was the summer before her sophomore year at University of California, Los Angeles. Wow! See how deep this conversation was? Are you feeling like you 6 GAZELLE STL have lived some of these experiences - just in a different situation and environment? Maybe you didn’t do the cheating - your partner did. Maybe you are in a job where you know your worth, and your voice should count. But it doesn’t. Maybe you love your husband, but boy, those kids he had before he met you are testing your patience and your relationship. There are two things that I took away from this intimate conversation. 1. I must face my baggage and own up to my role in it. If I was mistreated, I must explore why and what stood in the way of me doing something about it. Was it fear? Was I reliving a part of my childhood where I watched someone close to me stay in a situation that was not healthy? What is my role in the things that have happened to me, like my divorce from the father of my children? Am I finally willing to admit that I also have faults and maybe I was not perfect, either? Though I would not change the outcome, I hope to grow even more from it, and it begins with me taking ownership of my “stuff.” 2. I must strive to live authentically, and not be afraid to use my voice as it may be the difference between someone else gaining the strength to move forward or giving up. I may just inspire someone by sharing my truth, by admitting to my flaws, and living as openly and honestly as possible. I may not be in therapy for the next 25 years, but I will work hard to be a better person to myself and to those around me. I will thrive to live more authentically. I challenge you to do the same. Happy holidays! Cillah Hall Founder and Publisher firstname.lastname@example.org P.S. Gabrielle’s book is available at Barnes and Noble and on amazon.com.