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The Circle of Strength Women’s Event brought together over 150 women from throughout the world for a day of conversation and workshops around empowerment, gratitude, finding inner strength and trusting and understanding your own body and mind. This event was a celebration of life, love and friendship and Stand Up Speak Up co-founder Karla’s 50th birthday as she continued to live and work with Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer.

Dear Circle of Strength, 

As a young girl all I knew was how much my parents loved me and my siblings. We were  always their top priority. We had the proverbial white picket fence lifestyle, the trips to Dis ney. Dad worked downtown and came home for dinner and we had everything we needed.  We were upper class, loved, invincible and protected. I believed that all children were sur rounded by this love & security.  

Yet…despite what I consider to be an idyllic childhood I still suffered with self-doubts and  my self- esteem. I often felt like my happiness, my successes were because of good luck  and in a way,I didn’t deserve what I had. 

It wasn’t until I began working with teens at risk and foster children did I realize my up bringing was anything but typical. I was shocked to learn that some parents couldn’t raise  their kids and had to surrender them to government agencies. I heard the children’s stories  of abuse and neglect and it broke my heart. I saw the effects of not experiencing uncondi tional love and the cycle these kids fell into.  

 I thought to myself…the only privilege of any importance in this world is the privilege of  being loved…. I coined in my mind the phrase ‘love privilege’…when a child has this they can  triumph over any obstacles…I could feel my passion and purpose rising. I wanted to put all  my effort into becoming an advocate for children in the foster care system!  

Then I became ill. This stopped me in my tracks and for a moment I thought I need to put  all my focus into fighting this cancer. Once over the shock my desire to fight for these kids  intensified….these kids have life and death challenges and so do I and so I am continuing  the fight for myself and my cause! 

When I started working with Sandra and talking about love and the impact of self-es teem….I realized that even with my idyllic upbringing I still struggled to feel worthy and so I  imagined how these children lost in the system must feel…. Sandra started to work with me  on the power of self-love. She got me to start paying attention to my inner voice and the  messages I was giving myself. She asked me to say out loud….’I am beautiful…’I am loved….’I  am worthy. I could not do it at first. Somewhere inside I never felt that.  

I realized for all of us – it’s where we truly need to start. Its where I need to do the work with  my cherished foster children…. getting them to a place of finding love for themselves and it’s what I needed to do when I fell ill so I could begin the work of healing myself and my  heart. 

We all have an inner child who needs love & acceptance. It’s the way to wholeness, acceptance and love for ourselves as we are. 

I ask that you surrender yourself to Sandra and see how beautiful and worthy each of you  are.  

Karla xo 

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