Tuesday, December 20, 2011

...WHO'S LOLA?...

I never wanted to be a business person. That's just not me. I'm a creative person that loves people. I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I knew that no matter what...I wanted a job where I could help people in some way. I dropped out of college as a social work major when I got married to work and put my husband through school. I never expected to be anything more than a Mom once I started having my children. If anyone would've told me that I would be writing and designing and selling t shirts to motivate people even 2 years ago...I would've laughed and said "NO WAY!". And I would've really never believed that I would start my own business in the process. I'm messy. I keep terrible records. Math and accounting and organization are not my strong points, but our lives take unexpected twists and turns. And so...through a series of twists and turns, and because of one picture of a tank top I made that said "STRONG IS THE NEW SKINNY" got so much attention on Facebook...here I am today with my own tiny little business called "Strong Lola". Many people have wondered and asked about the name. I've heard, "What's the significance of the name of your business? Does it mean something? And who IS Lola anyways?" So with the recent launch of my website for "Strong Lola", I thought I'd share a little bit about "Lola"...who she is...and why I have such an affection for her that I named my business after her.

I've often said that my life may be crazy and full of chaos at times, but it's never boring. I am one of six children in a crazy, loud, sometimes tragic, loving family. Growing up, my 2 younger sisters and I were all so close in age that we were built in playmates...and not much has changed as we've grown up. The 3 of us are still the best of friends. We fight and makeup and we get annoyed with each other. But in the end, we are as close as can be. We go out together every weekend and share lots of laughter and adventures. It was on one of those nights that I became "Lola".

Last year, my sister Kathy and I had gone to hear our friends and their band play live music outside of a local restaurant with another friend of ours. It was a warm summer night...perfect weather to sit with friends and listen to music outside. The place we went had picnic tables outside for seating and there was an area in front of the stage for dancing. I personally love to people watch and there was one person in particular that caught my eye that night...a woman.

I say this at the risk of sounding like a superficial witch, but she wasn't that attractive and she was a little overweight. No one would ever see this woman and say "Wow! She's beautiful! I want to look like her.", but that's not what I noticed. What caught my eye was the way she was dancing and the way she carried herself. She was dancing with the man that she was there on a date with. Her eyes NEVER left his. She twirled around as if she were a tiny dancer with a perfectly toned body. It was obvious that she felt no discomfort or embarrassment. She was so free and at ease and it wasn't because she was drinking either. She was completely sober.

The more I watched her...the more I was intrigued and drawn to her. In fact, I began to feel a little jealous. It seems crazy for me to say that I was jealous of her...that for a moment I wanted to be that very imperfect lady dancing and laughing...but she looked so sure of herself. She wasn't looking around, and she certainly wasn't worried about what other people thought. I turned to my sister and our friend and said, "Wow! Do you see that lady?" They said "Yes.". I said, " If I had HALF her confidence...I could take over the world!" I wished that I could be more like that.

Later on, she and her boyfriend struggled to take a picture of themselves at the table right behind ours. My sister that never meets a stranger and will talk to anyone, offered to take one of them. Then she introduced herself. "Hi! My name is Kathy." The woman smiled and said, "Nice to meet you! I'm Lola." Through our conversation, we learned that the man she was on a date with had been her husband many years ago. They had been divorced for over 10 yrs and had reconnected. Neither ever had children or remarried and even though they had once failed...they were giving their relationship a 2nd chance.

I said, "I love the name Lola! I wish I had a cool name like that!" and that was the night my sister and friend nicknamed me "Lola". I loved it, because to me...I associate that name with someone that is happy and confident...someone comfortable in their own skin and willing to take chances...someone determined and not afraid to go after what they want in life, even if there are risks. So when I started thinking about starting a business where I could expand upon what I am doing at "STRONG IS THE NEW SKINNY"...I wanted to choose a name that seemed appropriate. I thought about all the obvious choices, but none seemed to fit. It was almost like naming a baby. I wanted the name to represent all that I wanted my business to be about. One night as I was reading an old note my friend had written to me..."Lola"...it made perfect sense! "Strong Lola" would be the name of my business.

I knew that "Strong Lola" was a name that people would either really like or think was weird. I knew that everyone would say "Who's Lola?" or wonder quietly why I would choose that name...but I also knew that this was the perfect name because it embodies EVERYTHING that I want myself and other women to be! "Lola" is a woman that loves life. "Lola" is kind, but she's not a pushover. "Lola" is true to her heart and carries herself with confidence. "Lola" has goals...a purpose in life...and she isn't afraid to go after what she wants. "Lola" seizes the opportunities that come her way, and "she" doesn't give up or lose hope. "Lola" is comfortable in her own skin but is always seeking to be better...to improve. Combine all these qualities with a strong will and mind...and a healthy, fit, strong body...and I believe this kind of person CAN conquer the world in her own way!

I want the people that follow me on Facebook and my blog to feel empowered...not in a figurative, "rah rah", feel good kind of way...but in the truest sense. I want women and girls to know that you don't have to be perfect or the ideal of what other people think of as pretty to be beautiful. The woman I saw the first time I looked at Lola and the woman I saw by the end of the night were very different. She became beautiful to me in her own way. I also want to change the way women treat each other and THEMSELVES. I want us to stop hating ourselves because we don't look like THAT girl over there and learn to improve upon who we are and what we have. I want women to take care of their bodies and be healthy without feeling guilty or selfish. There is no age limit or boundaries. ANYONE can change. ANYONE can be better and stronger. It's never too late to become more like "Lola"!

I still think about that lady I met a couple of years ago when I'm having a day that I want to quit...or when I'm worried about what everyone around me thinks...or I don't like the imperfections I see in the mirror. Those days, I tell myself..."Remember who you are! You are Lola and you are strong! There is no goal too lofty or problem too big to overcome." "Lola" is my nick name...my alter ego of sorts...but I'm willing to share it with anyone that wants to share it. "Strong Lola" embodies everything that I have done with "STRONG IS THE NEW SKINNY" and they fit together perfectly. So, let's all be more like "Lola" and work towards being stronger and happier and more confident than we ever thought possible.