• Madison Gonzalez

3 Lessons I've Learned From My Life-Changing Month

Where do I even begin? As the title indicates, September 2019 has honestly been one of the best months of my life. The paperback copy of my book Dear Mirror launched, I received the Storyteller of the Year Award at a conference in Chicago, I spoke on the Author Advantage Live stage to over 300 Authors and Entrepreneurs, and SPOILER ALERT I started my next book (more on that in the coming weeks.)

Now, I'm going to let you in on a secret. Not too long ago I genuinely thought I had nothing to offer. I'm serious. I recently stumbled upon a journal entry I had written about two years ago. In the entry, I poured onto the page all my fears of failure, beliefs that I didn't have any valuable skills, and my resistance to entering the work place - I was terrified because I didn't know what I had to bring to the table. When I re-read this entry, it brought me to tears. I wish I could go back in time and give that person a hug and tell her what I am about to tell you. It turns out you don't have to have it all figured out. You don't have to have fancy degrees, decades of experience, or an impressive resume to make an impact. All I had to do was consistently show up, be myself, and share my story to set a beautiful journey in motion. Now, I am wildly passionate about encouraging others to do the same.

This month has absolutely blown my mind and I wanted to share three of my biggest takeaways.

Takeaway Number 1: There are a lot of really cool people out there.

It is easy to get discouraged by the amount of negative news constantly polluting our televisions, radio stations, and social media feeds. It seems every day we are inundated by hundreds of new horrific stories involving horrible people and tragic circumstances. If I have learned anything in my last few weeks, it is this: there is no shortage of amazingly resilient, passionate, and strong individuals out there changing the world through their actions and stories. There is also no shortage of people willing to root for you. Even if you haven't met them yet, believe me when I say there are tons of people out there ready and willing to help support you, encourage you, and high-five you for your successes. The catch? You won't find these people by keeping your story to yourself and playing small.

In the middle of the month, I attended the Raise Conference in Chicago for non-profit professionals. Over 400 people attended to learn what they could do to advance their organizations for better community impact. These people were doing everything they could to end domestic violence, childhood cancer, and sex-trafficking. These people were doing everything they could to advance education, research, and the arts. Pure passion. I had the honor of standing alongside several of these world-changers during the Raise Awards Ceremony, pictured below. Humbled doesn't cover it. Not once did I witness anyone competing or trying to convince each other that their mission was more important than the next. Do you know how many times I watched people thank each other for the service they were doing for the community? Neither do I because I lost count.

The second conference I attended, Author Advantage Live, was full of 300 Authors and Entrepreneurs using their stories and voices to generate change and propel society forward. Whether they were teaching, entertaining, or raising awareness, these people had some of the most compelling stories I've ever heard. This conference was also full of thought-leaders, game-changers, and some of the most supportive people I've ever met.

700 kick-ass people in two weeks. If that didn't restore my faith in humanity, I don't know what will.

Takeaway Number 2: You never know where your story will land.

If anyone would have told me that posting my first poem publicly on Facebook last December would lead to an Indy Star feature, Best-Selling poetry book, and a speaking role at an International author conference within nine months I wouldn’t have believed it. This is the power of sharing your story. People need to hear what you have to say. Nobody can tell a story like you can tell a story. We all have a one-of-a-kind outlook and unique experiences that have shaped us and these perspectives will impact others in a way you can’t even imagine. Your story matters.

Takeaway Number 3: Just. Show. Up.

Speaking of story, I have a quick one for you.

My flight to Author Advantage Live was delayed and canceled due to a hurricane in Houston. I was set to speak the next day and was *just a little* stressed. However, while waiting in the airport I struck up a conversation with the gentleman next to me and learned he loved poetry. As any aspiring author does, I had a copy of my book in my bag so I handed it to him. He flipped through it and bought it on the spot. A few days later I received an email that his book club of 15 will be reading and discussing my book next month! I want to encourage you to do what you can to make the best of the less than ideal situations in your lives, seek out the opportunities all around you, and just show up!! I don't just mean physically show up, I mean open your eyes and your hearts to possibility. Open your mouth and TALK to someone. You never know where it could lead!

This month is just the beginning. I have big plans and big dreams for the next few months and I can't wait to share them with you.

For now, I wish you all a happy start to your fall (the best season of all) and want to thank each and every one of you for all you've done to make the above possible. Your support means the world to me.

Receiving the Storyteller of the Year Award

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