A little over two years ago, some girlfriends and I gathered around my dinner table and talked about this idea we had – to talk about issues that were important to us, showcase our favorite fashion, and share the things we love.
That was the genesis of What Would Wu Wear. The site launched in late 2016, and really got going in 2017. And it’s been a wonderful journey. We’ve done all the things we set out to do, but the return on that investment has been so much more than I thought it would be.
I know we live in this supposedly polarized country, with hostility coming from all corners. But what’s impressed and surprised me most about the last two years is the overwhelming kindness and positivity I’ve received since launching W4.
The emails, text messages, comments and general love have been life-affirming and gratifying. And, even though my goal was to speak to women like me – 50-something professionals – my “fan base” ranges in age from 20 and 70, from all walks of life.
It’s all about connection
This experience has taught me that the most important thing we can do on this planet is connect with others. Ultimately, that’s the scorecard we’ll be judged by – the number of people we’ve touched and known and loved.
Granted, connecting with someone virtually isn’t the same as spending time with them face-to-face, but I’ve personally drawn comfort and inspiration from art, books, and music, even though those artists, authors, and songwriters aren’t personal friends.
It’s the message that matters, and when someone speaks to you, it doesn’t matter if they’re in the same room or even the same hemisphere. The world is a little bit less lonely and scary when you know someone out there is feeling the same way you are.
Nothing heals like kindness
A couple of things prompted me to embark on the W4 adventure, primarily the death of my mother and my divorce. I needed to find a way to get out of my own head and cope with my grief by doing something productive and positive, rather than letting myself dive into a dark hole. I’m not a dark hole kind of woman, so W4 was my therapy.
That’s when I began my #OnlyJoy mantra. I wanted to focus on the goodness in my life, to assume positive intent in others (even those who may not have had it, I gave them the benefit of the doubt), and come from a place of gratitude, grace, and kindness. I vowed to put out only kindness, and to let in #OnlyJoy.
I wasn’t trying to delude myself into thinking that life was all tacos and dark chocolate, but I wanted to put up a fortress against the darkness that I saw envelop many people coping with grief, and #OnlyJoy was one of my coping mechanisms. (I’m not claiming this is a cure-all, mind you. We all cope in our own ways, and this is what worked for me.)
The results have been nothing short of a revelation. Not only did my relationships improve, but #OnlyJoy created the space for a new relationship that has transformed my life – and taught me that #OnlyJoy isn’t just a mantra. It’s truly a way of life.
Pondering is good for your soul
When you start a website, you make a commitment to keeping it fresh. That means new photo shoots, new ideas, new content – all the time. So I had to think about what I wanted to say and show and do.
Of course, I’ve always loved fashion and art, but knowing that I would be writing and posting about it has kept me on my toes – coming up with new ideas, new combinations, and fresh approaches that I might not have come up with if just left to my own devices.
These Reflection pieces have also made me stop and think about, well, thinking. What do I care about? What do I want to talk about? What makes me tick? What can I say that might speak to other women in the same/similar places in their lives?
I’m not going to lie: sometimes it’s a challenge to come up with something to say. But it’s a healthy exercise that I strongly recommend you try on your own. Forcing yourself to come up with a topic and write about it makes you focus and think in ways you may not be used to thinking. You come up with new ideas, fresh perspectives, and 600-1,000 words before you know it!
It doesn’t have to be public. I have a friend who recently started a digital journal (she uses Lifecraft, but there are several available in the app store). It’s private, but it lets her record moments, photos, thoughts, and stories on her phone, laptop, iPad, etc. It’s like social media, but only for her.
We’re all just people
The most important thing I’ve learned in the last two years is that we’re all just people, with our own stories and families and customs. I’ve enjoyed sharing those stories with you, and I hope to keep doing it for as long as you’ll listen.
I always love hearing about yours too. So feel free to drop a line or a comment.