Do you remember back when, elementary school, having a pen pal? Or maybe one you kept from summer camp? I remember writing monthly to a fellow 10-year-old in Dominican Republic, receiving her photo in the mail one day - beyond stoked on my far away friend. I can’t remember what we wrote to each other about, but I loved being in touch with this foreign girl from a far away land…
I’m in my late 20’s and I have a pen pal. Her name is Andy.
She just so happens to be one of the most beautiful creatures, inside and out. An inquisitive mind, creative, yogi, surfer, residing in Manly Beach, Sydney, Australia. If only I had known her when I was running around Manly Beach looking for a surf companion on a footloose trip just over a year ago. But no, Andy and I met through the ol’ inter-web. It was Herewith Magazine that brought us together, two women in love with the ocean… travel… art… well-being… and living a beautiful life. We messaged back and forth, and I’m not sure how much time has passed but we continue to “keep in touch” and truly miss each other when we haven’t checked in. To this day, Andy and I have NOT met in person but I cannot wait until the day we unite, most likely half-way in Hawai’i for a salty sister surf trip. (I cannot wait Andy!!!! Sending you all the love.) Here’s a much up-close interview/conversation with my soul sister across the globe in Australia-land.
JEN: You and I met through Herewith Magazine, I like to think of us as pen pals. We've never met in person, but I know you're just one of those 1 in a million soul sisters and I'm grateful for social media & an over/under-connected digital world to bring us together. What about Herewith is so attractive, it's a type of woman & honestly, how do you see yourself & the women that are involved in a community like that?
ANDY: Herewith is a one of kind environment for women. I think I connect with it in a way that it embodies a certain type of woman, as you said. It’s the woman we all want to be deep down, and that I think we all are. There’s this savage need for freedom, mixed with independence and raw, untamed beauty. It’s an attraction to the simple, genuine things in life that make us happy. There’s elegance in everything, from surfing to writing, traveling or photography, and a heavy sense of adventure. I think the women who read Here With connect with each other because they look beyond a materialistic life and more into a world where emotions and experiences reign. They’re lead by their intuition, their “sixth sense”. There is no man or job or responsibility holding them down, they owe it to themselves to lead their best, most fulfilled life. And I think the best part is that deep down, there is no fear or doubt that it will all happen, one way or another. I think that’s what I saw when I found Here With and read your article. I recognised those things in myself, and also in you. I felt the urge to write to you and thank you. And so we became friends. We all connect to that one type of woman who is wild, free, smart and feminine.
JEN: I'm so impressed by women that see value in themselves, they realize - okay... it's just me against the world, what dialogue can I have with myself to make something... something good, something beautiful, and something to nurture other women. You're one of them. What are you striving for in your recent creations? I love your fusion of mind, body, soul but what's the pay-off, is it at the core, wanting to help other women?
ANDY: Recently I’ve been really wanting to create content that inspires women to be unafraid. Whether it be professionally, personally or just creatively. Fear is a fascinating notion that can hold us back, or push us forward. I think the way we live with our fears defines how we live our lives. Confidence is something a lot of us lack in. I’ve always had a strong sense of value and self-worth, but it hasn’t always showed up in areas of my life where I needed it the most. Women who confidently uplift other women to embody that sense of self-worth is a beautiful thing – mostly because I believe we all deserve a space to authentically create and be ourselves. Whatever project you’re going to take on in your life, it will not be easy, and most likely it will be the sum of many, many small wins. Being confident about it all is getting yourself halfway there. Having a group of women with the same ideals is even better.
The type of content I create really stems from a desire (-- and I believe all writers have this reason) to express emotions and thoughts that are buried so deep within, I sometimes don’t even realise they’re there until they reach my fingertips. A lot of the mind-body-soul connection (as you so beautifully put – thank you) I write is probably a reflection of how I’m feeling and happen to realise that if I feel it, other women must too. Sometimes I write with no other aim but to let people into the world I see myself in. Other times I’ve learnt a valuable lesson and feel the need to share it.
To answer your question, I think the end goal is to inspire women to be themselves and own up to their potential. To be unafraid of discovering and sharing, but also to lead the life they have always wanted, because life is so short and we really do only have one go at it.
JEN: I can understand starting your own platform or business is terrifying. You never really know where you're headed or how things will be perceived. Are you afraid? What do you do to get yourself through it?
ANDY: One of my fears is that I don’t live a life that is true to who I am, a life – as cheesy as this may sound -- that sets my soul on fire and makes me grateful for every single second. It took me a while to launch No Shoes No Worries, and believing in my work and what I was doing was even harder. I think the fear of not seeing it come to life was greater than the fear of failing, because I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. Better to have tried and failed then to never have tried at all, I guess.
I created No Shoes No Worries to be able to permanently live in a world I created in my head. There was definitely an aspect of vulnerability when I launched it, but I’ve realised that when you stay authentic and genuine, no one is going to judge or hate you for it. You’re just being you, and you’re entitled to that much.
JEN: Is it scary publishing your own content or articles? More so, you're a woman with an opinion, what do you think about that?
ANDY: Hell yes! At first, maybe. I think as you start finding your voice and if you know who you are, there’s nothing scary about publishing your work. The internet is such a huge, humongous, big black hole of content. When I hit publish, I’m sending it out to the universe, into the massiveness of the web. It’s all relative really, the amount of people who will actually read your stuff or hear your thoughts. I think to myself that the only people who will read my work, are the people who actively want to read it. No one’s forcing them, I just put it out there for myself, first and foremost. Whether you read it or not is a bonus. I will always remember how Elizabeth Gilbert wrote it in her book “Big Magic”, which went something along the lines of: If you’re a writer, you’re just creating and writing for yourself. The fact that your work is read or not is irrelevant. Put your heart out on paper, and move on to the next thing. If anything, writing is a type of cleansing of the soul, we need to do it to be able to move on with ourselves.
As for being someone with an opinion, I think it really boils down to your sense of self-worth and the way you value yourself. I was lucky enough to have parents that supported my ideas and whatever it is that I wanted to create, and in having that support was always encouraged to believe that I could do anything I wished to achieve. Realising that you matter just as much as the person next to you gives you a level playing field with the rest of the world. The world is so big anyway, so find your space and own it. Also, at the end of the day, everybody poops – so to hell with that they think.
JEN: What do you really want?
ANDY: Haha! This is the toughest question in the world. Shall I say world peace?
I want to look back on a life that was filled to the brim. Someone who empowered and was empowered. I definitely want to be successful in whatever I do. And I don’t mean successful in the financial sense, although realistically that does also come with it to some degree, but more success in the idea that I never sacrificed my happiness for the mundane or routine.
If I can make a difference, or help in the way women see themselves and how they want to be/live, that would definitely be a bonus. If I can inspire just one person to go for what they truly love in life, and be just that, I think you can call that success.
At the risk of sounding all yogi about it, I think what I really want on a personal level is to have a life that fulfills my purpose. We all have one. It’s being able to pursue that purpose with profit that brings a sense of balance and success.