What is Rise 2018? Who is Rachel Hollis? And what does it mean for me, Sam Jerry?

Well…..If you have been within earshot of me over the past three months then you’ve heard me say at least twenty-five times, “I’m going to Rise in L.A. hosted by Rachel Hollis on April 6th and 7th!!!!”

The time is right and I couldn’t be more excited! Why am I so gushy and smitten? Let me tell you.

Sometime around the middle of 2015 I came across a Youtube video of a lady drinking coffee and talking about nothing and everything while sitting in her craft room closet. I laughed, watched more videos and subscribed to her channel.

The lady was Rachel Hollis and the craft closet was the craft area at Chic HQ.

Watching and listening to the weekly RachTalk videos and reading Rachel’s blog, The Chic Site, made me feel like I was talking to a friend. A friend with whom I have so much in common. A friend who was saying things I say everyday and a friend who was not only relatable to me but endearing to me.

Rachel came at a time in my life when I was trying to start my second blog, (my first lasted about five posts) Researching blogs and looking through Instagram gave me the feeling I was swimming in an unconquerable ocean. But Rachel’s approach seemed simple and duplicatable.

In November of 2015 I signed up for her branding class and hit the ground running. Just Left of Perfect was born. Unfortunately, Michael’s health issues took most of my focus in 2017, but we are baaaacckkk.

Even though I am probably twelve years older than Rachel we have lots of similarities. Other than the obvious open mouth belly laughs, laid back casual style and the shared inability to communicate without pointing and flailing our arms about there are deeper similarities.

I am Sam Jerry as a child

(I remember as a child telling my dad a story. The whole time I was using my hands to animate and show the emotion I was feeling at the time. When I finished he asked me to tell the story again, except this time, do it while sitting on my hands…..I couldn’t do it. Words failed me when my arms and hands couldn’t be included!)

Rachel and I both grew up in dysfunctional families. My parents divorced when I was seven, and we were both raised in the Assembly of God circle, Rachel’s dad was a preacher and my grandfather was a preacher/evangelist. Anxiety, over analysis and striving for perfection are a constant in our lives as well.

However, discernment, the power of intention and a hunger to dig in and do the deep work to be the best people we can be are on the list too.

I would have loved to have had someone like Rachel in my life thirty years ago when, at eighteen, I was a new mom and married. 1988 was a busy year for me. In February, I gave birth to my daughter in a traumatic Eclamptic Seizure kind of life and death way. In April, I turned eighteen and went to Senior Prom. In May I became engaged. In June I graduated High School and in August I was married.

Whew. Typing all of that makes me tired. Damn. I was carrying around so much emotional, spiritual and mental baggage it is easy to see why I struggled with my weight and body image after my children were born.

So, even though I’m older, when Rachel talks about issues with parenting, play dates, school, dating your husband….all of it…I get it.  I remember the heaviness that comes with next day fatigue when you can’t sleep because a child is navigating the fear and loneliness of being bullied at school. I get it.

I also get navigating constant transition. Michael and I are in an empty nest, post cancer, married thirty (30) years phase. haha

And unfortunately, we have both lost a brother to suicide. Rachel was young when she was the one to find her brother and I was older when the sound of a gun woke me from a morning nap. In 2005, even though my brother was six hours away, I heard the self inflicted shot that took his life.

Rachel was rocked by her brother’s death. I was also rocked even though my brother and I had discussed it since our youth. I knew he always kept suicide in his multiple choices.

Five months previous to his death I interrupted his suicide plans by showing up at his apartment. I went because I had the feeling he was gone. It wasn’t until after his death that I found an unfinished suicide letter from that date.

I feel being a survivor of suicide gives me an understanding of life, death and free will like no other.

There was so much grief and mourning for what was lost and for what would never be, but also because the death came by his own hand.

So many life lessons learned. The biggest life lesson from my brother’s death is that death is all about the living. The dead have moved on and the living are here to sort through the foggy memories and conversations had and not had. The missed opportunities and the what if’s.

Me, the living, how will I carry on? How can I make the most of living? I will show empathy and compassion whenever the opportunity arises. I will always share my mistakes with others, not to one up anyone or evoke sympathy, but to show others they too can make it through.

I’ll live by being honest with myself and others. I will give gladly when I see someone who is truly trying to help themselves but they just need an extra push. I will cry with people and celebrate their big and little victories. I will continue to learn and grow and know all the things to help me and my loved ones succeed to our fullest.

And I will surround myself with people like Rachel Hollis and Jen Hatmaker (she’s speaking at the conference too!!)

Meeting Rachel!

In December of 2017 I read that Rachel would be in the Dallas area in January of 2018 for a stop on her Girl, Wash Your Face book tour. I never hesitated. What’s a five hour drive to Dallas? I bought the ticket immediately.

How could I miss this?! I couldn’t.

I stayed in an adorable Airbnb (mention me when you sign up and I think we both get money back) and I shared this Facebook Live video while I was there.

Rachel Hollis book signing

It was a blast….I got to meet and hug Rachel, have my book signed AND I bought a ticket to Rise, Rachel’s empowerment conference….in L.A.. Oh my.

After the last few years of working through Michael’s health issues I feel the timing is right. The blog samjerry.com, just left of perfect, is growing and moving along. The t shirt shop is open on the blog and I’m branching out more with video.


Me and Rachel Hollis

Remember earlier when I mentioned the power of intention? Well I worked it and watched and I was able to upgrade to a VIP ticket to Rise for not a lot of money. That’s where I am right now. Next year I plan to pay full price and help someone else go. Gotta pay it forward.

I am proud to call Rachel Hollis my friend. The joy that I feel for her success with her latest book and her family moving to Austin is the joy I would feel for anyone close to me.

We are kindred spirits. So here’s to Rise…a weekend to learn, share and discover.

Thank you Rachel

Now that you know who Rachel is go check her out. You can find her on all social media as Ms Rachel Hollis. Sign up for all the things and join a beautiful tribe.

Be you. Be beautiful. Be imperfect.


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