February 10, 2016

“I finally found my place in this world by being true to myself. I learned to be myself, to listen & LOVE everyone. I quit my job and started a business grounded in love and storytelling.”

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Every story has a backstory. Every thing in my life does. If you’re not with me for a day – sometimes even an hour – when we reunite I will most definitely have a story to tell you! So Promote Love…what is it, you may ask. Well, actually, only a handful of you have asked. But so many of you have supported it just because of those two words that put a powerful message out into the world.

Now go grab a cup of coffee, sit back and let me tell you a story…it’s going to be a long one, but stick with me. This is the story of a little girl who had a knack for adventures & storytelling. That little girl was me.

I was a happy kid. I entertained myself and found joy in the smallest of things. I had happy eyes and you could always tell there was a story there just waiting to be told. As kids, we are fearless. We see the good in the world, we crave experience and we want to feel protected and loved. What we experience in our childhood shapes us for the rest of our lives. We are taught how to approach people, how to treat them, how to love them or how to hate them. I have amazing parents who taught me to love people and treat them how I would want to be treated. This will stick with me until the day I die. I was so fascinated by people growing up. My mom always likes to tell the story of when I was 3 years old and saw a waiter with a hearing aid. I politely asked “what’s that behind your ear?” He knelt down and explained it to me.

Growing up, I watched everyone. I analyzed them and wanted to know WHY. What made them tick, how they felt when they were happy or sad, why certain people were made to feel like outsiders and what made other people feel superior. As I got older, I realized the rules of how you treat people started to shift. We were to love people but sometimes you could hate what they would do or treat them differently if they were “different” from you.

I adapted to this new way of thinking as I got a little older, but something always felt off. If we were supposed to love everyone and treat them like we would want to be treated…why were we getting awkward and avoiding people who were different? The problem with this way of “loving” was that it excludes certain people and makes them feel like less of human beings. All I knew was I wanted to be friends with the people who were sad in the corner. I never wanted anyone to experience loneliness and rejection. I wanted to know everyone’s story that I encountered. I wanted to document it. I wanted to soak it all in and show people that love is the only true answer.

We are all we have and every human being deserves to be loved. Not I love you….but. Not tolerated or looked down upon. When I came out in 2007, I lost a lot of friends, heard a whole lot of hateful things from friends, family and even strangers… that not only affected me at my core but I had to deal with a majority of it alone. You can read more on that HERE if you’d like.

As a teenager and adult, I grew to visit very dark places in my mind and heart, but no one could tell. I constantly felt like I was never good enough no matter how much effort I put into anything. No matter how much I succeeded. No matter how many people I loved. I would never deserve love because I began to view myself as “innately flawed.”

But I finally found my place in this world by being true to myself. I learned to love myself, to listen to everyone, love everyone, because we are human beings and we deserve all good things. Once I started doing this, I quit my job, moved away from all things I knew, and started a business grounded in love and storytelling. I met strangers far and wide, captured them with my camera, and told their stories. I did this for years and some stories spread around the world, but I always knew there was more. I could take this and run with it and remind the world to promote love with me. If you are feeling low …I encourage you to take that negative energy and redirect it to create something positive. That is the only way I have gotten through the low points. When your life and your career are grounded in love, you will succeed. And now, here we are. Tell me your story.

How have you promoted love today within your community? How are you going to view and treat others differently? How are you going to treat yourself differently? Love is all we have. We’re all we have. Together we have the power to create, make a difference and make this world a happier place for all mankind. All things love. GO PROMOTE THE LOVE! xo STEPH GRANT

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Everyone deserves love. every story deserves to be told.

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