by Len Lear
“You Matter.” Two little words. They may not seem particularly significant, but one local author thinks they can change the world, or at least a part of it.
Cheryl Rice, 51, of Glenside, who was featured in the Local two years ago when her memoir titled “Where Have I Been All My Life” (She Writes Press) was published, has just created the “You Matter Marathon,” which requires no running.
Instead, she says, “It requires making sincere, meaningful connections through the use of pre-printed cards with the words ‘You Matter’ printed on them. ‘You Matter’ cards are no bigger than a business card and are meant to be shared with friends, family and even strangers as a way to nurture community and affirm the value of all of us.”
Rice is a leadership coach, speaker and author who was given a “You Matter” card by a colleague as encouragement for a project she was working on. “I was deeply touched and ordered some ‘You Matter’ cards to share with family and friends,” said Rice. One day while at a supermarket checkout line, Rice overheard a customer talk about the difficulties her family was facing. Moved by this woman’s story, Rice approached her in the parking lot and gave her a “You Matter” card and a hug.
“When the woman read the card’s two words, she began to cry,” said Rice. “And through her tears, she said, ‘You have no idea how much this means to me.’”
Rice will be launching the You Matter Marathon this week via social media and the Internet to encourage participation in the You Matter Marathon, which will begin Nov. 1 in conjunction with a month where we typically give thanks for the blessings in our lives.
The goal of the You Matter Marathon is to create and enrich positive connections by collectively sharing 10,000 “You Matter” cards from Nov. 1 to Nov. 30. Rice will give away 30 “You Matter” cards to the first 500 people who sign up at www.YouMatterMarathon.com.
Organizations and schools are also encouraged to participate. The Mt. Lebanon School District in Pittsburgh is participating in an effort to foster a sense of community among its students, faculty, administration and those around them.
Once people sign up, they will receive an email with details on how to receive their “You Matter” cards. They will also receive a weekly email bringing them into the You Matter Marathon. community and sharing the following:
• The card-sharing mission for the week. For example, during week one, the mission is to give one card per day to a family member or a friend.
• Some powerful questions for reflection.
• Inspiring quotes for motivation.
Rice has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Monmouth University, a master’s degree in Counseling from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in Organization Development from Pepperdine University. Additionally, Rice has earned her Professional Coach Credential and is an Applied Positive Psychology Practitioner. She has also taught classes in organizational change at local universities.
Rice’s memoir, “Where Have I Been All My Life,” reveals candidly that Rice was plunged into tumultuous grief and bewilderment by her mother’s death, which propelled her into therapy, only to find herself falling desperately in love with her therapist and her world crumbling into a series of crises, from marital unrest to a dangerous brush with self-starvation.
According to promotional material for the book, “With searing honesty, Rice lays bare her journey, both raw and heartbreakingly humorous, from unraveling and the shattering of long-held assumptions about love and longing to the discovery of what it means to be whole.”
Rice’s book also points out that many people, particularly women, are chronic “people pleasers,” giving others the power to approve you and shape your choices. But by catering to others, she cautions, you wind up ignoring your own needs. Rather than earn the acceptance you crave, this leaves you feeling drained, anxious and disconnected from others and yourself.
“It’s like a mid-life coming-of-age story,” Rice said. “How do middle-aged women reconcile our past, understand why we are the way we are and learn to honor and value ourselves? It all weaves together into what I am hopeful is an affirming message… I found a home within myself.”
To learn more visit www.yourvoiceyourvision.com.