I really don't know how to begin. I've never considered myself much of a writer, well not a writer at all -- I always took on the verbal part of our business, have always been the "people person." But when I was asked to do this blog I was honored to say the least -- and the fact that I've spent the past 2 plus years working hard on trying to find my own inner voice -- this comes at a perfect time.
Let me introduce myself -- my name is Elissa Kravetz. I co-own a bi-coastal PR agency with my sister and have been working in the cut throat, fast paced, and too often soul sucking industry that is PR for the past 12 years. I take my job seriously, I've taken all of my jobs seriously ever since I was a little girl, I think that's the incredible work ethic instilled in me from my father. What I don't do anymore is take the industry so seriously -- I used to think this was IT! This was what life is about -- going to fabulous parties and wearing amazing clothes and which celebs we were hob-nobbing with on any given night. I used to work 20 hour days, every day, yell at my staff, make my partners crazy -- and the truth is... none of it really matters.
I've been seeking a greater truth, something to bring me real happiness and peace, and going from Barneys to Soho House just wasn't doing it.
I started traveling. Last summer I went to Bali alone on a yoga and pilates retreat and that trip awakened something in me. Just seeing the people there smile with all their heart and soul and more often than not they were smiling with no teeth, but they were happy. Joyful. Full of life. And poor. Monetarily poor but so rich in their hearts. I came home from that trip and knew that I would never be the same. I stopped shopping. I started feeding the homeless every other Sunday. Started doing more yoga and meditation.
The next trip was India.... now talk about a place that will get inside you and rock your world to the core. I found India to be the most incredible, amazing, wonderous, horrifying, maddening, beautiful, inspiring place in the world. I spent a short time at an orphanage called Ramana's Garden and that place changed me forever. After spending time there with the magical children and Prahba (the angel of a woman who created this safe haven for the kids), how on earth could I come back to LA and just talk about shoes and jewelry all day every day? I needed to do more. These trips and new awaking definitely made me better at my job, more present, more intuitive to my client's and employees needs. I certainly didn't want to abandon my business, my clients, staff, and sister who I've worked to build this agency with...but there was a burning in me telling me "you need to do something more! You need to find your calling."
And this is how The Farley Project came to life.
The Farley Project is (or rather, will be) a charity aiming to make a bold impact in the ever increasing culture of bullying. We are going to travel to middle schools and camps around the country educating about the effects of bullying and developing programs for students, parents and teachers to try and get this epidemic to stop!
Through my own inner personal journey and healing over the past few years I've realized how much of an effect my being bullied has had on my life. I was bullied horribly towards the end of 7th grade. I got through it and lived the next 20 years of my life knowing that it affected me, but never realized to what extent.
Through yoga and meditation and boxing and breathing workshops I've realized how much sadness and anger I've held in all of these years -- resentment I've had towards my "bullies." The girls who beat me up, who made me eat lunch in the bathroom stall, who wrote "die bitch" on my locker -- I was holding feelings in for 20 years. Outwardly I've been this secure girl but inside I always felt scared that people would get mad at me at the drop of a hat and I've always held my true feelings inside.
Once this got into my consciousness and I realized that I had to do something -- things started serendipitously falling into place.
I was asked to speak at an anti-bullying lecture at Elmhurst Elementary School in the valley last year. I spoke about the power of an apology and how cool it would be if the bullies would not only stop, but apologize. When I was done about 20 kids stood up and one by one started apologizing to each over the microphone in front of the whole school. It was magical. I knew just then that what I had to say could make a real difference.
I was then asked to speak at my old overnight camp this past summer in New Hampshire. I went to overnight camp for 11 years, it was a safe haven for me, especially the summer after 7th grade. When I heard that bullying was happening at camp it made me sick. For four months when I was bullied I slept in bed with my parents every night, sick over what I knew was to come when I went to school the next day. I couldn't imagine the kids who were being bullied at camp during the day -- and then having to literally sleep in the bunk with the ones doing it...I'm sure it was nothing short of torture. I spoke to the counselors about the power they have. How they literally have the ability to save a child's self esteem. But just paying a bit of extra attention to the "shy ones" and by not ignoring when they see kids being nasty to each other. I find that most times teacher and counselors just don't know what to do with the situation, so they do nothing at all. But if they keep their eyes open and are kind to everyone, and act when they see a problem, they have the ability to change lives.
When I was done the director of my camp gave me a check -- something I did not want and was not expecting. I held the check in my wallet for months meditating on what to do with it.
That's when it hit me "I am going to start an anti-bullying non-profit and we are going to make a SERIOUS difference in kid's lives." It's called The Farley Project because Farley was the name of the middle school where I was tortured for months on end.
Now -- let me say this, I don't know the first thing about starting a non-profit! But I do know how to build a business, and that I'm super passionate about making a difference, I've also put together a pretty kick ass supportive board of directors.
This blog will detail my journey of straddling two worlds, going from publicist to life changer...
Thank you for reading and please check back on ways to learn about TFP!
Follow Elissa Kravetz on Twitter: www.twitter.com/eliskrav