KarenPery.com | Inspired
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Go look it up.

Google will tell you it comes from the Latin, inspirare (breathe or blow into); to create a positive feeling in a person, to animate a person with a feeling, to fill someone with the urge or ability to feel something.

I told Jessie McGrath to go look it up after she called me to talk about what her life is like right now. This woman is on FIRE!

Jessie is extraordinary. She’s an attorney, has parented five children, is a veteran, a Midwesterner, is transgender, and hella funny (seriously, please go watch her Russian spy alter-ego and comrades on The Slayovich Sisters).

We were introduced through a mutual friend who knew Jessie was interested in attending our Into the Fire Women’s Surf Retreat last summer in Malibu. She had wanted to come the year before but her weekend was otherwise scheduled – it conflicted with her gender correction surgery. We got to meet her at Zuma Beach this summer as she celebrated her first birthday, fully integrated into her most authentic self.

I’ve never met a woman like Jessie. Not because she’s transgender and I’m cisgender (which I didn’t know was a thing until I did), but because I rarely meet anyone so powerfully and passionately committed to living as authentically as humanly possible.

What I love about Jessie is that she doesn’t *get* how inspirational she is, but let me tell you, this woman lives out loud. I know Jessie because she’s been Into the Fire with us, and since we’re also connected both on Instagram and Facebook, I also know her as an avid traveler and trans rights activist and advocate (outside of her job-job with the District Attorney’s office) who owns the most amazing collection of bikinis I’ve ever seen.

Her Throwback Thursday posts are equally compelling when she talks about her life as Jeff, tired, depressed and hoping to die or what running and weight loss have done for her self-esteem as an middle aged woman (which, by no means, does she look – she just is).

Two things I remember most about Jessie before Into the Fire: 1) she wanted to be at a woman’s retreat because she wanted to be seen as the woman she is now – not a transwoman, but a woman, not with people who’d loved and supported her through her transition, but by other women who didn’t know her so she could begin to know herself more deeply; 2) she wanted to make sure others were comfortable being around her.

It must be the Midwest in her.

Two things I remember most about Jessie at Into the Fire: 1) this woman sparkles. She embodies all of her height (she’s 6’2″), has a sassy walk in her heels and skinny jeans, and has a shine from within her that is among the brightest lighthouses to helps others to find their way home; 2) when others began to see her in her truth and beauty, she softened – as we all do.

That softness has become a part of her and it is stunning.

Two things I have to share about Jessie now: 1) because she is more herself, others are more drawn to her. She is mentoring and coaching and guiding and supporting others who see her and want to live like her, but are afraid and don’t know how. She knows how lucky she is to have transitioned with incredible support and resources and wants to help. 2) she is not the same woman I met a year ago. She doesn’t speak of herself in the same way, she sees different possibilities for her life, and I feel a grace in her confidence, I imagine which has emerged from the wisdom of living so true to herself and BEING the woman and person she is meant to be.

Into the Fire is a different retreat every time we lead it. We are different leaders each time, different people say yes and their reasons always vary. Yet, Jessie’s story as unique as it is, shares the same truth as everyone’s.

We all want to be seen and loved as we are.

Authenticity is leadership. So is love. It’s inspiring.

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