When I see this picture I am immediately transported back to the background of this photo.  We were having a photographer come to our house to take family pictures of my brother, sister and me.  I can still see my mom putting my outfit on my bed and telling me to put it on for the pictures.  I of course did not want to wear it because it had a fake red tie attached to the dress and I thought it looked like a boy. 

After not much discussion I had to put on the dress and then told to go out there and smile.  I can even remember my mom telling me quietly, “now smile Tammy or you are going to get a spanking.” 

As hard as I tried to smile for the picture, this was the end result.  Even knowing that “Mr. Leather” would be visiting my backside later I couldn’t force myself to smile.

Authenticity is one of the qualities I talk about in my Leaving a Legacy series.  What this picture reminds me of is that even as a little girl I knew what it was like to be authentic.  You see, I couldn’t fake a smile then nor can I do it now. 

What I feel is genuine.  If I smile at you, it comes from my heart.  If I express love regarding our friendship, it comes from my heart.  Authenticity to me is being true to your own personality, spirit and character.  I realize that the more I write about me and get to the core of who I am that I have to be authentic.  To really write from the heart is to get in touch with your authentic self. 

Here is a superb quote by Victoria Reynolds:

Being authentic is the ability to be true to oneself. Living an authentic life requires the ability to be true to our own wants, needs and desires and not live our lives by the opinion of others. Being authentic is the ability to make self-honoring choices and stand firmly in who we are in our core. Being true to ourselves gives us the insight and compassion to see others for who they are, not who we expect them to be. It frees us up from the judgment of ourselves and others and it gives others the freedom to be themselves as well.

~ Victoria J. Reynolds


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"Because of Tammy I have found confidence in my writing and feel blessed to be honored in such a way. I have found my voice. I have found freedom! I recommend anyone for whatever reason to expand their life and sign up for her writing workshops or classes. You'll be amazed at how good you are and how everyone has a story worth telling. Sign up and set your voice free!"
Wendy Price, Palm Desert, CA

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Amherst Writers & Artists

Tammy L. Coia is an AWA Affiliate, certified to lead workshops in the AWA method as described in Writing Alone & With Others by Pat Schneider, Oxford University Press.

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