Do you have the courage to stand up for yourself and for others? Are you an upstander or a bystander?
Dr. Lori Stevic-Rust, author and holistic psychologist in Cleveland, realized the gravity of such questions when she had the chance to interview Rena Ferber Finder, one of the youngest Holocaust survivors from Schindler’s List, for her book, Put Your Big Girl Shoes On. Ferber Finder shared her Holocaust stories, telling Stevic-Rust, known as Dr. Lori, that “these shared stories will now have life in you because you have become an eye witness. And what you do with this information will be your responsibility.”
Those words changed Dr. Lori at her core, and the impact of their meeting set the stage for something big.
Dr. Lori also had the privilege of knowing, loving and working with another strong woman, her grandmother, Emily Serian, who lived to be 105. The child of a farmer and one of seventeen children, Serian grew up being bullied because she wore hand me down shoes and tattered clothes. Her close relationship with Dr. Lori led them to co-author Greedy for Life: A Memoir on Aging with Gratitude. From her, Dr. Lori learned the importance of standing up for yourself and having moral courage.
Dr. Lori credits Rena Ferber Finder and Emily Serian with her realization that she needed to do something more. She wanted to help others learn the dangers of being a bystander and to harness change and become an upstander. Thus, Lily’s Red Shoes of Courage, a children’s book about Lily and her Nana Emily, was born.
When Lily doesn’t stand up for someone at school who is being bullied, Nana Emily teaches her that it’s okay to make mistakes and that how we fix the mistakes make us who we are. Nana Emily gives Lily a pair of red shoes, telling her they will help her do the right thing. The book “encourages children of all ages to put on their own red shoes of courage and stand up for themselves even when it is not easy,” shares Dr. Lori.
Lily’s Red Shoes of Courage is Dr. Lori’s “unexpected gift” because she had never planned to write a children’s book. She believes, though, that we can “use the message of this book in today’s world more than ever before.”
Lily’s story has reached further than Dr. Lori could have imagined, giving her the chance to meet many parents and daughters on her book tour. She finds that children often express feeling courageous afterward and want to share their own stories. Parents sometimes contact Dr. Lori to share positive stories about their daughters’ new desire to be influencers and upstanders at school and in the world. One mother shared, for instance, that after the book tour event, her daughter Paige often invites peers sitting alone to join her at lunch.
That’s precisely the impact Dr. Lori hoped that Lily’s Red Shoes of Courage would have.
The book tour for Lily’s Red Shoes is ongoing. Dr. Lori will be at the Steele Mansion & Gathering Hub, 348 Mentor Avenue, Painesville, on Sunday, October 20th from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., for a special brunch event that includes skits, book reading, crafts, and shopping. Ticket price per pair is $50 and includes brunch for mother (or any other supportive adult) and daughter (niece, friend, or cousin works too), book, and doll shoes. Additional children can be added for $20 (meal and doll shoes).
Dr. Lori has clearly found her passion in being an upstander and working to harness change. For more information about the brunch event and to learn more about Dr. Lori’s future events, psychology practice, national involvement, and keynote speaking visit https://biggirlshoes.net/.