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Artist, poet, and storyteller, Cleo Wade is the author of Heart Talk, a book of poems, mantras, and affirmations that will be your new best friend. We caught up with her on the women who inspire her, trusting her heart’s desire, and advice she gives to girlfriends.

Diane has always said, "Words are powerful. Use them carefully." Can you speak to the power of words and how you came to realize that power as a poet?
I always tell my girlfriends to treat their words like a spell. If everything you say or write had the power to create direct results, how deliberate and sacred would you be when using them? Diane is so right. We must choose our words carefully. We must give them our full care.

What inspires you most?
People. We are such complex and beautiful creatures.

How did you meet Diane?
I met Diane at a dinner last year for Makers. She is someone I have admired for most of my life. What I loved most about meeting her is that she is everything you’d hope she would be. She is so warm and so loving. I was so honored when she asked me to perform at the DVF Awards. It is such a special and authentic night of celebrating our modern-day heroes. The second you walk into the room, you feel the magic of all of the world-changing people in it.

I know you are someone who believes in mantras, as does Diane. Can you share a few of your favorites?
“If you are grateful for where you are, you must respect the road that got you there.”

“Not every ground is a battleground.”

“Know the value of knowing your value.”

“You are more okay than you think.”

Can you tell us a bit about working on your book Heart Talk and what you hope to accomplish with it?
Heart Talk was truly a labor of love. When I was writing it, everyone told me that the format wouldn’t work because it is a mix of poems, mantras, affirmations, and practical advice. They said it would be confusing and they weren’t sure what section of the bookstore it would even sit in. They wanted me to write a book of only poems because poetry books were selling very well. I had to really trust my gut and my own heart’s desire to make the book I wanted to see in the world, not the one that would fit in. I hope that this book reaches anyone who feels like they need it. I hope it reaches anyone who feels alone. I want them to know I am here for them. I wrote this book for them.

Friday night was all about women and their stories. Can you speak to the women who have inspired you on your journey?
DVF, Alice Walker, Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis, Audre Lorde, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Wilma Mankiller, Maya Angelou.

Did you always know the woman you wanted to be? And have you become that woman?
I did not know who I wanted to be during my girlhood. The experience of entering into my womanhood really informed who I wanted to be in the world. As a woman you gain the emotional intelligence that comes with heartbreak, dreams coming true, dreams not coming true, encountering injustice and seeing how unfair life can be for others. As a woman you understand the importance of using all of the power and privileges you have to change the world.

And finally, what advice would you give to young women hoping to find their own truth and purpose?
Investigate. Find out why you think the way you think. Find out why you love what you love. Find out what excites you. Find out what in the world breaks your heart and then get to work on that.