'Put on Your Crown: Life-Changing Moments on the Path to Queendom,' by Queen Latifah

PHOTO The cover of Queen Latifahs new book ?Put On Your Crown" is shown.

Rapper, actress, singer and entrepreneur Queen Latifah encourages young women's self-esteem in her book, "Put on Your Crown: Life-Changing Moments on the Path to Queendom."

She talks about perserverence despite the odds, and uses examples from her own life as she urges women not to give up in the face of a challenge.

Read an excerpt from the book below, and then head to the "GMA" Library to find more good reads.


VIDEO: Accomplished entertainer Queen Latifah reflects on her journey in a new book.
Queen Latifah: Learn to Love Yourself


You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. -- Winnie-the-Pooh

Looking up at that first mountain summit, more than four thousand feet in the air, I wasn't sure I could make it. It was at least fifteen miles, and the climb was steep. I'd never done a hike like that before. But there I was, with no choice but to put one foot in front of the other, making sure I didn't lose the fire trail and go wandering off in the wrong direction, or worse, fall down the side of a cliff.

It was seven a.m., I'd been up since five a.m. for a yoga class and a vegan breakfast, and my first thought when I started that trail was, "We're going over that?!" This all started early in September 2001, when I booked myself into a hiking boot camp in Calabasas, California, because I wanted to quit smoking. I picked up the habit when I was fourteen and managed to quit a few times, but smoking has a tendency to creep back into my life, especially when I'm working or stressing. A week in a healthy environment, doing nothing but hiking and yoga, was my way of separating myself from cigarettes and going cold turkey.

This retreat was just a house in the middle of the woods. There were no stores around. There were no phones, except for a pay phone on the wall in case of an emergency. We all slept under the same roof and shared meals at a communal table. It was a place where people came to get back to some healthy living, lose weight, get in touch with nature, whatever it was. I just needed to be in an environment that was free of distractions, where I could focus on something besides my crazy, hectic lifestyle.

We were expected to hike at least fifteen miles of mountain ranges a day for a week, and that first time out was intense. I was out of shape and breathing hard. But as I continued to walk, I noticed something. I was feeling lighter. My mind was clear of all thought except for the present moment. I didn't have time to think about all the problems in my life. Or anything else. I was just concentrating on my feet, trying not to trip on a tree root while observing the view, breathing in the cedar-scented air, and enjoying the sights and sounds of the woods. I was back to the primal, the essence of surviving and getting to where I was going.

Eventually, I made it to the top, and when I looked down at the valley below me and the deep blue of the Pacific Ocean in the distance, I couldn't believe how far I'd come. I felt so strong and powerful. I was so proud of what I'd accomplished. I did it!

That night at dinner, the leaders of the hiking group went around the table and asked each of us to share a thought we had from the day. Everyone had a little story to tell or an observation to make. But when they got around to me, the only thing I could think of to say was this: "I am stronger than I thought I was."

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