Last week following my speech I was encouraged and asked to share it on my blog. I had received such kind and heartfelt feedback and it was believed that my words could help others. It was after the speech — after an embrace with a new friend, who shares a story similar to mine, and conversations with women who took the time to thank me and impart some wisdom into my life — that I realized that I was supposed to be there and on that particular day. In hoping to bless those that were in the room I myself walked away blessed and filled with such gratitude. Ladies, Discovery Cube and the Disney and Baby ECOS family thank you.
I would first like to say that I am honored to be here. I know not many of you know who I am and it means a lot to me that you are taking the time out of your day to listen to my words.
While I know one of the biggest taboos of public speaking is reading, as a blogger writing is what comes most natural to me. Therefore writing and reading my words felt right and put my heart at ease. Again thank you.
Earlier this week I was in a minor car accident. In fact the damage to my car is far less than what occurred almost 2 months prior when I was rear-ended leaving a parking lot. Both times I had just dropped my older daughter off. And both times, when I turned to look at my two year old sitting in the back seat, to make sure she was ok, she looked confused, unsure of what just happened.
After exchanging information with the driver, who was incredibly kind and remorseful, I sat there for a few minutes and began to weep.
“Don’t cry mommy.” my littlest said. It was the first time she had ever told me not to cry. Yet I struggled to stop the flood of tears that streamed down my face and onto my lap. She didn’t know why I was crying, just that I seemed sad.
I cried because I was grateful that she and I were okay. I knew that my car could be fixed or replaced and we couldn’t. I was thankful that our story wouldn’t be one of the stories to air on the news.
I cried because I knew that could have easily been me. How often do we parents get distracted by our precious passengers?
I cried because I was deeply shaken. No matter how small, accidents can be scary especially when you have your most treasured cargo with you.
That day I was reminded of how much things are beyond my control. That’s a hard lesson to swallow for someone who actually struggles with control. It’s a defense mechanism I’ve developed in an effort to lighten the blows that life has sent my way. When you know what’s coming you can prepare and plan and plant your feet down on the ground and brace yourself.
But what happens when you don’t know what’s coming?
As much as I strive to drive defensively and safely things happen. As much as I strive to protect my children so much of what happens as we go about our lives is beyond my control. Sometimes things get beyond that bubble I’ve managed to inadvertently create.
I’d like to think that the safest place for my children is with me their mother (and their father). I’d give my last breath to protect them but I know that even when they are within my reach or nestled within my arms things can happen.
And while nothing in this world seems certain, as we turn on the news or scroll through our Facebook and Twitter feeds with the exception of heartache, I know this to be true:
I will never stop striving to nurture and protect my babies. And if anything, the uncertainty that this world brings is a vivid reminder to show up each and every day and give every ounce that I have to give. To dig deeper when I feel tired or depleted knowing that there’s no limit to the depths of my heart. To cherish today because despite our carefully detailed plans and calendar reminders none of us know what tomorrow holds.
Each day my prayers are often filled with pleas that my children will get the opportunity to grow and become who they are meant to be, and that their daddy and I will be here to help get them there all the while watching them bloom.
Even with all the uncertainty that life brings as parents we never stop trying. The cost of not trying is too great. And the reward for continuing to try — incredibly great.
That has been a thread woven throughout the moments that make up my life, holding the pages of my life’s story together — don’t stop trying. As long as you have breath in your body there is a chance to do better to be better. And by better I mean our personal best – the standards we set and strive for ourselves not the ones others set for us.
“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.” author unknown
For me this is crucial because there have been so many moments in my life when I have wanted to give up but I chose to hold on with all of the strength I could muster and simply try.
I began blogging several years ago after my husband encouraged me to find something that I loved to do. My world revolved around him and our daughter. They were my source of joy but it was evident that I needed something that I could be passionate about beyond motherhood and being a wife. I found joy in helping others but I also found my worth in it. This — writing– would be for me.
So I started to write and somehow it evolved into a career. And while it started off as being for me it turned into more than that. It’s brought my family and I closer together and allowed me to help other women, particularly mothers who traveled a road similar to the one I traveled.
I never would have imagined that I would get paid to write. In college I was paying to write research papers – in fact thanks to school loans I’m still paying. But this time I got to share my story, one that I held tucked away in the crevices of my heart, weighing it down, for many years because I struggled with feelings of shame and inadequacy.
Yet in each character I typed I felt a sense of freedom, I found strength and courage. I realized that I was more than my past or what statistics might suggest. I realized that I had a song that needed to be sung. And as I sang I began to hold my head up realizing that my struggles made me who I am. Each tear watered the soil helping me to grow into the woman I was meant to be.
One of the things that I like most about my story is that on paper it doesn’t add up. I can’t tell you how many people asked me how I got a job writing for Disney. My short answer. Grace.
My longer answer grace coupled with the decision to keep trying.
My social media following is small. So small I used to be embarrassed to apply for writing campaigns. I didn’t want to put my numbers in those boxes.
I have about 600 Instagram and Twitter followers and 295 Facebook followers. My most loyal readers are my mom and my husband and most often when I notice that someone has goggled me resulting in my blog coming up in their search, it was my daughter who gets a kick out of seeing her mom on the internet.
But as I continued to write I began to see something in myself and I never gave up. I started putting myself out there more and a woman who has become one of my virtual BFFs gave me my first writing job. I also took on non-paying work and did guest posts and reached out to editors and websites about opportunities. Even in the silence, after getting some encouragement from another virtual friend – one who encouraged me to tell my story long before my first submission, I trudged on.
In time as I began to put myself out there people began to see something in me too. And suddenly my story became more important than my stats. Because I had something to offer. We all do.
Over the past few years I’ve blogged in an effort to make a difference in my home and in the community – the one I reside in and my virtual one. Service is a big part, of who I am so much so, that I will be returning to my work as a social worker.
While attending a conference over a year ago I had heard the quote “We have to be brave with our stories so that others might be brave with theirs.”
Along the way I discovered that my trials have purpose. Not only have they made me stronger but they’ve also equipped me to encourage, inspire and have compassion for others.
Life has humbled me in miraculous ways.
But blogging has also been a gift– a gift that was given to my family and me. Writing for Disney Baby in particular has helped me to slow down. I had spent so much of my life in survival mode that I didn’t realize that I was often allowing the most beautiful of life’s moments to pass me by. The in-between moments that occur each and every day. Those things we see when we stand still and listen with our hearts.
Recently my littlest love turned two. Her existence changing our family in the most incredible ways. Over the past two years I’ve been looking at my life with a new set of eyes, my vision enhanced through my writing.
I often say my babies gave me courage and wings to leap and fly. Yet this hobby turned career, that I somehow stumbled into, has also given me so much.
In writing, reflecting and sharing I’ve been able to see the grace that abounds in all circumstances. The good that is present in all things. The beauty in the seemingly ordinary which when I look at more carefully, is really rather extraordinary. I’ve danced in the magic of my children’s’ childhoods in a way that I never knew was possible. I’ve breathed in the sweetness of who they are exhaling in the form of words typed in letters and blog posts. In some ways I’m leaving part of my legacy by leaving pieces of my heart sprinkled across the internet – pieces that they can come back and pick up as they grow or read one day when I am gone.
I look at my husband differently too, seeing him as more than just my partner but the other keeper of my dreams, guarding them and believing in them because whether he understands them or not they matter to me and therefore matter to him. And my mother, the woman who held my hand as I navigated life and held a second hand, my first born, when I fought to raise my sweet baby and simultaneously earn my college degree and masters (and for the record we did it!)– I have such a deep appreciation for the sacrifices that she made. Sacrifices that started back when she carried me in her womb. Her prayers are the reason I stand here today.
Writing has helped make it possible for me to have more time for my most precious gift – my family. While I don’t make nearly as much money as I once did I am indeed rich. It has allowed me to make them my priority. In my decision to leave full time employment and work from home came a host of necessary changes which included downsizing and the realization that all of the things I strived to acquire were insignificant. The reality is I have what my heart most desired and I have what I need.
I have my people. I have my family.
I also have increased self-awareness and a tangible reminder that not only are my dreams worthy of dreaming but they are attainable.
What I love most about Baby ECOS is that at the heart of their company is family. Not only do they create products that are earth friendly and safe for our most prized possessions (our loved ones) and our planet (the place we call home) but they are a family owned and operated business.
The very thing that is the heart of who they are and what they represent is at the heart of who we as mothers are and why we do what we do – FAMILY.
As I shared earlier so much is out of our control but there are a few things that are.
To some degree we can control how we nurture our families such as the products that we bring into our homes and use on a daily basis.
We control how we handle our resources – we can teach our children that our earth is valuable and should be handled with care. We can lead by example and show them how.
We can ensure that we show our families that we love them understanding that each day is a gift and while the earth should be handled with care, so should its people.
We can rise each day and decide whether we will try or whether we will choose to remain stagnant. Remember even small steps are steps.
In preparation for today I was reflecting on the most memorable experiences I have had as a blogger. As it would turn out, there are so many positive moments that have blossomed out of my decision to blog I couldn’t pick just one to share.
My most memorable experiences from blogging have been not just the deeper love and appreciation I have for my family but for the connections I’ve made online. In blogging I’ve found my tribe – that sense of belonging we tend to long for as human beings cultivated in this virtual space. Friends that I’ve never met but who know and get me better than people I’ve known for years. People who handle me with love and care and have been a safe place when I’ve needed to share the challenges I’ve faced as a woman and mother. People who have reminded me that the feelings that I feel are not foreign and that I am enough. People who have allowed me to do the same for them.
As mothers sometimes we feel like we walk alone. We face challenges that our spouses, siblings, parents or even best friends don’t understand but something happened when I got on to the Internet. I realized that I didn’t walk alone. Not only does my Heavenly Father walk with me and my husband, but so do the many women that share their truths with the rest of the world. People who are just like me and nothing like me at the same time. Together we walk, sharing our souls, opening our hearts and finding our way. And when we allow our lights to shine we manage to create a beautiful light lighting the path for those that follow – helping them find their way.
People, who just like us, are determined to keep trying. Riding out the storms and looking to the sky in search of a rainbow.
My hope is that each of us never stops reaching. Reaching up to the sky as we grasp onto our dreams and reaching outward to our loved ones and the community we hope to make a difference in.
Let us never let the uncertainty that comes with existing keep us from truly living. May we hold on knowing that no matter how challenging things may be at this moment this is but a mere stop in our journey. And since we’re here anyway may we dance – in the magic of our children’s childhoods, our spouse’s smile, the beautifully raw writings of our colleagues and friends and to the tune of our heart’s song.
Finally, may we never stop trying, holding on to this truth (a quote that I carry with me in my wallet each day):
“All you’ve got is all you can give and that will always be enough.”Tweet