I just watched Brené Brown Netflix special, The Call to Courage. It’s not the first time I’ve heard her speak. She’s spoken at several conferences I’ve attended. In fact, we’ve been connected online for almost a decade. Still, her words move me and she inspires me. She reminds me to embrace who I am, as a woman, as a creator, as a mom, as a sister, as a daughter, as a human, whole-heartedly. That’s something I’ve forgotten. Brené Brown called me to be courageously, unabashedly myself. She can show you how to find yourself too.
I miss running headfirst into life. I miss being vulnerable and sharing my stories. I miss being full-on joyful. I have always been a “what you see is what you get” kind of person. It’s how my parent’s raised me. Then, someone told me that I shouldn’t be. I’ve become so afraid of the bad that I believe will follow too much good that I can never fully enjoy the good things. That fear has caused me to shield myself, sometimes even from myself. But Brené Brown has taught us how to find yourself.
I started blogging ten years ago (May 7, 2009). I was a new mom with 2 little girls. Bella had just turned 4 and Gabi was 1-years-old. I was blissfully exhausted. The Big Guy had just lost his job and taken a new job on the East Coast. He came home about once a month. I needed a life preserver. I needed someone to talk to on a daily basis. I needed to feel like more than just a “mom”.
I was struggling to find my footing in my new role as a married single parent. I was grieving the loss of my husband’s presence in our home and in my life. When he moved away, I lost my person and it sucked. I started blogging to find my voice and connect with other women who were going through similar situations. Blogging was fulfilling. I felt like I had found where I belonged in the world. I didn’t have to change anything about me. I was me and people loved me for it. They accepted and embraced me into their community.
For the first time in years, I felt like I had a purpose other than just herding little people, wiping butts and cuddling. Not that I didn’t love all those things, with the exception of the butt wiping. I did and I still do. I fiercely love my girls and even every moment of minutia that parenthood is full of.
But within all those moments of lightning speed growing and changing, there are moments of profound bliss and misery; the unavoidable and unforgettable pain and ecstasy of motherhood. I wrote about all of it. That’s how I connected with others by processing what I was going through openly. There was no fear of failure because I showed up and was seen for all my imperfections and it was more than enough.
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I was scared. I was exposed and vulnerable in so many ways. But I jumped in because the alternative was drowning beneath the weight of it all. The crushing weight and loneliness of parenting small children, it’s hard and anyone who says otherwise is a liar. Loving someone so fiercely and completely is exhausting. Living with the knowledge that kind of love means that if anything happens to them your life will implode is absolutely terrifying. It is also the greatest gift in the universe. I had to push past that fear of loss and failure and embrace all of it.
I started this blog, I knew no other way than to be completely transparent. I never thought of it as telling my story to thousands of strangers on the internet but rather “friends” who were there to love and support my journey through motherhood and marriage.
Then, I started writing for bigger online publications and the comments were merciless. Then, they followed me over to my blog and soon, even “friends” were warning me that “if I wanted to continue to work, I needed to censor what I wrote.” I remember the words falling on my heart like a betrayal. If I wasn’t telling my story honestly, wasn’t that lying?
The thing is that I refused to censor myself. I had long talks with the Big Guy about it. That I couldn’t censor who I was because then I wasn’t me. Censorship was compromising in a way that I couldn’t compromise. But I stopped swearing as much as I had been. No big deal, my mom had asked me to do this since I was a teenager.
Then someone told me that my Throat Punch Thursday posts were definitely getting me blacklisted. What? Gradually over time, I began to ask myself, “What question are you answering? How are you helping? How do I best keyword those post?” Everything had to have a very specific purpose.
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How to’s and listables became a thing on my blog when before it was all stories. Personal, relatable, true stories with all my imperfections out in the open. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not all kittens and rainbows but I’m not exactly writing straight from the heart without going through a Yoast filter either. But I want to change that. I want to get back to where I was. I want to get back to telling my story in my own way. That was the thing that you related to…me.
I’ll still be writing my how to’s on certain things because, well, I’ve been a mom for some time now and I’ve learned some things that might be helpful and more easily digestible in bite-sized pieces. I’ll even have some listables for travel and checklists to make things easier. I’m trying to be more vulnerable again and to stop listening to how others think I should do me. I hope you’re doing you like no other can.
Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do. – Brené Brown
Let’s answer the call to courage together. Let’s stop letting fear stop us. Move forward with grace and gratitude and live the life you want. I want to be the best example I can for my daughters. I want to show them that they are better than good enough and that if they are willing to be vulnerable and try, they can accomplish anything.