Tag Archives: courage

What I’m Hoping to Get Out of BlogHer ’14

Crowded conference hall

I’ll be attending BlogHer ’14 tomorrow and the day after. It will be my first blogging conference. I’m nervous, excited, and apprehensive.

Reading about and preparing for BlogHer ’14 has made me take stock of what I want to get out of blogging and what I’ve accomplished so far.

My page views are few and far between. The only sponsorship offers I’ve received have been from scammers. I’ve started and already abandoned an eBook idea.

Still, I’ve been fortunate enough to have had 10 posts featured in various categories on BlogHer. I’ve had two posts published by ScaryMommy. I successfully completed the Ultimate Blog Challenge in January, publishing 31 posts in 31 days. One reader wrote to tell me that my “What My Depression Looks Like” post prompted her to schedule an appointment with her doctor to try again to get her chronic pain treated.

I hope one day to have enough material to publish an eBook, probably about parenting while living with depression. I hope that slowly but surely I am building a welcoming and safe space for people to talk about mental illness without fear of judgment, to share their experiences of being vulnerable and authentic, and to call out shame when we feel beat ourselves up for not being perfect.

As scared as I am of being surrounded by bloggers who probably have way more experience, much larger readerships, and are actually making money at blogging, I’m going to remind myself to use this intimidating experience as an opportunity:

  • to soak up every bit of wisdom and encouragement they have to offer
  • to be inspired by other people’s passion, dreams, and ideas
  • to broaden my perspective on what is possible through blogging
  • to get one-on-one feedback about how to write and edit effectively
  • to meet new people who share my interests, my values, and my enthusiasm
  • to find people who can guest post on my blog and/or will let me write for their blog
  • to have a great time standing in my right to be there and owning that “I am a writer”

Check out my Twitter feed for updates from the conference.

Pledging to Live Below the Poverty Line for Five Days

I signed up today to participate in Live Below the Line, a challenge to raise awareness and funds to help some of the 1.2 billion people living in extreme poverty.

I’ve pledged to live on food and drink that cost no more than $1.50 per day for five days. The challenge is from April 28 through May 2. I’ve also pledged to raise $250 for UNICEF.

Tom Hiddleston's tweet about Live Below the Line

I first heard about Live Below the Line from Tom Hiddleston, who did the challenge last year and sent a tweet about it today.

I’ve become quite an admirer of his, not so much because of his acting, which is quite good, but because of his work as a junior ambassador for UNICEF and the dozens of inspiring quotes attributed to him. He spent five days in Guinea seeing first-hand the work that UNICEF is doing there.

After registering, I became so anxious about actually doing the challenge, I ate a small piece of berry pie. Hours later, I started to write this post, and I had to eat another small slice of pie.

It has been about twenty years since I had to get by with very little. I had a year after college when I made $50 per day before taxes. This was in LA during the ’90s. I got by by renting a room in a house, taking the bus or riding my bike, and eating mostly instant noodles and Campbell’s soup.

It’s not just the having to eat so much less that scares me, it’s what will I be like? I suffer from anxiety and depression, and having low blood sugar is one of my triggers. I already struggle with keeping my temper now, how much worse might I get?

I have a three-year-old daughter and a six-year-old son. Is it fair to put them and my husband through the horror I may become? I’ve written before about what my depression “looks like,” and it’s not pretty.

Part of me wonders, “Who am I kidding? I can’t do something like this. I’m too weak, too unstable, and who the hell do I think I am?”

There’s the quieter part of myself that asks, “How will I know if I don’t at least try? Will I let my depression stop me from trying to make a difference?”

I don’t know what will happen, but I know that transformation isn’t possible without giving up something, without taking risks.

I started this blog to challenge myself to be vulnerable and courageous, especially emotionally, and I think I’ve been doing that. I think now I can take the chance to be vulnerable and courageous physically too.

I won’t have food to turn to to numb negative or uncomfortable emotions. I’ll have my dialectical behavior therapy handbook, my friends and family, and the reminder that I’m doing this to raise awareness for the more than billion people who have to live this way every single day. I expect to spend a lot of time meditating and praying.

There is one change I’m going to make in that I will do the challenge one day earlier, from April 27 – May 1 because I will be driving long-distance on May 2 with my family, and I don’t want to risk being weak from hunger that day.

The other stipulation I have is that if the health or safety of my children or me becomes jeopardized, I will stop immediately. My husband will help me judge if that is the case.

Please consider making a donation to UNICEF via my campaign page and see if participating in Live Below the Line is something you might want to do.

Pretending to Be Courageous for My Son

Yesterday Zach and I went ice-skating for the first time together. I haven’t skated in decades, and I remember being spectacularly bad at it. I had absolutely no body awareness until I was in my early ‘20s and started doing aikido. I’m pretty sure my center of gravity was somewhere near my throat.

A boy ice-skating

Zach didn’t want to try ice-skating. He’s invited to a birthday party in a few weeks though. Before yesterday he was planning on just sitting on the sidelines at the party. I told him it was fine if he wanted to do that, but I might need to help his sister Kaylee at the party so I wanted to practice beforehand.

We went with two other families, and when Zach found out the other kids were going to skate, he said he’d like to try. He told me in the car, “I’m scared,” and I told him, “I am too. But we’ll be okay.”

I fully expected that he and I would be hanging on to the wall the entire time, or would give up within 20 minutes. Surprisingly, we both really enjoyed it and were able to skate without holding on to anything by the end. We skated for two hours, stopping only briefly to drink some hot chocolate.

The friends we were with gave us some pointers (keep your butt tucked under, bend your knees slightly, and pick your feet up and march a bit). One of them had her baby in a stroller, and we were able to push the stroller on the ice, which gave us something to hold on to for balance.

I was really proud of Zach and me not letting our fears get in the way of trying something new. It’s very possible we might not have liked it, but I always tell him, “You can’t know you don’t like something if you never try it.” He loves Mythbusters, so I tell him to think of it as an experiment.

Before I had kids, I used to watch “Little People, Big World” on TLC. It was a reality show that followed a family where the parents and one of the children have dwarfism, and three of the children are of average height. The father was the most limited in his physicality, but he went ziplining on one of their vacations. He pushed himself to be courageous, as a model for his kids.

I can be quite a coward at times. I’m afraid to volunteer to lead anything at my son’s school. I’m terrified of heights. I’m scared of ghosts and serial killers even though I’ve never met any.

I’m afraid I’m going to fail at anything I attempt, but especially for my kids, I’m at least trying some new things. This is my last post for the Ultimate Blog Challenge I’ve been doing this month. Thirty-one blogs posts published in 31 days. Previously, I’d only published once or twice per week.

Tomorrow I’m starting guitar lessons. Next week, Zach and I will go ice-skating again.

I still want to know what I’m capable of. I’m enjoying finding out, and I’m proud that my kids are willing to stretch their comfort zones and try new things too.

How do you encourage your kids to try new things or not to let fear stop them?

Show Me How Big Your Brave Is

(Originally posted June 11, 2013)

I wrote “My Miracle Child” because a blogger I follow, DJ Paris of “Thoughts from Paris,” asked for stories about mental health. He was planning to post every hour for 24 hours as a fundraiser for BandBackTogether.com. When he first asked for submissions, I thought, “Oh, I’m not good enough to submit anything for that.” But a few weeks later, when I saw that he was still looking for a few more submissions, I thought, “Well, hell, my blog is supposed to be about being vulnerable and taking risks, I have to suck it up and submit something.”

I watched his BlogAThon all day, hoping he would post my story. He posted a video log saying that he would post all 29 submissions he received. Alas, he didn’t post my story. I didn’t even receive a reply thanking me for submitting something. (Maybe that’s too much to ask of an individual person, but I’m the kind of girl who appreciates getting auto-reply messages, just to know my email didn’t get lost in the “series of tubes” that is the Internet.)

I’ll admit it, I started feeling sorry for myself, throwing a little pity party in my head. I felt like an ass for even sending it, let alone expecting him to post it. I kept thinking, “Maybe he just couldn’t fit it in for some reason,” or “Maybe he somehow didn’t see the email.” You know, instead of “He thinks you suck!”

Luckily, my friend Miss Bookish Girl sent me a link to the video for “Brave,” the single by Sara Bareilles. It’s all about speaking up for yourself, saying what you really think, and letting your creativity shine.

I suddenly had the impulse to tweet a bunch of people I follow on Twitter. I sent a link to my blog post to about 10 people, including Anne Wheaton, who’s married to Wil Wheaton (an actor famous for “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Stand By Me,” among many other projects). She has over 50,000 Twitter followers and is witty, inspiring, and wickedly funny. She retweeted the link to my blog and replied to my tweet. I thanked her, and she replied to that too. It was like the movie “Frequency,” I felt like I was communicating with someone from the future or another dimension or something. I feel silly admitting this, but I’m totally starstruck by her.

Anyway, I watched the page views for “My Miracle Child” literally go from 7 to over 200. There have now been over 1,200 page views, and since I imagine most people don’t look at it over and over, I assume that means close to 1,200 people at least skimmed if not read that blog post.

Not everyone might think it brave to tweet a celebrity, but I felt incredibly vulnerable sending my writing to these people whom I admire, at the very least opening myself up to be ignored, at the worst, possibly being ridiculed by these people or their followers. Instead, complete strangers thanked me and shared how they’ve gotten help for their depression or anxiety.

I’m starting to pester everyone I know to write and publish, because I believe that each of us has wisdom and experience to share.

Please put in the comments, how are you going to be brave today? this week? this year?