BlogHer

The Surprises Keep on Coming....

I mentioned in one of last week's posts that I submitted two pieces for BlogHer's Voices of the Year and explained why. I submitted them knowing full well that I had no plans of attending the conference this year (or desire to); as I explained in that post, I was submitting them just because I felt like taking a leap forward and opening myself up to opportunity, really. On the same day I submitted those pieces, I found a surprise greeting me in my inbox at the end of the day-an unexpected opportunity. It was an email from Shannon (@mrlady), BlogHer's conference programming manager, and I couldn't peel my eyes off of the subject line:

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When I was finally able to read the rest of the email, I put the phone down and immediately started pacing back and forth in my living room, my mind flooded with thoughts....

Me? 

Whoa. 

What?

ME?

I'm small potatoes...how'd I get on the radar for something like this? What about [insert name here] or [insert name here]? THEY should be the ones doing this....

How will I get there? 

I'm not a speaker....

What will I say?

I'm not worthy of this...there are SO many others who I know deserve this and are better advocates and have bigger platforms than me. 

What will Bertski say? 

Of course when I called him, he left no room for doubt-I was going to accept the invite and we would use this opportunity to take the boys on a family vacation. He's so damn supportive, especially when he knows I'll talk myself out of something great like this.

I hung up, emailed Shannon back, and yesterday I officially accepted my speaker's invitation to BlogHer's HealthMinder Day. I'm being afforded the chance to do what I do here on the blog-talk about mental health and what it's like to share my experiences with it with all of you-the rewarding, the hard, the reasons why I continue to do it, etc.

I'm excited. I'm humbled. I'm honored. I'm scared shitless. I've never spoken to a room full of strangers on this level, EVER. I don't feel worthy, especially when I consider what amazing writers and bloggers my co-panelists are, AND when I think of the other amazing writers and women who blog about mental health and deserve an opportunity to share in a forum such as this.

I don't feel worthy of it, but I know that it's the right opportunity for me to say yes to-does that make sense? It feels authentic to the kind of writer I am, and what this space is...I don't feel worthy of it, but at the same time I realize that playing small when opportunities such as these present themselves to you serves no one, least of all yourself, so I'm choosing to be grateful and enjoy every part of this. Besides, when I asked Kelly (@mochamomma) if she had any advice and told her how nervous I was, she had this to say: "Remember why you write. Speak your truth. Drop the fucking mic." Pretty much the kick in the ass I needed to step into the moment and accept the gig. Yep.

Do I hope to gain anything out of this? Sure-I hope to gain connection-connection with others in a healthy, constructive and empathetic dialogue about sharing our experiences with mental illness and wellness. I want to encourage others to share their mental health related stories and I want to also be encouraged to keep doing the same-Lord knows I've almost nuked this space at least once a week since the new year began.

So....I'm going to BlogHer this year! As a speaker for HealthMinder day! I'll be here-Will I see you there? I hope so-go register and then let me know you're coming so we can meet up :)

Also, moral of this story: Always leave a little room for opportunity-you never know what it has waiting for you.

Also, also: Marriage. Baby. Speaking gig. 2013 better stop blowing my mind with all of these surprises.

Let's talk about mental health in the online space, shall we?

HEY YOU: Don't Drink the VOTY Kool-Aid

I gots some thangs to say.....forgive me if this just kinda tumbles out, I'm not in the mood to filter much today. Here we go: Yesterday I listened to a heart whisper and submitted two pieces for BlogHer's 2013 Voices of the Year, one visual, one written.

I submitted them because one of my words for this year is "pursue," and when it comes to my writing and art, my intention this year is to pursue opportunities for them to be showcased. Why? Why the hell not? I write and paint for myself first and foremost and will always do so even if I have zero readers and the world thinks my art is a travesty, BUT I'm also a storyteller who believes in the power of sharing your experiences with others. Writing and painting save me from the parts of myself that thanks to illness are hell-bent on destroying me-and so does sharing about my life through the written word and visual art. Sharing my stories here and through paint are my way of giving back-I hope that at some point, what I share and convey in what I create helps someone on some level, in some area of life be it motherhood, mental illness, abuse, or just life in general.

I also submitted because hey, who doesn't like to connect with others and be heard? And who says it's wrong to be proud of what you've created? What's wrong with just going for it, JUST BECAUSE you never know what will become of it? YOLO! Am I right?

I said all of that to say that I didn't submit my pieces because I think other people will find them moving and valuable, worthy of attention. I shared them because I FIND THEM VALUABLE, MOVING, AND WORTHY. Maybe if my piece on being bipolar and a mother is selected, maybe another mom who was just diagnosed will find it and find some comfort-or find a way to contact me so she can find someone to talk to or ask questions. Maybe if my piece is selected people will stop believing people with an illness like bipolar disorder are incapable of being quality parents and raising healthy kids. But if I had decided to NOT submit that piece, then the chances of that happening are significantly reduced considering how "small" I am in the blogosphere. So I saw an opportunity to be an advocate, be a storyteller, honor MYSELF for owning my story, and took advantage of it-Like Nike, I just did it. Insecure, vulnerable, and all, dammit I sat my ass down, read through my stuff and submitted.

Maybe for you, it's not about any of this. Maybe you just want your work to be heard, be seen, be validated, be recognized. Maybe you wrote some funny shit and you want others to recognize you're the next Richard Pryor or Sarah Silverman. That's OK. It really is. Go ahead-submit! Honor your work. Pat yourself on the back, man. Be proud.

For those of you who are discouraged by this whole VOTY thing, hear me: STOP WAITING FOR OTHERS TO VALIDATE YOU AND YOUR WORK AND VALIDATE YOURSELF. STOP DRINKING THE DAMN VOTY KOOL-AID. I'm watching so many of you flog yourselves and doubt your self-worth and value as a blogger, writer, and fucking human being because no one is nominating your work. I get why it's a downer, and trust me, I think the voting aspect of the process is asinine and I know that's what's discouraging so many of you from submitting. But I learned a couple of years ago that sometimes you can't wait for others to celebrate and honor you, you've got to do it yourself, fuck everyone else. THROW YOUR OWN DAMN PARTY. Stop waiting for an invite. NO ONE will take pride in you or what you're putting out there if you don't.

96 of the pieces that will be selected as VOTY will be selected by the committee-guess what? They are reading each and every piece submitted whether it has 500 votes or 0. So even if you're small potatoes like myself, your work will still be seen. Shouldn't that matter more than some damn votes? Even if your piece isn't selected, you never know who will become a fan of your work just because they were on the committee and read your piece. You don't know what kind of opportunities could come out of this. And even if nothing comes out of it, shit, pour a drink and cheer yourself for having the balls to do something so many people wouldn't.

I know when you're a small fry in the blog/writing arena it's easy to get intimidated and feel left out because those with bigger platforms are being nominated, called out, read, and recognized-and recognizing their own peers. But hear me: SMALL DOES NOT EQUAL INSIGNIFICANT  and is in no way an indication of the value and worth of your work and your story.

So STOP DRINKING THE VOTY KOOL-AID. Submit something if it's on your heart to do so. (Heart whispers are meant to be listened to-unless it's telling you to go kill someone. If that's the case, get a new fucking heart ASAP.) Go find a favorite piece from someone you read and submit it to honor them-if they're a fellow small fry, I can guarantee you it will make their day and probably encourage them to keep writing, sharing, owning their story.

So. What are you still doing here reading this? GO. Bye!

Sometimes Life Happens so Fast You Can Barely Process it All

So. I haven't been here nearly as often as I wanted to this summer.

My goals for the summer included wanting to paint & write every day, even if it was just a little.

But things don't always go according to plan, no matter how good our intentions are.

Life doesn't always happen the way we plan or expect, right?

My life, our lives this summer have been consumed by change...transition.

From preparing for our move to Austin in just 13 days, to buying our first space shuttle (we refuse to call it a minivan) to family members getting sick, to me just becoming engrossed in just LIVING life, everything has happened so fast, I can barely process it all.

So, that's why I've been silent here. I've tried writing the words, my desire has been to document the nuances of this new season in our lives, but...the words haven't found me yet.

I'm hoping they will soon, but for now just know that I haven't forgotten about this space.

I'll be back...

Oh yea. I'm on my way to BlogHer. More than the conference itself I'm happy to finally meet those who have become friends over the past year, Jaime, Susan, and others.

So I'll fill you in on my experience there as well as everything else when I get back. Hopefully.