When you are bitten by a radioactive spider, you have to be brave and make the decision to put on your superhero shirt. You have to wear it proud, and you have to believe in doing the impossible. You have to fight the bad guys inside your head. And when the villains foil your plans to save the world, you fight back harder. You wash your shirt in the cold wash cycle of your washing machine, you dry it on low, and you put it back on. You wear your superhero shirt again and again and again. You do it because you believe in doing the impossible, you do it to show your family the power of persistence and courage, and you do it because it is good. And don’t we all want to fill our lives with goodness?
Seven days ago I was bitten.
It happened when I was sitting at a round table in the middle of a conference room with about 300 other attendees of the 2014 Minnesota Blogger Conference, which was held in St. Paul. I had just finished chatting with a couple of wonderful bloggers I had previously met in August, and I was fueled up on coffee. The conference started with a speech by Pete Goddard of RedCurrent. When the RedCurrent app launches, individuals will be able to sync their calendars and get the scoop on numerous local events. However, what is especially intriguing about RedCurrent is their mission to share the stories of people who are connected in some way to the many events that take place around us. And that’s when I felt the first bite.
We all have a story. We all have a story of how we got here, to this very moment. And in seven days, or seven months, or seven years, our stories will be told differently. Every decision we make and every experience we have propels our stories across the page. Our stories are important to us, and like any novel, poem or comic book, our stories have the ability to inspire, educate, comfort, entertain and bring people together. Many of us read to understand humanity. So why not share how we are human?
After thinking about the power of stories, I got my notebook and pen ready to take notes on Christoph Trappe’s breakout session on how to get on a blogging schedule. I was ready to hear all about tips on how bloggers can follow a consistent schedule and continue to produce content week after week. But as Trappe’s session started, I realized I was going to hear something much more valuable from him. A schedule is helpful, but a commitment to write every day is what really matters. Write. Let it sit. Think about it. Write some more. Edit. And publish. Trappe recommends publishing at least once a week and having several weeks of posts that are written and ready to be published. Honestly, I am not ready to commit to this goal as a blogger, but the message is clear: you must make time for writing, and you must write often. Having a blog isn’t simply about pushing out content, either. Trappe blogs to tell stories because stories are authentic, and authentic stories connect people.
Are you noticing a theme here?
This was just the beginning of my day. I attended another breakout session, ate lunch and then listened to our keynote speaker, Dan R. Morris. I was blown away by his story he shared with us, and what I learned was that I have the power to write my own story. I may be a small dog in this big world, but I can strive to be the “biggest small dog” I can be. I have the power to pursue my dreams, and even though the road may be long and full of obstacles, I have the power to push past the obstacles. But pursuing my dreams isn’t only for my own pleasure. As Morris noted, “You’ve got to fall in love with your audience first.” My audience is my husband, my children, my family, my friends, and you. This blog is not for me alone. Yes, writing feeds my soul, but I hope to feed your soul, too. And I hope to share a powerful story with my children someday.
After listening to Morris, I began feeling like I could take on the world, one blog post at a time. I attended two more breakout sessions, including one session featuring Rachel Martin from Finding Joy. She talked about how bloggers can use Facebook as a successful tool for not only reaching new readers, but for also building stronger connections with your audience. Martin is a woman who knows how to connect with her readers. Her Dear Mom Letters have brought me to tears, and I often read her You Are Enough posts to find encouragement on those tough parenting days. It was truly a joy to listen to her speak and to hear about why it is important for her to blog.
The conference was amazing. And even though I couldn’t attend all of the sessions that were offered, I left feeling ready to breathe new life into my blog. I left feeling like a superhero; like I could really pursue my dream of being a writer.
Seven days ago I was bitten.
Fate or coincidence, I was scheduled to start an online writing class two days after the conference. The class focuses on blog writing specifically, and I spent the first week exploring the purpose of my blog. Writing for this blog forces me to face a lot of my fears. I fear that people won’t like me, I fear that my writing sucks, I fear that no one will read what I write, I fear that I will fail. When facing all of these fears, it is easy to become discouraged. It is easy to turn on Netflix instead of sitting down to write. It is easy to think that this blog doesn’t matter. It is easy to think that writing this serves no purpose. So how do I even begin to write about the purpose of my blog? What is the purpose of all of this?
After reflecting on what I learned from the speakers, other bloggers and myself after attending the Minnesota Blogger Conference last weekend, I have decided to believe that there is a purpose for doing this thing called blogging. There is a purpose because I believe that my purpose, my calling, is to write. And I believe in breathing life into our everyday moments. I believe that our experiences can and should be turned into poetry. I believe that writing and reading and sharing our experiences will serve as a reminder that we are all human. And when we see this, we can take on the world together.
Seven days ago I was bitten.
Before I felt the pierce, I felt small. I play a big role in this house with my family, but outside of these walls, I felt small. What could I possibly have to offer outside of my home? Where would I even start if I could make a difference? Would anyone even care?
These are bad thoughts. They are haunting. They are cruel. We have these thoughts, even though we know they are bad. These thoughts are villains bent on destroying what is good.
Despite my high from attending MN Blog Con and starting my first writing class since college, these bad thoughts continued to pop up. I decided to buy myself a gift for encouragement. I purchased “Yes Please” by Amy Poehler, and this gift to myself made the bite real. In the preface, Amy writes about how hard it was for her to write her book. It was hard for many reasons, but the biggest reason was because of self-doubt. To push past her fears, she quieted the negative thoughts and the self-doubt, and she focused on doing. She quieted the bad thoughts and she listened to her heart. She said yes to the challenge. She quieted the demon voices by sticking up for herself. Negative thoughts and bad voices are haunting and cruel. So why don’t I stick up for myself? Why don’t I be brave and try and try again like I encourage my kids to do?
Seven days later, I feel like a superhero. I believe in my purpose. I may have big dreams, but these dreams deserve a chance. The good deserves to be louder than the bad. Like every superhero, and Amy Poehler, I will say yes to the challenges. I will say yes for myself. I will say yes for my kids, because they are our future superheroes. And I will say yes to wearing my superhero shirt.
I am human. I want to be a part of something bigger. I have the power to make this happen. And so do you. What will you say yes to? What superhero shirt are you wearing today?