My Go-To Tunes: Go Me!

Happy belated anniversary! Oh, you missed it too? Don’t worry. So did I.

Two years ago, on September 7, 2014, I swallowed my fears and hit “publish” for the very first time. I had no idea my little personal writing blog would grow. I thought maybe I’d get 50 followers, with most of them being friends and family. I worried people would laugh at my writing, or question me when I claimed to be a writer.

Well, look at little DeeScribes now! I’ve succeeded at this writing adventure!

  • 268 posts
  • 18,181 views (I love this palindromic number)
  • 9,428 visitors
  • 287 followers

Last year, I was encouraged to set blogging goals and I jokingly responded that I’d have 300 followers by the end of 2016. I never thought I would be this close to reaching the goal by September!

Thank you for sticking with me as I follow my writing dreams. Your words of encouragement, particularly this year, have sustained me when I was ready to crawl in a corner and withdraw. You honor me by taking some of your precious time to read my writing, and I appreciate the gift of your comments and feedback.

To celebrate our anniversary, I’m sharing a very “Dee Song.” Yes, it’s a real thing.  Just ask my friends. Don’t believe me?

Ten years ago, while I was nursing yet another broken heart, my college roommate Chris sent me some music to make me smile. This song, “Supergirl” by Saving Jane, was one of the songs on the CD,  and when I told her I loved it, Chris told me it was a very “Dee Song.” See – I told you so.

“Supergirl” has been my phone ring tone for the past four years. It is a fixture on my Friday afternoon “move it” playlist. I use it whenever I need a reminder that I am flirty, fabulous, and fantastic. I searched for an official video, but the live versions I found were not as easy to understand as the original recorded version. You don’t need to watch the video, just listen to the song.

Happy two years!

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What Happened to the Redefining Disability Challenge?

If you are a regular reader here at DeeScribes (and thank you if you are!) you know for several months I was posting my responses to the Redefining Disability Blog Challenge on Wednesdays. If you are new and want to see some of these posts, I have them listed in order on a special page you can find here.

I stopped writing these challenge posts when I broke my femur in January. I decided to take a break because I needed to focus on my rehabilitation. And frankly, the next question in the post requires more research and time than I was willing to or able to invest while recuperating.

I do plan to continue with the challenge because I think answering the questions is useful for me as an advocate and writer. The challenges have forced me to consider how I view my identity as disabled, what that means, and why it has taken me almost 42 years to embrace the label with pride. The response from readers has been encouraging and eye-opening. Disability is a part of who I am. I rarely consider how my reality is different from the norm, because it is just what I have to do to get through this amazing thing called life. I never set out to write a disability blog, but I have to write about disability occasionally because it is such an important part of who I am. The challenge questions allow me to write about disability with intention, which is easier than answering a general question like, “Tell me about your disability.”

So, next Wednesday I will resume the challenge with an important question about disability and the media. I hope you will continue to read and comment on these posts. I enjoy the dialogue these challenges spark and know the questions will be fun to explore.

Deciding Not to Go Pro

Remember yesterday when I pledged to participate in a new blogging challenge? In case you don’t, here’s a recap of how I started the post:

This week I am taking part in Jeff Goins’ Blog Like a Pro (BLP) Challenge. Each day, I will write a post in line with the assignment. If you are a blogger and want to learn how to join in on the fun, visit here to learn the details.

I have to be honest with all of you. I realized something very important today.

I do not want to blog like a pro.

I am not saying I do not want to write. I DO want to write. And I want to keep sharing it with you. I am thrilled and blessed to know there are people around the world who take the time each day to read my words, thoughts and ideas. What an honor it is to be a guest in your lives.

But I do not feel compelled to engage in another blogging challenge to help me become a professional blogger.

It is not the fault of the challenge or the facilitator. Jeff is a great writer, and he has the experience to offer people who DO want to become professional bloggers. I have learned many important lessons from Jeff’s prior challenges, such as building a platform, growing your audience, engaging your reader, and following your calling. Jeff’s book You Are A Writer  is the reason I am writing every day. I am grateful for his guidance and advice over the past year and a half.

But I am not ready to become a professional blogger.

Some pretty serious things have happened in my life in 2016. If you are a new reader, you may not know about the burglary, illness, wheelchair repairs and the broken femur. To read the details of how my year started, you should read this post. Really – you should go read it, because just looking back at that last sentence I’m giggling to myself as I realize all of those things happened in the first thirteen days of the year. I AM a tough cookie.

But I am not willing to invest time and energy into something that is not bringing me fulfillment right now.

Two weeks in the hospital, followed by two more weeks in a rehabilitation hospital, and then a month at home, have given me plenty of time to examine my goals and priorities. Last week I shared my pledge to prioritize me. Today I am making good on that pledge by stepping out of the BLP Challenge.

I still plan to follow the progress of the other bloggers who are working on the BLP Challenge. Just because I have decided it is not the right time for me to complete the challenge does not mean I will stop offering encouragement and support to those who are giving it their all. In fact, I have already been inspired by the posts I have read. I was particularly struck by a manifesto written by Ross who blogs over at Anything is Progress. Yesterday, Ross wrote:

 Your aspirations should be all yours – not someone else’s.

Ross wrote some other good words, like these, in response to my comment about his post:

If we are trying to be someone else and living out the interests of others instead of living out how we’re made, then there’s an underlying frustration, even hopelessness, to everything we do. So yes, we need to say yes to life – we have it today, so we should make the most of it. It’s real, and it’s ours.

My aspirations do not include becoming a professional blogger. They do include writing and blogging, but my goal right now is to continue to practice my craft, not build a website. I know there will be a time to build and launch DeeScribes on its own, not on the free WordPress platform.

But that time is not now.

Now is the time for research and writing. Now is the time to interview family and friends to gather information for my book. Now is the time to continue physical therapy and exercise for my broken leg so I can return to my usual activities. Now is the time to be true to myself and my aspirations.

I am a writer. And now I will write.

Write a Manifesto?

This week I am taking part in Jeff Goins’ Blog Like a Pro (BLP) Challenge. Each day, I will write a post in line with the assignment. If you are a blogger and want to learn how to join in on the fun, visit here to learn the details.

I was born with a progressive neuromuscular disease, Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). When I was diagnosed at age three, doctors could not predict how long I would walk, when I would need to use a wheelchair, or how long I would live.

My parents chose to raise me as a person with capabilities, rather than limitations. Sure, there were activities I could not do. This did not excuse me from chores I could perform, such as washing and drying dishes, or setting and clearing the table.

I was raised to be an optimist – to look for possibilities when others might see challenges, solutions when faced with barriers.

They were shaping what would become my manifesto.

I first thought about writing a manifesto in 2014 when I joined the My 500 Words community. This initiative, also created by Jeff, encourages writers to write at least 500 words every day. There are daily prompts in case you need a focus to help you get your words out. When I joined the group, I noticed Jeff had a manifesto.

Jeff’s manifesto popped up again when I enrolled in his Tribe Writer’s course. I say “enrolled” instead of “completed” because I didn’t complete much at all. I attempted to address the assignments, but I was not in a place where I could focus on my writing due to other commitments.

Now I am committed to trying his latest challenge. Our first assignment?

“Write a manifesto: a 500-word treatise on what you’re about.”

This time, I am going to do it. In fact, I already have 485 words! I am not sharing it here yet because I have work to do. But I committed to posting each day, so I am putting this up. This way, you will know I am working on a project and will hold me accountable.

I will finish the manifesto, I promise. And I will share it with everyone in the hopes it will inspire you to take action.

As always, thank you for joining me on this journey as I explore my writing dreams. I haven’t written much this year due to my injury. Now that I am writing every day once again, I finally feel like I am on my way back to “me.”

Four Lessons Learned by Blogging My Thankfulness

I have to admit, I am proud of myself. Once again, I set a goal of daily posts for the 30 Days of Thanks challenge. Aside from this one day of technical glitches (thank goodness people like pictures of baby wombats) I successfully posted each day in November.

I used the 30 Days of Thanks challenge to publicly acknowledge some of the people and organizations who made it possible for me to return to Australia earlier this year. When I was raising the funds for the trip, one of the thank you gifts I offered was a piece of memoir unique to the sponsor. Most of my friends and relatives told me this was not necessary, as they were not supporting me to receive a gift. But I wanted to make good on my offer.

I learned some valuable lessons throughout the month. I share them with you here because they are universal and could be applied to other aspects of creative life besides writing.

 1. Writing a thank you note is as much a gift for the writer as the recipient.

When I set out to write thank you notes, I did not consider the gifts I would receive in the process. My intention was to acknowledge those who had assisted me in achieving a goal. I hoped my words of appreciation would let my friends and family members know how they influenced and impacted my year. I wanted to make them feel valued.

Many told me the posts made them feel grateful. Some told me the posts made them cry. Most thanked me in return, for providing a boost to their spirits during their own time of crisis or emotional need. I did not know about their needs in advance, but learning I was bringing light to their days was a gift to me. Their positive reactions, and the responses from other readers who shared posts, provided encouragement to me and helped me remain focused on the task. I imagine stand-up comedians have similar feelings when the audience laughs at a joke.

2. It is difficult to maintain a daily posting schedule without creating content in advance.

In September I decided what I would do with 30 Days of Thanks. That was two months prior to writing a single post. I should have started writing then, but I was not disciplined.

In October, I plotted out a post schedule. I planned to start writing, but never did. I was working extra hours on the weekend for my paid employment, traveling for my birthday, and was a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding. And my wheelchair broke down, requiring me to depend on others each time I got in and out of my vehicle. It wasn’t like I was being a lazy slacker. I just didn’t have as much time as I had anticipated. November was fast approaching, and I still had no posts written.

Because I did not have content created in advance of November, I did not enjoy the month as much as usual. I write each day on my lunch break at work. However, work commitments and meetings in November meant I lost my mid-day writing time at least three days each week. I was writing at night, while trying to supervise and manage my Personal Assistants, or writing on my cell phone while drinking coffee in the morning. I completed the challenge, but I did not enjoy the process as much as I would have if I had stuck to my initial attempts to plan and create content in advance. If I do this again next year, I must do better. Would someone please remind me of this?

3. Unintended outcomes can be wonderful surprises.

This may seem silly, but when I decided to write about people I never considered the audience of their friends, family and social connections. I did not write about people as a way to grow my blogging audience. Yet, that is what happened.

I shared my daily posts on Facebook and Twitter, as I do with all my posts. When I could, I tagged the subjects or shared the posts directly on their pages or feeds. My intention was to make sure the post was visible to the recipient. I soon discovered new blog readers – my friends’ followers and connections. I have no way to tell if any of these new readers will stick around now that I am back to my regular posting schedule, but a quick look at blog stats tells me they have been reading older posts.

It was never my intention to complete this challenge as a way to grow my audience, but I am grateful to those new readers for taking the time to read other posts. Knowing I had new readers was a boost to my energy when I was feeling too emotionally drained to write. This leads me to lesson number four.

4. Creating is emotional, and requires energy and self-care.

Sustaining a daily creative habit, be it writing, sculpting, singing, or any other venture, is emotionally intense and requires stamina. There were many days in November when I would be typing a post and realize I was once again crying at my keyboard. These were tears of joy and gratitude, sorrow and pain.

Many events in November stirred emotional responses from me. A good friend had a debilitating stroke at the young age of forty-three (he’s recovering and making progress every day). I answered the phone at work one day to hear a friend telling me of another friend’s unexpected death. A former colleague received a cancer diagnosis. My brother-in-law’s 100 year old uncle passed away. These events tapped my emotional reserves, making it more difficult to draw on the emotions required to produce content I felt worthy of sharing. Some days I shared a post which wasn’t my best, knowing it was the best I could do under the circumstances.

I learned to stop criticizing myself for falling short of the imaginary bar I had set for myself. All that did was make me feel less inspired to write, and resentful of a task which was meant to be an expression of gratitude. You can’t feel gratitude if your heart is full of resentment.

 

Now that we are in December, I will resume my regular posting schedule. Redefining Disability Challenge posts will return on Wednesdays. Last year’s post featuring my favorite holiday music was popular and I am considering a repeat later this month.

I will still be grateful, and I hope you will continue to find time for gratitude as well. This month, a season of hopeful anticipation for many, can be stressful. All of us can benefit by taking a moment each day to say thank you to those we care about for the gifts they bring to our lives.

Thank you for reading and following my journey this past November and throughout the year. I am grateful to all of you.

Photo of baby wombats at a feeding bowl. The image features white text which reads "30 Days of Thanks Winner! Once again, I am thankful for baby wombats."