Terror, Triumph, and Taking the Stage: Lessons from TEDxBirminghamSalon

Dear friends,

A funny thing happened when I started writing about what it was like to speak at TEDxBirminghamSalon: I kept using plural pronouns. I kept writing, “We traveled, we spoke.”

Don’t worry, there’s a simpler explanation than schizophrenia. I wrote in the plural because I felt your excitement and encouragement as a tangible presence at TEDx, and I cannot thank you enough for that.

Plus, you helped me choose my topic; I based the talk around this post. Your thoughtful responses galvanized me to write and speak about our shared struggle with perfectionism. I’ll post the text of the talk within the next few weeks, along with the forthcoming video. Until then, here’s what I learned.

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In Which I Break the Rules & Go Cold Turkey

Nobody likes being sick.

A few weeks ago, I faced a fourth case of shingles, my least-favorite and most-recurrent illness. And my body was in great shape compared with my thoughts.

You see, I was struggling with a scarcity mindset regarding our readership here. I’d become overly attached to the goal of reaching 1,000 subscribers, so much so that I couldn’t feel the tremendous abundance that is already here.

To be fair, this 1,000-subscriber fixation didn’t come out of nowhere. It was fueled by the advice of myriad big-time bloggers, many of whom actually say, You’re a blogging nobody until you get 1,000 subscribers. If your number is below 1,000, don’t mention it anywhere on your site – smaller numbers scare people off.

The implied rule is, “Tuck your tail and be ashamed of your blog until you get the shred of legitimacy afforded by the number 1,000.”

So … this is me breaking that rule.

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How to Persevere When Rejections Knock You Down

It’s the moment every writer knows and dreads. When I finally open the email, it’s just as I feared. My essay wasn’t chosen; try again next time.

No matter how many times this happens – and for writers and artists, it happens a lot – I still feel a swirl of emotion. Depending on how much I wanted an acceptance, I’m by turns frustrated, disappointed, or angry.

If you’ve received such a rejection, then you know the feeling. It’s as though you’ve offered your best wine to an honored guest, only to see them sniff the glass and turn away. No one likes to pour out their best – that which cost them a great deal – and see it left untouched.

But the important point to remember is this: you have a choice to make.

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On Learning to Be Free (Even if You Have a Lot to Do)

Today’s the day: this post is inspired by Julie, the randomly-selected winner of our survey-based contest! Julie writes …

“Funny you suggest a few lines about where I am in my life – I’m not sure! I am 60 yrs. old and have been a mother for 40 yrs. In addition to giving birth to 3 sons, my husband and I became foster parents. After 24 years and 39 placements, we finished off our family with 6 adopted kiddos, bringing our total to 9!

My youngest child turned 12 today. He and his 13 yr. old brother are both on ‘the spectrum’ although it looks very different on the 2 brothers. I am facing the biggest challenge of my life to parent them, everything I thought I knew about parenting no longer applies. My friends have gone back to work, or have even retired. Where do I belong? I used to know where my heart was, and what I was good at.

Your recent post about church was very thought provoking as I try to muddle through this new part, and these new expectations, that, yes, I am probably putting on myself! As you can tell, I love to write, as well as to read – keep up your truly inspiring posts.”

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