The theme of BlogU 2016 was Be You With BlogU, and even though it is a conference for bloggers and freelance writers, the takeaway I had from my weekend in Baltimore with all the people who live in my computer was this:
With the right tribe, with the right goals, with the right motivation, and with sweat-your-ass-off-effort, you can be successful and stay true to yourself. Not just in writing, but in everything.
If you’ve followed me for more than half a minute, you know I don’t fit all the molds. There was a very long time that I lamented this fact. My personal style is random. My music choices are all across the board. On any given day I am a strange blend of Tiger mom and Free Range Parent. I’m not the same as anyone else, and that was hard for me to accept. To revel in.
But now, I do.
No one has the thoughts or experiences that I do. No one but me can tell my story. And while there are quite a few people who, like me, are good enough at a ridiculous amount of things but not great at any one thing, no one else can integrate my purple-filtered view into those things.
Aside from spending some amazing time with people I admire and fan-girl after, I was able to spend a lot of time reflecting on my role, my skills, and my purpose. Throughout the amazing sessions we were offered, the theme “Be You” ran loud and clear. We were encouraged to think about our skills and our passions. We were encouraged to revisit childhood dreams of what we want to be when we ‘grow up.’ We were asked to take a moment to find that clear voice that said, “I want to do ________ with my life.”
And this year, as I turned 30 years old on a big-ass campus, sweating all the sweats with my tribe, I remembered what I love doing.
I support. For years I was encouraged to be a therapist, because when my friends needed advice, I was there. Before motherhood, I planned events for a large non-profit organization dedicated to helping consumers navigate issues with local businesses. I became certified in our state’s Meth prevention program and took trips to help local law enforcement teach kids about the dangers of methamphetamines. As a parent the past 10 years, I get sick of the day-to-day drudgery of motherhood, but when push comes to shove, I am there when my kids need me. When a friend has a baby, I ask when I can bring a meal by. If there is a special occasion for someone coming up, I always offer to help. I plan parties, outings, gatherings, and intimate coffee dates. I see the need for the village where there is one lacking and I amplify the comfort that the village offers where one already exists.
It took getting lost amongst the old brick buildings of a campus on the complete opposite side of the country for me to realize that I was home. Not in a place, but in my mission. My goal for the weekend was to be the helpiest helper who ever helped. I think I did that and I was so. genuinely. joyful. the entire time. Why? Because this is my role.
This is why I want to be a birth doula. I want to lend strength and comfort where ever I can. If it is not in my power to make it better, I want to be a safe-space to turn to during the hard times. I want people to know that if there is a problem they can turn to me.
This is what drives me.
Caregiving. Supporting. Helping. Creating a nurturing space. Being a source of comfort wherever I go.
Thankfully, this is something I can apply to all the other things I love to do.
Writing. I empower. I offer a hand that says, I struggle with this, too, and you are not alone. We will get through this together.
Mothering. The ultimate role of caregiving. It won’t end with diaper changes, it will become different. It will always change and I will always greet new challenges to make sure my kids are given the best chance possible.
Friendship. Marriage. Crafting. Gardening. Cooking.
All these things require an aspect of caregiving that I finally feel, deep down in my heart of hearts, is my purpose.
It took a credit card and a day of flying across the country for me to understand that I have been so entrenched in the actions of my purpose that I couldn’t see I was already living it. This is what they mean when they say you can’t see the forest for the trees.
I see it now.
I spent the entirety of my 20s growing my family. A full 10 years of pregnancies, breastfeeding, diaper changes and sleepless nights. I plan to make my 30s MY decade. Where I tackle my goals and reach for my dreams. Where I become more than mom. Where I learn who take-everything-away-and-what-do-you-have Jessica really is.