Category Archives: Creative Writing

Coming Out of the Closet

Coming Out
Photo cred: DeathToStockPhotos

“I am a writer.”  It took me decades to admit this publicly.  For years I had written in secret, filling up stark white notebooks and leather-bound journals with my words, short stories, and poems.  I had received awards for my writing as a child and was placed in gifted writing programs in high school.  When it came time to choose a major for college, I went with my other passion: human behavior and science.  I set upon a course that would lead to a career in psychiatry; a path where story and humanity intersect.  What happened along the road that led me to a business career is a story for another day…  The important point is that I re-discovered my voice as an adult and took up my pen once again.

Words poured out of me like a geyser and once again I began to fill up .doc files on my pc, having traded my pen for a keyboard. I entered into an enriching relationship with a local feminist writing academy and it was here that I could stand up and say, “My name is Michelle and I’m a writer.”  I began the process of setting aside my love for the short story format and embarked upon writing a novel. Halfway through the story, I became enamored with an emerging industry that was changing the world and turned my focus into building a social media marketing consulting firm.  I believe that social media is the quintessential conduit for bringing story, human behavior, and science (analytics) together.  I had discovered my passion, but in the process of helping companies share their brand voice, their stories, I lost the time to work on my own.

I truly believe in Karma and the universe putting people and experiences in our paths for a reason. I recently had lunch with an amazing writer whom I first met via Twitter. We shared our stories and she encouraged me to find the time to write. Just a few days later I received an email from a writer that I do not know (not sure how I got on her mailing list) sharing a heart-felt and inspirational post. At the bottom of the post was a message about the difficulty in finding the time to write with a link to a book she had just written on the subject.  Her words chilled me and inspired the post you are now reading.  Here’s what she said,

It’s not an easy thing to take time to write. The world says that writing doesn’t matter much. Our families and jobs need us. We have to make money. The ugly voices in our head tell us we’re not good enough. There are a ton of reasons why we choose to not write. . . and yet, if we are writers, we must find a way to the page. Over and over again.”

So once again I am coming out of the closet and claiming my title. Thank you universe for sending me people and  stories that inspire and move me to action.

Always Read the Chapters….

DeathtoStock_Medium4WARNING: This post exists at the intersection of digital and IRL, because meeting people where they are should be the goal…..

Over the years I have become very interested in working with groups that lift up women and girls- groups that work on building confidence and self-esteem.  I was fortunate enough to grow up with parents who believed in me, encouraged me to achieve, and told me the sky was the limit as to what I could accomplish.  I also had a religion teacher/liturgical music director in high school at the Academy of the Holy Cross in Kensington, Maryland, who greatly believed in me and encouraged me to take on leadership roles that bolstered my confidence. I passed this on to my own daughter, who is a shining example of a strong confident teen, very active in leadership roles in her school and in the community.

I have seen how peer pressure and life can beat down upon women and girls like a strong driving rain through a broken umbrella.  If women/girls can find inner strength and a belief in their personal gifts and talents, I think this knowledge would help sustain them against peer pressure, bullying, and gender discrimination.

I recently attended the kick-off meeting for a pilot program created by St. Vincent de Paul- Cincinnati: the Empowerment Path Program.  The program was established to complement education, employment, and other social service programs pursued by women to address financial stability, to help them overcome social ills, and to break systemic cycles getting in the way of growth.  It involves the paring of female coaches with women from multi-cultural backgrounds (including different races, economic status, and religions) in the Winton Hills community of Cincinnati in order to build collaborative, open, and accepting relationships.

As a coach, I will walk the path of life with one woman for one year, helping her define steps to achieve a goal that will make a major difference in her life.

I will be there to help her plan

To help cheer her on

To give advice

To cry with her

And to experience the joy that truly giving to another human being can bestow.  I think that in the end, I will be the one who is blessed for having experienced another’s life so different from my own.

The director of the Empowerment Path Program opened our kick off session with a great analogy. She said that we tend to approach people that we don’t know like a book; making judgments about them based on the cover. We define our perceptions of them by their outward appearance and the life-long tapes running through our heads.  In reality, it is the chapters in a novel that truly define the story, not the cover. We need to remember this as we meet people that we don’t know and who may walk a different path than we are accustomed to.

A group member in her 70s, who is pursuing a life-long dream of receiving her GED, summed this up so succinctly:

“What we see of others on the outside is just a shell, but what’s on your inside- your soul, your heart, that’s what’s important.”

Make sure you always read the chapters……

graphic created by Michelle Beckham

More about me HERE.

Instagram Eye Candy Becomes Addictive

Instgram collection: Michelle Beckham Vanderbilt University
Instgram collection of Michelle Beckham- Vanderbilt University outside of Admissions

Instagram:   I’m becoming addicted to this rapidly growing social media application.  The makers of this free iPhone and Android app describe their product as:

“It’s a fastbeautiful and fun way to share your photos with friends and family.

Snap a picture, choose a filter to transform its look and feel, then post to Instagram. Share to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr too – it’s as easy as pie.  It’s photo sharing, reinvented.”

I love the ability to see patterns, design, color, meaning out in the world and to capture it and interpret it through my own lens of experience.  The ability to change hues, or emphasize certain areas of the photo puts the creative process in my hands.  Additionally, the ability to add my thoughts, feelings, descriptors in the form of text enhances the experience for those who happen upon my work.

The use of hash-tags widens the audience to the entire world.  I love this aspect the most, as while I’m flattered that people take the time to like my photo, comment or even follow me, I truly appreciate the ability to do the same for them.

If my world consists of living in a mid-sized city in the middle of the mid-west, then the images that I see on a daily basis reflect that world. To know that someone in China or Kuwait or India is capturing their daily lives as well for me to take in and enjoy, is the truly glorious gift. It makes the world so much smaller.  As human beings we all share the same basic needs, desires and love for beauty.  Who wouldn’t want to look at a captivating photo for daily inspiration? Imagine what kind of effect this would have on your day….

Want to know more about Instagram functionality and filters?

Cheat Sheet Info-graphic (everything you need to know to run with Instagram)

Beginners’ Guide by Mashable

Here are links to Instagram viewing clients:

Webstagram

Statigram

And finally, some of my images below.  Be sure to to follow me on Instagram at MichelleBeckham.  See you there!

www.CreatingConnectionsConsulting.com

 

Instagram collection of Michelle Beckham- Daily Walk 2012
Instagram collection of Michelle Beckham- Daily Walk 2012
Instagram collection of Michelle Beckham- Renaissance Festival  2012
Instagram collection of Michelle Beckham- Renaissance Festival 2012
Instagram collection of Michelle Beckham- Chicago Navy Pier 2012
Instagram collection of Michelle Beckham- Chicago Navy Pier 2012

Crossing the US Border in Search of Al Gore….

Looks like I have been AWOL from this space. While this is true, I must confess that I took a much needed vacation to Canada and Seattle and completely unplugged for the most part. Now please don’t think that I was being altruistic in my departure from the online world; it was quite the opposite.  I simply did not have the access during the day and my sightseeing, shopping, dining, etc rendered a return to the hotel late at night. Try battling 2 teenagers and a husband for laptop time and you see how my version of being unplugged really came about!

Totem Pole on Victoria Island, BC
Totem Pole on Victoria Island, BC via Michelle Beckham

What this experience taught me, is that I have quickly absorbed the information era and was somewhat at a loss when I couldn’t get access to the knowledge that I needed from the veritable search engine Google (or Bing, Yahoo, etc. for that matter…). Trying to determine a trendy spot for dinner, I longed for my Yelp app with real life patron reviews. Lost in downtown Seattle, I wanted my android GPS app to get me back to the Space Needle.  Observing the many homeless actively in our faces demanding money, I wanted to search “homeless in Seattle” to see what was going on with city regulations and how they were addressing the problem.  But alas…..I could do none of these things.

Dim Sum in China Town on Victoria Island, BC
Dim Sum in China Town on Victoria Island, BC via Michelle Beckham

The saving grace is that I am old enough to remember how to maneuver through all of these needs in the “old-fashioned” way from the time before Al Gore invented the  “you know what”!  The sad thing is that today’s teens and young adults probably have no clue……

Crossing the Border Back Into the Digital World via Michelle Beckham
Crossing the Border Back Into the Digital World via Michelle Beckham

Should We Be Facebook Friends??

I have been thinking a lot about Facebook strategy as the number of Facebook Friend Add Requests on my personal Profile increase for me.  My strategy for Facebook (Profile) has been crafted as a way for me to communicate freely with the people on my Friend list. I am not on Facebook (Profiles) to connect to people I don’t know or vaguely know. I’m not there to make strategic connections that would enhance my business relationships. I certainly do not want to connect to any of my clients. I have a Facebook Page for these connections.

Many Faces of Michelle Beckham in text images
Who Am I?

My simple goal with my PERSONAL Facebook Profile is to connect with those people who are the absolute closest to me: family, extended family, friends from back in the day who knew me when and can truly say that I haven’t changed a bit, professional colleagues with whom I have bonded/connected and who click with my inner core and have become very good friends.  I want to connect with people who get the true essence of me.  I want to exist in a perpetual state of “letting my hair down” on my Profile.

Part of my personal strategy is compartmentalization. When I am walking in the business world- my talk focuses on the business walk. I don’t mention family. I don’t mention kids.  You won’t find me saying a single thing about family life on Twitter or on my Facebook Page (Business). You won’t know that I have climbed the Great Wall of China, been a Girl Scout Leader or was the Secretary of a large school’s PTO Board. This is neither a wrong strategy nor a right strategy, it’s just my strategy. Believe it or not, I’m one of the most private people on the planet and this works for me.

If you are connected to me on Facebook (Profile), then you will know that I feature and talk about my kids constantly. Some of the colleagues-turned-friends may be annoyed at times, but my goal is to share news with a vast number of family members and relatives who look forward to hearing about these topics.  I am not a Cincinnati native and don’t have legions of relatives living in my neighborhood as so many of my Cincy-born friends do, so perhaps they don’t get the need to broadcast. I had one Cincy native friend actually leave a bible quote as a comment after a post I wrote about something my daughter had achieved- hinting at the sin of pride or something like that.

Everyone has their own strategy for using Facebook. They are all different and I respect each person’s choice.  So next time you get miffed about what you see in your news feed, think about this post and dial the friend down in your news feed settings, or perhaps examine whether you truly should be Facebook Friends after all…..

Got Passion?

Are you in touch with what drives you?

What keeps you up at night? I’m not speaking of the stressors that prevent us from drifting off into sleep because our minds are full of worrisome stuff, rather what are the fantastic ideas that are percolating in your brain bursting to get out?  Those thoughts that come to you in the calm of your day represent the tiny, yet powerful voice you should be listening to.  Within the myriad of possibilities swirling in your head resides your place of passion. Take the time to jot some of those ideas down and put them into motion.

You won’t regret it!