Category Archives: Slice of Life

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.

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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.