Thank You For Marrying Me Even Though Was Trying to Change You

Thank You For Marrying Me Even Though I Mistook You For Someone Else, #365StrongStories by Marisa Goudy I  scrutinized the handwriting. Yes, most certainly mine. It must have been inscribed to the last boyfriend. Everyone knew I took everything much too seriously during that particular affair.

Christmas, 2005

My Darling - for another chapter in our beautiful, healing journey.

All my love, Marisa

But, no, it said 2005. That was the year we were engaged. It was also the year I struggled with Lyme disease, the Epstein-Barr Virus, and an emergency appendectomy. Apparently, it was also the year my then-fiance managed to love a woman who thought marriage was about turning every hellish personal experience into an “our.”

My husband of ten years - the engineer, the craft beer connoisseur, the once and future mountain biking enthusiast -  I gave this man a book about Chinese medicine for our second Christmas.

Granted, he does believe in acupuncture. Meaning: he'll make an appointment when he can’t walk. He also believes in back surgery and flat out ignoring the pain and devoting himself to making everyone else happy.

Thank goodness he also believes in accepting dumb gifts with good grace because no one remembers 2005 as the year I cried under the Christmas tree when he said “why did you buy me some book about Asian herbs that nobody is ever going to read?”

I came across this forgotten volume while cleaning my office today and I have to share this story now so I can laugh quickly and get over the embarrassment of it all.

Oh, the foolishness of youth and new love!

Oh, the way I tried to make my life partner into some idealized earthy crunchy mate!

Oh, how glad I am that he didn’t change just to suit me because, as it turns out, I’m generally more interested in sipping a finely made IPA than I am in balancing my yang energy by ingesting foul tasting plants whose names I can't pronounce!

Writing page one of 2016's blank book, #365StrongStories 1

#365StrongStories-1I’m staring at the empty book that is 2016 and I’m paralyzed by the promise of this new project, #365StrongStories. How can I tell 366 stories (it’s leap year, remember) when I can’t even tell one? The Christmas tree droops, crumbs and toys crunch under foot, and yet another “big game” dominates the family room. Unless your idea of drama is a toddler’s quest to steal your iPhone, I haven’t got a single story to enchant you.

But I’m forgetting everything I know about story because I’m frightened by the blank page.

The strength of a story doesn’t depend on high stakes and shocking plot twists. A story is made strong by the writer’s passion for the scene and the her desire to connect with the reader.

Motherhood is a story - a sprawling epic crowded with characters who transform from sentence to sentence. The narrative structure is messy and some chapters are agonizingly kind while others are painfully short. Much of the writing in the motherhood story is riddled with typos, but that's because the author hasn't had a good night's sleep since 2009.

There are stories to tell here. There are stories I must tell and stories I think you must hear.

#365strongstories, day 1


Would a #365project give you what you need in 2016?

Why I kept one #365project promise, broke another, and will make a new one in 2016

 Would a #365project give you what you need in 2016?When you sign yourself up to make something every day for an entire year, you’re making a fabulous commitment to your creativity.

And when you decide to post about it every day on social media, you’re stepping up and saying “I’m ready to be seen” in a big way.

As both a #365project success story and a #365project drop out, I know plenty about what it takes to make it work and why it might not.

And I know what makes a project fulfilling and worthwhile… all year long.

First, ask yourself what kind of content you would want to share every day

Brené Brown makes it easy to decide what subjects to post about and talk about:

“I share what is vulnerable, not what is intimate.”

And how does our Daring Greatly/ Rising Strong sage recommend you make the distinction between the two?

Brené makes sure that she has fully explored everything before she brings it to the public arena. Her ability to heal and remain “wholehearted” does not depend on how her audience reacts to what she shares.

When I heard her describe this during a recent interview, it hit home because I’d learned this distinction myself - the hard way.  

I’m deeply grateful for one successful #365project and one abandoned attempt the following year. They taught me what it really means to share my story, create media, and be seen. And they taught me how to distinguish between intimate and vulnerable.

A #365project helps you find meaning in your own story

In 2014, I participated in the #365feministselfie project.

I cataloged the last month of pregnancy, the wonder of new motherhood, and lots of mundane moments throughout that year. Some of the Instagram shots were raw, some were posed pics to help bolster a bleary-eyed mama’s self esteem. All of them were me.

This daily practice helped me cope with the  isolation of being a work-at-home mom with an infant in the midst of the Polar Vortex winter. It was my chance to discover my own narrative thread when it was all too easy to lose myself.

I didn’t have the free hands to write, but I could snap a pic and use my thumbs to draft a quick caption that gave the moment some context in my bigger story.

A #365project that didn’t work

Giddy with the triumph of devoting a year to someone else’s project, I was excited to start my own project in 2015.

Boldly, I called it #365SovereignReality. The goal was to publicly explore my evolving “concept” that made so much sense inside my own head, but hadn’t made it into easy-to-tell story form.

It didn’t last for lots of reasons. The pressure to make an important discovery about my life’s work every day and post it online was too daunting. It took almost no creative energy to snap and post a selfie. My ill-defined sovereignty project demanded more creative energy than I had to give.

Intimate moments need to stay that way

My own pet project failed for another key reason - my kids.

Now that I had permission to take the camera off myself, it seemed logical to turn it on my constant companions. My little muses had been in plenty of the selfies with me, so it didn’t seem like a problem.

Truthfully, I’d always ignored the little voice that said “don’t start creating your kids’ digital footprint without their consent.” But somehow, when I was always in the frame with them, I could give it a pass. I told myself that my protective maternal gaze warded off predators and voyeurs.

But now that I was casting them in leading roles in my #365SovereignReality, it didn’t seem right. Without their mama in the frame to keep them safe, it didn’t seem authentic - it seemed like I was exposing them to stranger danger.

A new #365project that hits all the right notes

So, what are the ingredients of a sustainable #365project?

  • It has a set form. You don’t have to expend extra creative energy figuring out the focus.
  • It’s related to your professional or creative work.
  • It’s about visibility, not ego.
  • It’s a practice that helps you grow - not just another “should” or obligation.

Introducing #365StrongStories

Marisa Goudy's #365StrongStories projectEvery day in 2016 I am going to write a story.

It will be less than 200 words. Sometimes, it may not look like much more than a metaphor. There will be days when I’m sharing someone else’s story and using a quote. Each story will be accompanied by a picture, so you'll find it on Instagram and Facebook and all the usual social spots.

It feels a little crazy to sign myself up for something so ambitious. After all, taking a picture is easy compared to promising to write an actual story every day. But I’m dedicating my professional life to helping people tell stories that matter… and I need to walk the talk about how it really can be easy.

My 2016 #365project why…

  • I am a storyteller, but I want to get better
  • I want to be a more concise, efficient writer
  • I’ve been in retreat for a while and it’s time to be seen online again
  • #365StrongStories is aligned with my work. In a week or two, I am launching an offer called 5 Strong Stories that helps emerging thought leaders write content that connects.

Would a #365project give you what you need in 2016?

Saundra Goldman, who created a brilliant community around her #continuouspractice project posted her reflections on 2015 and her plans for 2016. Check out her post for ideas for creating your own project and why it's totally valid to make a much shorter commitment than 365 days.

And I'm grateful to Saundra for another idea - who will you dedicate your practice to?

I am dedicating #365StrongStories to you, my dear reader. I am going to tell the stories that I must tell, but only because I think they are the stories that you must hear.