Recently I participated in the When Words Count Pitch Week-- Meet the Judges event. Basically, this is boot camp to pitch your book to publishers for their Pitch Week event. Vermont was beautiful, the other contestants were lovely, and I got great feedback and constructive criticism on my YA fantasy novel Songs of Autumn.
But, while I was there, my son was rushed the the ER. This is particularly terrifying for me as he is not yet one year old and had an episode a few months ago that doctors are calling an 'unexplained life threatening event'. Naturally, we followed up on this and hit dead ends with no answers until all the doctors and specialists were confident it wouldn't happen again. One time thing. A fluke. Thank God I work in the medical field and my husband is a first-responder by trade.
Only it DID happen again. When I was half the country away and unable to do anything to help him or my husband (who is currently disabled). So right now, coming back to real life means more invasive testing, following up with specialists, and a mountain of uncertainty.
To add to the mess that is my life currently, my husband is slated for a hip replacement surgery next Friday and he's not mobile enough to help me care for our child at all. He's been strong and kind and wonderful through everything. Worried about the stress of our current situation and its effect on me. Feeling the sting of uselessness as he's having to focus on himself right now, and his own recovery.
Two weeks after his surgery, our beautiful son will be celebrating his first birthday. A momentous occasion that my creative mind has been stretched and pulled to coordinate with the help of friends and family. The theme appropriately re-imagined to a swash-buckling pirate party. My then-recovering husband will be able to participate and awe the crowd with his rendition of 'Long John Silver' complete with peg leg and crutch during his recovery. Oh, and a parrot on his shoulder. You can't forget the parrot.
All of this is to say that between work full-time, care taking for my husband full-time, care taking for my son full-time, coordinating help from friends and family to assist in delegating tasks, AND getting all of my writing completed on time is nearly impossible.
But, here's the thing... everyone struggles. And it's true when they say 'when it rains, it pours'. So, i'm struggling right now. So what? Does that mean that working towards my dream of becoming a published author isn't JUST as important? No. Absolutely not. If anything, I want this more because of my struggles. I want to prioritize my family, then when my son is asleep and my husband settled... I want to chase my goals and dive into my dreams like my life depends on it. I mean, doesn't it?
Society tells women that we have to prioritize and take care of everyone but ourselves. Self-care is equated to a day at the spa, or a shopping trip. Some temporary external action to take the edge off. But, I want to challenge that norm.
Self-care means telling women and girls that it's okay to be ruthless in your pursuit of happiness. You don't have to apologize for wanting what you want and for pushing yourself to get there.
I don't want to settle for a nail salon gift card. I want to take risks. I want to invest in myself. I want to set this world on fire with the ferocity of my passion. One day, my book will be published, sitting on a Barnes and Noble shelf... when it is, I will point it out to my son and be able to tell him it was because when things got hard, I didn't give up. I will be able to tell him it was because I didn't compromise my dreams for anyone. That I knew the best service I could do for my family was to be fulfilled, to find my inner strength, to fail brilliantly.
I challenge you to do the same.
Don't give up when things get hard. Dig in. Do the work. Put your pain on the page and let it sing LOUD for everyone to hear. Scream your story at the top of your lungs and NEVER apologize for what you have to tell the world. It's important. YOU are important. Your words matter. Never forget it.