Monday, March 14, 2016

True Empowerment

This past weekend I attended the first annual eLectio Publishing author’s conference.  Just in case you aren’t aware, eLectio is a small independent press who published my fiction novella, Absolved. (You can find my book by clicking the link here) 
 I doubted I would go upon first learning of the conference.  I’ve been so busy with kids, obviously. It is a good busy, please do not misunderstand my use of the word. It is a wanted busy.  However I allowed this busy to be my excuse to stay away from anything else, including any book marketing or promotion.  It’s a valid excuse, yes?  I mean, come on. Six kids under the age of seven.  It’s a battle to even shower daily. I’ll be straight forward about that.

The truth is, however, I could have put some time and effort into putting my book out there. The kids weren’t really holding me back.  I was just afraid.  Afraid of criticism (which really, I need to welcome as it can help me) and I was afraid of friends and family having negative opinions of my work. Terrified, honestly.

The conference has changed me a bit. Why? A combination of occurrences. ( God knew I needed this conference) The first was the motivation provided to me by speakers at the conference. One example of this was some words that resonated with me from internationally renowned speaker and author Mike Rodriguez.  He told us that we are each the CEO’s of our own lives, and that we ourselves are the ones that dictate whether or not negativity will live in our minds.  He told us to stop allowing the opinions of others to dictate our actions. Simple as that. Opinions are opinions. They hold no weight unless you allow them to. And of course this is true. It can be uncomfortable, putting yourself out there, exposing yourself to the opinions of others.  But uncomfortable is GOOD.  Comfort doesn’t usually move you. “In order to have, you have to do,” he said. And that can be uncomfortable. But success never comes comfortably, does it?

The second big takeaway from this weekend was how inspired I was by my fellow authors. We all come from different areas of the country, have different backgrounds, fit a different demographic….and yet we all share a common core in our love for writing. We really felt like our own little community despite our differences.  It was wonderful.  They each inspire me to commit to my work as they have and as they are.

Thirdly, and the biggest takeaway for me personally from the conference, is how empowered I felt by my publishers. It is important I share this so let me explain. Put yourself in my position for a moment.  I have six kids. The youngest is 7 months old, is still nursing, and does not take a bottle.  In order for me to attend this conference, I had to have her in tow. I was nervous to ask if she could come along with me – but I worked up the courage and asked eLectio CEO Jesse if I could bring my daughter with me to the conference. You all know this already, he said yes.  He said that he is a father of three daughters and he understood.  And off we went, baby and me.  Even though Jesse had said it was alright, I was still nervous to take her.  I was worried it wouldn’t be received well, a baby at a conference.  I imagined getting dirty looks and having whispers behind me of “what the heck is a baby doing at an author’s conference?” 

Not only was my Marian Grace allowed to be with me, she was welcomed. Embraced. She was treated so sweetly by my fellow authors.  eLectio CEO and COO even jokingly gave her the title of “future eLectio author.”

My experience was one that made me feel proud. Proud of being both mother, and author, at the same time.  I can and am doing both. This conference made me feel empowered.

If you’ve already read my book, you know the story involves a post-abortive woman. You know she regrets her decision to terminate her pregnancy, and for some of you reading now, you know this feeling personally. You know it is a very real and painful regret.  While we are on this, I need for you to know that exists for you.  You are never alone in this.

I mention this because I can’t help but think of the pro-choice side and what I have heard from them before: that abortion is empowering.  That abortion liberates women.  I want to tell you that it isn’t.  That is a lie. The abortion industry may say that a child will hinder your plans, a child may get in the way of your dreams. Slow you down in life.  Those are lies. All lies.  I want to tell you that having your children, not terminating them, is what is empowering.  Truly.  Bringing a baby to a conference? Empowering. Giving birth? Empowering.  Adopting a child? Empowering.  Spending every ounce of your energy raising human beings to be decent, good, honest adults? THAT is empowering.  It takes real strength to parent well.

Society may not always put a lot of emphasis on the value of parenting.  Our culture might tell you that it’s just too hard.  Meanwhile, other hard things are praised.  Training 6 days a week for a triathalon? Amazing! Good for you!  Working 60+ hours a week to get ahead at your job? Amazing! Good for you! Going to school full time while working full time? Amazing! Good for you!  Raising little kids? Changing dirty diapers, cleaning up after them all day, teaching them about the world?  UGH! Sorry for you. How about you use some birth control and give yourself a break??

See where I am going with this?  The great is found in the hard. This is true with all of those aforementioned things such as athletic events, degrees and more.  But what the world may not always mention is that the great is in the hard of raising children too.  It really is.  You know what?  It’s empowering.  Authentically empowering.  If you are a parent reading this, do not – under any circumstance – underestimate the value of what you do. What you’re doing is invaluable.  Not only to your children, but to the society which you are raising them to take a part in.  You deserve every accolade in the world. Be proud of your title as parent.

Until next time…