failing forward

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There is nothing more vulnerable than creating & sharing that creation with the world. There will be criticism, good and bad. The alternative is to not share your beautiful gifts with the world and to keep them hidden and safe. What a shame it would be to keep our gifts hidden away so no one can enjoy them. I can’t live that way and I encourage you not to either. Let your creations be seen and shared and marveled at and celebrated.
I’ve been a writer since I learned how to form letters. I have kept a journal every single year of my life and have written so much over the years. I have all of my journals and I wanted to share some of my work with the world. I have to share my writing because maybe my words will help someone else and make their lives easier or less painful in some way. Writing is therapy and makes me a more stable and happier being.
Shortly after I joined the Facebook world 7 years ago, I knew I wanted to start a women’s group. I wanted to share my writing and my joys and my experiences. I decided to start a group called, “just another girl next door” on Facebook. I would post song lyrics, my own writing, inspirational quotes, mantras, & more. It would be a fantastic group and it would inspire the masses and it would all work out just perfectly. I’m an optimist and impulsive and I like to dive right in full force, without thinking things all the way through. Often times, I am on step 4 and have overlooked steps 1, 2, & 3.
While hanging out at home one day, I created this Facebook group, before Brian got home from work. I was going to surprise my husband with this masterpiece. He would smile and tell me how great of an idea it was. He would approve of my choice. Back then, & still at times, I rely & take to heart too much of what other people say to determine my goodness, worth, or relevance. I am a work in progress.
The second he walked in the door, I excitedly showed him what I’d done and told him I just knew it was going to take off. I was ecstatic to share my new venture and had already invited all my girlfriends and written posts and posted a cover photo. I was stoked. Finally, my writing would be seen and not just stuck in a pile of journals, but truly seen.
& then he started in on why it wasn’t going to work. He asked me questions that made me nervous & uncomfortable:

1. How is this group different from the masses? 2. How will you stay relevant? 3. Who is going to read what you have written? 4. Why would they read it? 5. Who is your target audience?

Brian is the logical one, the numbers guy, the think- through- every- single- step- 5 million times- before- you- jump guy. I hated him at that moment. Naturally, I sensed his disapproval and his hesitancy & I started crying and I got mad because he should just believe in me & support my vision.
I knew my group would just take off, naturally and without a hitch. All my closest girlfriends hopped on the bandwagon. I could count on one hand how many supporters I had.I had very few members and no one liked my posts. I wanted to be seen and heard and approved of and help the masses through my carefully selected writing pieces.
I kept refreshing the screen & checking to see how many likes and members- the number barely shifted. So, I tried to shut it down, asked facebook to delete the whole damn thing, and run away and pretend like I’d never tried and that it had never existed. I felt shame. I was embarrassed.
Writing and sharing is scary and hard and unpredictable. It can’t be done without critics. & the worst critic of all was myself.
I kept writing behind the scenes and I kept my writing sacred and hidden away in my treasure box waiting for an opportunity to share my writing, safely. The truth is there are no guarantees in this life. There is no foil proof method of sharing. It just has to be done because you want it so bad and you need to share and you do it bravely and you do it in spite of the naysayers and the haters and the people who say you aren’t going to make it. You do it for you and you do it, even if you are the only one that believes in you. You do it because the cost of not doing it is so high. Your writing and your art need to be seen and celebrated and marveled at. There is no safety net and you must have a strong backbone because not all of the people you have the nerve to share your dreams with are going to believe in you. In fact, some of your closest people will turn out not to be safe people to share your dreams with. They will ask where you will get the money to fulfill such a dream, tell you it has already been done, tell you that you don’t have the experience or expertise to pull it off and tell you a million ways why it will fail, but you freaking do it anyway. You do it anyway and you find those that are dreamers, too, that will help you get to the finish line and will be there cheering you on. You don’t have to know the how, you just have to have the vision and the dream and the universe will pave the way. Just believe. Just keep doing the thing that drives you every single day and don’t stop doing it. Certainly don’t stop doing it because someone you like does not see how it will pan out. You see it and you believe with your whole heart and you find others that can see it, too.
There is no way in hell to create something from nothing without fear and without judgement. Anytime you create, there will be critics and there will be supporters and non-supporters. Not everyone is going to like what you write and that is ok. But to not share your work is dangerous and to live in fear of what may or may not happen is so much worse than letting your talent be seen. Living in what if land is so much worse than being brave and putting your work out there and letting yourself be seen even when you are afraid.
So, fast forward to 2012, after I delivered Hope. Brian had to go back to work and I was scared to death to be left with this perfect being that relied on me for her to survive & thrive. No pressure.  I remember sitting on the couch wondering how I was going to make my way through mama hood without losing it. I sat and I thought and I pondered and threw around ideas in my brain. I thought about it and a light bulb went off in my head- my failure years prior, the group that hit the skids and failed and didn’t work. Oh my gosh, now I have an audience. Now I have this common thread of motherhood & moms. & just like that, just another mama next door was born.
I didn’t know what would happen, didn’t know if a single person would join me in my hunt for support and my desperate longing for connection. It started taking off. Soon, moms that I didn’t even know were flocking in. It was a slow drip and then it grew and grew and we were reaching moms all across the country. & we’ve reached 2740 moms. That means we’ve helped 2800 moms go from not knowing to knowing. My dream materialized!
Had I not failed my first attempt at a Facebook group, jamnd would not exist. Failure is hidden success. Failure gives you perspective and it helps connect the dots for better things to come. Doors close so new and better ones can open. Do not be afraid to fail.
Some of the most brilliant people fail miserably long before they are successful. Failure teaches us how to be better and how to grow and evolve into more than we could have ever imagined.
I’m thankful for the failure of my original Facebook group because it helped give me the idea for jamnd. Thank you, failure!
Do not look at things that do not work out in your life as total losses because perhaps those losses turn into lessons and those lessons turn into brilliant ideas. & don’t you dare stop creating and sharing and visualizing and dreaming.
Don’t Stop Believin’!

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