Inspiration sometimes comes when we least expect it. Over the holiday season something happened to me and I can’t quite explain it. It is as though I had an epiphany. Something inside me changed. I think it was that I found “my voice”. More precisely, I released the parts of me that I was holding back. I had a new found desire to share all of me and not just the mother, autism advocate and runner parts of me. I had found mentors who encouraged me to share with the world the best parts of myself – reminding me not to be afraidto share my gifts with the world. That it is an obligation rather than an indulgence (thank you – Rachel Hollis).
Things aligned magically when I was asked to speak at “The Lilas Society”. Founded by Desiree and Joelle – two friends seeking to bring women together to share their stories. They have successfully created a safe space for women to commune. I was told that I had 15-20 minutes to speak on whatever parts of my life story I wanted to share (sorry it took me 26 minutes). At 46 years old I have a lot of stories to tell. The task seemed daunting merely because I thought where do I begin? Do I talk about infertility, autism, motherhood, failures or successes – where do I start?
Over the past 10 years whenever I have addressed a group of individuals it’s usually about my work as an autism advocate. I am so much more than that! Here I was given the opportunity to express how. As a middle-aged woman I wear many hats: wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, teacher, leader, advocate, athlete and student. Where to begin? I wanted to find a way to inspire the 100 women in attendance. I thought merely talking about myself would be a bore fest. Therefore, I set out to create an analogy that could apply to everyone in the room. I would take the analogy and use examples from my own life (the analogy is that of “planting a seed” to build a garden – published in my January 24th, 2019 blog).
My daughter Manisha was a huge source inspiration for what I would say. We had recently had a conversation about a thing called a “personal project”. The personal project is a year long project that the students who are part of the “International Baccalaureate” program have to partake in – in order to receive an IB certificate at the end of their high school studies. They can do the project on absolutely anything they want. Sounds fun – right?! Wrong! It can often times be overwhelming for the students. It’s like going to a restaurant with too many choices on the menu - we get overwhelmed and confused. Of course, for a percentage of people its not a problem but for some it can be. Then there are words like passion, dreams and goals used in an attempt to spark an idea for their project. The problem is that not only teens but adults too do not have passions or dreams because the concept is too BIG and scary. That conversation with my daughter made me aware that women needed to be encouraged merely to try new things, step outside of their comfort zones, take up a hobby or embark on an adventure – take the first step and see how it feels. Live in the moment rather than worry or fixate on the end result. It took me 32 years to find my first passion in life and that was running. It happened by accident – I wasn’t looking for a passion it just happened because I took the first step. Therefore, the overall message I wanted to deliver was all related to my seed and garden analogy….plant the seeds and your garden will grow.
I set out to pour my heart onto paper. I wrote, edited and read it aloud. It was important that what I had to say resonated with the audience. The end goal was to inspire through sharing my story, especially the parts I was reluctant to reveal. Actually when I practised my speech on family members I chocked back my tears not wanting to cry. The speech I had written rendered me vulnerable to this group of women. I was secretly terrified that my message wouldn’t be well received because my message was a grand statement of what I believe to be true. I was making a strong declaration but that is what the Lilas Society is all about – being afraid and doing it anyway. When I practised on my daughter she was learning things about me for the first time. She learned how hard it was for me when Keyan was first diagnosed with autism. She learned that her mom had suffered from generalized anxiety and panic attacks. It was hard for me but sharing with her released me of the ugly feelings it held over me.
Speaking that evening was like going to church. It is as though I went to confession revealing to the priest all the things I was ashamed of. Standing on a stage and speaking into a microphone I felt as though all that had burdened me was released. A life well lived is full of mistakes and regrets, trial and errors. Up until now I have lived an incredibly complicated and beautiful life.
As I look to the future I am bubbling over with excitement. I see a new chapter in the life I have created for myself (family) and it includes more writing, reading, speaking and revealing. You know when you unlock a secret door there is no going back – no unseeing things – well that is how I feel. I have some incredible projects on the go and regardless of the ultimate outcome I know firsthand that is all about the journey. I hope you will stay tuned to find out more. For now I will continue to share my life with you on my social media platforms and right here on my blog.
In conclusion, I want to thank Desiree and Joelle for giving women a platform. The opportunity you gave to me wasn’t lost – in fact, it has inspired me to continue. I want to take my writing and turn it into speaking. A life well lived is meant to be shared and all I want to do is SHARE.