Monday, October 17, 2011

I found my was all about ME!

There are lots of post-conference posts including inspiration, critique and the like. While I suppose I could mention what I liked and disliked about the format itself, I want to discuss what I learned and how I was inspired by the women who attended this amazing conference.

This year I was lucky enough to have won a ticket to my second Blissdom Canada conference. I was not only thrilled to be going, but this year, I was coming to this conference with so many questions about what was next for me...looking to the women to whom I have been turning for the last 7 months for some ideas.

Since Zack died, I've been in a state of flux. Not sure where my life was heading after my "job" as Zack's advocate was gone. I embraced my role as Zack's caregiver and biggest cheerleader, and without the role that began to define me, where was I to turn?
I had been leading fundraising effforts for Zack's Dream Room , speaking at a few events, and writing about my journey through grief, as a way to keep Zack in my daily life. But now, I wasn't sure what path to take not only for my blog, but for me.

I thought of turning my blog into more than a series of personal stories. Of evolving it into a way to contribute money to my family. I had had incredible support from the brands with whom I worked on Zack's fundraisers, so it seemed like a real option to monetize my blog and start doing paid reviews with brands that I love and respect.

I went to Blissdom seeking the ways in which I could do this- while still maintain my integrity and authenticity...the "brand" that is me...Heather, "TJZMommy", "Zack's mom". Many bloggers work with brands on a daily basis and do it really well. In fact, it seemed that this was very much a common theme throughout the conferences I've attended in the last few months. As the art of blogging evolves, this new source of income has turned several bloggers/writers into entrepreneurs- perhaps even the new wave of "mompreneurs".

As I sat in on the sessions regarding branding and monetizing your blog, I became uncomfortable with this as a direction for me, personally. I can also totally appreciate and respect that this is what other women have done with their blogs but I quickly learned that this is not where I want to go. I started to be more and more convinced that in order to be the truest ME, I had to simply continue to write from the heart. While this certainly won't pay for daycare and skating lessons, it will be authentic and real for me.

I still have a story to can I tell it?

I started to assess the ways in which I could tell my story...other platforms above and beyond my personal site.

I sat in on the session about Community Blogs with Maureen, Minnow and Sarah, Jen and Erica and was instantly inspired to reach out to my friends on the panel, and start submitting some of my blog posts to their prestigious sites. I started to feel confident that by focusing on being a "content creator" I will be able to tell my story to different audiences who might benefit from what I've learned along this journey. I've already shared 3 posts on two of these sites and I'd feel privileged to do more.

How could I use video? I'm a total amateur when it comes to making videos...but what a fabulous way to tell my story to appeal to the emotions of other parents! Videos by my friends; Eric Alper, Laura Berg, Jeff Pulver, and Alison Kramer are true examples of how content can go viral, if they appeal to the emotions and "me too factor" in all of us. My ideas were flowing all over my handwritten notes ('cause I'm old school like that)! Where would I start this video story? What did I feel I could share with a viewing audience, while appealing to their deepest feelings as a parent? How could I spread the word about Zack's Dream Room that truly and honestly explained the question everyone always asks me...."How do you do it?".

I was even lucky enough to speak to the editor-in-chief, of Canadian Family Magazine, Jen Reynolds and discuss ways in which I might be able to share my story with her audience. How awesome would THAT be? After the publishing session, I was motivated to dedicate more time to writing, editing and working on content. I even think that this crazy life might even lead me to a book one day!

The most powerful moment in the sessions was when my talented friend Shannon, created a video to show the moments when Social Media had reached out, touched hearts and changed some part of the world...however small or large. I'm so honoured that she asked if she could share Zack's story with the Blissdom women. Through the tears in the room, it was very clear that the power of Social Media has indeed been used for enormous good.

I came home from Blissdom with the idea of both where I didn't want to take my blog and ways in which I want to evolve it.

It became extremely clear to me that I know what path I'm on;

  • I want to create and run a charitable organization called "Zack's Dream".

  • I want to dedicate more time in my week to working on the art of writing and editing.

  • I want to submit my work to both community blogs and magazines.

  • I need to create a full bio with samples of all the work that I'm really proud of!

  • I am going to do a video, sharing my story, how I am doing it and the mission of Zack's Dream.

Most of all....I realized more that ever, that I have incredible women around me who are support, mentors, inspiration and a source of strength and motivation.

I found my bliss....did you?


Alexandria said...

I'm so happy you found yours!

TJZMommy said...

I kind of like that I really focussed on my goals and what I was looking for as inspiration...I had the muse, but not the path in which to create what I wanted. Feel energized and motivated with what I learned about ME! xox

Tammy said...

What a nice post! I wish you luck and look forward to your new journey!

Mommy Moment said...

Wonderful post Heather. You are an inspiration to many!

mumby said...

Excellent! and thorugh all of this I know you will inspire adn encourage. Parents navigating difficult times will be comforted by your wisdom and strength. YOU GO GIRL!

Susan Ovington said...

I was thrilled that you were at Blissdom and your story about your beautiful son and what you have accomplished so far in your life. Sometimes after a tragedy we have to tweak our roles, but still get the message out there. God Bless your family, and your wee angel xo
Susan Ovington

Rebecca said...

Love love these goals - can't wait to hear about your plans and accomplishments as you move ahead!

Kath said...

So proud of you my friend & so happy to hear that you found what you are looking for. Your writing is so beautiful and true to your heart. I have never once made it through 1 of your posts without shedding tears. Writing is your gift and I can't wait to see where it takes you.
BTW that video Shannon made has moved me more than I can say. I am truly blown away! Her tribute to Zackie was incredible.. I have shivers! luv u xo

TJZMommy said...

Wow...the Bliss is still inspiring me. Thank you Jody, Tammy, Susan and Rebecca for taking the time to read this and comment...that means so much to me.

mumby...I miss you girl.

kath- xox

Sharon said...

I love this Heather. I too walked away knowing I don't want to monetize speed skating mom (right now) and that I want to focus on the message and also that I need to be more proactive instead of just hoping things will come to me because I'm a hard worker. I see so much coming your way in the future. xo

Sherry C said...

Wow .. heather that is so amazing I'm so excited for you. I'd love to go to those conferences your going to. Your going to do so well with your new focus I can feel it already. Good luck with your video I can't wait to see it.

Judy said...

What an inspiring post Heather. I truly believe you have found your purpose in life, and I wish you well on your journey to success!

Mom vs. the boys said...

this is great post Heather, I'm so glad Blissdom helped you to form your path. that video is amazing!!

Penny said...

You are awsome-Mommy,wife,daughter, sister but most FRIEND.You inspire all who know you and Zackie's love. You can do anything you wish to do.
Thanks for letting me be part of Zackie's life.
love to all

Redneck Mommy said...

I'm just here to cheer you on. I can't wait to see what you accomplish and see how many you inspire.

Because you are amazing. Glad to have had a moment with you my sweet friend.

Shasher's Life said...

sometimes we can find out who we are by who we don't want to be, faster than any other avenue.

I'm glad you found your bliss!! :)

TJZMommy said...

Sherry, you really should attend some blogging are so talented! I might need some advice for my video! xox

TJZMommy said...

PenPen...miss you

TJZMommy said...

Sharon and Tanis...I'll need you talented ladies to cheer me on for sure (and do some editing for me??????) thanks for your support...always.

TJZMommy said...

Shash, you are so right!

BLOOM - Parenting Kids With Disabilities said...


I'm so happy to hear this!

Think of you and Zack often. xo

Bubbie Bonnie said...

Wonderful post Heather. Please consider me a resource if you need help with anything. I'd love to do it!

karengreeners said...

I can't wait to see what else you do - and I love that we, as women, were able to inspire each other. Bliss, indeed!

Lisa aka @those2girls said...

So wonderful that you have decided to do what makes you happy!