Looking like a true survivor. Well, Elton had it pretty bang on didn’t he? The truth is, when I launched this little blog this time last year, I had no idea that it would be so needed. Not just for me, for my sanity and to express many of the emotions I had kept to myself, but for all of the other women, the survivors, who have contacted me over the past year.
I suppose the question might be; what have a learned? One year on. Well, the more this goes on (whatever “this” is?) the more that women contact me asking things such as “How can I start a blog?” or “How did you grow your Instagram following?“. I wish I could answer, but I am not entirely sure. I didn’t have a plan, but I did have something that I wanted to share with the world, so badly. I felt as though I needed to tell Teddy’s story in full. I wanted to raise some awareness surrounding baby loss; for miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death. A voice for those women, the ones who weren’t sure where they belonged anymore. The ones whose NCT groups had faded to a distant memory, whose friends were perhaps struggling to relate to any of the feelings that they had. That is what Feathering The Empty Nest was born out of.
I suppose that would be what I have learned this past year; have the courage to write about what you feel passionately about, and don’t let the fear of that passion being met with any negativity deter you from what you want to say. It is always, always, the blog posts that I worry most about posting (the ones that I hover my finger over the “publish” button for a good few minutes) that are the ones that invoke the most passion in readers. I suppose, you could say, that if I am feeling that I need to tell the world about that particular subject that much, then there will be thousands of women at home, thinking and feeling those exact things and wanting someone else to say them out loud. I must say, I still hesitate to post sometimes, but not as much.
Writing is my passion, as are words. It has always been the case, ever since I was at school. Yes, I was that annoying person who didn’t try in English lessons, barely paid attention and walked away with A*’s (I know, I want to slap her too). I don’t think I realised how much of a gift the English language was to me, until there was something that I really needed to communicate to the world. Until this point in my life, I have only ever really used it to write a blindingly wonderful complaint letter. Don’t get me wrong, still a great life skill to have, but you’re not going to change the world writing complaints?(Maybe you will, but that’s not why I am here). Since Teddy died, since I had those eight months before I began writing to get my words straight in my head, I feel as though I have finally found a place for my writing. A place where others will read and I can connect with women who, like me, need someone else to understand their emotions of loss. I suppose that’s why when people ask me if I will start a YouTube channel or start adding Vlogs to my site, my answer for now is no. Writing is a true therapy, one which I have become almost dependant on.
I feel as though I have paid an “ode to Instagram” many times before. I really don’t know how, but it seems to have worked so well to raise the profile of our fundraising. Perhaps it was using the hashtag #teddyslegacy, or perhaps it was other people’s willingness to share my page and Teddy’s story that allowed more people to know I was there? I haven’t ever pursued the idea of having more followers, of wanting to “be a blogger” or of having thought that Instagram could provide me with a career; I felt almost certain that it wouldn’t. Perhaps that attitude shows? Follow me, don’t follow me; I really don’t mind. Of course I care about every single person who takes the time to follow our story; but, we are never going to be everyone’s cup of tea, are we? I have no expectation to be.
If I am honest, Instagram most definitely doesn’t provide an income. I think that many people envisage me diving around in my money-pit at home (a’ la Scrooge McDuck) because they believe that social media and blogging must see me pulling in the mega money. Well, I am sorry to burst the bubble, but it’s not the case, for me anyway. In the past year I have earned very little; in fact when I was working I would have earned 2-3 times in a month what I have earned in an entire year of blogging and Instagram. Yep, truth hurts. Except, for me, that really doesn’t matter. We have raised almost £40,000 for charity; all in Teddy’s name. That’s where the important money has gone, and long may it continue. Really, I’m just over here taking a few photos of our home, hanging out with Boris, and cracking a few (bad) jokes along the way.
I know there is a living to be made from social media, but I suppose that just isn’t my main focus. I am in the fortunate position that, at the moment, I don’t need it to pay, so I can be really selective about who I choose to work with. I say “no”far more than I ever say “yes” to collaborations. For every advertisement I do, I probably could have done ten more. That isn’t me being boastful, but just doing my very best to stay true to what my page and blog are about. I would hate to ever appear disingenuous to anyone reading. For this reason, I made a rule for myself very early on when companies began to ask me to work with them, and it’s a simple one. When I get that email, if the company or the product isn’t something I would buy, isn’t somewhere I would shop, or isn’t something I want; I say no. It really is that simple. I see it a little like Marie Kondo’s “Spark Joy” theory with keeping things in your home. If the prospect of that collaboration doesn’t “Spark joy” in me; then I am out. So far, I think this has served me well. I have turned down a big supermarket (because I don’t shop there); a magazine shoot (who wanted me to put my name to Christmas decor from another major retailer that I don’t shop in); an interview for a red-top national newspaper (because I didn’t want Teddy’s story or our fundraising to be sensationalised, and it is my duty as his mother to protect him from that). You see, there are lots of things I could do, but sometimes I think you have to stop, and consider what are you really doing. What is this all about?
The answer for me, is Teddy. It is all for him, and will continue to be, for him. My advice would be this; if you have something that you want to say, that you feel the world might be a better place from you sharing; that you think other people might like to hear, or need to hear. Then do it. Blog about it, vlog about it; shout it from the bloody rooftops. Don’t just sit on it and think “What if?”
Some of the most inspiring people I have come to know, or know of, through Instagram and blogging, are the ones who say it how they see it. The women who are working to make a change in the world; from how we are treated in the workplace; to how Post Natal Depression needs to be recognised and spoken about, rather than us all expected to just “get on with it”. These women are the every day heroes, the trail blazers, the ones who have taken their own experience and suffering to pave a better way for others.
That’s it; my learnings, in a nutshell. So what are you waiting for? Go for it…….