My first and probably most important words do not come from me. See, recently I watched the documentary, “Amy,” about the life of Amy Winehouse. I loved it. It was sad and of course I loved how the filmmaker captured her vulnerability. It was fascinating to see video of her before hair extensions, stylists and insane paparazzi. She was flawed (like many of us are). And even with extravagant vacations, fancy eyebrow tweezing and tons of money Amy remained broken. Like the rest of us, she was trying to get along in this crazy world. The world knows about her insane relationship with alcohol and drugs. Come on, she was filmed smoking crack and filmed incoherent while trying to perform. I am sure she struggled with depression (obviously and I, again, like so many, do too). She died very young and honestly, there is a part of me that wonders if her death is what she needed to find relief.
Near the end of the documentary Amy Winehouse had an opportunity to sing with Tony Bennett. Mr. Bennett had handpicked artists to sing with him for his “Duets” album. Amy was one of them. I loved how they sang together. I love how beautiful she sounded and how transparent her nerves were. I loved what Mr. Bennett said: “The very best artists always get the most nervous.” It kind of makes sense.
After Amy Winehouse died, Tony Bennett was interviewed about her death. Picture this. Tony Bennett was walking down the street wearing his smoky-tinted-glasses. In his slightly incoherent-jazzy-voice way he said the following:
“Life is about learning to live.”
As Dave and I walked down a new street the other night, I told him what Tony Bennett said.
“It is profound. It is true.” I added, “And it is about learning to forgive ourselves and those around us.”
People. Life really does go by in the blink of an eye. Opportunities will pass if you are not in the space to grab them. Do not beat yourself up. Move forward and find something else. Mostly, do not be afraid to stand in what you want or what you believe. Remember, you cannot control every aspect of your environment. It is simply not possible. I promise when you mean it least you will upset people most. It is just how the universe operates. PLEASE do not let the possibility that you may hurt someone’s feelings keep you from doing what is best for you. Get your shit together, let go and forgive. The end.
…Ok. So maybe there is a little more.
Exactly ten years ago I was a semi-well known blogger. Upon reflection, blogging (writing for an audience) is one of my great joys. At the time I struggled owning this. Can I blame the fact that I never have felt deserving of my space? Sure. Can I adjust a childhood memory to validate my doubt? Of course I can. Did I step aside so my brother and sister could have the special art classes and be in the high school musicals (without me invading their space)? Yes. I did that too. When I was asked to step aside, my child brain said,
“Beth, you are not worthy.”
As a result, when push comes to shove, when say a college art professor challenges me about “my gift,” I will always freak out. And I will most definitely step aside. Why? It is simple. I cannot believe someone is actually telling me I am good enough. I could never see that people believed in me. I never let the words penetrate, “Beth, you are talented.” Talent was for my brother and my sister. I am certain my parents did not mean for me view life this way. It is just how kids see things. It is how I saw things. I get it. I have also made the same missteps with my own boys.
When it came to my blog, CrazyUs.com, I was also filled with self-doubt and freaked out. I could not comprehend that I deserved a space. I know. It sounds silly. Silly or not. I told you that I was good at self-sabotage. I am an expert at aligning myself with doubters, dieters and critical people. I rationalize warning signs and ignore red flags. So when I had a readership of 20,0000 – 30,000 unique visitors a day, I could not comprehend how awesome my web traffic was. In that early stage of blogging, I had no idea how well I was doing. In fairness, I do not think most of us did. Nevertheless, CrazyUs.com became my thing. It was not a job. It was my passion. It was my therapy, my touchstone and my way to connect. I wrote every day and my words came from my mouth. I did not lie. I did not adjust my stories. My words were my reality. And because I did not know how to believe in myself, I really had no idea about the possibility staring me in the face.
As the words posted each day, I gained notice. I was recognized as Beth from CrazyUs all over the place. It was totally weird and also very cool. I was stopped at airports, the grocery store and church. I was sought out for what I had to say and it felt really nice. Soon I was branching out. I wrote a piece for a magazine and was considering other writing opportunities and sponsorships. When it was suggested I write a book, I actually considered the possibility.
Bottom line is this: I could not see what was in front of me. In spite of all of the opportunity and notice, I had no idea how completely special this moment was. Instead, I doubted and chose to listen to other voices.
Ultimately, instead of cutting myself slack for not being the perfect human, I let my life spin out. I freaked out. I shut my blog down. I ignored a very special and gifted opportunity. I ignored my voice. I ran away from the healing I was offering through my own experience. Then I moved away.
Since August 2006, blogs blew up. Meryl Streep was in a movie that paralleled the life of a food blogger. Female bloggers were traveling to Africa and kicking it with Michelle Obama. Every blogger found ways to make money, to get free stuff and to give that free stuff away. The closest I came to reengaging was a job offer I received in 2009. I was asked to participate with the development of a now very successful blog conference. I declined.
In the end, I quit blogging for various reasons. I quit as an attempt to spare my mom her continually hurt feelings. I also told myself I was quitting in an attempt to save friendships. Ten years is a great training ground. Because my mom is my mom, and we are tied by our love and DNA, we healed, let go and forgave. (I hope) my mom sees I need to do what I need to do. I see that it is completely unfair to expect her no-strings blessings. The friends I broke up with over blogging, well, that was a fascinating experience. It took me a very long time to process that if it was not blogging, something else would have unsettled these people. It also took me slightly less time to see that I do not have the power to fix a friendship or fix a person. Yes. I am human. I still struggle with concept that some relationships will never reconcile. I still hope that my dad and I will high five each other one day. Dreams are fulfilled in Lifetime movies. My dreams are being filled by living my life. As such, I honestly believe we can find a way to healing. [Again] Yes, I will always struggle with the concept that we each see the world through our own lens. Meaning, people will see me the way they choose and there is absolutely nothing I can do to change their perspective.
Interestingly enough in ten years, the pendulum also balanced itself. There are still blogs, but not the crazy explosion. Instead there are the Influencers. What I chose was healing over fame and success. I do not think I am noble. And because I was afraid, I missed my own comet. I have had to forgive myself several times over. Nevertheless, since I stepped away from blogging in August, 2006, my life as a blogger has never ever been the same.
I only wish that ten year ago that I had a supportive voices in my head like the ones I have now. I wish I had a Tony-Bennett voice (yes, all jazzy-voiced and all) on repeat saying: