As influenced by all of you who commented here and Facebook that you would be interested in seeing a weekly feature with interesting folks who I find inspiring and you might too.
Don’t be thrown off by the tile of the following author’s blog, that’s right, author (inspiration point 1 – check!) While she is a self-admitted horror fan, her blog is not just full of typical monsters, it goes deeper than that tapping into all of our proverbial monsters but with a lens full of wit, insight, healing, love, and humor. As I have been following her journey, I felt as if the quote above is a lovely depiction of the place from which has come to where she is now…full of grace in the way that grace involves making peace with your ghosts, haunts and monsters so that you can, as Deb will tell you, invite them in for a cup of coffee.
I first encountered Deborah Bryan when she started dropping by my blog leaving lovely comments. Her ability to share little bits of herself here intrigued me so I wandered over to check her out, and was blown away by what I found. There were a few things that struck me:
1. Things we have in common: We are both from Oregon, she grew up in Eugene where I went to college, she taught English in Japan like me, she has a two year old like me, and the fact that I too have some monsters in my closet from long ago with people I care not to mention today, but in some ways our experiences are not far removed.
2. The power of her writing. Her ability to vacillate between humor, healing, sarcasm, and addressing her own Monsters is truly magical.
3. Her strength, spirit and gratitude are so inspiring.
4. Her smarts, commitment, and willingness to somehow organically ride her coattails. I have learned a great deal from her about this space in a short time. I work in the space and so while theoretically I knew what to do, as is always the case, execution is where things happen, and thanks to her, I got a very special nudge and am now flying a little higher.
Seeing her name in the comments on my blog and support on Facebook, helps give me that special ‘newfavoriteday’ aurora that makes each day better! So without further adieu I give you, The Monster in Your Closet.
Shannon: Why is your blog called, The Monster in Your Closet?
TMiYC: At first I wanted something linked to the title of my first book, The Monster’s Daughter. I’m a horror fan, so I decided to use the word “monster.”When I thought of monsters in the context of my own life, I thought of how people have often been shocked when I talk nonchalantly at my past. This is linked to a facial expression that I caption, in my brain, as: “Holy wow, there are a lot of monsters in your closet!”We’ve all got monsters in our closet. I personally find they’re much less scary when we say “rawr” back, then invite them for coffee.
Shannon: If someone joins you now in your blogging journey, where would they find you now from where you came/started?
TMiYC: I started a “public journal” in 1995. There wasn’t any way for people to comment directly, but a lot of folks emailed me. One email that sticks with me was from a man who said he never thought he’d see anything so human come out of a machine.That’s one starting point of my online journaling journey, but I was such a different version of myself then, it’s hard to see that as the beginning of my “blogging” journey. I started my blogging journey because someone advised that for new authors. I’d meant TMiYC to be a writing blog, but found quickly that I (a) didn’t really enjoy reading writing blogs and (b) had other things I wanted to write about.I wrote one post about abuse early on, but I still saw that as linked to my first novel. Later, as I started meandering away from the topic of writing, I found an amazing sense of catharsis at writing about those monsters in my closet. It wasn’t just organizing my thoughts that made me push further and more passionately down that path. Rather, it was seeing how people responded to that honesty, and getting to see myself and my past–allof the world, really–through commenters’ eyes.I can honestly say blogging has been the best therapy of my life, not just for the release of setting words free, but for the connections it’s allowed me to develop with bloggers and readers. I love it.
Shannon: You have been through some significant and challenging experiences, how do you feel about sharing those in your blog?
TMiYC: The first time I wrote something that felt like I’d just cut open my chest and laid out my heart for the world to see (“The love inside, you take it with you“), I fretted about clicking “Publish.” I feared I’d get a bunch of inappropriate comments or find people going, “Um, wow, that was awkward.”The responses in comment, on Facebook and in email were so positive and beautiful, I felt empowered. I decided I’d take more risks. Taking those risks resulted in even greater rewards of freedom and peace.Every time I’ve debated whether to post something sensitive, I’ve found only support, encouragement and love. I’ve gotten some thank-you emails that help me see my words have touched others, and that inspires me to keep doing it. If someone else feels a burden lightened through my being open in this way, it’s worth it!And yet, I still sometimes hesitate to publish!
Shannon: What inspires you in your daily life?
TMiYC: My little boy, and memory of my mom as a child myself! I was terrified of becoming a parent, but since the moment I met my son, he has been my inspiration. Through him, I remember how much my mom loved me, and know that my living well–as a mom and as a person–allows my mom’s light to keep shining.
Shannon: What do you think is your greatest accomplishment and why?
TMiYC: I’ve accomplished many things, but I don’t think of them as “accomplishments” usually. They’re just things I’ve done because they seemed fun, or interesting, or because I was very bored. Most of the things that feel like accomplishments to me have been emotional undertakings.From that perspective, I would say that my greatest accomplishment was choosing hope. I spent most of my younger years not sure I’d even survive them, let alone do anything of note. I thought happy people were stupid and scorned them, loudly and proudly.There came a point where that wasn’t enough. I realized that I couldn’t change everything that had happened or would happen to me, but that I could change my perspective. I started being thankful for things, and saying kinds words, until bit by bit I built a life that’s sometimes a struggle but always a blessing.
Shannon: What are 3 things you hope people will take away from spending time your blog?
1. The fact you start out broken doesn’t mean you won’t ever be whole. It just means you’ll enjoy all the more every glued-together piece you get closer to whole.
2. Forgiveness makes the world better. Forgive others. And definitely, absolutely forgive yourself, knowing you can and will do better next time. You’ll be happier for this, and that happiness will flow into everything you do.
3. There are very few situations that can’t be made at least a little funny by stick figure illustration!
Shannon: What are you grateful for today?
TMiYC: I’m grateful to have been offered the chance to be interviewed for your blog, and the hour I got “off” to do it!
Shannon: Would you please leave us with a pearl of wisdom to help make it our readers ‘newfavoriteday?’
TMiYC: Find something to feel thankful for. Once you’ve found one thing, it’s easier to find others.
This shouldn’t be at the cost of feeling sadness or anger. It’s important to feel these things as part of releasing them; if you try suppressing them, they’ll just fester and grow even uglier.
Face them, grieve, rant, scream into your pillow, and then look yourself in the mirror and say: “I don’t need to be perfect to be perfectly awesome.”
I hope that you feel inspired and grateful and all around good today as you read about Deborah and TMiYC. Thanks for being here and making today ‘mynewfavoriteday’ I hope it is yours too!