This post is part of ChicagoNow’s monthly ‘Blogapalooza’ series where bloggers are provided a writing prompt and given 60 minutes to publish a post about it. This month’s writing prompt is: “Write about a decision you made that changed the course of your life, for better or worse.”
This one is easy for me. I remember back in 2011 when my return to the work force after leaving to care for my girl coincided with my decision to start my first blog over on Tumblr. I was adamant I was not going to write about cancer or grief. Pffft. We all know how that turned out.
A couple of months into it, a friend who worked at the Chicago Tribune encouraged me to move my teeny tiny Mary Tyler Mom blog over to the ChicagoNow blogging network. I liked the idea, found it intriguing, but had a few reservations. Would I maintain creative control over Mary Tyler Mom? Would ChicagoNow own my words moving forward? Would I be able to write more than once a week and still have something interesting to say?
I was curious enough to pitch my blog and the community manager there (yo, Jimmy!) responded to it quickly and enthusiastically. It was time for me to decide — would I move my little blog over to the big network?
I dithered, as Libras are wont to do. I imagined the worst and made the decision way more complicated than it needed to be. Choosing to blog on the ChicagoNow platform has literally changed my life, and only in positive ways.
After a few months at ChicagoNow working to find my audience and trying on different writing styles — was I snarky? hip? sarcastic?, I eventually made another decision to come out of the grief closet and reveal to my few but growing number of readers that I was a grieving mom. I introduced Donna and was warmly, fully, and completely embraced by you all Internet folks.
It turns out that moving my blog to ChicagoNow was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
- Telling Donna’s story in serial format in September 2011 turned me into a writer.
- Sharing the beauty and joy and sorrow and brutality of childhood cancer created an army of new advocates wanting to address the funding disparity that exists between adult and pediatric cancers.
- In the past six years, between Donna’s Good Things and St. Baldrick’s, and Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, almost a million dollars has been donated by people who have been exposed to Donna’s Cancer Story and were moved to help in a tangible way.
- I have met amazing, incredible, generous, and talented bloggers from all walks of life that have enriched me in so many ways and who I now get to call my friends.
- My blog posts have sparked enough conversation to get featured on Huffington Post, Fox Business Network, and NPR. For someone who considers herself an out of work social worker, that always tickles me.
- Writing the story of Donna turned into telling her story on stage and now my own story at local storytelling events.
- I authored an essay in an honest to goodness book, yo! Hardcover and everything. And it was published just a few weeks before my Dad died, and I will always and forever have the memory of reading him my essay in an ER room while holding his hand. You can buy that sucker HERE.
- When I got a little bored and fidgety writing only about parenting issues, folks still bothered to read me when I wrote about gun violence, public education, aging parents, health care, politics, and race.
- I started writing for hard, cold cash. People actually pay me $ now for me to write words. How crazy is that?
- There is a Peter Lisagor journalism award with my name on it for writing this post.
- You are here, reading my words.
Honestly, folks, I could go on and on and on about how writing Mary Tyler Mom has changed my life. But it’s after 10, so I am already late for my one hour Blogapalooza time limit. Long story short, deciding to write a little blog I named Mary Tyler Mom and moving it to ChicagoNow has changed my life. Humbled and grateful, always. xox, MTM