Aside from this blog, I really enjoy sharing my story with others. Over the last couple years I’ve been able to speak to other heart parents and healthcare workers about my journey with Nolan. I love helping people know they’re not alone or open others’ eyes to congenital heart defects. Recently I had a chance to take my story a little more “mainstream”. There’s an amazing program for creatives here in Charlotte called CreativeMornings/Charlotte. They set up free monthly speaking engagements where they bring in speakers to inspire others with their stories. It’s really awesome stuff. A couple weeks ago, CreativeMornings/Charlotte was holding an event during a local weekend art showcase called BOOM Charlotte. For this “Audience Takes the Stage” event, 6 people were chosen to speak for about 7 minutes on the subject of risk. I was really excited to be chosen as one of those people! So in the morning we gathered in the Plaza-Midwood neighborhood here in Charlotte and we all told our stories to an audience who mostly never met us before:
It was a really great time! I got to hear stories of hope, dedication, and perseverance…all tied to risk. I enjoyed my time up there on stage…but 7 minutes FLIES by! I talked about how my journey with Nolan inspired me to write this blog, because discovering your child has a CHD is like stepping into the unknown, and I wanted to help others as they make that same journey. That’s a lot to pack into 7 minutes. So now that I have no time limit, I want to share with you some of the things I spoke about and how they can apply to you as a heart parent. You see, it’s not easy to share your story…but if we can do so, we should. The reward is greater than the risk and you can change the course of your life, the lives of others, and even the future of CHD research. So check it out:
The Risk of Being Vulnerable
This was one of the big risks when it came to writing this blog. There wasn’t a lot out there at the time for heart dads by heart dads. But the bigger thing was not just telling a story, it was being open and honest about it. Talking about the times I was scared, upset, frustrated…even talking about tearful moments. Last time I checked, most guys aren’t signing up to talk about that kind of stuff. So I choose to open up as best I can about it and it’s not easy…many times I’d prefer to tell highlights of the story. Being vulnerable is a big risk because there’s a chance – believe it or not – that you reading this might think that I don’t have things together at all. And – spoiler alert – I don’t have it all together. No one’s perfect and life is a process! When you choose to share your heart journey with others, you’re also making yourself vulnerable…but if you take the risk, it will pay off!
The Risk of Facing the Past
Being a heart parent is like climbing a very steep mountain. You work very hard just to move forward and hopefully leave all that old mess behind. When you choose to share your story with others, whether personally or through something like advocacy, it causes you to turn around and face those things you’ve put behind you. The surgeries, the recovery, the hospital smells and sounds. All of it. And if you’ve done it, you know that sometimes it really hurts…like re-opening an old wound. Sometimes we don’t want to talk about it, and I understand that feeling. But when you choose to do that, I gotta tell you: not only do you help others, but you start to heal yourself in the process.
Why the Risk is Worth It
I know that life sometimes feels like an ocean bashing you up against the rocks, but one day you’ll climb up out of the water and onto those same rocks. And you can choose to walk away or withdraw or you can choose to be a lighthouse for others. I hope you choose to use your story to be a light. Tell your story. Whether you help one or help a hundred, it’s always worth it in the end. Is it easy? Not at all. But you can be a fire and every fire starts with a match and every match is lit by friction. So how do you get involved?
· Write a blog!
· Advocate for CHD research! Visit PCHA to learn more.
· Join the tons of CHD facebook groups and talk with others. They need you!
Sharing your story is like stepping into the great unknown…it can be scary sometimes…but remember when you started this journey? You were stepping into the unknown, too, and now you can guide others who are now in the same place.
To learn more about CreativeMornings/Charlotte, visit Charlotte is Creative