Tuesday 13 September 2016

Blogging: Not Always Easy but it can Change Your Life!

In Ethiopia with BritMums Jen Howze, supermodel Maya Haile and Cherry Friedmeyer, Director of Women at Risk

Having been blogging since 2008 it is now easy to see that the same things come up time and time again. Every 18 months or so you get a few bitchy people who are jealous of the opportunities that other bloggers have been offered and they start to stir up ill feeling. You see posts, tweets and general ill feeling towards a few, often the very successful few and sometimes the most vulnerable. It is so depressing.

The accusations of cliques (or more recently tribes) begin to flow and many bloggers start to question why they are doing it. 'Who needs this kind of controversy and animosity?', 'I only started my blog as a memory trove for my family' and 'thats it, I'm out of here' are the kind of statements you see shared. Sadly I've seen dozens of really decent bloggers stop writing and sharing because others have targeted them.

Yet here I am eight years on and the nasty trolls didn't manage to scare me away. I've had two particularly bad blogging times when I easily could have thrown the towel in, but no, I'm still here. I'm not sure what has made me so resilient, maybe it is my faith or maybe it is because I believe I am doing important work.

It took me quite a few years to realise that my aim wasn't to become a blog star, I wasn't interested in being the biggest and the best. Yes it was super nice back in 2011, 2012 and 2013 to be in the top 10 of the Teads (then ebuzzing), TOTs100 and Vuellio (then Cision). It was amazing to receive an award for my outstanding contribution to blogging in 2013. Of course it has been fantastic to earn a living being self-employed writing these last three years and the wonderful holidays and days out have been sensational; opportunities my kids could never have enjoyed any other way.

No the highlights for me of blogging have been two fold. Firstly, I found so many amazing online friends. These are people from all walks of life and we are all completely different. People of different faiths, races, ages, sexes and priorities. When I have an issue these are my go-to people. If I need a favour, these are the ones I ask.  When I want to celebrate, it is them I share my joy with. There is nothing exclusive or cliquey about us, we just found each other at the right time and we support and champion one another. We also, probably more than anything else respect the beauty of difference.

And the second reason? Well, blogging changed my life. Or more accurately some particular opportunities I received through my blog have changed my life. It sounds so trite doesn't it? What, writing a few hundred words a few times a week changed your life Michelle? But yes, really.

Through blogging I started to be more exposed to charity campaigns and particularly to the plight of those living in extreme poverty. I just don't have the skill or the right words to be able to help you understand the depths of the change in me. Of course I now know that the changes were God inspired and that to move from someone who grew up believing that 'charity begins at home' to become someone who's heart is broken with compassion for those living in the most challenging circumstances is nothing short of a miracle.

With awesome campaigners Karen Cannard and Hayley Goleniowska at BritMums Live 2015

Travelling to Ethiopia with ONE in 2012 and then to Washington D.C. in 2014 for the #AYASummit opened my eyes and ears to a whole new world. I love the relationship I have with ONE and I am so proud to be able to work with them and do what I can to play my part in putting an end to extreme poverty. Of course I only have a small part, but like in any big picture, all the components need to come together to reveal the result.

Last week I was on a conference call to the US with ONE and I couldn't wipe the smile off my face as I thought of the amazing people I have met over the last five years of being involved with them. It was great to hear what they are now up to and where they want me to focus my attention. I still can't believe that this power organisation in the US found little old me and believed in me, invested in me, nurtured me and continue to inspire me.

Thank you ONE and particularly Jeannine and Ginny. You have helped me believe I can do anything. That is a gift. I can never express my gratitude to you ladies. You changed me. I love you.

You might not have heard of ONE, many people haven't but it was co-founded by Bono and is a massively successful non-partisan advocacy and campaigning organisation. Why don't you head over and find out a little more.

Thanks, Mich x

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