where my strength is

dogwoods

Years ago, I took Karen Walrond‘s Pathfinder course.1 Through a series of fun and insightful exercises, I identified my strengths – my superpowers – celebrating, savouring, connecting, and storytelling.

Our strengths are our greatest opportunity for growth, according to Danielle LaPorte. Rather than being well-rounded generalists, she says we should focus on going deeper into and honing the edge of where we excel.

Since last spring, I’ve missed connecting with you here. I’ve wanted to share stories, but I held back. For two reasons.

First, I was putting most of my word-making efforts into the YA manuscript that has held my creative attention for nearly six years. I’ve made real progress in this last year, despite health issues, training a young puppy, and navigating several crises in our immediate and extended family. Every year has something – this is life. I used to berate myself for not being able to be at my best creatively in the midst of things being lifey.

Not anymore – both because I know that there isn’t a great gong hammer that will swing at my head if I don’t do this by a particular date,2 and also because I’ve learned that I do not have to be always at my best creatively. Sometimes it is good to simply get words on the page. I can edit them – and make them better – later. I am a great editor. And my words are not so precious that I cannot change them.3

The second reason has been harder to talk about – which is kind of the point.

Last spring I dealt with a stalker situation. Some would say that meant I’d arrived, but this wasn’t a random stranger who found my work online. This was a person from my way-past, from another country and a half a continent of time and distance. And while he was a polite version of a stalker, I was completely unnerved by how hard he must have worked to find me, how committed he was to getting me to engage.

So, I retreated. I said nothing about it. Not here or anywhere else.

I was silenced.

Silent.

Am I saying that was his intention? I doubt he thought that was his intention. But wasn’t it the point? To make sure I knew that he could find me? That he knew things about the life I’ve led since I last saw him, decades ago? That he was watching?

I was utterly creeped out. I felt his gaze everywhere – online and off.

I stopped posting here.

Silencing happens everywhere, at every level of society. Any time someone in the hegemony, someone with privilege – someone in power – wants to stifle discourse, voices are silenced. Women, people of colour, LGBTQ and other disenfranchised groups, immigrants – documented or not – and on and on.

In the face of this silencing, women fear judgement, harassment, and assault; Black people fear the brutal effects of systemic racism; LGBTQ people fear shunning, exclusion, or worse; new immigrants fear they won’t be welcome in their adopted land. These fears shape behaviour, usually in limiting ways.

It’s hard to live out loud – freely – when you are looking over your shoulder.

In the grand scheme of things, this stalker experience of mine was minor. I get that. I am safe. I likely wasn’t ever in danger. There are people in the online realm who – because of explicit threats – fear for their physical safety where they live. There are many people around the world (and in the US) whose voices are silenced by militaristic regimes.

I am done being silent.

I have things to say and stories to share. My superpowers want to come out of hiding, to practice and grow again. I’m ready to hone that edge and shine.

I’m back.4

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