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Yesterday I was listening to a podcast about why blogging is important for your speaking career. (Yip, I’m that awesome. I wasn’t out wearing a business suit riding the elevator to the top floor of a prestigious law firm in New York City, nor was I climbing an ice-covered mountain. I was listening to a podcast … about blogging … for speeches.)

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Anyhoo …

The guest on the episode was a professional speaker who also runs a blogging business. It was fun for me to listen to, because I really do love this blog. There were many validating reasons for why someone like me should have a blog, but I really didn’t need them, because writing the JM Stebbins blog has been very self-fulfilling. (*I’ve been asked numerous times recently as to the title of my blog. I thought quickly and creatively to answer.)

I know what I get out of my blog, but sometimes I wonder what others do. Granted, I can look at the numbers, states, and countries. I can count visitors and site sessions. But I cannot see inside your soul. I don’t always know what moves people (unless they tell me, which a few people do, but surely not everyone does all the time). I can’t always predict what topic or issue will resonate, either.

I always go on gut instinct. Sometimes it takes me a day, months, or years to learn why I was doing something, and I’m always pleasantly surprised when I learn there’s a legitimate and sensical reason to do it. Having a website and blog felt natural and like a necessity when I founded JM Stebbins. But why?

Well … I knew the book wouldn’t come out for a while, so I figured it would be good to give people a snapshot into me, my story, and my bad jokes in the meantime.

I knew that I wanted to spread AE awareness through writing, so I needed to write. I knew I wanted to speak, so I assumed people getting a feel for my story, talent (lack thereof), and thoughts would be important to my potential speeches.

I knew that a void remained so deep in my soul, from the Tuesday that I left my law firm never to return, that I needed to refocus my purpose by sharing my story or be left in bitter despair. After all, busy hands are happy hands.

I hoped that the same six people who listen to my podcast would also read my drivel. And my wildest expectations have been surpassed on both mediums.

And while I love it when people comment on the social media shares or reach out to me via a message, I don’t gauge the success of my blog by the likes. My benchmark for this blog is the true joy I get in writing it. Feeling the muse hit me. Seeing the world through the eyes of a writer. Crafting a strong story and matching the perfect song to capture the mood.

And while sharing my triumphs is nice, I believe it’s more important to openly share my struggles, my grief, and my setbacks. Why? you ask. Because I know you have them too, and I don’t want you to feel alone.

We’re all just trying to get through life without hardship and loss, but it lurks everywhere. I know how much it means to me when a friend says, “I need medication to sleep and I will take it long term.” “I have anxiety too. I have to stay busy.” So I hope that my words are that vindication for you sometimes, too.

Before Christmas, I received the nicest gift from my neighbor and dear friend, Kathy. It came in a little, white paper sack, from a drug store. And inside it, were two bags of orange slice candy. I burst out laughing. And she said, “Never forget that there are people reading your blog.” (*If this reference is lost on you, please see my earlier post “It’s a Big Ol’ Goofy World.”)

That truly moved me and reminded me that there are people I know who fervently support me, like her, and people who follow along that I’ll never know. The souls and hearts of those whom Google analytics cannot define.

Like the lady who reached out to me last week, and said, “I want to have a baby, but I have AE. I was referred to you as someone to talk to.” Little old me. So miniscule in the universe. So small even amongst my tiny, rare community. But someone she could share with and maybe feel close to in a time of need. I hope like anything she can have a beautiful, healthy baby post-AE, just like I did.

And I sure hope my writing this blog means something to you. Write on! And party on!


Hello, it’s me I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet

To go over everything They say that time’s supposed to heal ya But I ain’t done much healing

Hello from the other side I must’ve called a thousand times To tell you I’m sorry for everything that I’ve done But when I call, you never seem to be home

Hello from the outside At least I can say that I’ve tried To tell you I’m sorry for breaking your heart But it don’t matter, it clearly doesn’t tear you apart anymore ~ Hello by Adele

Photo Cred: This is Gus, my “Uncle” Tony’s dog. Uncle Tony Bender is one of the greatest satirists on earth, and is also one of the greatest writers and guys I know. He shared this picture with me, and I love it, because I feel like Gus is saying, “Hello” (but I don’t think he’s apologizing for breaking your heart, and neither am I, I just like the song).


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