It’s Just a List … Right? Right.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I’m a private person. I know, it’s a little odd to say that and have a personal blog, but it’s true. I’m also a journalist. As a journalist, you tell other people’s stories. And when things go well in that set-up — you report it out, dive deep, get the meaningful answers to the questions — you can walk away with lessons you may apply to your own life. Still, the story is not yours, and your privacy walls can remain high and fences intact.

That said, I’m doing something very outside of my norm: today, I’m stepping out from behind the wall.

Here goes …

On Monday the’s list of top mom blogs for this year was released. Ms. Mary Mack was not on it this year. Now:

I know that these lists are just that, lists.

I know that tying any self-worth to these lists serves nothing.

I know that there are so many bloggers out there doing good work who will never appear on these lists.

I know that you’re not supposed to give a second thought to bloggy things like this, with all the bigger fish in need of frying.

But I also know that, despite knowing all of the above, I still felt cruddy not being included on the list.

Writing this blog can often be like doing a radio show. You talk your talk and hope that people are tuning in. The Babble list is kind of like when a listener calls in. It’s a small spot of  affirmation. Being a writer, those little endorsements and back-slaps of encouragement aren’t just dangling from the ceilings of your home office. There are no performance reviews or raises to work towards. You have to live with the fact that validation is fleeting. You have to trust in the work and surround yourself with people — your army — who will encourage and believe in what you’re doing. And the leader of that core group is you — you’re the general.

Still … cruddy.

Then this morning, I was listening to a podcast while out on a run. It was On Being with Krista Tippett and she was talking to the fantastic Brené Brown about vulnerability, shame and “wholehearted” living. Brown was talking about creativity and said something that made me stop running, rewind and listen again.

“The primary shame trigger around creativity is comparison. It just kills creativity.”

Then a few moments later came another gem from Brown:

“Vulnerability is courage. It’s about the willingness to show up and be seen in our lives. And in those moments when we show up, I think those are the most powerful meaning-making moments of our lives even if they don’t go well. I think they define who we are.”

And then, right there on the sloping hill, I just let go. Let go of the list. Let go of feeling anything other than genuinely happy for the 100 women who are on the list. I turned my thoughts towards this moment instead, when I step out of my comfortable to write this post.

  • 1
    Nailah says:

    Thanks for sharing this! I can definitely identify with that feeling of just needing some sort of validation. I loved reading about how you were able to release that feeling and summon the courage it took to share this story with us.

    • 1.1
      Ms. Mary Mack says:

      Aww, Nailah, thank you. And another big merci for telling me, “Yes, do it. Publish that post!”

  • 2
    Kristin says:

    This caught my breath and held it in my throat. I hope this doesn’t sound like it’s laden with Schadenfreude, but it is an odd sort of affirmation for me to hear someone I respect so much and know writes with more intelligence and care than I could ever hope to voice the same grumblings and thoughts that I have had. And with more reason!

    I’ll tell you this, out of the 100 blogs on the list, I only visit a handful (a hand having four fingers and a thumb) of them regularly. And you’re one.

    Also, when Mom-101 recently asked for “Blogs you think need more attention” – it didn’t even occur to me to put this blog in comments because I think of you as a big ol’ Mama Blogger.

    You know what you need? Some of that old school Brooklyn fuhgeddaboutit.

    • 2.1
      Ms. Mary Mack says:

      You know that you’re in my army, right, Kristin? You’ve been a supporter from Day One, and your encouragement and kind words mean so very much. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

      Also? You just used Schadenfreude. There are some extra points in that.

  • 3
    Nella Cramer says:

    Lesson taught and lesson learned. This is a beaeautiful piece. Thanks for sharing and I am so happy you had the courage to share. Thank you

    • 3.1
      Ms. Mary Mack says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Nella! I was nervous about hitting the “publish” button, but happy I did.

  • 4
    Alicia says:

    Thank you for opening up about this , Nicole. Even being on this platform takes a ton of guts and knowing that bit is its own reward.


    • 4.1
      Ms. Mary Mack says:

      You know what? You’re right! Being out here does take some courage. I’ll take that one and simply say thank you, Alicia.

  • 5
    Erin H says:

    I’m reading and loving your blog! You made my list!