Sunday, April 15, 2012

Meanwhile, back at the Ranch....

This post has a point. A really important one. It's not lost on me that if I have come to the point of putting a disclaimer at the top because it's a really, really long wordy post, I ought to just shorten it instead of... writing more words in a pre-cursory warning-request note.

But then that wouldn't be me. I am Wordy. Kirrily Wordy Whatman. Deal.  And please read to the end, at least, of this post. It does have an important point. Not all about me this time....

When I was in Year 12, my best-best-best-of-the-best-bestie and I took Psychology together. Our teacher was the inimitable (well... that's not quite true, I used to do a cracking impersonation of her back in the day) Mrs McPherson. She would try and be all hip to the kids' jive and believe she was grabbing our attention. How did she do this? By attempting a good ol' bit of stereotypical reverse psychology - ironic, really.

If there was too much chatter amongst ourselves, she tried to regain our focus with a loudly interjected, "Meanwhile, back at the ranch...." from her position at the front of the classroom. She got our attention alright. We would smirk in her direction at the attempt as all lofty teens do. But damnit. It worked. Because it always stopped us in our tracks. Made us listen to what she had to say next, even if we were laughing at her only moments before.

I think about that teacher now and realise that the Mrs McPherson's of the world are the ones who stick their necks out to make change. Whether that change is on a world scale, or closer to home, or hey.... in a classroom of teenagers who just need to pull their heads in for two minutes so their teacher can hand out the course homework before the blessed bell goes.

So, without further ado, I want to direct you, dear reader, to focus your attention "back at the ranch" please.

Today, I have spent the most frustrating hours trying to make my new Wordpress site go live. Without complete control at the server side, at best this has been a stop-start affair. I am very keen to get it going, for several reasons.

Here they are, in no particular order:

1. At the recent Digital Parents conference (DPCON12) I committed myself to a long-held personal project. The stirrings of this began about twelve months ago, when I decided "I really need to make this happen."

And then I did that thing I do so well. I procrastinated the crap out of that idea and talked myself into all the reasons why it was a stupid dream.

But that all changed the moment Brenda Gaddi told me that for services rendered (ie. stacking piles of freebies into swag bags), I could slip my card in to the mix - effectively reaching approximately two hundred conference delegates and sponsor representatives. I gulped down hard on my nerves and dived in head-first. As each bag was handed out, my heart flipped. What were they going to do with that card? Bin it? Bother reading it first? Hand it on to someone who might want it? Store it away for future reference???

Here's the card they received:

2. It seems Sunny Side Up has received a few nominations for the latest big-deal Aussie Best Blogs competition. This is probably a good juncture to introduce you to the button I might plug a couple of times between now and May 9th (there are two streams to this competition if I understand correctly - the People's Choice vote and a panel-judged award).
People's Choice Award

You only get one chance to vote but can give the voting love to more than one blog. SO.... Look, it'd be great if you could use your voting power to check the box next to my little ol' blog title while you're in there. But I'm not expecting any great movement. Over 1,000 blogs have entered this year. I'm gasping in a sea of spectacular writing.

However, there is nothing that can take away the feeling of honour at receiving the recognition of nominations in the first place.

As an aside, I have never loved the word "multiple" more than when Rose from Sydney Writers' Centre used it to encourage me not to let a dicky website glitch turn me off completing the process. What's not to love about that, as a writer?!

Now.... this is where we come to the big stumbling block.

3. Deciding to ride the wave of this encouragement to make my blog the best it can possibly be, I worded Steve up and began to take the plunge into the world of WordPress.

Never before have I been so serious to move across. I have even bought the hosting this time. I have big plans. The biggest being, a dedicated stream to the stories of the babies in our families' past who never made it. There are SO MANY stories out there, layered by generations now. Women who still grieve, believing they have no right, no place to bring up their lost little loves.

Oh how I yearn to give them a place to have a mainstream voice.

WordPress is my go-to for that. I have it all set up. The pages are created! The categories are good to go. The import of this blog's posts is complete. It is all ready to be seen. But..... the server my new hosting is stored on has gone down over this weekend. Cue a slow-motion long-winded "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!" escaping from me as I lunge forward at my computer.

Still no new WordPress version of Sunny Side Up. Will it affect the voting? Meh. It's out of my hands now and in the laps of the Internet Gods.

Never choosing to see obstacles in life as mere coincidences, this is where you guys come in. It's obvious to me that this is appropriate biding time. These stories, the ones buried by years of life, they are not easily extracted from the depths of minds and hearts. The soul searching and contemplation about whether or not the sharing of their family's (or baby/ies') story is a process that I realise will take some time.

In my contact with the few over-60's parents so far who have come forward from these older generations, the very idea that anyone would want to hear about their experience has been a surprise to these mothers whose children did not live. Just pause for a moment and contemplate that.... If you had a child about whom you were so pressed to tell someone, anyone, but you couldn't because you weren't allowed to for decades.... Sad doesn't begin to cover it.

While I'm stuck in this Blogger-WordPress-hosting hell, will you spread the word out there with me? That I am working hard to create the space for their stories to be told, shared, responded to in a supportive and uplifting online environment? That they can be shared anonymously if they wish?

I am starting to see that if it's just me on my own working one-on-one with those I contact - or who find the conference card and respond to me - this will be a very slow project. One I am prepared to stay with. But if any of you carry a similar passion to hear in the words of those women (and men) who have gone before us, I urge you to help me spread the word that they can submit their stories to Sunny Side Up - before these stories are lost back to the earth too, like my grandmother and so many others' grandmothers who have now passed on, leaving their younger generation relatives desperate to hear in their own words their feelings of the grief of losing their children.

It makes a difference. Believe me. It makes such a huge difference to hear it in the words of our forebears before it's too late. It causes me such distress to know that there are so many who think nobody cares or wants to listen because it happened so long ago.

If you can help, I am willing to post out some of the cards, anywhere in the world. Feel free to share this post, or retell in your own words and direct people to email or contact me via my blog, Twitter or Facebook. Everyone is different - I am happy to work in any way they are comfortable: interview style, written short story (maximum 1,000 words or spread over more than one post, etc., if it is longer), whatever they need.

If they have a compulsion from inside them, these mothers and fathers, then they deserve the space to say it.

So here it is. 
An open invitation to all older generation pregnancy, infertility, infant loss survivors: please feel free and safe to come forward.

Now, I have a ranch to get back to..... She's requesting dinner.

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