I’m probably the only person who had never heard of Desiree Campbell prior to Elevate this year. Desiree has built a DIY blogging empire at her site The 36th Avenue, which until a few days ago I had never visited. She has also built an impressive following on Pinterest, which I also had no idea. I only tell you this because in true Elevate fashion, meeting Desiree was exactly what I needed this year. Two thousand and fourteen has been a rough one. One of doubt and worry, one of second guesses and the urge to wave my white flag. In the weeks leading up to Elevate I had begun to question myself and my direction with this blog. After three years was it becoming too much? Was I about to fizzle out? Then, Desiree happened.
I cannot accurately describe the firecracker and explosion that is Desiree. She is the definition of passion. She is five feet of combustible energy. She started out by saying that when her husband asked her what she was going to teach the women of Elevate, she replied “Women cannot be taught, only inspired”. Well, Amen sister.
What you notice first about Desiree is her thick accent. When she speaks you feel like her words take on a life of their own. You can feel her words, as if they want to dance with you. The surprising thing is that Desiree’s accent wasn’t always her prized possession. It was something that she was once ashamed of. She told us a story of being new to the United States and new to a secretarial job where she had to answer phones, with what she says was her broken English and her heavy accent. At one point she says she cried in the bathroom at her office and wished she didn’t have her accent. She didn’t want to sound the way she did. She didn’t want that piece of her that made her who she is. She says that in her moment of weakness she realized that her accent tied her to years of lineage. Her mother, her grandmother, her grandmother’s mother. In addition she sounded like her sisters and her aunts. Why would she wish such a thing away? She says today she is most thankful for her accent because it’s what brings people to her. She is so right about that, her accent is magnetic. You can’t listen to her speak without wanting to know more about her, you literally gravitate towards her.
Desiree said that now she is proud of her accent. That she owns it one hundred percent, because at one time it brought her so much shame but now it brings people to her. People gravitate toward her for the one thing that she had been ashamed of. That my friends brought tears to my eyes.
Because this blog brings people time and again to read about the thing that once brought me such shame, my battle with perfecting motherhood. At one time in my life I was so ashamed of the kind of mother I was. I was ashamed that I wasn’t the perfect mother with babies who slept through the night, and good boobs that produced breast milk. I was ashamed that my kids slept in my bed and ate chicken nugget dinners five nights a week. I felt so alone in my struggle and was so embarrassed at how I let motherhood get the best of me. Until I decided to share those follies. It was only then that I realized that I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t the only mom out there trying to be perfect in an imperfect world. By sharing what once brought me shame, I was able to find redemption and confirmation. I was able to leave the shame and find solace in knowing that motherhood wasn’t my biggest failure, but my biggest achievement. According to Desiree, motherhood is my accent.
According to Desiree, everyone has an accent. Maybe it’s your life long struggle with your weight. Maybe it’s your recent battle with depression or anxiety, or a recent battle with motherhood. Maybe you have your grandmother’s nose, or her butt, but no matter what you have, you too have an accent. You have something that makes you uniquely you, and let me tell you something, it’s what people like most about you. Your accent makes you human, it makes you real, it makes you, YOU.
There were so many other lessons that Desiree taught that day. Lessons on social media, lessons on interacting with your readers, lessons on having an assistant. But for me the biggest lesson was that I have an accent. An accent that I am proud of. An accent that makes me human and flawed and perhaps even beautiful in my own way. An accent that has been such an instrumental part in growing into the person I am today. I was lucky enough to thank Desiree when I was leaving Elevate. I cried, and then she cried and then of course we laughed and hugged, and I left knowing that once again Elevate knew exactly what I needed that weekend.
Everyone has an accent, so don’t be ashamed. Embrace your accent, and you just might find, it’s the absolute best part about you. It’s what makes the people in your life gravitate towards you.