Cathy Chester | An Empowered Spirit

Why I Thank You For My Fifth Birthday

The ringer on my cell phone woke me early this week. When I finally grabbed it there were dozens of LinkedIn messages congratulating me. Congratulations for what?

LinkedIn remembered something I forgot. It was An Empowered Spirit’s fifth birthday! I paused to think about that fateful day when my trembling hand almost didn’t push the PUBLISH button on my computer.

All 97 words of a post that no one read.

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I had no idea what I was doing, no clue about SEO, keywords, snippets, widgets or alt tags. All I knew was I wanted to write, to use the power of my words to try and ease people’s anxieties about whatever adversities they were facing.

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Fun (and delicious) lunch out with writer friends at Binder Con NYC 2014

I‘ve learned a lot since then, more than I imagined. The first thing I learned is that blogs don’t succeed without the support and loyalty of its readers.

An Empowered Spirits’ readers are intelligent, compassionate and inspiring. I feel their love in the comments they write. When they trust me with their stories of sorrow, happiness or tragedy I feel a sense of responsibility to continue earning their trust with each consecutive post I write.

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Lunch with some of my wonderful friends from the MS community

I learned what resonates most with readers are not platitudes, starry skies or rainbows. What resonates is honesty, by wearing my heart on my sleeve and holding nothing back from my story. I think of what Elizabeth Lesser wrote in her book Broken Open:

“If we do not suffer a loss all the way to the end, it will wait for us. It won’t just dissipate and disappear. Rather, it will fester, and we will experience its sorrow later, in stranger forms.”

Readers yearn for the truth, and in those golden moments of connection we help one another rise above our challenges. Whether it’s disability, sadness, anxiety, anger or loss we can, as Sheryl Sandberg says, lean into each other to find our strength. Together.

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My blog opened the door to an invitation to write and meet incredible speakers at the New Jersey Speaker Series

I’ve met incredible, like-minded bloggers, both off and online. We are kindred spirits traveling this midlife journey together, helping each other feel less alone during life’s joys and sorrows.

In those moments social media is at its best.

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I am a proud blogger for the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers. I’m also proud of my longtime friendship and association with its CEO, June Halper

I adore the Multiple Sclerosis community. They face illness with intelligence, faith and bravery. They lift my spirits by facing their challenges with hope for better medicine and a cure. I am blessed to know every one of them.

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Bloggers at Midlife Conference 2015 (A few chicks sitting around talking, learning and laughing in Nashville!)

I believe my diagnosis was given to me for a reason, to lead me to my life’s purpose of writing and advocating for others. An Empowered Spirit has provided me with a platform for that.

The people I’ve met, the places I’ve traveled to, the conferences I’ve attended and the friendships I’ve cultivated have molded me into one grateful blogger,

All blessings, indeed.

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I met these two incredible ladies through my midlife blogging group. We laugh, chat and lift each other up. Forever friends. Someday we’ll have to see The Blue Man Group. Ha!

On my fifth birthday I’d like to thank YOU for what you’ve given me. For those I’ve known for years or recently met. For the people I’m blessed to work for and with who work tirelessly to create a world of better health for the MS and disability communities. And for my loved ones who’ve supported me from the beginning.

Thank you for from the bottom of my heart.

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A special thanks to my favorite editor and the best writer I know. I really love this guy.

 

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34 thoughts on “Why I Thank You For My Fifth Birthday

  1. Helene Cohen Bludman

    Happy blog anniversary! Meeting you was one of the very best things that came from blogging. I hope you keep writing your wonderful blog for many years to come. xoxo

  2. Lisa Emrich

    Happy birthday blog/Cathy! Has it really only been five years? It seems like your blog has been part of the MS blogosphere almost as long as I can remember. So glad that you’ve found this wonderful platform to really make a difference in many people’s lives. Thank you, my friend!

  3. Cathy Lawdanski

    Aren’t you so glad you were brave enough to hit that “publish” button? What an impact you have made on others as you’ve opened yourself up through your writing. I think sharing our real selves connects us with others. Thanks for your willingness to do that. Congratulations on 5 great years!

  4. Kelly

    Happy Blog Birthday! Mine turned 4 on November 1st. Such a fun form of self expression. Here’s to another year of success and joy with An Empowered Spirit.

  5. Sue

    Congratulations on your blog’s 5th birthday what an achievement and I’m sure you have brought happiness to many who read your blog. Here’s to the next 5!

  6. Ronna Benjamin

    Happy Anniversary Cathy! You’ve come a long way and done an amazing job! We (and the whole BA50 community) think you are fabulous in every way!

  7. Deb

    Wow, hard to believe it’s been 5 years already! I’ve learned so much from your wise words and you have enriched my spirit Cath. You are fulfilling what we are all intended to do on this earth….love, create and evolve. Woohoo to you my friend!

  8. Terri Webster Schrandt

    Happy blogging anniversary, Cathy! 5 years is quite an accomplishment! I, too, have a five year blog anniversary just a couple of days ago, but three years were spotty blogging at best. So nice to know you now and keep up the inspiring work for MS.

  9. Barbara Delaney

    Dear Cathy,
    As my youngest turns 30 a memory comes to mind. As I huffed puffed between labor pains you and I were having a conversation on the phone about an upcoming reunion! I don’t know if you remember but it always makes me laugh.
    Cathy, you are such a positive person and it resonates in everything you do. The topics you tackle are tough issues that the baby boomer generation is facing. Your candor and sound advice are both informative and comforting. I always am blessed by your blog.
    Keep up the good work and know that you are making a difference for good.
    With love and prayers for many more happy “”birthdays” to come. -Bo

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      I have no recollection of that but boy, you hid your labor well. Wow! I am in awe of you.

      Thank you for reading my blog, enjoying my blog and letting me know how you feel about it. That means everything to me and I thank you for sharing your thoughts! You are a jewel.

      Best to you Bo always~
      Cathy

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