My name is Annabel Ruffell and I am the founder of Journey for Earth, a global awareness company committed to inspiring change for humanity, the environment and animals, one choice at a time.
I came across a piece that Holly wrote on Facebook that someone had shared and was deeply touched by her sharing so honestly and openly about her single parenting journey.
Holly Goodman is a writer and mother. She has been a newspaper reporter, music publicist, waitress, fish gutter, wanderer and pie baker. She is a blogger at eHow.com. Her work has work appeared in Nailed Magazine, Literary Mama, Your Tango, The Frozen Moment: Contemporary Writers on the Choices That Change Our Lives, and Ohio State’s literary magazine The Journal, where her short piece Fresh Water won the 2007 Alumni Flash Fiction prize. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her daughters and her dog, Daisy.
This should be easy, right? The truth is, this a huge question for me. It’s THE question. I ask myself this question all the time and the answer constantly redefines itself. The core of it though, what I’m really trying to figure out is: how can I become a better, more compassionate human and a better, more compassionate mom? So I guess that’s my journey. Figuring out how I can live the most genuine possible life, one that does more good than harm, and how I can raise my girls to be well adjusted women – assets to the world.
Writing has always been a huge part of my journey, too. First, it was just writing letters to friends who’d gone off to college while I was in high school. I liked telling stories and I liked making them laugh, so I wrote huge long letters. It was a way to connect. When I started as a newspaper reporter in my early 20s I was really in love with the idea of journalism as the watchdog in society. But I didn’t last long in newspapers. My 20s and early 30s, I was really uneasy in my skin and completely self-involved. It’s really hard to look back at those years. Having kids took me outside myself and really grounded me. Now, I’m back to looking at writing as a place to connect. The writers I love are not afraid to strip down bare on the page, so that’s the writer I try to be. We, all people, give each other a huge gift when we’re just honest and real. So much empathy comes from personal honesty. It breaks the illusion of our aloneness.
2) What has been one of your greatest challenges over the years, either with the work that you do or in another area of your life, and how did you/do you get through it?
I have a couple learning differences and I can’t talk about any challenges without talking about them. I have ADHD and a visual processing glitch. Actually, I’m kind of a pioneer. My ADHD diagnosis predates the term ‘ADHD,” and, at the time I was evaluated (late 1970s) it was still considered an anomaly for a girl to have it. Same thing when I was retested as an adult. They believed ADHD was almost always out grown in adulthood. But there I was. Pretty much everyone now knows the impact of ADHD. The visual processing glitch is another thing. Reading is very slow for me, because my brain doesn’t make images naturally or easily when I read. I don’t see a picture unless I really focus on conjuring the image. Even then it’s pretty murky and I work so hard to see it that I lose track of the story. I have to read every single word on the page, like I’m reading out loud to myself. But the upside is I can hear the words, like I’m being read to. I also don’t retain things I see very well. Every day on my normal commute I see a business or something that’s been there forever and I think: is that new?
The processing stuff impacts every area of my life, every day, all the time. I don’t think there’s anything “wrong” with me in a pathological sense, but there’s no denying that my brain is not very good match for the structure and pace of our society. The way that plays out is, I struggle. I’m chronically disorganized, a huge procrastinator, have terrible follow through. Generally, I’m pretty overwhelmed by the amount of information that comes at me daily. Professionally, the impact is undeniable. I’ve watch college classmates and colleagues build pretty amazing careers with a skill set I just don’t have. And, won’t ever have. But the thing that’s hugely frustrating about invisible disabilities like these is you can’t see them.
Under achievement and poverty are hallmarks of learning differences in adults. One study I read said more than 50 percent of adults with LDs live at or beneath the federal poverty level. I’m just now recovering from a year of intense poverty. A lot of factors contributed to my financial crisis: the economy, a divorce, a move, but I believe with all my heart the disabilities were the biggest factor.
But it’s like any other challenge, you just keep going, take the next smallest step when you feel stuck and move forward no matter how slow or messy the movement. You’ll move yourself into a better place, every time.
3) What are 3 things that you have learned since becoming a parent?
1.If I have a crucial deadline, commitment, obligation, etc., one of my children will get sick and stay home from school. This is an absolute law. Ultimately, it means I’ve learned a lot about letting go, and yet “let go or be dragged,” is still a lesson I need over and over.
2.Like everything in life, some days you parent better than others. I can face a challenge with my kids one day and handle it with mother-of-the-year genius. The next day I could face a similar situation and blow it completely. Parenting is very day by day. And different kids need different parenting styles to thrive. There’s no one size fits all.
3. We make mistakes as parents. Everyone one of us. And. That’s okay. What’s not okay is failing to apologize to our kids. It’s important to own up to mistakes even (and especially) when we screw-up with our kids. You will not always be right, you will do and say things you regret. Apologize. The only way to teach accountability to your kids is admitting you are wrong. There’s no shame in taking responsibility for your behavior.
4) Who or what inspires you the most?
I’m inspired all the time by people around me who face personal challenges and get through them. It’s incredibly daunting to make changes, even when we know we have to. My friend Jerri Farris, who’s now the editor-in-chief at eHow.com is a huge inspiration. When I met her several years ago at a writing workshop, I had two pre-schoolers and my husband and I had just split days earlier. She told me her story of divorcing when her kids were small. She said when she and her ex-husband split she “couldn’t even change a light bulb.” She didn’t know the first thing about home repair. Project by project she taught herself to fix everything in the house and went on to publish more than a dozen DIY tittles on everything from plumbing to remodeling. I have no idea how many times I’ve thought of that story at my lowest moments over the years.
5) What is your greatest hope for our planet at this time?
Compassion. Empathy. Self-acceptance for all. If I could be granted one wish for the planet It would be, as cheesy as this sounds, that all people be so okay with themselves that they turn the acceptance outward to other humans and all living things and the earth itself. The impact would be profound.
What Journey are YOU on?