Stories make the world go ‘round. They draw us in. They engage. They inspire. That’s why I preach the importance of integrating your story into your business. People need to know who YOU are. So, right now I want to practice what I preach. I want you to know me so that you can relate to me and we can become friends if we aren’t already.
So, writing is in my DNA – really! I started writing when I was just 13 years old. It’s interesting when I reflect now because I started writing shortly after the tragic death of my father. We’d never really been close because my mom divorced him when I was very young; they were high school sweethearts. She married my stepfather when I was just 5 years old. My father led a bit of a wayward life which is part of what led to the demise of he and my mother’s relationship. As a result, he was in and out of my life, never really a stable parental figure.
One week before his death, my grandmother had the family over for a barbeque. My father was there. I remember him pulling me aside and telling me how much he loved me. He told me that he realized that he had not been a great father in my life and he wanted to change that. We took a picture together. That picture is forever imprinted, not just in the frame, but my heart. He was gone a week later. That time together was a gift.
I discovered my writing gift that same year. Unlike many writers, I didn’t really journal, but I poured my creative energy into short story writing. My mom realized immediately that I had a gift and encouraged me to try and get my work published. While I wanted that, I lacked the guidance or know how to pursue that path further, but I kept writing. I knew something was there. I joined the school newspaper while I was in middle school to nourish this gift.
By high school, I joined the yearbook committee. I was assistant editor by my junior year and editor-in-chief by my senior year. I pursued a trek in journalism, thinking this would be a way to capitalize on my strengths. I was accepted to UNC Chapel Hill where I would study broadcast journalism. My first year of college was difficult as the only father I’d really known, my stepfather, and the father of my three siblings, decided that he didn’t want to be around anymore, so he left our family. When I left to go to college, my mom was left home with three little kids, the youngest only 2 years old. You can imagine the guilt I must have felt as a the oldest in leaving, too. But, my mom knew, and I knew that I needed to go to college because I had the power to change my stars and the legacy of our entire family. So, I went.
My first year was tough, navigating through those circumstances, but like any college student, I adjusted. I loved college. It matured me. I graduated with a degree in Journalism and Communications, ready to take on the world. I had an opportunity to take a job in broadcast in North Dakota after graduation. I turned it down, with no excuse other than fear. If I knew then, what I do now. But, things happen for a reason. Just weeks after graduation, I met who is now my husband, Derek Stevens, and I wouldn’t trade that decision for anything in the world.
I built my career from there, but not in journalism or writing. I started a career in sales and marketing because I sort of fell into it. How many people do you know with a similar story? I guess I was a bit of a cliché. But, even as I was building a successful career in this field, I still felt hollow inside. Something was missing because I wasn’t using my gifts. I started to freelance to exercise my writing muscle once again. It felt good. After doing that for a couple of years, I seized the opportunity to grow beyond that and pursue work within the small business community. I immediately learned that I had something small business owners needed. It felt good to be needed – especially doing something I love. It’s an incredible feeling to get paid for something you love. So, Word Stylist was born. I saw an opportunity to use my natural gifts combined with my marketing background to deliver content marketing solutions to small businesses. I hope to use this blog as a tool to share more of my story, who I am and why I do what I do along with educational nuggets on content marketing and constructing your story to help your small business thrive. Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll come back.