When I sat down at my table for the Iris Awards, it never occurred to me that I might have to be prepared to deliver a well-thought and eloquent speech as I accepted an Iris Award for my writing. I was up against four other women who are eloquent word wizards, one of which is a New York Times Bestselling author.
I was there so I could hear my name being called among these great women, not to accept an award, and I was genuinely okay with that.
But then there was this slight moment of panic just before my category was called (first, by the way), where I realized my friend, Jillian’s chair was on my dress and that I might have to stand up in a few seconds. That moment of panic gave way to a realization that I had nothing prepared in the off chance my name was called as the winner of the Iris Award for best writing.
As the names of my fellow nominees began to be called, and their lovely faces graced the screen, I calmed down. I wouldn’t need to prepare anything, I wouldn’t need to stand up quickly, and I most certainly could breathe.
I was clutching the hands of my friends sitting around me, and when my name *was* called as the winner in my category, I fell into my own lap, sobbing. This couldn’t be true.
And yet it was.
That’s when I blacked out. I don’t remember anything between getting out of my chair and when Taye freaking Diggs congratulated me on my win. I couldn’t even respond to him because I wasn’t sure this was even actually happening.
And yet it was.
I vaguely remember not knowing what to say, I had never done this before. My speech was a bumbling of words that, in hindsight, make absolutely no sense and are not indicative of a woman with public speaking experience who just won a prestigious award for “Best Writing”. You can watch that hot mess below.
I sounded a fool.
Once I got home and collected myself, the words began pouring in. This is the acceptance speech I would have delivered had I not been so genuinely shocked with my win.
I’d like to thank the Academy.
(Pause for effect.)
No, really, I can’t believe I’m standing here right now accepting this very heavy award. The women in my category are all beautiful writers who possess the ability to make you feel when you read their words.
Many years ago, my Mamom encouraged me to send her my complete works of poetry, she wanted to have them published. I’ve never been a very good snail mail communicator and my works never hit the published page.
Years later, I started my first blog, Rebel Crunch Mama, as a way to escape the clutches of postpartum depression. I had let it simmer for 18 months before a diagnosis, I didn’t want anyone to think I was crazy or something. I met Jenny Lawson on Twitter during a wine Twitter party where I was definitely drinking water because I was 8 months pregnant. She responded to one of my articles and it felt good to have someone reading my stuff besides my Mamom. I had no idea who Jenny Lawson WAS, just that she read and responded to something. Now that I know who Jenny Lawson is, I can’t believe she was one of the first people to engage with me. If only, right?
My deep, dark depression began connecting me with other women who were going through the same things and I felt less alone sitting in my naugahyde recliner with a toddler clinging to my leg and a baby rolling around inside me. My Mamom read everything I wrote and was so excited to have a new great grand baby on the way.
She died suddenly three days before my youngest child was born. She’s still the person I want to call when something exciting happens, when I get a fantastic opportunity, or when I’m nominated for the very thing she always encouraged me to do. I’m wearing her earrings today because it’s as close as I’ll ever get to having her with me, and this is a moment I’d give anything to be able to share with her.
This journey has been a rollercoaster for me. I’ve been inconsistent, riddled with paralyzing anxiety, I’ve constantly doubted myself and my talents, and have a severe case of “Imposter Syndrome”; which is why I don’t really know how I’m standing on this stage right now.
I couldn’t have gotten to this place without my friend and mentor, Brandi Riley who believes in and pushes me when I’d rather be lying in a ditch. I couldn’t do any of this without my amazing husband who works hard outside of our home, but also inside of it, and who made me come here despite the fact that all three of our children currently have lice.
I wouldn’t have so much to say if it weren’t for my three surprise miracle children (yes, I do know what causes that). Thank you to all of you who are there for me, who support me, and who lift me up when I need it (and even when I don’t), you know who you are and thank you. To the OG Beaver crew – Amy, Jillian, Mallery, Christy – thank you for bringing me into the fold and helping me to suck less. Thank you to all the friends I’ve met along the way for helping me through a really difficult time where I felt I had lost my voice. And to anyone who has ever hired me with the understanding that my voice is loud and unique and that I hate filtering.
Thank you to everyone who has ever read a single word of mine. Your time is valuable and I hope you never come away from my words feeling like you wasted your time.
I’m a writer, and this is very affirming to me, so for everyone who voted for me, Thank you. You will have been an enormous part my future success.