Last Sunday was my birthday.
Although the number of years represented could not necessarily be described as a milestone, to me, it kind of felt like one. As I sat at the kitchen table with a cup of tea, jotting down brief notes to compose into longer sentences for my journal, I admitted that 55 felt rather fine. In addition to one of my out-of-town children surprising me with a birthday visit, great happiness also flowed from a surprisingly unexpected source.
After writing the blog post 'Thinking of the Woman In Nova Scotia' a couple of weeks ago, I took the initiative to send the piece out to other destinations. Firstly, it was sent to dear, local friends who once welcomed a newlywed couple (and, eventually, three lovely offspring) into their social circle back in 1994. It was these same friends that instantly appeared out of the shadows when I left my marriage, offering kindness, safety and support. Given that they all knew, for years, that something was amiss in my matrimonial relationship, I wanted to share my thoughts on someone else's domestically abusive situation.
Next in line was the local newspaper. Having regularly sent in photographs of natural local wonders, I knew the editor would recognize my name. I politely asked if my Nova Scotia-themed opinion piece would be of interest. It was. My words appeared in The Squamish Chief in the very next issue, in both the print and digital versions. Putting the word out publicly, amongst more of my local, hometown region, was a big step. Over the past five years, since being divorced, I've managed to gloss over the nitty-gritty, and avoid saying the more specific terms that accurately described what went on behind closed doors.
How many people read my contribution, I have no idea. Incredibly encouraging and loving comments provided some form of feedback, but uncertainty remained as to exactly how many people I reached with my words.
But, it did not end there. Tossing about inside my head, and heart, was the notion that the job was not yet done; that a next step had to be taken. I had to submit the piece to a Nova Scotia newspaper so the true meaning of my words could hit home. An afternoon was spent at the computer googling newspapers across the country. My piece, subsequently, was submitted to the Chronicle-Herald, Dalhousie Gazette, Cape Breton Post and other non-Nova Scotia newspapers (The Squamish Chief said it was okay; they claimed no exclusive rights). The Chronicle-Herald replied. My contribution was published in the Opinion section on Saturday, May 16th, in the digital and print formats.
Later that Saturday afternoon, a friend texted to say that my submission was the 2nd most-read opinion piece that day. At that point, over 7,000 people had clicked and read it. Seven thousand! By the end of the weekend, over 10,000 people had likely read it; possibly more. I wrote to the editor afterwards, thanking him for the opportunity and asking if a total number of readers could possibly be provided. Rather than a number, he offered the insight that my piece held firmly in the Top 3 of the weekend's opinion pieces, and ranked in the Top 20 of all Chronicle articles clicked and read that weekend. Typically, news stories rank in the Top 20, not submissions to the Opinion section.
With that knowledge, came overwhelming validation.
In what seems as 'one fall swoop', my thoughts captured the attention of a significantly-sized audience. Imagine that many people reading my memoir, once it is finally written, then published. Imagine that many people interested in the message I have to convey. For many years I was humbled by the ocean; now, I've been humbled by the impact of my own words.
To celebrate my birthday with two of my three children, and eat an abundance of chocolate cake, made my heart sing. The cherry on top of that wickedly delicious, frosting-laden, homemade devil's food cake, was the 5-digits representing the number of people who read my submission in the Chronicle-Herald's opinion section, for May 16, 2020.
Happy Birthday, to me.