by Dr. Margaret Rutherford, Miss June 2016
I haven’t quite known what word to choose to describe the feeling of being June’s Blogger of the Month for Arkansas.
When I was growing up, I kept a scrapbook. In it every year, there were cutouts from the newspaper of the winners of the Miss Arkansas pageant. I wondered if I would, one day, stride gracefully down that platform, wearing a tiara and carrying a bouquet of red roses (although I never participated in a pageant in my entire life…).
So here I am, many years later, representing Arkansas, for one month, in the blogging world. I am thrilled, delighted, honored. I’m tickled pink there’s no tiara for me to balance on my head, and certainly grateful there was no bathing suit competition that I had to sweat my way through. So thanks to the powers that be for asking me. I will serve out my term as well as I can, and respectfully hand off the scepter to the next worthy blogger.
I’m a clinical psychologist, but began blogging in December of 2012, mostly as an empty nester. My blog was named “NestAche” (sounds like headache), and I wrote about how I was getting through my only son being a freshman in college. It felt very strange, and I wasn’t at all sure about it (the empty nest and the writing, actually.) Therapists shouldn’t talk about themselves openly with patients, and it felt very odd to be sharing more of my private life on the Internet. Frankly, I struggled a bit with whether or not it was ethical.
But I realized what century I was living in, and since I lived in a smaller community, much was known about me anyway. It was just the thought of me, talking about me. So I breathed deeply, and wrote. I had two criteria, and still do. I would continue if: I got feedback that my words were helping people, and if I were having fun. If either of the two of those things stopped happening, I would stop writing.
After a while, I got itchy. I started branching out, writing about the work I did with couples, writing about panic attacks and eating disorders. I wanted to write what I was doing in my real work. Then, I went to BlogHer for the first time, and realized I had to become my own “brand.” If my website was going to grow, I had to step out front.
I got lots of help from Alli Worthington, who spoke here at AWB a couple of years ago. And in April of 2014, I launched my second website, Dr. Margaret Rutherford: Helping You Believe In Yourself. I can remember when my first post went “viral.” I didn’t know what was happening. I thought my laptop was broken. It was also my initial post on a topic I have now grown very passionate about, what I call perfectly hidden depression. I’m writing a book on it, and have a literary agent whose guiding me through that process, which is fascinating and infuriating.
During this time, I’ve been seeing 7 to 8 patients every day, usually five days a week! So I’ve been a busy woman, just like all of you, I’m sure.
I still get feedback that my words are helpful. And I’m still having fun. Not all of the time, to be truthful. I get down, and tired. But most of the time, I’m smiling.
If there is one thing I have learned, it is that the relationships you make through blogging will help your blog, and you, thrive. Count of them. Reach out to them. They will reach back when they need you as well.
If I can answer any questions any of you might have reading this, I would be more than happy to do so. You can privately email me: email@example.com.
Thanks to all of you for reading. And my gratitude to Arkansas Women Bloggers for support, encouragement, and friendship.
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