After a short break for Labor Day, we are back with an inspirational interview of dream chaser, Melissa Blake…
Q: Tell us about yourself.
MB: My name is Melissa Blake and I’m a freelance writer, blogger and newspaper columnist. I was born with Freeman-Sheldon Syndrome, a bone and muscular disorder. I’ve had about 27 surgeries; I always say that growing up, the hospital was like my home. But, thanks to my parents, I grew up never, ever letting my disability stop me from living life. In fact, I think it’s pushed me to live life even more fully.
My dream is to live in New York City and work for a magazine. It’s funny because a reader of my blog, So About What I Said, recently said that I am the Carrie Bradshaw of the disability set, and I love that! In my blog, I’m trying to show people that people with disabilities are just like everyone else.
Q: Describe a gray time in your life. How did you overcome it?
MB: In 2003, after a short four-month battle with sinus cancer, my father committed suicide. It was completely out of the blue and unexpected. At the time, I was in the midst of my junior year of college, and for a long time, I just didn’t want to deal with any of my feelings of grief: the anger, the overwhelming sadness, the confusion. For a long time I struggled with all the ‘why’ questions surrounding his death, but now, I’m at a point where find myself missing him more than being angry at him. It took me a long time – and lots and lots of writing – to get to this point, but it’s a comfortable place to be now.
Q: What challenges and fears have stood between you and your dreams? How did you overcome them?
MB: Living in the middle of a cornfield in Illinois, I don’t have many opportunities to go to the Big Apple soon, but freelancing has given me a taste of the magazine life. I’ve been published in Redbook and am currently working on a piece for SELF magazine. The rise in technology has made freelancing a more viable option for me right now.
I’m also working as the adviser for a community college newspaper (ironically, the same paper I was editor of during my college days), and I love getting the chance to make young people excited about the journalism field.
Q: What inspires you to keep pushing forward when the going gets tough?
MB: There’s a part of me that just loves seeing my name in print. It’s a thrill, but beyond that, writing has always been an excellent creative outlet for me. It’s allowed me to experience the world despite my limitations and has helped me work through a lot of events in my life. I’m a storyteller at heart. A good story will always resonate with people, and that’s important.
Q: If you could give one piece of advice to someone else who is
struggling to move beyond the gray and follow a dream, what would it be?
MB: Write and talk about it. Keeping things bottled up inside will cause them to boil to the surface someday; the more you try to suppress your feelings the more they’re going to rear their heads, screaming to come out.
Also, always be who you are, not who you think others want you to be. It took a long time for me to learn that honesty is at the heart of who I am. It was then that I learned not to be afraid, scared or ashamed of who I am. You are beautiful. Let your light shine for the whole world to see!
Check out Melissa Blake’s blog, So About What I Said at: www.melissabxoxo.blogspot.com. Follow her on twitter: @melissablake.
Are you actively pursuing or living a dream? If so, I’d love to hear from you! Please e-mail me at: Erika (dot) Liodice (at sign) hotmail (dot) com.