What Would You Give for your Kid Fears?

I’m sitting here listening to an Indigo Girls playlist on YouTube. It’s been a while since I listened to them, and oh man, how I’ve missed these beautiful melodies. They’re like the female version of Simon and Garfunkel. They make me want to learn to play the guitar. Their music reminds me of my carefree younger days in Vermont, when I was so naive I wasn’t sure if the Indigo Girls were lesbians, and if they were, did liking their music make me one too?

There’s more than one answer to these questions, pointing me in a crooked line.

It’s been 8 days since my last post, which stinks. That weekend I was barely containing my rage over how uncomfortable my mouth was. First thing on Monday I got in to see the dentist and had him trim off a bunch of the material. It helped, though my mouth was so sore at that point it was hard to tell if it was all OK or if more needed to be trimmed.

Immediately after that, I had to drive down to Mystic for a meeting. Of course there was a big ol’ snowstorm brewing at the time, so it took twice as long to get there as it should have. As soon as I got there, it was work, work work. I considered doing blog posts in the evenings like I have in the past, but Mystic in the middle of winter isn’t terribly exciting. I only got to leave the hotel in the evenings for dinner anyway. It was really pretty under a blanket of snow, I will admit.

The saddest sight my eyes can see is that big ball of orange sinking slyly down the trees.

It seemed that there was still material rubbing the sore spot on my gum/lip, because my mouth was still in so much pain every time I tried to eat. It probably sounds stupid that I was so insistent on keeping the bridge in, when I could have just taken it out and most likely no one would have noticed anyway. But no. I refused. At one point after lunch one day I did go in the bathroom and remove it, but no sooner had I done that when I was asked to talk extensively about something. So I had to excuse myself for a moment under the premise that I was getting a mint out of my bag while I discreetly popped the bridge back in. I didn’t want to feel like I was lisping and slobbering all over the place.

I’ll tell you, having constant mouth pain really doesn’t make for a social Heather. I was so irritated the whole time I had to keep telling myself not to punch anyone in the face. I’m usually pretty quiet anyway, but this time I was avoiding talking as much as I could because the less I moved my mouth, the better. I was so relieved to get in my car after the meeting ended. The first thing I did was pop out the bridge. I resisted the urge to throw it out the window. 

When I got home, I found some emery boards and got to work sanding down the piece that was irritating me. Believe it or not, it actually worked! I probably only sanded off a 1/16th of an inch, but it was all it needed. These last few days the sore has been healing and I’m now able to wear the bridge all day without getting violent.

If we ever leave a legacy, it’s that we loved each other well.

In other news, tonight I was supposed to give a speech at Toastmasters. I had planned to talk about the history of cleft lip and palate treatment, as this was something I’d been wanting to look into for a while anyway. The meeting ended up getting cancelled thanks to the weather (snow and 15 degrees… what’s the problem?). When I got home I recorded myself giving the speech but I had issues getting it uploaded so I’ll have to try again another time. For now I am ready for night-nights.

Never a Dull Moment

Things never quite end up the way I worry that they will.

See my video for a recap of my dentist appointment and my run-in with the law today.

Pardon the bad lighting, bad outfit and bad hair portrayed in this video. This is really just how I roll at home.


Magnificent Mammaries

While searching for imagery to use in this post, I came across some unique jewelry.

Today I’m going to talk about breasts. Boobies, melons, sweater-stretchers. Snuggle-pups or sweater kittens. Whatever you call them, there’s no denying that people spend a lot of time thinking about these glorious glands.

In my growing-up years, my friends and I gleefully anticipated growing ample bosoms in our teen years. We practiced by stuffing all manner of padding into our bathing suit tops and strutting around in front of each other. Balled-up socks, balloons, crumpled up paper. We could only imagine the weight and density of the luscious lumps we would surely develop.

When I was about 10 years old, the magic started to happen. Or, as my mom said cheerfully one night as I was getting ready for bed, “The pumpkin seeds are sprouting!” I blushed and acted like I was embarrassed, but inside I was delighted. My Marylin Monroes would be taking the stage before I knew it!

Actual pumpkin seeds sprouting!

In those early days of breast development, I oscillated between feeling proud of my growing girls and feeling unhappy with their lack of size. At first I wore sports bras under large t-shirts (mostly because it was 1990 and that’s what all the girls my age did), but this did nothing to enhance my feminine look. I also worried that the sports bras were actually hindering my development because they were so tight.

In some cruel twist of fate, neither I nor my two best friends got to feel the weight of womanhood on our chests in the way that we had imagined. My two friends were naturally very petite (so much so that I often felt obese in comparison – which, if you’ve seen me in real life you might think is hilarious). In my case, I can probably thank ectodermal dysplasias in some part for my lack of humongous hooters.

Ectodermal dysplasias can affect breast development in some girls and women because it affects glands, and as we all learned early on, breasts contain mammary glands. I consider myself fortunate because I do have natural breasts, albeit little ones. Some forms of ectodermal dysplasias prevent ANY breast development and often the affected women will get breast implants in order to attain a more feminine look.

Throughout my teenage years I always kept some shred of hope that I would hit a growth spurt that would only affect my chest area. I looked at ads for supplements in magazines (though I never actually bought any). I tried exercises, (I must, I must, I must increase my bust!) and the power of positive thinking. I eventually learned that sports bras were not the answer, and switched to bras that actually defined and enhanced my shape.

I never seriously considered breast implants for myself. I won’t say I didn’t think about it, but it was not something I really wanted. The idea of having more surgery was unappealing to me, plus I was always finding other ways to spend my money.

It took me a while, but once I got into my mid-20’s or so, I was pretty happy with my queen jewels, and the rest of my body for that matter. I found out that not all guys want women with enormous eggplants. Plus, as my friend’s mom used to tell us “You’ve got more than he does!” (Though in some situations this is actually not true.)

All joking aside, having small breasts is really pretty great. You can exercise without needing to restrain them. You don’t get under-boob sweat. You never have back pain due to heavy breasts, or get dents in your shoulders from your bra straps. You can sleep on your stomach. You can walk around without people staring at your chest.

According to internet sources, small breasts make you look younger (maybe that’s why everyone thinks I’m 25…) and they are more sensitive than larger breasts. Also, you don’t have to worry about them sagging over time the way larger breasts do.fried-eggs-1

So let’s hear it for our magnificent mammaries, whether they be small or large, perky or droopy, plump or flat. Love what you have, and if you don’t, there’s always surgery!

PS. None of the imagery here is representative of my actual breasts, just in case you were wondering.

Procrastinator Extraordinaire

Hi, I’m Heather and I’m a procrastinator.

I know most everyone can admit to some procrastination here and there. We all have tasks we put off for one reason or another. I’m sure there is at least one person out there who is a more extreme procrastinator than I am, but I don’t know them personally.

I try to blame my procrastination habits on the fact that I am busy, and in part that is true. I often feel overwhelmed by all the stuff I need to do, and rather than focusing on any one thing to get it done, I’d rather shove it all to the back burner and go do something fun instead.

Sometimes procrastination can work in one’s favor. Who knows how much money I have saved by putting off shopping trips for new clothes or shoes? I’ll just wear these scuffed and worn shoes until the soles literally fall off and I am left with no choice than to buy new ones! Or, at work, procrastinating on some menial task often results in that task slipping through the cracks of time, never to be considered again.

More often than not, however, procrastination has unpleasant results. Late nights (or all-nighters) of despair and self-loathing as a long-put-off task suddenly becomes urgent. Ok, so that hasn’t happened since college, but you know what I mean. There is a workplace equivalent, where something is suddenly due and desperate measures have to be taken. All the while you feel crappy and swear that you will never let this happen again.

It used to be that I only procrastinated on things that I didn’t like. Math homework. Vacuuming. Getting out of bed in the morning.  More recently I have found myself procrastinating on just about everything, even things I really want to do. It is very easy to busy yourself with tasks like, organizing your file folders or syncing your iPhone and iPad to your computer. When you’re done you feel like you accomplished something, but really, how necessary was that?

It’s pretty likely that I am being too hard on myself. I often forget to look at my actual accomplishments. I tend to only see what I have NOT done, and ignore all of the progress I have made in my life. I mean, obviously I don’t procrastinate on EVERYTHING, or I wouldn’t be where I am right now.

There are plenty of online resources available to tackle procrastination. I am a big fan of Zen Habits, and get these delivered to my inbox. There was also this fabulous post about what goes on inside a procrastinator’s brain. I’m pretty sure that mine has TWO instant gratification monkeys. Of course, as you’ll see in the above-mentioned article, going online isn’t exactly the best idea for a chronic procrastinator.

Where am I going with this post? Basically I was just procrastinating my morning exercise routine and realized that I hadn’t done a post in a while, so I thought I’d sit down and do one! Now it’s almost 7 am and if I don’t stop writing now I won’t have time to exercise before I have to get ready and leave the house.

Do you struggle with procrastination? Did you just read my blog post in order to avoid doing something else? Have you found ways to be more productive and keep your instant-gratification monkey from taking the wheel?

Busy Bee or Drama Llama?

Ever feel like a star shape not fitting into a square hole?

Ever feel like a star shape not fitting into a square hole?

It seems I have been slacking with posts again. I am often thinking about this blog and what story to tell next, or what issue to discuss. Sometimes I think it would be cool to have a way to transmit thoughts directly from my mind into the computer, but then again, that could be pretty freaky. Plus I guess that’s what fingers and keyboards are for. Or microphones.

I am always hesitant to say I am busy or overwhelmed, because I feel like I don’t have the right to complain about stuff like that when I don’t have kids and I don’t have a high-stress or even a high-importance job. The truth is, a lot of the stress and anxiety I feel is in my own mind. I feel pretty overwhelmed most of the time, but if I step outside my mind and look at my life I am kind of embarrassed to see that from the outside it doesn’t look so bad.

I mentally carry around all these projects and these tasks that I want to do, but the truth is, my time-management skills pretty much suck. Maybe it is the curse of being an INFJ that I get too wrapped up in my own head, and the way things feel to me, rather than seeing things as they really are.

Here’s something I wrote in my notebook during a particular angsty lunch break the other day:

Most of the time I feel like a star-shape not fitting into a square hole. Maybe in the grand scheme of things I am being too picky and too spoiled. I mean, I know there are people a million times worse off that I. Like the poor people in Bangladesh who are losing their land daily thanks to rising ocean levels. They literally have nothing but the clothes on their backs, and here I am feeling sorry for myself because I have to spend 8 hours a day in an office in front of a computer when I would rather spend 10 hour days in an art studio or writing stuff that I want to write, not some boring business mumbo-jumbo. I realize I make more money in one hour than those poor people make in a month. But it’s not all about money! I mean, of course living here in CT, a lot is about money and I did just buy a new car and am planning TWO trips outside of corporate-paid travel. Plus medical expenses.

I think that is my curse in life… I feel like the fear of unforeseen medical expenses is what keeps me tethered to a “real” job. It’s not like I think I will have cancer or an accident. It’s the stuff I KNOW will happen, thanks to EEC. I’m already dealing with trying to get my dental work updated. My eyes require constant care and will likely get worse the older I get. My ears, despite all the surgeries, will need life long maintenance. Even if nothing else goes wrong, just my normal medical maintenance schedule is quite pricey.

So is it just an excuse I use to keep up from trying something that scares me? There’s that expression I like about how outside your comfort zone is where the magic happens. What if I never try for fear of going broke or being let down somehow? All I know is that I can’t live life in complacency. I want to SOAR. I want to live! To be creative and express my passion… and to GET PAID to do that!  

So yeah. That’s where I’m at lately. This is a pattern I have seen multiple times in my life before, but I think it is time I do something different to resolve it. Despite being easily frustrated by petty things in my current position, I am in a place where I can plan ahead and figure out what I want to do next, rather than just leaping headfirst into the next opportunity that opens up. I think my past issues with job dissatisfaction resulted from my tendency to just take whatever job opened up next, rather than really saying “does this suit me?”. Ok, there was that one time I turned down a job where I’d be working for a certain helicopter company near here…

Well, that’s enough rambling for now. I actually do have a lot of “real” stuff to do today, and tomorrow I am off to the New England Vegfest.

Hopefully I can pull myself together next week and post some new and exciting blog posts!


I’m a sparkly star shape and I don’t fit in!

Illustrated Personal Rant Session

Once again, I’ve let slip my morning writing habit. Of course, this time it has been in favor of spending the time drawing instead of writing. So creatively, I feel like I’ve been accomplishing something. Unfortunately it doesn’t really translate to the blog. Or does it?

Day 25. 😍

A post shared by ✨Heather McKelvie✨ (@_callunita_) on

Despite all my fun drawing in the mornings, I’ve been feeling a bit low lately. I guess a lot of that can be attributed to the massive quantities of snow we’ve been getting. I get to feeling a bit trapped. When we don’t have 5 foot snowbanks lining all the roads, I like to go out for walks with Dave, or by myself just to clear my head. While it’s not impossible to take a walk right now, it’s not exactly safe. Plus, it’s pretty stinking cold out there too. Normally I enjoy the snow – it does make everything look pretty.

Day 29. Feathers! #zentangle #onezentangleaday #zenlove

A post shared by ✨Heather McKelvie✨ (@_callunita_) on

I also get to feeling low because I sometimes feel like I just don’t get other people (aside from Dave and my immediate family… though sometimes I don’t get them either, hah). Or I’m frustrated that they don’t get me. I start feeling sad because I think of the few people in my life that I’ve really connected with, and they all live far away or they aren’t friends with me anymore for some reason or another.

I really want to have deep, meaningful relationships with people, but most of the interactions I have are insanely superficial. Especially with certain people I work with, who are constantly judging others by physical appearances and ridiculing their clothing and hair choices. It’s like high school all over again. I try to remain above it but it’s hard when it hits that nerve and reminds me of being 15 and awkward and not fitting in.

Lastly, I get down on myself because I think about all the things I’d really rather be doing with my life, and I start feeling really anxious. Like if I don’t quit my job and start DOING a bunch of things, I’m never going to get anywhere in life. First of all, I can’t just quit my job because I’m getting paid better than I ever have before, plus the insurance is great (except for their stubbornness about paying for my dental work), and oh, I am still working off these $#&#*)&( student loans.

I know I need to make a solid plan. I have to believe in myself first, and sometimes – especially when I am feeling low like this – I find that really hard to do. I’ve accomplished a lot of things in my life so far, but somehow I forget all that and I see myself as inexperienced and useless. It’s like my mind gets clouded and I forget that I’m intelligent, I have artistic ability, I have a bachelor of science and a bunch of certificates. I escaped what is most simply described as a religious cult (this is where I lost a lot of friends!). I’ve had a variety of jobs and I was never fired from any of them – I left them all on my own accord. I’ve survived numerous surgeries and medical torture procedures. I’ve seen close family through major surgery and depression. I’m a survivor!! Why is this so hard for me to take strength from?

Ok. I feel a bit better for all this ranting, even if it makes no sense to anyone else. I hope you at least enjoy the pictures. These are some of the Zentangle drawings I’ve been doing for the past month. If you want to see more, just click on one of the images and it should take you to my Instagram page. Follow me and like my pictures to give me a fleeting sense of worth!

Sunday Funday Post: Zentangle

Two things I have been getting right lately are that I’ve been meditating each morning and I’ve started Zentangling.

Day 4

Day 4 tile

Whatsy-tangling, you ask?

Zentangling. I first heard about it sometime last year, when my friend Kristina posted some of her drawings online and mentioned that she had been doing it to relieve stress. I was immediately jealous that she was posting cool artistic pictures and I wasn’t, because hello, *I* am an artist!

I continued to doodle all over my meeting notes at work, and on scraps of paper during phone calls, but I rarely broke out my sketchbook at home. I wanted to know more about this Zentangle business, but it was just one thing too much. So for Christmas, I asked Kris (my brother) to get me a book about Zentangle.

et voila:

One  Zentangle a Day

As you can see by the book cover, this is a six-week course in the art of Zentangling. I am so into it right now, that I’ve actually done it more than once a day on a couple of days because I just couldn’t wait to do another one.

Day 2 - morning

Day 2 – Morning

Day 2 - Evening

Day 2 – Evening









It’s been like rediscovering a part of myself that I lost. Drawing has always been such a part of me, but sometimes I neglect it. I get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, and I don’t give myself the time to sit down and do what I really love. When I was in high school, my art teacher made us do weekly sketches. We’d turn them in on Friday and then over the weekend he would hang them up on a bulletin board for everyone to see on Monday. He would rank them, so there’d be first, second and third place, and then a bunch of honorable mentions. If I remember correctly, the really bad ones didn’t even make it on the board. This brought out my competitive streak in a major way, and my goal was always to get first place. It usually meant that I would stay up ridiculously late on Thursday nights to complete my submission, but it also meant that by the end of senior year, I had a ton of great drawings in my portfolio.

So anyway, I think getting myself to stick to this six-weeks of Zentangle, will be a great help in getting myself back on the wagon. It’s amazing how it’s already ignited the fire in my belly. What I like about Zentangle is that you only need 30 minutes a day to do it. It is a form of meditation, because as you’re drawing, you’re only thinking about the pen and the paper, and everything else is irrelevant in that moment. At least, that’s how it is for me, and that is why I have always loved to draw.

Day 3

Day 3

I’m sure it’s not something that everyone would be interested in, but if you’re like me – an artistic soul trapped in the routines and demands of a non-artistic work life, I highly recommend that you check this out. If you’re one of those people who thinks they can’t draw, don’t let that stop you from trying this. I mean, look at the drawings I posted – they are all just variations of lines. Just let your hand do the walking.

Toastmasters Ice Breaker Speech

I mentioned a couple of whiles ago that I was going to join Toastmasters again. I’ve been going for about two months now and last Monday I did my first speech, which is known as The Ice Breaker. The objective of the speech is to introduce yourself to your audience and demonstrate what speaking skills you already have in 4-6 minutes. I actually already did the Ice Breaker speech at the previous Toastmasters club I was a part of, but I figured that I would just start at the very beginning with this new group. Of course I wrote a new speech too because the other one didn’t seem fitting anymore. Anyway, here is the text of my speech. I’ll have to record it next time!

Uniquely Fortunate

One of the first things people will say when a child is born healthy is “she’s perfect with all 10 fingers and toes.”  As you may have noticed, that descriptor was left off my birth announcement, as I was born with a rare condition called Ectrodactyly-Ectodermal Dysplasia Clefting Syndrome, or EEC for short. The most obvious symptoms of this condition at the time of my birth were my complete bilateral cleft lip and palate and my missing fingers and toes. Being born this way meant that I had some hurdles to clear in my early life and certain issues, both physical and emotional will stay with me for the rest of my life. But I didn’t let that get me down. Instead, I view my circumstances as uniquely fortunate.

I was fortunate to have been born near Philadelphia because that meant that I had access to skilled doctors and quality medical care to treat the various issues related to my syndrome. I was fortunate that my family was loving and accepting of me and that my parents never told me there was anything I couldn’t do. I was allowed to behave as any other child, and despite having a lot of surgery and medical treatments, I think my childhood was normal.

Let’s divert from EEC for a bit and talk about some of my interests. There are two things that I have always been passionate about and consider to be important aspects of what makes me ME. First I have always loved to create. Whether it is drawing, sculpting, writing or telling stories, I love the feeling of energy that flows through me when I am in the creative zone. I was fortunate to have a natural talent for art and never thought that my hands would hold me back from that. The second thing I have always held dear is a love and appreciation for nature. I was fortunate to have parents who valued this too, and as a child I got to spend time exploring in the woods, watching sunsets on the beaches of Cape Cod, observing the stars on summer nights and learning from everything I saw. Even now I can spend hours just wandering around outside, looking at plants or insects and being awed by what I see.

When it came time to decide what I wanted to do with my life, I had some difficulty settling on any one thing. For a short while I had the idea that I would write and illustrate children’s books for a living. This was mostly based on a fantasy I had of living in an old farmhouse with a massive art studio in the attic, and apparently a very wealthy husband to support my artistic endeavors. Unfortunately there was no such husband in the picture and I knew I needed to find a more reliable way to earn a living. It took me a few years of wandering before I figured out a career that would allow me to combine my passion for creating and my love for nature – Landscape Architecture.  Before you envision me walking around a property with a weedwacker, let me clarify. Landscape Architecture is the art of designing beautiful, functional and meaningful outdoor spaces. LA requires a vast knowledge of history, art, architecture, psychology, botany and design. It is not the same as landscaping, which is what the guys with lawnmowers do. I enrolled in the LA program at UCONN and threw myself into it wholeheartedly. I was really psyched to finally have found my niche and be able to combine so many of my interests in one profession. When I graduated with a BSLA in 2008, I was ready to hit the ground running. Unfortunately, this was at the same time as the 2008 stock market crash, and suddenly, not one LA firm was hiring. Fortunately, I had a lot of clerical skills and I was able to find work in the corporate world.  Fast forward several years and I am now working right down the road from here at an additives manufacturing company, which is just a fancy way of saying a chemical plant. I work in the marketing department and while it’s not landscape architecture, it does allow me to flex my creative muscles a bit and it often pushes me out of my comfort zone.

I’d always felt like EEC was only a small part of who I was, but after graduating and while being underemployed, I entered a period of self-reflection. I decided to look up an organization I’d known since childhood – The NFED. NFED stands for National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasias and it is an organization for people like myself who are affected by various forms of ectodermal dysplasias.  I joined the organization with the idea that I could be an inspiration to others, but what really happened is that I met a lot of kids who really inspired me. Comparing stories with the children and other affected adults led me to realize just how much EEC has affected me. As I’ve gotten older I have l learned to cherish how unique EEC makes me, and thanks to the support I felt from my NFED friends, I even started a blog about my life with EEC. Being open about my syndrome has made me feel better about who I am, and it makes it easier for me to talk about my issues without feeling uncomfortable. Blogging also offers me a challenging outlet for my creativity.

I hope that by being involved in Toastmasters I can refine my speaking skills and become more comfortable in front of an audience. I would like to use my talents and my experience to become a motivational speaker someday, or maybe an educator of some kind. I would like to share my fortune and pay it forward to help others as many have helped me.

The What’s Underneath Project – Melanie Gaydos

I recently came across something cool: The What’s Underneath Project. The idea is to get people to talk about their sense of style and how they present themselves as they are slowly removing pieces of clothing (down to their undies). It’s not a sexy striptease, but a removal of layers and defenses. I think the idea is to show that “style” goes deeper than the clothes you wear. I obsessively watched nearly all these videos yesterday and found a lot of them to be really interesting because people had some really profound things to say. Other people, I just wanted to slap because, hello, you look freaking awesome, stop hating yourself. 

Of course the one I really want you to look at is Melanie Gaydos’ video. Melanie is a model and has a form of ectodermal dysplasia. I’ve talked to Melanie a couple of times online, and I was always impressed with her strong sense of self and her ability to push herself out into the public eye. When I was younger I had fantasies of being famous, but seeing as I can’t even go to the grocery store in flip-flops, for fear of people gawking at my feet, I don’t expect I’d handle fame too well. 🙂

Melanie has some incredibly profound things to say in her video. Check it out and be amazed.

I really hope to meet this chick in person someday soon! Rock on, Melanie!

To see her modeling work (warning: lots of nudity), visit melaniegaydos.tumblr.com/  


Speak the Truth, Even if Your Voice Shakes

The following TED talk resonates with me in so many ways; some of which I will explain below. In the video, Ash Beckham talks about the difficulty of coming out of the closet.  When you hear ‘coming out’,  you may think it only applies to gay people, but there are many kinds of closets and many kinds of ‘coming out’ moments. As she says, all a closet is is a hard conversation.

When you keep the truth about yourself a secret, you are essentially holding a grenade.

Writing my story here is a way to help me continue coming out of a closet of my own, and maybe inspire you to come out of yours. While in some ways my EEC is obvious – anyone with eyes in their head can see that I have scars and physical imperfections – in many ways I have spent my life trying to conceal this uniqueness from others. This was especially true throughout my school days, when I would rather have died than try to explain my condition to my classmates. I was ashamed of being different and wanted nothing more than to look ‘normal’ so that people would get to know ME instead of judging me on my appearance. Even as an adult, I sometimes found it difficult to go to new places because I was certain that people were staring at me and judging me the whole time.

It wasn’t until I was in my mid-20’s that I began to expand my circle of friends, and in turn, the scope of my social awareness. One summer evening I was at a cookout hosted by some lesbian friends. I looked around at the group and began thinking about how they had all made decisions to ‘come out’ with their identities. They weren’t ashamed of being different, and they didn’t seem concerned with how people would perceive them. Instead, they knew who they were and how they wanted to live and they went for it. They didn’t hide or pretend to be straight. Some of them weren’t even concerned with whether or not they looked female or male. In that moment I made the correlation to my own identity and how I had chosen to express myself. I knew that I wanted to be more “out” about myself and stop worrying so much about what other people would think. I wanted to be confident in myself the way these women were.

Of course, there is some distance between thinking about doing something and actually doing it. Plus, it’s not like coming out about a health issue is as edgy and cool as saying you’re a lesbian. What I really had in mind was to be able to look someone in the eye and answer their questions without blushing or stuttering and feeling like an undesirable. I wanted to change my attitude from “I know I’m weird. Sorry if it’s freaking you out. I’ll leave now” to “Yes, this is who I am. If you don’t like it, it’s your problem, not mine. I have just as much right to be here as you do.”

In the summer of 2011, several years after I’d had my lesbian-inspired epiphany, I found myself at the NFED Family Conference in St. Louis. I wrote about that experience here. Attending the Conference encouraged me to come out of my shell even further. It was a reminder that there are other people out in the world who are just like me. Other people who have successful careers and families and happy lives. They weren’t hiding their ectodermal dysplasia, but instead were living with it and dealing with it, not letting it hold them back.

Throughout this time, there were a series of experiences and people who inspired me to continue to open up and accept myself, flaws and all. It’s not easy to always be open and confident, but like anything else, the more you keep trying to do it, the easier it gets. I still feel like I have a way to go, and I expect that it might be a lifelong challenge for me. Fortunately I have many inspirational and supportive people in my life, and talking about it definitely helps. Talking to people always puts your own challenges in perspective.

As Ash states in her talk;

Hard is not relative. Hard is hard. We all have hard.

Steps to come out of your closet, or to have a hard conversation:

#1 Be Authentic

#2 Be Direct

#3 Be Unapologetic – Never apologize for speaking the truth

The only story that matters is the one you want to write.