I have been considering this post for months. An official answer, to the best of my ability, the intermittent questions of how, why & what I am doing with this entity of ParagonFire. I hope to help you all understand tonight. It is so important to me, but it does leave me in a place of some vulnerability, which is always scary and needed. Passing out of your comfort zone is critical to move toward something new.
The first time I remember writing something intentionally, entirely because I wanted to, it was a report on a giant clam. I was laying on my stomach, on the short brown and white carpet of my grandmother's living room. Next to me, was a small book shelf that was no taller than I was, and on that shelf was a treasure that matched no other in my small world. An old, likely quite outdated, encyclopedia set. I LOVED it. I read the encyclopedia for fun - I know, I know. This was likely some of the first clear signs of my overt nerd-self. But, one day, I found some wide rule, free sheet notebook paper and decided I was going to start writing. I flipped through pages until I landed on the giant clam and I wrote my first report. And by report, I mean a complete word-for-word-copy of the encyclopedia entry. That's right folks, I learned the difference between a report, paraphrasing and plagiarism all in one day after I deliver my masterpiece to my family seated in the kitchen.
One might think this may have stymied my writing, but in fact, it was the place in which it was born. I wrote poems and short stories. I even relished writing essay assignments. A few won local awards, others were used at varying events. My greatest honor then, and likely the greatest I will ever receive, has been to have some of my work written, read and even framed, by my family.
As I grew older, writing took on that requirement of undergraduate and graduate school, and I had several years were I rarely wrote creatively. Except one moment in time, a moment intended to surprise my family - I entered a writing competition in undergrad. The prize? The graduation commencement speech.
Intermingled with writing, was a love of learning about leadership, of how to use those skills to help others, to inspire others, to be a force of change for the better. From national honor society to missions trips, leading volunteer service projects and coordinating fundraisers, to finally helping others through medicine. This is what set my soul on fire. Helping improve the lives of others.
ParagonFire was born out of my love of writing, leadership (which turned out to really be genres of personal and professional development) and that desire to find a small way to help improve the lives of others. If something I write can inspire or help you, my friend, to step toward YOUR dreams, I truly believe that is for the good of humanity.
But, ParagonFire was not built and launched as quickly as it may seem. You see, it is built on the ashes of my first blog, one I started back in residency. My husband helped me build my first blog after our son was born. It was Tumblr based blog with it's own webpage. That blog(that will forever remain nameless now out of honor for its great sacrifice in the name of experience), was where I learned what it would take to write a blog. I made so many mistakes - the branding was all wrong, I chose catchy but not authentic. I did not understand my own brand, because back then, I do not think I even understood who I was amidst residency call days, a newborn son and impending fellowships.
I would say the blog was a failure, in fact I used to say that. But truth is, it was a raging success - as a lesson in what NOT to do. I started reading more blogs. I read blogs about blogging. I dedicated time to defining myself, my goals and my brand. I took branding courses including BrandFluency (AMAZING). And then, Michael and I started over.
The name, the logo, the intent - MONTHS in the making before launch because it had to feel perfect. ParagonFire, the diamond born from unassuming coal through fire and pressure, was what spoke to my soul. But someone else owned the website. Nothing else we could find felt right. Heartbroken may not be a strong enough word for how I felt at losing a brand I had not even been able to fully actualize. Fate, however, had different plans and we were able to buy the URL. Build the site, launch this blog. That is the past.
Today, I am still learning. But, I am writing about content I LOVE. I write to help and inspire others on my deep-set belief that we can change this world for the better. One day, one action, one post at a time. This is the present.
The future? Ah, that is were the vulnerability and nerves set in. If you could see me, you would see the furrowed brow, the slightly pursed lips and perhaps feel the slight tension in the air and I sit and think about the words.
If I could whisper the next part into your ear, as though it is a unsettling secret, that is EXACTLY what I would do. But alas, I cannot. So, here goes.
The future, I hope with hard work, my writing classes plus "coach" and all of the support of my amazing family and friends will result in two things 1) that the book I have been intermittently working on for the last two years or so will become a reality (still gives me goosebumps to think I am officially, and formally (see above "coach" comment) chasing the lifelong dream of writing a book)!
And 2), I hope to expand the blog from simply writing to eventually providing meaningful resources that I hope will help others live by the same words I have adopted : Purpose. Inspire. Transform.
My only calling in this life is to help improve the lives of others. I am blessed to do this through medicine and I dream that ParagonFire will be another facet of this calling. Some of you will read this and know it is not for you. That is ok - You do you!
Some of you will be inspired. Will want more. To those I say, thank you for hearing my heart.
Welcome to the fire.