Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do...

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Sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful social media handle...

It was late 2007 when I started thinking that a blog might be just the thing to give me a creative outlet while still adjusting to living in a new city with newborn twins, which now had our kid tally at 8. Eight children, new town, few friends, lots of laundry, lots of adjustment.

I had sent out a weekly news email for quite a while to all the extended family so the idea of collecting our little life stories throughout the week and making them electronically available to friends and family through the platform of a blog sounded like something right up my alley. My dad helped set me up with my own new shiny laptop, I made myself a blogspot account and got ready to write.

Twenty years before, in my pre-kid radio and television days, some level of privacy had been important to me. Several of the deejays and anchors I worked with all had pseudonyms. I liked the idea that using a different name could afford me some space and so I went by Julie Michaels on air. It was a cutesy little nod to this guy that I was seriously dating at the time. The guy I went on to marry.

Fast forward to this new blog thing and I figured that I would follow the same precept. I hunted around for a cute moniker that would encompass our family life but wanted it to be something a bit pithy.

'Octamom' was born.

Many of the blog friends I met in that early blogging season also went by created names that were handles to their interests and season of life. Octamom fit me just fine and I opened my Twitter account, email and a slew of other things under that name.

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And then...

A gal out in California gave birth to octuplets. And the media pretty much highjacked my cute little name. No matter that the addition of this gal's octuplets combined with her other children made has a mother of 14. The media latched on to the Octamom/Octomom name with determination.

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At that time, I was contacted frequently about selling my octamom domain, about giving over the rights of the name on a variety of social media platforms. I really figured all the hubbub about the California mom, Nadya Suleman, would soon die down, and I would go back to enjoying my clever little blog name without the interference of pretenders or interlopers.

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Yeah no.

Nope.

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The media frenzy only became more intense. I had people coming to the blog and to my social media accounts mistaking me for the other gal and freely giving their opinion about her lifestyle and parenting choices. I had all kinds of identity confusion occur in the two or three years after she made her appearance on the national scene. On the plus side, I had people come to the blog looking for the other gal who stayed and became dedicated readers and web friends. On the minus side, it was a little messy having my blog and social media identity wrapped up in another person. But I really liked my Octamom name. I really wanted to keep it. And I'd had to fight for it. And by rights it was mine.

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So I stayed the course.

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When my agent and I first starting getting my first iteration of a formalized book proposal out there almost four years ago, there was certainly conversation, concern and fascination with the Octamom name. One publisher bluntly told my agent that the Octamom would have to change, based on all the negative press that was swirling at the time. Time passed, we reworked the proposal a couple of times, the Nadya Suleman story began to die down.

My Octamom name remained in place.

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Until now.

It's time.

Now that my book has found a publishing home, now that I'm thinking through what I hope to communicate to people, seeing that the Octamom name still has baggage and assumption and nuance tied to it, well...sigh.

It's time.

When you've got smart people around you like Rusty Shelton at the Re:write Conference telling authors to use their names and when you find yourself explaining again for the umpteenth time that you're not 'that octomom' and when your agent lovingly, gently and firmly tells you to lose it, well, then you know.

It's time.

So you'll notice a few changes around my web world. My Twitter handle is now JulieLylesCarr. And with some patience and multiple phone calls to my domain name providers and some interesting little coding changes, Octamom.com is now JulieLylesCarr.com ~~even if you type in the old name. My author page on Facebook will be changing as well...things like name changes take a little longer in the FB world.

And for all you writers out there, take a page from this gal; awesome, catchy blog and website names are awesome, but the moral to the story is you never know when someone might have octuplets and highjack your name. Just sayin'.



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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Spring in Our Steps!

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Spring is definitely on our doorstep here in the good ol' ATX. #SXSW is in full swing, MoPac is packed, a few thundershowers roll through and the red buds are in all their glory! So that also means it's just about time for some new classes for LifeWomen at LifeAustin. You can find a full list by clicking here.

I'll be leading Karen Ehman's latest curriculum called Keep It Shut. I was delighted to voice the audiobook (you can listen to a sample by clicking here) for Karen and am so excited to teach this material. It seems to be a universal struggle, the taming of our tongues. The gift of language that can change the world and convey love and give voice to ideas can also wreak havoc and destruction when we don't use our words wisely. That's where Karen's series comes in. Karen gives great, biblical insight and personal experience on 'what to say, how to say it and when to say nothing at all." I'll be teaching this class on a couple of different days. If you're interested in taking the Tuesday morning class, beginning April 7th, 2015, at 9:30am at LifeAustin, you can register below.

LifeWomen w/Pastor Julie Lyles Carr: Keep It Shut

If an evening time slot is better for your schedule, I'd love to have you at our Wednesday night class, beginning Wednesday, April 8th, 2015 at 7pm.

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Life U/ Pastor Julie Lyles Carr/ Keep It Shut

You can also see a complete list of all of our Wednesday night upcoming classes by clicking here.

Ahhhh. The freshness of spring, a chance to put a little spring in our spiritual steps. Would love to have you join us!

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Oh What a Night!

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What a night.

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It's hard to know even where to begin.

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This was our third 2dance2dream recital.
Our biggest.
With the largest number of dance schools and dance companies participating, all helping raise funds, awareness and celebration for our 2dance2dream dancers.

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Warning: tons of pictures ahead. The amazing Shannon Lafayette donated her time and talent to the evening.

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From Austin-area student companies to dance professionals, the evening Take the Stage was an amazing experience in the art and heart of dance for people of all abilities.

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I wish there was some way to convey just how magically the show unfolded, how much enthusiasm the audience brought for the dancers, how much joy and love was exchanged and received.

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So I suppose I'll just let Shannon's pictures do the talking.

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Alisa's Dance Academy, Balance Dance Studios, Evolution Dance Center and The Dance Spot, all from the Austin-area, each brought pieces from their competition companies. And we were thrilled to have the owner of our newest campus in Murfreesboro, TN, on hand for the evening, Cole Freeman with Dance Star! Austin professional company Reverence Dance Project also performed, as did Pivot Dance.

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So thankful for these amazing studio owners, their huge hearts, their vision for seeing the dance world expand to include people of all abilities. Our 2dance2dream dancers are so thankful for their generosity and love.

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A huge shout-out to Enterprise for their generous grant to the 2dance2dream program. And we are so thankful for the army of volunteers who helped put together our most successful silent auction to date! We are also thankful for 2nd Generation for capturing the whole evening on video.

The trophy ceremony at the end of the evening was simply electric. It is just an honor to see our 2dance2dream kids receive their trophies for all their hard work for the year.  Thank you to Crown Trophy for helping make these awards so special!  And also to LifeAustin for so generously hosting the 2dance2dream Take the Stage event!

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There just isn't thanks enough to fully express our gratitude for the amazing people who donated, performed, prayed, cheered, photographed, helped, set up, cleaned up, celebrated. Thank you so much for giving the gift of dance.

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Legacy of Hope Austin
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You can see more of the pictures from this great night by going to the Take the Stage online album.




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