Heather O’Brien: Manifesting My Destiny

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Heather of The Destiny Manifest

Please welcome Heather to my blog today! Heather is a married mama of two tween girls and one stillborn baby girl. She’s been writing at The Destiny Manifest since 2001. She writes about appreciating all of the beautiful little things that surround us, particularly in the face of grief, infant loss and mental health issues. Every day is an adventure!

You can find Heather on Facebook, Twitter and on Pinterest, pinning beautiful little things (especially late at night)!


Show Us Your Writer Roots!

I’ve always been a writer. I received my first journal when I was eight years old, and I was off and writing. I kept detailed notes on everything from what I got for Christmas to how much my little brother was annoying me. As I got older, my journals became my closest companions, and I recorded all the minutiae of my life in their accepting pages.

Life was not ever as accepting as my journals were.

I was a target in middle school — not athletic, overweight and terribly shy. The more that I was picked on at school, the more I receded into my shell. I had one friend, a very sympathetic cat, and my journals. I didn’t feel like I could really talk to my friend. I was terrified that she would stop being my friend if I did or said the wrong thing. My cat did a fine job of listening, but that wasn’t quite enough.

In my journals, I found peace. I learned at a very early age that I could write down the thoughts and fears that rattled around in my head, and once they were contained on paper, I felt better.

In high school, I found more friends, including some that were great for long talks and shared secrets, but still I continued to write. By this point, writing was an integral part of myself, and I’d spend time every night, often staying up late to finish a story or thought that just had to be committed to paper.

I found the Internet in 1999 and fell right into the blogging world. I loved that I could read other people’s writings, that I could have insight into how other’s lives were lived. I taught myself a little html, registered for a free web server, and began separate blogs for my wedding plans, for an online game that my first husband and I played (Ultima Online, in case you’re curious) and for my first pregnancy. I don’t think anyone besides me read what I wrote, but I’d been bitten by the blogging bug.

I still wrote in my journals, but not nearly as much as I once had. Life was happy and easy, and since I’d spent most of my writing life recording negative emotions and feelings, there didn’t seem to be much to write about.

When my oldest was born in 2001, I started fresh with a brand new blog and decided to call it The Destiny Manifest. The name started out as a play-on-words of “Manifest Destiny” — my internal quest for expansion. I realized after I’d chosen the name that it was more perfect than I’d thought. With each word that I write, I am manifesting my own destiny, as well as keeping a manifest, or record, of my own destiny and the path it leads me on.

My blog writing has waxed and waned over the last decade. I would throw myself into writing blog posts about my family and then write nothing for months on end when life’s other distractions intervened. My blog was not a priority during that phase of my life, though I rather liked having it there, available to slip on when the mood struck.

During the trauma of my divorce and subsequent mental breakdown in 2006, I didn’t blog very much, but I filled multiple journals by hand. Writing saved me in many ways during those terrible couple of years, as I embraced my old feelings of writing down the crazy thoughts and fears on paper, to get them out of my head.

I found happiness and recovery while holding the hand of my high school sweetheart, David. In the sunshine of our new life together, I rediscovered blogging and fell headlong back into it. From there, I haven’t looked back. I still journal by hand, but not nearly as much as I used to. As I became more proficient at writing for an audience, I gathered more readers, which provided more motivation to write, and still does.

I’ve learned that I can write the good, the bad, and the ugly, and I can record the trials and adventures of my family in a way that makes it interesting to other people. I have learned that the only way for me to work through the various trials of my life is to write through them.

Through my blog and my writing, I am manifesting my destiny, and I am pleased to share this journey with others. I’ve learned to embrace the feedback and dialogue that opens up when you write from the heart and share a part of yourself with the world… and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

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  • Mary @ A Teachable Mom

    Beautiful story and an amazing journey. Thank you for sharing yourself with us in such an honest, humble way. I can’t imagine going through the loss of a child and I’m sorry for your loss and pain. Journaling has saved my life and sanity many times over, and I’m grateful to have found blogging, even if it was just last year. Thank you for a lovely read this morning. And I love the name “Manifest Destiny” – perfection!

    • http://www.thedestinymanifest.com Heather O.

      Thank you for reading, Mary, and for your comments! :)

  • http://www.thedestinymanifest.com Heather O.

    Thank you so much for having me today, Erin! It is an honor. :)

  • http://janinehuldie.com/ Janine Huldie

    Heather, I loved reading how you got into writing and was pretty much the same with writing in middle school and high school too in journals. Somewhere along the way though I stopped, but am now so happy that I found my own way back. Truly enjoyed learning a bit more about you here and just thank Erin for doing this with you :)

    • http://www.thedestinymanifest.com Heather O.

      Thank you Janine! I appreciate your words! :)

  • Bethany @ No Twiddle Twaddle

    Beautiful post, Heather. And, I’m glad to have met you. You have a real gift with words.

    • http://www.thedestinymanifest.com Heather O.

      Thank you Bethany! I’m glad to have met you too. I think I’m a little more eloquent in writing than in person… much less socially awkward! 😉

  • http://twitter.com/OhBoy_Mom Emily Cappo

    Great guest post and thank you for sharing your journey Heather…you sound like a very strong, courageous person who could really help others.

    • http://www.thedestinymanifest.com Heather O.

      Thank you, Emily! :)

  • Debi

    THis is how it works for us writers. We write to process, to feel our feelings, we write as if no one is reading and through it we share our true story. When someone comments and lets us know that they can identify, or that we have helped or they have been where we are, those are the moments of connection and they are awesome.

    • http://www.thedestinymanifest.com Heather O.

      Yes, exactly! Thank you for commenting and giving me that moment of connection! :)

  • Lady Jennie

    This is such a beautiful story – so heartbreaking, but so full of courage too.

    • http://www.thedestinymanifest.com Heather O.

      Thank you for reading, Lady Jennie. :)