Each week at Embrace Disruption we introduce you to an influential person in the digital, blogger, arts, culture, film, or media world! Every Thursday, you can check back at EDPR to find out who we think is particularly amazing at ‘embracing disruption’ within their respective industries.
This week, we’d like to introduce you to Robin Farr, the woman behind the popular postpartum depression and motherhood blog, Farewell Stranger
What’s your official job title, and where did you go to school?
I have a day job, but for the purposes of this interview my title is Blogger. I have a bachelor’s degree in family studies from the University of British Columbia and a master’s in professional communications from Royal Roads University.
Elevator pitch. Describe yourself in a nutshell (or sea shell, or any shell for that matter).
Mine is totally a sea shell. I was born near the mountains but grew up by the ocean. As a kid I spent hours playing on beaches and poking in tide pools and those things became a central part of my identity. And yet when I grew up and got brave enough, I moved back to the mountains because that’s where I thought I should be. So many of the good things in my life are because I was brave enough to take a leap and find my wings on the way down.
Why did you pursue what you’re doing now? What was the inspiration?
I started blogging about postpartum depression on New Year’s Day 2011 (because part of me is neat and tidy like that; no random Tuesdays for me). I had been struggling for 2 ½ years by that point and I was trying to take back control. I had a story to tell and I thought that if I told it, it might help me get better and might just help someone else along the way. It did both, and also released my long-hidden inner writer. I missed her and didn’t realize how much until she came out to play.
What is the best part of your day-to-day?
In terms of blogging, I have two very different best parts. One is that I love sitting down to write knowing that I can write whatever I want. I can publish it if I want to, or not. I can break all the rules of writing. I can play with images. Each post is how I’m feeling in that moment and no one gets to dictate my content but me.
The other best thing is when I hear from other moms who are struggling and have come to me for help. That’s such a huge indication of faith and trust and it humbles me every time. And to know that something I have written or said helps another mom through an incredibly difficult thing makes all the times I’ve been vulnerable so worth it.
What’s the most challenging?
There are times when I have nothing to say and, given how much I have processed my world through words since I started blogging, it makes it feel very much like something is missing. Just as bad—worse, maybe—are the times I have something I want to say that won’t come out. That usually means it’s not time for it to come out, but I haven’t yet learned to be patient while waiting.
If you took a look in the cliché crystal ball, what do you see for yourself?
It depends on the day. Some days I look ahead and see more of the same, and I pray that I don’t get to the end of my life and wish I had done more with it. One of my best friends and I have what we call the goat-pant analogy. You know those people you see on the bus to work day in and day out, who sit there looking bored and unhappy and whose office-appropriate pants smell a little bit musty when it rains? No one wants to be stuck in goat pants forever. So most of the time I look into that ball and see someone who has taken risks and pursued joy and figured out how to make time for the things in life that matter. (And yes, sometimes that’s ice cream.) Three years ago I was climbing the corporate ladder. Now I’m climbing out the bus window, shedding the goat pants and wondering what else I can do that will leave some virtual “I was here!” graffiti on the walls of my world.
How do you embrace disruption in your work and personal life?
I’ve always enjoyed change, whether that’s a new job or an opportunity to rearrange my living room. Stagnant=boring. I am, and always have been, a fatalist. I believe things happen for a reason and we have to learn something from every experience. It’s taken me longer to accept it, but I also think sometimes we don’t get to know why things happen.
My experience with postpartum depression and the massive disruption that caused to both my work (because of a four-month leave from my job) and personal life has reinforced those beliefs. I never asked for that experience. I never wanted it or saw it coming. But it had a purpose, all right. So I’m just embracing the opportunities that something incredibly hard has brought to me.
What is the most memorable moment in your career?
The TEDx talk I did in 2011.I shared my experience with postpartum depression and how for so long I wore a mask to hide it, and how when I finally took that mask off and asked for help I realized how common it is and how much we can help others by sharing our struggles. I was supposed to have six minutes and one of the producers was going to give me time signals, but he didn’t because people were engaged. So, lost as I was in my very emotional story, I just kept going. It ended up being 18 minutes and at the end I got a standing ovation. It was something I’ll never forget.
Do you support any initiatives or charities?
I informally support all kinds of things. If a friend is fundraising for something I try to contribute to that, but my own work focuses mostly on charities and programs that support postpartum mood disorders or cancer (which both my parents had – at the same time!). Those include:
Postpartum Progress: http://postpartumprogress.org/
Ovarian Cancer Canada: http://www.ovariancanada.org/
Tell us what you see yourself doing at 65 years old.
Writing, travelling, playing with (or eagerly anticipating) grandchildren, enjoying ice cream (and my husband’s pie), continuing to speak up on behalf of those who can’t do it for themselves.
Just for fun: if you had to pick one app in the whole APPVERSE, what would it be?
That’s a really mean question. The boring answer: a white noise app. (The one thing I don’t like having disrupted is my sleep.) The slightly more interesting answer: Camera+ because I love playing with iPhonography. (I realize that’s not a whole lot more interesting. But hey, at least I’m not a Candy Crush addict, right?)