This year, I am trying a new challenge called Blogtober. It is a challenge among bloggers to post a new blog post every day for the month of October. I only just found out about this challenge this year, and it reminds me a lot of NaNoWriMo in terms of being a great motivator to write daily. Last year, I tried NaNoWriMo and had a great experience. Unfortunately, I completely neglected my blog while I worked on my novel and have been struggling to get back into a blogging rhythm ever since. I am really hoping that Blogtober will help me rediscover my blogging groove. The suggested prompt for today (in a Blogtober facebook group that I found) is All About Me – so here it goes…
I blog under the name Ana Sharkey – which is sort of a pen name and sort of not. My first name has several possible nicknames, of which Ana is one of the easiest and Sharkey is a family name. I chose a different writing name than the name I go by in daily life to protect my son’s privacy when I wrote an essay about his experience with autism many years ago. I have continued writing under this name ever since. I also only refer to my kids by their middle names on this blog. I make it a point not to write about anything that my kids wouldn’t be comfortable sharing and focus more on myself than personal information about my kids. Plenty of people that we know in daily life are aware of this blog, but I changed the names so that no one can ever google their names and find this site anyway.
I live in the White Mountains of New Hampshire in a charming town called Littleton. We visited the area on vacation one year and fell it love. It is an amazing place and I am so happy that my kids get to grow up here. I tend to blog about the area quite a bit, just because I love it so much and I want to share that information with the world.
I am married to a great guy named Cal. We met in college, we went to different schools, but met because we were in the same city. I was a freshman, he was a senior. We have two awesome kids, Ryan (10) and Saoirse (3). We also have a super sweet dog named Rusty.
I had Ryan the summer after my sophomore year in college, when I was 20. I thought that my life was over at the time. It wasn’t though, and now I have a really great kid with a truly amazing creative mind (who is now 10). I was really fortunate, that my university was so supportive and helpful at a time when I was clueless and terrified. I took a year off, then went back to school and finished with a BA in Psychology.
After college, I went to grad school and got my Master’s in Social Work. I was passionate about helping others and especially helping survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual assault. I love the field and the work, but it is definitely emotionally draining as well. While I was in grad school, my son, Ryan was 3-5. When he was 3, we started to realize that he needed different supports to do well. He was diagnosed with autism and has since thrived, but those years were a real struggle while we figured out the best ways to support him and meet his needs.
The combination of grad school, two emotionally taxing clinical practica, and trying to help Ryan get the supports he needed burned me out. It actually took me another three years to finally complete my thesis and officially obtain my degree (the maximum amount of time that my grad school allowed). After grad school, I took the year off from working to focus my energy on helping Ryan. Then we moved to New Hampshire, and initially settled in a part of the state where I couldn’t really pull off working, since it would have meant a substantial commute and there was no childcare available for before or after school (which wouldn’t have been a great fit for Ryan even if it had been available). While we were living in that part of the state, I also had our daughter, Saoirse (now three years old). She is sweet and fiery.
Cal and I got married in the Aran Islands of Ireland, in June of 2017. It was a beautiful ceremony and an amazing experience. It was just the two of us, our officiant, our two kids, and my sister who came along to help with the kids and take pictures for us. It was easily the best trip that I have ever taken, and I hope to go back to Ireland again soon (though maybe kid-free so we can explore a little more).
Less than two years ago, we made the move to Northern New Hampshire. The part of the state that other people will have you believe is nothing but undeveloped wilderness. We do have beautiful wilderness up here, but also plenty of civilization. We felt so isolated in the area of the state where we previously lived, up here we found vibrancy, community, and far more amenities than I could ever imagine finding in a town of this size. Moving up here has been an amazing transformation for all of our lives.
I am still a stay-at-home mom. I think a lot about jumping back into the mental health field, I do love helping others. Right now, though, Saoirse is only in preschool for a few hours a day and I find myself pretty busy between working on writing and community building.
My goal for this year is to write seriously. I have always loved writing and I would love to see if I can do something with that. Keeping this blog has a few purposes. Mainly it is to keep me writing and give me an outlet for creative expression. I also blog to put more information about my area out there, and share with others, which is a resource I would have loved to have found when I was researching our move. I also have a first draft of a novel, that I need to work on. I wrote it for my son, it is a story that he and I talked about for years before I finally sat down and started writing it out. Now I am trying to work my way through editing it to create something that people will actually want to read.
I am looking forward to connecting with more bloggers and readers during Blogtober. More than anything though, I am hoping that this month will help me get back into my blogging routine.