Profile of Perseverance: Mo Isom
As I said in my last post, conversations change lives. For me, one of those conversations was seeing Mo Isom being interviewed on Ellen. Watch the video here. Mo's story really inspired me and I had to reach out and connect with her. I'm so excited that today, Mo Isom, is “Speaking From the Heart” and sharing her experiences with all of us.
At just 23, Mo Isom is recognized as a powerful, fearless female voice rising up for her generation. Her unique personal story and athletic endeavors have provided her with a platform to inspire, empower and encourage others to live boldly, despite their circumstances. Having faced great personal tragedy—including battling an eating disorder, overcoming the suicide of her father, and surviving a horrific car accident—Mo is passionate about speaking on a wide variety of topics and is able to connect with men and women of all ages and demographics. Read her interview below.
Why do you believe self-expression (speaking from the heart) is important?
Self-expression is a unique gift that everyone possess and can utilize. It is the fingerprint of an individual's passion. No two people's "passion-prints" are the same, and that is the beauty of the gift. It costs you nothing, you have complete creative freedom, and you can exercise the gift as much or as little as you choose. There are no rules or regulations, there are no governing authorities, there are no censors or judges or permissions that must be sought for you to express what is on your heart and in your mind. You are the sole owner, operator, manager and creative director of your gift and the product produced in response to that gift. Why not take full advantage?
It is important to realize the ownership of that gift in our life. It rewards us autonomy, individuality, and ownership over our emotions and thoughts. When we find our voice, we find strength over our circumstances. We learn the ability to articulate our struggles and self-assess our strengths and weaknesses. We are also empowered to have a little fun and take ourselves WAY less seriously, at times. It is far more than important that we speak from our hearts--it is essential.
How has writing empowered you in other areas of your life?
Writing has been one of the most therapeutic and freeing releases I've ever experienced. I love to speak, and to verbally share my thoughts. But there is something about taking a pen to paper, or letting my fingers dance across a keyboard, that accesses a different area of my brain. It allows me to more fully express myself, it forces me to articulate my thoughts more clearly and in greater detail, and it holds me accountable and responsible for what I am saying, doing, and feeling. It is one thing to allow your thoughts to swirl around in your mind. But when you capture them, write them, and release them, they become a part of your history. And they potentially become a part of someone else's history, if they find their way to your writings.
Writing empowers me to express myself fully and assess my own character. It has made me wiser, bolder, more courageous, and more compassionate. It has strengthened me and challenged me as a daughter, a sister, and a friend. It has held me to a higher standard and allowed me to be weak, when needed. And most importantly, it has humbled me. Because when I have found the courage to formulate some of my deepest fears and pains into words, and share those writings with the world, the response of thousands have overwhelmed me. It has shown me I'm not alone, and that my feelings are felt by many.
How did you find your authentic voice through writing?
It didn't take me long to find my voice in writing. For a while, I wrote how I thought I was "supposed" to write. You know, we are taught in school how to properly formulate sentences and paragraphs and stories. We are taught a structure, and, for a while, I assumed those guidelines were the ONLY way to be taken seriously when writing.
But then something unique happened. I found a topic I wanted to write about and was truly PASSIONATE about. I tried to write about it in the confines of the structure I had been taught, but I grew more and more frustrated. Writing in a formal structure was too binding and didn't allow me to express all that I wanted to say. In my frustration, and with my stubborn ambition, I decided to "stick it to the man" and write how I WANTED to write, rather than how I was told. It was risky, but it was the only way I was able to fully express my thoughts. And I took the chance in turning in that assignment.
When I received the assignment back, not only had I received the highest marks in the class, but my teacher pulled me aside afterwards and praised my authenticity and unique style. I was very young, and I took a very big chance, and because of that boldness, I have never looked back in writing since. My "voice" is very much that--a voice. I write in a stream-of-consciousness style. Sentences can be choppy. Adjectives can be excessive. Punctuation can be questionable, at times. But I found that readers really respond powerfully because they read the words and feel, in the end, like I've read their minds. While I'm not psychic, I am honest. And in honestly writing out what I was actively thinking--whether it be too casual or too formal for the moment--I was able to find a voice that connected with the reader's voice.
How did you develop the courage to stand tall (i.e., get the courage to share your writing)?
While I enjoyed writing and wrote often growing up, I did not begin releasing my writings to the masses until I was a sophomore in college. And actually, the time I began writing for others to read was the lowest and most painful moment of my life. I did not have much courage. In fact, I had none. I was in a state of depression and rather than feeling courageous...I felt nothing. It was the numbness of my heart that helped guide the words onto the page. I had just lost my father to suicide and come close to losing my own life in a horrible car accident not long after. I was recovering, physically and emotionally, but I was not very motivated. I felt like I had just endured the darkest times I could have ever imagined and the world had continued to move forward. The problem was, I couldn't move forward. I couldn't even move. I was stuck and numb and weary.
So in an effort to remind my friends and family why I was so very motionless, I chose to begin sharing all of my scars. I chose to begin disclosing everything I was feeling in the hopes that people would understand why I wasn't myself. In the hopes someone would help. I shared everything. Everything. And then the most amazing thing happened.
In forcing myself to write through the numbness, I found strength. In hearing the response and feedback, I found hope. In sharing the depths of my brokenness, I found healing. I learned that in giving voice to what binds us, we break through the power the bondage has over us. The more we speak to our weaknesses, the more irrelevant their weight becomes. You see, writing began to force me to solve the puzzles of my dilemmas. If I had just written about my experience and that was that, I wouldn't have had anything else to share. But when you write about your experiences and receive feedback from readers, you find the courage to share more. And if no "more" exists, you must solve the puzzle to find out what the full picture looks like. And in navigating your way through that healing, you find the "more" they look forward to hearing.
Writing gave me the RESPONSIBILITY of finding courage to write more.
When you have a hard time writing, what do you to work through it?
I whine and complain and eat and mope around. Haha. Seriously! There is nothing more frustrating than not knowing how to articulate what you are trying to say, not WANTING to articulate what you know you NEED to say, or worse, feeling like you don't have anything to say at all. It's maddening and exhausting and I usually spend a good while grumping around and putting on a pity-party for myself.
But my "writer's block" always serves as a great reminder of my complacency--and it eventually "clicks" in my mind that I write best when I'm relaxed and inspired and passionate. So, I literally take a day off and go do something I love that has nothing to do with writing whatsoever. I spend the day outdoors exercising or I run errands or I spend time serving someone and helping someone with their needs. I wrap my heart in something that I know fuels my love-tank, and inevitably, that love overflows into my mind and gently reminds me of the passion I feel for the material I am writing about. It gives me a breather, reminds me to take myself less seriously, and beckons me back to the pages of my unfinished work to complete what I started with zeal and joy.
How did you find your support group?
I was fortunate to be born into it. My mom and my sister are my greatest encouragers. I am also blessed with a wonderful boyfriend who knows how much writing means to me and always challenges me to push myself further with my writings. My support group is also comprised of my readers and my followers. They are the greatest support of all! Their honest feedback, relentless encouragement, and returned viewership is all the motivation I need to continue making myself vulnerable for the sake of THEM finding their strength.
Any advice for new writers/authors?
This will sound so cliche, but be YOURSELF. Your ability to express yourself is one of the most valuable things you own. Do not be discouraged by the negativity that may come from those who are too afraid to be honest with themselves. KNOW that you have full permission to be exactly who you are, and never stop navigating your way to being a better version of yourself. Take the bumps and bruises that come with taking risks with grace and humility. Always be quick to listen and slow to speak. As a writer, your words are your most powerful asset. Be wise, vulnerable, and real.
Thanks for speaking from your heart and empowering others, Mo! Keep up the fantastic work!
Interested in hearing more of Mo's journey. Watch the video below.
If you have any specific questions for Mo about her writing process, please feel free to ask :)
What lesson(s) did you learn from reading Mo's interview? Write the lesson down and your thoughts on the topic (i.e., why it spoke to you). If you met Mo, what would you like to tell her.
Thank you for reading and your presence at this beach retreat. You Rock! I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment section below.
See you at the beach!
- Speaking From the Heart Interview: Mo Isom (MoIsom.com)