I am a French female blogger living in the US and I share my views with a different perspective, on disabilities, religion, cultural differences, social media, sociological, psychological and political comments, everyday moods and events of an atypical family.

I have been blogging since 2006 and gradually entered the world of social media which in turn changed my relationship with my work. I now advise small businesses and non-profit organizations on how to develop their online visibility and presence and help them navigate the new means of communication and tools that are changing today’s world.

All about me

Otir: a French blogger since 2006
Otir – an online avatar that everyone knows

I started blogging in French. My very first blog was intended to retell some of the very particular stories of my everyday life, far from my family and friends I had left behind when I moved to the United States in 1998. I wanted to let them picture what it was like here, with my children and how things could be so different from what they were imagining. I had in mind that sharing our experience could be eye-opening. I had always been passionate about cultural differences, after all, that is why I had undertaken language studies when I was in my twenties, dreaming of being an interpreter at the United Nations (I never pursued this career).

I blogged daily. Every day there was a new story that was coming to my mind that I could share. Sometimes, it was about my son with autism, sometimes it was about something in the neighborhood that had surprised me, sometimes it was about my other son and his school, sometimes it was about my victories with my life, sometimes it was about a painful memory or a funny one. Every day I felt inspired and I did not really mind whether I had lots of readers or not, I just was happy to feel free to write and blog. It was easy and the tool was exhilarating. My readership grew by the virtue of the networks: we all had blogrolls, and from one click to another we were encountering other bloggers, some who were pioneers, at a time when blogging was still an oddity.

My readers became very interested in my views on my country of adoption. After all, what they knew about the United States was biased by the mainstream media and having first-hand accounts of how we were living our lives, very very far from what Hollywood or CNN would choose to picture, was very appealing. That is how I realized the power of first-person accounts in the ability to change people’s perspective and to broaden points of view. That’s where I saw the power of blogging.

I was also writing about our practicing rituals from a different religion, a minority one. Speaking about religious matters in French can feel bizarre sometimes because religion is often a taboo matter, as much as speaking about sex would be in America. I was very open about my being Jewish and about my having absolutely no agenda to proselytize. I discovered how much I loved talking about my faith, my rituals, my synagogue through blogging.

My network had grown and it felt like I was never alone, an exhilarating feeling when you go through a painful divorce, life with a special needs child, single-parenting, adapting to a new culture, in a different language, and with different rules. At the same time, living in a very supportive rural community was multiplying this feeling of being cared for, carried and inspired to grow and give back.

In 2004, at the time of my divorce, I had started a small business, with absolutely no knowledge about what I was doing. I only knew I had to be independent, as I wanted to keep my family in the same school district that was supporting the needs of my autistic son. I had already been a freelancer but I had never really grown a business and everything was new and exciting. I could call this experience “Everything you don’t want to try for fear of failing I tried for you“. Small businesses can thrive or fail within their three first years of existence, mine did pass the threshold and I claimed a victory that boosted my self-confidence and repaired the damages of the divorce if not financially, at least morally.
In 2008, four years after my divorce, and still single, with two sons to raise far away from home, I was managing my small business, had purchased a condominium in the school district I wanted to stay with for my sons’ sakes, developed a strong community of wonderful friends in my town and with my synagogue. Things were never easy, especially with my older son whose handicaps were more and more apparent, but he was still attending the wonderful school I had stayed for, and I could not feel better about the choices I had made even if they did not always make sense to everyone.

The financial collapse that hit the US did not come as a surprise to me. I had a feeling that things had not been healthy in the economic realm, and the crisis did not hit me as badly as for those who had wealth: I had nothing to lose and I had been already trained to live with no safety net at all. It was much more difficult for the community around and I could see people hurt during the next years and the town starting to suffer so many of the consequences of the meltdown.

My business started to suffer a couple of years later, and at the same time I was not entirely passionate at growing it, so I started to think about using my passion and creativity more and fold this one business while starting an online one, which I did in 2011 when I created Angel Wings Web. Because of my presence online and as an early adopter of social media, I had developed friendship and a fabulous online network that boosted my confidence that I could entirely reinvent myself, learn new skills and compete with young entrepreneurs who could be my children because of my age!

(to be continued… this page is a work in progress)


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