Thursday, March 28, 2013

Happy Places

I have two happy places in my head.

Oh come on, admit it - we all like to live in our heads more than in reality, right? Well, if you're a writer or a reader this may be true. (Or maybe it's just me...)

When I feel happy, content, and truly alive, it's when my mind is in its happy place. The first happy place is my writing/reading world. The second is my history world.

First, an explanation. Going to my happy place does not mean I retreat from reality or others around me. I don't go into some kind of weird trance and completely ignore my surroundings. Instead, my happy place is more of a mindset.

When I am deeply immersed in writing and in the writing/reading world - reading writing blogs or books or connecting with other writers or readers - I feel content, energetic, motivated, and most of all, at peace. Why? Because I am looking at the world through the lens of this happy place. Life is clearer, sharper. It makes more sense. It's the same when I'm immersed in a history project.

Today I came back from the library with a stack of books that I can't wait to read, and the bliss I felt while walking down the sidewalk (probably a little lopsided since it was a BIG stack), was incredible. All was right with the world. I wanted to go home and write or read (but of course, I couldn't due to the day job) because I wanted to be completely submerged in my art. I wanted to spend the afternoon reading Daphne du Maurier's Jamaica Inn or Susanna Kearsley's The Winter Sea with my cats at my feet. I wanted to write my novel and enjoy the process instead of dreading it.

In short, when I'm in my happy places, anything is possible. I don't think about my shoddy health or the bills that have to be paid or the appointments I have to keep. All that stuff matters, but it doesn't matter a bit when my mind is set on what I love to do.

It's been this way for as long as I can remember. From my first days as a writer, I still have fond memories that conjure up a state of happiness. The same can be said for my love of history. The two loves - history and writing - are so closely entwined that I come to think of them as the same sometimes.

This all boils down to one thing: these happy places represent my passions. I am at home here.

And like they say, there's no place like home.

Monday, March 25, 2013

I Proudly Admit It

Yep. I am a writer. And I am weird.

I have no problem admitting this to the world.

So there.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Being Positive

Why is it so hard to stay positive?

I had another really bad flare up on Monday that kept me home, pretty much bedridden, for most of the day. I didn't go to work the next day, either, thus further diminishing my already dwindling paid leave.

To say that I was frustrated was a tremendous understatement, especially since I had already taken a sick day last week. But such is life.

While discussing all of this with my husband last night, he said, "You have to stay positive. Once you tell your brain, 'I'm done', then it's all over. How do you think people survived the concentration camps or being tortured? They didn't give up."

Point taken.

I'm realizing more and more that we under utilize our brain's capacity to influence our health. A negative outlook on our health surely isn't doing us - or me - any favors. But how do you keep that mindset when you're in agony? How do you stay positive when your joints and body hurt so bad that you can barely move?

I'm searching for answers to this as I do not want to live the rest of my life with a negative attitude about my health.

So I'm asking you, oh wise blog followers, for advice.

How do you stay positive?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

One of THOSE Posts...

If you're reasonably healthy, please take a moment to realize just how wonderful a gift that is. Because really, it IS a gift.

I am not reasonably healthy. I maybe have one or two days a week where I feel really good. The other days I may feel decent, but not great. More often than not, I teeter between a good and bad day. I can feel great in the morning and lousy in the afternoon or vice versa.

And then once every few weeks, I get hit with a flare-up of my rheumatoid arthritis, or my headache gets out of control and turns into a migraine, or I wake up with nausea and weak limbs and can barely get out of bed (like this morning), or I am hit with such exhaustion that I can barely keep my eyes open, let alone work.

Let's just say that I never, and I mean never, have any leftover vacation/sick days every year. In fact, I often have to take unpaid leave. I'm incredibly grateful that my company offers sick leave because I'm one of those people who desperately needs it.

Some days, like today, it really gets to me, though. I'm home from work and that just irritates me. Every morning, I gauge how I feel - do I feel good enough to go, or bad enough to stay home? Most of the time, I go because I was raised to 'be tough' and 'work through it.' (That's the Midwestern farm work ethic in me). But when I can't hack it,I feel guilty for staying home, even when I know that there's no way I could make it through 8 hours of work.

I hate to disappoint people. I hate to have other people do my work. I hate that my being gone is an inconvenience to them. I hate how it looks - like I'm a slacker. (For the record, I don't think any of my co-workers think this - they have watched me wrestle with my myriad health problems). But I feel like a slacker when I don't go. So on top of feeling physically lousy, I feel mentally lousy because I beat myself up for missing work. Not exactly the best combination.

I'm working on accepting that I am not a healthy person. I'm learning to deal with my limitations. And I'm trying to be kind to myself.

But it's hard.

I'm usually positive in my posts, but sometimes, I gotta get real - and this is my reality. People who enjoy good health may not understand, but those who don't, will (I hope) understand.

So let me just put it all out there: I'm a chronically ill person. I have several issues (rheumatoid arthritis being the latest). I don't want to tell you how many times a year I go to the doctor. I don't want to show you the huge stacks of doctors' bills. Yes, I have tried to get well. Yes, I have tried alternative and modern approaches. No, I'm not lazy. No, I'm not a hypochondriac. No, it's not all "in my head." It's real and it sucks.

But this is the life I have, and despite all of this, it is a good life. I have so many blessings that I can't possibly count them all. An understanding, loving husband and daughter. Terrific family and friends. My writing. And so, so many more.

That is what I try to focus on, but on some days, like today, I feel the need to vent. Normally I would do this in my personal journal, but my hope today is that I can shed some light on living with chronic illness for those who don't know about it. That's why I'm making this post public. In our hyper-work-saturated culture, where putting in overtime and working ourselves to exhaustion is the expected norm, I have to accept the fact that my body will literally not allow me to do it. It just won't.

And you know what? That's okay. It really is. I just have to convince myself that it's okay. Acceptance sometimes is far harder than dealing with illness itself.

But I'm trying.

And one day, I'll get there.

Monday, March 04, 2013


It's been a little crazy at my house. My mother is living with us for a few months while she searches for a job. We're happy to have her and help her out. After all, that's what family is for.

But it's been a little hard to write lately. My mom and I have always talked about anything and everything under the sun, and just because she lives with us now does not mean those conversations stop. Heavens no. They have picked up in frequency, and I really enjoy them.

By last night, however, I knew I had to barricade myself in my room and do some writing. Why? Because I felt discombobulated. (That is one of my favorite words.) Out of touch. Restless. Grouchy. My brain screamed at me to write, yet here I was, putting it off, making excuses, and doing anything and everything not to sit down and get the words out.

Finally, though, I managed to get my fingers moving. When I was finished, it was literally like the world had righted itself again. I didn't feel frazzled or edgy. No. I felt centered. Balanced.

I breathed a sigh of relief and dropped off to sleep, happy and content.

How about you? Does your brain have a way of telling you it's time to quit procrastinating and start working?

New Digs

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