Friday, September 30, 2016

Finding What Works

Shortly after my daughter was born (2000), I asked my husband for Julia Cameron's book, The Artist's Way, and received it that Christmas. I eagerly plowed through it and began to follow her advice of doing morning pages. But, since I am not a morning person and usually don't roll out of bed and write first thing in the morning, I tweaked it so it would fit my life.

For a couple months, I used this technique to "get the gunk out" before writing sessions. In the same way that you stretch your muscles or do warm-ups in preparation to exercise, writing morning pages was a way to wake up my writing brain and get it ready to work.

And then life happened and I never got back around to doing morning pages again. A shame.

A week ago, I was lamenting this horrible block I get whenever I think of sitting down to write, well, anything. I freeze. Even to write a blog post was difficult. Why, I thought, am I having this problem? I'm sure resistance, which Steven Pressfield speaks about so well, was part of it. Fear, as well. Heck, it could be a bunch of things. But in the end, I had to do something about it. I had to figure out a way to bust through that resistance and just get on with the writing.

So, what did I do? I went back to a tried and true method: morning pages. And you know what? It worked.

I use morning pages as kind of a freewriting time. I put down whatever I want - stream of consciousness, thoughts about my day, ideas for my characters or plot, etc. It has a way of blowing the cobwebs out of my mind. Now, before I sit down to write, I always spend at least 5-10 minutes on writing my "morning pages" (though in truth, it's usually early or late night pages!). Since I've started doing this again, my writing has been much more productive and I've been able to keep the resistance at bay.

What about you? Any methods you use for overcoming the dread of sitting down to write?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Hey! It's Autumn!

Normally, I would be shouting my joy to the rooftops that fall is finally here, but the weather here in Nebraska has stymied that for a few days. It's been in the 90s all week. Yes, the 90s. The humidity was so bad on Monday that I felt like I was stepping out into a swamp in Louisiana in the middle of July. (I went to Louisiana in March one year and the humidity was terrible, so I'm making the assumption that it's ten times worse in July!)

Anyway...

It's autumn! And that means golden-hued leaves and pumpkin bread (I've already made two batches!) and blankets and cool mornings and evenings and reading books and watching old classic movies and writing and  Halloween and Thanksgiving and...YAY AUTUMN!

I found this online; not sure who created it, but it's super awesome!


So! What's your favorite thing about autumn?

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Coping

The last few days have been particularly hard for me. On Wednesday, I got hit with excruciating pain in my left shoulder blade area, rendering me incapacitated for two days. Who knows where it came from? I've had it before. I don't know if it's a flare of RA in my shoulder or what, but the pain brings me to my knees. As a result, I missed two days of work, and today, while the shoulder pain is vastly improved, the rest of my body feels like it's been hit with a truck. I also feel like I might be getting "normal people" sick, i.e. a cold.

Ah, the joys of living with chronic illness!

I've been wallowing in self pity for the past week. I watched a lot of t.v. (mostly Star Trek, the original series), slept a lot, and surfed the internet. My mind was nowhere close to being able to write. And that frustrated me to no end.

Today, though, I've had enough of the self pity. Time to pull myself out of that dark hole and get motivated again. I've got to get this novel done. There's only so much wallowing I can take before I get tired of it and myself for allowing it.

But that's the thing with chronic illness. There is a level of frustration that must be addressed. Simply being positive and sunny every single time I get taken out by a flare isn't realistic. I don't feel good. Period. And I have to acknowledge that. Ignoring it will only make it worse. But while I need to acknowledge it and allow myself to wallow for a bit, this, too, has a limit. I've seen too many people fall into the trap of living in a world of self-pity and "poor me." I don't want that to be me.

I'm constantly learning how to deal with my new normal and I don't know if I'll ever get it right. But darn it, I have to keep trying. That means not freaking out when I see how badly my house needs cleaned, or how I can't get any exercise in yet again, or I fall down repeatedly on my attempts to eat healthy.

The acceptance part, as I wrote about here, is the very hardest part of having chronic illness. We are conditioned to live in a culture that prides itself on exercising regularly and being fit, on participating in all sorts of activities every day, of working hard and going to your job no matter if you feel rotten, on not, on ferrying our kids to extracurricular activities several times a week. That's not my life and it hasn't been for some time, and in particular, the last year. I'm out of sync with most everyone around me. That's a challenge in itself.  

Why do I keep writing about life with chronic illness? Not for pity. But for understanding. For awareness. And as a way to cope. That's who I am, after all, a writer. And words are how I make sense of the world.



Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Our New Addition!

It's been close to seven years since we've owned a dog. Part of it is because of my immense grief over losing my beloved Charlie Brown and part of it is because we lived in a place that didn't allow dogs.

Now that we own our home and it has a fenced-in backyard, the thought of getting another dog crossed our minds. My daughter and my husband wanted to get a puppy. I, on the other hand, having dealt with, and house-trained, numerous puppies, wanted a rescue dog that was already housebroken.

So imagine my shock when I came home the other day and discovered that my husband and my daughter had planned to surprise me with a half-lab, half-border collie puppy. They were smart, though, because instead of just showing up with the dog, they actually told me about it first.

You could say I was not pleased.

With my health the way it is, another responsibility is something I can ill afford. But when I looked at the picture of the puppy, my heart melted. Still, I stayed firm in my insistence that this puppy not be my responsibility, but my husband's and my daughter's. They readily agreed.

So here he is:

His name is Blitz, short for Blitzkrieg. He is adorable. He is shy and timid and loves to be held and babied. And as promised, my husband and my daughter have taken the responsibility in caring for him. My daughter is finding out what a BIG responsibility a puppy is! I don't think she realized the magnitude of it, but now she most certainly does!

It's hard for me to relinquish control over the situation, but I'm doing pretty good with it. I don't take him outside for potty breaks, I don't feed him, and I don't give him water: those are all my daughter's responsibilities. She is learning to train him on the leash and get him to actually come back into the house as opposed to staying outside (he was born on a farm and has always been an outside dog). I supervise, of course, and I *did* give him a bath, but that's about the extent of it. And obviously, I cuddle and hug the little guy! How could I not?

This will be a great life lesson for my daughter and I know she will grow and mature a lot in the process. And this little fellow has already made her his surrogate mom. :)




One Day at a Time

I've always tried to live with this mentality: One day at a time. Unfortunately, when I implement it, I fail spectacularly. But for this...