Tag Archive | writing

The month where it seemed as though nothing went right.

Where have I been, you ask?  Maybe you have not asked, but I sure have.  I am right here, waving at all of you!  This has been the month where it has seemed as though nothing has gone right, and I am still recovering.  Actually, it began before Christmas, but who is counting, anyway?  I haven’t written in many weeks and yes, as much as I have been dying to do so, it feels as if there is just so much emotion that has been trapped inside of me I am afraid I just might blow to bits, or cry.  It will likely be the latter, so you can all relax now a bit.  I still have not entirely pinpointed what caused this disturbance in its entirety, but that is probably because it was just a myriad of “one thing after another.”

Prior to, and during the Christmas holidays, every plan that took me weeks to construct seemed to fall apart within a minute’s time, and need to be reconstructed in even less time.  Visitation schedules were confused.  When you are working to two former spouses, and seven kids, it is hard to begin with to get everyone in one place at one time.  Things just kept changing and changing and changing, and while I am so much better now at rolling with the punches than I used to be, I felt as if I were rolling, and ducking, and jumping, and side stepping, and having to give up a lot in the process.

My Christmas Kid

My Christmas Kid

Many things simply did not happen, or if they did happen, I had to let a lot go just to get it done.  As much as I loved having all of my kids home, and as much as many, many good things did happen, like my younger daughter getting engaged on Christmas Day, and wedding dress shopping with my two girls the day after, I was dizzy from all of the rolling and I felt that everything was helter skelter.  I felt that I had lost control…the control that I wanted, anyway.  I could not find my joy.  Looking back, I think that I had lost it somewhere even prior to all of the going with the flow.  I still feel sad looking back, as if I missed an event that I had attended.

After New Year’s, my little man returned to school for a couple of days and I looked forward to life returning to normal, whatever that is around here.  The following Monday, he came home with a bad sore throat and by Thursday night, I had fallen ill.  This was no ordinary cold.  Nope, this was an honest to goodness siege of influenza that had befallen us, causing him to miss more than a week of school, and causing me to miss more that a week of work.  No work, no money.  No money, no way to pay the rent or bills.   We had suddenly become like lepers trapped in our own little germ filled colony.  No one wanted to be anywhere near us, and I do not blame them.  I didn’t really want to be anywhere near us, either.  I totally lost whatever good humor I had and I was a less than delightful person to be around.  As is so often the case, the little man was starting to feel better just when I was at my worst.  Visitations with his Dad were cancelled, ah, but we finally made it back to school and work, only to have me relapse with a bronchitis/asthma thing.

Add to all of this snow, and bitter cold, and school holiday, and teacher work days, and a car misbehaving, gastroenteritis this past weekend, and more missed visitation, my computer broken down for over a week, and finally on Monday, my car broke down.  That is what it has been like day after day and it has been hard and draining and then some.  Every day, I would pray, and every day I would try to find my gratitude–to count my blessings, but my blessings felt limp in my hands.  I knew that I had so much to be grateful for, but trying to hold onto the gratitude was like trying to get a tight grip on a handful of Jello.  I felt awful for not feeling grateful.  I felt lonely, too, as well as sleepy, dopey, and grumpy.

Today, I am not working because my road is an ice slick.  I will work tomorrow and I dearly needed this day to find perspective.  At no point during any of this was I ever truly alone.  I have God, my family, and my wonderful friends. My rent did not magically pay itself.  My rent got paid because of many kind, wonderful, and generous friends around the world.  I have never met most of them in person.  One of my son’s took care of my electric bill.  My first ex-husband got us an Omaha steak gift pack at Christmas that gave us a lovely New Years dinner and many breaks from pasta.  My beloved probation officer and friend has put me in touch with a woman who runs a counseling service and she is pursuing me for a job as a case worker, working with people with substance abuse issues, and coming out of incarceration situations.  It is a dream job if it works out, and as my P.O. said, “You know, I don’t just do this kind of thing for just anyone.”  Oh, yes, I DO know that!

When my car broke down on Monday, a friend was a phone call away and there to pick me up in 10 minutes.  I had AAA within the hour, and my car was towed home within two.  A friend is coming over to fix it this weekend, and my son fixed my computer.  I am loved.  I am so well-loved that it is crazy and now tears of joy and gratitude are rolling down my face.  I do not know why I could not see this, or feel it sooner, but I think it has a lot to do with not being able to write.

I get my footing back when I write.  I find my hidden emotions and bring them out into the light when I write.  Something overtakes me, and the blur of life totally disappears and it is just me and God when I write, and when I write, even if my hands may tremble, and my eyes may cloud over with tears, obscuring my earthy vision, I see much better when I write.  I may have to stop at times to let out a long-held sob, pain mixed with joy and hope, but I find release when I write.  I find hope, and joy, and gratitude when I write.

I need always to write.

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Having My Baby—I Started My Book!

As a writer, I am not the most disciplined person in the entire world.  I need to ruminate a lot before I write.  I need to think and think and think and then, when I have finally thought enough, I sit down and the words just flow out of my fingers like water.   I have been waiting to start writing my book and have been being nudged gently, and not so gently, by a lot of people.  This book is my baby.  It has been in my head for over a year now, but there have been a lot of distractions, and a lot of thinking, and a lot of fear.  Yes, sissy girl here has had just enough self-doubt overriding my inner knowing of the greatness of this book to hold me hostage for a long time.  I am no sissy, but I am as vulnerable to fear and self-doubt as anyone.  Over the weekend, I got enough encouragement and a big enough kick in the butt to finally do it.  Yesterday morning, I started my book.

Yes, I grew each one of these people in my body and gave birth to them all, one way or another.

For me, writing is like giving birth.  Because I have given birth to seven children, and am a retired midwife, the analogy of having to be pregnant and then labor in order to finally give birth is what best describes exactly what writing is like for me.  I will walk around for quite some time knowing that something big is coming and that it is going to change my life and that it is going to be something good.  This is a very thoughtful period, pregnant with possibilities as yet unknown.  It is a time of dormancy, but not inactive dormancy, for there is a lot of internal planning and preparing going on with in me.  During these periods, I tire more easily, and I might get a little irritable at times, as well.  Being pregnant is hard work and whatever is needing to be birthed just keeps getting bigger and bigger to carry within me.

Now, I am not going to tell you that I had terrible, days long, labors with my real, human children, because I just did not.  I think my longest labor was about six hours long, because I do not consider it labor until I am really feeling it, and really having to concentrate and breathe.  The labor period may be short, but I also go nearly completely within myself during this time.  I do not want to be touched or spoken to.  I am in my own little world for that short period, and that is exactly where I need to be, too.  Do not fret.  I am not there too awfully long.

Then transition hits and things get serious.  I am beginning to feel like I need to push, and even if it is not an actual child that needs to be pushed out, but an idea, I will still often feel a physical sensation to push.  During transition, I can get a little lost, and more than a little scared.  I might be tempted to run.  I had a planned home birth with my sixth child.  He was born in July and I was so hot that I had the air conditioning set so low that all of those present for the birth had to raid my closet for my winter sweaters.  At one point during transition, I got up off of my bed and began to walk towards the bedroom door.  My labor and birth support team asked me where I was going.  I told them that I was getting the hell out of there.  I would come back tomorrow and finished it up then.

Not one drug involved and yet I thought if I just walked out of the room that the pain would end and I could come back when I was ready.   I guess that I thought if I went outside and hoisted myself into my Chevy Suburban and went and got a chocolate malt at the Dairy Queen and maybe had a little nap that I would be ready to finish up the job in a few hours.  Much to my chagrin, they guided me back into the bedroom and I popped the kid out on the bathroom floor about 30 minutes later.

Over the past weekend, I was in transition and I was scared.  I felt stuck and lost.  I knew that I could not go on as I had been, not having the courage to begin to push my baby of a book out into the world, but at the same time, I just really wanted a rest and a chocolate malt from the Dairy Queen.  I would come back and do it when I was ready, and yet I knew it was time to push!  Thank goodness, I had a good labor coach along side of me over the weekend.  She said all of the right things.  She held my hand and listened to my internal wailing, and she understood my fear, and she encouraged me a lot.  She gave me the courage to begin to push and even promised to edit the book and lined up a totally awesome beta reader to join her as part of my team.

Yesterday morning, I woke up and felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off of me.  I had such a burst of happiness and energy.  I was ready to push. I sat down at the computer and opened my word processor and typed the words: Chapter One.  And then, just as I described above, the words just flowed out of my fingers like water.  Apparently, the quality of the water is high, as well, or so I have been told.  I can taste the water myself and know that it is pure and it is the kind of water that is so good that people will want more.  People will pay money to drink this water–well, that is my hope, anyway.

It was not easy, those first few  paragraphs, because it is not easy stuff to give birth to, but it feels so good.  Once you stop fighting the irresistible urge, and you actually start to push in earnest, it feels so good.  I have a lot more pushing to do, and I suspect there will be more pregnant pauses, and more labors, and more periods of transition, but this baby is going to be gorgeous.   This baby is going to light up a lot of lives.  This baby is going to release so much from within me, and so much into the world that I can hardly wait to see what she looks like.  She does not have a name yet, but she will.  This beautiful, hard-fought for baby will have a name well suited to her before she enters the world.

So, if I am a little more quiet than usual in the months to come, or more irritable, or suddenly absent for a bit, please know that I am giving birth to my book and that it is hard work.  You are all my labor coaches and my cheerleaders and I hope that you will all be around to celebrate this baby when she enters the world.  She is my gift to all of you.

Stop fighting change before it knocks you out cold

A lot of people simply do not like change, and yet change is inevitable.  We grow up.  Our children grow up.  We get older.   There is not a thing we can do to stop those things from happening, aside from girding our loins, doing our level best to roll with the punches, and slathering our faces with the best anti-aging skin care products we can afford.  Still, time marches on and if we have acquired enough healthy coping mechanisms we learn to accept these changes, even if we do not completely love them.

Why, yes, I do take all of my own pictures because copyright infringement scares me silly, and well, it is just wrong!

Maybe it is because change scares so many of us so badly—the changes we cannot control–that a lot of us seek out constant changes elsewhere.  We change our wardrobe, hair color, jobs, cars and our cereal in the constant pursuit of something new that will make us feel new again, for a minute maybe.  Of course, all of these external changes do not change a thing.  Most of us are hurting inside somewhere.  I am not excluding myself from “us.”  I am right smack dab in the middle with you.

As I have mentioned before, I have an inspirational page on Facebook.  I started it because Running From Hell with El said that I should, and in some rare fit of lunacy, I did it.  I like my page, and I love the people who I have met on that page, but more and more, the Book of Face is hiding what the people who follow my page get to see.  They hide what I post so badly that fewer 5% of my “fans” (I HATE that term) see my posts.  This is because they want me to cough up a heck of a lot of money to promote each and every post and I just will not do it.  Sorry Charlie, er Mark…  So, here I am knowing that spending an hour a day scheduling my page is a waste of my very precious time, not because I do not care for the people who do see my posts, but because I have bigger fish to fry.

I have a book to write.  (I know exactly what you are thinking. You are thinking, “Yeah, that is what they all say.  They are going to write the next great novel, but it will either never get written, or it will be garbage.”  My book will get written and it is going to be a knock out, I assure you!  One of a kind!  Seriously…) It is right up there in my noggin waiting, but it is not going to fly from brain to page without me doing a little work.   That hour I spend on my Facebook page every morning should be spent writing.  Lord knows I have been told that a time or two, but I simply hate to be pushed.  It a nasty habit, but the more I feel that I am being pushed, the more I will push back.  I am also one of the best procrastinators alive.

I still have comments from last week’s blog post that I need to respond to, and it is not because I do not want to respond, it is just that sometimes someone says something that I need to think about.  I need to chew on it before I respond, and because I have terrible TMJ, this chewing can take me quite some time.  This is also why I do not chew gum, or eat Grape Nuts anymore.  There is just too darned much jaw popping to make it worth my time and energy.  If you make a comment after someone has made one of those comments I need to chew on, you will have to wait until the prior comment has been thoroughly masticated to death before I can get to the back log.

By that time, I feel so badly for not having responded sooner that I get paralyzed.  Last week, Renee A. Shuls-Jacobson suggested that I let go of the mess, and start sharing the message.  At the same time, Livvy at Real Manure told me that she had quit Facebook all together, that was the jaw breaker, because that has been on my mind quite a lot, and then Stephen at Life Revelation said something really sweet, and I have a hard time taking a compliment, so there I sat, stuck.  I am still sitting…

Here is what I know about all of these behaviors.  They are all based in fear.  I hate to be pushed because, even it is the opportunity of a lifetime, something about it scares the daylights out of me.  I will put off doing something that will benefit me greatly because something about it has me scared silly, and oftentimes, it takes me a while to figure out what it is that is scaring me.  I have put off scaling back on my Facebook page in order to write my book because something about making that decision has scared me beyond rational prioritizing.  At first I thought it was because I did not want to let anyone down.  That has pretty much been sorted out to all ego.  Then I did not want to appear to be a quitter.  I am so good at not quitting things that no longer serve me that is has almost killed me many times over.

I am not the only person who does these things.  I see it all of the time in my line of work.  I clean houses for elderly women and nearly every week now I get a call from someone who has been unable to keep up with their home for some time, but they have been scared to ask for help.  By the time they call me it has gotten so bad that they would sooner drink paint thinner than try to tackle it themselves.  They are embarrassed that they let things get so bad.  I go in and within a few weeks, it is manageable and they are unstuck and much happier.  I am sure that I am not the only one that sees this sort of thing.  I imagine counselors, and clergy, and doctors, and even lawyers see this thing all of the time, too.  People are put off making good changes because they are scared and embarrassed and there is that pay off thing, too, that Todd Lohenry mentions.  When I was getting my B.S in nursing and doing my psychiatric rotation, we called it the secondary gain.

Todd is right.  There is always a pay off.  If we choose not to make beneficial choices to change it is because the pay off, or secondary gain, is too great.  What is a secondary gain?  It varies from person to person.  Some people do not change because they like feeling like a martyr, or they like to be felt sorry for, or they like to blame the world, or make excuses, or they thrive on feeling miserable and angry.  People will come up with all sorts of rationalizations not to change.  “So and so would be crushed if I..” or “I have tried and it just did not work,” or my personal favorite, “That will never work.”  I like “That will never work” the best because at least it is true.  It you do not try it, it absolutely will not work and you are 100% right.  So, we all stay stuck until we realize that we would rather drink paint thinner than go on as we have been doing, when all the while we have been happily drinking the grape Kool-Aid of justifications and rationalizations under their various pick-your-poison guises.

I have not wanted to embark on my book because I am going to have to type out some incredibly painful truths.  I now know that I am not going to heal fully until I type out those painful truths, so I am going to do it.  It is not going to be fun, and I know this.  Only two people know this, but after some of the blog posts I write are done I cry for a good half an hour or more. It is all good, though.  That is healing.  That is release. Imagine all the tears that will be shed writing an entire book!  Don’t you fret now!  For every painful truth I reveal, I promise to counter each one with a lot of hope and inspiration, and at least one hysterically funny story.  It will be the- you will laugh, you will cry, you will become a part of it-sort of book.  And it will be based on a true story, too, because I do not write fiction.  No more grape Kool-Aid for me, thank you very much.

If you are stuck in a web of pay offs and secondary gains, the first step is to figure out what your pay off is, and why you are scared of giving it up.  The second step will make itself clear once your sort through step one.  If you are trying to heal from childhood trauma and have seen counselors before with no forward progress, please try again.  As Scott Williams points out, some counselors are just not good, and let me double that for psychiatrists, especially the ones who prescribe medications primarily.  I was told in nursing school that psychiatrists would be the weirdest doctors and people who I would ever meet, and that was the stone cold truth.

If you are thinking, “But my counselor/psychiatrist is super sweet and nice and he/she cares about me,” let me tell you a secret.  A counselor can be super sweet and nice and care about you and still stink at their job.  I had a psychiatrist who I absolutely adored.  He was one of the rare 2% of psychiatrists who was a nice, down to earth, regular guy, and funny, too, and he cared about me one heck of a lot.  He also had me drugged out of my gourd on nine different medications for years for bipolar disorder, which I did not have then, and do not have now.  You see what I am saying here?  Super sweet and nice count for something, but progress counts for a lot more.

If you are stuck in a bad relationship, get out, please.  You will make it.  You will be fine.  You will survive.  You will be happy again.  Also, since I am handing out advice like Tic Tacs tonight, if you do begin the divorce process, do not expect to get 100% of what you want, no matter how jerky the other party may be.  Aim for getting 50% of what you want.  It is called being realistic.  Maybe you will get lucky, as I did, and get 80-90% of what you wanted, and then you will get to be all overjoyed and so on, but start with realistic.

That is another thing about Facebook.  Poster after poster telling us to aim high, set the bar high, reach for the stars, and most of us end up curled up in the fetal position in a huge pile of expectations that were too darned high from the get go.  If you are already thinking to yourself, “This is going to be the BEST Christmas ever” you need to step back and plan on having a good Christmas, because we could all benefit by letting good be good enough.  Word from your mama.

If you are also wanting to remove yourself from the Book of Face, try reading some blogs.  Facebook is like a soap opera.  You could be gone for a year or two and nothing would have changed.  It is true.  I was in prison for six months with no Facebook and when I logged on after my release all I had missed was some birthdays and 100,000 Farmville requests.  (I no longer play Farmville!  You can stop sending me requests now.  It has been well over a year.  I also have no interest in Bubble Safari or Lucky7 Slots.)

Reading blogs provides fresh content daily from all sorts of different perspectives.  I am very fond of Journey Through the Chrysalis, Waiting For the Karma Truck, Morning Story and Dilbert, Tracie Louise Photography, Reflections of Life Thus Far, Roots to Bloom, and Teacher as Transformer.  That will get you started and this is a healthy mix of reality and lovely and pictures and prose and all good things.  There is another thing that I do not write.  I do not write poetry, because I end up sounding like Dr. Suess, it is a good thing I am about to let you loose, because this paragraph is nearly the caboose.  You see what I am saying?  Uh huh, I thought so.  Oh, one last thing….

You Like Me!!

Earlier this week, Yoga with Maheshwari nominated me for the One Lovely Blog Award.  I am very thankful for such a gift!  The rules were to thank the person who nominated me, which I just did, and to tell you seven things about myself, which I belief I have done within the body of this post.  I am also supposed to nominate 15 other bloggers, so if your name is hyper-linked and mentioned within this post, tag, you are it!  Do with it what you will.  You did not even see that coming did you?  You would have run sooner if you had, but I got ya!  Yes, I am a sneaky one…and I probably did not hit 15 bloggers, but I am tired.  Now go.  Make some changes for the better!  Yes, there will be pain, but I promise you will not die.  Yes, there will also be tears, but no one ever died from crying, although I am admittedly behind on a few seasons of House, M.D, so if I am mistaken, please accept my apologies and do the crying anyway.  You will feel better.  I can almost guarantee it!

What if today…?

I saw a graphic on Facebook today that said, “What if today we were grateful for just…everything!?” I really like that, because that’s how I try to live my life everyday. I work hard, though lately it’s not that much work, to be grateful for everything, even the less than totally pleasant things. I have an old friend who calls me “sunny side up kind of gal.” She’s know me for over 30 years, so sometimes I am a little shocked and surprised to be reminded that I have always been optimistic and grateful, though there were times in my life where I felt a lot of anger, and gratitude does not grow well in angry soil.

Gratitude cannot grow in angry soil.

Angry me was not a terrific person to know. I deflected oncoming people and potential friends with an invisible force field that was tough as steel and three feet thick. I didn’t know that I had this deflector shield until it was gone. Anger bred depression and depression and drinking are a terrible cocktail. I wrote really well when I was drunk and angry, though, so there’s the sunny side of that period 😉

Yet I know if I had to choose a lifelong motto, it would be something akin to, “Hope springs eternal.” That truly idealistic view is a double edged sword. It has kept me alive, and moving forward, and growing, and because of it I developed a certain passion and tenacity that is almost like having a super power. On the flip side, it has kept me places that I should not have been long after I should have left them. But, there are sunny sides to those bad places, too.

Take my marriage to the sociopath, for example. I stuck that out long past the point where most, less hopeful, less springy, people would have left. However, there was a gift in the staying, which I have only recently realized. I found my worth by staying in that marriage for so long. I finally realized that I really do deserve better. No, I deserve the best, despite my past. I deserve happiness. I wonder if I would have figured that out had I not stayed so long?

And so we circle back to being grateful for everything. I am truly grateful for everything, the good, the horrible, and that middle ground we tend to ignore. Like most, I learn best from my mistakes and poor choices. Today, I am grateful for all of those mistakes, unfortunate life experiences, and bad choices, for if I had not had them, I would not be who I am today. Embrace your mistakes and bad choices and see just how far they’ve brought you!