If We Were Having Coffee // I Feel Great, but It’s Probably Just the Meds

“Isn’t hot coffee a wonderful thing? How did people get along before it was invented?”

— Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Hello, dear readers and thanks for stopping by again for another round of coffee and catching up. It sounds silly but, I’m so glad to be here and be back to some sort of writing schedule. This past week was a strange one, not bad, not good, but things have been strange. Even the weather was crazy. We started off in the 60s and 70s and ended the week with snow and a deep freeze. I hear this week might be more of the same. Sigh.

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am still feeling better. The medicine the doctor put me on has been a godsend for my symptoms. I’m not 100% better, but I’m very close. The only problem, which I suppose isn’t a real problem at all, is the side effect. I’m on Prednisone, a steroid, and last week I was taking 40mgs a morning. At first, I hated it. I couldn’t sit still, and my heart would beat so hard, but then I had so much energy and focus. I was getting so much shit done!

The downside is I can’t stop eating, and my moods have been a little unpredictable. I’m not angry or even sad, I just have things to do, and I can’t be bothered with anyone. I want to be left alone to write and to work. It’s nice to have that kind of focus, but I know it can’t last. I’ve already started to taper off of the medication, but I am trying to hold on to that focus and energy so that I can bring some of it with me when I am off of it.

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that if it isn’t the medicine that is focusing and motivating me, then it has to be this new app I started using. I don’t usually endorse apps or services, but this one is really helping me build habits and keep my mind on what I need to do every day.

It’s called Fabulous, it is beautiful, and it’s free! I think it’s only on Android right now, but it’s on its way to iOS soon. The idea is so simple. You start with suggested tasks, like making a to-do list, doing focused work for 25 minutes, or blocking distraction, every morning, afternoon, and evening. You can add your own tasks too and then you set your alarm times.

For me, every morning at 7 AM my phone reminds me to do things like drink water, take my medicine, and write a to-do list. I can add tasks, reorder tasks, and there are built-in timers. In the afternoon I get another reminder to do things like block out distraction, study something new, do focused work, and take my vitamins. In the evening, I tidy up the house, I drink tea, I write in my journals, and I reset my goals, then I remember to floss and read just before bed.

I can’t tell you I do all of these things every day, but I try and every day it is getting easier. I like being reminded, and I love having built-in timers and chimes to alert me when to start and when to move on. It’s not a radical idea or plan at all, but it’s presented in a nice, easy to use and useful way.

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have been trying again/still to read Plato’s Republic. I made it half-way through this week, but it was hard. Some days it’s not so bad, but most of the time I hate it. I’ve already devoted a lot of time to it, so I don’t want to quit. I have to see this through, dammit! I have good news, though, I have given myself a little motivation to work a little harder to read the damn thing. I have put a carrot in front of my nose in the form of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and, and Orlando by Virginia Woolf.

I’m hoping I’ll try harder now that I know that after this bit of unpleasantness I can move on to more interesting and exciting things!

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that last night I saw the movie Get Out and it was so, so, good! I’ll write a proper review later, but for now, I will tell you to stop whatever you are doing and go buy tickets to see it. You will not be sorry.

I mean, yes, it looks a little strange and controversial but even if you just love film, especially if you love the horror genre, go see it. All the race stuff aside it is just plain creepy and so well made.

BUT I will also say, if you are a Person of Color, this movie is made for you! The issues we face were shown in a realistic way. Not overly done or “in your face.” It felt real and relatable. Some of your worst fears taken to an extreme. The kind of fears only people who have experienced if you’ve been the only person of color in the room or been caught out at night in a neighborhood, not your own, where no one looks like you, will understand.

Go see it, tell everyone about it, and support it because it really is one of the best horror films and pieces of social commentary I have ever seen.

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that, sadly, we have come to that time when I have to go. There is more writing to be done, and the laundry is piled up, and the dishes too, and the dog is begging for a good long walk. Thank you so much for stopping by and please, please, drop a note in the comments and let me know how you are doing. I love hearing from you all, and I like to know you are well.

Until next time :)

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Written for to the Weekend Coffee Share link-up hosted by Nerd in the Brain

Featured image via Aldrin Adira

The Week’s End // A Roundup of Interesting Reads

Hello, friends! If you’re looking for some interesting reads to check out while you relax, look no further, I got you covered. Here are some things I found important, inspiring, and interesting enough to share:

@refinery29

Trump takes on the most vulnerable.

The Mad King

Is America Great Again Yet?

The Death of Compassion

Plan B?

Brown Girls

Aging is a pain.

A brave girl, one very rare side effect.

Sometimes doctors are stupid too.

In another timeline

What to read next.

@threadfamous

Have you read, watched, or written an interesting thing this week? Has something on the internet made you feel strongly? If so, drop a link in the comments, we’d love to check it out :)

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This list was originally sent out along with this morning’s newsletter: My Body Fell Short, along with thought. Check it out and subscribe!

Original image via Unsplash

Five Minute Friday // In the Slow Time

Nothing feels slow anymore. I’m rushing to work, rushing through the day, rushing to get home, rushing to clean up, walk the dog, eat dinner, watch tv, and go to bed where I rush to sleep, to rush back to work the next day. Going, going, going, but getting nowhere I guess.

There are some slow times in there, and I savor them. They mean the world to me and when I guard it fiercely. So often it feels like that is all I have.

My favorite is every evening when the time comes for me to stretch out on my side of the couch, and the lovely woman who loves me back sits close by. We might not be paying much attention to each other, we may be looking at tv screens, iPad screens, laptop screens, or phones but it’s ok. We are together. The world is outside of these shitty, shabby walls and none of it can get it. This is our slow time.

There are pillows are piled up, and more blankets than we need. There are snacks, and drinks, Netflix, and chargers for every device. The dog joins on the far end and the cat squeezes in wherever she can. There is everything we need right there.

I stretch my feet out to rest on the lovely woman next to me, and she asks me what we ought to watch. We chew our dinner and enjoy it, not like the breakfast that comes in liquid form or the lunches that may not come at all. We talk about the day and finally find our feelings for it. At work, with others, there is no time to decide what you should have done or felt, but it all comes out in the slow time.

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Written in response to Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday prompt: Slow

Featured image via Unsplash

 

Willa Cather on Telling The Truth

Writing, like any art or discipline, takes practice and dedication to learning about the craft from those who have come before you. In learning, I like to teach, so each week I will take a piece of advice from the greats, both living and dead, famous and not, and apply their lessons to my own work and share my thoughts and progress with you.

This week I have chosen a quote from the American writer Willa Cather.

Willa Sibert Cather, born December 7, 1873, in Back Creek Valley, Virginia, achieved recognition for her novels of frontier life on the Great Plains, including O Pioneers! , The Song of the Lark, and My Ántonia. In 1923 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for One of Ours, a novel set during World War I.

willa-catherCather grew up in Virginia and Nebraska, and graduated from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, initially planning to become a physician, but after writing an article for the Nebraska State Journal, she became a regular contributor to this journal. Because of this, she changed her major and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English.

As a student at the University of Nebraska in the early 1890s, Cather sometimes used the masculine nickname “William” and wore masculine clothing. A photograph in the University of Nebraska archives depicts Cather dressed like a young man and with “her hair shingled, at a time when females wore their hair fashionably long.”

After graduation in 1894, she worked in Pittsburgh as writer for various publications and as a school English teacher for approximately 13 years, thereafter, at the age of 33, moving to New York City for the remainder of her life, though she also traveled widely and spent considerable time at her summer residence in New Brunswick, Canada.

Throughout Cather’s adult life, her most significant friendships were with women. These included her college friend Louise Pound; the Pittsburgh socialite Isabelle McClung, with whom Cather traveled to Europe and at whose Toronto home she stayed for prolonged visits; the opera singer Olive Fremstad; the pianist Yaltah Menuhin;  and most notably, the editor Edith Lewis, with whom Cather lived the last 39 years of her life.

Cather’s sexual identity remains a point of contention among scholars. While many argue for Cather as a lesbian and interpret her work through a lens of queer theory, a highly vocal contingent of Cather scholars adamantly oppose such considerations. For example, scholar Janet Sharistanian has written, “Cather did not label herself a lesbian nor would she wish us to do so, and we do not know whether her relationships with women were sexual. In any case, it is anachronistic to assume that if Cather’s historical context had been different, she would have chosen to write overtly about homoerotic love.”

She was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1943. In 1944, Cather received the gold medal for fiction from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, an award given once a decade for an author’s total accomplishments. She died of a cerebral hemorrhage on April 24, 1947, at the age of 73 in New York City.

A resolutely private person, Cather had destroyed many old drafts, personal papers, and letters. Her will restricted the ability of scholars to quote from the personal papers that remain. However, in April 2013, The Selected Letters of Willa Cather—a collection of 566 letters Cather wrote to friends, family, and literary acquaintances such as Thornton Wilder and F. Scott Fitzgerald—was published, two years following the death of Cather’s nephew and second literary executor, Charles Cather. Willa Cather’s correspondence revealed complexity of her character and inner world. The letters do not disclose any intimate details about Cather’s personal life, but they do “make clear that [her] primary emotional attachments were to women.”

“The stupid believe that to be truthful is easy; only the artist, the great artist, knows how difficult it is.”

— Willa Cather

Being truthful is not the same thing as being honest. Being open is not the same as not telling a lie. One is to answer when asked. The other is to pour your soul out thoroughly and unprompted. One is hard to do, the other feels almost impossible.

Telling the truth is complicated, tiring, and terrifying and writers and artist do it every day.

Telling the truth means making yourself vulnerable to judgment and rejection but since no man or woman is an island telling the truth can mean exposing not just yourself, not even just your family and friends, but your hometown, your gender, your race, and even your age group. It means that what you say means something and you have to carry the full responsibility and ownership of what you reveal.

Being truthful is painful. I’ve read over and over that the best way to be a writer is to just write but what do I do on the days when I am too afraid and too hurt to welcome more eyes and acknowledgment? What about the days when I am already exhausted and have nothing left to help carry the weight of revelation? What about the days when I cannot look myself in the eye let alone allow strangers to see such deep parts of me? What about the days when the truth is too disturbing and scary to examine? How do I do on those days?

The ones who say “just write” I wonder if they understand how much the tears sting and how the real the old memories feel when they pour put of you.

There are so many times I sit down to write my truth, and I find I have built so many defenses against what I carry deep down that I see no truth worth telling. I am nothing, I feel nothing, and nothing has ever hurt or helped me.

Society tells me to be happy and grateful and ordinary and getting past that to all the ugly things we would rather look away from is like pulling teeth or climbing mountains. Telling the truth starts with a search, and the mazes of this world are complex on purpose. The truth is hard to find and what you find may be nothing but illusions. More lies. Tell those too until you learn, I suppose.

I wouldn’t go as far as Cather in calling anyone stupid, but I would say they are a whole lot of ignorant, uninspired, and non-introspective ones out there. I would say I am among them, and so are many other artist and writers aspiring to do better too. The truth never comes easy, and the need to hide and run for cover never leaves us. Writers tell other writers what writing ought to feel like, forgetting what is hard for them will be hard for others too.

It’s rare to find people who open so easily and unapologetically, but we cannot deny that the ones who do are the best among us. Most people live lives so closed up and cut of that such vulnerability is beyond comprehension. I have met husbands and wives, sisters, and best friends who reveal less to one another than a writer does to the world.

Being truthful is hard. There have been many times I have written something that left me in tears and utterly exposed. When I read back over pieces like that, I get embarrassed and afraid. They are just too truthful, too raw. I edit and chop away at the feeling until I am once again cloaked and covered. I know that in doing so I have turned my work into lies but being so open is something you have to build up the courage to do.

And that is what all this practice is for, I suppose. Not just to write better but to write a little more truthfully every time. To write what we are again and again. To write what has been forgotten and what is wished to stay that way. To write about right and wrong and reality, about broken dreams and broken hearts and about the way the world doesn’t care or owe us a damn thing, it is exhausting! And it is the most fulfilling thing we can do.

Write often. Open yourself often. Feel pain, feel joy, feel fear, hope and anger, as often as you can and write, write, write, but never deny to yourself or anyone else that it is the hardest thing to do. Never minimize the worth and the work of what you and other writers do every single day.

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Biographical information via Wikipedia and Goodreads

Featured image via Unsplash

We are Nothing, and this is No Place, Enjoy!

Hello, dear readers and happy Monday! I know, I know, Mondays aren’t happy. Mondays are for being tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting to crawl back into bed.

But, let’s try something different. Let’s think of Mondays as a chance at a fresh start, every single week. Each Monday is our own personal reset button. Let’s take this opportunity to do it differently. Let’s make the changes we want to see in ourselves and the world, okay?

For me, this Monday is not so bad. Even though I am still a bit sickly, I have the day off for President’s Day and have already set myself up in the spare bedroom for a whole day of writing, writing, writing! I have fallen so far behind that my first instinct was not even to try to begin again but what else would I do? I need writing now like I need food or water. Without it, I waste away. So, even if writing isn’t paying, yet, and even if it never does, I have to keep at it. I’m not myself if I don’t, you know?

Where you come from is gone, where you thought you were going to never was there, and where you are is no good unless you can get away from it. Where is there a place for you to be? No place.

Nothing outside you can give you any place,” he said. “You needn’t look at the sky because it’s not going to open up and show no place behind it. You needn’t to search for any hole in the ground to look through into somewhere else. You can’t go neither forwards nor backwards into your daddy’s time nor your children’s if you have them. In yourself right now is all the place you’ve got. If there was any Fall, look there, if there was any Redemption, look there, and if you expect any Judgment, look there, because they all three will have to be in your time and your body and where in your time and your body can they be?”

― Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood

Deep in existential thought this morning. There is so much that hurts about being alive that we have spent considerable evolutionary and cultural time building elaborate defenses against our own minds. We work very hard to protect ourselves from the knowledge of death, suffering, and disappointment but every so often—just before we fall asleep, or perhaps while starting at a particularly beautiful sunset, pair of eyes, or our own reflection in the mirror—we remember what we work so hard to forget. We remember that we are nothing and nowhere after all.

Please, I swear this is not meant to bring you down. I think it’s a good thing for us to remember that for most of us our existence will be good but ordinary. We will have regrets, ou probably does already. We will be sad, somewhere deep down, we all are. You will be scared, and angry, and you will find yourself reacting in the two ways all humans do, quiet acceptance or white-hot rage.

This is how we cope with the knowledge that we are stuck. We cannot fight time or space. We will have only this lifetime, this planet, and this set of circumstances. We will do what we can, sure, that is where our greatest strength lies. We will exert whatever influence we can upon the universe to have some scrap of control over who we are and what life will be for each of us.

We cling to half-truths. Each of us is unique, oh but we are each dreadfully boring ad ordinary too. We can change each change the world, yes, but never all on our own. We can be whatever we want to be, but we have no knowledge of how to be it and so spend most of our time making mistakes and learning again and again that what we thought was our path turns out not to be after all.

So what could be so motivating about that? Well, whenever I remember how short and sad my life will eventually be, on instinct I search for the good. I collect whatever happiness and accomplishment I can find in memory, and I let it fill me for the moment. I hold tight to it in the hope that when it is my time to go I will go with a smile.

Then I immediately remember that once I am dead, it won’t really matter much either way whether I was happy or sad or did what I wanted or didn’t. It may matter to my loved ones, but they will be gone one day too. The miraculous thing about this thought is that instead of sending me into a depression, it feels entirely freeing (usually).

You see, in humanity’s attempt to hold on to the “now” so that we can believe in forever we work hard, so hard, to do a whole lot of things we don’t want to do. There are so many of us who work jobs we hate and live in places we hate because we think we have to. We waste every single day doing a whole lot of things that don’t matter all that much to us, but we have tricked ourselves and each other into believing they do.

So, what does that mean? Not a whole lot to be honest. I’m not calling for a radical revolution. I am not pretending I know how to change your life, hell I don’t even know how to change my own in all the ways I want to. What I do know, what I believe in, and what matters more to me that anything, are those teeny, tiny, changes we can make. They are all we have, all we can ever have, besides lady luck.

This week, I have very little to give you in the way of advice. Facing yourself and the truth of you fragility and inevitable demise is hard and terrifying. So, maybe just really think about what matters. Deep, deep down, past all the things you were taught should matter. What will you cling to? What will make you feel like this life has been a good one? What kind of future do you want for the people who will come after you, who you will never know and will never know you?

There is no right or wrong answer. You may find you just want to make yourself happy and the people who come next ought to worry about themselves. That is entirely valid. You may want money and fame, and you may want something to pass down to your children. You may not even want children. There is nothing wrong with living your life however you want to, just remember time is short. Look around you, this, this, is all you have. You should do what you can to make the most of it! You should try to find what happiness and meaning you can here.

Enjoy your life.

Or don’t, I guess. There is no right answer.

As for me, I try every day to do something small that feels big, that feels like a step, to more of those memories and accomplishments I can cling to. I try to remember why I do it. Not because I want to be rich and famous, that life isn’t for me, but to do nothing more than say “Lisa was here!”. Another illusion I cling to, one where it matters whether I was here or not but one I cannot seem to let go of.

Somewhere deep down I do want to have a small impact on what is to come, even if I will never see it. I want to lessen the pain, in whatever way I can, of a girl, far in the future, who may have the fortune and the bad luck to be born a little like me. I want to believe that people will live lives that make them feel good, or at least a bit more accepting of not just death but of every disturbing and embarrassing aspect of being a fragile human being on a fragile planet at the mercy of dangers, we cannot even fathom.

I want to imagine a future where we understand who we are and what we want to do, together. I want that because of the very few things I believe in one is that we are all we have and we have to start acting like it.

So I work through my ugly truths trying to get at what this little insignificant life means to me. I flash my half-assed answers, my process, my fears and dreams wherever I go hoping that others will face ugly and uncomfortable truths too. I hope in doing so they can find what I have, a sad reality where we are nothing and nowhere but where we can come together and make whatever this “life” thing is something really grand and good.

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Featured image via Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // The Hardest Month of My Life

“As long as there was coffee in the world, how bad could things be?”

― Cassandra Clare, City of Ashes

Hello, dear readers. It’s been a long while since we’ve sat and had a chat and I should start by making my apologies for that. I wanted to be here, and I am sorry I couldn’t. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t do anything. BUT I am back now, or, I hope I am back. It may take me a while to get back on a schedule so let’s just say today I am back, and I hope to be back tomorrow too.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that since out last chat so much has happened, I am unsure where to begin. I believe that was just after my doctor’s appointment. I went in for joint pain and previous stomach issues. I explain to them that for my whole life I had experienced, off and on, bouts of extreme pain and other unpleasant and TMI symptoms that I’m sure you don’t want to hear about over your coffee.

He sent me away with a referral to the gastrointestinal department and assurances that it was probably irritable bowel syndrome.

Since that appointment, when I was experiencing very mild symptoms, I went down hill very quickly. I was worse than I had ever been. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I was a ball of anxiety and pain and frustration. I cannot begin to tell you how scary it was watching my body fall apart this way.

I set up an appointment with the GI department, but the soonest I could get in was February 14th. Yes, I spent Valentine’s day sedated while a doctor took pictures of my colon.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that despite that, and somehow because of that, it was the sweetest Valentine’s day my girlfriend and I had spent together in all of our nearly 15 years together.

I remember none of the procedure and very little about what happened immediately afterward. I know that my girlfriend waited for me in recovery. I know she helped me get dressed and helped me understand what the doctor and nurses were telling me afterward.

She helped me through the preparation and took care of me afterward. She had been so supportive, sympathetic, and understanding I was nearly brought to tears the way she took care of me. She brought me home afterward, fed me, and put me to bed, just what I needed. She went to work while I rested and when I woke she was on her way back home with pizza, chocolates, and strangely, new bed sheets with phases of the moon on them. Probably the weirdest gift and the cutest gift I’ve ever received. Here’s what I wrote for her on Facebook:

I wish this Valentine’s day could have been all flowers, and chocolates, and fancy dinners but when you’ve been in a relationship for a long time you know it can’t always be that way. Today I spent the morning in the doctor’s office and the love of my life stayed in the waiting room until I was out of sedation. She helped me get dressed, helped me understand the results of my tests, took me home, made me a little lunch, and put me to bed. That was the best Valentine’s Day I could’ve hoped for. Real love is being there for someone when they are sick and never making them feel like a burden or an annoyance. It’s letting them do what they can and helping them when they can’t. It’s worrying about them, comforting and supporting them. It’s making sure I take my meds, eat the right foods, and have plenty of fluids. It’s helping me figure out what’s wrong and then helping me get well again. Thank you [honey], for everything you do for me. I know the last few weeks have been tough and you are feeling stressed but just know I appreciate you being here so much. You are the the sweetest and kindest person I know and I’m so lucky to have you in my life. Happy Valentine’s Day baby! I promise when I’m feeling better we will celebrate it right.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the diagnoses wasn’t IBS, turns out, I have ulcerative colitis. Which means my immune system just doesn’t know when to stop. My body thinks that food and beneficial bacteria are foreign invaders plotting to do harm to me and so they have gone on the attack causing inflammation and ulcers. I’m grateful those little white blood cells are trying so hard for me, but I wish they’d learn what is meant to help me and what is meant to harm.

I still have to go back to the GI department for a chat about what this means and what treatment will look like, but from the research I have done, it seems this will be a lifelong problem. I hope the symptoms will come less often and go more quickly if I keep on top of whatever plan they have for me.

For now, I am on steroids to suppress my immune system and reduce the inflammation. It’s only day two, and I’ve already noticed a difference. I am hoping by the end of the week I might be feeling more like myself. Able to work, write, and do my part at home. I hope I can have the energy to get back to doing the things I love and taking care of the people I love too.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that while I was not doing so well physically, it was the psychological effects that took the biggest toll. My body was betraying me. My body wasn’t mine. My body was getting in the way of everything my mind knew it needed to do. I wasn’t myself, and I was afraid I would never be myself again. I have never spiraled into a depression so quickly before. I was in tears every morning and night from pure frustration and exhaustion. I stopped talking to anyone.

The worst was not being able to write. I have fallen so far behind and it feels impossible to start again. I’m going to try, though. Slowly at first sure, but I am going to try. I want to go back, as much as I can, to the way things were. Even when I had been sick in the past, I could push, though. I could hide. No one knew I had been suffering on and off the way I was. I wasn’t so bad. I was still me. Not anymore. Everything seems changed now.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that this has been some heavy conversation for what was supposed to be a light chat over coffee, I’m sorry. I felt you should have an explanation, and I needed to get it all out. I needed to say what has been happening to me and how I have been feeling. I hope to say more in the future but talking about chronic illness and particularly one that affects the bowels is hard. Part of the reason I never got help before was feeling so much shame. Shame, and our terrible healthcare system.

Don’t get me started on the healthcare system.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have to get going. I gotta eat, take me meds, and find the energy to do a little cleaning and visit with family. It was great to catch up with you all. I missed it more than I even knew. I promise next week will be more cheerful.

I hope you all had a good week, a good few weeks since I last spoke to you. Please, leave a note below and let me know how you are holding up.

Until next time :)

***

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Featured image via Unsplash

 

 

Anxiety into Art

Hello, dear readers and happy Monday! I know, I know, Mondays aren’t happy. Mondays are for feeling tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting to crawl back into bed.

But, let’s try something different. Let’s think of Mondays as a chance at a fresh start, every single week. Mondays are do-overs, each one is our own personal reset button. Let’s take this opportunity to do it differently. Let’s make the changes we want to see in ourselves and the world, okay?

This Monday is a hard one, I won’t lie. I spent a portion of the weekend in the doctor’s office afraid and in pain. I am okay now, mostly. My symptoms are still here, but I got the reassurance I was seeking. I will be fine for now. I came away with information and medication and a whole lot to think about. I’m feeling just a little better today, but I am on edge, wondering when it will get bad again.

“Anxiety is the handmaiden of creativity”

― T.S. Eliot

My anxiety, as a result of all these health issues, has been uncontrollable. I worry about my body. I worry about medication. I worry about what I am eating. Food has become my enemy, and every meal is stressful. I worry about how I am impacting others and what people think of me. I worry about work and how I can cope away from home.

Breathing isn’t working. I am losing sleep, and I feel myself becoming isolated. In just a few weeks I have stopped writing almost entirely because I am either too tired or worrying so much I can’t focus. I miss writing, even just for myself. I want to do something I love again.

So why can’t I use this pain and anxiety for writing, for art? I can’t breathe or meditate my way out, maybe I need the opposite. Maybe I need something that requires more effort. Maybe I need to pull my pain out by hand. Maybe I need to dig deep in the dark and work for my relief.

Maybe I need to fight for it.

I don’t know exactly what form this writing will take or where it will go, but I think it’s just what I need. It feels right to hurt through writing and sharing rather than all alone and in my own head.

This week, if you’ve been feeling anxious, afraid, angry, or alone, pull that pain out and make something of it. Push, push, push yourself to move forward until you feel better or you collapse in exhaustion. Then get back up when you can and make something more. Write, paint, and sing all about what hurt and don’t worry about what people will think or what it all means. Just express yourself.

Take what you hate about yourself, what you work so hard to control, and let if fuel your creativity. If nothing else it will at least be a change of pace and offer some distraction.

You might even be able to work magic, do the impossible, and turn hurt into hope and joy.

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