If We Were Having Coffee // Losing Hope but Hanging in There

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday, welcome, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of coffee and catching up. The weather this weekend has been gloomy, and by now the gloom has worked its way right into my mood. I’m tired, and all I want to do is crawl back into bed with a good book and a hot cup of tea for the rest of the day. BUT the weekend is only so long, and I know that doing nothing at all won’t make me feel much better, so I’m up, I have my smoothie, a cup of cold brew, and you, to cheer me up.

“The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to reproduce.”

― Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that yesterday was World Inflammatory Bowel Disease Awareness Day and I celebrated by staying home, resting, and writing. I posted some thoughts on my fight so far with this disease. I tried to convey some of the things that I go through that go deeper than the symptoms and the medication. I tried to help people understand the way it’s affected how I relate to my own body.

Like most things I write here it was written as a reminder to myself, but like all advise we give ourselves, it’s hard to remember and harder to maintain. Just hours after I wrote all that about acceptance and loving myself I had a breakdown. There is so much guilt I have for not being able to be the best me I can not just for me (e.g., not being able to write, to exercise, or go place and do things I enjoy) but for other people too.

It isn’t even the bowel symptoms that are making life so hard! It’s the fatigue and frustration that are forcing me to become so introverted and irritable. I feel myself crawling back inside and away from people, not out of anger but out of exhaustion. I feel bad that I can’t be the sister, daughter, friend, or fiancé that my loved ones need me to be. Of course, they are understanding, but I can see the sadness there. I know that just because I am sick doesn’t mean they stop having needs to and I have no idea how to get back to them.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that as soon as I begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, it moves. I’m starting to believe the light is an illusion and to fear that the tunnel goes on and on forever.

This week I was feeling a lot worse and was finally forced to contact my doctor. I was trying so hard to hold on and hang in there until I started my new maintenance medication on Tuesday, but what I was getting so bad I was worried about how much damage I was doing to my body by trying to toughing it out instead of trying something else. So, I called the doctor who then put me back on what I’ve learned is referred to as the “devil’s tic-tacs” in the IBD community, Predisone.

Neither of us wanted me back on that crap. It works miracles, at first, and then it wreaks havoc on the whole body and takes months and months to recover from. But okay, it’s what I need to do, so I felt hopeful I would feel better right away, but she put me on such a small dose it’s made only the smallest dent, enough to keep me working. Then I was hopeful that the new maintenance meds would help right away, but that probably won’t happen either. I’ve gotten so bad that it will be another month or two before I know whether this course of action is right or not.

So, I’ve stopped hoping. Now I’m just hanging in there. I’m going from day-to-day, sometimes hour-to-hour, doing what I can and resting when I must.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that writing was slow this week. I just couldn’t get my brain to stay on task. It was drawn to scrolling Twitter and commenting on Facebook group posts. I did my best to redirect my attention though by remembering that I had pledged to get back to reading more this week.

My girlfriend surprised me with a bit of spontaneous book shopping this week to cheer me up after all that bad news, and I settled on The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey, a creepy, heartwarming, and thought-provoking zombie apocalypse story unlike any other. It was the perfect book to get me back into regular reading. Well written, attention-grabbing, and easy to read and follow. I highly recommend it, and the movie too!

This week coming week I’m going back to The Odyssey. I love this book, but I’ve never been able to actually finish it! Too much detail I suppose. My brain just shuts down, and my eyes start to glaze over and close after only a few pages. I end up having to reread so much of it but I’m determined to finish it this year, so I keep plugging away.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the coming week is the last of the school year and as you might imagine the atmosphere at work has been tense. There is so much to get done. Graduations, field trips, bidding for summer school routes, bus and equipment cleaning, evaluations, and training. It’s a bittersweet time. We’re saying goodbye to the kids and as relieved and excited as we are we’re all a little sad too.

You get close to these kids, preschoolers and high school seniors alike. Some of my kids are graduating, and some will be moving away over the summer. Even if I get the same route next year, I won’t see them again. Next year new kids will be moving into the district, and many will be moving from elementary to middle school, or middle to high school. There will be new schools opening and routes will be rearranged somewhat and the training department I work for in my off time is moving and hiring new people.

Everything is changing and much of next year is up in the air. I have a little over two months to try not to panic about it.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the sun is trying to peek out through the clouds and if I am going to get to spend any time outside of the house this weekend, I had better get up and get going now. I need to look at something other than these walls, hear something besides all the bad news on TV. I need to move my body and be around people. I need to feel that sun and smell the spring air.

I hope you had a productive week and that your weekend has been a relaxing and revitalizing one. If not I hope next week will be better than the last and that you find time to do something just for you before the weekend is over.

Until next time.

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a cup of virtual coffee.

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

 

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For World IBD Awareness Day // Your Body Isn’t the Problem

It’s been just over a year since my ulcerative colitis diagnosis and so much has changed for me, and about me, since then.

I’ve been through so many medications. I’ve spent a lot of time cooped up at home and come to appreciate every day that I get to spend outside of it. I’ve learned that I’m lucky to have the support system I do and, I’ve learned how easy it is for people to look right through me. I’ve learned a lot about myself, and my body, and how I feel about both, and those lessons are the ones I want to share with you today, May 19th, World Inflammatory Bowel Disease Awareness Day.

Inflammatory bowel disease is an umbrella term for disorders that involve chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. Common symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue, and weight loss but each person with IBD experiences it a little differently from every other. There can be joint pain, eye, skin, and liver inflammation, severe bleeding, increased cancer risk, and more.

Two types of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The two differ in that Crohn’s can develop anywhere in the digestive tract from the mouth to the anus, whereas ulcerative colitis is confined to the colon or large intestines. In addition, Crohn’s can affect all layers of the bowel wall, while ulcerative colitis only impacts the innermost layer of the colon.

I caution people against comparing the severity of the two diseases. A person with Crohn’s may only experience mild symptoms and may be able to easily control their condition with medication while a person with ulcerative colitis may live in debilitating pain and experience a host of complications for years while trying every available avenue until surgery is required to remove the colon entirely.

Neither of these conditions should be confused with Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS, a common digestive disorder that causes abdominal pain and changes in bowel movements but doesn’t cause lasting damage to the digestive system.

Not a lot is known about the cause of inflammatory bowel disease, and there is no known cure, only remission achieved through trying a series maintenance drugs that come with their own risk of side effects until something works. You take that drug or combination of drugs until they stop working, and then you try a different combination all the while toughing out the side effects doctors have little sympathy for.

And as if the disease wasn’t bad enough, and the meds weren’t even worse, there is something even harder to explain, to see, and to cope with, something no one talks about. It’s something hard to put into words and something far harder for someone who can’t feel it to empathize with. The emotional pain and the loss of self, that is what I wish the rest of the world were a little more aware of. How badly I miss who I used to be and how hard it has been for me to love who I have become, both body and soul.

Even the best gastroenterologist, unless they suffer from this disease themselves, can’t understand the shame and the sadness that comes with missing out on life because you have to stay close to the bathroom and the bed. They never tell you how well you will get to know your body, how much time you will spend alone with it, and how little you will recognize it as a part of you.

When I first met with my gastroenterologist 8 weeks after diagnosis, I was already emotionally and mentally a shell of myself. I felt disconnected from my body. I was my mind, my body was something I was chained to, a diseased and weak thing I was forced to drag around. I hated my body. It had betrayed me. It had failed me, and after all, I had done for it, how dare this meat bag put me through so much. I went from being a happy, friendly, and curious person to being angry, sullen, and withdrawn in a matter of months.

I didn’t mean to lose myself so quickly, but your world kind of turns upside down when your body and mind become at odds with one another. It’s a jarring experience, especially for the young. You look at your self in the mirror you are disgusted by what you know is a defective physical manifestation of who you are you. You wash yourself in the shower and can’t bring yourself to look down. You do what must be done by your body, no more no less, no love and nothing extra. You separate from yourself and this disconnect, though natural and completely understandable, negatively impacts your quality of life.

What I want my fellow IBD warriors to know is that defective body you have come to hate is trying so hard to get well and what it needs from you is what you need from the rest of the world. Your body needs support, understanding, time to rest, to heal, to be the best it can be. Your body isn’t the problem. The problem is the world your body has been forced to navigate which leaves no space for bodies in pain and never slows for bodies who need more time.

It’s taken me a long time to realize that my body, me, I, am trying very hard to heal but some parts are just broken. Parts are missing, or maybe there are too many parts. The instructions to function are deleted, scrambled, corrupted, and irretrievable, but my body is trying. I am trying.

I know now that my body hasn’t failed me. I failed myself when I failed to see myself as a whole entity. I failed when I rejected myself. I failed when I dragged myself around like spoiled meat. When I refused to see myself or to love myself. When I failed to be understanding and tender. My body is strong, and it deserves love from me at the very least.

I’m still suffering. I’m still in pain, and I’m still frustrated. I’m still stressed out and I’m still very worried about what the future will bring, but I know none of that is my fault. It isn’t my bodies fault. It isn’t anyone’s fault!

Instead, I point my rage where it belongs. I’m frustrated that it takes so long to move from one treatment plan to another. I’m frustrated by the red tape and the sky-high price tags on medication I need to live my life. I’m frustrated that so many other IBD suffered I’ve spoken too have so little information and doctors who don’t return a phone call or explain where they should go from here. I’m frustrated by people who dangle false hopes of a cure and by the suffering spread by loved ones with no patience, compassion, or understanding.

I’m frustrated by an economic system that won’t let you take time off of work to give your body the rest it needs. I’m frustrated by a society that teaches us that self-care is selfish, that stress is normal, that invisible illnesses don’t exist. I’m frustrated by businesses that close their bathrooms to the public. I’m frustrated by the lack of accommodations everywhere you go. I’m frustrated that the world doesn’t see me, all of me.

I’m frustrated that it’s so hard for me to see me too.

But I’m trying, and I think we should all try a little harder to see ourselves, but especially those of us dealing with IBD, and anyone with a chronic illness. You have to make peace with your body the way it is now. You have to work with it, compromise with it, embrace it, encourage it, and love it. You have to take to be able to look in the mirror and register what you see as you. You have to be able to touch your own skin and connect with yourself.

All bodies will find their limits eventually, and those limits will constrict with time for us all. I want you to know, fellow IBD and chronic illness sufferer, that your capacity for self-awareness, self-acceptance, and self-love will far outpace the average human because you have had to find that truth sooner.

Today, I just want you to know I see you and I know what you are going through. I know it’s hard. I want you to know that I am proud of you and that every part of you is beautiful and good just the way it is.

Let’s make sure the whole world knows it too.

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // All to Myself

Hello dear readers. Welcome, happy Sunday, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up. I am in desperate need of company just now. I’ve had the house all to myself since Friday and this morning, in particular, feels especially lonely. I don’t do well on my own, even the dog is depressed and want little to do with me. So, I’ve got some music playing, the drapes open wide, a strong cup cold brew, and now you, to cheer me up.

***

If we were having coffee, I would start by wishing all the Mother’s out there a happy and joyful Mother’s Day. I hope your children remind you how much you mean to them. We’ve all taken a parent for granted before and it’s good to recognize at least once a year (though of course, it should be more) that our mother’s, while not perfect, did the best they knew how and made us who we are, for better or for worse.

Of course, not everyone had a great experience growing up, and for a lot of people, Mother’s Day can be a little complicated. Some people had abusive, or absent mothers, some people had another person in their life who was more of a mother to them than the woman who gave birth. I have a friend who’s celebrating his Father today, the parent who did double duty. I wish all of you a happy Mother’s Day too, and I hope you, and the ones you celebrate, feel valid and recognized today.

As for my mother and me, it’s a little complicated for us too, but we’re a forgiving family. I can see how hard it was for her having me so young. I’m grateful for all her hard work. I’m grateful for her love. I’m grateful she did better by me than her parents did by her. I’m grateful that she taught us that at the very least, we should grow up to do better than her too.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’ve had the house all to myself since Friday evening and, it’s driving me crazy. Anyone who knows me knows I hate being away from my girlfriend. We’ve been together so long, lived together most of that time, and with working the same schedule, at the same place, it makes it hard when I don’t have her around. It’s probably not super healthy, I suppose, but it’s how I am, and she doesn’t mind, much.

She’s staying at a hotel this weekend and enjoying a bit gambling and good food with her mother.

I’m stayed home to celebrate my own mother with my siblings and taking care of the house. I saw them yesterday for a small, low-key get together at my brother’s house. It was a wonderful visit, my niece is growing up so fast, my sister and I cracked each other up the whole time, my mom got hilariously annoyed with us all, and my brother has two new, very cute puppies I got to play with! I was only sad my brother’s fiance wasn’t there. I wanted to congratulate her face to face after I found out I’M GOING TO BE AN AUNT AGAIN!

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that health-wise this was a weird week. I started off feeling amazing on Monday. I felt like my old self. I felt happy, even after being at work all day! Then slowly throughout the rest of the week, I slide further downhill.

Part of it was diet. I didn’t stick to the bland food plan I’d set up. Part of it was the stress of planning Mother’s Day. Part of it was simple exhaustion. I need to rest, but I feel too guilty to stay in bed or to say no when people ask me to do things.

I am hanging in there though. I only have nine more days until my first infusion, and that light at the end of the tunnel that I hope is there. I cannot wait.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that I am counting down to the end of the school year and feeling a little sad, and very anxious, about losing my kids to summer vacation and about starting new work hours.

For those who don’t know, I work on a Special Needs school bus, and this year I had great kids! Of course, I love my kids every year, but this was the first year that all my kids liked me! I had all high schoolers and nearly all boys and all year I got to talk about video games and superheroes. I was quizzed on who has what superpowers, who is who’s arch nemesis, and which heroes were faster, stronger, and smarter than which heroes. We made up gross foods combinations to eat and imagined how to escape dangerous scenarios like sharknados and rabid beavers. We talked about space travel, dinosaurs, sports teams, and horror movies. I had a lot of fun!

I’m going to miss them, but maybe I’ll get to see them again next year.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I’m still plugging away, writing blog posts and working on some bigger projects but there were setbacks. My writing got away from me. That is, I let a few tangents get the better of my focus and by the end what I started to say looked like nothing I meant to say by the end, and I spent the rest of my week trying to correct course. This week I’m starting again, and I’m going to work on being more organized.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the clouds are rolling in and I can feel the weather changing in my bones. I have a lot left to do today to prepare for the week, and I had better get to it before this energy leaves me. I’m joining in on some interviews at work, so I have to prepare a question, and I’d like to post something here tomorrow, not to mention the laundry, the dishes, and a slew of small house projects that need completing before the work week can begin.

I hope you made progress where progress was needed this week, and if you didn’t, I hope your setbacks can be overcome in the coming one. I wish you all a happy Mother’s Day full of love and gratitude.

Until next time.

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a cup of virtual coffee.

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli

Photo by Edan Cohen on Unsplash

Meaning

“The literal meaning of life is whatever you’re doing that prevents you from killing yourself.”

― Albert Camus

Humans, cursed as we are to be so aware, can’t help looking back, far into the past in search of the beginning, and to looking forward, far into the future, in search of a pattern, a purpose, and a meaning.

Why is there a universe? Why is there an Earth, so warm and blue? What is life? Why does life of this kind exist instead of another kind? Why are there human beings? Why am I? What is the purpose of it all?

We’ve been asking these questions for centuries. People from every culture, all genders, the powerful, the meek, the wise and the uneducated have asked. The rich, the poor, black, white, and all shades in between, some we’ve heard of, some silenced, and some forgotten have asked. People wondering publicly and the rest of us have contemplated privately the same question, and no one has been able to provide evidence for one answer over any other.

Even our religious institutions, with all their grand myths, and rules, and ways to live offer no concrete answers from the Gods. Their ends are too lofty for the human mind, so those supposedly close to them say. Their means cannot be deciphered.

There used to be easier answers. There was a time when our ancestors, who we’d never recognize as our kin now but held the seeds of our consciousness then, had only to live to make more life. Their purpose was to procreate, to pass down genetic material.

Later people began to reason and found grander reasons to live. They cried live, for your family, for your tribe, for your nation! Live for a cause, and die for it too, and you will find glory. Live with a sense of duty and justice, worship your God and serve your Kings and honor will be bestowed upon you. Your name will be preserved in history. You will live among the stars, among the heroes, among the greats. You will matter.

But, those ideals no longer suffice. In a world where there are no longer Kings to serve, and Gods can no longer be found or forced to answer for our existence, we’re left with no direction and find ourselves drawn toward the latest drama, the shiniest screens, and get rich quick schemes. How long will those ideals do?

“The purpose of life is to stay alive. Watch any animal in nature–all it tries to do is stay alive. It doesn’t care about beliefs or philosophy. Whenever any animal’s behavior puts it out of touch with the realities of its existence, it becomes exinct.”

― Michael Crichton, Congo

The question now is whether or not we should go on fretting over any purpose or meaning at all? Or should we let go of questions that have no answers? Maybe we should we return to our roots with the animals and live only to survive and to pass on our DNA? Maybe what matters is only what pleasure this moment can bring until the moment that brings death.

Science has given us far bleaker prospects. Science, technology, reason, they have exposed the inner workers of the Gods and shown their hands empty and when the Gods serve no purpose humans are left without meaning. The curtain has been drawn back to reveal, a mirror. When we look for meaning, we are simply looking for ourselves.

In the absence of any other minds, we alone have the power to decree life’s meaning. We are the new Gods!

But, of course, that isn’t good enough. What do we do with all this choice and fear? What do we do with all this longing? They’ve left us no comfort for that.

We are looking for large answers here. We’re starved for profundities where we’ve been served shallow and trivialities up until now. We want to make a difference simply by virtue of our existence. If to be or not to be amount to the same, why choose to be at all?

“Life has a meaning but do not set out to find out. Just live it out.”

― Bangambiki Habyarimana, Pearls Of Eternity

A better question, one that offers more insight, more control, more satisfaction might be “What is the meaning of my life?” for that is the only question we have any hope of finding answers for. The universe is silent, and the Gods have gone, there is only us. There is only you.

The truth is that the truth is whatever we say it is. We are the only ones for whom the truth matters anyway right? The grand design, by default due to lack of competition, will be our design. The ends are ours, and the means entirely up to us.

The truth is, we’ve been deciding it all along anyway. We’ve compartmentalized the responsibility of decision and design to the Gods and other humans we’ve worshiped as such, but we knew, we knew, that they were doing what we couldn’t, taking control of the illusion and deciding our course and reason. The truth is that power can be taken back by each of us whenever we choose and as soon as we are ready.

That is the beauty of the illusion; we get to design the game and play along too. We can write the story and still be a part of the plot twists and surprise endings. We can create a meaning that aligns with our own innate natures, interests, and desires rather than fight against them.

The responsibility is overwhelming, sure, but if you keep a small part of yourself outside of it but still aware of the ultimate truth, that it doesn’t really matter anyway, then you can survive that bleak reality. Better still, you can thrive in it.

So, don’t shy away from the immensity of the task. Do not cower within your smallness. Don’t let the silence of the universe or the longing inside of you where God used to be deter or depress you. The meaning of your life and the answers you find when you confront such questions are where your real life begins.

Begin at the beginning. The simplest answer can be the most profound. The purpose of your existence is to exist. The meaning of your life is to live your life. This is why to be is better than not to be. There is no purpose to be found where nothing can be experienced.

So, just live. Move your life where you would like it to be and spread it out as widely as you’d like. Your purpose is just to be, everything else comes after and, oh, there can be so much more after.

The absence of meaning is not to be dwelled on. It is nothing to carry on about or fight against. The absence of meaning is an invitation to freedom. Seize it!

“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.”

― Albert Camus

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

Written for the A to Z Blogging Challenge: Letter M under the theme “Bleak Realities of Human Existence.” I am aware that the challenge is over and that I have failed to finish on time, but I am determined not to fail to finish at all. 

Photo by Joe Jansen on Unsplash

 

A to Z Reflections: Part I // I’m Writing It the Long Way

Yes, that’s right, this is part one of my Blogging A to Z Challenge “Reflections” posts.

See, I’m not actually finished with the challenge yet, but instead of quitting after the race is over, I’m just going to go on running even as the other participants head home. I still have just over half the alphabet to go but I thought I’d at least share my thoughts so far, and, being sure I will have further thoughts after I cross the finish line, I’ll write “Part II” on the theme itself in a few weeks.

And still, even after all that, I’m want to take the challenge a step further, and with extensive editing, some additional creative writing, and a little art, I’d like make something real out of all that work, something I can hold in my hands. Something you can hold in yours too, and I’ll share my thoughts on that in “Part III.”

So far all I can share is my thoughts on the process. Writing, all kinds of writing, are a daily lesson not just in the craft itself, but in reflection, introspection, observation, and self-awareness. Writing teaches you how you feel about a lot of things and writing every day, or trying to write every day teaches you a lot about yourself too.

I’ve known for a long time that the kind of writing I naturally gravitate toward is a very slow kind of writing. I’ve known this, but I’ve worked hard to try to change it. I’ve read a ton of advice and tried a ton of strategies to “get ahead of myself” and even on good days when I spend every free second I have on words, I still can only get through a half a post at most.

My writing process is made up mostly of reading, gathering facts, ideas, and inspiration. I also enjoy brainstorming and drafting by hand. I like for writing to feel more like an assignment, a task, a very serious endeavor. I’m not sure that will ever change but I know that if I want to it, I have to start by trusting the process first. Maybe I have to just go with it for a while and write the way that feels right to me?

I also realized I’m still not a very good writer, but it’s okay! I wouldn’t expect to be a very good writer yet. I work a full-time job, and I don’t read nearly as much as I should. What I mean to say is, I’m not a good writer because I lack the capacity to be a good writer. I’m not a good writer because I don’t do the things I need to do to be a good writer one day.

I’m aware that I am long-winded and repetitive. I want to learn to either keep my word count but say what I want more clearly, so that I might say more, or, if I have less to say, learn to say it in fewer words and save us all the time. I’m sure I make a ton of grammar and spelling mistakes, many I catch only after hitting “publish.” Maybe my readers would be willing to read my posts with a more critical eye and share my mistakes with me?

Finally, I learned that blogging is hard to prioritize for a writer like me, a writer who has only barely begun to solidify their relationship with the craft. I have very little to show for all of my effort except what I have here on this little unknown and, I feel, unimportant corner of the World Wide Web. It’s hard to feel important when you can see the looks people give you when you talk to them about what you do.

Of course, I know it is only me projecting my own insecurities into the minds of others. In my mind, people only understand one way of writing. I expect that they are disappointed not to hear I am on my way to publishing a book, or a poetry collection, or that I have many articles in popular magazines. I’m sure they want to hear that I’ve written something they have read or something they might want to read someday, or now if I happen to have a draft to share?

I often think blogging isn’t real writing, this challenge reminded me that it most certainly is if I believe it is. If it’s important to me, it is important. My opinion is the only option that matters on the subject, well, and the opinion of my readers of course.

Which brings me to the last thing this challenge taught me this year, I am not very good at engagement.

If there was anything I felt disappointed in myself for or wish I could have done better, it would be commenting and sharing. I’m trying not to beat myself up too much over it. I did the challenge for me. My writing is for me first, always, and with being so sick lately and with work getting in the way, I had to protect my writing time by making cuts to other areas.

I did read every comment posted here, and I replied to many. I still plan to reply to the rest. I’m finding the time to comment on other blogs too. I know engagement is critical here and I know that I give up a lot by not making it a priority. There is still time to make those connections since the master list will be up for some time longer. I will do better.

There are other bloggers I follow and admire who don’t even allow comments on their blogs and instead move to social media to engage their readers. I like that idea considering places like Twitter and Instagram are places I spend most of my time, but I’m sure no one likes little old me enough to open another tab and type their thoughts into yet another text box.

As for the challenge itself, I have very little to complain about. The hosts do a great job of keeping the participants motivated and on track. I only wish the lists provided for each letter stayed open a little longer so that other bloggers like me who fall behind can still share our work with the others. I still plan to participate every year that I can at the very least come up with a theme and a subject for all 26 posts.

I hope you all will continue to follow along while I make my way, slowly but surely, to the finish line. I love my theme, and I have no plans to give up before I’ve written every post I promised myself I would.

Thank you all for your support so far, for every kind or encouraging word. Congrats to everyone who signed up for the challenge, whether you wrote all 26 posts or none, I’m proud of you for at least trying and I want you to know that is enough.

See you soon for the rest of the alphabet!

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

Written for the A to Z Blogging Challenge Reflections link-up. Check out my theme “Bleak Realities of Human Existence,” and my posts for the 2018 challenge so far, and, please, follow along for the rest! Even though I failed to finish on time, I am determined not to fail to finish at all. 

Photo by Tim Wright on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // Getting Back to Old Habits

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday, welcome, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up. I’m up late this morning. That’s not exactly true, I was up early, but I found myself back in bed three times before I considered trying a cup of coffee. Now, after a quick cup of cold brew and a little sunshine and fresh air coming through the open windows and I have the laundry started, the dishwasher loaded, some writing going, and I’m ready to sit down with you.

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I didn’t want to talk about ulcerative colitis this week. I’m sure you are tired of hearing about how much pain I am in or how my medication isn’t working, or how afraid I am of what might happen in the future. I didn’t want to tell you that this week was worse than the last, but at least I’m one week closer to the start of my new medication.

I didn’t want to tell you any of that but May is Inflammatory Bowel Disease Awareness month, and I feel the need to overshare through it. This week I’m dealing with people doing that weird thing where you being sick everyday irritates them.

Last week I got frustrated when a co-worker told me I looked sick asked if I had a cold or something contagious in any way. I explained, for the hundredth time at least, that I am not. She asked what was wrong then. I answered that I had ulcerative colitis. I glossed over the TMI symptoms and just told her I was prone to fatigue and joint pain, she only shrugged her shoulders and told me she’d never heard of it. I could tell she didn’t care to either. She advised me to go to the doctor. I left it at that rather than get into all the doctor’s visits, test, and medications and am already going through.

This isn’t a new experience. Every day someone asks me how I am doing and I can tell that they just want to hear that I am better. They want to hear that there are easy answers. I understand that chronic illness can be hard for people to understand but if there is anything I can make you aware of this month, it’s that for some people pain is an everyday reality, and there are no easy cures. We may never get better, and we certainly will never get used to it, and that is okay. Let that be okay.

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If we were having coffee I would tell you that my biggest challenge has been changing my diet to foods that are easier on the guts, but significantly less satisfying. I’m living off of bone broth, fish, boiled eggs, and smoothies. I’m drinking peppermint tea, “golden milk”, and Gatorade to stay hydrated and keep my electrolytes up. If I get a craving for something sweet, I can have Jell-O. That’s it. No hot wings, no pizza, no burgers. I didn’t even get to enjoy any tacos or margaritas this Cinco de Mayo. Ugh!

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’m still plugging away at my A to Z posts. I’d planned to post a lot more than just the one I did this week, but work interfered unexpectedly. That break I had been hoping for ended almost before it started.

I’m also struggling to write during the hours I set aside for it at home. I’ve known for a long time that I write better when I am at work, when I am not supposed to be writing, when I don’t really have the time, but I’m struggling to replicate that kind of panic at home.

It’s helped to put my headphones in, to rid myself of the silence and either put on music to change my mood, or podcasts to give me that background chatter I’d find in the office. Coffee helps and getting up for a minute here and there to quickly take care of to-do items, as I would at work when my boss or coworkers need something. I can’t sit on the couch, and I can’t have the TV on. I have to “get ready” for writing like I am getting ready for work. I have to get dressed, eat breakfast, brush my teeth, and go there emotionally.

Of course, I didn’t figure any of this out until yesterday. When I did though I got the first newsletter I’d sent in months out and got a ton on brainstorming in. I’m hoping thinking of writing as work will keep my ass in the chair much more consistently going forward.

This week I am setting goals for myself. I am going to write four posts, including an A to Z reflection, and my “M,” “N,” and “O” posts, plus get another newsletter out. They are a part of the next project I have in mind, and I can’t move forward until they are done. I’m trying to keep in mind this advice I read from Austin Kleon last week:

First draft motto

A post shared by Austin Kleon (@austinkleon) on

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’m looking forward to the coming week. I don’t have a ton of work scheduled yet, and I’m planning to get back into some old habits I’ve let fall in the past month. I am going to start reading again and journaling. The time I had previously devoted to those tasks became nap time, and while the rest is great, I miss my books.

I’ve also got my magazine and newspaper piles organized, and I’ll be posting some more blackout and a few attempts at cut-up poetry on Instagram. I’ve missed moving other people’s words around. If I get ambitious, I may include some collage art too.

This weather report for the next 7 days looks absolutely gorgeous, and I might reward myself with some time outside. One hour, half for reading, half for writing about my day. It’s a small thing, but right now I need all the small joys I can find.

I may try some walking too. The evenings are warm enough for a trip around the neighborhood with the dog. I know she’ll love that.

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that is about all I can pull out of my little boring life to share with you this week. Nothing much is new, but there have been a few things to think about. Not every week can be about action, some have to be about rest and reflection too.

I hope you had a productive week and I hope your weekend was relaxing. If not, then I hope the next will be better than the last.

Until next time.

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Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a cup of  virtual coffee.

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

The Week’s End // May 5th, 2018 Edition

Hello and happy weekend friends! How are you? Got anything fun planned? If not, or if you happen to have a little downtime and you’re looking for some interesting or inspiring reads to check out, I’ve got you covered. Here are a few of my favorites from around the web this week:

Central American migrants traveling with a caravan sit momentarily on top of the Mexican-U.S. border wall.

No lies detectedBonus: “I wouldn’t change a single word.”

Sex is not a commodity and women are not property or money.

Simply by virtue of being human

They look a lot like the villains they fight.

Kendrick Lamar Syllabus

a shot at better

It’s not just mind over matter.

medical condition and an experience.

Just two strangers who met for the first time sixteen minutes ago.

May horoscope.

Watch No Agenda. Listen to Black Boy Joy. Follow Artie Redshoe.

Heartbreak High .

So, have you read, watched, or written an interesting or inspiring thing this week? Has something on the internet made you feel strongly, think deeply, or see the world in a new light? 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 today’s newsletter, Kanye West and the Gaze of the Other // ZEN AND PI No. 38, along with some existential musings of my own. Check it out and subscribe, or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

Featured image by Andrew Neel on Unsplash