Posted in days of the week, mental health monday

Mistakes, I’ve Made a Few

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Here we are again – just another manic Monday. Wish it was Sunday.

No I don’t. Sunday sucked, and not just because it was Monday eve.

That’s a lie. Sunday was ok – I tried a new dish. I’m not much of a cook, but the roasted cauliflower in this video looked delish. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as gorgeous as the one in the video, and it was a little overcooked. The EIC told me that I’d failed.

My normal response to the bully in my head is to roll over and allow him to lead me down the rabbit hole of mistakes. Being a “woman of a certain age” I have many, many years of stumbles and missteps, so it’s a long way to the bottom (I was going to say that my hole is deep, but that sounded wrong, even to someone with a twisted sense of humor).

I think he was surprised when I agreed. Yep, I failed – but that doesn’t bother me any more. That’s because I know what fail means. I’ve said it before, but the definition bears repeating:

First

Attempt

In

Learning

On this Mental Health Monday, I wanted to remind you that we’re only human – you are human, aren’t you? If not, congrats on learning to read! I know it sounds silly, but in a world where dogs and cats are learning to use sound buttons to communicate, anything is possible. Next thing you know this cat will be taking the newspaper into the bathroom.

 

Sorry, ADHD squirrels at it again.

Where was I? Oh yes – being human. 

We’re only human, which means we’re not perfect (as a recovering perfectionist, this was a hard lesson to learn). We make mistakes, and that’s ok. 

That’s a lie.

It’s more than ok. Making mistakes is what makes us human.

Have a great week, and don’t forget to be kind to everyone, including yourself!

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image courtesy of tiny buddha

So tell me – what have you learned from your mistakes?

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Posted in all about me

Voices, I hear voices

image courtesy of theawesomedaily.com

It’s Monday, which means that I need to post (well, I don’t NEED to post, but I WANT to post, and I promised that I would try writing on a regular basis). Unfortunately my brain has melted and the voices in my head are snoring. Loudly. I promise to post something new soon (“soon” as in “sometime this week” not “soon” as in “See you soon” which somehow never comes…..)

Twisting Suburbia

voicesI have a confession to make. Seeing that I’m not Catholic, you’ll have to listen to my confession. If it will make you feel better, I’ll sit in a small stuffy room while I type.

I hear voices. No, not in a Joan of Arc way, and no, my dog doesn’t talk to me (probably because I don’t have a dog), but I do hear voices. They pop up when I read an “informative” article, listen to the side effects during a pharmaceutical commercial or when someone cuts me off on the freeway.

Sometimes the voices are helpful: “Pick up Lauren at school. Don’t forget to call your aunt. Today is your husband’s birthday. Hey, that a-hole just cut you off!”.

Sometimes they are catty: “Wow, did she look in the mirror before she left the house?”.

Sometimes the voices are lead by my EIC (Evil Inner Critic): “Wow, did…

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Posted in life lessons

Listen to the Whispers

281812_10151205599007755_768196085_n[1]We all hear voices. Or maybe it’s just me (do the voices in my head bother you?). I’d like to think that everyone hears voices – could you humor me, for just a bit?

Not voices coming from a burning bush (please, Cali is already on fire, if God wants to talk to me, he/she needs to find another way) and not scary voices in an empty room (what kind of person DOESN’T run screaming from the room when an unknown entity growls “Get Out!”?).

The voices are (usually) more subtle. Sometimes they’re helpful (“It’s time to pick up your daughter from school.”), sometimes less so (“OMG you’re always losing your keys, what is wrong with you?”). The EIC is definitely one of those “less than helpful” voices, but I’ve spent too much time on him already. He’s been quiet lately – could be because I’ve decided to be nicer to myself, could be because I’ve renamed him from “critic” to “coach” or it could be because I’m spending more time developing my own “voice” and less time listening to others.

But there’s one voice we should always listen to – our intuition. That “gut feeling” you get when you’re making a decision? That’s your instinct. She’s never wrong.

What is intuition? Ye Chen describes it as “a ‘knowing’ that cannot be explained by fact or thought but through a deep inner feeling. It’s those ‘I feel it in my gut’ and ‘something doesn’t quite feel right’ moments.”

In a year where everything is going to hell (it must be hell, because 2020 started with good intentions and now it’s hot hot hot and everything is on fire), it’s hard to tell the difference between anxiety and instinct, but Carolyn Steber’s article in Bustle might help.

She starts by explaining that “Your gut instincts are those nagging feelings that alert you to potentially dangerous situations or let you know when something may go wrong. these feeling are what keep you safe in the dark parking garages, and what steer you towards good choices. But the problem is, it can often be difficult to tell the difference between intuition and anxiety….By talking with a therapist, you can start to gather tools to better cope with anxiety so it no longer gets in the way of your intuition. Here are a few things to keep in mind, so you can be better able to tell the difference.”

Her article lists 9 ways to tell the difference, but these are my fave four:

1. Anxiety Doesn’t Let up. One of the easiest ways to gell the difference between a gut instinct and anxiety is how long your symptoms last.

2. Anxiety Causes You To Worry About The Future. Anxiety symptoms might even keep you up at night, as you think ahead to work projects, worry about your health or wonder about the future of your relationship. Unlike intuition, anxiety likes to zero in on things you can’t control.

3. Anxiety Interferes With Everyday Life. A gut instinct may steer you away from an unsafe situation, but anxiety might steer you away from most situations.

4. Gut Instincts Can Be Tested And Verified. “For example, if you have a ‘gut instinct’ that our basement is leaking during a storm, you can verify this easily with a visit to the basement.”

It’s taken a long time, but I have learned trust my intuition. In those instances when I chose to ignore the little voice telling me what to do, things did not go well – and the EIC was right there, pointing and laughing and reminding me that “you should have listened.”

She helped me the other day. She told me to walk the few blocks to my next stop, and she told me to help the older couple who were struggling in their doorway. I didn’t listen – I had a task that Needed Doing, and blew her off with “We’re in the middle of a pandemic and I am a stranger – besides, they’ll be fine.”

They weren’t fine. As I was walking back to my car, I passed the man pounding and calling for help at his neighbor’s door. “His neighbor isn’t home” my intuition whispered, and this time I listened. His wife had fallen on their doorstep and he needed help getting her up and into the car.

Thanks to my years of working in a physical therapy office/limited medical experience, I knew what to do. Fortunately, she had just “sat down suddenly” and didn’t hit her heard or hurt herself. We were able to get her up and into the car (with help from the neighbor, who showed up just when we needed him).

Thanks to my intuition, I was in the right place at the right time to help a stranger. Of course the EIC reminded me that “If you’d listened the first time, she wouldn’t have fallen.”

Thanks dude. Once again, you are just soooo helpful.

Why should you listen to your intuition? Because she’s always there, and (unlike anxiety) she’ll never steer you wrong. Or, as Sonia Choquette says “Intuition doesn’t tell you what you want to hear; it tells you what you need to hear.”

Are you listening?

OIP8BYDZW7I

Posted in life lessons

The Stories We Tell – reblogged

Edit – I just realized that I linked but did not reblog Lisa’s post – I’ve posted her text below mine

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image courtesy of mageewp.com
Lisa Blari Fratze is a FOF (Friend of Friend) who blogs as Rebel2Revolutionary. I believe that messages come when we’re prepared to hear them, and I will be forever grateful to Aurora Culver for being a conduit and to Lisa for this important reminder.

Lisa says that I believe we all have a revolution waiting in us. It could be your calling, falling in love after a broken heart, or fighting to be the person you were created to be.

It’s hard to be the person you were created to be when the story you tell yourself is one of failure, struggle and heartbreak, or when you believe the lies Fear’s evil henchman tells you.

Or, as Lisa puts it in The Stories We Tell: Where we get into trouble as human beings is when we stop speaking our fears out loud and we start believing they are true. When we immerse ourselves in the stories our fear speaks over us, our lives begin to be shaped by them.

be kind

The Stories we Tell:

Taylor Swift has a new album out. In the middle of a pandemic, she surprised us with some new music that she wrote in isolation. And the music sounds like it. It is melancholy, moody and somewhat whimsical.

It’s like having Christmas in July.

My favorite song on the track is called “Exile.” It’s a duet between a boy and a girl and over the course of the song you begin to see that their stories don’t match up. It’s about a break-up and the guy says: “You never gave a warning sign.”

And the girl says: “I gave so many signs.”

It’s beautiful and it’s poetic and there’s something about it. It captures the strange reality that two people can be in the exact same relationship or live through the same situation and have two very different experiences of it.

They both experienced the same series of events, but the story they tell is very different.

There is something fascinating about that.

On my fifth date with James I asked him if he was going to break my heart.

It was a bold question to ask, but it was a very deep fear of mine. Saying it out loud was part of the healing process. It allowed me to breathe.

It also allowed James to speak into that fear. There were so many times at the beginning of our relationship that I had to say my fears out loud. And every time, James spoke into them with love. He broke their power. He helped reveal that they were a story I was telling myself and not the truth.

Where we get into trouble as human beings is when we stop speaking our fears out loud and we start believing they are true. When we immerse ourselves in the stories our fear speaks over us, our lives begin to be shaped by them.

It can be a dangerous and very limiting way to live, especially when it comes to cultivating connection.

Most of the time, our fears have everything to do with our lived experience and our past.

In the context of relationships, our fears have very little to do with the person standing in front of us and more to do with the voice inside us.

The stories we tell ourselves can be powerfully transformative.

They can spur us toward connection, or they can lead us into building our lives in insolation.

Early in our marriage James and I adapted a phrase that we now use during disagreements or discussion. It’s “the story I’m telling myself” and yes, we got it from Brené Brown, OK!

When we are knee deep in a disagreement about a situation or a topic that we both feel very differently about, we’re honest that there are stories and narratives in our heads that are shaping how we think and feel.

These stories are often rooted in deep fears from our past. Sometimes, they are shallow roots from a different time or place in our relationship. More often than not, the story we are each telling ourselves in that moment is very different.

And, getting to hear that story out loud allows us to speak truth into it. It allows us to get on the same page in the same book and see life through each other’s eyes instead of simply our own.

It allows us to avoid saying or doing things that are shaped by unspoken fears and learn that there is a difference between the stories we tell ourselves and the life we desire to live.

The line between them is thin, but it’s there. And, it’s the difference between a heartbreak ballad and a love song.

 

Posted in all about me, life lessons

The EIC is a D-bag

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image courtesy of brightontalktherapy.com
For those of you who were disappointed/confused/irritated by my earlier post, it was my half-assed attempt at humor. With all the divisiveness/hatred/bad and sad news out there  I haven’t been feeling very funny lately, but I’m trying. It was either a silly post or putting bologna in my shoes. 

bologna
image courtesy of quotefancy.com

I promised that I would try to blog on Tuesdays and Fridays. I was thinking of adding Sunday, which is when my EIC spoke up.

You can’t even post twice a week, what makes you think three times is a good idea?

I wrote three times last week.

But not on Tuesday or Friday.

(checks blog). Liar. I wrote on Friday.

You posted a “Woe is me, my brother’s dog died.” That’s not a post, that’s a not-so-subtle cry for attention.

Shut up.

No YOU shut up.

You’ve been quiet lately.

Did you miss me?

Hell no, I was hoping you’d died.

Well, I was hoping you’d died.

What? That doesn’t even make any sense.

You don’t make sense. 

You’re an idiot.

I know you are but what am I?

OMG. Shut up already.

As you can tell, my EIC is a two year old.

You’re a two year old.

Please be quiet.

My Evil Inner Critic is a two year old. Actually, he changes. Some days he’s two, some days he’s my age, and some days he’s my older than dirt grandmother who was always disappointed in me. Whoops. That wasn’t me, that was him again. Sneaky bastard. My grandmother was a military wife, and our house was never clean enough for her (she actually wiped the top of the door on a visit) but she loved me and taught me to garden, to cook, to fish and to paint (well, she tried). The EIC whispers that she was disappointed in me, but he’s a liar. She would love her great-granddaughter and she would get a kick out of my blog.

That’s what you tell yourself, but you’ll never know because she’s dead.

He’s a liar and a d-bag.

The Evil Inner Critic is that voice in your head that tells you that you’re not good/smart/thin enough. The one who says that you’re too old/young/tall/short/dumb to try something new. The demon who whispers that it’s too late to chase your dreams, and that even if it wasn’t, you’re a talent-less hack and that nobody likes you anyway (or maybe that’s just mine).

Nadia Bolz-Webber (founding pastor of The House For All Sinners and Saints) says that your EIC is the devil. She/they look AWESOME. I’m more spiritual than Christian, but I’m definitely going to check them out.

Peter Michaelson explains on Whywesuffer.com: The inner critic (known in psychoanalysis as the superego) is a brute force, a totalitarian tyrant, lurking in the human psyche. It’s a primitive part of us that operates with the mentality of a psychopath. It harbors a capacity for evil. (It) is a formidable inner foe, a true enemy within that is audacious and shameless. He says that we cannot ignore it, tame it or befriend it, but says that we can, however, undermine and defeat it with correct self-knowledge. 

I’ve battled the EIC for years all my life. I’ve tried different techniques to keep him quiet. Some of them work well, some less so. I’ve found that giving him a voice – letting him spew his lies and hatred without interruption works best .* As you can see from above, I don’t always follow my own advice, so I looked online for some tips.

Katherine Grugg says that her EIC is the henchman of Fear (FEAR=False Expectations Appearing Real) and that she pictures him as an evil disney sidekickHe whispers his lies into my ear, hoping that I’ll believe him. He’s as quiet as the Evil Queen’s raven in Snow White, as subtle as the Siamese Cats in The Aristocats and has the same tone of voice, at times, as Cinderella’s step-sisters. But that’s where the G-rated comparisons stop. (And I call him he because it fits better today, but he’s not restricted to gender.)

She says that her inner critic is the single greatest threat to her success as a writer, and lists ten techniques that work for her. These two are my favorite:

  • I yelled right back at this voice. My therapist told me I can tell him to shut up. He will. I owed it to myself to fight back. And I also learned that if real people say this stuff to me, I have the means to leave them.
  • I stopped comparing myself to others. My inner critic is obsessed with the success of other writers. He whispered in my ear that I should be doing this, that or the other better. This is a bunch of ca-ca. My success is mine alone. Just tell that inner critic to shut up once and for all so you can focus on being you!

She explains that If I actually listen to my inner critic, then it’s like I am putting the handcuffs on and I’m allowing him to drag me into fear. There’s no way I can be successful and listen to him at the same time. One of us has to go.

Hey Assbutt. I’m not going anywhere. Time for you to go.

*I take dictation from the EIC, writing everything he says longhand (because it’s faster) for 5 minutes or until he runs out of steam, whichever is shorter. Sometimes I laugh and shred it, sometimes I write out responses to his B.S.

 

 

Posted in Gratitude challenge

Take My Advice

OIP5GYZWOVHIt’s July 11th, and I’m only on Day four of July’s Daily Gratitude challenge. At this rate, I’m going to be working on this challenge for a while – but you know what they say – better late than pregnant. Especially at my age – I had a hard enough time being an accidental mother at 37 – pretty sure getting pregnant at my (undisclosed) age would drive me over the edge.

I will be forever grateful to Suzie for issuing her challenge. My gratitude is twofold:

1. Focusing on the things I’m grateful for leaves little room for my brain weasels to remind me of all the things that have/are/could go wrong. Don’t get me wrong, they still work with the EIC to remind me that life is a four letter word – but perspective is important. We can’t change our situation, but we CAN change how we react to it.

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image courtesy of boldomatic.com
2. I’m writing again. The loss, grief and stress of the past few months had killed my creativity, and I was pretty sure I’d never write again (please tell me you’d miss me if I left – white lies make the world go ’round). Her challenge was just the spark I needed, and I was relieved that the words were flowing again. Or they were, until today. Well, not actually today. That was a lie (and not a white one).

They were flowing until I came up against Daily Gratitude Challenge Day 4: The Greatest Advice I’ve Ever Received. For some reason, it scares me. Weird, I know – but I’ve come to grips with the fact that I am a not normal. It’s okay – normal is just a setting on the washing machine.

But I’m curious. Why would I be afraid of good (or the greatest) advice? We’re talking heart racing, sweaty palmed full fledged (albeit low-level) anxiety.

Deep breath. Time for a little soul searching.

It might be because I’ve found that giving people advice rarely works, but I’d be lying again (have I mentioned that I lie and swear a lot? It’s true. Or maybe it’s not. I could be lying).

In all honesty, I think it’s because I haven’t always listened to the advice I’ve been given.  I don’t know why. I suppose it’s because I’m stubborn. I come from a long line of stubborn strong-willed woman, and it appears that I’ve passed it along to the girl. I’m alright with that.

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image courtesy of picturequotes.com
Or maybe it’s because the greatest advice I’ve ever received came from my mother, but it wasn’t really advice, per se. Her lessons came not from what she said, but from how she lived her life. I think it still fits the challenge, don’t you?

Be kind to everyone you meet. You have no idea what other people are dealing with. That car that raced through traffic and cut you off? They might be racing to the hospital. That person who just yelled at you for no reason? They might have just gotten devastating news. In a world where you can be anything, be kind.

Always show respect to others (not just your elders). I struggled with this one growing up. I still believe that respect must be earned – but until they’ve shown a reason for it, there’s no reason to be disrespectful.

Speak up when you see injustice. I am proud to say that I’ve passed this lesson on to the girl. Perhaps too well. She made the mistake of standing up to her fifth grade teacher (the woman was a screamer and a bully) and her grades suffered for it. My only wish is that she had said something to her parents about the issue – but she stood up on behalf of her classmates, and we are #proudparents.

If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Full disclosure – I have  struggled with this one too. In fact, I am still struggling to remember that

Talking about people behind their backs is never okay. Never. Full stop.

I can’t remember where I heard this last piece of advice, but it’s one that I share often. I have to be honest – I struggle with this one all the time. I could blame the EIC, but since my evil inner critic is just a voice in my head, I have no one to blame but myself.

Be as kind to yourself as you are to your friends.

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image courtesy of quotesgram.com
 P.S. I really love this bit of advice from Suziespeaks –

Self pity stops all progress. I wrote about this a few years ago after watching an inspiring YouTube video from Terry Crews. “You’re not allowed to feel self-pity, because you are doing that to yourself. The only way to energise yourself is to think gratitude. Think about the things you got… Thank god I’m alive, I’m breathing, I’m healthy, I’m here – you can always find something to have gratitude about… Be graciously thankful for everything that you have.”

 

 

Posted in 2020

Ch-ch-changes

change-simon-wordle-24[1]If you’re having a strong sense of deja vu, don’t panic – it’s not a glitch in the Matrix – I’m well aware that I’ve used this blog title before.

It’s only fair that I’m reusing a title, since my life is  mirroring where I was a year and a half ago. Much like before, my writing has been derailed by “stress, grief, loss, depression and change.” I don’t know why I let the five horsemen of the Apocalypse  keep me from writing – the past four five eight years have been such a rollercoaster I should be used be used to them by now.

Speaking of the Apocalypse…..

ooooo. smooth transition – not.

Oh goody, it’s the EIC*. You’ve been so quiet I thought you were dead.

You’ve been so quiet I thought I’d finally killed your creativity.

Oh shut up.

Good comeback

No really, shut the f-k up. Begone you piddly poor excuse for an inner demon. You have no power over me now. 

Wanna bet?

Sure. Bet me. You’ll lose. I have come to terms with the fact that I am my own worst critic, and I have made up my mind that I’m not going to let myself stop me.

(EIC laughing evilly).

Look, I know that I haven’t written in weeks – but time during the pandemic has become more wibbly-wobbly than normal, and I’m not the only one who has been shut down by Quarantine Brain.

Oh goody. Another excuse.

It’s not an excuse. (squirming) I mean, it IS an excuse, but it’s an actual thing. Constance Grady wrote a great piece for Vox on what trying to write during a pandemic feels like:

My mind felt as thought it had been shattered. I couldn’t sustain a thought long enough to analyze anything. I just stared in a blank fury at the Rosanne Cash tweet reminding me that Shakespeare wrote King Lear during quarantine. “What a stupid thing to say,” I thought. “we’re already dealing with a global emergency and now I’m supposed to write King Lear on top of that? Well, fuck you.”

And the team at Patreon blogged about the struggle to create:

Creativity is a mysterious phenomenon. While there are people who claim they’ve hacked it, for most of us, access to creative flow can be fleeting and random. Sometimes, an idea appears out of nowhere, fully baked, leaving you sprinting to your laptop or notebook to capture it like a firefly in a jar. Other times, you torture yourself at your desk for an hour trying to make something only to leave empty handed…..As far as creativity goes, there are pros and cons that come with this new normal. On one hand, you may have more time on your hands to create; on the other, whether you’re having trouble focusing or you’re feeling frozen by anxiety, being at home can be challenging.

Their post includes tips on how to get creative during a global pandemic. They suggest learning something new, dancing (the girl and I zoom dance with our Borderline family every week) and lucid dreaming. My favorite is

9. Make it raw, not perfect. Aim for imperfection. People crave realness right now. Decide to make something, set a timer, and then make it. The songwriter Johnny Mercer once said, “write for the waste basket.” That mindset removes your expectations, leaving you free to be creative. Don’t stop when it gets hard, and don’t worry about how it’s going to land. When the timer is up, consider what you made. You can share it with your fans if you want. You never know what thing you make is going to be cherished by people. Or, if you made something that was just for you, that’s okay too.

(sprinkling myself with holy water) Now for the last time, get the f-k out. Go bother someone who actually gives a damn.

Back to the Apocalypse. Anyone else disappointed that there aren’t any zombies? I thought I saw some during the first week of the pandemic panic, but they turned out to be shell-shocked shoppers searching desperately for toilet paper. Shopper zombies may not eat your brains, but they will steal your toilet paper.

 

This started out as a piece on change. I wanted to talk about the things that have changed in the past eighteen months (I’m not losing my job after all) and the things that haven’t (like millions of others who were laid off during the pandemic, my husband is once again looking for work) and the panic that I felt when I learned that the WordPress editor is changing. I wanted to write a piece on how life will change as we “return to normal” (note – normal is just a setting on your dryer). Somewhere along the line, I went off topic, but that’s ok. The quarantine has kicked my ADHD into overdrive, but I’m not going to let it keep me from SQUIRREL!

There have been a ton of changes during the past few months. Some of the changes have been good – thanks to zoom I’ve seen my friends and family more in the past few weeks than I have in the past year. Some of the changes have been weird – I tried using a bandana as a mask, but I felt like an Old West bank robber. And some of the changes have been hard – I love my family, but we’re just not meant to be together 24/7.

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I’ve adapted, but I’m still not a big fan of change. Yes, I’m well aware that Heraclitus said “Change is the only constant in life.” and that Leonard Sweet thinks that “Stagnation is death. If you don’t change, you die.” I wouldn’t say that they’re wrong (they are/were, after all, smarter than I could ever hope to be) but I agree with Grumpy cat.

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But I think Scott Adams put it best:

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And for those of you (like myself) who have had Bowie running through their brain since seeing the title of my post, you’re welcome.

*Evil Inner Critic

So tell me – how are you maintaining your sanity while quarantining?

Posted in four letter words, on writing

Swimming With Chuck*

open-water-swimmer[1]The past few weeks have been hard. TBH, the past few years have been “less than pleasant.” I’ve spoken before about grief, loss and all the other four letter words that have stopped me from writing. I’ve also spoken about the EIC. He thinks the four letters words are “another lame excuse for quitting.” Writing keeps him quiet. Evidently it’s been too long since I’ve written anything. His words are red, because he’s mad that I’ve kept him quiet for so long.

I’ve been meaning to write more often. I’ve been meaning to return to the things I enjoy. I planned on blogging twice a week, on a regular basis. I also planned on signing up for NanoWriMo. At the very least I was going to be a NaNoWriMo Rebel.

You know what Robert Burns said about “The best laid plans of mice and men…..”

I had every intention of returning to stand-up and acting.

You know where good intentions lead.

Oh please, be quiet. Unless you have something good or helpful to say, just SHUT UP.

… 

Huh. Evidently standing up to a bully makes them back down. Who knew?

The good news is that I didn’t make it all the way to Hell. I’ve been stuck in the pit of despair.

I don’t mind it here. It’s dark, but not lonely – I have all my other personalities to keep me company.

I’ve been trying to blog on a regular basis, but I couldn’t seem to finish. Couldn’t think of anything to say, couldn’t find the words to say what I couldn’t think of.

The worst part was that I couldn’t figure out WHY I couldn’t write.

It’s called writer’s block (DUH!)

Oh good. You’re back.

Miss me?

No.

Hurtful.

….

ANYWAY. I couldn’t figure out why I’ve been stuck. And then I got an email from the terrible mind of Chuck Wendig. I follow him, which means I get an email whenever he posts a new piece. I get a lot of emails. I don’t mind, because I love the way he writes. He’s funny, and smart and writes on a regular basis.

Unlike you.

Oh, for the love of all the gods, will you please GO AWAY!!

Fine. I’ll go for now, but (just like The Terminator) I’ll be back.

Can’t wait.

Where was I?

Today’s post Swimming Sideways: Navigating Grief As A Writer And An Artist resonated with me. Chuck shared an email he received from a fellow writer: “I know you lost your mom recently and I wanted to share my condolences. I, also, lost mine over a year ago and it has completely paralyzed me – stopped me in my creative tracks.

And there it was, in black and white. The reason for my unsurmountable block.

Grief. Grief is a four letter word (before you say anything, I’m aware that it’s five letters – but my grief has come from loss, and loss IS a four letter word).

There have been too many losses these past few years. Loss of health, loss of career, loss of friends and family by blood and heart.

It’s been said that grief is a wet wool blanket, but I think Chuck got it right when he described grief as water:

Grief is water. Grief is wave, river, and lake, it is the sea, it is a current.

You do not control it; rather, you can only respond to it. It wants what it wants, and it is always moving, ready to fill the low spaces. Sometimes you’re in its shallows, sometimes you step wrong and you’re in its tireless, unrelenting depths looking for light, trying to find which way is up. But it’s always there. Sometimes wet on your feet. Other times a fog, a mist, a light rain….Maybe grief is undertow. You don’t swim away from it. You damn sure don’t swim into it. You swim sideways. You find a way left or right and you swim out of its current. That’s the only response, I think. What that looks like, in form, is up to you. But I want to say it’s okay to write, it’s okay not to write, it’s okay to write badly, it’s okay to write beautifully in a way that isn’t practical or useable, it’s okay to write about it or write to avoid it. Whatever it is you create, it’s a response to the grief or looking away from it. Toward it to see it and understand it, or from it to escape it.

It’s swimming sideways.

All I know is, keep on going. Keep swimming. Those we have lost would want us to, wouldn’t they? One suspects it might be their greatest wish, and so we honoring them by doing exactly that, in whatever way we can muster, in whatever direction we find best, with our strongest stroke.

Like I said. Chuck is smart. It’s just one of the many reasons I follow him. You should too.

If you or a friend or family have been swallowed by grief, you can find a local griefshare group here, or you can find online resources here or here.

And to borrow a phrase from my favorite fish – just keep swimming

 

*Swimming with Chuck is more fun than swimming with sharks.

 

 

 

 

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Who do I think I am, Anyway?

Good Morning!

I have enrolled in WordPress’ Blogging 101 in the hopes that my mostly melted brain will re-format, if not completely, then at least enough that I can return to writing. I’m not sure who Anyway is, but I’m hoping that she’s someone who can help me.

I love writing. I love reading. I love almost everything about reading and writing and the English language – other than the fact that many of the rules which apply to the English language make little to no since cents sense ;-D

I started writing in an attempt to find fuel for my stand-up routine, and discovered that writing helped to clear my mind. It seemed to act as a de-frag tool, helping to make more room for new thoughts and ideas. Yes, it helped with my stand up, but I found that I enjoyed blogging by and for itself. As a suburban soccer mom (happened despite my best efforts) I have a small circle of friends. I enjoy the sense of community and the fact that I have “met” people from all over the world.

Last year, overwhelemd by stressors and loss,  my internal hard drive crashed and burned, and my creative drive was destroyed. I am recovering, albeit slowly.

I have thought about returning to writing for a while, but FEAR (False Expectations Appearing Real) has held me hostage, and the EIC (Evil Inner Critic) kept telling me that my earlier writing success was a fluke.

So now I stand on the ledge, ready to jump back in.

Eyes closed, fingers crossed, breath held, afraid that I will crash and burn, but hoping against hope that this time I will fly. Welcome to my world. Welcome to my voices.

voices