Apologies for my absence. I have been thinking of blogging and composing blog posts in my head and thinking of all you dear people in the blogosphere, yet I have neglected to put fingers to keyboard in this mode.
I am typing, though. Typing a novel. Working, reading, writing, revising. It’s consuming my life. I had a 318-page first draft last November. In January, I decided to start over with what I know now about my characters. Now I’m approaching 150 pages on the second draft, and I’m learning.
This is not my first experience writing a novel, and I’m learning that with each story I tell, be it through prose, poem, blog, essay, or otherwise, each story teaches me how to tell it.
I’m also working again on wellness writing, which I have missed these past months. This work fills my spirit and helps me work through the stress of my own life while facilitating for others. I have taught in a nursing home, in a university setting, in a prison, and last night had an introduction to a group I will be working with comprised of breast cancer survivors. At this meeting, I experienced laughter, tears, community, and breakthroughs as these beautiful women opened their hearts and filled mine.
So, I am working and learning and writing. I cut my hair (again). And I’m happier than I’ve ever been.
How are you?
I have been absent from social media during the last two weeks. Did you miss me? My guess is that you didn’t even notice.
Guess what? I did. I really noticed. 🙂
Day one: Day of preparation and determination. In order to better achieve my goal, I moved my apps around on my phone so I couldn’t easily check them with my habitual finger swipe. Did that help? YES! But, I surprised myself by noticing how immediately (and without thinking) I closed my email (which I check periodically throughout the day for professional purposes) and swiped over to hit the icon (which was now not easily visible–thank goodness).
Day two: Still swiping. Thinking of short quips and posts to share on social media. Wondering if anyone missed me. (They didn’t.)
Day three: Less swiping. More peace. Calmer thoughts.
Day four: Various social media services begin to bombard me with emails wooing me to check my notifications.Wondering if I need social media.
Day seven: Wondering again if I need social media. The people I really need to contact (and who need to contact me) can (and do) text. Or email. And I still check email.
Day ten: Find that the relationships that matter most to me are benefitting from this break.
Day eleven: Achieving deeper focus on the novel I’m writing. Hit a powerful emotional core. Realize that I don’t need it. Not really.
Day twelve: Wondering if I can streamline email so I check less periodically and focus on my goals instead of inconsequential information (and lots of it).
Day fifteen: Blogging about how I might not need social media after all. My life is really full without the pressure of posting, liking, loving, and checking in so often. My heart is peaceful.
Not sure where to go from here, but I’m grateful to know that I can (and DID) take a full-fledged break. And I’m grateful for the clarity that I have all that I need. My marriage and family are happier. I am less distracted. I can see better what really matters. And I am happier.
Leaving you with a Monday song from Hamilton: “Take a Break” (might have some language)
xoxo, Karin 🙂
Please be respectful of others. ❤ Xoxo ~Karin
Somewhere there is a woman: 30, no children. People ask her, “Still no kids?” Her response varies from day to day, but it usually includes forced smiles and restraint.
“Nope, not yet,” she says with a chuckle, muffling her frustration.
“Well, don’t wait forever. That clock is ticking, ya know,” the sage says before departing, happy with herself for imparting such erudite wisdom. The sage leaves. The woman holds her smile. Alone, she cries…
Cries because she’s been pregnant 4 times and miscarried every one. Cries because she started trying for a baby on her wedding night, and that was 5 years ago. Cries because her husband has an ex-wife and she has given him children. Cries because she wants desperately to try in vitro but can’t even afford the deposit. Cries because she’s done in vitro (multiple rounds) and still has no children. Cries because her best friend wouldn’t…
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Let’s talk a little this morning on how we limit ourselves. We all do it. Whether we are limiting our food portions, our snack options, our children from activities, ourselves from being who we are–we limit ourselves.
Here is a song that talks about being limited from the first line:
Now, I agree with speed limits (usually) and age limits (at least I do now, as a teen, I wasn’t too keen on them), and sometimes a good time limit serves a purpose (like when my children need to do their chores or eat a serving of unfavorite veggies off a plate). But, what I want to talk about is how we limit ourselves.
Have you ever said one of these phrases?
- I can’t do that.
- I can’t do that (because you are so good at it).
- I can’t pull that off.
- I could never _____________.
- I could never do what you are doing.
- I didn’t get enough sleep to do that.
- I can’t deal with that today (or any day).
- I’m done.
I’m totally guilty of the last one. I say it often…but thankfully not as often as I once did. If you are saying one or more of these phrases, will you stop? Do you know how to stop? Do you want to stop? Can you fill your mind with positive, “I can” statements?
Many of you know that I have half-a-dozen children. I do. They are really cool, and I don’t exactly take credit for them. People sometimes ooooo and ahhhh over my abilities. But they didn’t come into my home all at once. (Two of them came together–and that was one of the most difficult experiences of my life, but that’s another story.) As I had one–or two–at a time, my capacity increased to be able to take care of my children. I was blessed with more insight and patience.
I am undertaking another stretching and creative experience right now. This experience, along with trying to manage my family’s increasingly hectic schedule, has been difficult. But, I have also been blessed to grow and learn with each new undertaking. With the traumas we experienced last fall, my capacities grew again. Right now, I’m working on community outreach with a Writing for Wellness program. With each new endeavor, I learn and grow and become more developed as a human than I was yesterday, or last week, or two months ago.
Certainly, life calls for times of rest and recuperation. Sometimes we are stretched beyond what we are able and we need to ask for help or let some less important tasks go. (Don’t ask me how clean my house is or when the last time I folded laundry was….) But sometimes we need to say YES to stretching ourselves beyond our current abilities. Once we decide to do this, we will have people and opportunities placed in our path where we can work “For Good.”
Will you do it?
This morning, I woke up with this sentence on repeat in my mind:
“Don’t lose sight of who you are.”
That line is from the song “I’m Not That Girl” from the musical Wicked. It’s taken entirely out of context here, but that message was one I needed today.
For the last several weeks I have been bogged down, trudging through the unusual monotonies of life. I have kept up with the demands of eight schedules, school assignments for seven, and various other church and community-related activities. But, I have not been myself.
I know, because last fall, I was not myself. And I have felt that lost feeling again.
At one point this week, I decided I was finished with feeling that way. I broke out my toolbox of coping skills: more diligent scripture study, reaching out to friends, more fervent prayer, yoga, Temple attendance, running, and embracing my love of music (thus the song running through my head this morning). In all these moments, I felt like I was cracking open a window, allowing just a bit of fresh air and sunlight into the tired room of my soul.
But I had practically given up something that is an integral part of who I am. I almost stopped writing.
This morning, as I pondered that singular line from a most-beloved musical, I felt the message resounding in my brain.
“Don’t lose sight of who you are.”
I have to write. It is healing. Supporting. It is my sanity.
I created a poem once that begins with these words, “I was born to write a song.” Not just any song–but a song of words, woven with care. A musical.
So, I’m back to my desktop today, trying to remember, recall, reenvision through my own revisions the novel that is part of who I am.
And I am singing.
(Note: I have hesitated in posting this, because I am not looking for charity or a hand-out for Christmas. Please do not misinterpret this post. Thank you.)
We’ve had some experiences this year that have stretched our budget beyond normal borders–and yet, I don’t feel a sense of suffering this time of year. (I have, however, been bothered with seemingly unending emails for Black Friday and Cyber Monday and posts on websites for giveaways and contests to win a certain amount of PayPal or gift card cash because, as one boasted this week, “Who couldn’t use an extra $500 this time of year?”). What???
If those who celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, or anything else this time of year are focused on cash, spending, getting, and receiving, isn’t something missing? Aren’t several things missing? (Don’t get me wrong–I’m all for a good deal, for living within means, and for smart spending–but this is getting ridiculous.)
Last week, as a family, we decided to draw names so each person in our home could give and receive a little something to celebrate Christmas. As we spoke, we talked about the many blessings we have received this year, among them the gift of life for a child who might have died and the gift of sight for a husband and father who might have otherwise been blind. Our finances have stretched to pay for such services, and we are grateful for the ability to do so. And, while I will not find myself in a typical posture shopping on Amazon or reading reviews about the best winter boots or Lego sets, I am at peace.
Let me reiterate: I am at peace. Without the shopping, spending, stress of wondering and waiting to see if I got the “just right” present. All of that has been eliminated. And I’ve made room for other things I enjoy about the holidays–like singing. I will be singing tomorrow at a Christmas brunch and in a choir for Christmas services–and I will attend concerts for my children. And we will bake–sugar cookies (if I can find my cookie cutters) and other treats and dip chocolate pretzels and peanut butter balls.
And maybe, just maybe, this will be our best Christmas yet.
If, at some point, your own government ceased to function, to protect you, to provide some sort of “unalienable rights,” putting you in a situation of compromise, maybe forcing you to take a journey you are physically and temporally unprepared to take, what would you do?
If, at some point, you pondered the blessed and happy state of your large house which gave heat and cool air on demand, and you thought about your stocked pantry and adequate bank account, and your chest wrenched because your country was founded upon these words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” and your chest perhaps heaved because of the abundant space you could give others if they could but get to your home, if your national and local leaders would allow them to come, and your tear ducts filled because you felt powerless to help, what would you do?
If your son came home from school, claiming he heard from a friend that the problems in our world, especially in Paris, were the fault of a religion–one to whom your good friends and neighbors and students belong–a religion of peace and of opening your home and sharing the blessings from the same Creator I believe in, and you knew you needed to say something because what he said wasn’t true but that you knew in other homes that the same philosophies of fear were being taught, down the street, and across the country, what would you do?
What will you do?
In the depths of this early morning, with moonlight streaming in through closed blinds, lights flickering on and off changing the angled shadows around my bedroom, recent turns and twists of experience played across my mind like an old movie theater projection. This blog, though often neglected as of late, was part of the ever-changing scenery. I recalled my last post, written in despair, as a cry of help in honesty, seeking understanding.
Late on Saturday night, I decided to fast. Fasting–to me–is abstaining from food or drink for a period of time (often two meals) as an act of faith to draw neared to God, to sacrifice something meaningful to me in pursuit of enlightenment or strength, and includes an offering to be given to those in need of what I would have spent on meals during that time (a “fast offering”). As I fasted through my Sabbath day (Sunday), I was given renewed courage and faith as I sought strength and healing. I was able to smile and laugh. Stories that others shared as I went through my day took on new meaning, as if those I loved shared them just for me. I felt known, loved, and joyful. My problems did not go away; however, I felt renewed, rejuvenated, revived, restored. I felt better than I was when I began fasting on Saturday evening.
I always thought the song was called, “It’s a Hard Knock Life.” Google it. I promise–it’s “the”–not “a.”
And, now, just so you can sing along with me:
On a more serious note, I have been in the midst of trauma and turmoil for the last couple of months. While I won’t go into details (we all have our sad, dark, difficult moments), I would like to share with you a small bit of wisdom I have learned.
Life is hard.
Sometimes it’s harder than hard. And sometimes it just plain sucks.
Wait–let me backtrack a bit. I was a teenager once. Were you? Did we know each other? Maybe you will remember as I do that I wasn’t the happiest person. My favorite shirt had Eeyore (from Winnie the Pooh) on the front–you know, the character that is associated with lines like, “Tut, tut. Looks like rain”–that was me.
Then, I grew up a little, got a little less teen angsty, and decided that life was better in the sunshine. I worked hours on retraining the default settings of my brain to reflect on positive aspects of life. I began to count blessings instead of troubles. And I chose happiness.
(That’s probably the hardest part right now. Happiness evades me daily. I want it back, and I’m trying each moment of each day to choose it–but I get tired of walking down the staircase and reliving my baby’s fall, my legs shaking so much on the ambulance drive with him, thinking of myself in the front seat pleading with the driver to tell me about himself as a distraction from my little guy lying on a backboard while three EMTs tended to him, the sleepless days and nights in ICU that followed, and the fear of coming home and seeing it all happen again.)
Trauma is real. And I pray, but it’s still there. I read and study, but the pain aches in my chest, my head, my heart. I smile, and every once in a while, the smile feels sincere.
And even though we’ve had so many gifts and blessings (and he is healing), I pull my knees to my chest and cry–more often than I did as a fifteen-year-old.
And I am grateful. And I am smiling, softly, not with my lips but with my eyes, thinking of each of you–your friendship, support, and love.
And someday, when I tell myself that “everything will be okay,” the phrase will stop feeling like a lie. And everything will be okay (even though life will still be hard).
At least I’m learning, right?