The Good Fear

I told everyone 12 days ago (sorry for the delay, and thank you for your patience) I was trying to print a draft of Sickybeat for a test-read by someone other than myself. Well, after some technical difficulties I did get a bare manuscript printed! 😀

Manuscript v2

It’s been a decade since I self-published my first book with a platform, and I know that I’ve improved in technique and conventions since June 2009. I had little experience publishing and no concrete directions for the writing of, I Ain’t Goin’ Down! I’m Proud of that book, and Sickybeat is better. But, I’m still nervously second guessing myself as it is read by other eyes.

Some people are anxious about more things than other people I, on the whole, am quite confident in most of the abilities and talents I have. The hard part is that my story is not always a bright one, and I could upset those I love with this new book. I didn’t intend to hurt anyone with the last one, but it happened and some family refuse to speak to me now.

I have become a more thoughtful and self-aware person in the last decade. But, even if my first book had been a family hit, the anxiety would still be here. I am revealing a part of my mind and thoughts during times of psychosis and selfishness. I am talking about things and people I enjoy that some people find annoying or fill in the ____. I’m asking FOR critique in my style and holes I may have missed in my writing. That vulnerability is hard.

And I am willing to face it so that I can grow.

My fears spawn reflection, and compassion for others. Fear is a messenger and I do my best to be an interpreter and listener without being overcome by it

I don’t hate my mistakes

When I need to focus on things outside of writing I sing and I draw. I often find that these activities quiet my mind better than, TV and internet browsing because they keep me engaged in a way that goes beyond a visual and sound.

I may not be “Talented” at creating visual art, but I don’t hate my mistakes either. I often find myself laughing at my creations. Fortunately I was raised with someone who taught me an almost unbreakable confidence in myself. I am good at some things, and not so much at others, but talent doesn’t stop me from playing around to relieve stress.

The other good thing about my unique art? I can bring joy to my friends and family and YOU!

And thus, my strange drawing, originally intended to be a dog, until this happened… enjoy, be confident, and create

Was this REALLY A MISTAKE??

People’s Pieces

I feel robbed, looking at old photos of the person I will not know.

She is a walking memorial of pain through generations, now.
A soul damaged and haunted for so long her shell has withered and her mind has warped.
I can see green eyes once reverberating with rage, now sad because so many people have fled the darkness behind the green.
Within conditions not too far, I have seen the girl. She loves to paint musicians with her favorite DJ playing loud enough to drown out the thoughts and memories she can be brave enough to leave home in a skirt if she is happy enough. She was one night, in the early 2000s.

But, life will always bury her again in a loneliness that has nothing to do with how much you love her for all she is, and could be.

We’ve left out of self-preservation. Because no one who could have found her amid the wreckage of her mind, cared enough to reach in as we children had to.

The hardest part isn’t dealing our resulting scars, but knowing that somewhere beyond hers was once a light.
Seeing that light of personhood, and not being able to hold onto it.

NEWSFLASH!!!

Hey everyone! EXCITED to say, I finished a second round of editing for SICKYBEAT! I’m going to let my mum read it first. (seriously, is that to cocky of a move? — We’ll see, right!)

I do have a tech issue, we don’t have great printing capacity. Neither of us have the eye strength to read on a computer or device. I tried to order a printing of my manuscript online, for pickup and there was some error on the website *if my allergies weren’t killing me, I’d be rolling my eyes.*

When I printed my last draft for editing I did it at a public library, because it was easy. Stupid COVID19.

As much as I want to set up print-to-pickup this very minute for peace of mind I’m going to wait. I can set up printing arrangements tomorrow. My body is shouting “REST!” And I’ve preached about listening to the body so much that I’d darn-well better follow my own advice. I regret it when I don’t.

Editing-Phase 2 is complete. Phase 3 appears to be on tomorrow’s horizon but, for now, I’m going to brush my teeth while I still have the motivation!

I’ll see everyone soon!

You Will Do What matters

Some people with goals will work through them quickly, some slowly, and some never stop dreaming. Big and small, we are designed to desire success. Some goals last an hour, and we realize they aren’t for us after all. but the things that get done often nag at us constantly, chewing at the back of our minds until we are compelled to take action which will get what we want. Still, other ideas we’re passionate about, get lost because life won’t slow down for us.

Should we let go after a fixed time, if we haven’t worked on something for 2 years? Should we embrace a minimalist take on our aspiration when we’ve establish a life already? I’m not going to hand anyone an universal answer, but I can share two examples of what I’ve done.

If you’ve read this blog very long, you know that I love Shania Twain. I met her. The path to that accomplishment was long; it took 13 years, and it was not a progress laden journey. Cerebral Palsy, burns, depression, anorexia, countless hospitalizations, and 10 surgeries took place between the day 11-year-old me decided she wanted to meet Shania, and the day I did. Many people believed I would die because I was struggling on so many levels. There were years my ill health was all that was on my mind. And, I didn’t make progress, as hard as I tried, when I worked toward my goal.

But, I couldn’t let it go. When I was able to think clearly I always returned to thinking of creative new methods to make my impossible, my accomplishment. I wasn’t just throwing darts at a wall of ideas. I had to learn and incorporate new information constantly. At my first concert, where Shania read every sign I didn’t have a sign. When took a sign, it didn’t get her attention, so I kept trying, beyond the concert arenas. When my opportunity came it wasn’t planned.

For a slightly more recent example, the book I’m working on. I began writing in June of 2018; I loved this project from the start, but my body would allow me more than a half-hour at a time. Even when I was off of school and work for a weekend, and my weight had normalized from previous anorexic, life-threatening, lows; I couldn’t stay concentrate. My body wanted to sleep all the time.

I dosed in class, at work, and on the ride home, and I dosed after a few hundred words at my writing table. When at my most dysfunctionally exhausted, I stopped writing at all in order to preserve energy for things I couldn’t ignore, missing due dates for college assignments because I fell asleep before hitting the online submit button. If you’re wondering why I didn’t seek medical help, I was looking for answers, the process was extremely slow.

When I found a treatment that helped, a year had passed. My manuscript hadn’t been opened for 7 months, and I was drawn back to it with unfazed enthusiasm. Today was more productive than most, reading through and editing ten pages.

At times, I wonder if I am better doing other, easier, things. When going through long unproductive periods, I struggle to remember that no amount of time will dictate whether I leave an idea behind. If something seems like it has flowed slowly before freezing, I ask myself if it still moves or excites me. As long as motivation remains I’ll keep working over decades until it’s complete, or I’m dead.

Passion doesn’t always follow standards.

Have You Ever Made THAT Kind of Mistake?

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

No, I don’t mean walking out of a public restroom with a surprise white train following you? Not that time you failed your essay exam because you misread the question or got the numbers in a year reversed. Has someone stood by you, or done something to help, and you thought THEY KNEW how grateful you were because you’re family? Or, because any good person would appreciate something like what they did for you? Did you realize how meaningful an act of kindness was when it happened?

More often than I’d care to say, I have failed in the art of gratitude. I don’t mean making a list at the end of the day. I struggle to be AWARE of ways people go ABOVE being decent people for me. That kind of social ignorance doesn’t make me horrible (most of the time,) it does dim the light of good that is bigger than a relationship. I’ll give an example:

After I became a fan of Shania Twain and became active on an internet forum for fans (yeah, a forum from back in the day, and I miss it.) I started to try and use the internet to make connections and reach the goal I had of meeting Shania. ( (; ) I met a girl, Julia, and she did everything she could to help me make my dream come true.

Julia helped me start a website about it, we started online petitions and she virtually canvased people. She wrote letters to people, during the UP! tour (A_FREAKIN_MAZING tour FYI ❤ ) she cheered me up every time another fan reported back with photos where they got on stage (it happened often, Shania is very interactive.)

I was so upset about lost opportunities, and hard work floundering in the face of luck, that I never thought to say thank you in an honest way. Julia showed no resentment toward me so, I never thought about it. Until *spoiler…….* I did succeed the story about what happened the weekend IT finally happened after 13 years is a a true “against all odds” story and I wanted to tell my friend.

But, I can’t find Julia to this day. After the Shania forum closed down we lost contact. I spent years with Julia and I whined, and cried, and b!tched about everthing going wrong and “impossibility” and, “unfairness” my friend helped me, and all she got out of it overall was the worst of me.

How likely are we to be that selfless. In the history of humanity tiny kindnesses don’t necessarily change the world as a whole, but they can change those who give and those who receive them. Our actions cause ripples. our inaction can too.

I may never connect with Julia again, but if I manage to I will thank her. I know there are people whose chance to express gratitude to another person face to face is gone, because that person has died, I’ve been there too. It doesn’t have to end that way, if we’re willing to work.

As I write the Sickybeat story, I do my best to grow into a better human; for Julia, and Lex, and so many other people who stood by me at my best and worst.

The World Revolved Around me–and Couldn’t Keep Up With The Drama.

I’ve self-published a poetry chapbook, and a memoir before, and both taught me a lot about writing. If I were to choose which of the two processes had a larger impact on me though, it’d be the memoir. In fact there would be a lot less material for my current project without that book. (No spoilers!)

The takeaway was- it’s hard to do justice to other people in nonfiction unless they label themselves agreeably. Most people are extremely complex in their behaviour. When stripped, brain and bodily reactions to one another are based in logical motivations-and most of these motivating factors remain unseen.

The most outgoing person could be a horrible spouse in any number of ways that leave no signs. Or the loner with no social capital and even less concern for pop culture may have the brightest heart- either way how do you write about someone who only shows part of themselves?

Now if you’re thinking, “My experience is mine and it is valid, I have a right to express it to others.” That is true, but it isn’t always effective in getting what we want. If this person is a family member, neighbour, or co-worker, you will have to deal with them after the final words you’ve shared are read, they don’t necessarily make the subject change for the nicer, or go away, trust me.

But, our experiences are valid. So, I find myself trying to understand the perceptions of those I write about too. Even if I disagree with those perceptions. If something is said that felt mean or passive-aggressive, I define the experience and do what I can to own it, “I felt attacked/threatened/useless/offended etc…”

I try my best not to hide from my own mistakes, writing reflectively can make it easier to be more self-aware in the present and future as well. I’ve realized that when facing something that leaves me emotionally or physically uncomfortable in the immediate future, I get mean.

For example, In January when I was hospitalized and needed to drink a horrid cocktail, and a lot of it, for a procedure to follow a few days later, I wasn’t cooperative at first. I started shouting at my poor nurse about how much I hated the prep and procedure and that she dare not try that fake empath…I heard her say it was okay if I didn’t like her and yelled at her, and realized that it wasn’t okay at all. I apologized before my body could even completely calm itself.

If I hadn’t been self-aware about my own tendencies I would have remained stuck in my discomfort and the torturing memories of the other ten billion times I’ve been in the hospital. The story of that January stay would have become another misstep that I regret today. I make mistakes often, as do the subjects of our writing Because there is so much we don’t share in our world, no one can understand anyone else’s burdens fully. That isn’t an excuse for harms we’ve experienced or those we commit, it is a reason to try our best to grant people the grace, darkness, weirdness, potential, and kindness we all possess. Everyone is part of someone’s story.

Surprises and Persistence

I have a lot of plans each morning about writing and editing, learning new words in my favourite language app and and the psychology of language itself, and so many other things. In all honesty, my expectations are too high for the perfect day, and I am lucky to wake up optimistic even when I have been struggling. Hope doesn’t spring eternal for everyone.

At the end of the day, if I am unsatisfied with my degree of accomplishment it’s the result of a choice I made. I chose to focus on one goal over others, to let my mind wander, or to take a nap. Persistence is hard, even when I want something so much that I try (and sometimes fail) to work on it every day. Persistence is even harder when things happen we can’t control.

I woke up at 3:30am on Mother’s Day with what I thought to be a severe sinus headache, but within an hour it became cold sweats and vomiting as well. by breakfast, a few hours later it hurt to open my eyes and felt like my muscles were melting from the bone. I’d gone to bed early the night before with plans to make up for lost time in the morning. I didn’t do anything I planned yesterday; I went to the hospital instead.

I feel alright now, and have no answers as to what caused my discomfort, but I pick up where I left off instead of wasting time ranting about my lost time. If you had known me two years ago I would not have known how to practice radical acceptance. (Letting go of what is past and living now.) But with a lot of practice looking at the big picture, and having to pick myself up when I fall backward, I know it feels a lot better than depression over what I can no longer control or never could. Persist and grow with what you have where you are and there will always be reason for hope!

The Weirdo Gets Weird(er)

As an elementary school kid, I never paid much attention to my difference from other kids. Sure, I have Cerebral Palsy and used a wheelchair most of the time but, I was never treated much differently. As a human my tendency is to remember the negative, (including my tantrum at 5 years old as I didn’t get the Christmas gift I so wanted in ’93.) My point being, I don’t forget pain, PEOPLE don’t, when it matters.

Then, I turned 11 and grew. It became harder to do things with me both socially, and for day to day care. No longer a small kid in a cute wheelchair who wore cute dresses or shirts with dancing teddy-bear ballerinas. Sweat-pants became common and my movement decreased, as happens when you don’t visit friends outside of school. At school, adults dreaded liability and my school activities decreased. (I had done the best push-up in my PE class in second grade. Alas!)

So, is it a surprise that, after 5 years of being labelled “Different,” I began to own my label. And a lot of the labels I had been given as far back as my memory goes, too? I became weird beyond my inherited norm. I became severely Anorexic before my 17th birthday. Food wasn’t scary, food was symbolic and the meaning scared the F*&# outta me.

By age 29 I’d had several, “There is no way you should be alive” days. Psychosis was my thought pattern. Fear was my world, I was afraid of myself and long prior had lost my identity to my eating disorder. I was obsessed with routine, to the minute. (I can’t give the whole story, what would I put in the SickyBeat book?)

After 13 years of fear and self-isolation, I finally realized that fear had taken my life, if I was going to be afraid constantly, and without reason what was the point? Which leads me to my final questions for you. Is life without fear possible? Is it worth it?

To H-E-Double…Well, I Digress…

Let me get to the point: there are no tricks to ease my problems into the past. No quick solutions to the work required to reach our goals and define ourselves. There is work and time necessary in everything worthwhile.

But BINGE WATCHING?!?!?- Yep, that too. When we watch our favourite shows (hello Bob’s Burgers! ❤ ), We are analyzing the shows in terms of each character’s relationship with the others’. We decode the meaning behind jokes, and put ourselves in similar situations… How many times have you told your TV something like “No! That is NOT Ariana Grande! Obviously, it’s Janet Jackson!” *referencing a flubbed Jeopardy guess earlier this week*

Fictional TV has similar effects, *person is chased by a stranger* everyone watching, “IDIOT! Do not run into the dark alley I would____, instead!” Some activities are less involved, but if you aren’t thinking in some way, taking in information and analyzing, then you are dead by definition. Even meditative clearing of the mind takes effort, and a lot of it.

There are ways to do almost everything more effectively which require less energy, less work. Work will remain part of any successful venture no matter how much you believe in reductionism. Effort is living.

Here is an illustrative example, When I was in the 7th grade I did a personalized pysED program with my aid. One other student and his aid spent the time with us. My goal one afternoon was to walk up a ramp using the rail one the left side, I hated the idea. walking with a single support is hard, and up hill!!! I knew my aid must despise me, but I wasn’t any sort of rebel. I began to do as I’d been instructed.

The other student began to beg his aid to let him try the same activity. He had a muscle wasting disease that was hastened by usage, so my friend was denied. What I was doing was a great effort, and a great freedom. I asked both adults what kind of life this boy was getting if he could not accomplish and experience things. They said, in essence, they wanted to extend his life.–They seemed to think the ability to watch others for a longer time was better than using a shorter time in a way that was filling.– Cerebral Palsy forced me out of many things deemed “Unsafe,” or too “Hard/time consuming.” I will tell you, having to watch others always makes it worse.

The point of this post is not too complex: most fads, tricks, or shortcuts offered to us are nothing but placebos with bows on top. These things play on our psychological desires to conserve energy for better things and be better people. How much of what we seek to make easier/shorten is life itself? The boy from my story is likely no longer alive. Each time the idea of editing my writing, or exercising or speaking fills me with dread I remind myself how many stories and lives in histories around the world are remembered as purely gold stickers and golden spoons…. And My friend would love to be able to struggle, even if he just hit the floor.