writing

Somedays You Just Show Up: Or Why I Haven’t Been Writing

On October 1 I started a 31 day writing challenge. It was exhilarating. I had my most popular post ever. I was participating in a great blogging community, and learning new things about blogging and writing every day. I knew that I had some busy days coming up – traveling, going out of town, and I had already granted myself grace that I would not be able to write every day. Things got busy, and I was able to write one post in the middle of things. And then I hit a wall. I wasn’t only finding myself too busy to write, I was AVOIDING writing.

Today, I told my husband that I’ve been rebelling against myself. I know I need to start writing again, and the best way I know to sort through all of the thoughts swirling in my head is to write about it. My heart is in turmoil, life continues to happen, and rather than dealing with things, I am just letting them swirl in my head and heart, which does nothing to help. So here, in no particular order, are the things that are on my heart.

I’m showing up, and that is about the best I can do today.

1. I loved the writing challenge, but it was a lot of pressure. Especially because as I was writing about finding balance, challenging myself to write every day was actually pushing things out of balance because:

a) time on Facebook takes away from my quiet and contemplative time, and one of the things I had been looking forward to was getting off of Facebook for a while. However, one of the best parts of the challenge was connecting with others on the FB site, and publicizing my blog on FB

b) I started a series and didn’t want to finish it. I have one more part to the series, and then I can move on to what is really on my heart. My last part of “Finding Community” was about the importance of fun in friendship, and I was finding the whole thing boring, and not fun at all to write about.

b) I had my most viewed post ever. Going from about 20-50 views a day to over 600 in one day was encouraging, but then I started watching stats – which is something I did NOT want to do. I don’t want to have to analyze and over-edit every post. I don’t want to care about word counts. I don’t want to watch new views and visitors. I just want to write to myself and anyone who happens to decide to walk with me. (Like I said, I have an issue with balance – I’m a recovering all-or-nothing type of person.)

2. I was out of town having fun with friends at Disneyland, and then at a hospice and palliative care conference. Not excuses, just my truth. I did not want to take time out of having fun with my friends, or take time away from learning OR from the beautiful solitude and relaxation of Lake Chelan, where the conference was held.

Campbell Resort at Lake Chelan, Washington by Kristin Meador

Campbell Resort at Lake Chelan, Washington by Kristin Meador

3. I really wanted to watch Doctor Who and the season premiere of the Walking Dead. No apologies. So there.

4. There are some possible changes coming up in my life – and the changes could be major. (Jobs, homes, kids, finances – a lot of possibilities brewing)

5. I miss my kids. My oldest moved into his own home this fall, my youngest is 3,000 miles away, and my middle son is home but never here. It’s all good – they’re supposed to fly, right? But my nest is feeling big and empty. And my sweet young friend who lives with us is getting married in less than a month, and I am going to miss her desperately.

6. I spent this afternoon watching a funeral on live stream. A friend of the family died this week. She was 37 years old.  She had fought this amazing fight against a brain tumor for ten years. TEN YEARS. This was the kind of story I used to encourage others who were fighting cancer, and the kind of story that encouraged me as a hospice nurse. She had a positive attitude, researched alternative treatments, and loved and trusted Jesus all throughout this journey. This week her story changed, and she finished her race valiantly.

I think that the grief for her loss, for her husband and two young sons who are left behind, and for her brother and mama and papa who walked this path with her has hit me more than I anticipated. My heart is broken for all of them.

And I am reminded (which I know as a hospice nurse) that grief is cumulative. I wrote about this on my hospice blog, The H Word, in an essay called “Vicarious Trauma: When Your Heart Can’t Hold Any More Stories“.

I think about my own sister, who was killed in a car accident at the age of 19 almost 27 years ago. I think about the babies I lost years ago through miscarriage. I think about all of the patients I have lost over the past ten years. I have had three close friends diagnosed with cancer in three years. Grief upon grief, story upon story, they never leave you.

And sometimes the grief leaks out and takes me by surprise.

Photo credit: sethoscope creative commons

Photo credit: sethoscope creative commons

7. Another thing I am grieving is a broken relationship that needs mending. My heart is struggling between being healthy and forgiving and loving and setting boundaries versus feeling unsafe or allowing myself to continue to be victimized. What is the most loving thing? As I listened to the funeral today, one of the young woman’s friends spoke about the importance, even during the worst of times, of remaining “soft and obedient”. I don’t remember the exact words, but my prayer today is this:

How can I be a loving, soft, brave, and obedient warrior?

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31 Days in My Search for Balance: body, mind, and soul

For the month of October, I’ve joined over 1600 other writers in a 31 Day writing challenge. You can read more about it and see the participating blogs at write31days.com  Here is the starting page for 31 Days of My Search for Balance: Body, Mind, and Soul. From there you can find all of my October posts. 

 I’m calling this series 31 Days of My Search For Balance: Body, Mind, and Soul. I have accepted this writing challenge as a step out of my comfort zone, so put on your seat belt, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride . . .

So I’m showing up. It’s scary, and I feel nervous and vulnerable, a little naked. But I’m here.

As a woman of fifty (how the hell did that happen?) who has only recently returned to writing, accepting a 31 day writing challenge is terrifying. I just spent two hours trying to figure out what a ‘linky’ is and how to get it right. I may or may not have figured it out. I changed the theme of my blog because I wasn’t happy with the previous one, or the one before that, or the one before that, and I thought that if there is even a remote chance that more people will be reading this it should at least be pleasing to the eye. At least more pleasing than it was 10 minutes ago.

I loved to write when I was a child and a teenager. English was the only subject I LOVED in high school. The one time I tried pot  to English out behind the backstop in between 2nd and 3rd period, I returned to class to write a paper. At the end of class, I went to proofread my paper and realized I had forgotten to write about half of the sentences, so I never tried pot again. Because I loved writing that much. (And it made me cough more than cigarettes, which I started in the fourth grade but quit the summer of sixth grade after I smoked so many that I vomited in the middle of a movie theater. Yep, I’ve always been classy.)

I stopped writing creatively as I got older. In the past 15 years I’ve only written journals, nursing care plans, and APA style research papers. About 8 months ago I attended the Storyline conference, where I learned about living a better story. Learning about living a better story led to dreaming, and somehow dreaming led to writing. It was an unexpected joy, and it feels really good. I am ever so rusty, but I’m working out the kinks, blowing off the dust, and whatever other mixed metaphor you can think of.

I feel like I’ve found my heart again.

I accepted this writing challenge to step out of my comfort zone, and well, challenge myself a bit. While others have been preparing for this challenge for months, I just found out about this challenge on Day 1, so I am playing catch up (this is acutally Day 2). I have been writing about my search for balance, so this is a continuation of that journey, but now with a daily deadline.  Pppppffffttttt. It makes me anxious to think about, but I hope you (and by you, I mean my husband and my two best friends who read this and encourage me consistently, and anyone else who happens along) will find this a time to think about your life and heart as I search through the chaos that is life, trying to find balance.

Hello friends (and Craig), and thanks for joining me! And if we haven’t met, you can read more about me here.

And did I say thanks for joining me? I really mean that, so it’s worth saying twice.

Guess What? I AM A WRITER

*credit- creative commons - David Turnbull

*credit- creative commons – David Turnbull

I am a writer.

This weekend, a friend referred to me as ‘a writer’. Today, a trusted friend asked me what I plan to do with my writing. I didn’t even know they were aware that I was writing. Yesterday I was challenged to answer the question, “What are you? REALLY – what are you?”. I had to think a while, but I was finally able to write it. There it was – in black and white.

I am a writer.

I cannot tell you how exhilarating and frightening it is to type that statement. It also fills my soul with a sense of freedom that defies description.

Last winter, I attended the Storyline Conference in San Diego. Storyline is designed to help people ‘learn to live a better story’. I went there looking for some spiritual clarity. However, I was blindsided by something much bigger – the possibility of a dream.

Me and my middle son

Me and my middle son

If you are one of the artsy, creative twenty- to thirty-somethings in a scarf or a beany that attended this conference, being blindsided by a dream may sound silly to you. You are in the midst of the prime ‘dreaming’ time of your lives. But my three middle aged friends and I (sorry ladies, but it’s true!) – we were definitely in the minority of those attending. Over 40, long finished college, in the midst of our careers, with our kids grown and, um, the age of those in the scarves and beanies.

The speakers and their stories were amazing, inspiring, and touching. Each speaker brought a new perspective, and each story awakened my heart just a little more. It started as a spark, and soon grew into a wildfire.

My search for spiritual clarity was highjacked by a dream – the first surprise was that I could actually still have a dream. The second surprise, and I think my friends would agree, was that we had forgotten how to dream. We spent the last 20-30 years dreaming for others – searching for a partner, building a life with our spouse, raising our children, volunteering at church/school, finding a job/career. So many dreams for others, but often setting aside our own dreams. And in that setting aside, often forgetting how to dream for ourselves. Sometimes those dreams would surface, only to be pushed aside by life. I suppose I should say we allowed those dreams to be pushed aside, but it was not always a conscious decision.

Storyline was the beginning of change for me. I am still not even sure exactly what that means, because the change continues today.One dream turned into another and another, and soon my mind and heart were full. My dream, or dreams, are growing, changing, evolving. I am working on clarifying and refining those dreams. But one thing I know for sure – a dream that had been buried long ago has surfaced. My dream of writing. I wrote a lot when I was younger, but it slowly was replaced by toddlers, carpool, soccer practice, more carpool, and then nursing school and building a career while I watched my three boys grow into young men.

So I started writing again. I’m far from perfect, and that’s okay. My spelling and grammar are rusty, and I was tempted to start studying, or take a class, or just practice on my own, but instead I decided to jump in with both feet, so I started a blog about something I am passionate about – end of life care. I knew nothing about blogs, but I am slowly learning. It was scary, but also intoxicating. I felt like I was home again.

I am a writer, and I have valuable stories to tell. I’m a wanderer, and I love to travel. I am a wife of thirty years, mother of three college age sons, and hospice nurse. I believe that my stories can help heal the hearts of those who are hurting. I can tell them that they are not alone. I can encourage those who feel that their marriage is broken beyond repair, because I’ve been there, and have come out the other side. I can walk with those broken hearts whose children are prodigals, and I can tell you that there is hope even if things don’t end up the way we think they should. I can tell the story of the healing journey of a grown-ass woman who beomes 8 years old again when her parents are hurtful because she believes the lie “I must have the approval of certain others in order to feel good about myself”. I can stand with those disenfranchised church people who are middle-aged or empty-nesters (gahhhhh, I hate both of those terms) who, just as twenty- and thirty-somethings, long for the people of God to be known for great love, kindness, justice, forgiveness, inclusion, and grace rather intolerance and elitism.

together

*Credit: Creative Commons – Valerle Everett

I will tell the story of my beautiful, holy mess,

so I can stand with those who feel they are standing alone.

 

I am a writer.