I was recently asked what I was doing to take care of myself.
I paused and realized I didn’t have a good answer. I am unable to take the writing class I want at this time. The additional work I have taken on is worth it however, I have not yet struck a balance yet. Balancing work, home life, exercise and adequate rest. So I am making time right now to write, with eyes half closed, Sixers game in the background, contemplating reworking the poem I wrote yesterday.
I may have slowed down but not to a stop. I am also not discouraged. Maybe letting go of the pressure to post so often has been the self-care I need. I think there was a part of me that would have felt forgotten and all of my hard work would have somehow washed away if I took the break that I needed.
But that is just clinging to fear which serves no one, least of all me.
I am going to trust myself. Trust the writer I know I am and the audience who will find me.
A co-worker told me she rented studio space recently to begin doing her art again and it reminded me that I had let several weeks go by without writing.
I have added quite a bit of new work to my schedule which (predictably) sapped any creativity from me. There was also a death in my family which despite great sadness brought us together.
But with this death came reconnection. Not just with my parents, cousins and aunts and uncles who I sorely missed. We had the pleasure of staying with Hubby’s cousins in Georgia on the way down to Florida. We stayed with them almost 5 years ago on an anniversary trip to Savannah. They welcomed us with such warmth and exuberance I immediately remembered why I loved staying with them so much the first time around.
After coming back from Florida to their home, they took us out, fed us well and made us feel right at home. I even shared some of my writing with them and I got to read work one of them wrote. They gave us a surprise the night before we left. To honor my Haitian heritage, they gifted us with two paintings and a wooden piece purchased in an artist square on Port-au-Prince in the 90’s. I was and am incredibly moved.
On the way back home, there was another reconnection.
A completely unexpected one.
Hubby and I reconnected. Between work schedules, doctor appointments and life in general, we haven’t spent enough quality time together. I am not counting time spent catching up on TV shows.
The long drives provided uninterrupted time full of conversation, laughter, 80s and 90s music sing-alongs and random comfortable silences.
When we finally came home, he went back out to run a quick errand while I started dinner. While pasta was cooking, I sat back down and an intense feeling hit me.
I missed him. We just spent almost 8 hours in the car together and I missed him. I hadn’t felt that way after just being around him since we first got married.
Although the trip was born out of a painful experience, I recognize and honor the blessings that came from it.
I don’t think I want to write about anything health related these days. My posts seem to read on repeat when it comes to health. I am not the kind of blogger that wants to share everything so I find myself constantly editing my thoughts when I write here.
When I know I am taking consistent action on my health, I will post about it here again. Until then, I will post on Thursdays and the focus will be on writing. I will start sharing pieces I have written, too. I already miss using prompts to write fiction and non-fiction work in class. Why not continue it here?
Making this change is the most self-aware choice I have made in awhile (aside from therapy). I know when I am doing my best, when I am just talking about wanting to do my best and when I have nothing left to say at all concerning it.
This is my season to put up or shut up.
So I am putting the pen down and picking it back up again when there is something real to share.
I have spent the last couple of weeks letting myself just be. I did join a new accountability group for health. I think I have been reveling in the knowledge that all of my tests came back with good news so the anxiety has taken a backseat to relief and joy.
It’s funny the things I am fretting over now compared to even a month ago. My mind is now freed up to focus more on my career and the fun things I want to do with Hubby.
We were at a supper club on Sunday night. The performance was all covers of Anita Baker hits. Besides the food and the singing giving me life, knowing I could be there without a cloud of exhaustion hanging over me was more than I could have asked for.
There are still a few things on the horizon we need to get past but we’re almost there.
Which is enough.
Not only because there is a finish line.
But because now we can breathe a little bit easier on the way there.
I am finding out more about the kind of writer I am. I didn’t know when I started this novel writing class it would happen. The permission I gave myself to play worked. Even on the days (one of which was yesterday) I thought I had nothing to give, I manage an outpouring that is genuine and doesn’t feel strained.
Next week is the last class in this session. I fully expect to get direction on what to focus on until our next session and feedback on my growth. As much as it has invigorated me, I almost didn’t go last night. But something told me, even with my eyes half closed, I would regret it. And I would have been right.
The fellowship with the other writers, the prompts, the sharing and the encouragement gave me a second life. I can’t believe it’s almost over but now I know what I have to look forward to.
I wish I had more to write about tonight. I tried to get ahead of my writing assignments to avoid stress and it worked but it feels weird not to write under the gun. I am not sure if I am giving my best self to the work because I know I have “time.”
Also, how in the world do people still not know it’s rude to point to someone with any ailment (in my case, psoriasis) and blurt out “What’s that?”
It’s been awhile since I have encountered people like that and today, when it was rudely asked of me (by someone who is most definitely an elder), I realized how genuinely tired I am. Tired of the scrutiny. Tired of the stares. Tired of the moments where I hesitate to show a little more skin. Tired of wishing I could go back and appreciate everything I had before this happened. Tired of thinking about whether I am doing the right or the wrong thing based on the state of inflammation.
Four and a half years have taken a serious toll on me.
Today is one of those days where I feel the weight of the toll.
And I will let myself feel it. I am not looking for a lesson. I will let myself be.
When I think about my writing class these past couple of weeks, one thing comes to mind: I was set free. I was understandbly attached to writing my novel, whether it was random paragraphs, potential scenes or referring back to my synopsis hoping to be inspired to go the distance. I was forcing myself to think of fiction in only one way. I trapped myself without even realizing it.
Since taking this fiction writing course, I have heeded my teacher’s advice to play. The last two stories I wrote had a possible salacious betrayal and one was written from the perspective of a ghost. I know I didn’t need permission to set myself free but it worked. I have a couple of months after this class ends to keep pushing myself and I look forward to it. I look forward to the release of expectation and the freedom it will undoubtedly bring.
Yesterday, I had my second session of belly dance. There was slight progress from last week. I was more open to slowing down and I felt a bit more in sync with my body as I practiced more movement. Last week, I wrote I wasn’t sure if I would ever perform. While this remains to be seen, I actually imagined it for a moment during class last night.
There is still a part of me that winces at the thought of baring arms, psoriasis plaques and all for complete strangers to see. I think the real fear lies in not just strangers seeing, it’s strangers gawking. I don’t have that problem at the pool or beach but no one is there to see me perform. We are all there to be guided by a teacher.
So what this class could provide (besides fun and connection with other women) is the opportunity to take an axe to those specific fears. I don’t know when I will be ready but I am sure I am willing.
Last night’s class confirmed my revelations from last week about needing to slow down. It was the first time I felt like the conduit my characters were speaking through that my teacher always refers to.
This week taught me to trust what I am learning even when I doubt my ability to do it. I decided to submit the short story I wrote for class. Not only because it was well-received but because I was proud of the work. Proud of the work I put in and proud I finally listened to characters that were asking for a voice.
Last night I had my first belly dancing class in many years.
After introductions were made and class rules explained, we got down to learning a few basic foundational steps. I definitely started getting excited when she talked about learning to shimmy which has always been a favorite of mine. I was already moving my knees as she began to explain what to do. Within a few seconds, the instructor advised me to slow down. She said she wants all of us to slow down to get the moves right.
Now, I know good and well I will not look like my belly dancing idols, Veena and Neena, but for some reason, a part of me is in a rush to get there.
So now it’s hit me in two places in under a week.
With my writing and my workout.
I am in a hurry to get to a place which requires slowing down or I will NEVER get there. At least not where I really want to be. I won’t develop strong technique in dance nor will I describe scenes well enough to not leave my readers with lingering questions.
I will do with belly dance the same thing I am doing with writing: Appreciate and even enjoy the time it will take to get exactly where I need to go especially when it gets challenging.
It’s not a novel concept but it’s one I need to cling to because to tell the truth, I have never pushed myself to master anything. Learn, absolutely yes. Master, no.
There are a plethora of reasons why but now is the time for some reflection but more action.
I am already looking forward to next week’s class. Our teacher has already talked about femininity, trying and failing and best of all, developing our confidence. I can’t say now I will ever perform publicly. But I can say I look forward to reading this post months from now and recognize a change.