How to get through writer’s block, or, what to do when tragedy strikes

I’ve been thinking for a long time about what I am going to write about next.

I’ve been thinking so long about this, that it became weeks, and then months in between posts.  I never forgot about it, it just never happened.

Life just, you know, happened.

So what happened in those few weeks?  Two of my dear friends got married and had a rockin’ wedding.  I ran a two week summer program for nearly 100 13 and 14 year olds.  I spent five days in musical bliss at High Sierra Music Festival, my happy place.  I saw good friends.  I drank good wine.

In short, I lived.

I think we start on this “self help” journey – whether it be spiritual, academic, or physical (or all of the above), we have a tendency to get so caught up in the end product that we forget that we’re here to just live.  It’s the journey.

I know I forget that a lot. I’m so worried about the end product  (“Am I getting better?” “Am I making the right choices to achieve x, y and z?”) that I forget that it’s the process that really counts. (Did you read the article I posted yesterday?  This really helped me.)

And then something happens and you forget all about that.

I will admit, that I’ve been thinking about this for the past week or so.  And then this happened.  It’s shocking that someone would choose to take so many lives.  And for what?

I am deeply saddened by this.

But something else weird happened today. I am in a spectacular mood.  Like sparkly and smiley and just plain ol’ happy.  I’ve been in a rather crummy mood all week.  It’s hard to figure out how these feelings can coexist.

I guess the only way to do it is to just live.  You never know what’s going to happen tomorrow.  And really, it shouldn’t matter.

So, today, I’m going to take deep breaths.  I’m going to send out love to the whole world, because I think we all need it.  I’m going to smile.  I’m going to hold on to a few cute babies.  I’m going to tell my friends and family that I love them.  (Friends and Family!  I love you!)  And I’m going to stop worrying about the end result, because really, what else matters?

I’m back!

Hi Friends!

Did you forget about me?  It’s OK if you did.  I’ve been MIA for awhile.  We’ll call it an unexpected writing sabbatical.

The itch to write is back and I have LOTS to talk about, but of course I can’t talk about it now.  (I’m at work.  Oopsie.)

Anyway, to engage you at least just a little bit, here’s an article I ran across today on the world wide web that is pretty descriptive of what I’m going through right now. Click Me!

I’ll be back soon!

How an AutoImmune Attack Can Really F You Up

I haven’t been writing  much about my Hashimoto’s disease lately.  (I think ya’ll have noticed that.)  It’s not because I didn’t want to, it’s really because there was nothing new to report.  For awhile there, things were going swimmingly.  I felt good, even great on some days. This is HUGE for me – I can’t really remember the last time I felt good on a consistent basis.  (Isn’t that sad?)

Well, the problem with autoimmune diseases is that you never really know when they’re going to say F YOU! (please say that with a Scottish accent like Charlie’s dad in So I Married an Axe Murderer.  It’s really more fun – and accurate – that way.)  They come out of nowhere.  I’ve been really good.  But what I’ve discovered is that one tiny little slip and it will take a week for it to hit, and then a week to recover.  This is no good.

Without going into specifics, let’s just say that gluten got on something I shouldn’t have been eating in the first place (ummm like cheesecake).  Then I got really stressed out at work.  My body probably could have recovered from the gluten or stress OK on their own, but the combination of the two was just too much.  And now I’ve been in crap-ville for a little over a week.  And it sucks.

I’ve discovered that stress is really the worst thing for Hashimoto’s. And of course, it’s a cycle that is so hard to break.  For example, you get stressed out at work.  Then you can’t sleep (more stress on your body).  Then you’re so tired you can’t even think of working out or even moving (more stress on your body).  Or cooking for yourself (more stress).

The next thing you know you’re in autoimmune attack mode and you can’t do much more than sit on the couch.  I thought I was coming down with something last week until my skin issues popped up again (yay for physical symptoms – I’m actually not being facetious here) and it was a reality check.

I think the hardest part of the autoimmune attack is that it’s so hard to climb back out of it again and not feel either guilty or sorry for yourself. I know the best thing for my body is rest.  I need to be gentle with myself.  But I’ve only made it to yoga once this week, and I haven’t seen my friends at all, and etc etc etc.  You get the idea.  The inner monologue is taking over.

I still find it so hard to give myself a BREAK, even though that’s what I really need to do.

So, I need some tips.  Even if you don’t have an autoimmune disease, what do you do for yourself when you’re feeling crappy?  (Physically, mentally, spiritually, whatever.  It’s all interconnected.)

Lucky for me, I have a really quiet weekend ahead and get to spend some time with good friends.  Even though drinking will be involved, I will take it easy, go to bed early, and sleep in.  I’ll be sure to get some sun, to smile as much as possible, and eat well.  Most importantly, I’ll try and remind myself as much as possible that these things happen – I haven’t fallen back on months of hard work just because of a little slip and a little stress at work.  (That, my friends, will be the hardest part.  If you happen to see me in person, please remind me when I’m being hard on myself!)

All In

This blog has altered so much from what my original intentions were.  I started it because people were curious about my 30 day elimination diet (I know you were all wondering how I did without booze for 30 days) and continued into my story of dealing with Hashimoto’s disease in the best way I can.  I thought I could help someone else make positive, healthy changes in their life and feel better. I know what it’s like to feel like shit and not know why.  I thought perhaps I could reach someone out there.

It’s changed again to my story of finding myself – a process that probably seems long and arduous to many of you.  But it’s changed because I’ve come to understand that my health is intrinsically connected to the way my feelings and thoughts about myself.  Dr. Wayne Dyer posted a great quote on Facebook today from Rumi, who happens to be one of my favorites.  I’m paraphrasing here, but it basically says that if you want to change the world, start with yourself.

For those of you who know me personally, you know that I’m a crusader.  I find things that I’m passionate about and I want to fight for them.  I fight daily for my students’ lives as an educator for underserved urban high school students.  I fight nearly daily for my second cause, food justice and literacy.  Both of these causes are important to me – both I feel are necessary to a healthy culture, both literally and metaphorically.

But first, I must start with myself.  And I guess that’s what I’m doing here, although I didn’t realize it until I read that quote.  Thank you for reading, for supporting me on this journey.

You’ve probably noticed or figured out by now that I’m a self-help addict.  I think this has a lot to do with wanting to continue the path I started on with my life coach a little over a year ago.  I don’t want to stop learning about myself, and I don’t think I’m to the point where I can stop thinking about how I treat myself better and live the life I want to live. (And why would I want to?)

Anyway, I get sent a lot of stuff.  I read a lot of stuff.  For those of you who are actual real life Facebook friends with me you know I post a lot of it.  Two things hit my inbox this morning and I’ve been thinking about them all day.

The first was an email from TUT-The Universe.  I’m not sure how I found this thing, but “The Universe” emails you daily with little reminders.  It’s awesome.  It’s always a thought or a question that really makes you think.  So, here’s mine for today:

“Some of the coolest dreams that ever came true, Carmen, weren’t dreams at all, but standards that simply weren’t compromised. 

Oh yeah, we takin’ over… 
    The Universe”

Um, what?  So you’re telling me that my standards were too low all along?  Is that what’s going on?

And then there’s always a kicker after the little sign off:

“Carmen, always being your best, shining your brightest, and standing as tall as you can, pays far more dividends than one might ever imagine.”

WHAT??

I was having a tough time with this one today.  WTF does that mean?  At first, I was a little pissed (which generally means it stuck a chord).

It really made me think about what my “standards” are.  Do I even know?

And then I get this from Your Kick Ass Life:

“So what is something that is bugging the crap out of you, that you can simply ask for help in changing?”

So, you’re telling me that all I had to do all along was ask for it?

Shine your brightest, keep up your standards for yourself and then just ask for what I want to change?

Jesus, is it that simple?

And then I proceeded to freak out.

See, this is why I need self-help.

Here’s the thing.  I honestly believe that if I do these things, I will get what I want out of life.  This is an incredibly powerful thought.  It’s like a genie in a bottle.  It’s incredibly empowering, and incredibly fucking scary.

There’s no alternative though.  I have to do it.  Because if I don’t, I’ll always wonder.  So I’m going to take my chances, and jump.  I’m all in.

7 Ways to Make Your Dreams Come True – from Andrea Owen

I’ll be back for more later, but in the meantime read this post.  It DIRECTLY relates to my thoughts after the Saturday incident:

http://yourkickasslife.com/featured/7-things-ive-done-to-make-my-dreams-come-true

I’m a huge fan of Andrea Owen’s Your Kick Ass Life.  And not just because she says “ass” (although I do love that she doesn’t care what people will say about it and uses it).  She has great things to say, and one of the most important is not settle for less.  I struggle with this.  What am I worth?

A lot.

More later.

So, I was sitting at a bar…

A weird thing happened to me last night.  I was sitting at a bar, watching a band.  I was with a group of friends, but I lost them and just decided to chill and hang out.  I started talking to this girl, and I have no idea what we were talking about, but out of no where she says something to the effect of, “You know, you’d get a lot more guys if you had a different purse.  That purse scares a lot of guys off.”

(I’m not sure it’s necessary to know what kind of purse I have, but it’s handmade bag from Thailand.  This purse has a story.  I love this purse.  It’s me.)

There are lots of things wrong with what she said.  The worst is that she continued – apparently I don’t dress right and don’t wear enough makeup.

For those of you who know me in real life, you know how I dress.  You know I don’t wear much makeup.  I’m not critisizing anyone who wears more makeup than me or dresses differently than me, it’s just not me.

Anyway, she pretty much said that I had a nice personality and I’d attract more attention if I changed everything about my outside appearance.

I was offended.  I pretended like I wasn’t.  I laughed and asked her how old she was.  She was in her mid-20’s.  Right, I thought (maybe said).  When I was your age that’s all that mattered to me too.

This conversation has been weighing on me since.  I’m trying to figure out why this happened to me last night.  There aren’t any coincidences, something that I was thinking brought about this experience.  Was I feeling vulnerable?  Ugly?  Belittled?

Or maybe, I just needed her to say that so I could see how far I’ve come.

It was only a few years ago that her words would have really, really hurt me.  I’m not saying that they didn’t sting a bit, but then I realized that I don’t care at all what she thinks of me.  Or anyone else in that bar, for that matter.  I am who I am.  It’s taken me a long time to figure out that I don’t need makeup or expensive uncomfortable clothes to make people like me.  The people that really matter don’t care what I look like.  They appreciate the fact that I have a purse that I care about.  They like that I’m not the kind of girl who needs makeup or fancy clothes or whatever to prove my worth to the world.

I guess that’s it – I’ve learned that my true worth is what’s inside.  And as long as I like me, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.  Because the people who matter, who will stick around, care about what’s inside.

That girl didn’t get to learn how smart I am, or funny, or caring, or that’s I’ve traveled to exotic places and met amazing people and seen wonderful things.  That I’m a writer and a music lover  and I hate to do dishes and I’m a great friend.  But I know these things, and that’s all that matters.

So thank you, my friends, to the old ones and the new ones, and the friends I’ve made through blogging (which is proof that it really doesn’t matter what I look like to be my friend).  Thank you for helping me realize how great I am.

Empty

It’s been awhile since I’ve written.  I don’t know why.  I felt generally crummy last week and shit just happened and I’m feeling behind.  This is all very silly, because I’m not “behind” in anything.  I think I just took a timeout from life for a week and a half or so.  Last week I really needed it.  And before that, well, I went to yoga, but not much else. I think that much of this is readjusting to life back at home, to acclimating my life to new dreams and possibilities, and just generally feeling emotionally overwhelmed.

I did just spend an amazing weekend in Chico with some dear friends, and I’m finally starting to feel like myself again.

But I still feel behind.  I’m five days behind in my Creative Genius challenge.  My backpack is still in the middle of my living room from my trip I got back from two weeks ago.  Yesterday I did a week’s worth of dishes.  Let’s not talk about the writing.

Yeah, this is all self-created madness.

So I feel like all this shit has been stockpiling in my body and my mind and I’m just feeling super weighed down.  Literally.  Today I felt like I carrying a rock around in my belly.

My ever-so-helpful ego tried to use my little tummy issue as an excuse to stay at home and not go to yoga, to take a nap on the couch, to ignore the backpack again and pretend like I don’t have to leave my apartment.  But I went to yoga, damn my ego.

The weirdest thing happened.  I’m on my tummy after a rather vigorous vinyasa involving warriors (all of them), triangle, flip dog, and some other madness and the instructor tells us to turn our head with our ears on to ground and to empty.  Empty everything, she tells us.  Let it all go.

I can feel all this crap, all this generally ickiness, all the doubt that I’ve been having about myself, about the life I’m creating for myself, all the stupidity at work, all the feelings of being “behind”, all the bad thoughts I’ve been having about my body, my spirituality, my career choices, my love life, everything, I felt it just start to release.

I had to choke back tears.  I’m not even sure I realized that it was all there until this moment.

I read a lot of yoga blogs.  And lots of them talk about some postures just make you cry sometimes.  Not because it’s hard (although that can be the case) but because it just opens some door inside of you and everything comes out.  I read that this happens in camel a lot.

But I never thought it would happen to me.

There I am, lying on the floor, holding back tears because I don’t know anyone in the class and they’re really nice but it still doesn’t feel like “my” studio and I already feel like I’m behind everyone else and I just don’t want to cry, damn it.  I don’t want to cry.

It’s OK that I didn’t allow myself to cry in class today.  Maybe it’ll happen again and I’ll be able to cry.  And maybe that will be a good thing.

Or maybe I’ll just cry here at home where I can snuggle with my cat and not feel stupid about it.  And just be done with it.  Be empty.

And ready to start again.

New Directions (no, I’m not talking about Glee)

Something that I’ve discovered in my rather short life is that when things start happening, they happen rather quickly.

But never as quickly as you would like them to.

For example, in my last blog post, I wrote about my new dreams.  I can’t even describe how passionate I am about the new directions in my life (although I’m working on articulating it) and exciting about moving things forward.

But we in our little ego controlled worlds always think that things are going to happen quicker (or slower) than they actually do.  I would love to snap my fingers and become a published author (eek, I said it out loud) but the reality is that life doesn’t work that way.

As scary as it sounds, I already am a writer.  It seemed so obvious all along – I mean, I’m writing here, right? – but I’m not really a WRITER.  I don’t remember where I heard it, but to be a painter, you have to paint.  To be a writer, you have to write.  Guess what I don’t do (or don’t do much of).  So, to be a writer, I have to write.  Pen to paper.  Or hands to keyboard, whatever.

For those of you who don’t write (or maybe for those blessed among us, some that do) you don’t understand this.  Meh, it’s just putting words together and putting them down.

This freaks writers out to the core.

I had brunch with a dear friend of mine today who is a “writer”.  Like, she’s been published.  She’s won awards.  She’s freaking amazing.  Her words move me.  I asked her about her “process” (I’m not so sure that I’m dorky enough to actually use that word, but I may have.)  She laughed at me.

She has no discipline.  She writes when she has to, when she has a deadline looming.    It’s not a daily practice.  I’ll put words in her mouth and say it’s when the spirit moves her.

Or forces her.

I asked why it is so hard to write.  Why you question everything, scrap everything, start over 40+ time.

You know what she said?

Fear.

(This she also said while laughing at me.  Of course.  Because you know what?  It’s always fear that stops us.)

So what makes a writer?  And more importantly, how do I become a writer?

Well, that’s what I’m grappling with right now.  Because I don’t just want to write.  I want this to be my career.  I want this to define my life.  I want people to say, “oh, do you know Carmen?  She’s a writer.”

God, that would be so fucking awesome.

So, I’m taking some rather drastic steps to get there.  Ok, they’re not that drastic, but if you’re not one for introspection or that kind of stuff, this might not be for you.

A little over a year ago I began working with a life coach.  It was by far the best investment I have ever made in my own life.  I feel like I finally woke up – like I’m living my life and not just the one that everyone else pretends they enjoy.  I’m working on a few projects that continue this introspection – that allow me to look in, to see what it is that I really want out of my life.  What fuels me?  Who do I want to be?

I encourage you to take this journey with me.  I’m working on Danielle LaPorte’s 30 Day Creative Genius Challenge.  Danielle is AMAZING.  She just, I don’t know, GETS it.  I’m also working on a few other things of hers to encourage my creative growth (I’m just not ready to talk about them yet.)

If you feel like you need a little “growth”, I encourage you to complete the challenge as well.  We’re about 6 days in, but you can catch up.  It’s all for free on Huffington Post (I will link once my computer is cooperating).  We can even talk about it!

I hope you’ll follow along as I’m on this journey.  Yes, it’s no longer about me and my struggles with Hashimoto’s disease.  But for me personally, this is so much more important.  Because this is who I truly am.

Let me know if you’re doing the challenge as well, and let’s play together!

Next up: How do I want to feel?  And why does this question make me feel so uncomfortable?

Sometimes things just hit you smack in the face

Perhaps that’s the longest blog title ever.  Perhaps not.  I’ll be on the look-out.

Anyway, remember when I said “Bring it” at the end of my last post?  This was a response from my good friend, former boss, and in general mentor to me:

Goethe says that when we make a decision – a real decision, not just a “want to” – that all the doors of the universe open to make it happen. You just said “bring it”; I just heard doors slapping open across the cosmos. :)

Whoa.  I mean really.  I believed her, I mean “kinda” believed her – in that “yeah, sure, whatever you say” kind of way.

But you know what?  As usual, she was right.

My inbox has been flooded with emails about all kinds of things that have been on my mind to make these things happen, from travel to writing to making your dreams come true and creating your own reality.  Facebook has articles and quotes popping up all over the place.  I guess they could have been there all the time, but now I’m finally ready to listen.  Not just listen, but DO.

I think we get so stuck in whatever our “reality” is at the moment (and that reality is always self-created) that it’s hard to see beyond our own noses.  I was stuck in this “my work sucks I’m sick I can’t do it I don’t want to fail I don’t want to look stupid I’m afraid” thought process that it was hard to see just how fucking easy it is to say YES.

I have lots of ideas, one of which I’m ready to talk about, and one that’s still forming in my mind.  One is a recent dream, the other I’ve had my entire life.  Guess which one I’m ready to talk about?  Yeah, the new one.  Weird how that works.  The thing that I’ve always wanted to do, that my heart has always lead me to, is the one things that scares me the most.  Not just scares, but shakes me to the core.  Because if I lose this, then I lose everything.

But you know what I’ve realized?  I’ll never lose it, because it is me.

 

I’d love to share a few of the blog posts that I’ve come across, and I will as I find them.  In the meantime, here’s one of them.  If you’re a fan of travel stories, I highly recommend that you follow this blog.

http://nomadgrad.com/2012/04/01/the-ask-all-tell-alls-of-nomadic-life-financing-your-fun/