Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2015: Arriving with a Whimper

27º ~ gradually warming up out of our first true "cold snap" ~ looking at 55º for the weekend ~ all here remains shrouded in gray

Dear reader, I was all about the forward movement in mid-December, and then there was Christmas, and in the aftermath of that holiday, the onset of "the central Arkansas death cold," so named by a friend who suffered through it first.

I knew the holiday would shift my focus from writing, and I let it be. After all, for me, living a full life informs my writing. However, on December 27th I had the first inklings of a head cold. This would later spawn into a going-on three-week upper respiratory nightmare. I've spent a lot of the last few weeks "drinking lots of liquids and getting rest." Oh, and spending a fortune on over-the-counter treatments for the symptoms. But this is not meant as a sob story, as so many others suffer much more difficult medical issues and I am on the mend.

Instead, this experience brought to mind a book on writing that I read a million years ago in the early 1990s, Starting from Scratch by Rita Mae Brown. In Starting from Scratch, Brown offers lots of great advice and support for people trying to figure out the writing life, but the thing that has always stuck with me is her discussion on a healthy lifestyle and writing. In the book, she talks about practicing healthy living as a way to support her writing. This went against all my young romantic ideals of the artist drinking wine or whiskey, smoking cigarettes or pot, and generally "running wild," a la The Beats, and yet, over the course of my life, I've come to agree with Brown. I can't write with a muddled brain, whether from "over-indulgences" or from the kind of fog brought on by a head cold.

After Christmas, while I had two open weeks of nothing but free time (with a moderate amount of prepping for the semester thrown in), once I came down with the severest symptoms, I couldn't formulate an original thought to save my life. Now, I know that I didn't ask to get this cold, and I didn't live an unhealthy lifestyle to bring it on. However, I did make some unwise choices. The kind I seem to make repeatedly. On the first sign of the cold, instead of putting myself to bed and taking care of myself, I went all out in taking care of household chores, errands, and cleaning that had been put off during the end of the semester crazies and the holiday. I overworked myself and tried to deny that I was sick. It caught up with me in a big way.

And once again, I'm re-learning "the oxygen mask lesson." In life, like so many other women, instead of reaching for my oxygen mask first (airline safety rules), I reach out to do for others OR to do the things that I believe I am supposed to do to make me a good wife, daughter, sister, friend, etc. I am lucky, no one in my life is making me think I have to do these things. Instead, I impose these ideas on myself until once again, life reminds me that if I don't take care of myself first, then there is nothing left to give back to family, friends, writing, students, the community, &etc.

Somewhere in all of this, I read online (somewhere): "We schedule what we value." This is my new mantra, and it is written out on a post-it that is stuck to my computer monitor, right where my eyes meet it first thing.

So, my wishes for the new year include: (short term) a return to health and (long term) a steady practice of scheduling time for myself, especially time to write.


Kathleen said...

You are very wise. This ties in with a radio story I heard TODAY and some previous stories about getting enough sleep. Happy New Year, and I hope you will get enough sleep, too!

Sandy Longhorn said...

I'm not sure about "wise," Kathleen, so much as resigned to my own limitations. :)