Everything in Life Is Writable


Sylvia Plath Quote

Everything in life is writable about, according to Sylvia Plath. Everything. Every breath you take, every move you make, wait… that’s…not…I’ve digressed.

Today was held such promise but it ended up as a day where I did not get much accomplished beyond making dough in the kitchen. Sure, I eventually put sauce, pepperoni, and cheese on one of the doughs (mmmm.. homemade pizza, anyone?) but aside from that, I may have read a grand total of 10-15 pages in one of my research books and taken a whopping half-page of notes.

My brain is a bit fried from the heavier stuff earlier this week. Switching gears from intense analytical reading to simple comprehension is a bit like taking an F1 driver out of his race car and telling him to drive Monaco in a Flinstone-mobile. He’s gonna wonder where the hell the knobs and gears are, right?

That’s the catch with the writing lifestyle, I suppose. Switching gears all the time. The book I envision is comprised of a range of subjects. Some of the reading I am doing is just for background purposes as I hate discussing anything unless I fully understand it. Writing a book means I damn well better be able to comprehend what I am discussing. So, reading it is. A lot of reading. Balancing that reading is proving to be tricky, however. What is even trickier is balancing the reading/researching/note-taking with blogging. Oh, and chat. Mondays are crazy around here. Chat, worksheet development (which I think I am going to move up to the weekends, actually, to get a jump start!), and then advocacy. Phew.

I promise I am still taking good care of myself. I practice what I preach.

The quote I started with – about how everything in life is writable about – it caught my eye because it is important for me to remember that just now. At the beginning of the year, I promised a more intimate view into ME this next year. I realized over the past year that one of the reasons I stopped writing was because frankly, I lost sight of who I was as a woman, as a writer, as a blogger in my own space. Sure, it was mine, but I felt like a stranger in my own home. I was no longer who I was when I started the blog. Should I continue? Should I rebrand? (I still struggle with rebranding – I may do that one of these days yet, that one is still up in the air).

Turns out that I just needed to sit down, crack my knuckles, and remind myself that yes, everything in life IS writable about – it’s just a question of having the guts to do so, as Sylvia says. I still get to choose what I share with the public at large, but there is nothing to writing – all you have to do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed, according to Ernest Hemingway.

Hemingway also claims one should write drunk and edit sober, solid advice if you ask me, actually. Nothing quite like really lowering your inhibitions and then sitting down at a typewriter to bleed. Of course, your blood might be tinged with scotch or whisky. But a bit of proper editing and you’ll be good to go, right?

A blogger I met when I first arrived on Twitter wrote these hilarious posts about lessons she learned over the past week. Sadly, I don’t read her blog much any more but really need to get back into the habit because she’s a hilarious woman. In the vein of “everything in life is writable” and the spirit of lessons I’ve learned this past week, here is a short list of things I’ve learned this past week (some the hard way):

1) Never, ever, ever, EVER grab a hot glass casserole dish without oven mitts protecting your hands. Because if you do? You sit down on the floor, grab a beer, take a long gulp whilst staring dumbfounded at the oven:

Epic Dinner Fail

Lessons learned: Wear oven mitts. Don’t make complicated meals when you’ve had less than five hours of sleep. Inadequacy and failure taste delicious when they take the form of sushi.

2) There is such a thing as too much damn snow. I lived in the deep south for nearly two decades. Despite growing up in Jersey and spending my teen years in the mid-Atlantic, I haven’t seen the white stuff for a long time so I am still like a little kid whenever it crops up. Now that I am back in the Northeast, it’s been fabulous to see all the snow. Until the past month where it has managed to snow no less than a zillion times every damn week. Right now, we have about eight inches of the crap on the ground. It’s topped with a coating of a quarter of an inch of ice. It’s gorgeous, yes. But I NEED SPRING.

Lesson learn(ing): Patience, grasshopper. Lots and lots of patience. Also, lots of cruising Flickr for pictures of beaches, spring flowers, and sunshine.

3) My handwriting sucks. I am ascribing to the Luddite method of note-taking for my book. I bought a lovely 400 page journal and scribble in it, complete with references and everything as I take notes, write thoughts, etc. When I physically write something down, I am more likely to remember it than if I type it into a computer or into my phone. Once I fling it into the ether, it is also flung far, far away from my head. Don’t even think about suggesting Evernote. I’m already scheming ways to print out PDF’s of documents I desperately need to read because yes, I don’t want to read them online. I want to feel dead trees in my grubby non-environmental friendly hands. Because dammit, it’s just not a book unless trees have shed blood for it. Remember Hemingway? We’re bleeding here as authors – and I fully expect the trees to sacrifice too. And no, I do not care how politically incorrect this makes me – I am a FIRM believer in REAL BOOKS. MADE OF DEAD TREES.

Lesson learned: Practice my handwriting whenever I get a chance. It’s already improving. I can *almost* read it when I go back over my notes now. It’s either practice or apply to med school.

4) Just because a cat looks comfy and happy doesn’t mean they want you to pet them. No, sometimes? That means they’re stalking your hand, waiting for it to wave just in reach of their very sharp teeth.

Lesson Learned: Kick the cat off the damn couch if I’m typing. Or eating. Or moving my hands in any way. Because OW.

5) Breakfast really IS the most important meal of the day. I suck at eating breakfast when I am tired. Which, frankly, is most mornings. So I end up making myself coffee, taking my meds, fixing an English Muffin (this morning, it was a toaster strudel), with the intent of fixing myself some sort of protein once I’ve dragged myself out of the zombiesque state I tend to live in for the first few hours after opening my eyes. Thing is, lunchtime hits before I know it and OOPS. There goes breakfast. I eat light for lunch too because I got used to skipping it as well (back when I was eating a bigger breakfast) so then I want to eat ALL THE THINGS by dinner. If I eat ALL the things at dinner (and after dinner), I wake up with heartburn. I don’t want to wake up with heartburn so I need to get breakfast. We ordered a toaster this past week that has a little egg cooker attached to it so I am hoping this will enable me to eat a healthier breakfast. I have no excuse to not cook an egg along with my muffin now. NONE.

Lesson learned: Eat breakfast to avoid heartburn. Because heartburn wakes me up at 330 and then I don’t get any sleep and then, well – see item #1.

There you have it folks, my week in a nutshell.

Here’s to a better week, better lessons, less bleeding (or is that more, because I want to write? I dunno!), and DEAD TREES! YAWP!

Things I Don’t Know But Want To


I started writing when I was six years old. My first piece was one sheet of wide-ruled paper, written in blue ink. The topic? Organisms. If I close my eyes, I can feel the paper, smell the ink, and even see the encyclopedia (yes, people, I am old enough to remember a time when we did not Google. We Britannica’d.) My second piece was an eleven page short story (front and back, so really, 22 pages) about a brother and sister who were kidnapped and lost in the Australian outback. Yeap, I Britannica’d for that piece too.

We all have certain topics in which we are interested over others, don’t we? Over the years, my interests have varied quite a bit. Thanks to the development of Google, it is terribly easy to cram any sort of peripheral information in my brain these days. I remain selective, however, and try to stay away from the “fluff” but still find myself caught up in it.

In no particular order below, are things I wish I had bothered to learn about/do during the course of years gone by or want to learn about/do in the future:

1) Gaelic – I have always wanted to learn how to speak this language. Even before we discovered there is Irish in the family history. Perhaps it’s my fascination with all things Arthurian. Yes, I know Gaelic isn’t associated closely associated with it (at least, I think that’s the case – I am half asleep at the moment and I have had a couple of beers. Be gentle.) I know this is something I can remedy. Maybe one day I will.

2) Beef Wellington – I want to learn how to cook this. Not because of Gordon Ramsey but because it’s allegedly such a culinary challenge. There’s not much I can’t do in the kitchen but this is one of the few things I haven’t gotten around to trying.

3) Why people watch the Kardashians. On second thought, maybe this is something I don’t want to know.

4) Who the hell decided it was a good idea to send professional athletes to the Olympics for team sports like hockey and basketball. Talk about stealing an amazing opportunity from deserving non-professional athletes….what a crock of bullshit. In case you need a refresher course in how amazing a team of amateurs can be, look back at the Hockey team the US put together for Lake Placid. Sure, Dream Teams are lovely but they defeat the spirit of the Olympics in my humble opinion.

5) Morse Code. There was a period of time when I had this crap memorized but somehow I lost it. We’ll blame reality TV.

6) Sign Language. I used to know quite a bit of sign language, but again, somewhere along the line, I lost most of this knowledge. I need to remedy this. As for blame? I got nothing.

7) How to cook Asian cuisine. I’m slowly learning the flavour combinations but am definitely more at home with Italian or American food. But life begins beyond your comfort zone and all that. One things I’ve realized about Asian cuisine is that it is not that dissimilar from Italian cooking in theory – it really is all about getting comfortable with flavour profiles.

8) Deep Sea Fishing. Yeah, I’m not sure I would even make it out to sea without vomiting but hey, you don’t know unless you try, right?

9) Who is responsible for Stonehenge. It’s always fascinated me, Stonehenge. Again, I think this goes back to my unhealthy obsession with all things Arthurian and Druid. So many theories, so little real fact. It’d be a blast to really dig in and find out more.

10) Why the hell cats insist on sitting on your keyboard while you’re typing. Not that this is happening right now or anything. At least I can still move my fingers.

What are some ridiculous or serious things you wish you knew or want to do?

2014 State of the Blog


Today I finally did something I have wanted to do since starting this blog.

An editorial calendar!

YES!

I have all my weeks planned out through the end of the year.

I cannot begin to tell you how absolutely awesome this feels.

My next big goal around here is to clean up the blog – minimize and streamline tags and categories, redesign, and in May, go completely self-hosted. Maybe even start Vlogging. EEEEEEK. I have BIG goals this year and even better, I AM going to achieve them all and then some.

My sole goal today, as was noted in my post yesterday, was to make it to the gym and sit in the hot tub. I made it to the gym but the hot tub was closed. No idea on when it will be open again but it doesn’t matter because this week’s weather, well, according to R2D2’s severe weather alerts, I wouldn’t make it to the gym unless we had a Tauntaun on the back deck anyway.

Speaking of crappy weather, today’s weather was cloudy yet surprisingly warm. We hit a balmy 48F today and I drove home from the grocery store with the windows down. Crazy? Perhaps. But when you have been in the middle of Hoth for the past several weeks, 48F is a tropical heatwave, baby, and begs for you to ride with the windows down with the tunes blasting because baby, that’s spring.

It’s a new month, a new year, and I have started it off the best way possible with this new habit of writing every day. I should warn you, however, I plan to start working on my book this month and won’t be blogging AS much because my words will be going there instead of here. I hope to have some guest posts for you but that’s going to depend on some serious participation from you, the readers.

For this month’s schedule, the theme is, of course, Love. This week, we’re focusing on things you can do to show love to yourself (get your mind outta the gutter!), next week, your child, the following week, your partner, then the last week will examine extended family. Don’t worry, we’ll be examining healthy boundaries as part of this series too. If you have a piece that would fit into this topic, feel free to send it to me at mypostpartumvoice (@) gmail with “FEBRUARY SUBMISSION” in the subject line. It’d be fabulous if Perinatal Mood Disorders were somehow involved but it’s okay if it isn’t so feel free to submit if you have a great post about love for couples or parents without the PPD aspect. We are human too, after all.

March’s theme will be “Spring” and focus on the rebirth which comes with the season. We’ll be examining Light therapy, Vitamin D, Getting Out and About with Baby, Renewal, and Alternative Therapies. Again, feel free to send any guest posts my way.

I’m also looking for guest hosts for #PPDChat all the time so if you are interested, let me know. All I ask is that you be somewhat familiar with Twitter (even if you’re not, I will take the time to help you learn the ropes).

On that note, and I will mention this again, I’m seeking some awesome people who have been through the hell that is PPD to join me as part of a #PPDChat Brain Trust. You’ll be volunteering to help promote, brainstorm, and organize upcoming #PPDChats as well as possibly help moderate the FB Group. I am completely flexible with whatever your schedule allows as I know life can get very hectic. So if you are interested or know someone who would be a GREAT fit for this volunteer opportunity, send them my way!

Stay tuned for more updates about the editorial calendar and other exciting upcoming announcements. My word this year is ENGAGE and I am absolutely determined to get this party started!

31 Days of Writing Down, Only 334 To Go


The month of January has been awash in words with some of them thrown into the public arena, others, held close to my heart. It has made a difference this flood of words. Even on nights I did not think I had anything in me, I somehow managed to dredge 500 and then more up from the very depths of my grey matter.

I started this month a writing weakling. People threw hefty words at me as I walked by them in the snow, laughing at me because I was not writing. But now? Now I get to throw the words around as if they are weightless.

Lessons learned, teeth gnashed, eyes burned by glaring white screens, space deeply analyzed as I stared into it whilst brainstorming, and my Spotify account nearly imploded as it massaged my brain with inspiring beats.

Lesson 1:

Don’t ever stop writing. So many nights, I would write 100-200 words then get stuck. So I would delete my progress and start over with something else until I broke the 350 word mark. The issue here was that instead of just writing, I was paying attention to my word count. I don’t look at my word count as I write any more. I just write. I don’t stop. I keep writing until I run out of something to say then I conclude my piece. It’s just like when I go to the gym. If I go regularly, it gets easier because my muscles are getting the exercise they need. Same with writing. I feel my brain changing (as weird as that sounds) and my thought process is more fine-tuned than it was at the beginning of the year. I find myself looking at things and wondering how I can write it.

Lesson 2:

Every single thing in your life has a story. Yes, every single thing. Even the computer, tablet, or smartphone on which you write. Or the pen & paper. Whatever you use, there was a human effort which went into creating it and wherever there is humanity, there is a story. Even where there is not humanity, there is a story. Seek the story. Write the story. Be open to the story. If you are not open to the story, you might just let the story meant to be YOURS pass you by. Always, always be ready to write. In order to do this, you must always write. See the first lesson.

Lesson 3:

Define your boundaries. What, for you, is comfortable to include as potential topics for writing? How personal will you allow yourself to get? Writing is spilling your soul to the world, it is getting on a stage in a stadium filled with millions of people (even if that many people don’t read your writing, it sure feels that way, doesn’t it?) who are waiting for your words. Choose them wisely, be ready to handle criticism, opinions, and people who will hate you for what you say. If you are not ready to handle criticism or hatred for something you want to write? Write it to get it out but don’t put it on the stage for everyone to say. It’s okay to not put everything out there.

Lesson 4:

Write with confidence, conviction, and authenticity. It’s okay if you don’t know who you are right now. All that matters is where you have been, where you are, and where you are going. Life, as Tom Cochrane put it, Is A Highway. The people going your way will find you and relate to your story. If you write with confidence, conviction, and authenticity, your story will carry the weight of truth and have an impact. Yes, you can do this even if your journey is shaky and undefined. As long as you’re honest about where you’re at in your journey, you’ll have authenticity. Writing with anything less is bullshit.

Lesson 5:

Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes better. Perfection is bullshit. Perfection is something we all aim for but always, always miss. When we practice, we grow stronger, we get better, but none of us are perfect. We may execute with skill, we may narrow the margin of mistakes, but none of us strike perfection. But wait, aren’t there athletes who get perfect scores? People who get perfect scores on the SAT’s? 100’s on tests? Yes. But I guarantee you they are not “perfect” people. We are human and to be human is to err. Accept this, hold yourself to the standard of the best you have to offer instead of one of perfection, and constantly practice to maintain the standard of the best you have to offer and you will come out ahead with less stress, less guilt, and less disappointment than those who constantly aim for perfection.

Lesson 6:

Have fun and be able to laugh at yourself. Some of the best stories come from stupidity, don’t they? When we have let our guard down completely and let ourselves do something absolutely ridiculous. Instead of getting angry, laugh at it. Write it down and flip it into funny. If it weren’t for my mother instilling the skill of laughing at everything, even the horrible no good things, I think I would have broken into a zillion pieces like the Death Star a long, long time ago in a galaxy far away.

Lesson 7:

Write what you know but research what you don’t and write about that too. The best thing about writing is that we get the opportunity to continually educate ourselves about new subjects. We get to poke around in different aspects of life and morph into subject matter experts about everything, anything, and maybe like Seinfeld, nothing at all. We are fans of the known knowns, the known unknowns, and the unknown unknowns. They are all fields of potential stories, pieces, and posts. Seek them out, write about them in your voice, and stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone.

Lesson 8:

Let the things which interest you seep into your writing. I am happiest when I relate something to another topic about which I am passionate. Like last night’s post when I related A Knight’s Tale to PPD or another post earlier this month when I took a Star Trek Episode and related it to PPD as well. Or this post where I have already mentioned Star Wars, Donald Rumsfeld (Known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns), Tom Cochrane, and Seinfeld. Letting your interests in shows the real you, directly relating back to the whole authenticity thing we have already discussed.

Lesson 9:

Write fiercely. Words are your friends, not your enemies. Repeat this to yourself a few times. It will matter at some point because sooner or later, they won’t want to cooperate and you’ll want to pull your hair out. Instead, close your eyes, put your hands on the keyboard, and type for a few minutes until it clears and you have tamed them. Find a topic which stirs your soul and dedicate your deepest pieces to it. Make a difference. Writing well is a gift, not one everyone has. Sure, anyone can write words, but only a few of us are blessed enough to be able to manipulate words in such a way which makes the reader feel as if they are sitting across from us at a cozy coffee shop. Don’t throw that gift away.

Lesson 10:

Learn how to accept compliments. As writers, we are our own worst critics, aren’t we? The grammar isn’t right here, I misspelled a word, oh crap there’s a comma out of place, I should have used this word instead of that one, etc. See Lesson #5 about practice making perfect. Practice makes perfect in this situation too. Say thank you and nothing more. Be humble. No one likes a smug snooty writer. If someone interprets something in a way you didn’t mean for it to be interpreted, remember that people bring their own language to your writing, seeing things within you may not. It’s okay – it’s what makes reading and writing such an intimate experience.

I thoroughly enjoyed these past 31 days and I hope you did too. I was going to go through my posts and see just how many words I wrote but I didn’t because it’s not about the word count. It’s about actually doing the work.

Thank you for sticking with me for 31 days.

Here’s to 28 more.

See you tomorrow!

PS. Wil Wheaton just put up this great short post about his process. I’m sharing the link because it shows that all of us are different in what we need to write and how we write. Maybe that’s lesson 11 – using your own method. Go read his post, it’s a short but good read.

What Would Your Trophy Say?


“It’s psychotic. They keep creating new ways to celebrate mediocrity.”

~Mr. Incredible, The Incredibles~

Ah, good old mediocrity. The goal for which everyone aimed, right?

Not really.

In the sixth grade, I completed in the school’s spelling bee. If memory serves correctly (I’m getting old and yes, there is truth to the old adage that brains stop working as well once you hit a certain age), I won the class competition which is what placed me in the school’s bee.

I won the school’s spelling bee.

Don’t ask me what word I spelled to win because I don’t remember.

I remember, however, thinking winning was kick-ass, especially because I was one of the younger kids in the school. I beat the older, (and I thought smarter), kids that day.

I did not make it past the county spelling bee, however, despite studying my ass off. The other kids there were simply better at spelling than I. (I know, completely shocking, right?)

I have the trophy stashed somewhere, probably in a box long gone, to be honest. Who knows. It is a symbol of victory, of not settling for anything but the best.

I also played soccer as a kid. Our team did not win a lot of games, we definitely did not win regionals or go to any sort of championship. At least, I don’t remember us doing so. Know what we all got at the end of the season? A tropy. For mediocrity.

That trophy, while pretty, is completely worthless. Sure, it has my name on it and is a symbol of a lot of physical exertion over a few months, but meh. There is no victory attached to it therefore it means nothing.

We do not need to reward people for mere participation. For just showing up. Awards are meant for people who go above and beyond expectations, who fight like hell to do their very best and dedicate their lives to be the very best they can be at what they do.

Trophies don’t go to people who half-ass it. At least, they shouldn’t.

I think anyone living with a mental illness who battles through their days just to survive, however, should have a damn trophy. Because that? IS HARD WORK. Getting out of bed, doing what needs to be done, making plans, living – that is damn near impossible for someone with a mental illness. Doable, but damn near impossible without an extreme exertion of energy, both physical and mental.

It is a well-practiced tango between mind and body – convincing the brain to properly control the body to do what it needs to in order to accomplish the most base tasks like eating, showering, cleaning, etc. Same days? It’s more like the hokey pokey – you put the left arm in, you take the left foot out, you do the hokey pokey and you shake it all about. If you’re lucky, you fall asleep and start all over again, praying that your mind & body are back in sync the next day.

If you created a trophy for yourself or someone you loved who struggled with a mental illness to inspire/empower them, what would it say?

Tell me down below!

I’m gonna have to give some thought to what mine would say. Stay tuned for that update!