January has always been a difficult month for me. With less sun and warm days and days off to look forward to, it’s easy to fall into a depressed state. I’ve been sleeping a lot more, and I have less energy to do the things I love.
The difference this year is I acknowledge it’s January (so simple, right?), and I know where my lack of energy is stemming from. For the next three weeks of the month, now that I’ve recovered from the holidays, I am making a commitment to write every day (not necessarily on this blog). It doesn’t have to be much — yesterday, I wrote two sentences — and it can take the form of any medium.
But I hope by making this commitment to myself, I can keep the winter blues at bay and find some fulfillment on the most challenging days. Sometimes, a little self-compassion and confidence can go a long way.
A few months ago, I was feeling a bit lost on my personal and professional paths. I was being particularly hard on myself for getting wrapped up in what I called “failed initiatives.” I had put myself out there, and I felt rejected. So, taking a cue from Dr. Kristin Neff, a pioneer when it comes to self-compassion (she wrote the book on it), I wrote a letter to myself, from the perspective of a close friend (I’ve included an excerpt below). Continue reading
Last month, I was fortunate to take 1.5 weeks of paid vacation. This is the first time in my career where I’ve been in a position to do so. Having just bought a car for the first time in eight years, I couldn’t justify the funds to make an epic journey across the globe.
Instead, I went to visit my family for the Kentucky Derby, taking one of my good friends with me. It was her first visit to Louisville, and one of the best times to be in the city. When we returned to Maryland, I took the rest of the week off to rest and recharge.
My first ever stay-cation.
What Would It Be Like to Write Full Time?
I decided I would take those five days and focus solely on my writing – whether that be content for this blog, my book or additions to my fictional “spy” story. And it was wonderful. I wrote about 3,000 words per day. I realized early on in the week that I can’t sit for very long. So, I took walks during the day. Sometimes, I had bourbon in the afternoon. Because I could. Continue reading
Much has changed since I started this blog on September 11, 2013. My nonfiction grad school cohort can tell you how much I didn’t want to write about diabetes for my MFA thesis – the book that became the start to this blog. And in the six years since I’ve been diagnosed, I am still learning new things about myself with this disease.
I wanted to share those experiences with the world and contribute to a community of Type 1s. And maybe I wanted to prove to myself that I could manage life given this short end of the stick. What I didn’t expect when I started this blog back in 2013 was where it would take me and what kind of content my readers would inspire me to write.
I cannot tell you much I value your readership and support these past two years. You are the reason I keep this blog going. You are the reason I continue to write. And although this blog has kept me writing and contributing to this online community, I must now re-focus my priorities and take what little time I have to write to devote to other publishing opportunities. Continue reading
Today marks the third and final day of The Examined Life Conference: The Writing, Humanities, and Arts of Medicine, hosted at the University of Iowa College of Medicine in Iowa City, Iowa.
Among the gorgeous 70-degree weather and the nostalgia of walking along the paved pathways of a college campus, in the last three days, I feel like I have trespassed on history, found a deeper self-identity with my chronic illness, tripped on the psychedelic words of poetry, and discovered a new direction for health care reform.
I admit I wasn’t familiar with the arena of narrative medicine before arriving here. In fact, I wasn’t sure what to expect coming from a creative writing background myself and only having been pushed into the field of health care by my disease. But amidst fellow creative writers and those managing their own chronic conditions were health care professionals writing about it. Some write about their own personal stories — others attempt to peel back the layers of patient stories.
For the first time since working with CancerFree KIDS back in Cincinnati, I felt the power of writing, not just for my own therapeutic means, but for those who may not know how to tell their story, but so desperately want to. And how that story can change the future of a system that currently encourages disparity, neglect, and hopelessness.
Thanks to Danielle Ariano for inviting me to be a part of this writing blog tour. What does writing mean to me? Why do I write? Here are the cliff notes:
What am I working on?
This blog. I know, seems silly, but this blog actually keeps me writing. Even if they aren’t Pulitzer Prize-winning pieces, I’m still writing, experimenting with voice and style, and all in the hopes that one day I’ll have enough material to write another book.
So that’s the second thing. I originally set out this spring to publish an ebook of my recent book, Sugarcoated, only to discover I had so much more material to cover. I didn’t think I could do Sugarcoated justice by repurposing it for the Kindle and Nook so I decided to expand on its premise of my diagnosis with Type 1 diabetes and write a more fulfilling manuscript. But first, I have some personal growth to do, and maybe when I land on my feet again, I’ll have a frame for my story. We’ll see.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I like to think I have a very unique, witty, and sarcastic voice that draws readers from every walk of life and only adds to my popularity and respect as a profound writer. And I like to think no one has ever written about diabetes before (minus the numerous blogs and social media followings out there).
But in the end, I am a writer like anyone else. I read a lot. I learn from observation. I’m a sucker for bittersweet endings and raw character development. I’m currently pursuing the “creative nonfiction” avenue because I like telling true stories, and I never like writing about myself so I see this as a challenge.
Maybe that’s my contribution? In my mind, I live in other worlds, often imaginary and unrealistic, but I am grounded on Earth. I attempt to interesect the two, if only to make sense of random chaos. I am not a believer in “everything happens for a reason,” but I love ironies and coincidences. Continue reading