Plans and the New Year

I could say I am on the New Year bandwagon of resolutions and thoughts however that would not be true. I tend to go through all that in the days leading up to the Solstice (Winter here in Australia). By the time Christmas arrives, I am usually relatively at peace (well, other than the usual chaos the 25th creates in place of crazy humidity and heat). Then January comes around I have already made steps towards moving into the New Year’s energy.

This year, I am hopeful for a continued and upward turn in health after 2015 was taken over by studying and living with Ross River Fever. It is still not gone and probably won’t be for quite some time. It just means I have to be even more organised and aware than usual of my body’s messages.

Towards the end of last year, amidst the chaos of a particularly challenging set of study circumstances, I re-commenced wording.

Not a lot, but a start. After realising the idea of word counts and daily writing is really not for me (no matter how many ways I jigged it), I’ve crunched data and decided to pursue a way that works for me. I have created a loose-leaf page (on pretty paper) to use to help me track and remember (regular illness makes time go wonky and wibbly wobbly). I can and do tend to be organised only to be waylaid by bad health (rinse and repeated that cycle for too many decades, yes, decades). The result is I have also taken on a couple of things for 2016 that are all about organisation and accountability.

front-page-me-plannerThe first is I’ve joined in with Nicole Cody and her Year of ME Planner (ME = Manifesting Energies). It is filled with things I have done in a scattered way (literally at times across my desk). Nicole has brought it all together into one place and blends the practical with the mystical. It’s going to be interesting to look back come December. The mystical side of myself, I am curious to see how it reveals publicly as it is a side of myself those closest to me have always seen, but publicly or in the online world, I’ve been a bit more circumspect about sharing.

sunday-circle-bannerThe other thing I’ve committed myself to is a creative circle that Peter M Ball has going on his blog. The Sunday Circle is a way for me to be specifically and (online publicly) writing accountable. The amusing (for me) thing is both use Sunday as a planning day whereas I’ve tended to use Monday as my planning of the week ahead. I see Sunday as the thinking time and Monday morning as the accountability time (one of the joys of not working a Monday for a long time, even when I was day jobbing, I had Mondays off).

Let’s see what 2016 brings.

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Twists, turns and rest

Mosquito
So, about a week after my last post here, I started having some issues with my left hand. I didn’t think anything of it. Well, other than, I must’ve hit the bed head hard one night in my tossing and turning as said hand felt bruised. Fast forward another two weeks, still no obvious signs of injury but add to the list both hips, knees, ankles and all the bones in my feet feeling bruised. Frustration at my physical inability to do anything usual, like bend down to get vegetables from the fridge, sitting crossed leg, or sitting, standing, walking. Forget about stairs. I became like a small child walking up and down stairs, clutching the rail and taking it two feet per step. On a rare occasion I managed to feel able to go out, I mentioned in passing to a friend who saw me, that maybe I’m just starting to age, albeit rather painfully.

I eventually went to my Dr, I didn’t feel sick per se, just very tired and well, incapable of using a fork well, or type much. I had the joy of tests of various kinds (focusing on my left hand) with the words rheumatoid arthritis thrown in. I did not want it to be this. I’ve had enough issues over the past couple of decades I really didn’t want a new life-long thing to contend with. The good news, it is not rheumatoid arthritis. I am so glad of this. Still.

However, I did come back positive for Ross River Fever. Or, rather, I “have had” it. Both the Dr and I were surprised (he only added it on the tests due to the high incidence). The city of Brisbane has this wet season had an epidemic RRF and the best my Dr and I can work out is the “bad cold” I had in very early January must have been the “flu-like” part of this event. I haven’t had any of the other symptoms and why my body decided to wait for the joints to flare over six weeks later, is anyone’s guess.

I’ve spent the entire month of March railing against this and trying to find a way to manage day-day living along with my studies (I have dropped down to one subject) and rekindled desire to get stories out of my head.

I’ve worked so hard to get better to only be given another Universal thwack on the message to rest. A lot. I can’t do much else. My physical body has banned me from trying. Last week, the stairs defeated me. Again. I returned to the Dr and am now on a stronger anti-inflammatory.

Daily, my mobility slowly returns (after midday each day) and my fatigue well, it’s still there. I can’t sit at a desk or computer or table for long (feet swelling). I sleep a lot (though on waking, my hips remind me they are sore). From all who know of this illness, the only thing to do is rest and/or sleep. A lot and for a good long while (not days or weeks but months). The result is I now must plan out my weeks with small activities, breaking down what I would usually do in a day to go over weeks. Frustration is a regular thing but I know this is finite.

There is good in this. I am dreaming of my stories again. Also, it’s not rheumatoid arthritis.

Sparks & Words

I’ve been undertaking a summer school unit for my Masters, partly to keep going and partly as an experiment. Brisbane, without air conditioning, is not the place to undertake summer study. Unless, I really need to, no more summer school. It’s now done and I’m in a state of bliss with three weeks of no “have to study” state of mind.

A blog post by one friend and a reminder of a challenge another is doing combined with, dare I say, an epiphany sees this post push itself through and ahead of some other posts about my love of the letters that make up words.

The return to study has been both a challenge and an inspiration for me. This post about overcoming obstacles by Nicole Cody (go, read it, I’ll wait) hit me hard as I too have had to fumble and make my way through a fog for so long, I can’t remember a time in my life not having it. I do know by the middle of 2013, I was at a point of losing my ability to read. What used to take me a week to read was taking over a month and each time it was a struggle. I suspect if my stubbornness wasn’t so strong I’d have given up entirely. Slowly, I have reclaimed my brain use and the relief is great but so is a self-doubt and mistrust of its return. Will it stay? When will I lose it again? Can I trust it will be here for me?

As I regained a sense of clarity of thought, I commenced my studies, just one at a time, a dipping my toe in, “in case my brain goes away again”. I’m now three subjects in and I’m shocked by my marks. Not how bad, but how good. I keep pinching myself, thinking the bubble will burst. But, with three subjects done, I am admitting to myself, perhaps, just perhaps my brain really is back and is actually working again.

Also coming back are creative words, even sentences. Which build to paragraphs and I hope to full stories. I’ve missed writing. I’ve been frustrated and despondent and many times at a loss as to how to overcome it. There are words stuck in my head but they’ve been lost for some time. This is where another friend’s challenge has come into it. For the past six months, Peter Ball has been writing every day using a number chart to mark off his achievements. I know many who use variations of this, for writing or other tasks. Even I’ve used it in the past when on a (usually academic) deadline. I’m travelling again tomorrow, but only for a few days, and on my return I’m setting myself up to undertake this. As he says, even a sentence can count. I have to tell myself it is okay to not keep going when I have my bad week of health, but if I can manage even that, I’ll be pleased.

Thank goodness for friends who help shine lights on the path.

Sharing fear with Sandra Antonelli

Sandra Antonelli is one of a very few contemporary romance authors who sucks me in and makes me stay up late (if I started at night). She has even pulled me over to the e-side of reading. In the lead up to Sandra’s new book release, Driving in Neutral (Sepetember 1), she is running a series – 75 Days of Phobia. Today, I’m over visiting her blog discussing fears and phobias. For me it’s all about the birds, grasshoppers and vertigo.

Serendipity

Many lifetimes ago I worked in an academic library (and enjoyed it) but life took some unplanned turns and I became a teacher. More twists and health turns of life saw teaching become problematic and me needing to take time off. Over the past year or so, a desire to find a way to juggle writing, health and a day job, I’ve come to realise the circumstances that saw me leave libraries has passed.

I now find myself done with my first subject in over a decade after enrolling in February as an external student in the Masters of Library and Information Management at the University of South Australia. There have been a lot of new experiences and at times it has felt like the learning curve has been a sheer cliff face. Also, a lot of reminding myself I’ve done this degree thing (twice) and it’s like riding a horse….

I now have a mid-year break and creative writing has come back to the fore. I’ll be glad once I’ve learnt the juggling act of creative vs academic writing as they’ve never truly competed with each other before. My priority for the next six weeks is creative words. They’ve been sitting staring, or in some cases glaring, at me tapping their appendages.

And this is where serendipity plays its hand. On Facebook a friend mentioned she was going to focus her own writing by doing Six in Six and one by one a group of us raised our hands and went “me too!”.

For the next six weeks, I’ll have a focus. For me it’s more a mix of some chapters towards a work in progress novel and also a foray into short story writing. I’m more a novella length girl but a couple of things have grabbed my attention enough to make me wonder if my brain will concede “short” = 3,000 words (instead of my more usual 15,000).

I’m looking forward to this challenge. Thanks to health issues, this is something I’ve been waiting a long time for – the ability to focus and write. Between my return to university and this challenge, my brain is slowly showing me it is working again. Something I am eternally grateful for.