Thursday, August 20, 2015

the blessing of twisting my knee--how I'm letting others care for me

Yesterday morning I managed to fall hard in my kitchen and twist my knee. As I tried to step over the dog gate, full coffee cup in hand, the very tip of my bunny slipper caught the top of the gate and sent me tripping forward. I attempted to catch myself--first on the kitchen table, then the counter top. The coffee in my cup went flying up and out--all over the counter and floor where my not yet stable foot was still in motion. It went sliding fast forward and up. I was air borne for a second. Some where in that, my knee twisted against its normal alignment.

I landed. There was a lot of noise from the dog gate falling over and me crashing heavily on the floor. And then shouting from Keri and our housemate--both rushing to see if I was ok.

For the first time that I can remember I couldn't spring up and say "I'm ok". Not even with false cheer. I wasn't sure which part of my body would allow that. My left shoulder was still giving me problems and my knee had a lot of sharp and unfamiliar pain. I just sat there until I worked out a plan for getting to my other knee (which was also banged up) and onto to my feet.

This was not how my day was supposed to go.

I had a day off planned for fun (a trip to the City for ramen, a tour of the Anchor Brewery and a trip to the public library there). Instead it was spent figuring out how to manage my quickly swelling joint.

A year ago I wrote about being laid up with some dreadful intestinal distress. The degree of chagrin and borderline shame of needing to be taken care of and sending Keri out to do "my" stuff was the beginning of a learning process that has been slow and uncomfortable for me (a self identified strong woman).

Since that event I've had many rich learnings on how to let someone else be in charge and to let others take care of me. I have been physically sidelined at least five times to the degree I was nearly fully dependent on others for my care (I say nearly because I could manage to bath and use the WC on my own--lessons I don't feel I need right now...please?).

The feeling of weird self consciousness in letting someone else do my chores is still there but at least I'm not protesting the kindness offered to me and am just saying yes to the help. I can still totally hear the little voice saying "no, it's ok, I'll take care of it, I've got this...blah blah blah".

And just what does that little voice think it's doing? My little voices are always protectors but many times misguided. Who am I after all if I am not doing all the things that normally fall to me? Not worthy? Not good enough? Weak? Lazy? Incompetent?

Strong women can handle a little discomfort, right?

(it's just a flesh wound)

So, for your enjoyment, my short list of things I let other people do instead of insisting on doing it myself.
I slept like a baby through this.

  1. Let my snacks, drinks, towels, medications and icepacks be brought to me--it is literally 15 ft to the kitchen and I totally feel this is a little thing but instead I asked to have them brought to me. 
  2. Let myself be driven around. I dislike being a passenger--it feels weird and I believe I'm a better driver than almost anyone (I hear the harrumphing, whatev, it's my blog). Still the stress of putting my foot on the gas and brake would not help my knee out at all so driving Miss Daisy it is. 
  3. Let someone else do the chores for others that I signed up to do--such as hanging my acupuncturist's painting for her or installing my Mom's new internet connection. I really did think I was going to do those things up until I realized they were not so unique that they required my personal touch (also they were kindly taken out of my hands).  
  4. Going for treatment early instead of toughing it out. I have a long history of refusing to see a doctor until I'm practically disabled. (now, I am aware that I actually AM disabled to a degree. However, there could be a whole lot more denial going on --I'm taking the win.)
  5. Letting someone offer Reiki to me and accepting it. Seriously, I never ask for Reiki because I think I should be able to do my own Reiki. That I should be able to erase my own pain with my own unimpeachable energetic flow--yah, Spirit loves that kind of thinking.
  6. Letting other people handle it in general.

I looked up what knees problems indicate in my Louse Hay book--pride, ego, inflexibility. The irony is not lost on me. While I don't believe my ego caused my knee problems I do find it rather entertaining that this is making me temporarily give up my hold on things.

I can accept help. I am no less strong for it. My knee will heal in it's own time.

In order to help other "strong women" avoid the same pitfalls I've had to navigate, I am planning a web class where I will share my learnings and experience as well as leave plenty of time to work with you on your own strong woman traps. Total freebie--mark your calendar for September 16th at 6PM. If you are interested, please leave a comment so I can send you a personal invite.

Strong woman, may you find the strength to ask for the the care you need before you become one of the walking (or not walking) wounded.

Monday, August 10, 2015

How I enraged 29 out of 30 readers

Back in my late twenties, in the throes of my dreadful, long time "writer's block" period I took a creative writing class to try to get some of my writing mojo back.

The objective of the class was actually to write a novella but all we were turning in was short stories.

It was like any other creative writing class--the first two lessons are about avoiding passive voice and a bunch of timed writing exercises. You then get to pass them around for feedback. Also, we were assigned homework--write short stories that could become that novella.

I liked the teacher. The advice he gave that stuck with me was how important it was to be kind when giving feedback. If you don't like something, it is really easy to say all kinds of unhelpful things. The flip side of course was to have a thick skin because receiving feedback was part of the program--your precious darling (story) was out there and there was a really good chance that people were not going to like it--not just the technical aspects of your prose but your story, your characters, your point in general.

So one evening I passed out the xeroxes of my story and braced myself for whatever was going to come from my peers (some of them wrote really well).

As the feedback came in some of my classmates pointed out things such as my use of passive voice but what really fascinated me was how much white hot hatred the room had for my main character and sympathy for the character that was her trigger. Name calling was involved (not towards me, just my character). I could see the bristling outrage--I somehow had tapped into some odd shared experiences and identities in the classroom.

Intriguing. I had no idea this would come back.

On the bottom of the pile was one person's feedback--he got my point. He understood my main character's dilemma and the conflicted feelings/thoughts she was having and the actions she ultimately took. Out of thrity pieces of feedback, my story stuck it's landing with one reader.

I got two gifts that evening. One, the experience of having my story land home. The other more trenchant experience was of touching a nerve with so many people. It felt amazing! As I gave my reaction to the feedback I said as much (the room looked puzzled and a little afraid).

I didn't return to class after that. What I told myself at the time was "these aren't my people". This might have been a mistake. I might never have made any friends or fans there, but I lost out on the delicious experience of provoking and disturbing people around me WITHOUT EVEN TRYING.

I don't write for bland acknowledgements. I'm also not on a mission to provoke or upset people. The only intentional thing I do when I write is try to tell the truth as I know it.

Writing from the gut, going for nuance, saying things that are hard to describe (even to myself) isn't going to win me a lot of fans-I only hope I reach someone who needs whatever it is I have to share. This kind of writing can be lonely because even when something hits home, I won't necessarily hear about it.

I review my blog periodically--I can see where I was trying too hard to make people happy or to reach a broader audience. Occasionally those articles get a bunch of reads. Just as occasionally the articles that are more personal and less apologetic catch attention and I get just as many reads.

Sometimes I try to reach one audience and alienate another audience.  Sometimes my writing isn't read at all.

Oh well.

I've been publishing less (still writing my share--just not pushing it all out). Contrary to what I'm told about keeping contact and staying in my audience's awareness, I only want to publish writing that is true. I can't do that if I am worried about "being on your mind". Also, I trust you more than that.

And in a world of seven billion people, one in thirty isn't a bad statistic.

Have a great week. May you provoke people in all the right ways.