When Words Won’t Come

It’s been a few weeks since I managed a post. In that time a lot has happened within my family, with the break up of my sister’s marriage and the diagnosis of my mum with breast cancer, coming in very rapid succession. In both cases I have every reason to believe that the eventual outcome will be positive and, for now at least, neither problem is needing too much of my physical time. Yet I have noticed a real drain on my energy and a feeling of lethargy that is hard to shake.

At the same time my house renovations have hit the point where I have to make decisions: what colour paint? what kind of benchtop, what heights for the drawers, where will the attic ladder go? … the list of seemingly trivial questions and the stream of tradespeople through my house feels relentless. Throw in a mother-in-law with terminal cancer who lived with us for several months last year so we could care for her whilst she underwent aggressive palliative radiation and who was not expected to live beyond this April (but is doing well now against the odds), then add the general hustle and bustle of life with school-aged children, and the load feels kind of heavy just now.

So not surprisingly I haven’t made a lot of progress on my book or managed a post here in a while.

In one of those strange moments of coincidence, I logged in to write this post this morning and saw this touching post from Catherine Louise Gurganus describing how her current troubles are affecting her writing. My heart went out to Catherine. I can relate exactly to the feeling she describes of having a blank slate between her ears. There is something about stress that makes it very hard to be articulate. The words in my head feel fractured and the wrong ones keep dropping out;  I say ‘cat’ when I mean ‘dog’, and the other half of the time I can’t seem to find the word I need at all. In times of stress I think our brains shut down a little. It’s a defence mechanism – if you aren’t thinking, then you aren’t worrying.

A friend told me to take things one day at a time, and I find this advice helpful. I do what I can, when I am able, and try to ignore everything else.

Despite my family woes, I recognise that I have an awful lot of be thankful for: my close-knit family, strong marriage, good friends, healthy kids. One thing I’ve started doing over the last week is walking the dog for an hour every morning – a job that my husband has always done. The exercise and quiet time are great stress relievers. I wanted to share these photos from my walks along the southern coastline of Wellington (New Zealand). These were taken just a few blocks from my house and I find the views both lift and calm my spirits.

Island Bay 1      Island Bay 2      Island Bay 3

Take care everyone :-), and I’ll keep trying to write when I can!

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17 thoughts on “When Words Won’t Come

  1. I’ve found that sadness and time taken are like incubators, gently warming. All those ideas and inspirations will wait until you have strength to bring them to light. In the meantime, you have a beautiful place to think and relax your mind. ^_^

  2. You are having a hard time, SJ, and I commiserate. However, I think you have sorted a balance through it. Taking the dog for a walk is a great idea. Making sure you have ‘you’ time is important. Try to take an hour extra a week when you can sneak off to have a coffee, read a book or ring a friend. The thing to remember is that in the end, it all sorts it’s self , and in ten years, you won’t remember the stress at all. However, keep your chin up, and keep on going. I am thinking of you.

    • Thanks Derin. It’s all part of life I guess and none of us escape experiencing these kinds of times. I got out this morning for brunch with a friend and felt really energised afterwards.

  3. I am so sorry that you have so much to deal with both emotionally and physically – I doubt there is one of us that is not effected by cancer in some way. It is a viscous, distressing sickness and we can only draw from one another and help each other through it. I hope things get easier for you and your family soon. Big hugs.

  4. My heart went out to you – realizing everything you are going through and yet you so kindly found the time to write a generous review of my book and put it up to Amazon and Goodreads. Thank you so much. I will be thinking of you and sending positive energy.

    • Actually your book was just the tonic I needed over Easter. We had a quiet weekend house-sitting a friend’s house in the same suburb we live in – just to get away from the renovations and your book suited the contemplative mood I was in.

  5. I’m really sorry to hear of your troubles. I know how near impossible it is to stay focused on creative writing when stressed. Like you, walking my dogs for an hour every day is a time to just be and put everything else out of mind. I hope all goes well for you and you get back to your book soon.

  6. What truly beautiful images surround you. No wonder you’re an artist. I’ve been to New Zealand, & the opportunity to observe such awesome natural beauty was def among the greatest privileges of my life. I like to think that even so far away in the deep urban grime of Chicago, I’m also surrounded by beauty even though its a very different manifestaton. I hope your troubles subside, and also that your many blessings, (family, strong marriage, etc.) continue to floroush. And if nothing else, please know you’ve inspired me

  7. I too have been there. last year was a nightmare of family members and friends fighting cancer’s. But I will tell you this. Try and find just a little time to write. Even a few minutes here and there will make you feel better and give you energy as the creative juices will trickle out and let you know you are okay.

  8. Hi Suzanne – I just wanted to say I’ve just realised I never responded to the lovely award you nominated me for and I feel terrible. I started a draft and then with all the technical problems I was having switching to self-hosting, I completely forgot about it. It must have seemed so ungrateful! I am so sorry!

  9. Pingback: Pay It Forward: Inspiring Blogger Award | Martina Newhook

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