Resilience

I went to a wonderful workshop over the weekend. It had nothing to do with writing, besides the fact that we journaled twice. It was, cue the didgeridoo and the candles, a workshop about getting over birth trauma. At one point we were asked to think of a power that we have. Some women chose capability, or strength; I chose resilience.

Ducks on a frozen pond, Vigelands Park, Oslo, Norway

Ducks on a frozen pond, Vigelands Park, Oslo, Norway

I’ve been thinking about that a lot. I chose resilience because in the context of my son’s birth the prevailing feeling is one of having bounced back, robustly, from the most difficult experience of my life. For a minute, after I chose “resilience,” I second-guessed myself: am I resilient? Really? And decided that yes, I was, and am.

When I gave birth to L things got very dark and very scary very quickly, but by the time I was being sewn up I was joking with the doctor about “the husband stitch” (I know, it’s sick) and the next day, bruised and exhausted, I was nonetheless myself again.

I’ve been thinking about resilience in a writer’s context, too. Don’t kid yourselves, people: this work can be really thankless. You can work at something for years and never get it published. You can feel amazingly accomplished one day, and the next, you suck. But if, like me, you choose to have faith in the process, you get back on the horse and keep writing, even when you’re incredibly discouraged. You choose resilience.

Last week I emailed a writer friend I hadn’t seen in a while. Sadly, she told me that she’s not doing very well. “I’m enraged with myself that I have been writing for ten years with very little to show for it,” she said. I had one of those moments when I thought, okay, I can relate; but I can’t get too far into this discussion or I will start to take that on myself. I just can’t count the years. I mean, I do, all the time; but really, it’s counterproductive. Sometimes I wonder whether my family and friends think I’ll never amount to anything, because I haven’t yet, right? And I have to gently tell that voice to shut up.

Maybe, in another ten years, if I’m still chipping away at a memoir and playing with poetry and trying to publish a couple of short stories–and none of it is going well–I will throw in the towel and go get a degree in art therapy or social work. But for now, I’m choosing to bounce back.

Check out Karen McHeggs’s latest over on popcorn, Establishing a Writing Habit. It’s a good reminder that the most important thing–in life, really!–is just showing up.

Magic

I’ve been thinking a lot about magic.

I find that magic shows up in my life when other things feel completely prosaic and mundane. I’ll be totally fed up with my work and my writing, parenting or my relationship will feel humdrum, and then there will be this little glimmer of something–an interesting coincidence, maybe, or a good turn done unexpectedly or even something strange and painful that makes me pause (magic isn’t all good–remember Lord Voldemort). The magical: A few weeks ago, when I did that great yoga workshop, I had an intense moment in meditation when the word “cleave” starting running through my head. For some strange reason–maybe because I am one of those types for whom strange words running through the head is sort of normal–I wasn’t alarmed. More than that, I got it. I have felt since I gave birth to L that the experience caused me to sort of split in two, in a very weird, esoteric, almost-too-deep-to-access (and really too personal to talk about) sort of way. So I’ve been kind of carrying that word around a bit. And this week at a doctor’s appointment I learned that, in fact, part of me did split in two when I gave birth. You ever have something happen that you would never have known was about to happen but then, once it does, you realize you knew it was going to happen? That’s what I’m getting at. It’s a little…magical.

So then, this morning, I was chatting with a friend on the street. She’s not been having an easy time of it, and I remember a week or so ago her telling me that she had been so out of it one day that she’d forgotten to put her son in a nighttime diaper and generally made a right mess of things in her life. I don’t think she told me but she also lost a favorite earring that day. This morning, as we were chatting on the street, I looked down and said, “Oh look, an earring”–at which point she went ballistic with joy. I’d found her lost earring and the weirdest thing was that it was lying at a place on the sidewalk where anyone could have stepped on it. In fact, it was directly in the path of a car that could have backed out of its driveway at any time and crushed it. She lost the earring ten days ago. But it was beautifully, perfectly intact. To me, this was sort of medium magical, but she is convinced I’m the next Hermione Granger.

Well, okay, if you say so.

And oy, here’s the mundane: I had a rib injury in December, as I think I’ve mentioned. I either cracked a rib or pulled a muscle from a particularly violent bout of coughing. This injury was healing, slowly. But yesterday I sneezed and I literally felt something pop in my side. Then: agony. I’m very barely mobile on 600 mg of Ibuprofen. I’ve been able to sit at the computer for a while but I should probably go lie down again. Doctor’s appointment at 2:45.

And can I just say, toddlers are not capable of empathy? Trying to explain to L this morning that Mumma had a really big owee and I needed him to cooperate–failure. After B left for work L climbed back in his crib. He climbs in, but he doesn’t climb out. I couldn’t really go in after him so I had to wheedle to get him to the edge, then one-armed drag him out. He gave me hell putting on his shoes, etc., and all the while I was trying to find some adult place to connect to that would understand why he should be ginger with me. Not happening. Good to know he’s developmentally appropriate, I suppose…

Oh, hey, a plug. If you’re reading my blog most weeks, why not click the “Follow” button? And if you really enjoy it, send it to a friend or repost it. I’m done with privacy. I want a fan base.

Love,

Susie