Writing Has Always Been a Part of My Life — When I’m Struggling to Write, I know Something is Off

I know when I am “off” or not feeling well because of what I do. I may not know why things are off, just that they are.

“woman using gray laptop on bed” by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Does this happen to you?

For example, when I want salty, wavy (important!!!) and greasy potato chips, something is weird. I do get chips once in a while, such as at Subway or when they are offered as the side at a restaurant. This is different. It is specific, and Doritos or house chips will not satisfy.

Pizza, a food that has been known to be one of my favorites, is something I have managed to cut out of my diet.

Well…

MOST of the time.

I don’t eat dairy much, either. Something about the flavor and the dough calls, and I can’t say “no.” The deliveries occurred the most a couple of years ago as it neared final exam week. I know every college student out there can nod their head in agreement with me. I’ve had a spike headed in the same direction and no exams to blame this time.

My Responsibilities

What I do have happening are two part-time jobs. A paycheck only comes from one of them, though.

The other I essentially pay to be a volunteer.

I am a member of a two year old organization where there’s still a lot of development needed. As one of the people in charge, right now that includes meetings and creating policies, besides dealing with issues that come up. If you know or understand anything about a startup, then you know the stress involved.

Progress is moving slowly — the others in charge also have jobs to pay their bills plus there are open positions. I tend to be involved with things fully, which means participating in the organization’s activities or working on my own projects as much as working on what needs to be done for the organization. Without adding the hours up, many think I am crazy. I wish the process could be accelerated.

At least the extra tasks I choose based on my interests. For example, I created the New Member Orientation and have presented it twice. Presenting makes me nervous and creating the presentation takes up time. It’s something I wanted to do that needed to be done. I stayed up late as a student and now I stay up late for a voluntary project with the grade being the feedback of the results.

It’s no wonder that I fall into the same eating habits I did as a student and may order a pizza when I am done writing this.

Soda, and specifically regular Coke, is something I haven’t been able to kick for more than a few days. It’s been a long enough habit that when I do figure this out, I’ll probably lose 15 to 25 lbs, based on this article here. With the cooler weather, I’ve been able to switch to unsweetened herbal hot tea. I get some flavor in the water, at least.

I haven’t gone to a yoga class since the end of August, which is also odd since I went at least once a week all summer.

This one I might be able to partially explain.

“cardboard box lot” by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Off-Balance

From September to October I was moving. Although I only moved to the upstairs, it is still something that has made me feel off-balance. During the same period, I also participated in a 5-week workshop, one day a week, and on the 6th week, went to a conference 50+ miles away, and a lunch meeting 130 miles away a few days later. The workshop, conference and lunch meeting counted as work time, and I am grateful I had the opportunities.

When I came home to the downstairs studio, I would see the stacks of items that had to be moved. Then upstairs, I would trip over items not yet in a spot. I felt caught in the chaos!

Thankfully, a couple of people willing to repeatedly go up and down the stairs came over to help me. I moved specific piles near the studio door downstairs and asked them to be placed in certain rooms upstairs. Then I could work on the rooms one at a time and organize the chaos. The traveling delayed some of the chances for organizing so in November the chaos and piles are not completely gone yet.

“wayfarer sunglasses on beach sand during daytime” by Sai Kiran Anagani on Unsplash

On the flip side, I found relief in returning to a “normal” schedule last week. Some of the stress lessened, although a routine still seems out of my grasp. It’s like returning from vacation or being off of work and playing “catch-up” before being able to get to anything new.

Except, there will be things that cannot wait. My internet disconnected and it took calling the company twice to get it fixed, for example

I believe as I get more used to my new apartment, I’ll get a routine going. Things still need to settle from having moved in the midst of the other activities.

Distractions

Another weirdness is watching (Internet) TV or movies — full length, not related to Ted talks or (Vox) news, which I watch regularly. When I’m in a good mood and feeling well, I’d rather be writing or making stuff or working on my apartment. When those things are a challenge, something is up.

When I’m not feeling well, I want something mind-numbing instead of creative. I don’t want to think or have to figure anything out beyond what to watch. It’s a reason I gave up cable TV five years ago and decide month by month whether to have Netflix or one of the other services, usually sticking with Prime cause of the delivery savings.

Having TV available all of the time distracted me and made me sleepy, and then I wouldn’t want to do anything. I dropped the TV habit and have not missed it, except when I do not feel well.

How do I figure out what might be going on? I journal or think about what’s been happening and what my reactions have been and /or how I’ve felt.

It’s not easy.

Sometimes, before there is a chance to process anything (especially WITH others who will understand), I have to go on to the next thing, and the next thing, and the next thing. Then I get time and it is hard to remember exactly how I felt. The situation and emotions have essentially been buried.

In yoga, instructors talk about taking a breath and pausing before reacting. While good advice that I definitely try to use, the pause I’m referring to might be a day, a week or a month or more later, which seems too long.

“people sitting in front of table talking and eating” by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Sometimes, before I can write things out, I have to talk things out. That chance does not always exist, so the process takes a while IF I am able to get to that point. I am not sure why the talking part is needed other than talking and writing use different parts of the brain. There is a difference in processing between typing on a computer and writing with a pen on paper, and both of those are different than having a conversation out loud.

What I usually need when I am stuck is someone else’s perspective or explanation in order to make sense of things. It cannot be anyone, and that is probably the most challenging. It has to be someone trustworthy and willing to listen and understand my point of view, and be willing to offer another perspective or explanation to think about over convincing me of their viewpoint. Some people I know might be trustworthy and willing to listen and don’t understand enough of what I am talking about to have the depth of conversation and it is not worth trying.

Instead, the issues stay buried until they come out some other way, such as not feeling well.

Being aware — observing — is supposed to be the first step. Then taking the time to think about and process. I’ve been doing well on the awareness and struggle after that. My goal is to write more often, private or public, to help me with references, especially when other people don’t have the time or it’s coming out wrong in the expression.

Writing has always been a part of my life. The days I cannot write I know something is DEEPLY out of whack.

When life throws a lot of different changes at you that mess up your routine, how do you still make time to write? How do you still make time to do the things you love?