It has been a long time since I wrote. It has been a hard time.
I have been struggling to write since July. There are or were a lot of reasons. The thing that impacted me the most was the health problems and eventual death of one of my best friends, Shelby. I wrote about her here a couple of times after she went blind.
In July, Shelby's health problems got worse. She wouldn't walk. She wouldn't eat. She was drinking less water. She wasn't sleeping well. We paced and rocked and hugged for hours every night until early morning. She was having a lot of pain and discomfort. I was faced with making a decision that I didn't want to. It took a lot out of me and loaded me with guilt.
I made the decision and on August 20th I took my friend to the vet for the last time. It was a hard day. I miss her still. Even writing this brings me to tears.
I lost my ability to write after that. I also lost my desire to write. I would sit in front of my computer or take one of my notebooks and a pen or my tablet and my stylus and nothing would happen. No words would flow and on one level it didn't bother me on another it was making it harder to write.
This week I broke through. It's not much but the people out there who write or know a writer will understand. I call this poem "The Writer's Crypt".
The Writer's Crypt
Sitting here day in, day out
The word crypt locked
No words flowing
Dark and dismal
Fighting, forcing some words out
Prying the lock open with my pen
The word crypt
Creaking open slowly
From my mind
The long dark, dry spell
The crypt fully open
The words are there
I am writing again
October 15th, 2015
Wow… its Friday… and a great Friday because we are heading into a long weekend…
I’m hitting on some serious topics today… losing contact, mental illness and my usual attitude of gratitude.
Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you, your family and friends have a wonderful weekend. I urge you to take some down time this weekend. Spend some time thinking about all the wonderful and challenging things and times you are grateful for.
A friend of mine got a blast from his daughter a few days ago. He has quit calling her and emails instead. He had some pretty valid reasons excuses for not calling… he didn’t want to disturb them if they were busy, he doesn’t like leaving messages in voice mail (who remembers answering machines?), he could email at times that were convenient to him (2:00 in the morning), if they were sick and resting he didn’t want to jar them awake with the ringing of the phone. She didn’t care. She wants a real conversation not a one sided commentary.
I agree with her. There have been many posts and blogs and tweets about the fact that we are losing touch but staying in contact more with social media. There have been numerous posts, blogs, and tweets about how we are more in contact than ever before.
We may be in contact more but are we really speaking to each other? When we speak are we really listening to each other (that’s a topic for another day)? When you think about it when was the last time you called someone just to say hi?
I am guilty of not calling people. There are so many people I’ve met over the years and enjoyed talking to that I don’t call. I have brothers and sisters who the last time I spoke to them was at a funeral. I have other relatives I have never spoken to. I have friends (or had) that I haven’t spoken to in years.
I think about calling but don’t because… (this from a writer what a shame)… I don’t know what to say. I want to hear about them and what’s going on in their lives but have so little to say about mine that would interest them. Even as a kid I was never much for talking unless I had a story to tell. I always found it easier to listen.
Today I commit to calling three people just to say hello. Who haven’t you called for a long time? Who do you email all the time but never call? Join me today and call three people.
World Mental Health Day
An amazing statistic… over 450 million people suffer from mental health conditions. Mental illness leads to over 1 million suicides a year and is the third leading cause of death among young people. One if four people will suffer through a period of mental illness during their lives. The most common illnesses are depression, bi-polar depression, schizophrenia, drug or alcohol addiction and dementia.
In North America 35% to 50% of people struggling with mental illness go without treatment (some professionals think it may be higher because it is so well hidden by many victims and their families). The sad part is many people don’t know or want to admit that they or someone they know suffers from a mental illness. The shame of mental illness overcomes the need for help. The most common treatment is some form of intervention.
How can you help?
Reach out to someone you see struggling. Make donations to mental health research. Seek help if you are struggling.
I have a fair understanding of bi-polar depression. I wrote two poems that express what it feels like when you are bi-polar and going through a transition from balanced to high and low. One captures the emotions and desire of going manic, Seductive High, and the other, Winter Low, expresses the fear and loss of going low. You can read them here. www.danwrites.ca/stories-and-poems
An Attitude of Gratitude
Thanksgiving makes many people realize some of the things they should be grateful for. I think we should be grateful every day of our lives. I have so much to be thankful for that I can’t always say it or write it. Today some of the things I am grateful for are;
The people who read my posts. I know you are busy and the fact that you take the time to pause for a few minutes and read what I write inspires and motivates me. Thank You.
My job. I’m thankful that the work I do brings in money so that I can pay bills, donate to charities, buy food and clothes. I’m also thankful because it brings me into contact with new people every day.
The kindness of strangers. Thank you to the person who held the door for me when my hands were full. Thank you to the person who let me out into traffic when I needed it. Thank you to the person who asked me for a donation when I was feeling down, being able to help lifted me up.
The encouraging and beautiful things people post on Facebook. Thank you to the people who do that, sometimes your postings lift me up, other times they encourage me.
Here are a few quotes to think about…
Do not let the empty cup be your first teacher of the blessings you had when it was full. Do not let a bard place here and there in the bed destroy your rest. Seek, as a plain duty, to cultivate a buoyant, joyous sense of the crowded kindnesses of God in your daily life. Alexander Maclaren
Kindness is the language, which the deaf can hear and the blind can see. Mark Twain
Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. William Ward
When eating bamboo sprouts, remember the man who planted them. Chinese Proverb
And in closing…
Happy Thanksgiving. Be kind to a stranger and give thanks for the opportunity. Share some of yourself with a friend or family and thank them for being there. Listen to some good music and thank the musicians. Call someone to say hello and then listen.
All the best,
Friday Musings – August 15th
It’s been a typical week in some ways and a very sad week in others.
The world was saddened by the suicide of Robin Williams. Many people are saying he could have gotten help and that his suicide could have been prevented. I’m not sure about that; depression really warps your mind.
I want you to do something. I want you to stop reading this and look at the people around you. I mean really look at them. See them; look at their faces and their actions. Can you tell by looking who is struggling with a mental illness? How many do you think are struggling with a mental illness of some degree or type? One in three.
Depression is an invisible disease and the battle against depression can be overwhelming. The people who suffer from it are ashamed of it, hide it, and cope with it on their own. Very few tell other people about it. Very few tell their doctor about it, they suffer silently, alone and afraid. The fear of the social stigma from admitting that they have a disease like depression stops them cold and that can make depression worse.
How can you help? Be kind. Do something nice for someone. If you do something nice for three people you will probably be doing something nice for someone struggling a little bit. Hold the door, say hello, smile, buy a coffee, complement them or whatever, just reach out and be kind somehow. You may boost their spirits. If it’s you that’s struggling do something nice for someone. They may be struggling as well and it may make you feel better. When I’m struggling I do something nice for someone and it always makes me feel better.
Have you noticed that as connected as we are we seem to be having one-sided conversations? On Facebook everybody is talking but who is listening? If we are listening are we listening to the person who is talking or are we planning what to say next? When we answer are we just speaking to say something or to acknowledge the other person? How many conversations can a person have at one time? When was the last time you called someone just to chat and see how they are doing? When was the last time you wrote someone a real letter or card instead of an email or e-card? When was the last time you went for a coffee with someone just to have a coffee with them and listen to them?
I’m not good at making phone calls or sending card or letters but I am getting better all the time. I like writing cards and letters. The hard part is how few addresses I have for the people I want to write to. Today I sent a card to the first person who hired me as a salesperson. I owe her many thanks. It made me feel good to do it even though we haven’t spoken in over 20 years.
I enjoy seeing the uplifting pictures and stories on Facebook. Thank you to all the people who post them. I also enjoy a newsletter I get from The GoodNewsNetwork. It’s an amazing newsletter filled with good news. You can get the newsletter for free or you can support the newsletter by “buying a subscription”. I’m a supporter. Follow this link to see the newsletter www.goodnewsnetwork.org
Did you see the supermoon on the 10th? Wow.
Speaking of sky gazing have you ever noticed how hard it is getting to see the stars? You can blame it on light pollution. Light pollution doesn’t just hide the stars it affects animals, plants and people. Light pollution is caused by all the lights left on overnight. Street lights, parking lot lights, floodlights, lights inside offices, lights on the sides of buildings and a real pet peeve of mine, signs. I understand the need for visibility and security but are we overdoing it? We could cut light pollution and reduce electrical use significantly by reducing the number of lights on and by reducing the amount of light produced. Some simple and effective things that could be done are;
Turn the lights off – why do you need so many lights on in your office or workplace after business hours? Even crazier, why do you need your signs on all night? Nobody is going to find your sign at night and wait outside until you open in the morning (except for businesses that have huge Boxing Day sales).
Put security lights on a motion detector. The lights will come on when there is an intruder.
Put automatic dimmer switches on parking lot lights and street lights. They don’t need to be on at full brightness when there is nobody around or traffic volume is low.
We could cut world heating, reduce energy use and reduce light pollution just by implementing a few of these things in our businesses and neighbourhoods.
Shameless business plugs:
1) Does your business need a writer? Newsletter articles, blogs, sell sheets, brochures, direct mail pieces… I can do that email me email@example.com
2) Want to make the world a better place? Join me www.sendoutcards.com/danwrites
3) Looking for mortgage leads? Email me firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope you have a great weekend. I’m planning on gardening and golfing and being nice to people.
Comments, complaints, suggestions are all welcome.
I am a writer.