Learned the Hard Way. What’s a lesson you learned the hard way? Write about it for 15 today.
I’ve had big feet my entire life. I always hated them, especially when I was young and towering over all my petite little 6th grade friends. I used to lie on my bed with my legs dangled over my head and stare at my giant feet, cursing them, praying for them to shrink. In ballet class I tripped over my long toes while my friends spun across the room.
I recently discovered that writing in a voice that is not my own is like trying to wear shoes that are too sizes too small. I learned that the hard way. I thought shoving my 10.5 foot into 8.5 size shoes would make me more successful….8.5 seemed so much more popular and had a bigger audience and I was sure that it wouldn’t hurt to cramp my toes for a little while, maybe I could even make my feet fit if I tried hard enough.
I tried hard. I wrote 3 assignments in a voice that was more scientific and less personal than I was used to. I researched like crazy to learn all I could about one specific topic that was beyond my capabilities, and in the end, not good enough for the editor. The editor wanted exclamation points and “gee wizes” and I couldn’t write that way without sounding like my toes were pinched. The story came out sounding like someone else, not me.
After a few weeks of stress and a couple sleepless nights, I learned that I like my big feet just fine. I may have a smaller selection of shoes (readers) to shop from (write for), but when I find the right fit, it feels really, really good.
Writing with Style. What’s your writing style? Do words just flow from your mind to your fingertips? Do you like handwriting first? Do you plan your posts? Title first or last? Where do you write best?
I write while I’m running. It’s been that way since I was a little girl and walked home from school. The bus dropped me at the bottom of our mile long dirt road and I took my time, kicking the dirt under my feet and plugging my nose and I wandered past the dairy cows. I told stories to myself of girls with names like Jessica or Samantha who wore their long blonde hair in braids down their backs. These girls had their very own horses and were the most popular girls in their schools. They were not lonely like me.
These stories kept me going day after day and sometimes, if it wasn’t cold and snowy, I’d linger on our front porch before I went inside because the story wasn’t ready to end. Knowing that the stories were waiting for me got me through my school days. It was the quiet of the Vermont woods that stoked those stories. The steady beat of my feet on the road and wind on my face-these noises were the orchestra to my imagination and it continues on today.
I run every morning in the still dark and quiet streets of my southern home. The plot lines have changed and I’m no longer telling stories of Jessica and horses, but the stories come just the same. Whether they are practical stories filled with interviews and tips from experts on living well with diabetes, or stories of smart and inspirational women with diabetes, or stories of my own, there are always stories to fill my head. Some mornings I go straight from my run to my computer where I sit and write, I’ve got to get it all down before it melts away. Other mornings there is nothing and I concentrate on the steady beat of my feet on the pavement and that’s okay because I’m no longer lonely.
I used to beat myself up when I saw a “bad” number on my meter. Anything above 200 freaked me out. Especially during my first pregnancy, those high blood sugars sent me into a dark hole of bleakness because it was not just about me anymore. I would visualize the sugars flowing from my body into my growing baby and making him sick. It made me obsessive about testing, and paranoid about anything I put into my mouth. It was supposed to be one of the most joyful times of my life, yet I was filled with worry.
I remember talking to a therapist a few years later who told me to think about my blood sugar readings as information from my body. I snorted at the time and said, “Easier said than done.” She told me to let go of the “bad” and “good” labels and to think of the numbers more scientifically. For example, 250 was telling me I needed more insulin (for whatever reason, miscalculation of carbs, over treating a low etc.), just like 50 was telling me I needed less insulin and more glucose.
I was skeptical leaving her office, thinking, it’s easy for her to say don’t get emotional about the numbers, but her words stuck in my head. Over the next few days when I got a 200+ reading, I took a deep breath and thought, okay, what do I need to do here? Slowly, it began to work. Slowly, the black hole began to dissipate like a rain puddle after the clouds part. I began to chant the phrase in my head “It’s just a number.” And it worked.
I should add that my 3 pregnancies were healthy, and my 3 boys turned out just fine. They are healthy and I am healthy in body and in mind 😉
I will always be a lover of YA books and just finished “The Probability of Miracles” by Wendy Wunder. The narrator is a young woman with cancer who spends the summer on the coast of Maine with her mom and younger sister in search of a ‘miracle.’ She has a great insight toward the end of the book that spoke to me, as a woman with diabetes, and I thought I’d share: (She is spending the night with her boyfriend for the first time)
“Later she realized she could be a princess. Not really a princess, but something other than a cancer patient. She could choose the cancer and the misery or the other, more wonderful parts of her personality. She was a dancer, a scholar, a sister, a veterinary assistant, a girlfriend. She could make the cancer into a much smaller part of her being. For the first time in a long, long time, the cancer was not everything.”
Well said Wendy Wunder!