Do What You Love Without Judgement

Do What You Love Without Judgement

We are our own toughest critics (unless we are narcissists) and this often prevents us from doing our best work. This is something I have noticed in my writing. I’m always conscious that someone will be reading it, so I end up trying to write for my audience rather than for myself. This usually ends up with me getting annoyed and frustrated, and barely getting anything done because I keep deleting and rewriting my work until I decide enough is enough and give up for the day.

Writing is my creative outlet of choice. I’ve always been a writer since I first learned how, and have had fantasies about becoming a famous author. I have a hard-drive full of poems, short stories, and novels that have been started but will never be finished. I’m always thinking about them and things that I want to add. I always imagine the feeling I get when I write and how happy I will be when I finish one. But whenever I open up one of my books, I spend so much time reading and rewriting that I never make any progress.

But yesterday, I did something different. Yesterday, I had an idea in my head of where I wanted a story to go. I had seen it play out in my head and I wanted to get it down, so I started writing. The difference this time was that I was so excited about my plot development, that I forgot to worry about what other people would think about my writing. I didn’t stop to reread what I’d done, I made no edits, no changes, I just let the ideas flow out of me. I’d written three full pages before I stopped and was surprised to see so much production.

I still didn’t reread it, I didn’t want to ruin the feeling I was having. I had fun and was able to fully immerse myself in the story and interact with my characters fully. I have decided that this is the way I should have been writing all along. After all, there’s no point in writing for an imaginary audience if I’m never able to finish a book to be read. So from now on, I’m going to write without judgement and criticism from beginning to end. Once the story is complete, then I can put on my editors hat and start making it suitable for publication.

For now, it’s enough for me to enjoy the process and find out how some of my characters end up.
Dancing In The Streets

Dancing In The Streets

To listen to me read this blog post, please click here: Reading “Dancing in the Streets”

Not many people know this about me, but I love to tap dance.

It started when I was about 7-10 years old and I took up tap and modern dancing. I loved the rhythm of it and the way I could move my foot in a particular way and it would make a noise. I also find the tapping sound itself very pleasing, like a round of applause for yourself.

I was a pudgy child and my dance teacher let me know it. She said I “bounded across the stage like a heffalump”. I gave up dancing and that sentence haunted me while I developed anorexia.

As an older teenager and young adult I often thought about taking it back up again. I really did love it and missed it a lot but my low self esteem (perpetuated by my family) prevented me from pursuing it.

Eventually I decided it was time I did something for me. That was when I bought these shoes and started going to lessons once a week. It made me very happy but my self esteem continued to get in the way then finally PTSD stopped me going.

I put a lot of effort into recovering my mental health and just when I started to feel like I was a person again, my physical health kicked me in the metaphorical testicles. My tap shoes went away and every now and then I’d pull them out, open the box, stroke them, sigh deeply, maybe cry a bit, then put them away again.

Today, I found them while going through some boxes and the feeling I had when I opened the box was so different. I lifted them out and examined them closely, all the little scuffs and scratches, and I smiled. Tap dancing no longer feels like a lost love that I’ll never see again.

I plan to take up tap dancing again once I’m driving (hopefully early February). Not having to rely on busses makes more time and places available to me, and my health is no longer an issue. I can’t wait to get started again. I can’t wait to do what I love without fear.

Losing Myself

Losing Myself

When you have a chronic illness, especially one as debilitating as M.E, you expect it to take over certain aspects of your life. Where I go, what I do, who I see, and how long for are all dependant on my M.E. We have a one-sided, controlling relationship where I have to check in with it before I make any decisions about my life and it lets me know what I can and cannot do. If I rebel and disobey then I am punished. This is a compromise that I’ve gotten used to and, though I’m not completely happy with the life I’m living, I’ve managed to reduce my suffering by doing as I’m told. The unsettling thing I’ve noticed recently is that, like any unhealthy dependant relationship, it is starting to dominate my thoughts and personality as well.

As a biologist and someone with a scientifically driven mind, I spend a lot of time reading research, journal articles, patient stories etc., looking for treatments, insight, knowledge or understanding, any kind of hope for a way out of my situation. When you spend so much time reading about a particular subject, when you surround yourself with it, it quickly becomes all you have to talk about. I hear myself relating every topic of conversation back to M.E, either my personal experiences or to something I’ve read or heard. I hear people feeling awkward and trying to respond politely. I know that they aren’t interested but it’s the only way I can contribute since M.E is the consuming aspect of my life. Even things as common as the weather (the heat steals my energy and the cold makes the pain worse), how was your weekend (great, I spent it the way I spend every weekend, recovering from the week just passed and preparing myself for the week coming), or if anyone dares complain that they’re tired (you don’t know what tired is! I’d do anything to feel as tired as you right now!). I don’t have hobbies, I rarely go out, I can’t spend time with friends, what’s left for me to talk about?

But my M.E is not a bad boyfriend that I can break up with, or an addiction I can overcome. It forced it’s way into my life uninvited and unwanted and made everything all about itself. It swallowed me up and now, I am more M.E than me.