Write Anywhere 083: Montana Mountains

by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador

Do you ever wish you could get away from it all?

One of this year’s many challenges has been to keep on task with my Write Anywhere goals of finding interesting and inspiring places to stir up my writing creativity. Finances, Keeper Hubby’s health, as well as my own aches and pains, have kept me home at times when I would have liked to go out exploring new spots and practicing my writing and photography skills.

I love the challenge of going other places for two reasons: it helps me be present and focused by making specific times for creativity, and it helps me push down the symptoms of panic disorder that would prefer me to lock myself away. Sometimes that’s hard to deal with, but my creative voice is more valuable to me than the discomfort I deal with when I make myself vulnerable by getting out in public venues.

I didn’t expect the situation to change much through this year and had resigned myself to that fact with more than a hint of frustration. But at the end of fall sweet Hubby made it possible for me to take a much-needed caregiver’s break to explore a fascinating place with some of my favorite people. Continue reading

Write Anywhere 082

by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador

Fall is my favorite time of year. The oppressive bake of summer gives way to the cool morning crispness of autumn that favors hot tea, cinnamon oatmeal, and leisurely walks. It also brings harvest time. In the midwest where I grew up  Continue reading

5 Ways To Get Rid Of Inertia In Your Life

 

by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador

*Knocking on microphone* Hello? Anyone there?

I’ve been MIA from this blog for a while. Quite a while. I haven’t touched my WIP for almost 4 months. I’ve lost my way. I could blame it on a lot of legitimate reasons. Continue reading

Writing Through The Pain

Tracks_Chalbi_Desert

Tracks Chalbi Desert, Marsabit County, photo courtesy Filberto Strazzari, Creative Commons

Writer’s block.

Have you ever dealt with it?

Some writers talk about writer’s block like it’s a virus you catch, and with all the right ‘home remedies’ (everyone has one) you’ll get well and writer’s block will disappear.

Other writers give writer’s block the name of Resistance, as if naming this shadowy criminal makes it easier to conquer. Some say Resistance is actually a natural obstacle to creating art. If you’re getting Resistance in your writing, you’re doing something right, so blow up the block like you’re freaking John McClane.

Still others say writer’s block doesn’t exist, it’s just another excuse to avoid writing.

I’ve had a series of set backs lately. It’s not your average ‘I had a bad day’ but almost its own novel, when things go bad, and you don’t think anything can get worse, it does. Repeatedly. There’s physical pain and emotional pain. It’s a well-planned attack of Resistance.

And it’s more.

It’s a spiritual attack.

I believe we have all been given gifts to fulfill our destiny, and our gifts give others the strength and wisdom to fulfill their destiny. These gifts flow through the spirit. Our spirits can be attacked to the point that our souls are sapped of creative strength if we are caught unaware.

What do you do when life is painful? Do you find solace in your writing or run from it?

My tendency is retreat. I retreat into myself, rehearse all that is going wrong, wallow in the negative, and then there’s no time or energy for writing. Sometimes I can’t transition from that depressive state and focus on a creative project. So the pen lays stagnant.

I intellectually acknowledge that a step towards writing will help me throw off this state of mind, but the inertia that goes with the feelings keeps me from acting. Waves of guilt, especially as I read blogs and social media statuses of writers completing Herculean acts of productivity, try to wash me away and drag me out to sea.

When this curtain of spiritual Resistance descends on me, I try to fight my way out with prayer. I take a walk. I write in a journal, although I have the beginnings of dozens of journals. I make a list of positive things. I talk to someone. I channel the emotions into a character in my writing if I’m feeling particularly brave.

I wish I could say these are my ‘home remedies’ and they always work, but they don’t.

The truth is that sometimes I’m stuck.

Sometimes I’m not ‘Super-Writer’ leaping tall plots and intricate character arcs in a single bound. I know when this happens, it’s just a season, the feelings will pass, but in the midst of the messiness it’s hard to see.

Do you run to your writing or run away from it when life’s troubles come your way? How do you deal with blocks to writing?

Write Anywhere #72

It’s been a long time getting through my August adventure. We’re almost there! If you’d like to follow along from the beginning check out the following posts. If you’re up to date, start right after the jump:

 

Musician Daughter and Musician-in-Law had to make a decision. Just a week before, they lost their baby to miscarriage. Now their son Destined-To-Be-A-Musician’s (BAM for short) second birthday was days away. Would it be right to have a festive party while still mourning their loss? Would it feel right? Would friends and family understand? They didn’t want to deprive BAM, but the thought of birthdays seemed too much, the heart wounds still too raw.

We all decided to focus on the positive for BAM’s sake, and instead of an all-out birthday party, we planned for a casual day at a favorite local attraction. BAM could have a fun time, oblivious to the inner turmoil of his parents, and the bittersweet reminders did not have to sting quite so sharply.

Write Anywhere #72: Grant’s Farm

Hardscrabble U.S. Grant Cabin

‘Hardscrabble’ Ulysses S. Grant Cabin, near St. Louis, Missouri, public domain

Grant’s Farm is a 281-acre animal reserve nestled at the edge of south St. Louis owned by the Busch family of Anheuser-Busch company fame. Part of the acreage was the original homestead of Ulysses S. Grant, General of the Northern Armies during the Civil War and the 18th president of the United States. The cabin he built in the 1850’s before he became president, nicknamed ‘Hardscrabble’, still stands and can be viewed on a tram tour of the park. Visiting the park is free except for parking and buying food if you choose.

This is where we took BAM for his big day, and he couldn’t have cared less about all that history. There were more interesting things for a 2-year old to think about.

Tram at Grant's Farm, St. Louis, Missouri

BAM and tram

The first thing to fascinate BAM was the tram itself. Never having been in anything like it, he enjoyed the open-air ride and spotting animals along the path to the main park area.

Grant's Farm, roaming animals, St. Louis, MO

our view from the tram

When we reached the main park, which is more like a zoo than a farm, we encountered the goat pens. For fifty cents you could purchase baby bottles with milk to feed the goats. BAM didn’t understand the point of standing in line with all those interesting goats running around, and let us know he was not pleased.  But the wait paid off when he got to feed the hungry goats. At first he got confused and thought Mama wanted HIM to drink the baby bottle. Didn’t he graduate to sippy cups already? But then he watched the other children and got the hang of it.

boy bottle feeding goats, Grant's Farm, St. Louis, MO photo by kristin nador

greedy goats

I worried the pushy goats might overwhelm BAM, and the many flies he feared that hung out with those goats, but seeing other kids involved and the novelty of these silly critters drinking baby bottles kept him focused. He even wanted to give some of the goats a brushing.

brushing the goat

brushing the goat

Next we saw a macaw show, and BAM was fascinated enough with the birds to sit still for all of 10 minutes. That’s a long time for a two-year old!

Macaw on rollerskates, Grant's Farm, St. Louis, Missouri photo by kristin nador

Macaw on skates!

After the show BAM spotted the carousel. His parents didn’t want to take the ride, because his last visit to a merry-go-round ended in tears. Well, this one did, too, but not because he was afraid, but because he didn’t want it to end! Turning two gives you a different perspective on life, I suppose. 🙂

carousel at Grant's Farm, St. Louis, MO photo by kristin nador

fun on the carousel

We walked through more animal exhibits, with monkeys, elephants, and a camel ride. BAM took a quick stop at the ducks and geese for more feeding.

feeding geese Grant's Farm, St. Louis, MO photo by kristin nador

feeding geese

BAM had fun throwing the food, but the heat was getting to all of us. Time for a snow cone break! And free beer (limit 2) for the adults!

Umbrella in the biergarten, Grant's Farm, St. Louis, MO photo by kristin nador

getting some shade

At the end of the day we took BAM to the famous Clydesdales paddocks, but he didn’t want to get too close. Goats are okay, but horses are something else altogether.

young clydesdales, Grant's Farm, St. Louis, MO photo by kristin nador

beautiful young Clydesdales

I wrote by documenting the day in a journal-type book that I will give to BAM in the future. Sometimes writing is not creating fictional worlds but just a way to be a witness to real life. As BAM and I ran around Grant’s Farm together, and his parents saw his happy smiles, I felt I witnessed a small bit of healing start that day as well.

Where did you write this week?

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Write Anywhere #71

Here’s another twist on my interesting August adventure. I hope it inspires you to look for creativity and inspiration wherever you might find yourself. If you aren’t up-to-date on the trip so far, you can follow along through these past blog posts:

On my drive back into town, I stopped at the stop light in front of one of the two biggest employers in town: the Federal Prison. The other is a Christian college. The prison houses minimum security federal prisoners. Bet there are a lot of stories in there. On the right corner I spotted a brown road sign that said ‘Tourist Attraction: Marcoot Creamery 3 miles.’ On a whim I took a right and decided to follow the signs and see what I would find.

Write Anywhere #71: Creamery

Marcoot Creamery, Greenville, Illinois, photo by kristin nador, kristin nador writes anywhere

Marcoot Jersey Creamery

The street became a two-lane blacktop and soybean, corn, and wheat crops made a patchwork of the fields as I continued on farther into the rural landscape. Three turkey buzzards refused to allow me to take their picture, my payback for rudely interrupting their roadkill dinner. I passed dilapidated and abandoned farms and wondered if this creamery might look like its neighbors.

abandoned barn, Greenville, Illinois photo by kristin nador, for kristin nador writes anywhere blog

ghost barn

Just when I decided to turn around, over a hill stood the dairy farm.

working dairy farm

working dairy farm

Marcoot Jersey Creamery continues the tradition of dairy farming started seven generations before by their Swiss ancestors. The comfort of the storefront filled with cheeses and ice creams offered a cool respite from the August heat. Since I was the only tourist for the moment, I was given a casual tour of the cheese-making going on that day.

 

chopping the curds

chopping the curds

The best part of the tour: samples! Cheese, cheese curds, cheese spreads, and beer cheese. Yum!

Then it was back out into the heat for a self-guided tour of the calf barn. Even with large fans going it was full of flies, but are these guys cute or what:

Jersey calf, Marcoot Creamery, Greenville, Illinois, photo by kristin nador

big brown eyes

Jersey calf #2, Marcoot Creamery, Greenville, Illinois, photo by kristin nador

so sweet

I didn’t do any writing at the dairy farm, but I journaled about it later. I thought I’d take BAM back there for the tour and an ice cream cone, until discovering one of the few things he has a thing about: flies. Oh well, maybe when you’re older, BAM.

Where did you write this week?

Mental Health Series: Depression and Bipolar – 13 Ways To Push Back At The Dark Side

image courtesy Andrew Mason, Creative Commons

This is part two of our series on creative people and mental health issues.

Read part 1 How To Harness Your Creative Temperament and Stay Sane, Married and Sober

I want to say I am not a medical professional, only a fellow creative interested in exploring this subject. Nothing in this post should be considered medical advice. Please see your health care professional for advice concerning a diagnosis of clinical depression or bipolar disorder. Please don’t self-diagnose.

*Depression: a severe sadness, feelings of guilt, hopelessness and lack of self-worth for a period of time

*Clinical Depression: a depression so severe as to be considered abnormal, either through no obvious environmental reason, through an intense reaction to an unfortunate situation or circumstance or through biochemical imbalance

*Bipolar Disorder: Affective disorder characterized by periods of mania (energetic, talkative euphoria) alternating with periods of depression, usually interspersed with relatively long intervals of normal mood

Depressives who in spite of their depression struggle led/are leading very creative and productive lives include Winston Churchill, Hans Christian Andersen, Agatha Christie, Abraham Lincoln, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and Janet Jackson.

Comedian Stephen Fry, singer Britney Spears, media innovator Ted Turner, actress Patty Duke, kickboxer/actor Jean Claude VanDamme, author Virginia Woolf, actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, author Graham Greene and possibly Vincent Van Gogh are a few of the more famous people who have struggled with bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression

Depression and bipolar disorder can be extremely disruptive to the sufferer and his or her spouse, family and friends. Manic episodes can allow for lots of productive work and creativity or it can be episodic chaos. Depressive angst can drive creativity or bring it to a standstill. The most important thing to know is that you are not alone, don’t be afraid or ashamed of your struggle, and seek medical, psychological and spiritual advice to stay on the healthiest path you can for yourself.

As creatives, we worry that our creative path will be stymied. How can we protect our creative practice if we are in a cycle that seems unmanageable?

“I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow, they fail because of my foes….Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart have multiplied; free me from my anguish…Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorry, my soul and my body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction and my bones grow weak…” (Psalm 6, 25, 31, NIV) 

There is a lot of speculation that the Biblical King David was bipolar. I won’t address that, but he captures in his sacred poetry the drowning pit that is depression. I think through the Psalms we not only see him crying out to God in his anguish, but doing something that counselors and psychologists now call positive self-talk.

“My flesh and heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26)

Whether it is a scripture, a positive thought, a mantra, or a happy melody, speaking positive words will help you refocus.

Read 7 Steps To Positive Self-Talk

Speaking positive words won’t ‘fix’ things, but combined with a program that is moving you towards being your best you, it will help. If you tend to depression or depressive episodes, don’t overdo it and let your tank go empty.

Refresh. 

If you are struggling, eradicate self-judgment. Some days accomplishing one thing is an accomplishment. And that’s okay. Be patient with yourself. If not, tomorrow is a new day, a new slate. Add one thing if you can. Reject the pressure, especially the pressure you put on yourself.

Here are 13 actions that can help you refresh:

  1. Exercise – oxygen cleans the blood and clears the brain
  2. Meditate – think on good things, accomplishments
  3. Simplify – declutter your life in all areas
  4. Wait –  patience with yourself is a skill well worth learning
  5. Avoid – triggers: people, places and things that trigger depressive thinking, especially alcohol which is a depressant
  6. Create – art, pottery, craft, fingerpainting, whatever brings passion. Creating brings a positive outlook.
  7. Freewrite
  8. Talk – to your spouse, safe friend, professional counselor, spiritual advisor, to yourself with positive self-talk
  9. Listen – to positive feedback, self-talk, inspiring speakers and sermons, through books, happy music, learn behavior coping mechanisms from counselors
  10. Pray – strengthen your belief system, whatever that happens to be. If you believe in God, reach out. If you believe in yourself, reach in.
  11. Detox – clean out your diet and clean out your relationships. Ask a doctor or nutritionist about the best foods to help you
  12. Sunbathing –  Depression has been linked to vitamin D deficiency. Gentle sunbathing supplies a good dose of vitamin D. Consult a doctor before taking any supplements.
  13. Laugh – makes feel-good endorphins Laugh with family and friends. Read a funny book. Watch a funny movie or tv show. Atttend live comedy show or theatre. Read a kid’s joke book. Even the groaners will make you smile.

Writing and journaling especially helped me as I dealt with a depressive episode. Freewriting let me take my thoughts and create the start of  an essay:

“The dilapidated aluminum siding walls matched my buckling confidence. I stared at the ceiling fan above me, each wide blade caked with mold and neglect. It didn’t cool the steamy stale air that hovered like my depression, a cloud that threatened to suffocate me.”

Need more ammunition to eradicate the blues? Check out these great links:

Question: What do you do to help you overcome ‘down’ times?