When I was in grade three my teacher, Mrs. White (for real that is her actual name), used to have us write journal entries about 2 or 3 times a week. She would give us half an hour and tell us to write whatever was in our heads.
Feeling creative? Write a story. Feeling emotional? Write down those thoughts. Feeling passionate about something? Write about it. Feeling like you’ve got writers block? Write about nothing.
Yup, that was a real piece of advice. Even if you’re feeling nothing, write about it. Get half a page of something, anything on paper. I was obviously a little smart ass and at least once a month I would write something that looked like this…
I have nothing to write about because I don’t want to write about anything. Nothing is happening. I have nothing to say. I am not actually writing anything. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. This is what writing about nothing looks like. I am writing about nothing at all. I am just writing the word nothing and this journal entry is about nothing.
I thought I was being funny, but little did I know Mrs. White was still teaching me exactly what she had intended. Sometimes the only way to beat writers block is to keep writing. Even if it isn’t your best work, even if you throw it in the trash can when your done, even if you literally write about nothing! At least you are still writing.
So today, as a means of defeating my writers block, here I am writing about absolutely nothing.
How do you conquer writers block? Share in the comments!
I fell over board and it was wonderful, at first. The water was salty and warm and it felt like freedom. But as I was splashing around in the waves I didn’t realize that the boat had sailed away. All of a sudden I felt myself being sucked downward by the violent, heavy water. No boat, no life jacket, just a never ending ocean and my will power to survive.
That story is a metaphor. I did not literally fall over board but figuratively, I most definitely did. The boat in this particular metaphor is a a healthy, active lifestyle. I am embarrassed to admit this because I was doing so well with post holiday fitness and healthy eating, I dropped a few pounds and I was feeling great in my own skin. And then I fell over board, let me share my cautionary tale.
At first I had an excuse. Remember my diaphragm situation? After my hospital visit I took a few days off from exercise to rest the muscle. Turns out that was a complete waste of time because 5 lazy days later I once again found myself on the floor (this time in the comfort of my own home) in excruciating pain. I had done nothing to bring on a diaphragm spasm so naturally I was very confused. I decided to pay another visit to the doctors. After being poked and prodded this new Doc determined that I was miss diagnosed and my diaphragm was fine. Instead, new Doc was concerned it might be my liver or gall bladder… Which is, ya know, just dandy. So he sent me for some tests, ultrasounds and blood tests and the like. The upside to Canadian health care is that it is free, the down side is that it can take a lot of time. So a full week later I got the tests done and now here I am still waiting for the results. Good news is I haven’t had any pain in a while, but I still want to know what the results are because what if its something serious that I need to know about. You never know! Anyway, back to my excuse… Since I’ve had no clue why I was experiencing pain or what was causing it I decided to steering clear of exercise for the time being.
In the midst of all of this “what is going on with my body” drama, I got my lovely monthly gift from mother nature… if you know what I mean. Great timing body, way to go. And I don’t know about you, but time of the month Alex loves to snack! A lot! One small bag of candy can’t hurt, right. WRONG! It sent me on a downward spiral of chips, chocolate and sugary sweets. At first it was wonderful. Just like in the metaphor, except replace splashing in waves with gorging on snacks.
Now it’s been nearly three weeks of no exercise and lots of bad food in even worse amounts. Last night I had that moment where I realized that the boat was gone. I had eaten a pizza pocket for lunch, soup for a late snack, then dinner, and then I had handfuls of chocolate covered raisins, and then I ate almost a whole bag of tostitos chips. When I finally stopped eating I felt so sick to my stomach, I wanted to vomit. It was one of the most terrible feelings, being literally stuffed. I don’t want to feel like that ever again! I was just getting into some good habits with the almost daily exercise and the smoothies. I want to get back to that place. No, I need to get back to that place because staying here is not an option.
It’s time to sink or swim and I am swimming for dear life!
I am sitting on a park bench while my daughter runs around a playground filled with children. Suddenly she comes rushing down the slide and gallops across the sand. “mom, mom!” she excitedly shouts. “Did you see the yellow dog?! Can we get one?” I scoop her into my arms and smile, “the answer is no, you may not have a dog”.
My mom takes the kids to small farm on a Saturday afternoon. They come home covered in dirt and smelling of hay. “I got to pet a puppy today!” they tell me. “Can we get a puppy? He was sooooo cute and nice!” My mom offers me a guilty smile, “he sounds like a lovely puppy” I say, “but the answer is no, you may not have a dog”.
At dinner on a Thursday evening the youngest eats all of his broccoli without complaint and the oldest volunteers to clear everyone’s dishes. After she is done her chore she tells me that all she has ever wanted in her whole life is a dog and her brother wants one too and they will do anything in world if I would just say yes. But I wont, I will say no and they will both cry and make a fuss. But I will not change my mind…
“The answer is no, you may not have a dog.”
I know what you are thinking, you think I am anti-animal or that I am a dog hater. In fact, I am going to make a bold statement and call myself a dog lover. I even have photo evidence!
There you have it. I love dogs. They are wonderful, friendly animals and a visit with a dog always guarantees a smile. The key word here is visit. I am all for a nice visit with a dog but I am 99.99% certain that I will not change my mind about actually owning one. “Why?” you ask (as do my future children). Well let me tell you a story.
There once was a time when all I wanted in life was a pet. When I was 7 it was a cat, when I was 10 it was a hamster and from 16 on wards it was a dog. I did have a gold fish called bubbles for a short period of time when I was 9, but he was a pretty dull creature if I’m being honest. I begged my parents for years but they never relented. “I’ll walk it! I’ll clean up after it! I’ll feed it! I’ll do anything. Puhhhleeeeeese” The answer was always no.Then I started dating a guy with a dog and he was the love of my life, the dog not the guy. This dog was named Pal and he was a beautiful old black lab. He was so placid, friendly, relaxed and kind. Long after the guy and I had called our relationship quits, he still updated me on Pal. I remember when he texted me to say they had to put him down, I cried my heart out. From then on I went out of my way to make friends with dogs. I would pet them on the street, I would visit the therapy dogs at school, I even went through a phase where I watched animal planet’s live puppy cam for fun. I’m not even kidding, I also have a pinterest board dedicated to puppies. The addiction was real.
Then about a year ago Lucas’s sister and her fiance decided to get a fuzzy little monster of their own. A gorgeous golden retriever named Simba. He is the dog in the top 2 photos pictured above. I remember the first time I met Simba, he was so small and so soft. He sat in my lap and slept. It was so peaceful and so perfect. I was instantly in love. The next time I saw him, Simba had grown a lot! In a matter of three short months he had gone from a small, precious puppy to a big, excited dog. Except for mentally he was still a puppy. So he would run like a puppy and he would play like a puppy and pee inside the house like a puppy, but he was big, really big. Huge actually. Obviously my love for him didn’t change, but my patience did.
In July, Lucas’s sister got married, so Lucas and I took on the responsibility of Dog-sitters for the duration of their honeymoon. Now this may sound naive, but good lord that was the longest week of my life. It went something like this…
Walk. No, Simba, don’t eat that. Leave it. Sit, sit, sit, fine don’t sit. Eat your breakfast, no, you’ll eat pine cones but not dog food, that’s cool. He’s peeing on the carpet! Really? My nude heels, you had to eat my nude heels. Slow down, gentle, gentle, ow my arm! Slow Down! Walk. That is the biggest poop I’ve seen in my life. Oh god, its warm, ew, ew, ew. Not that way, this way, no, this way, come on, this way! Lets go around the puddle, nope, okay through it works too. Sit, sit, sit, fine don’t sit. I’m not giving you my food, you have your own food. I don’t care if you sit there with those sad puppy eyes. Good god, Simba, your breath stinks. Fetch! Yes, it is another dog, shhhh, it’s just another dog. Walk. Sit, sit, sit, seriously will you just sit!..
That week felt like one of those high school assignments where you and a partner have to care for a fake baby for a week. But this wasn’t a plastic toy with an automated crying machine. It was a puppy, a very real puppy. And not only was I responsible for him… I think I did a pretty terrible job of caring for him, luckily Lucas was around to pick up my slack. I hated waking up to walk him and I hated it even more when I had to come home from a long day at work and walk him again. Not to mention that I had no control, I had no authority, I mean I wasn’t walking him, he was walking me. And I was angry at myself for letting him get to things like socks and shoes and I was angry with him for ruining my stuff. My couch smelled terrible and to top it all off I discovered very quickly that I am, in fact, allergic to dogs.
So at the age of 23, after living alone for 5 years, graduating University with 2 degrees and being a self-proclaimed dog lover… I was not equipped to own a dog. My life long dream had come to a slobbery end. In a way I am sad because I really do love Simba, he isn’t even a bad puppy, he is just a regular hyper-active puppy and I did always want a puppy of my own. But I have come to realize that this was a blessing in disguise because at least I know now. I know that I don’t have the patience or motivation to own a dog and if I don’t feel equipped to care for a pet now when I have very few responsibilities, how on earth will I be equipped when I also have children to take care of. Poor animal care and neglect is cruel to the animal, it is abuse and the last thing I want to do is cause a beautiful puppy stress and harm. I will happily watch Simba again (as long as I take my allergy meds first) and I love it when he comes over for short visits. However, when my kids ask for a dog I will gladly take them to a shelter to play with a puppy, and when they are old enough I will encourage them to volunteer at the veterinary clinic. But when it comes to actually owning a dog, the answer is no.
Other than the incessant ticking of the clock the house is silent. Every 30 minutes or so the furnace will shutter, forcing dry air to circulate through the house. And I am sitting alone, being consumed by the silence.
On a Saturday afternoon after a long and busy week, this is what most people long for, peace and quiet. I, however, am not most people. This quiet, this stillness, this solidarity… this is my worst nightmare. Without the warmth and the noise of another person I feel empty. I feel lost. I feel exceptionally lonely.
All the introverts are scratching their heads in confusion, “there is so much to do when you are alone!” they say. I could do laundry, I should do laundry, I need to do laundry. But I don’t. I could clean the kitchen, everyone would be so happy if I cleaned the kitchen, but I have no desire to do that either. I could read my book. I like this book a lot and today would be the perfect day to curl up and read. But I’m distracted. My brain can’t focus on the words and I think I’ve just read the same page over 3 times. I could go to the gym, its been a few days and a nice workout could be exactly what I need. But I have no energy, no strength and no will power.
It isn’t that I’m tired, I slept in today. It is because solitude sucks away all my energy, it drains away my motivation and muffles out my desires. This isn’t depression, not yet, I’ve only been alone for a few hours. But if I were stuck in this situation for more than a week… I’m afraid to find out what might happen to me. I’m afraid. The idea of being alone, the concept of solitude is so overwhelmingly frightening. My breath is catching in my chest just thinking about it. But I am also aware of how needy this makes me, how reliant on others it makes me, how dependant it makes me. How pathetic.
I am aware but it does not change anything. Please don’t give me solitude.