The Practice of Relaxing

My husband smiled at me on Saturday as I fluttered in my spell of anxiety. It loves to sneak up on me during the winters, and when it hits I fall into a spiralling pit of self-flogging.

Every decision, every word, every thought that comes out of my mouth is bitter and grey.  I drift through rooms, unable to settle. Food no longer interests me. Writing, video games, and television no longer interest me.  Yoga just feels like a chore. This is my shadow, unfortunately. It will always exist, and it always finds me at some point.

Therapy has worked wonders on me. It has helped me to identify this chemical unbalance the minute the scales start to tip, and my eyelids grow heavy. It has helped me to shape my day around it to find the best way to snap out of the darkness.  No more days and days of crying, of panicking, of replaying the past over and over to see if I could have done something different.

What I am learning to value is when my family and friends recognize these signs.  My husband sees the early signs immediately.  The moment I’m quiet for a little too long, my movements grow slow, and my tone flatlines. He never grows angry. Nor does he ignore it.  Instead, he listens and takes care of me when I cannot take on my normal tasks.  He’ll take care of dinner. He’ll take on chores. And then he will ask me to just sit and relax.  Which, let’s be honest, is not easy for me.  I have the constant need to feel like I must keep busy.  I need to be writing, cleaning, working out, seeing friends, watching a new show, reading, playing a video game, and so on and so on and…

Then I hit a wall.  This is the new mindset I’m still learning to balance – relaxation with work. Luckily, I have a pretty amazing partner in life to remind me that it’s okay to sit. That sometimes, the winter months grow dark and cold and all you can do is take a bath by candlelight. Which is exactly what I did Saturday.

And what do you know! Suddenly, that dark mood started to lift.  I started to relax into my weekend. The snow and cold didn’t seem so depressing. I was lighter; I could smile once more.

I hope my words can bring a small piece of joy and love to people like me.  Take time for yourself, even if you feel guilty and worthless for doing it.  Don’t get mad or push people away who remind you to do this. It just might be exactly what your mind and body need.

Love,

E. M. Vick

 

Dreams & Loss

About a month ago, I woke up from a dream with both a sense of bittersweetness and peace.

My family and friends are well aware of the impact my grandfather had on my life. He served in WWII as a mechanic in California, he was a civics teacher, and an avid gardener (amongst other great qualities). He never showed me any anger nor did he ever put down my grand dreams. I suppose that is a benefit to being a grandfather over a parent. You get to enjoy the ride without needing to put in all the grunt work.

My grandfather got to see all these beautiful and tough journeys unfold for his children and his grandchildren. I mean, when you live into your 90s, you get to do that. My grandfather saw me get into college and pursue my dream as a writer. But in 2010, he passed.

Selfishly, I crumpled on the floor of my dorm sobbing to my best friend that it was too soon – that it wasn’t fair. In reality, he was 92, saw his first great-grandchildren, stayed with my failing grandmother to her end, and lived a full and vibrant life. Nonetheless, I still miss him from time to time. I am even tearing up writing about him 7 years later.

Why am I talking about this? Why is this important to my writing?

Well, simply because one of the things I always regretted was that he’d never see that I fulfilled my dream. That’d he’d never see my fire still going. That he’d never see how far I had come – how far I would go.

Then the dream happened.

In it, I was getting ready to leave a warehouse when I saw him. My grandfather was just sitting there talking with some old buddy. I told Kyle we had to wait, that I needed to go get him. Obviously, I rushed up and put my arms around him and began to sob. I told him I needed him, and how happy I was he was back. He gave a squeeze back and pulled away to look me in the eye.

“No, you don’t need me anymore. You’ve got this.”

It was so matter of fact and simple. Part of me wanted to argue, to tell him to stay. But his smile stopped me as his words sank in.

“Go catch up,” he pointed to my fiance. “I’m watching.”

I gave him a final hug and left.

And then I woke up.

Maybe dreams are just our minds working through loss and pain to dull the ache. Maybe it was the spirit of my grandfather coming down for a final lesson. Whatever you believe, something shifted in me.

What I know is that I’m okay to move forward. I’m okay to still be sad from time to time, but to not dwell on those who are gone. Rather, I need to embrace my own adventure and celebrate this life with those who are still here. There is still so much left to do and that much more left to write.

2018 – Life and Goals

New Years Day has a special place in my heart (right next to Halloween).  Every year I spend the time turning over resolutions and goals.  It’s like spring cleaning for the soul. Yet, this year was different.

I didn’t have “the list” like I usually do.  I didn’t stay up and midnight and immediate start journalling.  I didn’t have my panic attack of another year gone by.

And you know what?

It was wonderful.

Don’t get me wrong! I have goals.  I have stories that need to be written, things I want to do, place I want to go.  But, I trust myself to do them on my own.

Take, for example, my health.

“Eat healthier and be a better about exercise!”

Well, I downloaded PlateJoy back in August.  So, that is helping me there.  Plus, the holidays are over so I’ll go back to my usual cooking method.  On top of it, I got a mixer this year to make my own bread.  So, feeling pretty good there!

And for exercise, Yoga with Adriene took care of that for me.  I already love the instructor, and she was leading the way to a better January with daily flows for a truer self.  So far so good.

“Write more & get published!”

Well, that last part is already happening for 2019.  Win there! I want to keep going – but that requires finished novels that have been polished.

Alright, what are you going to work on? How will you keep yourself writing?

Alright, let’s see here…I have Morgan, Top Hat Society II: Syn Rising, The Man from Kumo(still working on that title), The Cast Outs, Alex Butler and the Unruly Library  …Yeah I think I’ve got plenty to work with.  

I’ve been keeping my journal on me daily for whenever the story strikes me.  I have an amazing support system that includes an aunt that sends me daily inspirations, a friend group that never quits, and a fiance that listens to my ramblings happily.

“Fine, those are done…what about love? Find love!”

Oh, but I have.  In 2013, I sought out therapy to teach me how to love myself.  I came to my therapist as an emotional tornado that felt I couldn’t live alone.  Or perhaps I should say, I couldn’t live with myself.  During that time, I rediscovered “me”.  I stopped trying to pretend to be someone else for whoever I was dating.  I stopped trying to fit into a mold that would please everyone.  I started to say no, a word I feared.  During that journey, I became confident in myself.   My best friends were excited to see the girl they had once known come back.   The funny thing was Kyle got to know me for who I was.  We were best friends without judgement or fear of what the other thought.  We said what we felt and were willing to have deep philosophical arguments at midnight.  Everyone saw the love growing between us, but we were the last to find out.  To speed up the story, we started to date in 2014 and now in 2018, we will be getting married.  He is my soulmate, and I cannot wait for the day I can call him my husband.

“Okay…travel! Definitely, need to travel!”

Already have it covered.  Going to Norway in the fall.  Next?

“This isn’t fair!  I’m your anxiety! I get final say!”

Yes, I have anxiety.  No, it will never be easy.  But it doesn’t mean I cannot enjoy my adventure.

In conclusion, yes.  I have goals. I know life will get in the way, but that’s okay. I can safely say I am happy.  Maybe not every day, but that won’t stop me in my tracks either.  I’m excited to see where this year takes me, and I’m excited you are coming with me.

Exhaustion and Imagination

As of late, I’ve been so focused on editing my story.  I usually hate editing, but this time around it has been a little more fun (probably thanks to knowing it will come out in print).  I cannot sugarcoat the lack of inspiration to write new pieces though. 

 For some authors, they are constantly writing. For others it comes in one massive overhaul, and then they are done.  I find myself somewhere in the middle. My writing is more like a lunar cycle, and right now I’m stuck in a new moon.

I know the future will be full of stories and Arthurian legend research, but until then I’m stuck in the phase of exhaustion (mentally and physically).  I try not to stress over it, but then my anxiety creeps in the night to remind me that time is slipping away. I’m 27, brain, not 100. Calm down. 

I just need to remind myself that tonight, a little crescent of inspiration will peak out of somewhere. And if I take the opportunity to write, great! And if I don’t? Not the end of the world. Just make it a goal for the next day. 

Eventually my full moon will come around, and the characters, just waiting for the adventure to continue, will come banging pots and pans in my head until I give them their due.