I remember living in Fresno and driving to work in our “Tule Fog.” It was so thick I couldn’t see more than a foot beyond the hood. I couldn’t see the lanes, the stoplights, or discern intersections. The only way to cross a street was to open the windows and listen for cars. Probably not the safest way to drive.
Lately, I’m dealing with my own fog. Brain fog. I don’t talk about my health much, but right now it’s like I’m driving in fog. I’m dealing with severe adrenal fatigue and fibromyalgia. I’m exhausted. My body aches. And my brain has to work twice as hard to do anything that requires thinking.
Three weeks ago, I had a big fibro flare-up and since then I (cold turkey) gave up all processed sugar, gluten, dairy, and chocolate. Thank goodness I didn’t drink coffee because that would have gone too. Since then, I’m feeling better. I don’t have a lot of energy or stamina (after a shower I need a nap), but my brain isn’t as foggy—if I don’t push myself.
I haven’t been able to work on my writing as much as I’d like to. Thirty pages into my third novel, I’ve had to step back a bit. I'm also getting ready to publish two novels spring 2020, which I’m also taking one step at a time.
Because I’ve had to slow down, I’ve had a lot of extra time. Time for quiet. Time to reflect. Time for self-care (which I’d neglected for a while). With all this extra time, I didn’t watch TV. Instead, I watched the trees sway. The clouds move. The birds gather on the lawn as the cats chattered and pressed up against the slider to watch them.
I listened. To cars in the distance. Sirens. Dogs whining. Children laughing. To the wind chimes. To the birds—mockingbirds, crows, house finches. Did you know finches make a very unusual clicking sound when twenty or more gather on the grass to eat? I didn’t. But I discovered it yesterday when I listened to them.
Though all of my discoveries of the little things, I’m making notes for upcoming scenes so I can bring in sights and sounds when a character stands outside and hears a mockingbird going though it’s a repertoire of calls. Or children play. Or sirens wail. Or a flock of small birds clicking on the grass.
While my body rests, my mind records these moments. When the fog lifts, I write another chapter enriched with sensory details I often miss because I’m too caught up in my to-do lists.
Though I’m far from “normal” (whatever that is!), I’m okay with my new “normal.” Taking it slower, not overdoing, and making the best of my quiet times. Life goes on. And now, I’m watching and listening so I don’t miss the little things.
Thank you for this much-needed reminder about slowing down, listening, and observing. May your health continue to improve, Joan. xoA
Thank you for the kind words, Annis.
Joan, this is a wonderful reminder to all of us to recharge our batteries! We get too tied down to schedules and making priorities and then we lose site of what is meaningful. I love that you make notes of little things for your novels. Prays and well-wishes for your continued improvement. Debbie
Thank you, Debbie.
if caterpillars become butterflies, butterflies should become something too. For me, they become poetry. All the things within that transformation make it so. In the becoming, however painful and strange, lamenting and visceral, the “new” normal takes shape within the hidden turmoil. I am utterly lost within the landscape of good poetry. Wonderfully lost in reverie. This piece you’ve shared feels like poetry, something beyond the butterfly. It’s true and beautiful writing. You continue to amaze me, Joan.
Thank you for your kind words, Paul.