One of the drawbacks of third coast living is the physical proximity of said coast to the flippin’ north pole. That tilt of the earth stuff is real, people. This time of year, I don’t see daylight unless I step out of the office for lunch. Otherwise, I’m driving to and from my job in the dark. And it wreaks havoc with my dementia sufferer. She had a dental appointment at ten this morning, so she was up at three in the morning. I had to chase her from the bathroom (why is even potty time a social event? Do not engage me when I’m engaged in elimination or hygiene regimens. For the love…) then she was out in the kitchen, carrying pictures around that she’d taken off the wall so she could read them.
I advised her of the three hour span of time between this moment where she was in my way and the pending dental visit, and was met with a torrent of blabber (the clinical word is aphasia. She has it, we translate, but at 6:45 AM, Mrs. Boehm is over it) to which I responded “this is why I don’t want anyone up with me when I am trying to get ready for work” to which she responded “Oh I’m not.”
I waited until I was in my car before I let out the stream of angst I’d been holding in. Only weeks after Thanksgiving (days after Christmas) and there I was, angry, frustrated. Resentful. As I share this, I find myself instinctively clenching my teeth. Truth is, I’m not often thankful. And that hurts my soul. And my writing too. And so we close Tammy’s travels through the tangles of terrible Ts as we discuss the final and perhaps the most important one of all: Thankfulness.
How is this applicable to you as a writer?
Simply put, life itself will bring enough heartache your way. You will never have a shortage of potential opportunities for offense that, if taken in enough percentage, will fester and poison you slowly. And if you are a writer at your core, a rotten core produces rotten writing if it produces at all. I tell you this from experience. I own a copious collection of morbid, toxic, and cringe-worthy poetry that might be published upon my demise—and if any of my peers remains breathing when this happens, there will be shock and awe. Lots of verbal napalm in my collection. I used to call it “purging,” but the truth is that I struggle with things like thankfulness and choosing joy. And I know I do so at the expense of my gift.
So if you’re like me, stop before you end up like me. Do what you need to do to manage stress. Living with a person with dementia, a two-year-old, your grown children, and having a difficult day job, is stressful. I do need a release, but resenting my situation when I am here to help—that is not a display of thankfulness.
I love my family. When my mother-in-law was lucid, she wanted to stay in her own home. We are fighting the good fight so she can do that. I’m blessed to have kids and a grand boy, and a job. And when you are thankful, the words will come easier. And that’s what we’re about as writers. Weaving our words into wonderful images.
So use your gift to express your thankfulness. When you do, you will bless others and yourself.
Tammy Boehm, Associate Editor