Tag Archives: Life Experiences

Own your story.

20 Apr

Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.-Brene Brown

When I came across this Brene Brown quote a few days ago, I couldn’t help but realize how much it applied to my certain circumstances. Not just the overall situation of living with Cerebral Palsy, but the more recent circumstances of realizing that I must now face the emotions which resulted from my recent return to physical therapy. Though it would be so much easier to resist thinking about the emotions and memories that returning to physical therapy brought up for me, I know that I must face them if I’m going to be able to move forward.

Throughout my life, I have heard people tell me how awesome it is that I don’t let my CP define me. According to my CP doctor, I “make it look easy.” Though I do understand that most people are trying to compliment me, it’s also hard for me to believe them in the full sense of the phrase. Though I don’t ever introduce myself as “the girl with CP,” I often wonder if that’s what others are thinking, specifically people I have just met. Overall, I try not to let myself focus too much on all of the difficulties it brings, because if I did that, how the heck would I still be able to find joy in the little things? However, at the same time, my CP affects me on a daily basis. Every day is hard, and every day I am reminded of how different I am from those around me. At the same time, I am reminded of how far I’ve come, and that’s where “owning my story” comes in.

Though I began writing my memoir in order to help myself come to terms with what I’ve faced and to help others in similar situations, I have also just wanted to shed a light on just how many of us are struggling in ways people may not truly understand. Putting all the benefits and support aside, “owning my story” through writing about it and essentially saying “Yes, this is who I am, and I am damn proud” has been the most frightening, scariest, most frustrating and overall hardest thing I’ve ever done. In all actuality, it sucks, but it’s helping me. Truthfully, it reminds me of the idea that you’ve got to hit rock bottom before you can truly understand your own strength. It’s cliché, but it’s also true. In many ways though, I feel as if trudging through this first draft of my memoir is similar to hitting rock bottom, over and over again.

Despite the frustrations of “owning my story,” it’s my way of being the voice of so many others who aren’t able to express what it’s like living with a disability. If writing my memoir means I can give a voice to a few of those people, then I will plunge into the darkness of it. Just because there are people who aren’t able to express the emotions connected with what they have experienced doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have a chance to still be heard. If anything, all of those people deserve it a little bit more. After all, every one of us has so much to learn from each of the people we come into contact with, so why not start by owning the experiences we’ve faced, no matter how scary and painful?

A yearly dose of The Bell Jar.

22 Dec

For the past 4 years, ever since I was 16, I have read Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar around this time of year. Though I never planned to re-read it every year around the holidays, that’s just how it turned out. In all honesty, The Bell Jar is probably one of the most depressing books I have ever read, but it is also one of the most accurate portrayals of madness, or descending into madness, from a literature standpoint that I have discovered as well. I guess you could say I love it because of its psychological aspects. However, despite how depressing the novel is, there is a reason Sylvia Plath is viewed as an acclaimed poet and writer. Her words, when put together, form sentences that allow you to feel something. Granted, the feelings her words bring to light aren’t necessarily happy ones, but in all honesty, Sylvia Plath wrote about life, her life. She didn’t sugarcoat it. She didn’t pretend she was happy when she wasn’t. She threw her readers right into the darkness and the loneliness of her life and her mind, and in a strange way, it’s beautiful.

Here are some quotes from The Bell Jar I thought I’d share:

  1. “Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences.”
  2. “I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.”
  3. “I wanted change and excitement and to shoot off in all directions myself, like the colored arrows from a Fourth of July rocket.”
  4. “At this rate, I’d be lucky if I wrote a page a day. Then I knew what the problem was. I needed experience. How could I write about life when I’d never had a love affair or a baby or even seen anybody die? A girl I knew had just won a prize for a short story about her adventures among the pygmies in Africa. How could I compete with that sort of thing?”
  5. “I am sure there are things that can’t be cured by a good bath but I can’t think of one.”
  6. “Piece by piece, I fed my wardrobe to the night wind, and flutteringly, like a loved one’s ashes, the gray scraps were ferried off, to settle here, there, exactly where I would never know, in the dark heart of New York.”
  7. “It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they executed the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.”
  8. “I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant loosing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”
  9. “Secretly, in studies and attics and schoolrooms all over America, people must be writing.”
  10. “I had hoped, at my departure, I would feel sure and knowledgeable about everything that lay ahead — after all, I had been “analyzed.” Instead, all I could see were question marks.”
  11. “The sun, emerged from its gray shrouds of cloud, shone with a summer brilliance on the untouched slopes. Pausing in my work to overlook that pristine expanse, I felt the same profound thrill it gives me to see the trees and grassland waist-high under flood water—as if the usual order of the world had shifted slightly, and entered a new phase.”

Is there a specific book you make a point to read every year?

Pigs In Heaven By Barbara Kingsolver: A Book Review.

20 May

Earlier this week I finished a second book by Barbara Kingsolver, Pigs In Heaven. I loved The Bean Trees and Kingsolver’s writing so much that I just had to read more by her.

Pigs In Heaven is a follow-up to The Bean Trees. However, you don’t have to read The Bean Trees first to be able to follow the storyline of Pigs In Heaven. Here’s the synopsis of Pigs In Heaven (according to Amazon.com):

Six-year-old Turtle Greer witnesses a freak accident at the Hoover Dam, leading to a man’s dramatic rescue. But Turtle’s moment of celebrity draws her into a crisis of historical proportions that will envelop not only her and her mother, Taylor, but everyone else who touched their lives in a complex web connecting their future with their past. With this wise, compelling novel, the acclaimedNew York Times bestselling author of The Poisonwood Bible, The Bean Trees, and Animal Dreams vividly renders a world of heartbreak and redeeming love as she defines and defies the boundaries of family, and illuminates the many separate truths about the ties that bind us and tear us apart.

I can without a doubt say that I enjoyed Pigs In Heaven more than The Bean Trees, but honestly I think that’s because I had already gotten used to Kingsolver’s writing style and I was eager to hear more of Taylor and Turtle’s story together after first meeting them in The Bean TreesPigs In Heaven definitely didn’t disappoint.

Even though I was drawn most to the character of Taylor when I read The Bean Trees, when I read Pigs In Heaven, I connected most with Taylor’s mother, Alice. I think I connected with her most because her strength and strong belief in herself was evident through the fact that she left a marriage that she was unhappy in so that she could be there for a person who was struggling more, her daughter. Alice’s need to be there for her daughter, while also knowing that she had reached an age where she was expected to stand on her own to feet is something that really stuck with me. All teens go through those times with their parents. For me, the most notable was when I went off to boarding school. For most other teens, it’s when they go off to college. When I was first at boarding school, it was hard to adjust to not having my parents around. I remember the months before I left and how I was dying to get out of the house, but the second day I was away from them, I found myself sitting on my bed in my dorm room crying for a mom and dad who were three and a half hours away. Though I know that these feelings are normal, it’s not any easier when you realize you have to pack up and leave behind the people who have believed in you since before you were even born. How do you walk away from a love like that?

What I’ve realized, and what was discussed in Pigs In Heaven, is that even when it’s hard to leave home and go out on your own, you can still look back to your parents for guidance and support. In Pigs In Heaven Taylor relied heavily on Alice when she was in a really difficult spot, but yet Alice was the one to pull away when she realized that Taylor had to walk ahead alone with her own daughter that she loved as much as Alice loved Taylor. It was touching to see the support that Taylor and Alice had for each other, while also seeing how much they trusted that each of them would be okay. Even though I’m not a parent, I know from the standpoint of a daughter how hard it is to realize that it’s finally time to take your own responsibility for things, rather than relying on your parents. However, for me, my parents will be here to support me no matter what, and yet they’ve given me the wings that I need to fly.

I definitely, definitely recommend this book. Go read it! Now!

Middle Of The Night Writing.

19 Apr

Sometimes I feel stuck in my writing. There are so many aspects of my past that I want to let out, but then I sit down to type, and nothing comes out…which just seems ridiculous when I know of so many things inside me that need to be released.

I’ve been told for as long as I’ve been writing that I have a way with words. I take pride in that compliment. I take pride in it because writing is the one thing that I never, ever feel limited by…and that is a truly awesome feeling. However, the fact that I have a way with words can be damaging at times because it leads to me wanting to have things sound just right, and when they don’t, I’m not satisfied. However, I’ve learned to write through the dissatisfaction. That writing usually isn’t my best, but it gets me out of my writing slumps. But you know, sometimes a slump is a slump, and there’s not really much you can do but wait for a new day.

There’s a quote I read somewhere that goes something like this: “Writers never have to change the things they got up in the middle of the night to write.” I used to not really understand this phrase, but as I’ve delved deeper into writing my book, I see the connection. Before writing my memoir, I didn’t understand the concept of literally being woken up by something that’s so vivid in your mind that you’ve just got to write it. However, over the past few months, I’ve had many nights where I’ve gotten in bed to go to sleep, and about 15 minutes later, memories pop into my head. But not just random, vague memories. Strong, vivid emotional memories that have on more than one occasion caused me to sit up in bed to take a breath in order to let some of the emotional shock wear off. However, not once have I gotten up to write those thoughts and memories. Not because I haven’t wanted to, but because I knew that if I did I probably wouldn’t be up the next morning in time to go to class.

That’s what’s hard about choosing to start this book when I have. Not only do I have my book on my mind, but I’m 19, I’m a sophomore in college, and I’m still trying to piece together who I truly am. Granted, I’ve discovered a few key pieces over the last year: like my love of writing and photography (and psychology…definitely can’t forget that one!), the realization that I am and will always be the biggest book nerd that I know (HA. No…really), and the understanding that every person I have met in my life thus far is here to teach me something about myself, whether it be good or bad. The last part is an understanding that I haven’t come to lightly. I like to think that I can hypothetically have a genuinely good relationship/friendship with the majority of people who I come into contact with. However, we all know from life experiences that that is not always the case….which is sad, but it also can be a learning experience (especially in connection with those people who we may not see eye to eye with). Then again, there are some people that we’ll just never be able to win against, but that’s okay. We can just keep walking…because there will always be other people further on down the road that we’ll feel glad we crossed paths with.

Once I’m done with this semester, I’ll be happy to have a little bit more time for the middle of the night writing. The writing that wakes you up…and forces you to get out of bed and start typing. I haven’t fully experienced it yet, but I can’t wait to see what it’s like. Even now, when I’m woken up by things that I know I want to write down, I tell myself that I’ll remember in the morning. I talk myself into staying under the covers…and eventually I do drift back to sleep. However, all of you writers know as well as I do that things that wake you up in the middle of the night are never as vivid the next morning. Even if the memories are vaguely still there, you rack your brain wondering what it was that had you itching to write it all down at such a precise moment. I find it fascinating that something can seem so vivid and clear in your head one moment, and then the next moment it can be covered in haze and doubt….reaching the point where you are unsure whether you should try to write it down or not. My theory, though I haven’t tried it yet, is that if something you want to write wakes you up in the middle of the night, it’s got to be good. After all, despite what we say about living and breathing words every day, even writers need sleep.