five minute friday | care

[start]

It’s easier not to care sometimes.

I do this thing when I’m under a lot of stress. When I’m worried or concerned. When I’m sad or grieving.

I stop caring.

It’s not healthy. It’s not loving, it’s not compassionate, it’s not sympathetic. It’s not grace or mercy, it’s not love, it’s not reality or the gospel, it’s not what Jesus had in mind for me and my life. But it’s how I get through without having to feel sadness. I don’t do sadness well.

The surge of emotions that take me over when I’m faced with a stressor–a new job full of new people and new expectations, two sick parents living in immense pain, an extended family that is unsteady at best and hurtful at the worst, guilt about my own shortcomings and past selfishness, panic and anxiety–I do not handle well. Even though I have been equipped and taught how to handle stress and grief in healthy ways by therapists, mentors, doctors, my parents, I still find myself resorting to old faithful: I just find a way to stop caring.

I pretend I’m fine so I can just get through the day.
I push all of the difficult thoughts away in order to get through the day.
I stop thinking about what is making me sad so I don’t cry at work.
I change the subject when I’m with friends because I don’t want to be that person.

It’s just easier not to care, y’know? I don’t monopolize conversation or make my problems someone else’s problems. I don’t cry in front of people. I don’t break down at work or shirk chores around the house. I go into survival mode.

I’ll think about all this hard stuff later. I’ll care later. Right now, I just gotta get this and this and this done.

Thing is, I get home, or I finish my project, or I finish up chores around the house, and instead of actually addressing the issue–instead of choosing to care and choosing to process my emotions–I find a way to ignore them some more. I jump on Facebook and mindlessly scroll. I think about football or how much I hated the “How I Met Your Mother” season ending or I binge watch “Doctor Who” and “Criminal Minds” until my eyes hurt.

Before I know it, two weeks, a month, six months, a year has passed, and I’m still carrying the same baggage and just choosing not to deal with it, to open it up, unpack it. I still choose not to care.

Because it’s easier not to care–until you’re a year into the grieving process, or a year into dealing with some life-changing revelation, or a year into facing your anxiety problem or your low self-esteem or your fear of intimacy or your financial crisis or your estranged friendship, and you realize it would have been a whole lot easier if you had chosen to care from the get-go.

[stop]


Every Friday, join the blogosphere for five minutes of free-writing on a single-world prompt, and watch where the Muse takes you. Find out more about Five-Minute Fridays here.

five minute friday | because

Oh, I haven’t written in ages, and there’s an ache within. Here’s my hurling of words in an attempt to get the juices flowing again because lately it’s just been a matter of getting through the days and sleeping through the nights the best I can.

“You don’t have to make something that people call art. Living is an artistic activity, there is an art to getting through the day.”
Viggo Mortenson

[start]

Because even when life is hard, it is so, so good.

That’s why I get up every morning, even on the worst days.

Because the Lord sustains me.

That’s how one foots moves in front of the other, even when it hurts.

Because I have dreams and aspirations.

That’s why I keep trying even when I am terrified of royally screwing up.

Because even when life is hard, it is so, so good.

There are times when life takes it all out of me, and when the rough days end, and I throw on a baggy shirt and sweat pants, and I curl up in bed and sigh, wishing I were stronger. Heartier. Steadier. Smarter, prettier, healthier, kinder, less selfish, less anxious, more ready, more prepared.

Why do I even bother?

Because even when life is hard, it is so, so good.

When you wake up in the morning after a restless night, and you have bags under your eyes, a pit in your stomach, and a quake and quiver in your bones, there is something so good and beautiful about choosing to keep on going anyway. When you look yourself in the tired eyes and say, “You will get through today anyway,” that’s your because. That’s your answer to why do I even bother.

Why do I even bother? Because even when life is hard, it is so, so good.

When you drive into work and you’re running late and you hit every red light, and you get to work and everything is going wrong, and you’ve said the wrong thing to your boss and your coworkers just want you to get your shit together, but you can’t because it’s just one of those days, weeks, months, years, and you can’t catch a break, and your bills are late, and you’ll be paying off your student loans until your kids have their own student loans, and dammit, this headache is killing me, there is something lovely and true and empowering about sneaking into the bathroom during your lunch break and reminding yourself, “You can do this. You will get through this. This too shall pass,” and then walking out and just doing the very best you can.

Because even when life is hard, it is so, so good because the beautiful things come out of the mire and the muck, the shit, the mud, the dirt and soil, the digging and planting and sowing and harvesting and the hands that get dirty in the process.

So why do you even bother?

Because.

*Honesty moment: I went longer than 5 minutes, so sue me.


Every Friday, join the blogosphere for five minutes of free-writing on a single-world prompt, and watch where the Muse takes you. Find out more about Five-Minute Fridays here.

Five Minute Friday | begin

[start]

How do you begin?

Sometimes I begin with kicking and screaming. Other times I begin with a cup of coffee and a nice pen and my favorite journal. Sometimes I begin with a shot of gin with some ginger ale, a squirt of lime.

And then it begins.

Words come when you put in the work, and always the work begins when you do.

My advice to you? Do whatever it takes for you to get your butt in gear. Do whatever it takes for you to begin because you’ll never finish if you never start. I don’t care what it is. Just do it.

Do you need a 15-minute free-writing session before you can begin? Do that.

Do you need a glass of wine and some comfy slippers? Well, drink up, and I’ll get your slippers.

Do you need to cry it out? Scream? Curse? Fucking do that, and I’ll join you.

Then, let all of that go. And let it begin.

Trust me when I say: the muse will honor your work. But you have to begin. You have to make the first move. She’s old-fashioned like that–she waits for you to take the first step.

So take the first step. The muse is waiting.

[end]


Every Friday, join the blogosphere for five minutes of free-writing on a single-world prompt, and watch where the Muse takes you. Find out more about Five-Minute Fridays here.

Five Minute Friday | finish

[start]

You can garner enough gumption to start.

Sure, it’s hard. Sure, it takes work. But starting something? It’s a foot in the door. Or a toe. Or a finger on the door knob. A twist of the wrist to open the door.

Words on page, if you’re a writer. A story map. Or a 10-minute work-out, if you’re trying to get fit or lose weight. Or gradually smaller portion sizes, or a side salad instead of french fries.

But what happens a couple weeks down the road when your resolution starts to dissolve? And it will, because that’s what it does. 

Finishing is hard.

That’s why when marathoners cross the finish line, there’s a big to-do about it. Because they finished. Did they finish last? First? Thirty-second? Doesn’t matter. The fact that they finished is a big freaking to-do.

And it should be. Because when their feet crossed over the start line, they were full of resolve and goals and can-dos and yes’s and I got this’s. And maybe halfway through, they said, “Well, I made it this far, and that’s better than nothing, right? So I could just stop here because this leg cramp is killing me.”

But they didn’t succumb to that logic. They found that string of resolve they had at the start line, and they stretched it out (and maybe they stretched out their legs, too, because eff you, leg cramps).

And they kept going. Even when it hurt. And even when they forgot why they started in the first place.

So we clap when they cross the finish line. We may clap when they cross the start line. But we clap harder, cheer louder, whistle, and holler when they cross the finish line.

Because starting is one thing. But remember why you started in the first place and finishing is another thing entirely.

Finishing… finishing means you have to choose to start every. Single. Day. In order to finish, you have to wake up every day and choose to start. Again. And again. And again. Whatever resolve you had from the get-go to start, whatever motivation you had that made you do what you’re doing, you have to climb and claw and comprehend it and then find ways to multiply it and make it last until the home stretch.

And that’s why–

[stop]


Every Friday, join the blogosphere for five minutes of free-writing on a single-world prompt, and watch where the Muse takes you. Find out more about Five-Minute Fridays here.

five minute friday | bloom

purpleflowers

I really hate gardening.

I mean, I love a beautiful garden. I love flowers. I love home-grown vegetables. I love the greenness of leaves, the brown earth, the smell of nature and freshness and dirt. I love the way flowers look amid green trees and brown trunks.

But gardening? Ugh. You have to weed and dig and water and nourish. You have to pay attention to what kind of plants need what kind of care. You have to pull up the weeds from the roots. You have to bend down, squat, hunch over. Your hands and feet get dirty.

But your garden looks pretty terrible if you’re not willing to do all that.

You have to know your plants, too. I can’t even give you examples of what you have to know because I don’t know anything. All I know is that I’m terrible at it, and it’s more work for me than the average garden-keeping individual.

My mom and dad love gardening, though, and so does my mother-in-law. It’s therapeutic for them. They’ve always taken such good care of the lawns, the flowers, the trees. My dad is growing a vegetable garden, and he’s so excited about it. It makes him happy. It heals him, somehow.

Maybe it’s because they’ve learned how to be patient. They’ve learned what it takes to make something beautiful, something full of life. Time, patience, good intentions. Care, concern, and a love of beauty. The gift that nature gives back when you embrace it, meet it where it is, and vow to bring out its very best, to nourish the gifts it gives you.

I need to learn how to garden. Not in the literal sense, although our lawn and flowers do need a little TLC. I need to re-cultivate my love of beautiful things, my ability to be patient, to care for, and create beautiful things. I need to let creativity bloom like tulips in spring, to let beautiful things pop out of the ground as they come. To water the fruitful seeds. To give and give, to crate, to contribute, and to care for the gifts I’m given.

“Bloom, bloom, may you know the wisdom only time breeds. There’s room; bloom, and you’ll grow to follow where your heart leads. Bloom, and may you bring your colours to the vast bouquet. There’s room; bloom, and learn one thing: your gifts are meant to give away.”

from “Joseph: King of Dreams”


Every Friday, join the blogosphere for five minutes of free-writing on a single-world prompt, and watch where the Muse takes you. Find out more about Five-Minute Fridays here.

Five-Minute Freewriting: Write

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This prompt is easy for me today because all I’ve been thinking for the past month or so is I MUST WRITE.

Without writing, my mind gets heavy. And heavy, it has been. Words and thoughts swirl around in my head, and I can’t get rid of them. Then, I lay awake at night, and I don’t sleep. And then I wake up, and I’m grumpy because I didn’t sleep. And I’m grumpy that I have to go to work and not write or sleep.

I sit at my desk at work, I answer phone calls, I answer customer service chats, and I just. Want. To. Write. I want to run out of the office, speed home (maybe stop by Starbucks first—I feel more literary with coffee in hand) and write. Write all day. Stay up all night. Not have to worry about missing work or being to tired to do my job well.

Maybe some day my job will be to write. Oh, a girl can dream.

If only I didn’t have to go to work. I probably would stay up late and write whenever I wanted. I get these grand ideas as I’m falling asleep, and I have to fight every creative fiber in my being from flipping on the light and just writing until I fall asleep on my laptop. But the impending alarm I have set for 6 am hangs above my head, and I realize: I have to go to work. I can’t just call in and say, “Sorry, I had a great idea for a story or a blog or an article last night around 11 pm, so I stayed up until 4 am writing, and can’t stop now. On a roll.”

I have been writing since I was a kid. I read some of my old short stories from third grade, and I think: Damn, I had no qualms or hesitations back then. I was so confident. I wrote what I wanted to write. I didn’t worry about what people thought. I wrote a story about a unicorn. I wrote a story about a girl who had a crush on someone who liked someone else. I wrote in my diary multiple times a day. I read books. I didn’t let things get in the way of my passions, of the thing I was born to do.

I was meant to write. I am not myself unless I write. Even when it’s something as simple as this post. Moving my fingers along the keys, the soft clicking as I press them down, seeing the letters form on the screen, the blinking cursor… I’m pretty sure I dream about it at night along with beautiful journals and notebooks, pens, pencils, story webs, blog posts, and stacks of typed manuscripts

[stop]


 

Every Friday, join the blogosphere for five minutes of free-writing on a single-world prompt, and watch where the Muse takes you. Find out more about Five-Minute Fridays here.

Five-Minute Freewriting: Last

So I failed at doing Five-Minute Fridays the past like, seven Fridays. So I’m catching up on them slowly but surely. So I’m calling it Five-Minute Freewriting because it’s not Friday, and I know I won’t be posting these on Fridays for a while until I can catch up.

This one’s prompt was: Last.

——

The past year of my life has been a war. Me against myself. I guess spending the last seven years of my life trying to handle sickness, anxiety, and depression all my myself finally caught up to me. I finally cracked. It was painful and hard and overwhelming. I’ve never wept so many tears in the entirety of the rest of my 23 years of life combined than I did within a six month period this past year.

I would lie awake at night trying to calm my mind, rest my eyes, keep my body from shaking and quivering from pain, and frustration and fatigue would bubble into anxiety and anger that would rise up out of me from within—I don’t know where. I would weep until I fell asleep. The morning would bring sore eyes, tired skin, and fatigue. I had no other option. I just had weeping. So I did. And in the midst of it all, I remember crying out loud—to God, I presume—How long is this going to last? I wasn’t sure how long I would last if this was what life was going to be like for me—this out-of-nowhere, for no good reason, debilitating sadness, weariness, and anxiety was eating me away, and I had no power to stop it. I knew I couldn’t last living like that.

I had to get help. Nick would hold me, wipe my tears, pray for me—but I needed more help than that. I finally convinced myself I couldn’t last on my own.

So I sought out some help. A lot of help. A lot of prayer. A lot of tears and panic attacks and sleepless nights. But six months later, I am myself—though I myself can hardly recall who that is. But my mom tells me the old Kelsey is back—the one with life and heart and humor and laughter and a smile and energy and confidence. My dad told me there is light in my eyes again—that they’re blue, not grey, that they’re bright again. None of it was sudden; the changes were gradual, and quite painful.

But I’m here. I lasted. Some days are still battles. Some nights I weep. Sometimes I take a Xanax (hey, panic attacks happen). But I know that the sorrow lasts only for a night, and joy can come in the morning. Sometimes the joy is simply that you woke up and lasted the night.


 

Every Friday, join the blogosphere for five minutes of free-writing on a single-world prompt, and watch where the Muse takes you. Find out more about Five-Minute Fridays here.