Surviving A Panic Attack

Very few people know this about me but during a particularly stressful period in my life I was prone to panic attacks. They always happened late at night. Sometimes I would wake up with one. Sometimes I’d be trying to get to sleep and would be stricken. If you’ve never had one, you can’t really imagine the full body dread that comes with an attack.

In my case the first sign would be the feeling of ice cold water being poured over my head. Imagine you’re taking a nice, hot pleasant shower when someone decides to run some hot water in the kitchen. It’s that moment when the cold water hits the top of your head and drains down through your hair and covers your helpless, naked body. You can’t move. You can’t breathe. Your heart skips a beat.

Except during the panic attack, you simply can’t go back to breathing. The water doesn’t warm back up once your housemate shuts the water off again. No, sir.  No breath seems deep enough. As for that skipping heart, it just keeps on racing and no matter what you do you can’t convince yourself you are not about to keel over dead that very second.

Then the pacing starts, the nervous restless leg type movements. I remember one night walking back and forth from the living room to the kitchen over and over and over again. You ARE going to die, of course. It’s just a matter of minutes. Your brain is going to explode from an aneurism or your heart that’s beating so fast right now is just going to stop or you’re going to suffocate. Take a deep breath. Take two. Try three. Pace, pace, pace.  Where minutes ago you were freezing and unable to breath, now you’re sweating and hyperventilating. Should I call 9-1-1? Should I wake someone else in the house?  And these are only the physical symptoms!

Absolute, terrifying dread and feeling like you aren’t even really there anymore. This has got to be a dream. It’s not real. I’m not having a mental breakdown. Am I? I think I am. I’m going to die. I have to get out of here, run, run, run. Escape.  These rooms are so small, I can’t breathe in here. Stop, just stop. Relax. Take a deep breath. Maybe if I went outside. Focus. Stop pacing. Try and make your hands stop shaking.  And so it goes on and on for what seems like hours when it’s really only been ten or fifteen minutes since you first felt that icy wash of fear.

Slowly, oh so agonizingly slowly, the deep breath you take actually feels deep enough. Your heart rate eases. Your head stops swimming. The panic is subsiding. Maybe you aren’t going to bite the big one tonight. You stop pacing and sweating and shuddering and rocking. The shower warms up again and you can relax. Yawn. Go back to bed. Sleep. Unfortunately, once you’ve been subjected to one of these lovely episodes, somewhere in your brain you always fear another one coming.

I’m happy to say I’ve been panic attack free for at least three years now, probably closer to five.  After the first one when I was clueless as to what was really going on, I was able to rein the whole thing in by using meditation techniques I’d learned years before. It didn’t make the onsets any easier or less sudden but it did help to make the episodes less intense and of a shorter duration. Deep breathing exercises and finding an inner focus did wonders.  Instead of an hour of panic, it would only last fifteen minutes. If I was already awake when it started, chances were good I could squash the whole thing before the cold water shower even made it past my waist. And, thankfully, the stress in my life is running a lot let violently and deeply. That, more than any of my coping mechanisms, is what I believe has removed the panic attacks into a distant, horrible memory instead of a constant waking fear of when the next one will strike.

My Favorite Techniques:

Rip It To Shreds: Keep some scraps of cheap, thin fabric nearby, like cotton hankies, an old pillow case or bed sheet cut down to 2 foot X 2 foot squares, handy. With scissors, snip like cuts into the edges to get the fabric ready and easy to tear. Paper works too and would do in a pinch, but for me was not as effective. The long, pulling sound of a fabric took my hands and arms away from their urge to shake while still letting my muscles flex and release like they wanted to. The difference being, YOU are in control of it, not your panic-stricken body.

5-7-8 Breathing:  This was/is my first step at getting back in control. Breath in (I know – at first it won’t feel like you can, but do the best you can in the moment) as deep as you can for a count of five. Hold the breath for the seven count. Exhale completely to the count of eight. This will help to slow your rapid heartbeat and get more oxygen to your panic-stricken brain.

Focus and Visualize:  Even if you’re pacing a rut in the floor, try and visualize not where you are but where you’d like most to be. Maybe it’s a place. Maybe it’s in the arms of someone you love. Whatever it is, go there in your mind. Picture it as detailed as you can and breathe, 5-7-8. 5-7-8.

I don’t know why I’ve chosen now to share this with the world. Maybe there is someone out there who needs to hear these words from me, someone whose life if stuffed to the gills with doubt, fears, hopelessness and self-hate. Maybe you are the sort of person that stresses more than average over the encroaching holidays. Whatever the reason remember, you will get through it! Don’t Panic! (LOL).  Don’t be ashamed to see a doctor. The symptoms of a panic attack are VERY much like a heart attack. Better to be safe than sorry.

Pass The Toilet Paper, Please.

They say the secret to living a happy life is surrounding yourself with the people and things that bring you joy. That’s not always as easy as it sounds and along the way you’re likely to lose a lot of people you once called ‘friend’.  We all know it only feels good when you are the one doing the dumping. Being the Dumper is so much more liberating than being the Dumpee.

As Dumper, I’ve known the reasons behind me decisions to rid someone or something from my life. If the Dump involved a person, I’ve tried to have the courtesy to explain to that person why. They may not have understood or agreed with my reasons but I have a clear conscience that I did my best to give them answers. As Dumpee I’ve not been so fortunate. There are a lot of unanswered questions in my mind about the reasons things went the way they did in some of my relationships. Learning to live with those questions hasn’t always been easy and in at least one case, I am still very confused about the whys. 

Maybe those involved feel that knowing the truth would hurt a whole lot more than having so many questions hanging in the air. Maybe they are ashamed of their reasons for dumping me. Maybe they simply don’t care. That’s what hurts the most, that and having it all happen so quickly and out of the blue.  You’re best buds for years and years then suddenly BAM! they won’t even speak to you or answer an email. They are just gone. If there had been the tiniest of red flags that things were in jeopardy, maybe there could be some sort of understanding but there wasn’t. It simply ended.

I’ve done some scrying in my day, read a few Tarot cards and rune stones but I’ll be damned if I’m a mind reader and I’m trying very hard not to assume what other people think because chances are pretty high I’d be wrong.  Yeah, being the Dumpee really sucks.

On the other hand, I try to imagine their reasons and see it as them letting go of something that no longer brought them any joy. I hate to think I have brought someone such misery as they’d quit speaking to me but maybe I have.  I want my friends to be happy even if in a couple of cases I’m not convinced these people have a clue what that means.  

All this hasn’t prevented me from being happy. These past couple years have been some of the happiest ones of my life. If not being able to share that happiness with a person or two is the price I have to pay, then it’s worth it. I am surrounding myself with the people and things that bring me joy and I will continue to do so even if it means I am the Dumper or the Dumpee.  I can’t be part of everyone’s life no matter how much of a shared history we may have. I do miss those people and the idea of growing old with them in some capacity. But, life is too short to dwell on what was and has been lost. I sincerely hope that those that have dumped me are doing the same thing – following and finding their bliss.  

In the end, the best thing to do for yourselves is use that little extra bit of TP you have, give your hands a good hard scrubbing and leave the bathroom and the waste behind. If you really needed that poo in your life it wouldn’t have left you, would it?

The Secret To Life Is…

There’s a hash-tag thingy over on Twitter: #TheSecretToLifeIs I added my two cents to which I will tell you my contribution to at the end of this post.

My good friend Lily came over this past Saturday. I don’t get to see her and her husband Pete as much as I’d like. They are one of my most favorite couples. Of all the people I’ve known for more than twenty years, Lily is the one friend that I actually see the most. Maybe it’s because she doesn’t have Facebook. We can’t stay caught up on each other that way. It’s truly a blessing in disguise. We get REAL face time, sitting at the kitchen table noshing on homemade salsa & guacamole with chips and hot tea. It’s always ALWAYS a pleasure to spend time with her. Pity it only happens a few times a year.

We talk about a lot of things, Lily and I – pets, politics, religion, hobbies, work, family and etc. The topic of belief came up this time around. We share a very common belief system, it seems. That’s cool. I don’t find a lot of people that seem to get “God” along the same lines as I do. I’ve truly run the gammut when it comes to religion. I’ve been a Born Again Christian & a Satanist. I’ve been a Pagan & Agnostic. Today I classify myself as Gnostic which would take reams to explain so I will  merely suggest you take a gander over on that link to save me a whole lot of typing time & space.

When I was Christian – boy howdy was I ever Christian – I spent a lot of time wearing crosses and praying in churches and reading the Bible and singing worship songs. When I think back on those times I find it really hard to remember actually BELIEVING in what I was doing. I suppose I must have but somewhere in there I never had that JOY I’d heard so much about. I think deep inside though I simply felt those things: the crosses, the prayer, the Scripture – were just that… things. Maybe I was too young & inexperienced in life to grasp it all.

Let’s make it clear that the Satanic portion of my spiritual journey was very short lived. It was damn scary. You really don’t want t go there kids. ‘Nuff said.

I entered my Pagan path after that. I’d always been fascinated by witches and the like. I did my High School term paper on the different theories behind what had happened at Salem. I’m even a descendant of Rebecca Nurse. She’s like my 7th great grand aunt or some such thing. Yeah, the blood is thin but hey, it’s still fun to be related! I looked into Wicca and other variations of Paganism. None of them truly fit me so I ended up making my own version. It felt right at the time – sorta. But as with the Christian thing and the Satanic thing – this square peg never fit into that round hole. I couldn’t believe in the “power of crystals’ or any of that other stuff. To me the crystal was just a crystal. It didn’t contain any of its own powers but MAYBE it could be used as a focal point for a person’s own energies – much like the Crucifix I used to wear. Like in so many vampire movies, ya know? You have to BELIEVE in the cross for it to work against the Prince of Darkness.

I resigned myself to being a hermit as far as religion was concerned. Little did I know that even that was leading me somewhere else. I may not be seeing it by its technical origins but the word “Hermit” makes me think of “Hermetic” and/or “Hermes.” A few years ago a friend of mine asked if I’d heard of Hermes Trismegistus. I had to admit ignorance. He’d not really say a whole lot about it just told me to few books I might find interesting to look at. Being the research junkie I am and a big fan of the cross referencing of world theologies, I dove right in. And my keen interest in Gnosticism was born.

In as small a nutshell as I can explain we must go back to the beginning of my post and the Secret of Life. Remember the movie ‘Dumbo’ where he had that little feather held so tightly in his trunk? He believed that only while he held that feather, he’d be able to fly. Turned out that wasn’t the case. You don’t need the Feather. You don’t need that Cross, candle or statue. You don’t need that crystal or pentacle. They are just things of the material world. All you need to find and be with God is right there inside you. That is what Gnosticism has taught me.

And so… The Secret To Life Is You Don’t Need That Feather To Fly.

Head Space For Rent

Been wracking my brain all day about what to put into this weeks Blargh. As I was skimming through Facebook I saw a post by Danielle Colby (from American Pickers) and one of the bits of wisdom she had to offer struck me as noteworthy.

She wrote:  “Be careful who you decide to rent space in your head to, that’s prime real estate! Important beautiful things could be dwelling in that space where you are allowing darkness and hate to squat.”

In the past few years I have kicked out a few of my head space rentals as in people I thought were my friends, people I thought cared about me as much as I did them, people I deeply and truly trusted with a part of my Self. Finding out how little I meant to them after so many years has left a very deep and lasting scar on my soul. When I love, I don’t love half way. I don’t make half promises. I don’t lie about my feelings. Foolish, I suppose, for me to believe everyone else does the same thing for clearly they don’t.

Sadly, this has made me very gun shy about making new friends and getting involved in new relationships of any kind – be those romantic or platonic. I have accepted that in all the previous cases of relationships gone bad, I will never understand why these people did and do what they do. I am still working on letting that all go, still working on getting the ghosts of these things out of that rental space in my head and filling those rooms with new and positive people, experiences, ideas and dreams. There are moments when I have sudden and overwhelming feelings of insecurity about myself and my worth to others. When you have been used and abused (on both a mental and sexual level) it makes you look at everyone and everything in a way that someone who has not survived that situation will never understand.

Logically, I know I am worthy and lovable and a good person. I know I probably tolerate the inconsiderate behavior of others more than I should simply because I don’t want to be rejected. Feeling unwanted and unappreciated still take up way too big of an apartment in my head. The tiniest gestures of kindness and love go a long way with me, maybe they go too far. I don’t know. Maybe my wants and needs are too simple.

Back to those I have kicked out – more or less – a couple of them might still have a bit of closet head space rented – in all cases it was a complete, out of the blue shock! Years and years of lies. Years and years of being told one thing while the opposite was true. Even gifts were all only given to benefit them, not because they cared in any way. The thought behind the gift was more along the lines of “What will I get in return’ instead of ‘I hope she really likes this because I care about her and want her to enjoy it’. They say that it’s the thought that counts when gift-giving. Guess I got a whole lot of nothing from these people. Of course, this all only leads to making my self-doubt seed deeper. Why didn’t I see any of this? Am I really that blind? You’d think that in the nearly 10 years I was with my last ‘beau’ that fact that he told me twice, MAYBE three times that I looked nice would have been some sort of clue!

It’s hard work keeping those ghost of the past out of my head. I’ve been writing a lot more which is a great help. I’ve been in what I still call a new relationship even though we’ve been together almost a year and a half now. So far he’s not shown any signs of being just one more ‘abuser’ in the long line that has preceded him. Do I look for those signs? I’d be a liar if I said no. Of course I do. I can’t help it. I’ve been programmed to not trust as easy as I used to. He is making it easier though day by day and night by night.

But, as Danielle so wisely reminded me today, if I continue to let darkness and hate, bitterness and doubt dwell in that prime real estate in my head, I am preventing important beautiful things from dwelling there instead. I have already witnessed how getting rid of the negative makes room for the positive. Each time I have taken an important step in letting go of some one or some thing that makes me sad or makes me just feel bad or uncomfortable, something new and wonderful has stepped in to take its place. That is what I need to continue to remind myself. Remember what good came of something instead of all the bad that came before it. But then, without the bad, I could never really appreciate all the good that I have now – like the man who so easily stepped into my heart the last time I refused to be taken advantage of.

Spring is in Full Bloom. Warm winds are blowing through the house, taking away the cobwebs and stagnation of rooms left closed for too long. The doors are left wide open to let the fresh air in, the scent of flowers and rain. That’s what I want. Even the closet doors need to be opened, everything hauled out, sorted and without a doubt, at least half of what’s in there can be gotten rid of. It’s time to perform a couple of exorcisms because those former friends have made it clear they don’t want any part of who I am so why the hell should I hold onto any part of them anymore? If anyone is unworthy it’s them, not me.

Squatters, be gone!

Gelotophobia – Fear of being laughed at or ridiculed.

He’s bigger than you! He’s meaner than you! He’s about to take your lunch money! For the past couple weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about bullies. If only they were limited to the sort of person noted above. If only they were only in high school. If only we could all put our finger on exactly what a bully is.

Sadly, they come in all shapes and sizes and aren’t limited to the male of our species. From my experience the female variety are even worse! Male bullies usually just want to beat the snot out of you and take your valuables. Females don’t have to lay a hand on you to do damage. The females I’ve encountered, directly or indirectly, tend to go for the sneak attack. They scheme a lot more and the damage a female bully does leans more towards the mental/psychological than the physical. They may not be strong enough to kick sand in your face but they’ll still leave you feeling battered, bruised and helpless. I’ll never really understand why bullies do what they do. It makes them feel special and in-control and all that, but I can feel special and in control without stamping all over the feelings of another person. I’m sure there’s a galaxy of articles, books, speeches, classes, studies et al out there about these people. I’m not here to rehash any of those.

I’d like to say I completely lucked out in life and was never bullied by anyone but I can’t. In fact, a few years ago I was able to escape such a relationship. Sometimes finding out your partner is cheating on you is a good thing. It was the little push I need to get rid of his arse once and for all. I know my abuse wasn’t as bad as what some of my friends have had to endure. I like to tell the story of a friend of mine from high school and how I stopped him from getting pounded without lifting a finger.

We must have been sophomores. My friend, let’s call him Fred, through no fault of his own beyond being very smart, polite and sticking to his religious convictions of turning the other cheek, found himself cornered on a stairway during lunch. Unfortunately the school bully, we’ll call him Abner, shared the same lunch period. There was the usual ruckus through the masses, the whispering grapevine, through which I got wind of what was going on. With a hard, hot knot in my stomach, I pulled myself away from whatever book of witchery I may have been reading at the time and went to see what was going on. It wasn’t out of morbid curiosity. This was MY FRIEND and well, there wasn’t much to me back then but I’d be damned if I was going to let Fred get pounded. I’d beat the crap out of Abner myself if I had to. I’m not a violent person by nature, mind you, so punching Abner in the face would certainly be a last resort – though I can’t say I’d have minded doing it.

Upon my arrival to the scene, Abner was standing over Fred who was sitting on the steps. Abner was going through his Bully Posturing and Tough Talk. Abner was demanding Fred take the first swing, don’t be a chicken, you sissy, the usual shpeel. Fred wouldn’t do it cuz we all know, the one who throws the first punch is the one who started it, right? I knew Fred would never take the first swing and slowly nudged my way through the gathering peanut gallery until I was sure both Fred and Abner could see me. I casually crossed my arms and leaned against the nearby pillar and watched Abner. Maybe watch isn’t quite the right word.. more like, ‘evil-eyed’ the bad boy. If looks could kill, sorta thing. It was an unblinking, cold stare. After a few minutes Abner looked towards the crowd and saw me. I gave him an equally icy smile and shook my head ever so slightly back and forth.

Abner stood motionless and silent for a moment then looked at Fred and said, “She’s one of your friends, isn’t she?” Fred saw me and nodded. Abner looked at me again. I hadn’t moved an inch and my anger was increasing. It must have showed because Fred backed down. “She’s a witch or something. She knows stuff,” he said. Just about this time the school VP showed up and carted the two of them away. Not sure what the final outcome was back at The Office, but I’d like to think I played a role in preventing Fred from being hurt that day or any days that followed. I went back to my table and my book and finished my lunch now officially dubbed a witch. It was a title I’d carry with me for many years with a certain level of pride. Maybe that’s why I was never bullied too much.

But, as stated prior, bullies don’t just go away when you leave high school. I’ve come to think that the worse sort of bullies maybe aren’t though of as bullies at all, and maybe they don’t do what they do with any intention of harm, but what they say still hurts and makes the victim feel less of a person.

A lot of people suffer from phobias. Some are mild and easily overcome. Some are so bad the sufferer can’t leave their own home. I have a few phobias. I also have some deep-seeded insecurities that I am working to overcome. Facing ones fears to overcome a phobia is one thing but to have that fear pushed upon you is or to have that fear or insecurity totally ignored and mocked is completely different. If you’re a real friend to someone who is afraid of heights you AREN’T helping by taking them up in a twenty-story glass elevator. You don’t toss a snake or spider on someone who is deathly afraid of them. And you really shouldn’t mock anyone who has an insecurity about how they look or feel. That’s being a bully just as much as Abner was to Fred. The phobic feels bad enough as it is. You are making them feel worse, like they’re feelings don’t matter to you at all and like there is something more wrong with them than they already believe there to be. That doesn’t sound like a friend to me at all. It’s okay to be light-hearted to try and  make them feel better but don’t tell them what they are feeling is nothing or silly or stupid. It isn’t NOTHING! It’s very real. It’s very painful. An off-handed remark that what they are feeling doesn’t matter strikes just as hard as a punch to the jaw or a slap across the face. It makes you a bully.

I’m not talking about being overly Politically Correct either. In my mind, that’s a whole different ballgame.

Being kind to each other is so much easier than being cruel and it’s so much more rewarding. Words can hurt just as much a those sticks, stones and fists. Think before you speak and treat others as you would expect to be treated. Being respectful, even to total strangers, goes a long way.

A Wordless Weekend.

A few months ago a co-worker asked me to look over his manuscript. I foolishly told him I would. I knew he was writing what he said was a novel last fall. Four months later he announced it was done! Whoa, Nelly! That was fast. Turns out this ‘novel’ is really a short story. So, as I’d said I would, I started to look over what he’d done. It’s a good concept and I went through the first two chapters jotting down suggestions and the like and gave those two chapter to him to look over. It was then that he told me that only had he NOT yet even read over what he’d given me and that it was a first draft BUT! that he, personally doesn’t read fiction. Stephen King has a great quote out there that is something like “If you don’t have the time to read you don’t have the time (or tools) to write.”  The admission that my co-worker doesn’t read fiction explained everything about the faults in his manuscript. I would like to finish the task as I told him I would but I’m not sure if it’s worth the time or effort.  It would be like someone deciding they are going to start a band if they have never even listened to the sort of music they want to play.

Another friend of mine had an art show opening this past Friday. We stopped in for a few minutes. I’d seen her work before and knew she was good so there were no surprises there. Unfortunately, the space was a big tight and I started to feel claustrophobic way too soon. Besides, I’m no good at mingling and making small talk about art. Its one of those subjective things. One man’s fine art is another man’s baby spit up on canvas. Still, I wanted to show her my support and made the effort to visit, albeit, briefly. We went off to explore some of the other art shows and music stuff going on after.

I’ve bought the books and artwork and etc of other creative friends to show them my support for their efforts. Even if I didn’t later care for the music or book after I had a listen or read more deeply.

I do have some talented writer friends, one is my cousin. We’ve had a lot of fun exchanging short story ideas and acting as readers and proofreaders for each others stuff. I encourage her every chance I get. Sadly, I don’t see her too much anymore since she moved. I have no idea if she’s bought my book.

I’ve been trying hard to write as often as possible but this weekend I didn’t even care. I planted herbs seeds and did yard work instead. It needed to be done, that is true, but I know I should have written something! I should have at least opened the file and re-read what I’d written earlier in the week for a quick proofread. It feels like my Muse has recently crawled into a deep, dark hole and doesn’t want to emerge all of a sudden. I’m pretty sure the recent life changes have something to do with that. Even when you have very positive life changes, it requires some adjusting.  When I’m stressed, my Muse shuts down just when I need her most to distract me and keep me from worrying about every little thing. It’s also been a very slow week over on my Facebook page. I’m not feeling ‘the Love’ as it were, like I was plus as I near completion of the next novel, the stress of searching for a publisher is weighing very heavily on my mind and soul. I try to be positive about it. I try to believe in myself and what I want to be when I grow up. It’s not always easy but I hope I don’t have too many more of these wordless weekends. It’s not good for me.

Do-do-do Looking Out My Back Door

Sat outside on my porch for a few minutes this afternoon. It was the first time I’ve done so this year what with the freakin’ white shite and cold refusing to go away. Watched the honey bees bopping around the purple and white crocuses for a spell. Decided to make my first jaunt around the yard to see what sort of clean-up was in order. Looks like A Whole Lotta Rakin’ will be going on.

Around back is the herb garden. Chives are coming up as are the Egyptian Onions. I’m sure the Chocolate Mint will make a roarin’ come back as well. The rest, the rosemary, cilantro, camomile and basil remain a mystery. I think I’ll be adding some parsley this time around. No sage or thyme though. There will be a lovely little beer pool set up for the slugs, too. They do so love their cheap beer and I am happy to oblige them that indulgence.

Over in the rock garden there was a lot of odd damage. A couple of statues were toppled over and a Shiny Thing was in an odd place. Not sure who to blame on those. Deer maybe. Not sure what the deer would want with a plastic blue beaded necklace though. That part of the yard seems to attract the deer. Maybe it’s because of the sheltering pine that hangs over the whole thing. T’is a fine place in the summer. The tree combined with the forsythia bush offer the only decent bit of outdoor privacy and shade in my yard,

The rest of the yard mainly needs only to have a few small, fallen tree limbs hauled to the campfire pile. Maybe we’ll actually have a campfire this year. Didn’t last year and I really missed doing that. My clothesline needs re-stringing, too, especially now that my 20+ year old dryer bit the big one last month.

I hope this doesn’t sound like a lot of whining. It’s just the opposite. I’m tired of being inside day in and day out. I don’t consider myself an outdoorsy type, but damn… I’m sure getting tired of exchanging one set of four walls for another.  My front, kitchen and back doors are begging to be left open. My bedroom window yearns to be raised. I want fresh air!!! FRESH AIR!!!!!!!

The sun is setting now. The warm sun that graced my front stoop has yielded to another chilly night buried under a heap of blankets and cuddled up next to my honey in search of warmth. Which, come to think of it, really isn’t such a bad place to be. 🙂

Written In My Tears

Every now and then I go in search of clever quotes by other writers. Usually I am looking for a simple sentence or two to express what I’m feeling on the subject on that particular day. Sometimes something silly attracts me. Sometimes it’s more serious. Today was such a day but instead of finding something simple I found a rather lengthy passage that brought me, well, let’s be honest here – to tears.

I’ve only come across this sort of thing two or three times in the past, a passage or experience that speaks to me on such a spiritual level that it’s like I could have written it or said it myself. Maybe it’s the knowing that I am not alone feeling as deeply as I do about writing. Someone recently asked me for some advice on writing and how I continue even in down times. What drives me to go on despite the struggles of a blank page? I told her that I simply cannot NOT write. It’s as much a part of me as breathing. If I stopped breathing, I would die. When there comes a day when I can no longer write, I may as well be dead.

And so, without further adieu, I present you with this quote by Rainer Marie Rilke:

“Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.

This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. Then come close to Nature. Then, as if no one had ever tried before, try to say what you see and feel and love and lose…

…Describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty – describe all these with heartfelt, silent, humble sincerity and, when you express yourself, use the Things around you, the images from your dreams, and the objects that you remember. If your everyday life seems poor, don’t blame it; blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not enough of a poet to call forth its riches; because for the creator there is not poverty and no poor, indifferent place. And even if you found yourself in some prison, whose walls let in none of the world’s sounds – wouldn’t you still have your childhood, that jewel beyond all price, that treasure house of memories? Turn your attentions to it. Try to raise up the sunken feelings of this enormous past; your personality will grow stronger, your solitude will expand and become a place where you can live in the twilight, where the noise of other people passes by, far in the distance. – And if out of this turning-within, out of this immersion in your own world, poems come, then you will not think of asking anyone whether they are good or not. Nor will you try to interest magazines in these works: for you will see them as your dear natural possession, a piece of your life, a voice from it. A work of art is good if it has arisen out of necessity. That is the only way one can judge it.”

Write on, my friends! Write on.