Ed note: Things are good and there’s an update on Jila and other stuff here: “Thanks for the Vertigo, 2018.”
Once again I have been enjoying some forward momentum with my author/coach business, only to hit a wall with very serious health issues with my daughter, who turns 12 today. I just moved into an amazing office space, have three new editions of my books now on bookstore shelves within the last two months (!), and had planned to have a great bash to celebrate it all — but we just received some very difficult news about my daughter’s hepatitis-associated aplastic anemia rearing its ugly head again.
It feels uncannily like it did in 2012 when I was also just ramping back into my author/coach work after the baby/toddler years with my two wonderful children. Just a few months into a new blogging routine and planning my coaching business, my daughter came down with mysterious hepatitis that turned into aplastic anemia. Screech…halt…angst…hospitals…treatments…hell, really.
It took until 2014 for things to normalize, and in that time I stumbled into starting a publication, Pyragraph, which was 100% a response to me being unable to blog as I had planned to, so I roped in other bloggers and realized it had potential as an online magazine. We launched it in the 6 months or so during which the doctors sounded confident that my daughter would recover and things wouldn’t be so serious.
Literally a month after we launched, in April of 2013 her condition took a dire turn and we found ourselves on the cusp of needing a bone marrow transplant for her, but no match. Thankfully she eventually responded to a different treatment, but it was a very, very long road to recovery. Somehow we continued to run Pyragraph which was an awesome experience and gave my brain something else to chew on instead of endless anguish and anxiety for my daughter.
By 2017 she was finally weaned off medication and we thought the chapter might be behind us. That same year, I decided to stop putting money into Pyragraph because we were having nearly no success at monetizing it, despite the publication being seriously wonderful. Since May 2017 I’ve been retooling, looking for office space, redoing my website, planning (again) a new chapter of my author/coaching work, and most of all, prioritizing my family and personal life which I had learned in the last few years not to take for granted.
Through all of this, I have done very little writing. I find it hard to write in the *middle* of things, while things are in flux. I find it hard to write when I feel like I’m in the middle of a hurricane and can’t tell up from down. I find it hard to write when I feel like a broken record dealing with anxiety, and feeling like I’m constantly offering excuses for why I’m not writing more or doing more.
But if I’m going to ever break through this impasse of trying to actually re-invigorate my author/coach life, I quite simply have to start from where I’m at, and where I’m at right now is once again staring a life-altering diagnosis in the face and trying to deal with the overwhelm. There’s no fucking way around it.
So as I learn more from the doctors this week, I’m also going to make an effort to write more along the way. I’m not going to worry too much about whether what I’m sharing is neatly packaged or too heavy/dark or in the pocket of what I would normally envision my author/coach content to be. What I feel strongly now is that I can’t go through another round of family medical crisis without opening my flow of writing in some way, and if it’s raw and not that business-y, well so be it. It’s all I got right now.
I’m incredibly glad I got therapy in 2016 to deal with residual anxiety from the first round of medical crisis. It gave me sanity-saving tools like recognizing catastrophic thinking patterns; recognizing my tendency to not actually “feel” my feelings but to intellectualize them; realizing that being able to sit with even the worst feelings like fear, sadness, guilt, etc. is key to letting those feelings flow through and not get stuck. I’m using all these tools in earnest since getting the news last week that my daughter’s health is going south again.
My preferred mode right now is acceptance, love and presence. I’m actually doing OK. The news we got last week is literally the very very worst thing I have feared since 2013, and I did not fall apart. I am letting myself feel the awfulness and it is flowing through. I am able to be with my daughter and my family and my friends and not feel like a shell, or like stone. This feels like an accomplishment.
I’m almost done with my first online course, Self-Employment 101, which I had wanted to get done last year but it’s finally almost in the can. I really wish I had finished it before getting the bad health news, but I think I can summon the strength to record the last module and get it up. I’ll post here when that’s done, hopefully within the next two weeks. Thanks so much to Austin Madrid, Kendra Crooks, Aryon Hopkins and as always, Turtle for helping me with the production and website end of things.
And thanks to my family and all my amazing friends, especially Debbie Weissman, for all their love and support in the last few days. Zara Pakroo I can’t wait to see you and everyone in MKE.
Happy birthday Jila Kat!!!
Acceptance, love, presence. Repeat. ❤?