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April 2017

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Help and Hope

I almost titled this piece, "Helpless and Hopeless," but then I thought:

1) Yeesh, what a turn-off.
2) People might rush over to my house to perform an intervention.
3) Sounds like the headline of the worst personal ad ever!

I wouldn't say I'm helpless and hopeless today, although I've had a fair amount of bad news to digest recently (not involving writing--except in the sense that one piece of the bad news involves a fellow writer who is also a friend, and I'll say more about the wonderful L.K. Madigan when I can be more articulate). What I want to talk about in this post is what you do when you're feeling helpless and hopeless--in any area of your life?

Writers reach this point in a professional sense quite often. Writing has a long apprenticeship and a high rejection rate, and it's easy to feel that we're getting nowhere with it. And then there is the rest of life, with its myriad disappointments and nasty tricks, its accidents and illnesses and upheavals.

Yet Pandora's box of evils had the shining jewel of hope lying at the bottom. Somehow we face the day before us, and the next day. Somehow we find the silver lining or the half-full glass or the blessing among the curses.

For me, having a network of understanding friends and family is key. Also, writing itself helps me identify my feelings, work through them, release them. Walks help, too. And, although I don't discuss it directly or overtly on this blog, my spiritual life is also a source of strength.

What (or whom) do you lean on, when you need to lean?


The same. Plus a warm soak in the tub. And a pep talk with The Persian.
Ah, the Comfort Resources!
Hope is the key. I had a lousy year that included lots of rejection and then the cherry on top, miscarrying for the second time eight days before Christmas. But knowing there is a chance for things to work out better keeps me going. That and my family- I'm convinced I have the greatest one ever!
So sorry to hear that--and yes, it helps to know there is always the possibility of good things ahead.
write what I feel helps a lot. My kids and husband with their love can heal my heart or give me strength. Friends are also key in my life.
Yes, friends and family help. And turning back to my Arestin stories, they've been around in my head long enough that they are my joy whether or not they're published. And spiritual life as well. I've actually found myself actively seeking a spiritual life for the first time ever since getting published, actually...before it was just kind of there in background, things my mom always said, etc.
"they are my joy whether or not they're published"

I have a few like that, as well!
For me the answer is usually to DO something. It doesn't have to be related to the thing that's giving me trouble. It just has to be an action, that doesn't involve the internet. Walking/baking/changing the scenery/putting gas in the car/bringing clothes to good will/digging/planting/watering. Especially digging/planting/watering.
I often find that a walk lifts my spirits.
Hmmm...I'm never the leaner on; I'm always the leaned upon.

Hugs back ... and hope you have a "net" there whether you need to use it or not! :)
Music has helped me many a time!
A long time ago I did a spiral into a minor nervous breakdown. Everything was overwhelming and I sat around and basically did nothing for the better part of a year. Family was supportive and they gave me the space to work through it, which I did mostly with a combination of prayer and writing. I leaned on God because I wasn't able to confide in anyone at that time. I wrote some wild poetry and poured my heart into my journal.

In retrospect I can see that the life situations that overwhelmed me then didn't really change, but my attitude and ability to cope with them slowly did.

I learned not to let myself get pulled that far down again before doing something about it. Now my husband is also another invaluable resource to add to my arsenal when it comes to coping with difficult times.

Whatever is burdening you, I hope you are soon uplifted and encouraged.
Thank you, and I'm glad you found your way out of that spiral. So often we don't want to admit when things are going badly, but it can be a relief to say so, and ask for help.
I'm lucky that I'm usually the one who's leaned on, rather than leaning myself, but when the situation requires it, Senior Management's usually there, and for the time when she's not, I find a quiet word with Him Upstairs sees me through the moment.
PS: {{{{hugs}}}}

Thank you, Jon! :)
I've kind of had my share of bad news recently, too (not related to writing), too. Writing -- taking the time to do something I enjoy; taking pleasure in what is created -- is a good outlet. I also take long walks with the dogs, or bake (there is something about the smell of cake wafting through the house that seems to lift everyone's spirits).
There's something comforting about taking our time and doing things like baking--a relief from the pressure, space to digest what's going on.
Before I got ME/CFS, long walks were the best possible solution. Now - making perfect hot chocolates and taking the time to really enjoy my family.
It's wonderful how many people are able to turn to their families!
My boyfriend is the best listener and comedian. He will get me laughing and then things don't seem bad. I also believe that our souls are a reflection of the divine. By just believing this, I feel that within me is a source of patience and perseverance. God wouldn't give up, so why should I? I also believe that things happen for a reason. So if I do reach the epitome of hopelessness, I take a step back and remind myself that there is a reason for this low point. And when I reach a high point, that it will mean so much more after experiencing the low.
Sorry this comment got so long. Have a great weekend and I hope things start looking up for you.
Oh, yes, humor! I have found that helps greatly--in the past and recently.

I don't mind long comments at all. In fact, it's nice to have people contribute!
Pandora's box of evils had the shining jewel of hope lying at the bottom

Yes to this!

I rely on my family and friends for solace--I don't always want advice, so much as a concerned listener. And I find peace in meditation, or working in my garden. But I also find that if I can tap into something greater than myself, my own problems seem to dissolve more quickly. For instance, our mutual friend's devastating news shook my foundations, too, but our album project is helping restore my sense of balance. I hope it'll also bring her some measure of joy.
"I don't always want advice, so much as a concerned listener."

I've found that to be true so many times. When I'm in the listener role, sometimes the problem I'm listening to is so big, I think, "How am I going to solve this or help this person solve this?" Then I realize I am not Wonder Woman and don't have to solve things all myself. Usually the best thing I can do is listen.
Strange to see this post, Jenn, because I think I have been feeling a little lost these days. I know Lisa's news hit me hard...I'm reading Feathers by Jaqueline Woodson, which seems to be a book that asks that question, How do you have hope?

I'm also reading Bird by Bird. I think for me, reading always helps me focus my energies, know my mind, and help me turn in the right direction.
Bird by Bird is a fantastic book for helping writers navigate the craziness of writing and publishing! And many of its suggestions can apply to the larger world, as well.
My friends and family (probably obvious) -- but I also try to remind myself that each moment has its own blessings and/or challenges, and I try to take one at a time...otherwise, especially when circumstances are tough, it can be way too much to process and handle.
This is one of the hardest things for me. I'm a planner and a goal-oriented person, and I have to work very hard to stay in the moment. But you're right, it does help when I can do that!
When I learned Lisa's news on Wednesday, I felt so overwhelmed I forced myself to get outside and walk in the sunshine. I cried and walked and cried some more, and by the time I got home I felt better. Still incredibly sad but not quite so overwhelmed. Movement is key for me.

Today I felt pretty bad about my new project but I kept going back to it. I broke down a barrier and made some headway, and no longer feel quite so hopeless and helpless.

Wishing you a good weekend, Jenn. Take care of yourself.
Thanks, and you, too!

I'm sad to say Lisa is not the only person I know right now who is suffering from serious health challenges. But the others are not active on the internet, so I'm not discussing their details online.

Sometimes all we can do is be there for one another!

In No Particulat Order:

Best Friend
Mike Doughty's "Haughty Melodic"
Fictional Characters on whom I have Major Crushes
My favorite State and National Parks
Tea in actual china cups
A sacred memory of a moment when I truly understood to the depth of my being that I have a place in this world.

Re: In No Particulat Order:

That is a tremendous list. :-) It has many elements in common with my own "hope list!"
Friends and family, of course. Writer friends if it's related to writing. Cats (they crack me up and they are soothing). A walk. A good book. Getting out of the country, sometimes...

When I hit my absolute low, and I'm talking in terms of writing, a few months ago, it was sort of a do or die moment. Writing was the thing I seemed to be most successful at recently, the thing I'd been trying to succeed at for years and years, and I had to ask myself, if I can't do this, what can I do? I honestly couldn't come up with a better option. So I surrendered, and I did it. I didn't lean so much as let myself fall.

I'm not sure what that means, but that's what it felt like.
Thanks for reminding me of the surrender concept! That knowledge that we don't control the universe, much as we'd like to.
Simplistic as it sounds, the first thing I always do when I'm having a hard time is turn to my husband for a hug. He gives hugs like no-one else, and I count my blessings that he is there to support me.

I hope you and L.K. Madigan find the strength and support you need.
Glad you have such a huggable hubby!

Thanks for your good wishes.
Family and friends and, I have learned, the daily humdrum routine. As you say, walks help, too. But for me, most of all, I've learned that going through the motions helps tremendously. At one point, when I was dealing with devastating personal news, I had a meeting scheduled to help a friend with a project. This isn't a friend I share emotional stuff with, so I focused on the project and kept everything else wrapped, and realized that I felt better for having accomplished the project goals for the session. It was like, a hugely important piece of my life has shattered, but here I've accomplished something. Life will go on. It will change, but it will go on. So now I tend to continue with things like that during times of upheaval.

*hugs* from me, too.

Edited at 2011-01-16 04:33 pm (UTC)
Sometimes this does help--having a relief from the problems of the moment. Other times I just need time and space to process what's going on. So here's hoping we're all able to find what we need when we need it. :-)
My husband and best friends, for sure. But I also find solace in reading books that transport me elsewhere for awhile, and watching the cat sleep (he's so zen! unless he's hungry, of course), and yoga (spiritual + physical).
Zen cats! :-)