Reasons why I write

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Every once in a while, I freak out.  Why in the world am I putting all this personal stuff about my life online?

I woke up this morning feeling like I needed to update my blogging “Mission Statement.”  I wasn’t sure if I was going to share it or not, but now I feel like it belongs here.  So, here are the reasons why I write:

To share what I’ve learned.

To prepare for my future career and crystallize my thoughts.

I’ve had to learn so much and go pretty in-depth on certain topics just to heal myself.  Now, I think it’s pretty clear what my future specialties will be as a PT, and I want to make sure I remember exactly where I’m coming from and what motivates me.

I don’t believe the traditional (insurance-based) physical therapy model is the best.

Honestly, in an ideal world, I wouldn’t have had to learn all this stuff.  Sure, I’m interested in it, but I also had to learn to take things into my own hands.

Even the times I found someone to really help me, it was never quite enough.  They were always under pressure from insurance companies, or company they worked for, to get results and demonstrate that I was progressing by certain markable bench lines each week.

In real life things are not always that clear, especially when you are dealing with a chronic condition.  People have setbacks– it doesn’t necessarily mean that their treatment isn’t helping.  It’s just the way things go.  External factors occur in our lives; our individual health fluctuates.

I recognize there are gaps in our current system, and I see how those gaps have failed me.  

I am putting this information out there so other people don’t have to spend the same amount of time looking for it that I did.

There is no good reason why things took me this long.  Honestly.  It took me years –and appointments with more medical professionals than I care to recall right now– to find the answers I needed, both for chronic pain and my SI joints.

There was no real reason, other than the first few doctors/PT’s I saw didn’t know what they didn’t know, so to speak.  So they left me with the impression nothing more could be done, when that was far from the case.

So now, I put my answers out there, for anyone who is desperately Googling the same things I used to.  

I don’t want it to take you that long.  It’s the best way for me to fight against that sense of pointlessness; to think that at least, maybe my experience can spare someone else what I went through.

I want to turn my experiences into something good.  

For a while, I tried to block out the enormity of my experience, and not acknowledge the big picture of how much things sucked at times.  It was the only way I could get through it at the time; to tell myself things weren’t that bad, to block some of it out.  To ignore how much I was missing out on.

But now that I’m a little bit older and wiser, my outlook has changed.  I try to accept what’s happened, and even try to find the good in it; the lessons learned.

There is good in it.

Luckily, through all of this, I discovered I truly do love learning about the human body.  I had never really thought of myself as much of a science person when I was younger.  In school, I gravitated towards the humanities and social sciences because I felt so passionately about social issues (and I still do).  And when you’re that age, I think you sometimes feel pressure to put yourself into a certain category.  I was a “humanities” person– I didn’t know I could also be a science person.

Educating myself– and others– on the science of the human body allows me to see how far I’ve come.

I haven’t written much about this yet, but when I was younger I put my body through the ringer.  I had an eating disorder and I exercised way too much.  Refusing to listen to my body caused me to develop the injuries that set off this spiral of chronic pain.  So it’s fulfilling for me now– almost meditative– to learn about the body from a scientific perspective, and to help other people find their way to a healthier life.

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So I write:

To gather and clarify my thoughts;

To record the useful information I’ve already learned;

To share things that you might find helpful, some of which took me years to find;

and to let others know that, despite all of what I’ve been through, it’s actually possible to come out on the other side.

I hope what I write is helpful for you.

A way of giving back (free photos!)

Some of the stuff I’ve been writing about on my blog has felt a little bit heavy recently, so I thought I’d just take a moment and share something I’ve been meaning to for a while:

When I first started blogging back in 2012, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, or if anyone would want to read anything I wrote.

One of the things that really helped me was to search through Flickr and find Creative Commons-licensed photos to use.  (If you aren’t familiar with Creative Commons, it is a way for people to make their artistic work available for others to use under certain permissions).

Somehow, when I was writing my first fledgling posts, it would give me a little dose of courage to find that someone had just happened to make the perfect photo available to go with what I was trying to say.

These days, I take more of my own photos.  I find that nature, especially, inspires me to write so I’ve gotten in the habit of snapping shots of wherever I am that makes me want to write.  But there are definitely still times where I don’t personally have any photos that would be useful for a specific post, so I still sometimes go on Flickr to find the perfect image.

So, as a way of paying it forward, I’ve put many of my own photos up on Flickr under a Creative Commons license as well.

I definitely can’t claim to be the world’s most amazing photographer, but I do have a lot of photos that I put thought into, and that mean something to me.

So, if you see anything on there that is helpful for you, or might go well with something you are working on, you are welcome to use it (as long as it’s one of the ones I’ve posted with permission!  There are a select few that are too personal, like of friends’ pets and such.  So please check).

I hope some of these photos might be useful to you (or, at the very least, I’ve now given you a new idea about how to look for photos on Flickr!).

Happy blogging!

 

 

 

Reading List: Vulnerability

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This is the question that has consumed me recently: how do people take their most precious and guarded memories, and spin them into stories, unfurling them to the world?

It seems so easy when other people do it– when you read a famous, heart-wrenching novel for class, and analyze its themes. “I could do that,” you say. “Someday maybe I will.”

But it’s so different when you begin to try– shockingly different. In real life, I haven’t begun– I’ve only hinted at my most personal stories. I’ve only begun to write them and tell them in my head.

In the morning I wake up too early, in a panic, short of breath. “What have I done?” I gasp. Then I relax. I haven’t actually written anything yet; haven’t hit publish.

I have so much respect for those who have. I’ve always loved and looked up to writers, but now I do so with a respect that is so much more real now that I’ve begun to consider the task myself.

So here, my readers, are a few things I’ve read recently that have inspired me:

Rian Kerfoot, Truth and Cake:

Mary Gelpi, Fibromy-Awesome: Getting Clean Real talk from a girl with fibromyalgia who talks about how, somedays, bathing is just not on the agenda. I’ve been there.

Bianca Sparacino: “You Are Not for Everyone.”

Beauty Beyond Bones: I love her whole blog, but I’ve recently discovered her early posts, which send chills through me. I so want to tell my story like this. (I was never hospitalized for my eating disorder, but her words resonate on so many levels).

Sade Andria Zabala: I discovered her a few months ago when I was heart-broken, and her words ripped me apart more and then healed me at the same time.

All of these pieces of writing are breathtaking — check them out!

Amazing TED talk: Deep Sea Diving in a Wheelchair

I was so inspired by this TED talk that I had to share it with you all.

Sue Austin is a multimedia, performance and installation artist who lost the use of her legs due to an illness.

A new world opened up for Austin when she received her powered wheelchair, yet she was disheartened by the way other people looked at her. She says it was as if she had an “invisibility cloak” draped over her; that when people looked at her, they saw only their own preconceptions about what life in a wheelchair must be like.

To always be regarded with this combination of fear and pity was hard on Austin.

She explains,

“I realized I’d internalized these responses, and it had changed who I was on a core level. A part of me had become alienated from myself. I was seeing myself, not from my perspective, but vividly and continuously from the perspective of other people’s responses to me.

As a result, I knew I needed to make my own stories about this experience; new narratives to reclaim my identity.”

She began to explore the ways in which she could use art to challenge people’s ideas about life in a wheelchair. The results were absolutely stunning.

Check it out– you’ll see what I mean.

P.S. The format of the video turned out a little bit strange here (thanks a lot, WordPress). I recommend either expanding it to full-screen, or else watching the original in its intended format on the TED website.  Sorry about that!

You can also check out Sue Austin’s website at http://www.susanaustin.co.uk/

Still playing around with my blog format….

Feel free to jump in at any time and let me know what you like (or don’t like!).  I really liked what I had going on with the dark purple colors, but they ended up clashing with a lot of the photos I wanted to put in my posts. Now it’s back to neutral colors for a little while.

I have a new-found appreciation for people who work in graphic design… this stuff does not come naturally to me!

Seeking your opinion on my blog layout

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Hi everyone… you might have noticed that I’ve been changing the theme/layout of my blog a lot recently.  I mostly liked the way it looked with the Twenty-Ten theme, except I thought the black bar at the top where all the page titles were listed was extremely ugly.

So I finally purchased the Custom Upgrade and have been playing around.  If you have a moment, I was hoping you could take a look at my blog and tell me whether or not you think the changes I made today are a step in the right direction.  I will probably continue to keep experimenting, but I’m just wondering… does the new theme make my “Pages” stand out in a more appealing way?  I’m trying to emphasize them more because my blog really depends on pages to explain what the heck I’m talking about.

Feel free to be honest, and let me know if you think I should just stick with what I had.  I have 30 days to cancel the Custom Upgrade and get my money back.

Thank you!!! I apologize for the fact that my blog might look different every time you look at it for the next few weeks :)

My current background photo is from Andi Licious, published under a Creative Commons license.

Inspiration: Marina and the Diamonds

When I was younger, I did a lot of memoir-type creative writing.  It helped me process a lot of the things I went through as a teen, and at first I thought maybe it could help others to read it.

As time went on and I got older, I started to feel like maybe no one would want to read it after all.  The experiences I had written pages and pages about, things that had seemed like such a big deal at the time, started to seem trivial.  So I put the writing aside.

When I listen to Marina’s music, I hear a lot of the same themes that I’d tried to touch upon in my writing.  Things I’d worried weren’t “deep” or “universal” enough are reflected in her music.  She takes these same topics that I was afraid to write about, and turns them into something beautiful that has reached thousands of people.

Marina inspires me to keep moving forwards, to keep writing, and to stop judging myself so harshly.  When I listen to her music, I am reminded that my experiences may have been more universal than I had previously thought.

The other song by Marina that you have to check out is Teen Idle.   This song reminds me so much of my own adolescence, it hurts.  But it’s so beautiful.