As someone who has lived with anxiety for most of my life, I am looking to seek more activities that bring me joy. Writing has always brought me joy. The process of writing is so peaceful, bit with a mind that is running a million miles a minute and a to-do list that will not quit, having the neurons to fire creatively is far less than ideal. So many barriers. I teach writing daily and love the intricacies of written language, but really my proportion on writing to paper work is at least 1:10 if not smaller. I wonder – how can I make writing a bigger part of my life. It is so important to me and want it to be that important to kids. I have to admit the pistons are not firing. I am attempting to make time daily even if that time appears random in thought. I love my life, but I feel the need to create. Doubt sets in – will I do it correctly. Teachers focus heavily. Will my characters be entertaining? Will the print on the page inspire others? At my school, our motto is to LEAD. GROW, and INSPIRE. Right now I feel like I LEAD at school, but maybe could do better if I was able to have a free minute to study my passions. Obviously there is so much growth – as a published writer – and how to grow into my true self, my written identity. Lastly, inspiration. That is what is lacking. How can I inspire our future writers, if I am too busy working toward acronym completion, notes, and all the other necessary, but stifling tasks that are required of educators today? How do I become Mr. Holland, the teacher who was over stressed in writing his symphony, teaching kids, somewhat MORE reluctantly than me, ending up to see that he had inspired others to create their own symphonies? Where is that inspiration? How do I bottle it, contain it, and sustain it?
In the dry air of a lengthy summer day, Bree sat by the pool as her long blonde hair relaxed on her shoulder. She felt under her chair for the sunscreen, gave three quick sprays, and flipped onto her belly. She adjusted her head phones, as she squinted toward the chair next to her. Ashleigh was asleep, yet again. Her face surely covered in newsprint, as it was resting one her newest book, whatever that was now.
“Cannonball!” Bree heard as a sudden tidal wave drenched her and her sister, both of them now awake, and angry.
“Andrew!” Bree yelled
“It’s summer!: he yelled. “Get used to it!”
Bree rolled her eyes. “I am so done!” She grabbed her towel. her sunscreen, and her phone, and headed in to the cabin. Ashleigh followed her slowly, carrying her towel and book in tow, appearing even more irritated than Bree.
“I hate that guy! Why do you hang out with him?” Ashleigh questioned Bree.
“Because he is my friend,” Bree responded, “a friend is someone you hang out with that….
Ashleigh interrupted, “I know what a friend is!”
“….you can’t tell…”
In my story there are three interesting characters – Jayme, Priscilla, and Ashleigh. All of these girls are special and have special talents. Jayme is always so outgoing. She loves to talk, cheer, and generally BE social. she has tons of friends and loves to entertain them by singing, dancing and performing. Jayme is the center of the world. She is the sun which the universe revolves around. Her universe, is therefore more than her family and sisters. Her would goes beyond.
If Jayme’s world goes beyond, then Priscilla’s world goes in. Priscilla is an introvert, comfortable in herself and her quiet time. She loves having a book, a plan, and time to herself. She loves to write and shares herself with others by writing.
Unlike Jayme and Priscilla, Asheigh struggles with all things social, and in knowing where her strengths lie. She is a strong leader, friend, and sister, but doubts herself. It is Ashleigh who floats in and out of the universe, sometimes in the center, sometimes in a free-floating orbit. Ashleigh is undefinable.
I always knew I was different. The way that others had friends was not the way that I did. Having a twin, an instant best friend, mad it unnecessary to seek out others. Although we were made different, her for convention and math, me a creative and somewhat non conformist – I always saw it as a gift.
Here I sit, feeling a bit lonely. I am happy with my life. I teach. I puppy sit. I hang out with my twin and my niece and nephew. As hard as I have tried, it is still as if I am part of a pair and not a value of one. Nephew – calls and texts her. Niece – Same. Brother – Ditto. Mom and Dad – a month can go by without communication. This is the secret curse of twindom. I am taken care of and have a good friend, but when you communicate closely with only one person, no matter how caring and loving that can be hard.
This is the source of loneliness and much anxiety. This resets the anxiety, a monster that invades my spirit from time to time. Writing is my catharsis, however weak that may be. As you see, my mom told me once that words once written may never be erased. This is particularly true in cyberspace. The writing is always there. Positive. Negative. With whatever intent. It is awful. I doubt. I dread. I know how people can read into words and even though they are just face value, I would never want to hurt people with my words.
Every time I write, I reveal something about myself, and I NEVER want that revelation to hurt someone else, cause a discussion maybe, but not hurt. That is not my goal, nor my purpose.
I know God wants me to write. I have a message, but I never want to be a bearer of pain. I can remember times when a fun word used lackadaisically has impacted me. My twin, my love of my life, until someone else is sent, called me eccentric. I had always associated that word with two things: genius (thanks, very much), but in a socially misguided way and one in which connection doesn’t happen. I think of Sheldon Cooper on the Big Bang Theory. So smart, but lacks friendships and relationships. It is not so much that he is self-centered, he lacks perspective.
I feel I have nothing but perspective. I analyze every single move I make to the point that I do not have time to know what I know about myself. In the middle of my life, and so worried about success and survival, that I can’t help but see things from the perspective of the person who goes to church everyday, has no time for others, uses medication to make my mind stop racing, the new teacher who has so many ideas, the next year administrator who has energy to burn. I do nothing but look at things from other perspectives, but come across as if I have none.
I am eccentric, obsessed, with certain ways of doing things at one minute and zig-zag the next. All the while, all I want is connection. I want to be the kid at the play ground who has lots of game possibilities, not the one playing on the swings alone.
As I age, the ability get harder, Why am I the one no one invites? I am flexible. I like to do things, it just takes full ability to understand what I might encounter. My anxiety and my ability to see multiple endings and perspectives takes the fun our of adventures. Maybe I need control and that’s why I try to see things, but in my heart, it’s a lonely place when you are eccentric. It labels you indecisive, unpredictable, and people don’t like that. I work my butt off to be all that others need, but in the end, it does not get me what I need. This usual joyful writer is introspective and not really feeling joyful at all tonight.
This is about one of my characters that I am writing. Blogging is confusing and I continue to lose posts. I may have to break down and purchase a package…..of yellow legal pads.
Here is some writing about Ashleigh, one of my favorite characters. She struggles with anxiety, and as our world gets more and more hectic, students everywhere are struggling with this illness. Education and life lessons learned way too fast,
Ashleigh’s story – the anxious writer.
She had writer’s block again, which seemed impossible given the way her thoughts raced. Her teacher had expected a written assignment about some prompity prompt. Again.
Joyful, meaningful, fraught with layers of skill. Ashleigh had layers, all right, but to get to the joy there was so much else. Too much.
Try insecurity for one. Competition created insecurity and there was no escape from that competition. Especially when that competition was with your perfect alter ego. The intensity of trying to fit in, to be your perfect self – you could spontaneously combust in just a moment. Competition, vying with that long, lingering lists of things that good people do was paralyzing.
Ambition, that was another layer. Although, adept at many things, Ashleigh was always slightly behind the curve of her ambitions. Straight A student? 88 in Language Arts. That pointilism perspective piece from art. That piece had hurt. Hours of time spent placing dot after meaningless dot. Measuring, trying to capture all of the images in her mind. Sharp, crisp images with dimension, hard lines, dark shadows. It had scored highly but never as good as Grace, who barely had to look at a piece of paper for a beautiful image to appear.
Ashleigh knew where start now and that was a rip down the center of her white pristine paper, so clean and perfect that it mocked her. “I will show them joy”, she thought, as she laid her head on her desk, refusing to write.