By Jacqui Jacoby
“Never regret yesterday. Life is in you today, and you make your tomorrow.” L. Ron Hubbard
Life comes at you from all directions, sometimes being nice, sometimes hitting your plans right between the eyes. It might be something as simple as “I’m going to work today at three-thirty” and then, before three-thirty even rolls around, you have been smacked by every red light you can imagine and your work day is done before it even got started.
Says 2009 Golden Heart Winner, Anne Marie Becker: “Some days are just ‘do-over days.’ You may have grand plans, but life grabs you and says, ‘Nope. We're going this way today. Buckle up and enjoy the ride.’ On days like that, when whatever crisis popped up has settled down, I'll take 20 minutes to re-center myself. This could be a quick nap, after which it's like waking up to a brand new day. It could be a quick walk around the block. A game of solitaire. Whatever you need to regroup. Then, I re-prioritize and decide what needs to be done, and what can realistically be done in the amount of time left. It's about flexibility and setting priorities.”
Sometimes it’s a little bit more serious. All of a sudden you are broadsided by something you didn’t see coming: financial, marital, death in the family – something catastrophic and you are dumb struck, looking at the horizon trying to figure out what’s next.
For me, Jacqui Jacoby, my odyssey into the abyss started two days after the RWA National Conference in Washington DC, 2009. A Golden Heart finalist, my husband and flown out to share the experience, extending the trip in order to enjoy the sites. Only two days later I woke up feeling – different. Not sure what was wrong, we tried to go ahead with our plans, but it didn’t work. When I tried to stay longer so that we might see those things we couldn’t see, he insisted on leaving. “We need to get you home.”
For the first week or two I tried to sleep it off. When I finally saw the doctor they began to run tests. Though anything potentially “serious” was ruled out they did find an infection they could not isolate. Bed rest, they said. It will go away.
For months I set my alarm for eight-thirty in the morning, planning on getting to work. I had deadlines to make, obligations, not to mention another book to get to my agent. More days than not, I was still in bed at noon, trying to work it out in my head. What’s wrong? Why can’t they stop it? Why do the tests keep saying I’m sick after so long? Why won’t my fever go down?
The weight loss? I suppose that was a benefit. But people I hadn’t seen in awhile would comment how good I looked. “My god, how did you do it?” I refrained from saying “Plague and Starvation. I don’t recommend it.”
By February not only was I not writing, but I had to drop out of school, something I loved.
There comes a time in this process, after it has gone on for too long when it becomes hard to get up and tell yourself “I am a writer. I have to work.” The psychology is playing on your mind. You start to doubt yourself and your ability to bounce back to where you used to love to live.
When the doctor says there will be another couple months of bed rest, you have two choices. Continue to lay there and think “Poor me. Why me?” Or you can finally sit up, slap yourself upside the head and think “Like hell. I have a life and I am going to reclaim it.”
Bed rest. Fine. I called Victoria Secret and bought two of the cutest pajama sets they had. If I was going to be lying around, I was going to look good doing it. Pants, a cute little tank top with a matching light jacket and slippers. It might be noon when I dragged myself to the shower, but after the hair and make-up was done, regardless of how I felt when I got out of bed, I was feeling much better. Not quite? A splash of Channel #5 – the good stuff because even a weak, sniveling body deserves the best – and I was ready to rock the cosmos.
Norman Cousins’ wrote: “The more serious the illness, the more important it is for you to fight back, mobilizing all your resources-spiritual, emotional, intellectual, physical.”
It isn’t easy when faced with things even you can’t understand and no one can explain. There are the days you do want to feel sorry for yourself, and you have to learn to kick those in the butt and show them the door. Bad things happen to good people. We have been taught that our whole lives and there are those times when you are that good person. You can use the negative thoughts to bring you down and let them win or you can turn them around and think positively, reveling in the smallest accomplishments.
• I wrote a page today.
• I answered all my e-mail.
• I spoke to two writing friends via computer.
• I judged one entry in a contest
And it is hard some days. But you keep going. And you keep smiling. And you watch funny things on TV to make you laugh. YouTube clips. Thinking positively, even if you only got to the computer for an hour in a day full of things you don’t want to think about. You think about that hour. You move forward and in a small way, keep your presence known in the real world of literary production.
I lost a year of my life, my work, to something that never got a name. Eventually, the fevers went away. The white blood cells came down. But, no, they could never put a name to it. “Weird virus. We’ll never know.”
Today I walk two to four miles a day. I go to the gym. I am back at work on the next books, sharing my experience and trying to let people know you can keep going.
I will never get that year back. I can either sit back and think about what I missed or understand that for that one year, that is what I had to do. I still have a good thirty in front of me and I want to enjoy them. I won’t do that by continuing to look at the past. So I look forward. To the next project. The next hero that curls my toes. The next short story that comes out of the blue. The next … who knows!! I just know I can’t wait to see it arrive.
Bio: An award winning writer and a ten year veteran of martial arts, Jacqui Jacoby’s career is multi- faceted. With her trusted computerized day planner, Miguel, by her side, she is able to work in many aspects of the writing community: as an author and contributor to the Kiss of Death as well as RWR Magazine; as a chapter volunteer and contest judge, and as a workshop presenter, both live and online.
A new participant to Twitter, Jacqui has become obsessed!
She loves to follow and to be followed. Join her and win a chance at a three chapter and ten page syn critique. Contest open to new followers only. Winner to be announced July 19, 2010.