WARNING: This is a no-edit zone…
I’ve often said that when my sight is diminished, I frequently see most clearly. So today I thought I’d share a few things that I noted during this ongoing recovery period:
On a personal front:
1. When you’re accustomed to noting non-verbal communication and suddenly you can’t, your other senses compensate. The challenge is that there is a learning curve in assimilating and deciphering them. But in an amazingly short time, you note things like voice inflections, speaking patterns, and tone becomes all the more significant.
2.During that learning curve, your mind works at a different speed than your mouth. While the mind races, often what you say comes out disjointed because you’re not processing all you typically process before speaking. So there’s a bit of a disconnect which can be annoying or humorous. The good news is that you can choose to select humorous, and if you do, and you don’t take yourself too seriously, you’ll find that even though you’re in pain, you laugh a great deal. That offers a welcome respite.
3.People you don’t expect to be thoughtful and kind are. Ones you’ve known for years will do unexpected things that bring smiles and tender feelings floating through the nastiness to make you feel great. For example:
a. A 20-year friend I typically see at conferences but haven’t spoken with much lately, Susan Wiggs, mailed me a copy of her new audio book, JUST BREATHE, with a message on mending quickly. Thoughtful on her part, and she is always a thoughtful person, but a very nice surprise that filled my “I miss reading my books.” (Susan, my darling husband thanks you, too. [Yes, I get cranky when I can’t read.].)
b.A group of authors from Medallion Press, sent me a card–and typed the message in 144 point font (or maybe larger) so I could read it myself. I can’t tell you how empowered I felt by that, and how welcome it was at the time it came.
c.A very dear friend, Kathy Carmichael, came to visit me for five days. We not only prepared workshops for the Emerald Coast Writers conference (we were to do two and did three together) but she also aided me immensely in working on my current book. At the conference, which was held at a lovely resort with herringbone brick pathways that inclined and sloped (not always in expected places), she walked with me and quietly whispered warnings so I didn’t trip and fall flat on my face. Her gifts were overwhelming.
d.I have excellent taste in men. My husband proved once again with his caring—and his patience– why I was brilliant to ask him to marry me over three decades ago. He awes me. Not with the big things, but with the little ones. Day in and out, he’s there, noticing the little things, protective and encouraging.
e.I’m still learning a lot from my kids. My son and daughter were here when needed–without being asked–and though I looked like something the cats drug in after it’d been hit by a mack truck, they treated me as if everything were normal, doing for me what I couldn’t do without fanfare or making an ordeal out of it. Just being. I’m not sure how I got so lucky, but I have been blessed.
f.Even very young children are great teachers. The night I had surgery (and my eyes were sewn shut, bruised and swollen) my eldest Angel who is five, sat on the ottoman near my chair (I had to sit up for three days) and wordlessly held my hand. She wasn’t horrified, she wasn’t incapable of dealing with seeing her gran that way, she was gentle and compassionate–and we talked about everything. When I’d flinch, she’d gently squeeze my hand, silently telling me she was there and I swear I could feeling her strength infusing me. I’ll never forget that–or the power of a gentle hand squeeze.
g.Even younger children are great teachers. That same night, my two-year-old angel bluntly said, “Gran, you have boo-boos on your eyes.” I said yes, I did, and they hurt, but they’d heal. She hugged my knees, which was what she could reach. I won’t forget that hug. In it was her doing what she could to make me better. Sometimes we can’t heal others hurts, but we sure can help them along by doing what we can. Hugs can be very powerful.
h.Yesterday, both of those Angels visited and while they know Gran can’t see little things, they asked to do things they knew I could do. The lesson there is to not ask for more than one is capable of giving. I won’t be forgetting that anytime soon, either.
On a professional front:
1. People in the publishing industry are genuinely caring people who all want success, all experience uncertainties, and all crave the knowledge and information necessary to make wise choices.
2.Authors are a giving bunch. They share what they have and are grateful for what’s shared with them.
3.When you get a group of writers together and they can talk books without glazing over the eyes of others, the talk always includes a lot of laughter. I’m thinking specifically of my MWA friends, Randy Rawls, Anne Meier, Victoria and Vinnie (who absolutely must stop swimming in the gulf on red flag days to avoid rip tides). My side still aches!
4.Writing friends who have been together for a long while–like Joyce Holland, Darlene Dean, Laverne Brigman and me get together, we say most when we’re silent. There isn’t a lot of flourish or fanfare, we just huddle and are there for each other in ways words can’t begin to explain. It’s a beautiful thing, and writers who have cultivated long-term relationships like these understand their value and the thousand ways that they’re significant and important to us.
5.Having an agent and an editor (or several of them) who openly pray for you is a gift straight from God. If you’ve not had that experience, I can’t explain the treasure or its worth. But if you have, I don’t have to explain it. You know exactly what I mean.
A huge gift to me occurred at the Emerald Coast Writers Conference. I can see, but nothing is clear yet. So it was a challenge to do workshops and interviews.
Elaine and her talk radio, Morning Show, counterpart Ken Walsh made chatting for an hour with them a pleasure. We talked about reading and writing and books–very informal, and (I’m told) informative.
While I’ve done workshops, seminars and lectures for two decades, I’ve not tackled them when I couldn’t read my notes on a page. But I did three with Kathy and bullet points from memory. The authors there knew I couldn’t see well and the swelling/bruising didn’t bother them a bit. They weren’t worried about my appearance but were appreciative of what I could share with them. I wasn’t crazy about the idea of standing before all these people in that condition, but I’d already done the “bare face” experiment and it didn’t impact intellect, so I figured what the heck. If it bothered them, they would depart. If not, we’d have a relaxed workshop–which we did. I loved that.
So what’s the bottom line in all this?
As a human being, I’m lucky. I have a loving family, loving friends, loving peers.
As a writer, I’m lucky. I interact with people who see past the external to the internal, who care about the important things and blow off the fluff.
We bare our souls all the time in our books. Yet we hesitate to bare our vulnerabilities outside them. But I have and it was good. In ways, it was great.
The final bottom line:
When things aren’t perfect, they’re often insightfully better.
And, being lucky, we stop and count the ways . . .