We Can’t Eat Money (Bees & Colony Collapse Disorder)

bzzzzzzzzz

I’m sitting here watching “Vanishing of the Bees,” a documentary about colony collapse disorder, which is killing bees worldwide. (One example: 40,000 hives in California abandoned for no discernible reason over the course of 3 weeks. That’s more than 2 billion bees.)

One culprit in the United States: systemic pesticides on our crops. And guess why? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency never does their own research. This federal agency relies on the research done by the chemical companies, who stand to gain the most from keeping systemic pesticides on the market.

Systemic pesticides are the grandchildren of chemical warfare developed in Germany during World War II. Germany, France, and many other European companies have already banned these pesticides. When will the United States wake up?

And why is any of this important? Well, aside from the effects of pesticides upon the human nervous system, there’s also pollination. No honeybees means no pollination, which means no fruits and vegetables. Do you want to pay $25.00 for a tomato?

The future of the honeybee will define humanity’s ability to live on this planet.

“Only when the last tree has died, the last river has been poisoned, the last fish has been caught, will we realize that we can’t eat money.”

~Cree Indian Proverb

Weak Strengths or Strong Weaknesses?

Yeah, I wish this were my biceps. But it isn't.

Hey, inkling loves,

This week, I read this post by Becca J. Campbell. You really should click through and read, because Becca makes a great case for being honest with ourselves and with each other about our weaknesses…

…but especially telling ourselves the truth about our strengths.

One of my weaknesses is that I tend to be really hard on myself about my weaknesses, enough so that I’ll quietly beat myself up about them while presenting an everything’s-okay face to the people around me.

I work constantly at developing a level of transparency that will prevent me from hiding my self-doubt. It’s a lifelong growth process.

Along with that, I try to infuse into my heart a particular principle I read a few years back (sadly, I don’t remember where):

Focus on improving your weaknesses, and all you’ll end up with are strong weaknesses and weakened strengths.

Focus on building your strengths, and you’ll end up with strengths solid enough to carry you through the weaknesses.

 

My Solid Strengths

Becca’s post concerned our writing strengths specifically. So, in the interest of not beating myself up about my writing weaknesses, here are a few things I consider my writing strengths:

1. I have a good feel for language. This is one part innate talent, one part intensive training, and one part life experience. Although I don’t believe for a second that a person has to be born with a certain set of skills in order to be a writer, I did start writing when I was 8 years old. So I suspect there’s something inherited there. I am also the child of two teachers, one of whom taught English for 30 years. She sent me to school but also taught me at home, so I got it from all sides. And on top of that, I learned a foreign language (German) at age 3, which did all sorts of interesting and odd things to the way my brain processes and produces words. I bring all of that to bear on every sentence when I sit down to write.

2. I see scenes, characters, and actions as picture sequences in my head. If you read Becca’s post (which I think you should), you’ll see that I share this in common with her, and she calls it being a “visual writer.” When I’m crafting a story, I feel as though I’m watching a movie inside my head and simply writing down everything I see, hear, feel, and taste. Sometimes, a scene is blurry, and that’s when I know not to force too much detail into a scene. When it’s clear with crisp edges, I know it’s time to divulge more of what I’m seeing. I rarely have to rack my brains to figure out what something looks like.

3. I’ve experienced Not Writing. If you’ve read my posts tagged “confessions”, you know that there was a period of years during which I forgot that I was created to create. I forgot that I was allowed to be a writer. I sank into horrid darkness and turned bitter, sorrow-filled, and hostile. But now that I’m out of that, I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for the gifts of creativity, freedom, time, and support. I know where I’ve been; I know I never want to go back; and I know that the best way to give thanks for the gifts (and to declare the One who gave them to me) is to apply myself to writerdom with uncompromising passion.

4. I don’t believe in “writer’s block.” Strength #3 pretty much takes care of this for me. I practice gratitude and passion by not allowing “writer’s block” to stop me. When I experience the I-don’t-wanna lassitude or the words-just-aren’t-there frustration, I know that my reaction cannot be simply to stop writing. When “writer’s block” hits, I know it’s a challenge to think and work harder. Is my attitude the problem? Is the story broken somewhere? Do I need to change writing locations? (For more on writing locations, read this post.)
“Writer’s block” never means that I can’t write. It only means I need to rethink, review, revise, or relocate.

5. I have a keen awareness of cause-and-effect (aka “what’s the because?).
Cause: My mom did not go with my dad when his quartet, The Four Naturals, made a recording in Nashville in 1966.
Effect: The Four Naturals didn’t get my mom’s “managerial” advice while in Nashville, so they never went pop, and my family ended up moving to Germany in 1980.
Cause: In 1940, Frances Hair eloped with Wilborn Weger instead of going to college.
Effect: I exist.
Cause: Aaron and I played Rockband together at a church party in May 2009.
Effect: I’m published.
Cause: In my WIP (Elevator People), side character Joplin giggles when main character Went says the word “pickpocket.”
Effect: Ten chapters later, they end up battling a psychopath and a vampire on a planet in another dimension.
And so forth.
Cause-and-effect are what you might call “essential” to life. And to a story’s development. ; )

_______________________
So! There are a few of my writing strengths. What are some of yours? Share in the comments! Or, even better, write your own blog post about your writing strengths and share the link with us!

Making this list required some clear thinking and deep analysis on my part: honest reflection and a stern refusal to let myself slip into self-deprecation mode. Yes, this was all focused on writing…but it was also an act of kindness toward myself as a person. If you’re reading this, and you’re not a writer, I encourage you to make a list of your own strengths in whatever area you like. Let yourself accentuate the positive; show your Self some love.

If you can demonstrate compassion toward You in this way, you’ll be able to do the same for people around you. And blessing others with compassion is a strength worth solidifying in each of us.

Neurocardiogenic Syncope (This Thing I Have)

So. I have a weird condition. It’s taken 24 years and unquantifiable medical hoopla to figure out, but as of a few months ago, I finally have the real diagnosis:

Neurocardiogenic syncope.

DUN DUN DUNNNNNNN.
 

Since I can't photograph neurocardiongenic syncope, here is a nice picture of German-style chocolate mousse cake instead.


 
 

 

Neurocardiowhatsit?

In simple terms (which comprise my only understanding of the whole mess), neuro-receptors around my heart sometimes (for no apparent reason) send the wrong signals to my brain. These wrong signals tell my brain to dilate my blood vessels in moments when the vessels actually need constricting. The result is a crazy rapid drop in blood pressure, and I pass out. Sometimes I stop breathing, which is great fun.

Most of the time, I regain consciousness right after vomiting. You don’t wanna know more than that. I promise.

The weirdest part of it all (and this is the part no doctors have been able to explain yet) is that I’ll wake up from a dead sleep in time to tell my husband I’m about to pass out. Then I pass out flat on my back without even sitting up in bed.

When I have one of these episodes, I feel weak, sickish, and lethargic for 2-4 weeks afterward. The good news is that none of this stuff is life-threatening — but it sure is dang inconvenient, because until I get over the weaksickishlethargic, I pretty much can’t do anything except watch TV.

The last two times this happened were in January and February of this year, respectively. I didn’t really feel like myself again until May.

The doc who gave me the definitive diagnosis a few months back? He wants to put me on beta blockers (to regulate heartbeat & blood pressure) or on anti-depressants (to up my serotonin levels, which the screwed-up neuro-receptors would appreciate).

I’m not too thrilled about either option. I spent 15 years (ages 14-29) on beta-blockers, and they made me sluggish and tired and pale and flabby. The doc assures me that today’s beta-blockers don’t have such strong side effects, but I am skeptical.

Also, I continued to have plenty of pass-out-stop-breathing-and-vomit episodes while on beta-blockers, so forgive me if I question their effectiveness.

In other news, I’m such a natural-foods, non-toxins hippie these days, I’m not keen on pumping more chemicals into my body. For the same reasons, I don’t like the idea of anti-depressants. If I were clinically depressed and under a psychiatrist’s care, that would be different. It’s true, I used to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, but that has gone away since I got my vitamin D levels up. I understand that the cardiologist doesn’t think I’m depressed…but still, I’m concerned that even if the anti-depressants helped my neuro-receptors, they’d have all sorts of unpleasant side effects. Like the kind that change who you are, and not necessarily for the better. I have no wish to alter my personality with chemicals.

What’s the Because?

I’m not sure why I’m writing about all of this here. I’m not sure why I’m telling y’all any of this…except that it’s a part of me, and this passing-out nonsense happens to me sometimes, and I might reference it on Twitter at some point.

Besides — how am I to know whether or not one of you struggles with this kind of stuff? If my baring my heart (har de har) leads to somebody getting some answers of their own, then I’ve done a good thing by rambling on about this.

Shiny! Now What?

Somebody at the doc’s office botched the process, and they haven’t called me in for a consultation again. I should call them…but for now, I ain’t gonna.

For now, I’m letting my friend and nutritionist Erin fix me up with whole foods and ply me with all sorts of fantabulous supplements to get my amino acids in order. In the past 11 months, I’ve dropped 25lbs., developed regular exercise habits, and learned to prepare (and eat eat eat!) healthy food. The girl who hates cooking has turned into a foodie. I’m still not a fan of elaborate meal prep, but at least I spend quality time with my kitchen utensils.

(Also, we tossed the microwave and got a food processor. Best kitchen move EVER.)

My heart still flutters, and I still see black & white spots sometimes when I stand up. I can never run as far or as long as I want to.

But I’m healthier than I’ve ever been, and I feel good about myself.

That’s good for my heart and great for my soul.

_____________________

Speak up, lovelies. Neurocardiogenic syncope, anyone? What about your own health/fitness/nutrition woes? What about your successes?

A Quiz on Virtue — See My Results?

(With many emoticons, for some reason.)

A Goody-Two-Shoes in Recovery

So. Last week, my darlings, we talked faux Virtue, self-sabotage, and other fun stuff like that. A very great many of you were very greatly quiet in the comments. 😉

Actually, I was hoping I’d get some negative responses, simply so I could now digress upon the *ahem* virtue of receiving critiques along with positive feedback.

But I have some Virtue Trap Quiz results to share with you, so I shan’t make you wait for those any longer. 😉

Confession Time

In The Artist’s Way, one of Julia Cameron’s exercises on the Virtue Trap is a complete-the-sentence quiz. Here is how I completed the sentences back in the summer of 2008:

Courtney’s Virtue Trap

1. The biggest lack in my life is … intimacy.
2. The greatest joy in my life is … writing and relationships.
3. My largest time commitment is … writing and The Artist’s Way, currently! 😉
4. As I play more, I work … harder and better.
5. I feel guilty that I am … taking time for me when others aren’t taking time for them.
6. I worry that … my creativity will never generate financial income.
7. If my dreams come true, my family will … be supportive but perplexed.
8. I sabotage myself so people will … think I’m as stressed as they are and accept me more readily.
9. If I let myself feel it, I’m angry that I … sold out to stronger personalities.
10. One reason I get sad sometimes is … I can’t be “like everybody else.”

Looking back nearly three years later, I see that 1 and 10 are directly related. But the most telling numbers to me are 4, 5, 8, and 9 — and I have learned from them.

This Is The Truth

TRUTH on #4
I don’t just want time to myself for artistic play (which looks like “doing nothing”) — I need time for artistic play, which looks like doing nothing! It’s when I’m “doing nothing” that my soul rests and my creative brain taps into the Source of its strength. My creative play infuses me with energy and motivates me to work beyond what I thought were my limits.

TRUTH on #5
I am not responsible for anyone’s choices but my own. If others don’t take time for themselves, that is not my fault. My guilt resulted from an overblown sense of self-important responsibility. (Let’s talk about that in the comments!) I refuse to feel guilty when I take care of my needs.

TRUTH on #8
I sabotaged myself by not getting enough sleep. When others complained about being tired, I could complain along with them, thereby creating a false sense of camaraderie and solidarity.

I sabotaged myself by not eating healthy or exercising. When others complained about being sick and out-of-shape, I could complain along with them, thereby creating a false sense of camaraderie and solidarity.

Yay, we’re all ridiculously exhausted, out-of-shape, and unaccomplished together!

What the…?!?

TRUTH on #9
I was angry when I wrote that list. I am still angry about this part of it. I haven’t yet forgiven myself for selling out. I suspect that’s going to take a long time. So thanks for listening to this part of it, dear readers — telling you about it is part of my therapy!

Foolish — With Enthusiasm!

You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.

–Colette

Sharing this list on the Internet — making myself this vulnerable — is incredibly foolish. I’m opening myself up to attack from all sides, and it’s scary. But I’m doing it with enthusiasm! Because this is what’s behind the Virtuous shell. This is what’s behind the Acquiescent Good Girl persona.

This is the source of the fear. And I refuse to be subject to it anymore.

Last week, I told you the story of my foolish parents, who pursued a creative dream to the other side of the world. They did it with enthusiasm!

The world told me that its brand of Virtue was wise. But true wisdom — discarding false Virtue in favor of Truth — appears foolish to the world. I’ve read about that concept in the Bible my whole life. Finally, I’m starting to understand what that means.

Finally, I’m starting to live by it. And with enthusiasm!

_____________________

I know you’re out there. I can hear you breathing. 😉

How do you sabotage your creative self?

How have you sold out? What does your Virtue Trap look like?

Do these thoughts make you angry? Why?