Coping with Writer’s Block

Image courtesy of authorlorilotto.wordpress.com

For months I found myself not even being able to look at my blog, or visualize writing at all.  I started to wonder if I still had it in me.  Knowing that I’ve persevered through Rheumatoid Arthritis, I figured, why not apply some of those techniques I learned from coping with the disease to my inability to write?  This is what I came up with:

First:  Research

Reading on the internet is one of my favorite things.  It’s easy to jump from one article to another, everything from asparagus and hangovers to Parkinson’s cures.  Please type in asparagus and hangovers and you’ll find your next go-to after-party treat…pickled asparagus are the easiest to keep in your cupboard btw!  I even love to read those trashy news articles about what stars are wearing, what they’re doing and all the comments that follow.  Why we call it news, I have no idea.  I read forums, blogs, and whatever else strikes my fancy.  I don’t have any real approach to my reading.  I’ll start at one article…like perhaps I have neck pain, and that will lead to something else and then something else, and yet something else again, and suddenly I’m on who dumped who and the worst dressed or some crazy bacterium that’s taking over the nation.  How did I get here?  That’s what a road block is all about, figuring out how to get out of that sticky muck.  Research was the only source that I could think of that would pull me out.   I couldn’t write, not for the life of me.  So I took a road trip, and began my research on “Writer’s block,” and found myself writing again.  Do you remember “clusters”?  Well I did it.  Remember all those writing tools we learned when we were kids?  Those tools got me started yet again.  Wikipedia, you are the best!

I realized, I hadn’t done this in a while, this wordpress thing.  I grabbed a piece of paper, I wrote down “Block” and just like you learned to do in school too many years ago to mention, I engaged in “clustering”.  First circle, “Block”-stone-brick-wall-lego–Writer’s Brain Fart-In the Fog-Stumbling Block.  Then I realized Stumbling Block was good, while Writer’s Block was bad.  That’s a strange one isn’t it?

Then I figured, enough of that…it’s time for free writing.  And here I am, writing whatever comes to mind.  So far, it’s quite scary…but maybe that’s because so much has changed in my life lately.  Maybe I didn’t want to reveal too much of myself.  Maybe I was afraid of not what the reader would discover but what I would discover.

I have been going through some really tough times.  Quite honestly, I did take to journaling before I took to blogging these last few weeks.  I didn’t do much of it, but in the wee hours of the night, when there was no one to call and cry to or ask ponderous questions, I wrote.  And when the next night would come and I’d find myself destroyed with sadness, every cell of my being completely swollen in emotional pain, I would read what I wrote the night before and then write again.  I would find, over and over again in this process that I lived, despite the pain and could move forward, in the smallest increments as each day passed.

I’m still in emotional pain and perhaps sometime I will let you know more about it….  but for now, just talking about that pain is all that I can do.  I know my pain isn’t going to go away anytime soon, and so I have looked to it a little differently than I did before, before it takes over.  Perhaps having RA has given me the tools of coping with pain and NOT expecting it to go away anytime soon.  Rather, learning new ways of coping is the best that you can do.

So what’s up next?  Well hopefully I’m going to be writing to you about what’s going on in my life.  A friend of mine just the other day told me the article I posted wasn’t good.  It was sugar coated, it was 2 buck chuck, it was muck. I was holding back.  I was afraid to reveal again the real me.  It’s like getting into an accident and fearing the road or the building, or whatever it was that was keeping you from putting one step in front of the other.  There is a lot going on with me, and no need to sugar coat things.  I hope in the days that follow that you get to know me again, but in a different way, in a way that I am learning to get to know myself.  One day at a time.

In Case You Think I’ve fallen Off the Face of the Earth……..

artwork by Shel Silverstein

I’m back!

Hi everyone!  For those of you who have followed this blog, you may have noticed that I abandoned writing for an unusual length of time.   What you don’t know is a company that didn’t appreciate one of my articles was trying to sue me.   I had received stacks and stacks of paperwork and I read every sentence.  I was never actually sued, just threatened.  They even threatened to put me in jail.  Who knew, a young rheumatoid arthritis sufferer could get so much attention?  Handcuffs could really hurt.  ;P  I don’t believe even for a second that they had a case but just for the record, anyone can be sued for anything at any time.  Guilt seems like an unnecessary ingredient in the court room these days.  It didn’t matter that I was sharing an experience, and that freedom of speech is a right. What mattered was that I grew tired of dealing with it, and in turn, they had shut me up.  They had accomplished taking away my voice.  Because of this, I left the blog world for a long while.  I even stopped writing entirely.  I didn’t even notice when I hadn’t renewed my internet hosting account.  I was sort of turned off.  Even journal-ling felt like a chore.  I turned my focus on other things, other things that were also going on in my life and taking up all of my time.  But because I stepped out of the habit of writing for so long, when I sat in front of the computer, I was stumped.  How was I able to come up with words?  You know, those letters that are grouped together and with some effort, turned into an entire sentence and then a paragraph that then becomes an entire article?  Even the very first word seemed difficult.  Hello.  Hi.  Uh…..    This time, more determined than ever and knowing that the writer in me still lives, I decided to return to some of my old habits, otherwise that very first article would never appear.  I did in fact post an article but a friend of mine let me know that it sounded like I just wanted to hear myself think….  It was the equivalent of ordering 2buck chuck for guests that are expecting fine wine.  In the right circumstance this is great, but as my first post, it needed to sound like me, not a watered down, just going to write a bunch of mucky junk and call it a post.  No, that wasn’t going to get swallowed easily.  It needed to sound like me, the old me, the me that had an opinion and was fallible and was always searching for something more.  Just an fyi, if you do like wine, I’m all about the organic red Green Fin from Trader Joe’s.  Incredibly affordable!  Oops, that’s a secret because they’re always running out.  Leave me some!  My point is, my voice was still being suppressed because I had buried it so very deep.  I am proud to say I think I’m finding my voice all over again.  I think my writing is certainly rusty and grammatical errors are bound to appear, but I want to say thank you all for your support and thank you dear friend for giving me that critique. It was the permission I needed to bear my soul.   Ahh, I like the sound of that!

Earth Angels: Part Two (Pay it Forward)

One morning I was running late for work, per usual.  My gas gauge was noticeably low, but I didn’t stop for gas, knowing that stopping would add to my tardiness.  I guess you can say I like to live on the edge, or maybe it’s a genetic thing.

See, growing up, my father was notorious for letting his car run out of gas–while his kids were still in it.  It was so bad in fact, that there was this one spot on the road that we knew if we got past it, we were somehow in the clear.  We knew the spot well because we had walked the few miles from there to the gas station a few times.  Perhaps this was a game.   I don’t know why he would do this exactly.  He claimed the gas gauge was broken.  In fact, there were other places at other times, in other areas of California that we also ran out of gas, but that’s another story.  I think  he liked to live on the edge, or maybe it was something else, maybe his reasoning skills are broken.  And Dad, if you’re reading this, you know it’s true.  Back in those days, you could hitch-hike to a certain extent without the same kind of worries that you have today.  Needless to say, I grew up thinking running out of gas was sort of fun?  Now I know that it’s terrible for your car, ruining pipes and so forth and being in L.A., it’s definitely dangerous.  So let’s just say that I don’t wait until the last-minute any longer.

I had run out of gas a long time ago, around the age of 18.  The steering wheel had locked up, something I didn’t know about at that time.  It was scary, but I was lucky because a police officer had seen me, pulled over, and literally pushed my car with his car, around the corner to a gas station.  Was he another Earth Angel?

So here I was, driving to work, with a very low gas tank.  Traffic had come to a stand-still and I started to really worry.  I was on the freeway and I really didn’t know for sure if I was going to make it to the next exit.  Sitting there, in traffic, not moving, was lowering my chances of EVER making it to work.  It was a hot day, but I knew better than to run the air conditioning or else I definitely wouldn’t make it off the freeway.

I finally made it to my exit and my gas tank still hadn’t hit the R yet.  I was convinced that I could make it all the way to work as long as it didn’t hit the R.  That was, until that familiar feeling in my steering wheel hit.  Right as it did, it dawned on me that I had just passed a gas station.  I immediately flipped a u-turn, struggling with my steering wheel.  It just so happened that there were no cars on the street at that moment when I did this, and this is L.A. in the Wilshire district, making it a strange serendipitous coincidence.

As my car struggled on its last fumes, I attempted to roll up to a gas pump.  This was going slightly uphill in the drive-way.  I realized quickly that I wasn’t totally going to make it.  As my car started to drift backwards, I immediately pulled the emergency brake to stop it from rolling back into the street.  I had at least made it to the gas station.  This was a true miracle.

I was feeling REALLY lucky at this point.   I had just ran out of gas and for the life of me, I had no idea how I had been so lucky that I was able to literally roll right into a gas station.  I am a glass is half-full kind of person, so I knew no matter what, I was going to feel lucky for the rest of the day.  I felt like someone was watching over me.  What if I had run out of gas on the freeway?  I was in a fairly safe neighborhood in L.A.  There was nothing that could keep me from smiling for the rest of the day.

Stupidly, I was un-prepared though.  I didn’t know my debit card number by heart (still) and the gas station didn’t take credit cards.  I didn’t have any cash on me and I couldn’t call anyone because my phone was dead.  I didn’t have any change on me, not even a penny.  At this point I was feeling like quite the idiot.  I didn’t worry.  I knew if I had to, I could walk to work, even if I was in heels…… it was only a couple of miles away.   I knew there was a solution, I just didn’t know what it was going to be quite yet.  The guy at the gas station wasn’t going to help me, nor was anyone in line, so I started walking back to my car, wondering what I was going to do next.

Luckily an Earth Angel came to my rescue.  He asked me what happened to my car, (as he was getting gas) and I explained that I was an idiot and ran out of gas and that I’d use my credit card but they only take debit and I’d call someone for help but my phone was dead.  I told him not to worry, that I would figure something out.  He told me to hold on.  I didn’t know what he meant but I said ok.  And then he asked me to hold the gas pump.  “Don’t put the pump back,” he said.  He asked for my keys and so I gave my keys to him.  I wasn’t worried about him stealing my car.  It didn’t have any gas and his car was far nicer than mine, how would he drive two?  So I waited, wondering what his plan was.

He got in my car, took the break off and with the help of another person, (another Earth Angel) who kindly jumped in, pushed my car up to the pump.  He put $2 worth of gas in my car and told me where a nearby gas station was that took credit cards.  I thanked him profusely and said, “I wish there was something I could give to you.”  He said in return, “Just pay it forward.”

He was right.  That kind of kindness comes from somewhere unexplainable, somewhere so sweet and true, it gives me goosebumps.  I don’t know that I’ve paid it forward yet, not quite to that extreme, but I hope to be as kind, to be as wonderful as he and someday be someone else’s Earth Angel.

I Finally Started Juicing!!

I don’t know why it’s taken me 5 years to start juicing.  It didn’t seem to matter how many times I read or heard how great juicing would be for me. The thought of  buying an expensive juicer, only to clean it daily, and buy ingredients frequently, etc. sounded terrible.  I’m not much of a cook and I am so busy, I just never realized that I could fit it in my lifestyle.

I had been thinking about juicing for some time, but I owe it to a co-worker from Gnomon School of Visual Effects, Paulli, who gave me that kick in the rear to get going.  She said, “What are you waiting for?”  And I realized, I didn’t really have an answer.  No excuse was a good excuse. This was my health I was talking about!  Buying a juicer this month sounded unrealistic, but she was right, no amount of money was worth sacrificing my health.  If this was going to make me better, then seriously, what was I waiting for?

I realized that I could at least try and use my blender.  If it didn’t work, I could buy a juicer, no excuses. I finally took it out of the top cupboard and brought it to work and put it on the counter, the same day that I bought some juicing staples for the week.  I had a few of the ingredients already, like turmeric, cayenne pepper and apple cider vinegar.

I chopped up a few stalks of celery, the entire cucumber, put a spoonful of turmeric, a spoonful of cayenne pepper, a splash of Apple cider vinegar, a splash of carrot juice that has omegas added, a splash of strawberry Kefir, and finally a splash of the green juice blend from Trader Joe’s.  And walla!  Instant juice drink!  The blender is detachable, so whatever I don’t drink, I just put in the fridge and blend again later.  In fact, day old juice tastes even better!  And the cleanup is super easy.  I just rinse out the blender and it’s ready to juice again!
It took me a bit to get used to the flavor, but I’ve actually acquired a taste for it now!  I’m planning on getting more ingredients…like parsley, ginger, almond milk, kale and whatever else I think would be great for reducing inflammation and adding antioxidants to my body.

Maybe it’s too soon to tell but I would swear that I can already feel a difference.  Two pitchers of smoothies later, I really think this is going to take me somewhere great.  It felt as though it was cleaning my body.  My intestinal health has never been great but since having had RA, it’s been extremely poor.  After juicing I felt like my intestines were saying “Hooray!”  Maybe that’s too much information, but I can feel a giant difference.   Thank you Paulli for your encouragement!

Stay tuned and I’ll let you know how this goes!  Please feel free to ask for advice on juicing.  I have some pretty strong opinions as to what you should and should not be drinking!

many hugs,

Sarah

If you like my Posts

Hi!  I just wanted to let everyone know that if you enjoy my posts then feel free to drop in on http://blog.s4studios.com where I will also be blogging.  See the latest post and what this picture is all about and learn a little more about me!

gentlehugs,

-Sarah

Oh Bummer!

I let this old post get buried…It was written probably about eight months ago.  So here it is to all those who might be interested in reading it:

For many of you who are not aware, a few weeks ago, people who lived in the L.A. and N.Y. area were contacted through Daily Strength to audition for a Rheumatoid Arthritis commercial.  Luckily, the very day that it was posted, I contacted Sessions West Studios and scheduled for an audition.  But here’s the thing….I’m terrible at public speaking.  My knees get week, I start to sweat and shake, and you would think I was about ready to go into convulsions.  The director at the studio was very sweet and did his best to get a good take of my audition.  I was hoping I would just be going in to talk about my experience with RA.  No such luck however.  They required actual acting!

Thinking that I had completely blown my chances, I got back to work with a sad look on my face.  I really wanted the gig, and the pay wasn’t too shabby!  My finances were particularly poor at the moment.   My husband was out of work, I was working part time and barely surviving, wondering how my husband and I would get through the next few months.  That $4000 could keep us going!  So the pressure was definitely there.  It’s like someone handed me a check and said you can have this if you can just do this one thing right.  And in this case, it’s acting!

That day I got a phone call from the casting studio.  “You have a call back” they said!  I was thrilled, to say the least!  My nerves were at an all time high as I waited for the next call to let me know what time.  Days passed.  When I never received the call, I started to grow worried.  The call back was for Friday and here it was Thursday.  Was it just a mistake?  Was I not getting a call back?  Finally that afternoon, the phone rang again with the time I was needed to come in on Friday.

I arrived at the Santa Monica studio, after having rehearsed from what I could remember of the script.  “My RA is not the same as your RA” I kept repeating in my head.  But when I got there, my nerves just got worse.  The people around me chosen for the call back looked beautiful and confident.  When they called my name, my legs started to tremble again.  This time there were more people watching me and a different director.  Everything had changed, the room, the placement of the camera, and even how I was to say my lines.  I became as stiff as a board without even noticing.  The director tried to get me to be relaxed in front of the camera, but for the life of me, no matter how much I wanted the gig, it just wasn’t happening.  I told him, “If I can just get my knees to stop shaking, I’ll be ok.”  He chuckled.

They took two takes and then had me wait out in the lobby.  They called two girls back and sent me home.  “thanks”, they said.  I walked out to my car, holding back tears.  I was so close.  I wanted it so badly.  I needed it, but it was too late.

And now you’re hoping for a happy ending.  Well, I’m not sure I can deliver what you may think so just keep reading…  I knew I didn’t get the gig I was hoping for, but what I did get was another call.  “We’re thinking about using you for print,” they said.  I didn’t hear back from them for several days.  I got a call back and they said, “The print job is no longer available but we may use you as a hand model.”  Hand model?  Crazy…never thought of my swollen fingers as being great for modeling.

It was fun being on the list of producers, directors, photographers, etc.  as “talent”.  It was definitely a fun experience!!  I was also used a little in part of the commercial, where you see my shoulder and barely the side of my face.  It’s unrecognizable really, but I had a good time. I was a little concerned that my hands were swelling more and more.  I was part of a clinical trial at the moment, and so I was getting worse because the medication I was taking for it was giving me a reaction.  And I wondered if I would be turned away.  But the truth is, I think the director made up the job for me.  He told me, he had never had an actress be so honest.  And he told everyone what I said on set, about how if I could just get my knees to stop shaking, I’d be ok.  He thought that was so endearing, he said, that he wanted to find a way to make me part of this.  Awwww.  What can I say, How cool is that?

So here I was, on a shoot, watching the commercial be created right before my eyes.  I’m in the entertainment business, so this wasn’t too crazy for me, but what was great was that one of the girls, the print model became a good friend.  Both were from N.Y.  The other girl, is a dancer in N.Y. for Broadway.  I got to eat great food.  I got to be part of the commercial on both days.  And as a hand model, the pay was not bad!  So it wasn’t much compared to what it could have been, but I was still very very grateful!  And the commercial came out excellent.  The girl who acted in was fantastic and I just loved her voice for the part!

So as you can see, when an opportunity comes along, I take it!  And it works the same way for this disease… I give most things a chance, given that I’ve looked into the possibilities on how it will affect me.  Life is full of opportunities and new experiences if you let it!  And I don’t believe that things are always, “too good to be true.”  Sometimes things are simply too good and too true.  :)

In My Absence: Part III

The Sky Is the Limit, or the amount your body and mind can take, given disease and sleep deprivation.

So I’ve been trying to keep it together and so far so good.  I’m tired and my skin is showing the results of drinking Rockstar, but otherwise, I’m doing well.

I guess my main complaint would be that I don’t feel as competent as I’d like in any area of my life right now.  There’s a point in any job or class that you want to feel like things are just smooth sailing.  And for me, even though it’s getting close to smooth sailing, I’m still on bumpy turf.  This morning for instance, I’m working at Gnomon School of Visual Effects.  The person that trains me is out for the day.  So I’m having to ask everyone else how to do everything.  Granted, I’m learning way more this way by doing, but I’d rather it be that I just felt comfortable, you know?  Even answering the phone, because I haven’t done it all that much, still feels awkward.

Zbrush class is starting to get a little more fun now that I know my way around the program a little bit better.  At the same token however, it still feels foreign and I have to re-read my notes and google questions that I have for most things with the program.  I’m also having to watch Zbrush tutorials for refreshing.  But I’m loving the program and just wish all I had to do was live and breath Zbrush for a while.  This weekend I’m going to give my 3D character my all since mid-terms are coming up.  Depending on how it goes, I may post it.  :)

The bowling alley is another story.  I am getting better at it but boy is it hard work.  I never realized that working there would be so tough.  I really thought that I’d have very little to do.  So I’d rather have it be tough and busy so that I actually make money than have me just standing around.  Time goes faster when you’re busy too.  On Mondays I wait on Leagues back to back.  I don’t know how many leagues I wait on, but I have tables too.  I’m guessing since I have 10 lanes and each lane has around 5 people, that I’m potentially waiting on 50 people, give or take because not everyone orders.  But if you can imagine, 50 people, plus other tables, it can get quite busy sometimes.  And I wait on one league and then another.  So I’m constantly putting in orders, memorizing names and drinks.  It’s much more difficult that I could have ever imagined.  But I am enjoying it now that I’m getting to know people and their drinks a little bit better.  On Tuesdays, the other server can’t come in until 7.  So from 5 till 7 I wait on 24 lanes, one of them being a league.  Sometimes it’s not as difficult as it sounds and sometimes it’s REALLY difficult.  This past Tuesday took the cake.  I was exhausted!  My feet simply couldn’t move fast enough for everyone’s orders.

But what else is new?  Well, I’ve joined twitter officially.  And that means I’m posting frequently.  I am in charge of marketing the studio that I work for.  And this past week I’ve decided to take the studio into twitter world.  And doing so, I realized that I needed to tweet more often too.  So I’m double tweeting…  tweeting for me and tweeting for the studio.  I like it,but it’s a whole new world that I know nothing about.

And of course, keeping everything straight in my head is a challenge.  I find that answering the phone for Gnomon School is probably the most difficult, given that for the past almost 5 years, I’ve been answering the phone (and still do) for S4 Studios.  So every time I pick up that phone, my head literally says, “‘Don’t say S4 Studios’, Say ‘good morning gnomon'”  Since I’m only at Gnomon two days a week and I don’t always answer the phone, it’s something I haven’t been able to turn into a habit yet.  You would think out of everything I do, this would be the easiest task, but it’s quite the opposite.  OMG and transferring calls is another task I’m just not used to.  Oh well, I will get it eventually.  I was told I won’t be feeling comfortable with all the ins and outs of this internship until the second semester.

With all of that, I’ve been debating whether I should do a couple more things.  Like I should add anything more to my schedule, right?  Well, the two things are these.  First, I was asked if I’d like to work a Sunday bar-tending shift for now on.  I told the manager that I would have to think about it.  Normally I would say no.  But in reality, I think bar-tending is a pretty good skill to learn for living in Los Angeles as a female.  Female bartenders can make a lot of money at some places.  And although I probably wouldn’t make all that much here, it would give me a chance to really learn how to bar-tend.  So I’m leaning towards asking if I can alternate Sundays, that way every other Sunday I will have a break.  That’s what I think I’ve decided.  Stay tuned and I’ll let you know how that goes.

The other thing I’ve been debating is becoming a vendor at Venice Beach.  I was thinking of doing portrait sketches, as well as selling paintings.  The only problem here is that you have to be there by 5 a.m.  Any later than that, and there’s no chance of getting a spot.  I’ve heard that the money potential is fantastic.  Not only that, but it would give me a day at the beach, more exposure as an artist, more practice as an artist, and it would help simply get my name and S4 Studio’s name out there.  But late nights plus a 5 am. morning Sat and/or Sunday would be really difficult.  So I’m having a tough time trying to figure out how to wing it.  I currently have all the supplies ready to go.  So I’m prepared to do it, I just have to try.  Stay tuned and I’ll let you know if I give that a shot this weekend.

Can my plate be more full?  Probably not but don’t freak out.  I’ve always been this way.  Having RA has really slowed me down, or at least it has made me slow down.  I’m finally getting back to feeling like my normal self again, grabbing the bull by its horns and going for it.  For the past five years I’ve worked really hard at finding the answers for my RA.  I won’t say that I’ve found the answers exactly, but I will say that after all these years of research, my daily supplement routine has finally made it possible that I can do what I’m doing now.  I wish you all the best success that life has to offer.  Thank you for your support!

Oh and one more thing!  Wish me luck on getting the RA scholarship that I’m hoping for, from http://reachbeyondra.com  I hope they give it to me so I can pursue 3D animation and modeling with a vengeance!

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