Archive for October, 2014

National Novel Writing Month

Posted: October 30, 2014 in Life, NaNoWriMo, Writing
Tags: ,

I love to write.

I’ve been writing in some form or fashion since I could hold a pencil and put it on paper.

For me, writing isn’t necessarily done with a goal in mind. I might try to publish one day or all my writings might sit on my hard drive. I write for the same reason I breathe – I have to. If I go too long without writing, I feel like I’m mentally constipated (yup, I just gave you that image, you’re welcome).

The hardest periods for me are post-baby. Trying to write with a little one needing your every attention is hard. Freaking hard. It’s only slightly harder than writing with a toddler (oh look, I have one of those). That said, after taking a year off, I’ve decided to jump back in the saddle and what better way to do that than to try to write 50,000 words in a month?

The other reason I’m taking on this challenge now is because I need to do something to affirm me as a person. I’ve been mom and wife for a year while my identity has taken a backseat to everyone’s needs. This is just what happens when there are children involved and you do what I do (homeschool, cloth diaper, feed all the people).

NaNoWin2011So this is for me. I need to stretch myself in a way that stretches myself and I need to feel an accomplishment that means something to me. Some people run marathons, I write marathons (because man I hate running – all those genes went to my pretty awesome little sister who does IronMan competitions and smokes it – I am so proud of her – shout out to you Heather!). I don’t know what the crap a runner’s high feels like; all I ever felt while running was the bewilderment of why I was running when there were no zombies chasing me. I imagine though it feels a bit like what I feel when I hit the 25k mark on my manuscript. I’m like “Hell yeah! Halfway! In your face novel!” and I feel practically euphoric as I watch words appear on the screen.

Maybe this year I’ll write a story I want to share with the world. Maybe not. But I will write a story that I want to write. If you do NaNo, why do you do it?

Here’s what I’ll be doing this year:
– Paper plates, plastic cups, disposable flatware because something has got to give and that’s the dishes.
– Extra pizza nights. Because hello, pizza.
– Maybe an extra bottle of wine ;)
– A rough outline of what I want to write (although normally I’m a hardcore outliner, this year I decided to relax a bit and only do a rough sketch).
– Clean PJ pants.
– A conversation with my fantastic husband who is supporting me in this endeavor and willing to help me make it to the end.

See you on the other side!

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I have depression.

My technical diagnosis is Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) with a side of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) which is pretty much meaningless to anyone who isn’t keying in insurance codes. More tangibly explained, my depression interferes with my life. The way I describe it, I’m sitting at the bottom of a frozen lake. I’m numb, I can’t breathe, and I can’t get through the ice, so I sink to the bottom in exhaustion.

Mental illness, while it has gained awareness over the years, is still fraught with stigma. I have been spoken to like a child even though there isn’t anything wrong with my cognitive abilities. My feelings on issues have been treated as less than because “I’m depressed.” Sometimes people think I ought to be able to snap out of it with enough motivational posters and others offer unhelpful advice, not considering that I’ve wrestled with this darkness for the better part of my life.11 19 11_1542

I don’t want to put on a mask, but I wear one anyway because usually it’s easier to smile on Sunday morning than to admit how deep my pain goes. Because my pain is always deep. Because my pain is always present.

Chances are, if you’ve interacted with me, while I’ve joked and laughed, inside I’ve spent the day fighting a war on multiple fronts. There’s the battle to get out of bed. There’s the battle against darker thoughts of suicide. I wage war against doubt and fear. I take up my sword and battle unbelief… All before I’ve had my morning coffee.

Few people know how dark my thoughts are or how heavy the load on my shoulders.

I wonder sometimes what God was thinking marrying me to a man in ministry.

I don’t write this for pity. I write this to say something. And there’s more I want to say, but for now, I’ll leave it at this.

I’m a vaccine advocate. If you know me on Facebook, you’re aware of my myriad of posts encouraging people to go get their flu shots (seriously, go get it). What most people don’t know is why I’m a vaccine advocate. Why do I take every single opportunity to yammer on about polio and measles and the flu shot?

It started with Brady. I was pregnant with J and I came across this little baby’s story. I broke down and cried; I sobbed. My heart hurt in one of the worst ways, but I know it was nothing compared to how Brady’s mother felt. That pain started me onto this journey from being a parent who vaccinates to a pro-vaccine parent.

I started reading. Then I got angry.

See, pertussis has a vaccine. It’s not a perfect vaccine. It’s not the best vaccine, but it’s what we have and people are refusing to vaccinate their kids or themselves. Vaccines have done such a fantastic job that first world mothers are going “Well, really, was measles so bad?” and “What about all the toxins?” without understanding half of what they’re saying because they’re educated and know more than their doctor with a medical degree and their “thousands of hours of research” on Google is somehow equivalent to the research done in labs by scientists (who, again, have actual degrees).

If you didn’t pick up on my tone, I’m still angry two years later.

My anger, my frustration, has taken a new form, however. I’m a pastor’s wife. I have held the hand of the broken, the sick, and the dying. I have prayed with them. I have wept with them.

So imagine my frustration – my fury – when I found out people who call themselves Christians weren’t vaccinating. I couldn’t understand it, as many of them said they were pro-life. Pro-life. Pro-life and yet they didn’t see the point in a vaccine that would have most likely saved little Brady’s life. Pro-life and they refuse to vaccinate against a disease that can kill a child in its mother’s womb. Pro-life and they refused to get shots that would protect the weakest among us.

Why, I wondered, why would they refuse?

That’s when I put the pieces together. The anti-vaccine movement is relatively evenly split between liberals and conservatives and spans all faiths and even attracts those who are non-religious.

The people who are anti-vaccine are generally in love with all things “natural” and organic. They worship nature. I’ve listened as Christians make the argument that God made our bodies a certain way, totally skipping over the parts of the Bible where we’re cursed. In fact, the Bible does not speak highly of “natural” anything. At best, it’s neutral and at worst, it’s damned to hell.

Here are the facts – as Christians we have a moral duty to vaccinate. The Bible tells us to care for our neighbors, for widows, for orphans, for the lowly and the broken. If you call yourself a Christian, you have an obligation to get immunized if you are medically able.

If you are pro-life, secular or religious, if you want to be consistent, then you need to vaccinate.

If you care about anyone other than yourself – regardless of beliefs – then you need to vaccinate.

I happen to be a pro-life Christian and I can’t reconcile worship at the altar of “all natural”* with my faith. So if you can and you claim to be like me, then you need to take another look at that Bible. And if you do vaccinate, please, please don’t be silent. For the sake of the babies, the immuno-compromised, for the sake of your neighbors – love them in this way. Love them with life.

Voices for Vaccines

*I’m not saying we avoid things that say natural or that we shouldn’t be “crunchy” at all, there are benefits to certain things that are considered “hippy” or “crunchy”, but when one chooses “all natural” at the expense of truth, that’s when it’s become “worship” in my book.