Imagination is a Heart-Shaped Journey

“Imagination is a Heart-Shaped Journey”

 Today’s Words of Wisdom:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

~Albert Einstein

The Foda’s Take: Well, if Einstein said it…. ‘Nuf said.

 There is one word I have a love-hate relationship with. Acceptance. Those older, wiser, more in-tune than I would tell me that I must accept my current position. For any newer readers to this blog, that position entails not being able to leave my house due to multiple debilitating chronic illnesses. And while I understand that accepting one’s reality is completely different than giving up the quest for a better quality of life, which in my case translates as healing, it’s still freakishly hard to do. So I had to ask myself. What, given my current position, makes any of this remotely acceptable? You know, just so that I don’t turn into a howling, incoherent Wampa Snow Beast.

Sidebar. Am now wondering if anyone has ever created a mini film special dedicated to finding out the Wampa’s backstory so that we find the pulsing button behind all that mad anger, yo. Fairly certain there was some fan fiction where Luke goes back to Hoth and learns more about their history. Cannot remember which book. But I digress.

So, what is it, eh? What space can I live in while my body is so irrefutably stuck? (Pause while you go, ooooh, good word, Foda!) Well folks, I kid you not, this is what I came up with. My imagination. 

Okay. At this point, I should clarify. By imagination, I don’t mean I’m going to start dressing in costume and calling myself Princess Leia or anything- although that might be fun- I mean that due to the fact I can’t travel, the only places I CAN go are through my imagination. I’m sure this is why I’ve been writing for hours each day; why I was able to finish a fantasy novel throughout this experience. Because when I struggle to move from the couch to the kitchen sink, living in my imagination is the only place I can go.

Am now hearing just how sad that may sound. Kindly get that pitying look off your face. We are searching for silver linings here, and you have all just become my apprentices! Kneel, Padawan!!! 

Now, due to my recent ramblings on “analysis paralysis” you may be wondering why I’m advocating for living more in my head. Why, that’s because I believe that imagination doesn’t come from the head. It comes from the heart. That’s why children are so much better at it than we are. They don’t over-think it. And I suspect that’s also why so many of us yearn for things like comfort food, animated movies, and “the good ol’ days” at times of stress. Because they remind us of the child-like zeal we had for life before we had, well, more life than we ever bargained for. (You know I’m right. Yeah, you who just booked another Disney World trip for your “kids.” Don’t lie. You’re totally giddy inside. You can’t wait to put on those Mickey ears. Don’t be ashamed. You can totally rock them.)

So this is my small piece of acceptance I’m nourishing this week. The opportunity I get to develop and cultivate my imagination. Maybe, just maybe, the product will be something so precious and beautiful, it will surpass everything else. Cynic in me just raised an eyebrow. Shut up. Let me try pie in the sky.

Mmm. Pie. So what do you think? Is it possible to find acceptance in the dark?

I Heart You,

The Foda

Do or Do Not

“Do or Do Not”

Today’s Words of Wisdom:

“Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

~Yoda

 The Foda’s Take: You know, I never thought about it until now, but Yoda was a very black-and-white kind of Jedi. Well, besides the whole green exterior thing.

 Hey, everyone! So, last week I started up my little “Analysis Paralysis” experiment. You can read the post here, but basic recap: I think too much. And I decided to consciously try and put up a death-star quality deflector shield around my analytical command center. In other words, act first, think later. (Sidebar: I do not recommend this experiment for everyone. And yes, I do recognize the irony involved in making a conscious decision not to think so much, which is, in fact, thinking about not thinking… But starting somewhere, one must.)

Anywho, it was a particularly rough week symptoms-wise, so there wasn’t as much “doing” as I would have liked, but I forced myself to attempt things- like going for a walk when I felt like I might fall over- instead of over-analyzing the probabilities and potential risks for said action ad nauseum first. (I’m realizing how long it’s been since I used that phrase. Ad nauseum. Love it.) But I digress.

Due to my current sorry state, I don’t have much more to share, but I’m continuing the experiment. You see, I’ve narrowed my cyclical mental process proceeding the analysis paralysis phenomenon down to this big train wreck of analytics:

Scenario: The Foda wants to do something she may or may not be up for. Hence, the battle for the future begins.

Body: It’s sunny!!!! Let’s go for a walk.

Brain: <in husky, gangster voice> You’re writing checks your legs can’t cash.

Body: Shut up. Just try. Five minutes. Don’t tell me I can’t.

Brain: Oh, you can. You’ll just fall. INTO THE DARK SIDE. 

Body: That’s not true. That’s impossible!

Brain: Search your feelings, you know it to be true.

Body: Nooooooo!!!!!!!!!!

End scene.

I know. I KNOW. Pretty crazy, right? So I’ve decided to wipe out this daily deluge (sigh. love alliterations) and just shut my brain off. And you know what? It really helps! It keeps me from defeating myself before I’ve even begun. So I shall continue this journey, and hopefully have more to share in the future.

In other news, I’m thinking of adding in a new segment to this blog besides my passion for parodies, alliterations, and Star Wars banter. Namely, health. (I know. I don’t have it back. Yet. But that’s not for the lack of doing everything possible to cut out all inflammatory factors, chemicals, and no-good tom-foolery from my life.) So every now and again, I’m thinking of posting about GF, DF, SF meals, green/organic beauty, and little tips for living chemical-free, all things I’ve been passionately doing for years now. So today, I reach out to you, dear reader. What would you most like to hear about?

Greenly Yours,

The Foda

“Analysis Paralysis”

“Analysis Paralysis”

Today’s Words of Wisdom:

“Don’t move until you see it.”

~”Searching for Bobby Fischer”

 The Foda’s Take: This quote comes from a great movie, in which a young boy with an extraordinary aptitude for chess learns how to analyze and predict his opponent’s moves. His instructor, played by the great Ben Kingsley, tells him: “Don’t move until you see it.” Which is great advice- it tells us to slow down, think ahead, move wisely. But when you have a chronic illness, this can sometimes invoke what a friend recently termed as “analysis paralysis.”

 Howdy, everybody! Today I’d like to talk about analysis paralysis. Otherwise known as the act of over-analyzing to the point of complete, overwhelming inability to make a decision. This is actually a real thing! It’s not just related to Pisces like me who spend days trying to decide on a pair of shoes with the vim and vigor normally reserved for researching your graduate thesis. This is, like, fact. People are happier when they have fewer options to choose from. Just ask Trader Joe’s. They specifically, purposely, stock only a few options for each product. Not only does this mean better profit margins for them, but it also lowers the stress for the consumer. Only three spaghetti sauce options instead of thirty, and they’re all delicious? Yes, please! See? I told you. Totally a thing.

So why have I been analyzing analysis paralysis? Well, let’s just say the past couple weeks have not been so easy. It seems like once again Mandalf and I are getting tested by the universe, even more so than we already have been over the past three plus years. And while I’m flattered someone up there thinks we’re strong enough to handle it, I’d be lying if I said I was super tickled about how much rocky bottom we’ve been ladled from the proverbial teat of life. This, of course, has thrown me into a frenzy of analysis, trying to deduce what can be done to move us onwards and upwards, all Sherlock Holmes-like, playing my violin and pacing with a snappy chapeau upon my head. Okay, not the hat- it is summer after all- but I do, in fact, play the violin… not…. super well…. but I was totally good in high school… But I digress.

The point is, I’ve gone over everything backwards and forwards, and the annoying part is, there’s nothing else I can do besides get better. (Which, if it was so easy to do, I’d have already done YEARS ago…) which means there is nothing left in my control except try not to get gobbled up by the huge jutting rocks around us, and use my powers of analysis for survival instead of escape.

But with so many doors closed right now, even those options are limited. And which will be the best ones? Hence, analysis paralysis. I can’t, unlike the little boy in the movie, choose to stay still, not moving until I see the pattern. Because my pattern is GIGANTIC. If it were so easy to solve, I would have been healed years ago. So if I keep waiting to see where my choices will take me- I’ll stay in this rocky bottom, too afraid to move out of it, not knowing where they’ll lead me.

So I’m thinking it may be time to try being a “do-er” rather than a “thinker.” Which, as a writer, may be a bit challenging. We tortured types love to get all up in our heads. What do you think? Do you think it’s better to do and then think, or think and then do? Given the situation? I am totally open to advice right now. (Disclaimer: This question/experiment only applies to upstanding actions. I of course am not condoning acts of criminal foolishness where you don’t think of the repercussions until afterwards. Although if you think about them and still do them, that’s not better. That’s criminal intent. And you will go to jail for that.)

Sidebar- am now wondering if anyone reads this blog in prison. Sherlock Holmsian deductions indicate that to be improbable. But if you are? Um. Hi. Carry on.

Off to Do Something without Thinking First,

The Foda

P.S. I’ll let you know how it goes. I’m not entirely certain I’ll be able to change my current think-act-reflect cycle, but I’m interested to try….

P.P.S. Don’t worry, I’m still house-bound. How much trouble could I make if this theory goes sideways?

P.P.P.S. Don’t answer that.

The Art of Thinking Around a Pillow

“The Art of Thinking Around a Pillow”

 Today’s Words of Wisdom:

“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”

~The Wizard of Oz

 The Foda’s Take: This kind of feels like my life. You know, if the wizard was a woman. And the curtain was brain fog. Of course, Dorothy didn’t listen to that directive… and neither do I.

 Ah, brain fog. Or, as I like to call it, the art of thinking around a pillow. It’s actually quite amazing what I’ve been able to accomplish through it over it years. Heck, I wrote more than seventy percent of my novel with it. (Which, may I just say, is coming along quite nicely. I somehow managed to add a little less than 20,000 words from the first draft- which was already 107,000 words- to the second. So, yeah. That happened.) But I digress.

I’ve been writing a lot lately, but all fiction, all fantasy, nothing about my life. I find that when the brain fog is really thick, sometimes the only way through is to completely absorb myself in other world, one that doesn’t begin and end with “I.” You smarty pants out there will say this smells an awful lot like the spicy tang of avoidance, but that’s okay. Because at least I’m still writing.

When I wake up and feel that familiar veil clouding my mental faculties, I think it’s a lot like that fumbling old wizard in the land of Oz, maneuvering smoke and mirrors to make other people think he’s something other than what he is. But you can still see right through them to the truth, if you try- and it’s the same with brain fog. It’s harder to access our thoughts, our memories, to search for the perfect word to describe something as poignantly as you desire, but at the heart of it all, it’s still you; you’re still at the center. So long as, like Dorothy, you’re willing to push past the curtain and see what’s there.

So today I will continue to work on the art of thinking around a pillow. Here’s three motivational tools I use for those of you working with this particular predicament.

  1. Set the timer for 15 minutes. I find that even if I start off thinking there’s no way I’ll accomplish anything worthwhile with my brain this way, by the time that buzzer goes off, I’m invested.
  2. Put down the project that’s giving you a mental block and start something else. Sometimes it’s not so much brain fog getting in your way as it is that you need to unclog some fresh creative energy to get the juices flowing.
  3. Call it thinking around it an art. After all, if nothing else, calling something an “art” automatically upgrades it to something worthwhile… meaning I can applaud myself for honing my craft even when the results are complete and utter bantha fodder.

Foggily yours,

The Foda

Unmasking Love

“Unmasking Love”

Today’s Words of Wisdom:

“Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.”

~James Baldwin

The Foda’s Take: Love. The most sought after and coveted emotion of all time. We all need love, can’t get enough of it, really. It feeds us, nourishes us, drives us to do both phenomenal and excruciating things. Love is not a possession, nothing you can wrap a ribbon around and say “mine!” but it still stays with us, shapes us, even when things end.

 Recently, I got the chance to sit down with the fabulous sisterhood of yore (aka college) and what did we talk about? Love. It was so wonderful, so refreshing. Who talks about love these days? I mean, we all do, but in convoluted, side-stepping ways, like when we talk about relationships or our work or our hobbies: all things we love. But who talks about LOVE?

Love is not just a feeling, it’s a state of being. I remember when Mandalf first proposed to me on the top of my favorite hill on a trip back to our college town. He had intended to propose to me in front of the building where we first met as BFA theatre majors, me looking chic and nonchalant in a tank top and pajama pants (shut up, it was all the rage for, like, three seconds) and him with his hemp necklace and thick brown hair that always stuck up, even without product, like it was a plant growing towards the sun. He said: “Hey. I like your pants.” And the rest is history. (Well, not really history, we were friends for three years before getting together, but for the purpose of this story, let’s just skip that part…)

Anyway, he was going to propose to me in front of that building, but there were garbage men emptying some massive dumpsters there so, needless to say, not very romantic… so instead, he challenged me to race up my favorite hill (in the pouring rain, I might add- I may have complained the entire time about my poor, ruined shoes) and I knew something was odd because I won. (He’s got over a foot on me and had recently gotten second place in a half iron man. So, yeah. I shouldn’t have stood a chance.) But I won, and standing up there on that hill in the rain, I heard the sound of his jacket unzipping. And I thought- that idiot, he’ll freeze to death! And then I turned. And he was on one knee.

I kid you not, when I said yes, the rain stopped and the sun came out from behind the clouds. It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life. And looking down at the ring on my finger, I felt invincible, like I could handle anything because an amazing man loved me.

Okay, so I didn’t plan to tell you the whole story. But the point is, it’s been almost five years since that day up on the hill. I’ve been ill for every single day of our married life. And I may not feel invincible anymore- but I do feel love. The strength, the beauty, the tenacity of it. I know Mandalf wishes he could heal me. He hates the fact that there’s nothing more he can do to make me better faster. But I don’t think he really knows just what he’s done for me. He’s seen me- all of me- the most vulnerable, primal bits of me that I tried my entire life to hide- and he’s still here. And when everything else is shaking to pieces around you, that tether built on the complete truth that comes with stripping down barriers becomes as strong as steel.

Love is not just a feeling. It’s a state of being. It strips us from the mask, the facade we show the outside world. It’s a truth that seeks truth, denying all attempts for subterfuge. Love is only love when it exists with no masks and no conditions.

So today I need to thank my husband. Because sometimes, when my body fails and I feel like there’s nothing left to hold on to, all I have is love. It may be taxed, it may be tested, but it has endured. And that, my friends, is a pretty amazing thing.

To Love,

The Foda

Original Song: “See Me (Such a Pretty Sick)”

The Female Yoda’s First Original Song!

“See Me (Such a Pretty Sick)”

Hi everyone! So, a couple weeks ago I guest-posted for the fabulous Fumbledore- also known as Leanne Sowul, curator of “Words from the Sowul” on the topic of beauty. My post was called “Such a Pretty Sick” and was about redefining beauty when you have an invisible illness like Lyme that leaves your looks but ravages your insides. I was very proud of what I wrote, and I’ll attach the post again here, but even three weeks after writing it, I found it affected me more and more. I suppose I didn’t realize how intense of an issue this was for me until I was asked to write about it. And this reflection made me realize just how much I want to be seen– to be given the understanding and recognition others get who have a less controversial diagnosis.

Right now, people with chronic Lyme are fighting to be seen. There’s a bill going before the Senate in the coming weeks to plead for better protection and aid for Lyme patients and doctors who want to treat them. I sent letters and emails to the NYS representatives, but I didn’t feel like it was enough. So I wrote this original song, and I’d like to share it with you today. I feel like it is- in a way- my anthem right now. And I hope it speaks to you, too. I hope you enjoy.

Sincerely,

The Female Yoda

“See Me (Such a Pretty Sick)” 

Music and Lyrics by: Kaitlyn Guay, May 28, 2014

 Verse 1

You just believe truth before you that you can see

But you can’t see me

You look my way

I’m whole and unbloodied so you walk away

Just when I need you

 I’m in the fray

Fighting and flailing

With my fists so small

Trying to hit what you cannot see

 There is no ring, no crowd

And the bell rang long ago

But nothing can end this round

‘Cause the fight’s inside of me

 Chorus

See me, can you see me?

Treading choppy water while you’re watching from the grass

Can you feel me, heal me?

I am un-bloody under siege

 Verse 2

The longer it takes the more that I know just what’s at stake

And it scares me

The races I used to know had thirteen miles to go

Now I take ten steps, so, pardon me for my eulogy

 My body’s a place of war on a never-ending tour

With only one hope in store:

To get back where I was before

 To painting a world that’s rid of Lyme

‘Cause I’m only twenty-nine

And I have spent too much time

Trapped unseen in a crude machine

 Chorus

See me, can you see me?

Treading choppy water while you’re watching from the grass

Can you feel me, heal me?

I am un-bloody under siege

Bridge

Color my invisibility

Paint it brightly for the world to see

Such a pretty sick I have but looks are misleading

See the warrior behind the smile

Take a walk in my shoes for a while

Look beyond the pretty lie and see me

 Chorus 

See me, can you see me?

Treading choppy water while you’re watching from the grass

Can you feel me, heal me?

I am un-bloody under siege

Can you see me now?

Can you see me now?

Grace Under Fire

“Grace Under Fire”

 Today’s Words of Wisdom:

“All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful.”

~Flannery O’Connor, The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor

 The Foda’s Take: Oh, we want it, alright. Everyone wants to be the person who rises above adversity admirably. But in typical form, grace is not easily won or obtained. Tricky little wench.

 Hi, folks. Today I’m feeling very existential. You know, pondering what does it all mean while lounging about in my silk robe and velvet smoking slippers, a monocle dripping from my fingers. And I have decided something. I believe that the antithesis to achieving grace and positivity invariably comes down to two common rascals: doubt and frustration. Shall I go on? Here’s my thesis.

The trouble with hope is it doesn’t come with an expiration date. Hope + time = doubt.

The trouble with faith is timely proof. Faith + no proof =  doubt and frustration.

The trouble with control is not having it. Control + lack thereof = frustration… and doubt.

But the trouble with doubt and frustration is that if they’re not countered by hope, faith, and relinquishment of control, they will take over, until nothing is left but darkness. And no one wants to live in the dark. Unless you’re a vampire. But I’m not certain how large my vampire audience is for this blog, so I’m going to assume we’re all daylighters here….

Now why am I going so deeply into this, you ask? Because I don’t have an ending to my story yet. At least, not one I’m willing to accept. I’m still waiting in the wings, listening carefully for my name to be called so that I can step into the lime light (and out of the lyme light.) It might be easier for me to wallow in frustration and doubt until my time comes, because all that requires is living in another moment- which is pretty easy to do. What’s hard is living in our current moment. What’s hard is finding hope and inspiration in turmoil. What’s hard is choosing grace under fire. Because grace is not easily won. It’s hard and, as Flannery O’Connor said, it requires the beholder to go through great pain and suffering in order to achieve it. We all want to live with grace, we just don’t want to go through the horrible trials we’ll need to endure to get it. Unless, well, you’re a masochist… in which case, I have several pairs of high heels in my closet for you.

I work every day to live through my trial with grace. I don’t always succeed. It’s not always easy to feel hopeful and confident that my happy ending is coming when I’ve been sick for so long. But anyone who stands up and tells you they’re one hundred percent “glass half full” is lying. (That’s right, sir- calling you out.) Faith and hope take work. They take daily dedication. But I have a dream, you see…. I’d like to believe that when all this is past me and I’m able to rejoin the human race as a healthy, vibrant woman, I will have achieved so much wisdom and grace under fire, that it will shape not only my life, but inspire the lives of others as well. I want people to come up to me and say: “It takes a lot of grace to do what you did!” And I’ll shrug humbly, wave my hand dismissively, and say: “Psshhh, Grace is my middle name.” Which… in point of fact, it is… so there’s that… pretty sure that doesn’t count, though…..

So today, I rededicate my commitment to finding and living with grace. (Besides, well, in my monogram….) Which, come to think of it, means I’m going to have to learn how to better define it so that I will know it when I see it. Hmm. What do you think? As I close, I’d like to ask you, dear reader- how to you define grace?

Gracefully yours,

The Foda