It has been a year since I launched the Lady in The Lighthouse blog and what an incredible journey it has been so far!
There have been a few things that I predicted, a few surprises along the way and a whole lot of learning.
Some of the feedback from my posts and the blog in general has been surprising to hear. Even a few people very close to me have been surprised by my experiences from my point of view, which demonstrates how important it is for everyone to have a forum for their voice. We may see what people go through in their lives, but we will never fully understand their experience until they tell their story with their own voice.
Since starting the blog, I have had so many conversations with people who also experience similar conditions and struggles – it is even more common than we think! I’ve lost count of the number of times during conversations we’ve excitedly exclaimed ‘ME TOO!’ at each other over a symptom or a way of explaining something obscure, and finding solidarity there. That mutual understanding and support is so essential and life giving to anyone going through an experience that is not commonly or easily talked about.
Inspiration has been delightfully surprising and happens when I least expect it. Of course it happens during and after conversations with people – conversations alone will keep me in writing topics for years! My best and favourite blog posts have usually been the result of my being enraged about an injustice or stigma and ‘feeling furious and trying to write as politely as possible’. Inspiration loves to appear at the most inconvenient times, mostly right before bedtime, which then winds me up for hours and I have to write it out – then and there!
Sometimes I start a draft post on my phone, and write a sentence or paragraph every couple of hours in between drying my hair or eating dinner or sitting in a waiting room. It rarely looks like a conventional writing experience of sitting down at a computer and writing the whole thing out. Most of my writing starts off as a small thought or question, and blooms over a few hours (or even minutes) until it has to be written down, purged out, and then comes that relief and it feels complete. I rarely change much after it’s all on the page. I understand why a lot of writers say that ideas and stories just flow through them and they only feel like the vessel to transport the ideas into a format to be shared.
I have found it hard though to match photos with emotional topics, I assume that may always be a challenge. However I would love to refine my blog content with more specific photography and storytelling from all angles, not just words. Photographs are my love language and I feel so much more emotion from photography than words can describe. I can’t wait to explore that more.
‘What’ the content of the blog should be has never been the issue though. It’s the ‘how’ that has always been the challenge over the last year and the real learning curve.
Do you remember this post about How I Set Up & Maintain My Blog Around My Condition?
Oh what good intentions I had!
I did pretty well to stick to my original goals – self care comes first, working with rules and boundaries, using work around options to limit the physical toll on my body. I may have stuck to the rules by default and without any choice in the matter though; my body and condition does dictate a lot more of what I do than my mind does. I found that the medical symptoms that are hardest to deal with are not pain or treatments – but brain fog. Less cognitive function is horrible and frustrating. It can feel like the ideas and plans are pressurised lava in a volcano, covered in centuries of rock and there is no break at the surface to get through. It’s really hard to construct an essay on complex emotions and experiences when you look at the kettle and can’t remember the name of it. Creativity is really difficult when your body is in survival mode too – it isn’t necessary for survival so our brain shuts it off.
I’ve found that I am much better personally when I plan a month or two in advance. What posts I am going to write, what photos I need to take, what book I need to review, when my treatment is occurring, and planning my recovery days and my possible windows of blog time. When I plant the seeds of ideas for posts and they flourish in my mind over time! I love watching it grow like a little garden!
In 2020, I was surprisingly organised and had my posts planned well in advance, written and compiled. I was so organised, keen and creative! Every now and then between medical treatments I would get a few days straight when I would feel ok and have enough energy and creativity to do a batch of post writing, planning or setting up. I love that feeling so much, I am craving more of it and trying to work out ways to trigger myself into that wonderful state of flow.
Then something happened to me over the Christmas holidays and I did a full change of tactic so 2021 turned into a ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ and ‘do it the night before the assignment is due’ type of planning. A little like how I used to be when I was younger, had too much going on in my life and my school assignments needed a little last minute pressure to grudgingly get done. I’ve had a lot of other changes pending or happening in my life over the last few months which have been incredibly draining and intensive, and it’s been stealing away that precious time where I might have been able to get in a creative state and set up a few blog posts. The burnout from all that is going on is starting to show. I need my creative time to recharge, but prior to getting into that creative state, my body needs to be well rested, without stress and less incessant life admin.
So over the next few months there will be a few changes on the blog; a few less posts over the next couple of weeks, then I will be taking some time off in July and August to rest up, switch off (electronically too), and get back to simple living, nature, tactile crafts and art, and give my creativity a kick start again.
I have ideas in my brain, they just need some gas to get going. I can’t wait to show you. Thanks for coming along for the ride, it has been a pleasure to create this space.
Here’s to another year!
Take care, Readers. I’ll keep the light on.
Today the Lady in the Lighthouse has its first birthday! What a year it’s been too!
Determining what is possible for me to do and learning to work with medical challenges and not against them.
Knowing who and when to share your story with takes skill and awareness, and can be incredibly supportive and rewarding.