Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Sunshine, Writing, & Newborns
I've recently become aware of the power of these three things in calming me down and lifting me up. It's interesting that this is a new realization, as introspection has always been a way of life, but there it is.
I've heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder, aka, Winter Depression, where even people with no history of depression can find themselves being tugged in that direction for lack of sun for extended periods. And it makes sense, both psychologically and biologically, but I never realized how solar powered I really am. I suppose being a Floridian transplanted to Tuscany, I've always lived in sunshine. A cloudy day was never a big deal because the cloud cover soon blew over and the sun always reappeared. Life in Germany is just as amazing, but far less sunny. Winter tends to not just come for a visit, but unpack and act like it owns the place. And whereas a white Christmas is gorgeous and fun, a winter that drags on for months (as in beyond Easter, like last year) gets as tiresome as any overstayed guest. The skies seem stained grey, ever leaking rain, snow, or some variation in-between. A day that allows for some unscheduled sunshine is a welcome, albeit, rare occurrence.
I wasn't aware of just how low I'd sunk with regards to my mood and overall feeling of well-being until this past weekend when the sun took over the sky for three straight days. Not a cloud in the sky. Nothing but bright, white sunshine and crisp, cold winter air. It was like suddenly remembering how to take a deep breath again. I found myself stopping to close my eyes and face the sun, whether I was cleaning up in the kitchen, walking Heidi outside, or just passing by a window. It reminded me of how beautiful it is here, and of how much I love our home with all its many windows, perfect for showcasing brilliant sunlight. When we were house-hunting, we did call this house Sunshine, after all.
By now, you may be aware of my love/hate relationship with writing. As in a passionate love affair, I'm either brimming with excitement, eagerness, and lust or steaming with impatience, frustration, and anger. But I'm happy to report that we've been in a really great place this last year, ever since I created this blog and made a commitment to spending more time writing, gradually nursing what had become a malnourished relationship back to life. Daily writing led to a flame rekindled, a passion revived, and a heart relieved that it wasn't really over between us.
I began a new short story in November and all creative energy went straight to that until the completion of the first draft the first week of January. What began with what I thought to be a clever ending for a three or four pager developed organically into a forty-six page piece. I'm currently residing in the space between finishing the first draft and awaiting the first round of critiques and comments, most of which I won't receive until the beginning of February. Not wanting to lose my focus in a new piece of fiction, I'm hesitant to start anything new or even dust off an old, unfinished piece, and so am experiencing a build-up of creative energy and drive. And as a return to consistent blogging is one of my three very realistic writing goals for 2011, a minimum of one post per week, my hand is singing as I write this post at work while the kids are having Spanish. I realize it's now the third week of the new year, and this is my first post of 2011, but it takes me a little to move into new habits.
The point is, finding a few minutes to sit down and write this out to share with whoever decides to read it is uplifting, eliciting no minor rush of endorphins through my brain and right back out my fingers. I'm so grateful for this outlet for what it's taught me, and will continue to nourish it, as well as my relationship with writing for as long as I've got words to share.
I like kids, always have. And yes, babies are cute, though I prefer them once their personalities have had time to develop a little. But I never fully understood why so many people seem to lose their minds over holding babies, especially newborns. I thought about this because Diane, a very dear friend of mine has just given birth to her third child, their first boy, Blake Patterson. If I love you, I'll love your children, so I was excited to visit in the hospital the day after his birth and again once they were all home. I held him for a minute or two in the hospital, as I've held other new babies of friends and family, soon handing them back over for feeding, changing, or consoling, but the second visit was something different, altogether. This little baby slept cuddled into me for an hour as I talked with his mother and grandmother, making immensely tiny noises and jerking slightly in his sleep. As I held him, an amazing calm settled over me that I'm quite sure I've never experienced before. Listening to him, smelling him, and feeling him there, so warm and so beautifully innocent was like a drug, and I say this with absolutely no exaggeration. My body relaxed and my heart swelled. By the time I handed him over for a change and dinner from Mommy, I had nearly convinced myself he was mine and I'd do anything to protect him. And this is how I learned that a sleeping newborn is like a happy muscle relaxer. My poor husband is surely aware of my intensified need to have one of our own.
But all in good time.
Driving home from work today in a minor snowstorm wasn't enough to dampen my high spirits, especially having spent some time reflecting on sunshine and writing and newborns. It's always effective to be able to identify the origins of problems to better handle them in the future. Writing is all mine, a baby is a want but not yet in the works, and sunshine is never a certainty here, but at least I've got a better handle on understanding the beauty and power of simple things.
And maybe I'll be buying a sunlamp sometime soon.