Anxiety Champions Part 3:

screen-shot-2017-01-06-at-1-13-19-pmPart three in my series on Anxiety Champions is also someone from Survivor Season 33 in my beloved Fiji Islands. Hannah Shapiro is hilarious, but there is also a really serious side to her, and she is very openly and visibly someone who suffers from anxiety. But more than that, during the show she has a full blown panic attack and many people have remarked about or remembered her infamous lines, “I can’t feel my hands!” and “don’t let me die!”.

For me, this is such an incredibly vulnerable moment, where she totally forgets the cameras, she is utterly and completely consumed by her panic attack, and simply from the words she cries out, this is clearly extremely scary for her. This is the first time that I have witnessed a panic attack from the outside, and it was fascinating for me to watch. Having experienced hundreds of these myself, I have only seen them from the inside and I was shocked by how “normal” it looks from for an onlooker.

Hannah I think is one of those people who not so much embraces her anxiety but she is learning to live with it and does not let it hold her back. She is clearly funny, articulate and very bright, so she is in no way defined by her anxiety, but she is a wonderful ambassador for what living with anxiety looks and feels like. Thank you, Hannah!

 

 

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Anxiety Champions Part2:

screen-shot-2017-01-06-at-12-45-53-pmPart two in my series on Anxiety Champions is someone that I have never had any interaction with but I would love to meet one day. If you have never heard the name David Wright then you have very sadly missed what I believe to be the greatest season ever of Survivor (yes, my favorite show!).

David found his way quickly into the hearts of all the Season 33 fans not so much because he had anxiety but because he truly dug deep (as Jeff would say) and has for me become somewhat of an ambassador for what digging deep really means. During the first few episodes, he left me cringing and wanting to protect him. He could not have faked those instantaneous moments when he almost constantly jumped out of his skin. I know that there is a whole lot of editing in all these “real life” shows, but you can’t fake a reaction like that. By a third of the way through the season, this guy had found his groove. He realized that people loved him just for who he was and he didn’t try to be someone different. He simply allowed himself to be David, and everyone fell in love.

For me, David is someone who put his anxiety out there. He is also someone who is not afraid to talk about it. If you know anything about me by now then you would know that I am all about being transparent and being real and David is both of those things.

I believe passionately in building community in order to make a safe and fertile environment for anyone to heal. And season 33 was a picture perfect example of that. David thrived because the community that he was in accepted him for who he was. We need to keep making communities like that in our own corners of the world so that we give people safe and fertile places to do just that. This gave David the space to win hands down, and he is also no doubt someone who is still fighting hard.

I would love to know how he is going and I hope that he becomes a long-term ambassador for anxiety. Thanks, David!

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The Lion & the Peacock.

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A slight diversion happened today:

While writing my book “It’s Mah Eeds”, I landed up on a chapter on my journey through anxiety and I did not feel as though a single chapter in a book did this story within a story justice. I had to cut too much out to fit in the book, not just in terms of physically fitting but also in terms of keeping to the bigger picture. It was a massive thing to live through and a truly life changing experience and I didn’t want to lose that. I have left it in the book but I also I pulled it from the book today and fleshed it out, …letting all the pieces in between shine through and the whole thing work it’s space.

I landed up with a beautiful 6 thousand word story which I will spend each day this week editing over and over again. I want to publish it as a short book all on it’s own. And I want to give it away for free, at least to start with, as I think that so many people suffer from Anxiety and there may be a few people out there who find helpful or encouraging. So comment below or send me an email if you would like to be notified when it is out (hopefully in January or Feb next year).

I will keep you updated on here anyway as the process unfolds from it’s birth today to a published book…

Memoir Writing.

img_8897I loooove train rides. Especially sleeping trains. They are my passion and my favourite place in the world to be. My writing for me is very much a series of train trips as it is all about the various journeys that I travel on in life. My health, my heart, my faith, my personal growth and my physical travels all around the globe. They are often lonely and they are deeply emotional. What I love about blogging is that I get to take people on these trips with me and I love that. I truly love my readers and their support and the fact that they choose to come on my rides with me blows me away!

The only writing that I have ever done is from my heart and soul. My experiences, my opinions, my thoughts and my dreams. I started a new memoir with NaNo on the 1st of November and since then it has been pouring out of me with such great force that I feel as though this train has a mind of its own. This one is a runaway train and I love it. Sometimes we fly through deep dark tunnels that seem to never end as I relive all kinds of experiences that I am writing about which bring up horrendous pain, nightmares, anger, frustration, …but those experiences allow me to write with feeling and color and I believe that they enrich the story and help keep them extremely real.

Then there are the highs as I write about the good things or more often they occur when I am writing about the bad but the chapters come together well or the writing flows in a way I hadn’t imagined it could, or when something or someone (usually a stranger on social media) encourages me out of nowhere. The highs are thrilling and they keep me going through the hard days. But throughout this experience, the train hasn’t stopped for a moment and it is an exhausting but thrilling ride!

I can totally appreciate why writers want to go and hide on a mountain somewhere and simply immerse themselves in their writing. It is addictive and it flows and in many a way, it is like they are living a completely separate life. This is me.

Sadly I am forced to spend some of my time in the real world and often I am finding that I enjoy it less and less. I am sure that this is not a good thing, but right now I am not sure that I entirely care. Is that shocking? Is that terrible? Am I morphing into a hermit? … my husband and my readers are the only people on this train journey with me and I am loving it. So thank you to all of you who are making this journey so exciting, I cannot wait to start publishing!

Where I hang out:
@JPeaSmith
“Here she comes, running, out of prison and off the pedestal: chains off, crown off, halo off, just a live woman.”  ― Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Book “It’s Mah Eeds”

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It’s official, I have now finished draft one of book one in the four book series…. “It’s Mah Eeds” will hopefully be out by this time next year.

Huge Thanks to NaNoWriMo for helping to make this happen … I was hoping to do 60 thousand words by the end of November but I hit just over a hundred thousand (which includes about 30thousand words of book 3) … (book 2 is already done, just waiting for book one).

Now starts the editing part, which I am guessing will be done by Feb some time. My January is booked up with loads of wedding prep so I’m aiming at editing this baby by the end of this year, but if not it will likely be Feb some time…

img_8760If you would like to be on the mailing list for updates no more often than monthly, then just comment your email address below and I will add you, or email me on jenniferpeacocksmith@gmail.com

Thanks so much for your support already and I look forward to the next leg of the journey!!

A Week of Milestones:

This has been a huge week for me. I know that these milestones are nothing huge for many out there, but for me they mark some steps that I thought I would take forever to reach.

In no particular order I made my 100th post on my Chronic Illness Blog today, I just need one more follower and I will have 50 followers, which I have no idea whether that is great stats or terrible but an average of a couple of posts per new followers can’t be that bad can it? I started (and won) my first NaNo WriMo and have have only 800 odd words left to write to make it to 100 thousand brand new fresh words in three weeks. But more importantly than that, that is one brand new book that I had no idea about last month (77,000 words) and then I’m well into the second brand new book. Mind you, between my dyslexia and autocorrect which hates me with a passion, the editing once this is done is going to be  nightmare! I don’t think anyone is going to see me for years, just trying to get through the editing. But anyway, the fact that I will no doubt never win a NaNo again, this is how it has worked out this year.

I’m super proud of all of that plus my first The Mighty article went out this week and I am sooo excited about being accepted as a contributor. I applied to write for a much smaller publication a few weeks ago and and they turned me down, so I’m feeling a little chuffed that the bigger guys said yes.

I sound as though I am counting but not I’m not really, NaNo counts for me and I have absolutely no idea how many followers or posts I have on this blog, I only know about the other one because it popped up when I turned on my computer, saying congrats on the 100th post.

img_4715So anyway, this post is just a simple brag and babble in between NaNo and life and getting ready for Christmas. I am extremely thankful that we have decided to forego Christmas this year and go away for a couple of weeks of writing instead. Woohoo! Happy writing everyone!

To NaNo or Blog? (Day 16)

That is the question! I have been writing like there is no tomorrow and it has so far been an AMAZING month of my very first NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). My new memoir is going great guns even with a stodgy middle and a bad case of self doubt, the right people just “happened” to say the right things at the right time and I would get inspired again.

What I love about NaNo is that because all we need to do is Draft One, I am not stopping to edit, change, fiddle like I usually do. I am just going for it. The upside is that as of yesterday, the official half way mark, I was at 65 thousand words and with at least another ten to twenty thousand to go, I will have a full length novel done and dusted in under a month.

The downside is that that is one hell of a lot of words to edit from scratch. I mean where will I even start?? (other than the beginning of course)…. But between my Dyslexia and Autocorrect (both who hate me with a passion) what I have written might not even make much sense! I am petrified that the task of editing is going to be rather overwhelming …

But of course that is OK, because I don’t have to think about that at all until November is over, and it is still November right now, so we will cross that proverbial bridge when we get there…

My other dilemma is that there is so much going on in my head, so much to write about but also so much to blog about that I can’t keep up. I honestly feel terrible for the people who are sitting in front of their screens desperate for something to write. I know that feeling all too well, ….but this November does not look like that for me and there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to write it all! So when I have a free hour do I blog or do I write?

img_5722The answer has come down to stress levels really. I stress about things going wild in my head and find it super calming to get them down on paper. So it comes down to what is more urgent at the time rather than what is most important. Also blogging can be short and sweet but most of the writing is lengthy and needs to be saved for the right head space… So this short gap before breakfast is a perfect blogging opportunity so I am grabbing it.

And now that I have gotten that all out of the way, it is time to get back to writing! See you later …

#NaNoWriMo2016 Day 8:

I know that it’s not for every writer, every year, but I am loving this NaNoWriMo business and I am thankful that my story is just flying out of me. It is just working for me in the here and now. I also love the style of writing that I have chosen for this book which is not something that I am hugely familiar with.

Basically a few months ago I was asked to write a chapter for a book that was going to be published next year. They only needed a single chapter from me, a single piece of my story without any need for context, characters or details that would complicate things. They just wanted my experience in it’s most raw form. As is (or as it was).

This was a new way of writing for me, but it really opened something up in me as I was able to ignore everything but the experience itself without having to explain anything. I wrote in the first person for the first time ever which is very differently to how I usually write. I was so chuffed with the outcome and I am very proud of it, but before I could send it in the project was cancelled. I was so disappointed as it was a fabulous opportunity for me to get my work and my name out there and it would have been my first published work. But at the same time I was pleased that I hadn’t already sent it in so that someone else had it and without a book!

So as I was pondering on how to find another similar project as it was so specific, it dawned on me that I could actually write a whole series of similar stories about my journey with my condition. Instead of expelling a whole bunch of details and a long boring story, I could simply write it as a series of essays that take the reader deep into my experiences on my journey. It doesn’t really matter who was there and who wasn’t. It doesn’t matter how the medical system of the time worked or why we were in the particular country that we were at the time.

All that matters really is how I felt and what I went through. I could list all the things that happened to me or I can write a much shorter list and go much deeper into those experience. I can take the reader deep into my most significant and interesting experiences so that they know how I felt and how scary it was for me.

My condition is multifaceted and the way that I was often treated varied massively from those specialists and doctors who tried to leave no stone unturned, those who apparently just couldn’t be bothered and to the other end of the scale where they were not only neglectful but on occasion abusive and took advantage of me.

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 8.04.50 PMI love the saying that “Writing is easy, all you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed!” There is so much meaning in that for me. It shows how costly writing is emotionally and that it is actually really hard. But what I find harder is to sit down and write something about which I know nothing. I find that if I sit down and spill my guts and tell my own story, it just pours out of me. The writing is the easy bit, but it hurts my heart and soul.

#NaNoWriMo2016 Day 1:

This is my first year participating in the National Novel Writing Month for 2016 (#NaNoWriMo2016). I actually signed on a while back and forgot about it, and to be honest I didn’t really know what was going on.

As you all know I am writing my story, but what you probably don’t know is that it is already at least 3 books long. It doesn’t hugely work as a string of chronology but I have been struggling with how to group the parts of the story that mean so much and I think have a story to tell, in the right way for flow, hooks and meaning. It was starting to get quite overwhelming.

Then as I was about to fall asleep on Monday night (which just happened to be October 31st) I had an epiphany… and decided to start a whole new book the next morning. So when I woke Tuesday morning to also see that it was day one of #NaNoWriMo2016 I was so excited!

I am not sure that I will get all 85K words done by the end of November but my aim is to have at least 60K done by then and the whole book finished by the end of the year. I am soooo excited, and glad that I am starting from this end rather than where I had planned to. The first book that I had planned will still be as is, but it will come out second instead of first… more on that later, I have writing to do!

Update:

Yesterday was day one and I did 3.8K words, and I am hoping for more today, but I know that there will be days when I will get nothing done… but watch this space 🙂

(I think that this hotel room is going to get messy the next few days!)

The Joan of Arc in me…

img_3986-1As most of you already know or have worked out, I am writing my story of my life and my abandonment and abuse, as well as all the many things that I have learnt and am learning along the way. I see a brilliant doctor at the moment and she is the best Psychologist that I have ever had. We see her together sometimes too, and he sees someone else as well. It sounds complicated but it isn’t really, …. we each grew up in deeply confusing and abusive situations and as a consequence we came together in an extremely cliched way… drawn together in our pain and as bad for each other as it gets… the worst combination. But we didn’t know that, and our love for each other, our faith, a gazillion life altering mistakes and a hell of a lot of hard work means that we are at last now breaking the chains that have bound us all our lives …and we are winning. As individuals and as a couple.

I cannot explain to you how proud I am of each of us in completely different ways. In the next few months we are going to be delving into the hard stuff and I will be writing about much of it. It is painful and it is hard, and all the people who broke me were without fail the exact same people who were supposed to love me and protect me, not break me and abandon me and crush my heart soul and spirit…

So today DrA and I discussed the upcoming topics and she lovingly hit me with one of her doozies; one of those comments that for her are probably par for the course, but for me are life changing in ways that are hard to explain…

Today she told me that we need to be careful with me going ahead, that she is worried about me being hurt by the process, and that we need to keep on top of keeping me safe. She said that over the two years that I have been with her, (that’s nearly 100 sessions alone, wow!!!!) she has come to this conclusion. She told me this:

“Because of what happened to you as a child, because it was such an injustice, the little girl became a warrior. A warrior for righteousness and justice and principals.

….It was the only way that she could find a voice, it meant that she survived.

….She became a very effective warrior and she is very accurate. She speaks truth and she stands up for people and against wrong. She became Joan of Arc. A young woman with a passion and an empathy for the downtrodden. I can’t fault her, Joan was wonderful, an amazing warrior … and you Jenn, you are a great Joan.

….But the problem with warriors is that nobody can see the broken damaged person underneath, and worse than that, …warriors get killed !!!

….Do you want to fight for justice or to be seen and heard? You can’t have both at the same time… “

I am feeling so many mixed emotions. There is something hugely complimentary about being compared to someone like Joan of Arc. But more than that there is also something extremely validating about the things that she described in me… but I’m not quite sure that I’m super excited about being burnt at the stake!