If Nothing Else Has Changed, My Writing Has

the state of our country affected my writing

Reenactment of three conversations that I’ve had in the past two weeks:

“Toni! How’s blogging? What have you been writing about lately?”

“Blogging is great. I’ve taken some time off this fall but other than that, it’s great.”

“Oh wow. What are you writing about now?”

<My initial thought: “Did you just hear me say I took some time off this fall? That means I haven’t been writing.”>

“My last post was in August  – it’s now November, I’m not sure that I’m actually writing about anything now.”

Cue the awkward silence. I haven’t been writing a lot. Writing is my therapy so if I haven’t been writing, it’s like I’ve missed some valuable therapy sessions. Those who are close to me know that something is probably very wrong in my world if I’m not writing, and I haven’t been writing in the past three months.

Because things were very wrong.

Life isn’t perfect. 2016 has been a doozy. People I know have been fighting some of the worst battles of their lives. As I sit and think about my year, I get the heebie jeebies because it has been full of tears and anxious thoughts and a whole bunch of other stuff. Without boring you, I’ve narrowed it down to five key things that rocked me to my core.

  1. My ex-husband became very ill.
  2. A relationship I had been in for several years ended.
  3. The massive gun violence and shooting in Dallas this summer was scary to say the least.
  4. My aunt died suddenly in April.
  5. My faith as a parent has been tested – really hard. (The year started with one child admitting to fears of being an atheist to our current plight of the objectification of our bodies and what should and should not be posted on social media.)

And those things seemed to snowball into other things, and I was just worn out. These are the things that have happened and had a direct impact on my life and the lives of my family members. But then y’all, there’s also the current political climate of our country, the racism that plagues us daily, the need for reform in the criminal justice system, and the fear that our rights as citizens will be snatched from us like Lucy snatched the football from Charlie Brown.

It’s been especially hard to write. Even though I tried.

My computer has been a little lonely over the past three months. Keep reading to see what changed.

My computer has been a little lonely over the past three months. Keep reading to see what changed.

I tried to write about the pain we were experiencing as a family. I tried to write about the pain we were experiencing as a nation. But I was still suffering from it. For me, as a writer, while writing may be theraputic, it absolutely makes no sense to me if it comes from a place of suffering and doesn’t lead to a place of solutions. To be honest friends, even though I tried to heal, I couldn’t. I felt like every time I’d think we were taking one step forward, we actually took two steps back. I felt that as our country professes to be a leader in world democracy and equal rights under the law, the reality is that we are not.

Regardless to how you voted in our recent election this fact remains the same: hate crimes have surged in our country this month alone. Racist rhetoric has increased. Our current president-elect seems to support and encourage those who spout the profane. This country of hope has turned in to one of fear and distrust.

I was in too much pain to write about relationships, communication tips, parenting teens, fun activities with college students, shopping, or my favorite car reviews. How could I be expected to write about those things when I couldn’t sleep at night because I was worried that my children were loosing their health insurance? How could I write when anxiety and panic attacks took hold of one of my sweet precious kids way more frequently than I wanted? How could I write when my immune system crashed and I had an upper-respiratory infection that lasted for six weeks? How could I write when I suspected that a close family member had the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease?

For the month of November, I was supposed to be writing and posting about fun ways to involve your family in the election process. For the month of October, I was supposed to write about fall fashion for moms. I couldn’t do it, even though some of those posts were already written.

I couldn’t do it because I was a mess. My kids were a mess. My family was a mess. To post anything at all would have been like saying everything is fine in our world, even though it wasn’t. And that would have been a lie. So I didn’t write or post at all.

Instead I started meditating. And manifesting. And praying.

Wait….am I saying that I didn’t meditate or pray before the troubles of 2016? No I’m not. I did but it became evident that I needed to so a bit more. I had what I thought was a pretty healthy prayer life before this year but over the past five months I learned how to run to Jesus, hold His hand, and not so much as make one move without seeking His voice.

No joke, and this is what I decided was changing for me as a blogger:

  1. I need to use my personal pain in my writing so that I could get to a place of healing. If the end result is not related to healing, I refuse to write about it.
  2. I need to write about the ills of our country and how we were addressing it in our family. It starts with the realization that there are ills, and if my clients or blog sponsors or readers have a problem with me writing about the ills, then I’m sorry. It’s a non-negotiable for me.
  3. I need to be around my family more. Of course, this includes the kids, but it also includes my parents and my cousins. This one has been hard for many Texans that I know and love. While I’m not sure what that will look like, I have not ruled out the possibility of moving. I have done this living miles away from family thing for 21 years. I’ve done this single parenting thing without familial support nearby for almost 10 years. I want to be closer to my support system. Until I know the specifics of a move, etc. I will probably write more about my native city of Chicago and the state in my heart of Mississippi. This is not throwing shade at Texas, this is about honoring my family and giving my kids the opportunity to experience the everyday awesomeness of their history.
  4. My writing, my career, and my time still need to have a direct correlation to family time, flexibility, and helping others. I started blogging because I just wanted to write about our lives, but if our lessons can’t help others, there’s no point in sharing.

And now that I have clarity, I can write again. How has 2016 been treating you?


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