A Return to Creative Writing After a Hiatus

A Return to Creative Writing After a Hiatus

When the brick wall of writer's block comes crashing onto you.

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One of my favorite leisure activities as a child was writing my own stories. I loved to make up my own world out of a figment of my imagination, craft a piece about some alternate universe that I wished I could be a part of. When I was younger, this was just a simple pastime, rewriting the classic tales about dragons and princesses or just describing the scenery around me.

As I grew older, fiction writing became less of a casual activity and more of an escape. When I began to drown in the stress from an upcoming assignment, my journal would be my life vest. It was not just a release from the daily pressures of teenage years, but a method of survival. I needed to write in order to keep myself sane. I wanted to release all of my emotions on the page, close up the notebook and hide the angst away within the smudged ink.

By the time I entered my closing years of high school, I no longer had enough free time to write purely for pleasure. All of my pieces became analyses of novels and essays regarding the crises in third-world countries. Even if I had a moment to breathe during the day, I did not have the mental capacity to search for my journal and jot down my thoughts. For about two years, I did not write a polished creative piece.

When I finally entered college, I was interested in rediscovering my passion. I was not planning on becoming an author (although this was indeed my childhood fantasy), but I knew I had to take writing courses as a general education requirement. I enrolled in a fiction writing course, thinking the classroom environment could encourage me to find my voice.

After the first class, we were assigned to write a creative piece about anything we desired. Of course, I originally wished for some kind of prompt or guidance. However, with some time to reflect, I came to the conclusion that the freedom could actually be beneficial for me. I could look through my old notebook and find a past piece for inspiration, or just brainstorm something completely out of my comfort zone to experiment with.

I opened a blank document on my computer screen, excited for this journey to begin. I was going to write again. I could improve both academically and personally through revisiting the activity that once consumed me.

One hour went by staring at an empty white abyss.

"Just write the first thing that pops into your mind," I thought to myself.

Oranges? No, I can't do anything with oranges.

Cherries? No, that might get too sensual too quickly.

Why could I only think of fruit?

I wanted to prove to myself that I could do this, that I could write again creatively. I tried to brainstorm, but none of my ideas seemed worthy enough.

That was the problem: I wanted an idea that was complete, well thought-out, virtually flawless. I expected myself to be able to dive right in like I once could, but I was out of practice. This piece wasn't meant to be some impeccable masterpiece, it was meant to be coherent enough to workshop with fellow students.

Eventually, I was able to bang out a few sentences one day and continue with the idea the next until I arrived at something that almost resembled a story. It was by no means sophisticated, and it was not necessarily something I was proud of. But it was something I could bring to class, something I could potentially improve.

After taking a break from creative writing, it's difficult to get back into it without a few slip-ups. Not everything you make has to be up to the standards of your old pieces. I have to learn to be gentle with myself as I rebuild my skills. I have to find a source of inspiration, and I still need to obtain my personal voice.

I always hesitated to call myself a "writer." I thought the title was too bold for someone who just enjoyed sketching out storylines. Perhaps being a writer isn't about creating magic, it's just about making something that is authentic and satisfactory. Maybe I'm not a writer yet then, but I may be making my way there.

Hopefully, my fellow classmates and professor will recognize this and accept my story for what it is: a work in progress. I just hope none of them are allergic to citrus.

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26.2 Signs You're A Distance Runner

You know you're a distance runner when...
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If you're a distance runner, chances are it's become a way of life for you. You've become less afraid of feet, get excited over finding new running routes, have to do laundry 3x more than normal, and you've been permantently marked with the word crazy on your forehead. You know you're a distance runner when...

1. You're always hungry

2. You know exactly what the distance is around your neighborhood - even if you were to take a different route

3. You know your resting heart rate, maximum heart rate, and exactly what your heart rate is at all parts of your run

4. You pack more running clothes than regular clothes when going on vacation

5. And then you spend more time planning out running routes and potential races than looking up other things to do while on vacation

6. You have at least one drawer dedicated to just running clothes

7. And probably a whole cabinet dedicated to running gear and fuel

8. You have a line in your budget for “race entry fees/race travel"

9. Your friends know that if they call or text your after 9 PM, they won't get an answer until morning

10. They also know not to question your inability to go out if you have a long run in the morning

11. You check the weather probably more than meteorologists, especially the week leading up to a big race

12. You use the words “8 miles” and “Easy” in the same sentence

13. You no longer hate porta pottys. In fact, there have been times when you’ve been very happy to see one

14. You have a routine of preparation the night before a long run or race

15. You don’t blink an eye at $100 for running shoes, but you have to think about $100 for any other shoes

16. Kinesio Tape is frequently all over your body

17. You’ve woken up at 5 AM or earlier to beat the heat and humidity in the summer

18. Your holiday wish list can be fulfilled at any running or sporting goods store

19. Your laundry basket is 90% active gear 10% everything else

20. There's something to be said about the excitement when you finish running a distance you've never reached before

21. You know every runner in your community

22. You hear a song that used to be on your running playlist and immediately flashback to a time it motivated you on a run

23. You're more upset that an injury prevents you from running rather than what it does to your body

24. You don't mind running in the rain

25. Running has become a family affair

26. Getting a new PR is more exciting than your birthday

26.2. When someone tells you that running a marathon is crazy, you’re just kind of like, well, yeah, that’s the point.

Cover Image Credit: Stocksnap.io

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Please Know That Being Diagnosed With PCOS Is Not The Same As Living With It

I was diagnosed with PCOS in 2018, but it wasn't until months later that I realized what it’s actually like living with it everyday.

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In October 2017, tired of counting calories and never seeing the scale move, I decided to try the latest fad diet: Keto.

It worked.

I lost almost 40 pounds in half the time it had taken to lose 20. I had lost nearly 10 inches from waist and hips. I went from a size 18 to a size 12.

Getting into ketosis was hard, but once I was there, I felt incredible: better mental clarity and focus, astronomical amounts of energy, regular body functions. Don't get me wrong, this diet is hard. No carbs, no colorful vegetables, no pasta. The struggle was real. But what it was doing for my body was worth it.

Except for one little thing: my periods had lost their minds. I'm talking bleeding for three weeks straight, no break. Coming and going in particular pattern, sometimes twice a month. Side note: this is not normal. In the world of Keto, it's supposed to help exponentially with fertility and hormone balances; people use this diet as a way to reverse hormone imbalances, PCOS, and infertility. This was virtually unheard of in all of my support groups.

Months and months go by with no relief. My doctor can't figure out why everything is so wonky. She takes me off the pill and things get better - slightly. Any improvement at this point was a victory.

She finally gets my ultrasounds back and she says "Well that's a surprise!" Cue my questioning look of confusion. "Umm care to share?" "Your ovaries have the characteristic look of PCOS. But you don't have any of the usual symptoms. I'm guessing the Keto diet was helping in it's own way. I recommend staying on the diet, let nature re-regulate your natural hormones, and we will re-evaluate in a few months."

I was frustrated, but this was totally do-able. I had been living this lifestyle for months, so I didn't foresee it as an issue. But then my kidneys starting reacting to the diet, and that doctor recommended I come off it. Obviously I wasn't going to jeopardize my health, so I started a low carb version of the Mediterranean diet.

I went in fully expecting to gain some weight back, because I was reintroducing carbs when I had gone largely without them for over a year. I knew that this would happen, and I didn't let myself get discouraged when the scale started going forward.

What I did not expect was to have my PCOS start running lose with my entire life and sanity.

Don't get me wrong — my periods were normal again, but everything else went AWOL. My hormones were going up and down of their own volition, we are talking sobbing hysterically over a butterfly commercial one minute and then fuming with anger over a car ad the next.

I started experiencing pelvic pain that feels like cramps only not all the time and without rhyme or reason.

My hair became uncontrollably oily to the point where I had to wash it everyday like clockwork; it started to thin and fall out.

I also started getting darker hair everywhere. I'm naturally an incredibly fair-skinned person so having black hair anywhere stands out like a sore thumb.

I felt like I wasn't in control of anything going on with my body. I felt like a hairy, unattractive monster. Everything that made me feel attractive and desirable was slowly being taken away from me piece by piece.

I had been living with PCOS for nearly six months, but I hadn't realized what it was like to actually live with it. I thought it was just irregular periods, but it is so much more than just a weird period.

I went back to the doctor, and she explained to me again how PCOS works, and how she didn't think traditional treatment options were the best thing for me. "Go back on the Keto diet. You were having incredible success with managing your symptoms. Go back to that."

Going back has not been easy. When I first started Keto, it wasn't easy, but I got into it quickly. I've been trying since January 12th to get back into it, and it hasn't worked.

I'm now in a place where I need to do it — for my health, for my sanity, for my self-esteem — and I physically can't. I do exactly everything the same as before, and it's not working. I'm trying to move away from the mentality of doing it for weight loss, and move toward positive thinking about how it's what's best for my body and my health.

My PCOS has forced me to have militant control over everything I eat. I can't simply enjoy food anymore. Everything that I chose to eat directly relates back to my PCOS and what that particular food can do for me. I think about everything that I put into my body, and the potential it has for either healing my body or harming it.

I see a piece of cake and I smell it, and picture in my mind what it tastes like. But I know that if I eat that piece of cake, I will bloat, get a stomach ache, and have to start back from square one the next day.

I cut out the carbs. I say no to cake. No potatoes. No pasta. I eat only green vegetables. I drink coffee that has nothing but heavy cream. I try to do intermittent fasting for 15 hours a day.

And I hope that it works. I hope that today will be the day I can get my life back on track. That today will be the day Keto works its magic.

I hope.

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