Here in southern Indiana, we’ve had about 20 minutes of rain in more than a month. For real. And temperatures during this period have usually been in the high-nineties and 100+ – all the way up to 110.
My husband and I have never watered our (ahem) lawn (mole haven is more like it). Or our plantings, except for vegetable gardens and newly planted flowers. In the last several months we’ve seen dramatic rate increases for local water, so we certainly didn’t plan to start watering our entire 3 acres THIS year. But I’m realizing belatedly that we should have been outside with a hose for an hour or so every evening. Even the hostas, those hardy, versatile plants that have proliferated for several years in the rocky sub-soil churned up by a construction project, are yellow, brown and crumbling away…though still sending up their spiky flowers.
The drought of the world around me seems to have infiltrated my psyche. I’ve been lethargic, unmotivated, uninspired. Today, I looked over the list of blog topics on my editorial calendar (which I created in April, and which fell apart by June but remains useful as a list of potential post ideas) and have no enthusiasm for ANY of these topics.
I read a couple of articles today on “writer’s block.” Because that’s what this is, isn’t it? These were more helpful than most such articles I’ve read…but not in the way I needed them to be helpful. What they say, essentially, is that if you think you’ve got writer’s block, you’re writing about something that’s so dull to you that it will certainly bore your readers to death. This “block” is a GOOD thing, say these authors, because you are learning what NOT to write about. Your “writer’s block” is preventing you from making a big mistake and boring people.
But for me, today, EVERY topic I could think of seemed dull.
Except, perhaps, for this topic that’s insinuated itself into my brain – the drought that is permeating both my internal and external environments.
There’s not a lot that I can do about the external drought, other than water all of the stuff out there that should be green this time of year. (Well, all but the poison ivy…we’ll let that shrivel, okay by you?)
But I can figure out the source of the internal drought, and correct it. And you know what? Having now written the rest of this post (because writing helps me to think things through), I realize that it boils down to the same issue my outer environment faces, and that is:
LACK OF NOURISHMENT
Oh, boy, have I been neglecting my nourishment! The bad habits that have overwhelmed my life in the past month are myriad. I’ve become very sporadic about taking my vitamins. I’m not drinking water, a simple energizer…and an obvious requirement; we’ve been providing tubs of water for the wildlife, but I’m forgetting to down half a dozen glasses daily, myself. And I’m not exercising.
When my sister was coming to visit a few weeks ago, I realized that I finally needed to make cleaning this house a priority in my life, as I’d committed to doing in a previous blog post (Coach, Coach Thyself). I spent a week cleaning my desk, paring down the number of tchotchkes crowding every surface, sorting old mail and catalogs that covered other every available inch of those surfaces, creating files, sweeping and vaccuuming and mopping and dusting and polishing, hands-and-knees scrubbing of the kitchen floor (because the mop broke at the last minute…aargh). I even managed to sprain my ankle in the process.
And in all but two closed-off, non-public rooms, we (my husband DID play a substantial role in the cleaning efforts) achieved some level of order. During that time, I wasn’t working out…but was allowing myself the glass of wine and, sometimes, the ice-cream, that I normally allow myself only when I’ve done a full work-out. After all, housecleaning IS a work-out, isn’t it?
And when my ankle started swelling up the first evening of my sister’s visit…well, I couldn’t exercise, but I certainly wasn’t going to deprive myself of the late-night wine-and-chat sessions with my sister, was I? So I hauled out my crutches and shopped with Brenda and the kids by day, then iced the ankle, poured the wine and chatted away by night.
And continued, after the visit, to drink the wine and eat the ice-cream without having done the work-out first. Because the ankle was still swollen, I COULDN’T work out, and I shouldn’t be punished for that…right?
And now…the ankle has healed, I’m out of the exercise habit…but keep indulging anyhow.
And I haven’t been eating many healthy foods, either. While supplies lasted, I ate a lot of potato chips, cheese puffs and chocolate. Organic cheese puffs and dark chocolate, but even so.
It’s no wonder that I feel like crap.
The more I’ve felt like crap, the more I’ve sagged and shriveled like the whole outdoors, and the more I’ve neglected the sources of inspiration I usually rely on: interaction with my online writing friends/support group, reading the blogs of other people. Reading the newspaper. Reading non-fiction. And just writing…picking a prompt and running with it, knowing that it might not lead to anything publishable; but then again, it often does.
And to some degree, I’ve also been making the mistake that those hostas are making: sending up new blooms while my means of sustenance– those green leaves, the water and good food and vitamins and exercise – atrophies. I’ve spent some time with my banjo, time dreaming up gourd-art projects, time at music festivals and rock and gem shows and hanging out with friends. And this is truly GOOD! This is priming the pump, filling the well, and important to fueling more creativity. But when the feeding system atrophies, the energy drains away (especially in someone who battles chronic fatigue syndrome, as I do), and those happy activities use up ALL of the available energy.
Sluggish body = sluggish brain. It’s that simple.
So beginning tomorrow, it’s back to the resolutions I made this past January: plenty of water, a cleansing fast followed by healthy meals, vitamins, exercise…and no wine or ice-cream without the workout, gradually segueing back into all of those inspirational and pump-priming activities. I’m making this pledge public – hold me to it!
Is your life suffering from drought? What’s the source of this for you? And what are you going to do about it? Want some prodding? Give me your email address/friend me on Facebook, and I’ll remind you.
Because when the crops shrivel and humus turns to dust, we can help one another carry water until the rain returns.