March 25, 2019

Turning Lemons into Lemonade – Writing Through Life’s Storms

By Sheree K. Nielsen

The process of writing is often times challenging – coming up with ideas for feature articles, brainstorming about a children’s book, or honing your craft to entice specific audiences. And then, there’s marketing…

Writing is assuredly daunting, especially when you’re facing a crisis or a life-threatening medical issue.

For me personally, my motivation and productivity plummeted in the last five months when my diagnosis of Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia took a turn for the worse. Under observation for six years for the disease, I noticed drastic changes in my physical well-being last fall. At the advice of my hematologist, I began chemotherapy treatments to combat anemia, muscle cramping, low hemoglobin levels, and high protein levels. No one is ever prepared for chemotherapy. Reactions to the two drugs I was receiving included fatigue, nausea, cotton mouth, stomach issues, shortness of breath, and a host of other issues.

On good days, my energy and motivation level peaked, so I wrote poetry, and maintained my inspirational blog. Normally, I would accept freelance assignments from magazine editors I had a good rapport with, but I held off. On bad days, well…I felt bad.

I wrote a poem about my chemotherapy experience titled, “Seventeen Days Since My Veins Were Filled with Poison”. Shortly after I penned the poem, I sent a submission to a contest about life-changing events on the Heart and Humanity website. Within a few days, the editors emailed me with an acceptance and a sweet note saying, “we’d love to publish your poem.” Even better, I’m receiving compensation for my work.

I’ve received uplifting responses from people on their cancer journey saying how they identify with the poem, and friends who now better understand the chemotherapy process.

During the storms in life I’ve learned:
·         Write what you can, when you can. You may be exhausted if you’re dealing with a medical issue. Write when the urge strikes, even if it’s for a few minutes. Realize some days are better than others.
·         Take care of yourself. There will be plenty of time to write when things are back to normal. Take time to heal, get plenty of rest, and eat healthy.
·         Don’t feel guilty about not writing. This mindset causes more stress and anxiety in your life. As Philippians 4:6 tells us, “Don’t worry about anything, pray about everything.”
·         Turn lemons into lemonade. Take a difficult life issue and shift it in a positive way. Journal thoughts or ideas for use at a later time. Sometimes the best writing blossoms from undesirable situations.
Luckily, before chemotherapy, I released two books – Midnight, the One-Eyed Cat, (a picture book that lets children know they’re okay just the way they are), and Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits (an Emerson-inspired essay collection) – both semifinalists for the upcoming Chanticleer book awards. In addition, I signed a contract for my poetry collection, Mondays in October, to be released late 2019/early 2020.

If all goes well, I’ll be finished with chemotherapy before summer begins. I recently met with a second specialist who has a new plan for the treatment process.

I’m staying optimistic and hopeful.

You can read my poem on the Heart and Humanity website at:
Sheree K.Nielsen is Author/Photographer/Poet of 2015 Da Vinci Eye Award Winner Folly Beach Dances (inspired by the sea and her lymphoma journey), Midnight the One-Eyed Cat (a picture book), and Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirit – An Emerson-Inspired Essay Collection on Travel, Nature, Family and Pets. She blogs at Sheree’s Warm Fuzzies

No comments:

Post a Comment