hashtag icarus

It’s not that I don’t want to achieve my goals, but sometimes it feels like I’ve girl bossed a little too close to the sun when I have too many things up in the air. I can plow through obligations with the best of them, but I can’t do it forever and the recovery is always kind of dicey.

I signed with Ylva Publishing in April, turned in the first draft of my book in the summer and then spent most of this fall working through the editing process. And somewhere in between waiting for edits to come back, I started the second book. Now, the final, final draft has been submitted and it’s a big weight off, but ALSO, the first draft for the second book is due at the end of the year, so now I’m just realizing that I’m always going to be caught up somewhere in this process of writing and deadlines and edits. Maybe in multiple places at the same time! It’s okay, but I’m new at it and so it’s been somewhat of a learning curve, figuring out how to manage it all.

My body knows, too, when I’ve completed something stressful and important because the moment it’s off my plate, my body forces me to take a break. Sleep all day, nurse my joints, survive a migraine. I spent most of yesterday in bed. (Relatedly, I cannot recommend the Starry Eyes Self-Warming eye masks enough for people who get migraines. I use the ice hats a lot, but sometimes you just want something warm and not cold and these are great for naps.) I even gave myself the day off from working out, and I hate to upset my routine, so you know it was ~serious~.

It’s easier to beat myself up about not being perfect at handling a bunch of new responsibilities on the first try, but even I know that’s not productive or a good use of my mental energy. And the truth of the matter is, even though it’s been difficult, I think I did handle it well. I learned a lot about how I need to structure my time and my environment to make progress. I’ve been lucky to have the physical space to work and a partner who has been very supportive of both respecting my time and helping me change my space when I realized my original set up wasn’t working.

I’m a very disciplined person when it comes to work. I’m organized, I’m self-motivated, I’m efficient and so I was suited to take on a side hustle, so to speak, but knowing you can do it and actually doing it are two different things! But now that I’m somewhere between doing it and having done it, I find myself strangely motivated to keep doing it. To do it better. To have some success at it, even! I’ve watched my body slow degrading since I was a teenager and my vague plan about that, besides pretending it’s not happening, has always been to just work until I can’t and then it’s just like a blurry row of questions marks, but now maybe I do have a back up plan? Wild. Next stop, the sun!

Good news, I lived!

That’s part of the chronically ill life. Sometimes my body just needs a break and if I won’t give it one, it’ll find a way to take it anyway.



I have a lot of jobs right now. I don’t know how it happened! I work 40 hours a week as a librarian. That’s the job that pays me. I also am the current president of our union chapter, and believe me, that’s another full time job and it doesn’t pay me. I do it because it’s necessary and believe deeply in the benefits of unionized labor.

Now I’m a writer! I always was, of course, I’ve always written a lot and continuously, but when you have things like contracts and deadlines, it becomes a thing you have to budget into your week instead of a hobby you can pick up whenever the mood strikes.

But my other, other, other job is chronic and one I can’t quit. It’s pain. It’s fatigue. It’s blinding migraines and swollen, tender joints. It’s subluxing ribs and burning hip bursitis and all of the other things that go with a lifelong chronic illness.

If you have ever known anyone with a chronic illness, they’ve talked about their spoons. The Spoon Theory has become widely used slang among us chronically ill folk, but I think of myself more as a phone that will only charge to 50%, say. (50% on a good day.) The phone can do anything that a fully charged phone can do, but not for as long. So then you have to start making choices. What is crucial, what’s important, what can hold when you run out of battery and have to crawl to bed.

I wish that I could write when depleted. I wish that having my laptop in bed didn’t cost energy, but it’s hard to think when you’re exhausted and in pain and you can’t write without thinking, unfortunately. I’ve tried. I write best in the morning when I’m awake and charged and fresh. I end up writing on my days off, early. I end up writing in pockets of time during the day. But by the time the sun sets, I just can’t write anymore. I can’t do chores. I can’t take long walks. I can’t process complex conversations or watch anything complicated or new.

However, I’ve been doing this for a long time and while you never get the hang of it, exactly, you learn how to plan for it. You know that some things are costly and will need recovery days buffered in. For instance, I never have a day of travel and then plan to go to work the next day. I always factor in a day of recovery in between. Since the pandemic, a lot of meetings have gone virtual, and that’s been a life saver for union things. May I never have another in person meeting again!

So, here are my brief spoonie survival tips:

  1. Buffer in rest days
  2. Find the products that work for you: ice packs, heating pads, soft clothes, etc.
  3. Having a buddy or two to keep you company always helps!