Now, begin



Hmm. How to get started. I’m one of those people who loves to read. LOVES to read. I’m like a sponge, taking in mounds of information and wanting more. And I love lists. Lists and spreadsheets and productivity tools, ahhhhh wonderful! Warm and fuzzy. My sister bought me an amazeballs book called Listography for Christmas. I can now put ANYTHING into lists. I brain dump into lists. I am a physicist and a mathematician by trade, I communicate in bullet points.

But when it comes to actually starting something, getting on with it, daring to take a leap into the abyss that is the outside, with no nice templates, I’m a big procrastinator. I love notebooks but they must have lines, and those lines must be narrow, not wide-ruled. It makes me feel safe and gives me some kind of framework into which to put my own stamp. So how on earth to make a start on something new and unknown whilst also battling with fatigue and the fluctuating nature of my days and hours? There is another level of anxiety that often comes with a chronic condition, associated with the unpredictability of a day. Plans can’t be made in a ‘normal’ way. We can’t just work a few extra hours that week to make the deadline or meet other’s expectations.

I’ve bought new notebooks with their beautiful crisp pages and a pen with a fluidity that gives me a buzz when I use it,  fulfilling its lifelong purpose. I’ve bought books on how to prioritise and stop procrastinating and I’ve set up a cosy reading area in the living room with a cup of tea steaming in my favourite Cornishware style , ready to be inspired once more and get some creative juices flowing. Those juices must be somewhere but I’m way out of practice; to be honest I don’t think I’ve ever really used those muscles…but the paint on the walls is a calming green, so no more interior design temptations for me right now, and the clutter has disappeared from the coffee table…but what if it goes wrong, or I choose the wrong project into which to pool my very restricted energy, my delicate, fragile levels of motivation spilling into something that doesn’t get me anywhere?

Note to self: the thing is, reading and reading and reading has gotten me so far, but I’m not sharing anything with anyone. gulping in loads of information to satisfy my thirst is not a waste of time because its how I love to spend my time, but what if it IS useful for someone else? If it’s not, I haven’t lost anything. It’s all practice. And it’s never a waste of time and energy to fail at something. It’s important to fail. In fact it’s critical to fail and pull yourself back up again and try again, and again, and again. The people that get really flipping good at stuff are those that fail but keep practicing, and practicing, and practicing. So I’m going to brace myself, accept it’ll be tough and that often my fatigue will get in the way a lot, and do it anyway. I’m sure there’s succinct, beautifully-constructed quotes out there I can hang my metaphorical hat on. But I’m not going to find them right now, instead I’m going to take others’ advice and write and write and write. No side-tracking this time. Write like the wind.

Today, it’s finally happening. Several things have clicked at once: an observation of how my other half leaves those naggy things I give him and instead focuses his time and energy on the creative and meaningful stuff, actually completing and finishing it; a conversation with my sister about the downsides to perfectionism; reading a chapter of an inspiring book on startups; casting an eye over a blog post about how we are losing out when we don’t follow our callings. Couple this with a tiredness in my bones which means that resting in the house and not trying to do the laundry or tidy away all the bits and bobs on my dresser is a must, and a realisation that many things on my to-do list are not super-important, but instead are activities that I do to get a  little dopamine hit because I can tick them off and feel nice, and you have a recipe.

So today I make a promise to myself to pick the laptop up and write, just a little bit every other day. If my condition means that it takes me a week to write a paragraph, then so be it. It doesn’t matter. My pace is my business, and I will be my own, kind, self-caring boss. I shall write anything I want to share. Thoughts on scientific research that I’ve read. Thoughts inspired by forum posts written by the many many wonderful people in our chronic illness community. Thoughts on politics and policies that affect all of us. I’ve always believed that knowledge is power, so I’m going to follow through.

Now, be brave. Now, hit Post.

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5 thoughts on “Now, begin”

  1. Inspiring stuff, Many Lemons, and beautifully written. The first post is surely the toughest. Looking forward to your next ones!

  2. This is such a good read and I can relate to everything that you have written in your blogs. Your motivation and determination is rubbing off on me and this is a true understanding of MS. I know diet and exercise has had a positive impact on my MS and definitely trying to have a positive outlook and approach to life is so important to me.

    I look forward to your next blog because it is so inspiring to read.

    Thank you for your honest opinion Dr Melanie Hopper.

  3. Stephen Lambert

    Hello Melanie,
    I found the blog through your excellent piece in ‘Open Door’ (MS Trust August 2016). You write very well. I have signed up to the blog, where did you get ‘manylemons’ from? Please keep it going 🙂

    1. Hi Stephen, thank you! I’ve been a big fan of the MS Trust’s Open Door magazine over the past few years so it was great to feature in it. The idea behind the ‘Many Lemons’ brand comes from the saying ‘if life gives you lemons, make lemonade’ – if you want to know a bit more about me, check out the ‘About’ section of the website 🙂

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