a zincing ship
kvetch me if you can
Somewhere in the middle of 2015, life changed.
Prior to that, I had just released my first book, The Best Advice So Far. I still remember the day I typed the period after the last word of the last sentence of the last chapter. It was exactly one year to the day after I’d started, at 3:18 AM. I was so into what I was writing, that when my fingers stopped typing, it was a minute or two before the thought followed: I just wrote a book. I didn’t know what one should feel or do on such an occasion. All I could think to do was to drive to the all-night convenience store, buy a Nestle Quik strawberry milk and drink it in the aisle as a sort of toast to the occasion.
Shortly after, I met with a New York Times Bestselling author who had read my book and was genuinely excited. He offered to provide an official endorsement. Soon, I was communicating with a VP from Google who’d also read the book and was impressed, offering her endorsement as well.
Things were gaining momentum. It was all a little heady. The possibilities truly seemed endless.
Sometime that summer, however, what I’d thought was an allergic reaction turned out to be a tenacious and mysterious rash. It spread. I saw specialists. They tested me for everything. I took heavy medications, just to rule things out — medications that gave me other side effects, like nightmares, anxiety and more. And the pervasive itching alone was enough to induce Mother Teresa to swear like a sailor.
Soon, my insides weren’t right. I wound up in the ER. I’ll save you the details, but it was distinctly un-fun … and it never went away.
Headaches set in next. And then my asthma — which had lain dormant for years — kicked in, followed by persistent canker sores.
In February of 2016, I lost a cousin to suicide, which required my stepping in to care for her teenage son.
Then there was the car accident that brought back migraines and set my back out of whack again.
I found myself writing less. Publicizing the book less. Pursuing speaking engagements less.
Working out less often. Interacting with others less often. Taking chances less often.
I felt like I was just becoming less.
I expressed aloud one day that I felt it was time to accept that my best days and biggest accomplishments were behind me. I felt wrung out and washed up. And it had been so long that I just didn’t see it getting better.
I felt sad but resigned to the new reality. I still believed as firmly that “You always have a choice”; it just felt as if some of the options previously open to me were now gone for good.
(I know — this post is a bummer so far! But I promise, it turns a corner shortly.)
A few weeks ago, I was driving between here and there when I realized I had forgotten to take my morning pill line-up. I had run that list by each of the specialists who’d treated me, and they’d all dismissed each of my supplements as possible causes for the skin condition. But it occurred to me for some reason that morning that I had added D3 and zinc to the daily regimen about a year-and-a-half ago. I figured it couldn’t hurt to just do a quick check online when I got home.
The D3 turned up nothing. I guess I wasn’t surprised. But then I checked out zinc on the Mayo Clinic website.
Lo and behold, Mayo states clearly that ingesting more than 40mg of zinc daily can cause a very long list of problems including these:
skin rash, asthma-related symptoms, changes in attention, changes in thyroid function (I’m hypothyroid to begin with), constipation, diarrhea, stomach cramps or bleeding, dizziness, drowsiness, fatigue, headache, immune changes, increased risk of lung or breathing disorders or infections, mouth ulcers
And those weren’t the worst, with the list continuing on to include liver and kidney failure, bowel cancer and early onset Alzheimer’s.
I stopped the zinc that day. I found a multi-vitamin that didn’t include it.
It’s now three weeks later — and I’m like a new person.
Imagine —all that trouble over trace amounts of rock dust. Go figure.
Though we all still feel the losses, family matters are settling down. My body is healing a little more each day. The perpetual fog that enshrouded my mind is dissipating. I feel focus returning, energy levels rising and creativity sparking once again.
But despite the surge of motivation and well-being, it still means starting over again in many areas.
Some of you with editorial mindset may feel that “starting over again” is redundant. I will disagree here. In fact, it’s that “over again” that prompted me to write this post in the first place.
It occurs to me that there are unique challenges associated with “starting over — again.”
Those who are starting something, for the very first time, mark success differently than those who’ve already experienced that success. They at least have the perception of moving closer to something they’ve yet to attain.
There are also those who have started something, not achieved it, stopped … and then started over in a renewed attempt to attain their goal. They face the challenge of discouragement, because they know what it felt like to fail. But the proverbial carrot — the prize — still lies ahead of them.
Then there are those who have achieved a level of accomplishment, but who’ve lost their hold on it and must start “over again.”
You see, I’ve worked hard and been disciplined about hitting the gym, even when it was hard and I’ve experienced what it’s like to have achieved the type of physique I wanted.
When I began blogging, I was posting daily for many months, and then made a decision to post weekly, so that people could keep up; and I met that goal, week after week.
I’ve written music and recorded it and traveled and sung.
Like I said, starting “over again” for the umpteenth time comes with unique challenges, because you’ve already held the prize. And it can feel like regaining what you’ve lost is a lot harder than striving forward to something you’ve not yet achieved.
My thoughts on the matter of starting vs. starting over again may have merit. In fact, they probably do.
I’ve started things for the first time. It’s hard.
I’ve started things over. It’s hard.
I’ve started things over again. It’s really hard.
And I’ve started them over again for what seems like the umpteenth time. Yup, sure is … hard.
But the conclusion I’ve come to on the matter, after all the internal debate, is much less omphaloskeptical:
So what. It’s gonna be hard.
Just shut up and do it already.
It’s not a pretty philosophy. It’s not the type of mantra that commiserates, coddles or licks wounds. But I suspect it’ll get me where I’d like to go a lot faster than sitting around pondering exactly why it’s likely to be harder this way than that, or now than way back when.
I acknowledge the weight of my circumstances. And that overwhelming feeling that my best days were past seemed very real in the moment. But I guess I’m learning once again that feelings are not always a clear reflection of reality.
Let me also make clear that I’m not advocating a buck-up-camper mentality when you’re in the thick of heavy times. I’m simply saying that when the urge or notion or strength finally does present itself — that little voice that says it’s time — don’t overanalyze it. Don’t talk yourself out of it. Go with it.
And from where I stand now, everything in me is saying it’s time to stop thinking so much and time to just start doing.