Author Archives: Penney Knightly

The Year (and counting) of The Medical Mystery

It’s been months since I’ve done much of anything creative. I’ve worked at keeping it alive in my heart, even if I haven’t had time, energy, or inclination. The past year has been medically strange. What I thought was going to be a straightforward diagnosis has led to a year without an answer. I’ve experienced progressive and sporadic symptoms of what I feared was a neurological problem.

My hands and head sometimes shake, my muscles twitch, and my legs lack the stamina and feeling they used to have. My hands have been numb for weeks at a time while doing something as simple as holding a pen. Yet, I have muscle strength and there doesn’t seem to be any urgent problem. I’ve been to three specialist doctors besides my GP, and have performed easily a dozen tests. Potential diagnoses that have been posited include: conversion disorder, essential tremor, small fiber neuropathy, and fibromyalgia.

I had months in which I couldn’t stop researching, trying to figure out something. Does someone else have this? Is there some piece of the puzzle I am missing? Can I figure this out by myself? What do I need to have in mind so I know what tests the doctors should be running? I have developed a greater sense of insight regarding people who don’t have answers for their medical symptoms, and for people dealing with a life-changing diagnosis.

My body going haywire opened me up emotionally. I wrote pages and pages in my journal about my feelings, my worries, running through the logic of what the diagnosis could be. I admit, I was in despair and spinning psychologically, running every possible scenario.

One day, after being exasperated and realizing I was actually stressing myself out and causing my symptoms to worsen, I stopped. I stopped exerting energy toward a problem I couldn’t solve myself. There was no amount of reading on the internet, or putting my symptoms into a spreadsheet, and hyper-focusing that had made my life better. My happiness, and my creative energies were empty, because I had been obsessing about my health for so long. I forgot how to be myself. I forgot what I really cared about, and what I used to spend my time doing.

In the time to come, there are more tests. I will seek answers. There will still be visits to doctors. This mystery ailment will continue to occupy some space in my life. But it doesn’t have to be my life. Maybe it’s a big thing, maybe it’s small. Maybe it’s physical, maybe it’s mental. I don’t know. I don’t have control of that outcome. I do have control about my time, my resources, and what I think about. I choose to think about poetry, writing, and drawing. While spending what functionality I have on what builds me up and makes it all bearable and worthwhile.


With extra doses of love and insight,

Why My Creative Goal Failed

I posted toward the end of December, rather hastily, that I would draw and write a poem-a-day until the remainder of the year. In celebration of the arrival of 2018, and to spur myself onto productivity greatness, I declared my intentions to Facebook and social media. I was met with enthusiasm and encouragement, while dopamine-dumping and happy-feeling, was not enough to keep me motivated. In fact, a few days later, on DAY FOUR, I FAILED.

Why did I fail, you might ask?

I failed because I stopped. I stopped creating. I stopped working toward my declared goal. I just, plain, didn’t do it. There are many reasons for this. Here is a list of some of the reasons, most of them I discovered in hindsight, after thinking about WHY I didn’t do what I said I was going to do. Let this be a lesson, to myself and others for the future.

  1. I neglected to consider my timing. Nearing the end of the year, with lots to do, what made me think adding pressure to an already pressured time of year was the answer?
  2. I didn’t monitor my resources. How was I feeling? What was going on in my life? What other things were taking up my attention?
  3. I set unrealistic standards. Performing two creative endeavors each day? TWO?
  4. I made it too complicated. Requiring that I do two creative things in a set period of time = not brilliant.
  5. I put a time limit on it. Ever enjoy playing a timed quest in a video game? Or had to meet that school paper deadline? Um, why did I do that to myself?
  6. I gave into perceived peer pressure. The drive for the New Year, Facebook Friends posting their creations, art and inspiration for 2018 abounded, and I bit that poisoned apple. Hard.
  7. I was doing opposing activities. Art-making and word-making do not go together for me. I know this. Why did I think I could do right brain work and left brain at the same time?
  8. I failed to self-assess.  Asking questions such as: How has my mental health been lately? Or my physical condition? What could distract me from this work?
  9. I didn’t look at my creative track record. Have I created anything lately? How did it go? How has my creative health been? I haven’t created in a long while. Why is that?
  10. I wasn’t invested. I declared an activity without thinking. I was riding on enthusiasm of the possibility of productivity, not being rooted in the reality of it.
  11. I didn’t plan. All too often, I have to remind myself that inspiration is great, but as I age it is not not not how I get creative work done. Set aside time. Focus. Make it work. Anything else is wasteful.

So, what does this come down to? Basically, I woefully neglected to care for myself as a person living my life, AND as a creative person.

They are two separate jobs. But, they feed into each other, demanding the same resources, and the same time. And the same mind, body, heart.

Do yourself a favor, and before you jump into the next big activity, ask yourself some real questions:

How are you? ♥
How are you feeling? ♥
And, What Makes the Most Sense for Me Right Now? ♥


Take care of yourself!
Best wishes for you this year, with hope and happiness,

 

Poem and Picture A Day: Day 1

My new challenge up until the beginning of the new year is to draw a small drawing, and write a small poem a day. There will be no quality-judgment on my part, just producing and seeing what I can come up with in tiny, 30-minute maximum work segments.

Day One: Female Portrait and Dream Poem

Gold Man Review, Issue 7

My poem “I Want to Know the Ending,” was recently published in Gold Man Review, a yearly print publication! Whoo hoo!

The publication is available for purchase on Amazon.

There is also a little extra surge of happiness from seeing it in print. It looks great, and working with Gold Man Review, and the editor, has been a pleasure.

So excited to see this year end on such a positive publishing note. Can’t wait for 2018.

 

“A Black Opus,” in Cleaver #19

I am so excited to be posting that my poem, “A Black Opus,” was published at Cleaver Magazine in Issue 19. It was just released September 15th!

I love the artwork, the presentation is beautiful, and…as a bonus…I got to make an audio recording of me reading.

You can read the poem and get the audio HERE.

The audio is also available on Soundcloud, as part of Cleaver Magazine’s podcast On the Edge. I am so excited about all of it.

Thank you for being amazing, and for reading. Hope you enjoy the poem! ♥

Bloom & Encase: Art Therapy

I know I’ve been away from art for months now. I can’t seem to get my mind back to a sitting still place. Even though, I have been doing a lot of sitting still—just a restless, unproductive kind. I have been experiencing a lot of emotional stress, and some weird physical symptoms. A lot of heaviness has been on my mind, and physically, I am feeling the toll of that in a new and unique variety of ways. My dissociative tendencies have gotten healthier and more manageable but I have a lot of internal work to do.

I am hoping that with deep breathing, mindfulness, and getting back to art via art therapy might just be the thing I need right now. Once again, I am back to building up my confidence by doing a small thing, which will hopefully lead to momentum. I smiled when I doodled these images on my phone—a positive sign that I’m in need of this expression.

 

 

Filed Under: Art

“Momentarily” at Sweet Tree Review

My poem, “Momentarily” is in the Summer issue of Sweet Tree Review. I was drawn to their theme of ineffable connectivity.

As you likely know, connectivity is something I say and struggle with a lot. I also use poetry to get me to or into a connected state, so it was a pleasure to pursue that idea with this publication. The presentation is beautiful, and the other works included are lovely.

“Present Eventually”—The Bookends Review

My poem, “Present Eventually” is at The Bookends Review today! Super pleased to see another poem in that venue.

It’s interesting looking back on this poem, as I wrote it several years ago, but so much of it is applicable to the internal work I’m doing recently. I know what I was writing about meant different things at the time, but it’s amazing to see those words come back to me as help in the present.

My poem is in a book! ♥

My poem “Self-Inflicted” appears in the first release from Twelve Point Collective entitled, “Every Beginning I’ve Ever Written is Kind of Sad.” (Volume I, Autobiographical.)

Photo credit: nicole_in_neverland / instagram

 

 

I love the illustration by Germán Salazar, shown with my poem—it really matches the subject matter well, but also adds additional symbolism.

I’m still reading and re-reading through the book, and it’s hard to pick favorites, as the theme blends so well with voices chosen.
I have enjoyed Carly Quisenberry’s “Love Poem for Me,” and Beth Copeland’s “Cleave,” and Madison Tompkin’s “The Fingertips of Ferns,” especially. ♥

I am also now a Goodreads Author! Whoo hoo! The book can be found on Goodreads, so check it out and add it to your Want to Read list!
I promise it’s worth it.

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