How do you stay positive when the world around you sucks? by Georgie Donaghey
2016 is now history, but for many her impact cut deep and the wounds are still raw.
Every year the world loses a multitude of talented people. Last year was no different. However for me, so many of them had touched my life in some way growing up.
I was mesmerised by Muhammad Ali both in and out of the ring. Not only was (and still is) he my favourite sportsperson, but also someone I admired enormously for his courage and for his passion in his beliefs.
The 'list', I'm sad to say goes on; from Mr Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder), David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Jon English, Alan Rickman, Ronnie Corbett, Garry Marshall, Ross Higgins, Max Walker, Zsa Zsa Gabor Florence Henderson, Alan Thicke, Prince, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds and then what would have to be the most crushing celebrity loss for me, George Michael. I can't even begin to put into words how his music carried and embraced me throughout various times of my life. To know there will be no new music from someone who was a storyteller through song is a tragedy.
For me personally, my saddest and most devastating loss was the loss of my mother; after enduring a long illness with Lewy Body Dementia and in her final years, cancer. It is hard to face the fact she is no longer around. I often think 'I must call Mum and tell her that', or when I hear something that she would have found amusing I am reminded that she is gone.
I take comfort in the fact that like my mother, many who passed last year are no longer confused, scared or in pain. But how often when you express your feelings over a celebrity loss, is it dismissed by society:
'Well, you didn't know the person so how can you take their passing personally?'
'Don't be silly you didn't even know them'.
'That was last week, haven't you gotten over it yet?'
It's easy to consider celebrities a part of your family when you grow up watching their movies, seeing them on TV or listening to their music. They speak to you. For whatever reason you can relate to them, the character they play or their music reaches out and touches your soul.
For those who are left to mourn their passing, how do we do it? How do you stay positive when the world around you sucks?
Writing is hard enough with everyday distractions, let alone when you are grieving. Yes, writing can be cathartic but what about if you write for children. After all, there is time for children to learn about life and all it brings with it.
For everyone, it is different there is not only grief for lives lost but other factors that can impact our creativity such as poverty, war, the destruction of the environment, natural disasters and of course political changes.
I am by no means an expert in the field of grief, but I found writing through the rain of my past year tapped into voices I didn't know were there. Pushing myself through it is not only healing, but also reminds me that happiness will return.
If you find that the world around you has left you creatively challenged, I adopted the following. It might just help you too.
Reading - A good way of easing back into things is by reading. As my interest is in writing for children I've found surrounding myself with picture books past and present has helped connect with other writers and also helped my new found writer's voice.
Write – At first, it's not going to be anything you might want to share. There will probably be a lot of anger in it and it may not even make sense. Start off small; a few lines a day and then as you feel ready a paragraph or two, then a page and so on. The point is to get the writing muscles flexed. Write through the pain, write through the tears. In time you will find a strength and joy in your words again.
Many use their new found emotions to capture a voice they can use in their writing. It can be extremely emotional to tap into those wounds, but you might be surprised what will come through in your writing.
Social media - Try to avoid the call of social media. Yes, it has become almost a daily ritual to jump on and see what the world is up to, but let's face it a lot of people take to social media to complain and you really don't need that while you are trying to heal.
Take stock – Losing someone close is one way of catapulting us to that all-important realisation of our own mortality. We are reminded that time is precious and now is as good a time as any to start putting ourselves first and grabbing onto our dreams with both hands. I am thankful for the support of my family, friends and fellow writers but it is time to stop mucking around with my writing, stop getting sidetracked and just get the job done! I owe that to myself.
Time for you – Most importantly is always, always take care of yourself. No-one can fully understand how you feel; everyone is different and processes situations in different ways. Don't let anyone tell you how you should or shouldn't feel.
Be good to yourself
'Cause nobody else
Has the power to make you happy – George Michael
Thoughtful advice from the heart Georgie. Especially your view that time is short and to stop mucking about and getting on with writing. Taking that advice right now for a bright New Year. And I also think it's worth reminding ourselves there's a lot of future readers and writers of song, poetry and prose being born every minute. Heartening!