Another installment in the series of posts of the WCWW scholarship contest winners and runners-up! Today’s post is written by Courtney Ramirez, one of our scholarship runners-up. Enjoy!
I’m a writer.
I’ve been an online writer for the past five and a half years but have written in some form for most of my life. The past five years have been full of IM, SEO, PR and a bunch of other acronyms. I write for other people, mainly pretending to be them. It was a big treat when a client gave me my own byline last month. I was thrilled. I estimate that I write between 200 and 250 pages/articles of content each month for other people. My online job has been a huge blessing for our family. I have never had to put our daughters in day care. I can work when I want to (relatively). We’re going to be able to homeschool them, which we are really passionate about. Working as a writer has allowed me to replace my husband’s income so he could go get the college degree he’s always deserved (and lose 100 pounds and become a more calm person in the process).
Despite all of this goodness that writing has allowed me, I feel very unfulfilled. In the last month, I’ve written about IM techniques for small business, SEO marketing, franchise businesses and using bit.ly. These topics don’t get my gears cranking…but I’m good at it and I get consistent work. That’s nice…but my voice is missing. I write under others, so very little of my opinion is out there. I feel like I’ve lost my voice and I want to gain it back.
Why is my voice so important? I have some very powerful things to teach and to share. Three years ago, I began feeling the effects of what turned out to be chronic fatigue syndrome. Looking back now, if I weren’t in my head so much and weren’t so disconnected from my body, I probably would have noticed it earlier. Some of my symptoms date back ten years and I just played it off as being overworked, being pregnant, having a newborn, rinse, repeat. Once my youngest was 2 I realized I couldn’t play the “I have a new baby so that’s why there are bags under my eyes and I can’t concentrate on what you are saying.” card. With what little energy I had, I continued doing the paying work and stopped blogging and basically doing anything that would require me to think past 500 word chunks. I stopped speaking my mind, because I couldn’t piece things together and I just became a content writing, mothering zombie.
But I also kept learning about my condition. As a nethead, my first stop in my CFS discovery process was online forums. The first I visited was full of people getting info on how to go on disability, complaining about being bedridden, moaning, whining…etc. I thought that was just that one forum…but everywhere I went people were acting like this was a death sentence. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen that episode of King of the Hill where Bill finds out he might have diabetes someday, and decides to call it a day and get a wheelchair because he’ll need one in the future? It was kind of like that but on a massive scale. Because there is no official medical treatment for CFS and there is no “cure”, people give up. Fuck that.
I am an outsider when it comes to health care…I don’t trust doctors (besides my awesome naturopath) and I delivered both of our girls at home. There’s no way someone in a white coat is going to tell me what to do and how to do it, or that I’m going to be a lifeless lump for the rest of my life. I started reading everything I could about mindset and healing, nutrition and hidden food allergies. By changing my diet entirely, using specific supplements and doing a great deal of behavior modification, I am about 65% better than I was just a year ago. I still can’t take a walk around the block with my family without getting dizzy…but I am able to hold a conversation for more than 15 minutes and I’m not sleeping for 12 hours a day. That is damn good progress….
I tell you this because I feel like there is a huge gap of missing information in the chronic fatigue syndrome sufferers community (and this applies to fibromyalgia as well). People need hope. People need solutions that don’t include taking another prescription medication with side effects worse than the symptoms. Once you don’t accept your fate as a sick person, things turn the corner.
Another significant part of my temporary condition (note the wording) is that I’ve learned to be satisfied with less. I’ve learned to savor more. I used to be very yin – very go, go, go…push, push, push. When I first got diagnosed I sunk into depression because I couldn’t “succeed” anymore….I couldn’t be the top dog so I instantly associated that with failure. I got down on myself. But after a six month long pity party, I realized that I could either become one of those forum people, or I could change my perspective. I came to appreciate the small things and realize that my personal fulfillment and excitement about my day to day life was what determined success. Not some outward evaluation of bigger, better, faster, more. I’ve learned to embrace going slower, and that’s permeated the rest of my life.
So how do these two things tie together and what do they have to do with world changing writing? I have two different blogs in mind – Slow Growth Success and CFS/ME Recovery. The first will be honoring a slower path to success – the tortoise gets further, savoring the small things is better, etc. CFS/ME Recovery will be dedicated to my somewhat unique view of CFS as a transition toward understanding yourself and respecting your own health, learning to love your body and treat it well.
I write for so many other people all of the time…I feel like I have no voice. My last foray into blogging and putting myself out there as me ended weirdly and left me feeling bad about using my own voice. I want to get past this because I feel like I have a lot of important things to share. I want to do this by really changing the world and reaching people, rather than just telling them what’s what like I used to in the past.
Courtney Ramirez is an SEO Copywriter and Ghostwriter who specializes in health, green friendliness, small business and Internet marketing. While she’s not courting carpal tunnel syndrome, she loves to make up funny songs with her daughters, ages 5 and 3, and watch b-movies and British comedies with her husband Mike. They all live in Santa Cruz, California, and Courtney can be found at her blog and on Twitter.