Recap: You Did It!

Under the Dragon!


There are so many parallels between having a chronic illness and being imprisoned. –Fiona Martin, journalist visiting from Sydney, Australia who became my friend on Alcatraz Island.

I am joyfully celebrating publishing two of the thirty intended posts for the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge (HAWMC) 2015. Here’s why:

First of all, that’s two posts more than I wrote for HAWMC (pronounced HAH-mick) 2014.

Secondly, I have a gung-ho habit of pushing beyond my limits in a way that interferes with my healing. So this year, I promised myself that I would find a way to participate gently, within my limits, and sustainably. Days 1 to 10 of this challenge went by without any submissions from me. I began to day dream about doing the whole blog challenge in one day. It was very hard to give up my Mega-Type-A-Overachieving ways! 

Finally I got myself to my desk. Slowly, mindfully, I promised myself that I would get the post written and published in an hour and a half. I was going to keep it short and simple, allowing my perfectionism to stay in check.

An hour later, I celebrated being on track with my goal. “Why don’t I take care of the battery message that keeps flashing at me”, I thought. “If I wait for my mouse to totally die, it’s only going to take up more time and effort than replacing it right now.”

I got up, walked around the corner from my desk to grab batteries, and as I headed back to my chair I stubbed my toe so badly that I screamed in pain for many, many moments. When I called a nurse, I thought she would give me instructions for proper care. Instead she insisted that I go to the emergency room. What?!

I published my post, had something to eat, packed a bunch of things for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patient survival, then Ubered it to the emergency room.

“It’s broken”, the person in charge of my case said quietly, as he returned from examining my X-rays. What??!!

I managed to publish another post the next day but spiraled downwards. I now had even less wherewithal than when I was struggling to start the blog challenge in the first place. Finally, on the morning of day 22, I sat on the edge of my bed preparing to meditate. “I need a sign”, I said out loud to nobody in particular. “If I could end up seeing the exhibition on Alcatraz despite the fact that the tickets sold out ages ago, I would take that as a sign that I’m okay.”

Having temporarily released the pain from the depths of my soul, I began my meditation. When I opened my eyes an hour later, there was a message on my phone. It said, “My name is Gaul and somebody in our group can’t make it to Alcatraz. Meet us on Pier 33 at 8am tomorrow.” What???!!!

I immediately began to prepare. First I needed a strategy for getting to the pier by 8am (alert my hosts to my disability, Uber, pack breakfast to have on Alcatraz, lots of alkaline water, all my pills). I paced myself carefully but it still took me about a week to recover afterwards. This did not dim the fact that more amazing coincidences than I can recount here took place that day. I noticed my mojo beginning to return and after six days began posting the pictures and video from @Large by Ai Weiwei on Instagram.

Some of the political prisoners depicted in one of the installations have been released since the exhibit opened in September 2014. I realized that I too can use Creative Dissent to help improve the lot of other “prisoners” like me. Thank you to Ai Weiwei, FOR-SITE Foundation, Gaul Culley, Kim Martindale and Alcatraz Island for supporting and inspiring me. Having been quiet on for over a year, I am now preparing to return to regular blogging. Maybe I can choose a few of the HAWMC 2015 prompts for future posts. Wish I Would Have Known from day 30 is already catching my eye…


The days after Alcatraz...

Please see the rest of my pictures and video from @Large on

You’ve crossed the #HAWMC finish line. Recap the past month for us. What did you enjoy, what didn’t you enjoy? Favorite prompt?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *