Behind the Mask

(Halloween/Fall wreath I made last year)

One week out from Halloween, a day when people put on another face or personality, I thought about how much we sometimes pretend to be something that we’re not-or when we push something to the side instead of facing it(okay, it’s really about how much I do this). It’s been my theme for the past 12 months after the spinal cord stim (SCS) surgery(October 2017). With each medical procedure (to bring you up to speed, there were 3), I expected to be a step toward feeling better. Yet, other physical issues cropped up and a few visits from my old friend DVT(a.k.a. blood clots), had pretty much zapped away any strength or writing focus I have been grasping in my cold arthritic hands.

Please don’t get me wrong, I did have some fantastic news (TLCB being nominated for N. Carolina and Tennessee book awards!) and opportunities (most recently-my 1st time as an Author Moderator at ReadUp festival, SC) in 2018 amidst the various health issues, of which I’m very grateful. But pain has drained my energy and for each fun opportunity, my recovery period lasted longer than the time before. This is one of the reasons, I haven’t written a blog post in so long. I didn’t feel very creative and I didn’t want to sound so negative or ungrateful. Usually I like to share how I’m dealing with the difficulty and quite frankly I am still searching for a way to get through all this.

Being able to honor my mom while discussing The Last Cherry Blossom (TLCB) with students and knowing that I may have played a small role in their understanding that nuclear weapons should never be used again brings joy and meaning into my life. I have no regrets devoting my energy to that. However, I’ve also come to realize that when I’m doing school or conference visits, I’m unable to devote quality time to research and writing. I must confess that I’m disappointed that I can’t do both, as I originally intended. If I’m really honest with myself, I’m extremely ticked off that Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) brought my career to a halt 17 years ago and now that I thought I found something I could do, the progression of RSD may take that away as well. (it seems that my RSD pain is spreading to the incision site of the stent implanted in June-heavy, heavy sigh).

There have also been other factors causing me to question how I will proceed with writing. As some may know, this past spring the parent company (Skyhorse Publishing) of the imprint that published TLCB (Sky Pony Press), reduced the number of books it will be publishing annually, and their reorganization laid off the editorial staff of Sky Pony Press. So, my hope of a sequel to TLCB, to which I was devoting my time and energy, when I had it, is now looking less certain.

Any self-confidence I had evaporated. Insecurity and the awful feeling that I’ve let people down quickly swooped in to replace it. I’ve been pushing these feelings aside for the past months and pretending everything is going well. I mean, if I say something long enough, it becomes true, doesn’t it?  Sort of like if I keep saying when you eat crispy rice treats straight from the pan, there are less calories-don’t judge. 😊

I do have other ideas for manuscripts and have even started researching/writing them. Yet the story my heart yearns to tell is the one of my main character, Yuriko. How she is trying to find meaning for her life and dealing with symptoms of PTSD, while living among the soldiers of the US Occupation forces and without her Papa.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to acknowledge the fact that my health may not get any better than it is right now-and may even be getting worse. I’ve been praying. I’m reminded that with God all things are possible and that He is made stronger in our weakness (I know I gave Him one huge energy booster shot over the past year). I don’t like change-but then again, who does? So, I decided to write this post while I’m still in the mess of it all. The feelings are no longer put aside and hidden with a smile.

(EEK! A mask on building in Izu from our visit in 2015)

I hope I can gain a little more of my pre-surgery physical and emotional strength back. And you can be sure that I will keep visiting with students (I just may have to do more Skype visits). But I need to work on accepting the fact that an instant solution to all this will not arrive gift wrapped and tied with a sparkling bow-oh, but wouldn’t it be cool if it did?! 😊 So, the mask is off, and hopefully I won’t scare anyone away while I’m waiting.

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13 thoughts on “Behind the Mask

  1. Kathleen, I got goosebumps when I read of your plans for a sequel. You MUST write this! That’s all I know. Don’t worry about the publishing part of it today. This is a story deeply connected to your first book, a story with heart and meaning that must be shared. I thought of all the readers who care about your characters (including me) who want to read more. Please give them (and me) this gift!


  2. Joan Y. Edwards says:

    Dear Kathleen,
    I am sorry that you are enduring so much pain. May God continue to bless you with fun experiences and bless you with a publisher for your sequel to The Last Cherry Blossom!

    Love, Joan


  3. Sweet Friend, Mask or no mask, you are you. You are God’s creation and He will be right by you as He has been. I am so sorry for the pain and for the harsh changes that seem to be upon you at this moment. God has plans for you, Kathleen, just like He does for me in this new season of my life. I am wanting to write and cannot find words although I sense they are nearby. I hope so. I often wear a mask these days because it seems easier to say, “I’m ok” rather than telling someone the whole way I am really feeling. But I want to be open and honest. I am learning. I hold you in prayer and thank God for you. You bless me in ways you cannot know for I do not have words for that either. My heart knows it though. Walk in the way He wants you to go…He will guide you, Kathleen. Sky Pony or not, if there is that book to be published, there will be a publisher. If God wants you to write about Yuriko, He will direct that path. He is our Mighty God and I am ever-so-grateful. I care, Kathleen, as do many others. We love you and so does God. Caring through Christ, ~ linda


    • Linda, your words to me are like one big hug. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement. I’m thinking of you and praying for you as well. I’m so grateful I met you through your blog. Your friendship means so much to me, even though we’ve never met in person, I feel we have in our hearts. I know God has a path for you as well. Sending you much love, my sweet friend ❤


  4. welcomeheart says:

    I’m sorry for your health issues – so many. I pray they will all go away so you can write – or that God will enable you to do HIs will any way possible. sue


  5. I am not scared (of you!) and I congratulate you on unmasking. I can’t imagine the pain you’re going through. I think a re-shift of your goals and expectations is healthy. Hope is important…but acknowledging the reality of your life (as much as you’re not happy with it) is even more. “Our strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Cor 12:9. Thank you for being willing to show your weakness. love and prayers–and thoughts as I drove past UNCW today. AND congratulations on all your accolades. What wonderful gifts!


  6. I will be praying for you, Kathleen, as you seek what God’s will is for you and for the beautiful stories you have within you. Often, it’s in our darkest moments when his rainbow is waiting to shine through the clouds.


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