This has been a crazy year. I’m working through a divorce, although still parenting with, working with and friends with my soon to be ex. And I moved into a new house—a 90 year old cottage in a small arty community. Add to that two new cats (and now a new dog) and, well, I didn’t need the excitement of a visiting bat.
It was in the middle of the night and one of the cats suddenly leapt up and swiped his paws at something flying through the bedroom. I thought moth, stumbled out of bed and then realized the wing span was much larger than any moth I’ve ever seen. My shriek of surprise got my daughter up and we were soon huddled in the bathroom, watching the cat dart around the room, trying to capture the bat.
The bat finally settled on a high window ledge and that led to the next discussion—what was the best thing to do? When my parents lived in an old house, they had so many visiting bats that they created their own bat-catching net. I did not have a net. We discussed trying to get the screen off a window, but we were on the second floor and if the cat got out the window—well, not good. My daughter then suggested a broom. I figured what would probably happen is that I wouldn’t get the bat, but just set it off flying again. And now it would be flying with a mission. It would be pissed and I would be the one left holding the broom. And then came the next realization…my ex, who is a pediatrician, has pointed out in the past that if a bat gets into a room while you are sleeping, you have to test it for rabies or you will have to get rabies shots. There is no good way to know that you weren’t bitten or scratched while you were sleeping even with two guard cats snuggled in bed. I had to capture the bat. My light bulb moment at 3:00 am? Vacuum it up. I must credit my parents for confirming this was a good plan and for also having given me a great vacuum with a long hose and plenty of suction.
I won’t digress into the trip to the State Veterinary Lab to have the bat tested (rabies negative). I bring this story up for a couple of reasons…
- We all have changes in our lives and with those changes come new challenges.
- We all can have moments of creative problem-solving if we trust that we will find a solution.
- Often there is more than one answer to any problem.
- When we face a fear and get through it, we need to honor our own growth.
- We need to recognize that we don’t always have to go it alone.
So….let’s take those conclusions and see how they might offer writing prompts.
- Write about the changes you have dealt with in your life. How do you feel about change? Do challenges feel exciting or overwhelming? I have a patient who is heading on a trip and she finally told me, “I’ve decided that I’m going to be excited rather than nervous.” Excitement and apprehension can both feel very similar—heart-racing, hard to catch your breath—the difference is often in how you interpret the situation. Can you switch any apprehension into excitement? Write about that. Another thing to consider is that people who don’t like change often fight against it. They work hard to keep everything stable and…well, the same. The challenge? Life is change. Change is going to happen. There is no way to control that. So write about what changes scare you? What changes would you like to see in your life?
- Write about a time when you suddenly came up with a “right” idea or answer. How did that feel? Do you trust yourself enough to come up with solutions that might feel harebrained at first, but really will work or will lead to another variation that will be the right answer? How can you work to trust and develop your creative bursts? Maybe take time to write about any solutions to a current problem. Don’t critique them—just write. You may jar loose a new idea.
- But there is usually more than one answer to any problem, so don’t keep worrying that you haven’t found the “perfect” solution. Write to discover some possible solutions, but if you are always second guessing yourself, then write about that. Do you feel that you need to be perfect? Other solutions to my bat problem would have probably worked. And if I hadn’t caught the bat, worse thing—rabies shots. Not fun, but not the end of the world. Write about your fears. Is there something that holds you back from change? A worst case scenario that is always lurking in the back of your mind? Write about it to discover your fears. Sometimes seeing your fears on paper can help you let go of some of your apprehension.
- Look back at some of your changes or challenges in life. How did you grow from them? Write about that.
- My next step is making certain I don’t have other bats in the house and try to figure out how this one got in. But I am certain enough of my skills to know that I need to bring in a professional. How do you feel when you think about relying on others? Write about that. Is it easy? Hard? Have there been times that you have relied on others and it didn’t go well? Is it hard to trust? Write about how you feel when you need others’ help.
So…go, Write On!...and try not to go too “batty”.
Martha Peaslee Levine, MD