I hate posts that start out “sorry I haven’t written lately, but…” so I won’t do that today.

Or I could pretend I’m going to confession… “Forgive me, dear reader, it’s been four months since my last post…”

It’s been a hard four months. Bad doctor visits, disappointing MRI results, frustration and pain all around. The good news is that, with the encouragement of my neurologist and pain management doctors, I’ve started seeing a Chinese MD who practices acupuncture. In two weeks I’ve already had more good days than I have in the last two months. We still don’t have a specific diagnosis for my neurological disorder, and no one is suggesting this might cure it, but any relief is welcome.

Today is the first time I’ve felt like writing in all these months. To be accurate, I have done some journal entries, but those were mostly whining, stream-of-consciousness, crap that kept me from whining as much as I wanted to out loud to people who love me. I can only complain to my husband and mother so much and then I get tired of me. They don’t know how much they owe my journals.

The challenge now is what to write about. Part of me would like to recreate this website and reconsider my topics. When I look at my most popular blog posts, I find they are ones that I wrote on a whim, or for fun, or because I was frustrated and just didn’t care who knew it. Posts that I really slaved over barely got noticed. There’s a lesson in there somewhere. I think it has to do with going with my gut, my passions, and ignoring my inner critic. That’s what I’m doing right now, by the way. Since I haven’t written in four months (gasp! still some disbelief that it’s been that long!), part of me hopes this isn’t the post everyone reads.

I know what I don’t want to write here. I do not want political commentary–that’s being done to death by people more in the loop than I. Nor do I want to write a how-to for other writers–that is also being done to death, and since I taught writing and composition for years I’m still burned out on that topic. I do not want this to be a journal about the ups and downs of my writerly life, although if I have great news or startling revelations I hope to share it on my Facebook page or Twitter feed.

I wish to be bold. I want to write posts that make people think, and talk, and understand each other. I took a lot of rhetoric classes in grad school, and when I left that environment I was used to conversing with people from all over the world about everything. I enjoyed hearing their stories, experiences, philosophies. I grew from asking the hard questions and really listening to the answers. I was trained to draw people into discourse about life, culture, religion, literature, and the meaning of it all. Fortunately that was before the world started sharing its thoughts in 140 characters or less. Before social media added to the polarizing tendencies where we now read and write for audiences who think just like we do. Before we started believing that just because we surrounded ourselves with people who believe the same things we do, we must be right. Before right was decided by popularity votes based on clever memes and thirty-second soundbites instead of researching the facts, respectfully discussing the issues, and thoughtful contemplation.

My struggle today is how to write boldly enough to share my thoughts in a way that they get attention and genuine discussion. I am passionate about the Bible, chronic invisible disabilities, human trafficking, literacy and universal education, religious freedom, the environment, and sustainable agriculture. I want to not only share my thoughts and observations on these topics, but also learn others’ experiences and beliefs. I love following Humans of New York for this very reason.

Since my strokes (or because of my strokes?), I have lost that bold fearlessness that allowed me to tackle these topics among colleagues and students. My voice is different, both in person and in writing. Perhaps because I feel so alone now, I fear pushing more people away. I don’t want to cross the line that separates bold discourse from rude isolation. But today I’m not sure where that line is. Unfortunately that fear is keeping me silent and keeping me from the discussions I crave.

What will my future posts look like? I’m not sure. I hope they will be worth reading. I hope they will be thought provoking. I hope they will be creative. Jesus taught primarily through parable, and I believe that’s because humans learn best by hearing stories. That’s why I have studied and taught literature, and why I now write fiction.

“You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.” ¬†~~ Aristotle

My goal here is to be courageous, to write boldly, regardless of genre. My hope is that you, as my loyal readers, will share your thoughts, passions, and experiences in respectful dialogue so we may all learn from each other.