Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thursday Coffee Talk :Nov.5, author, Kristi Astor aka Kristina Cook

Welcome to the House of Muse kitchen, where the coffee(and hot water for tea) is always on and guests can come in through the back door to have a sit and catch up on whats going on in each other's lives.

Today I am really excited to have with us, the warm and talented author, Kristina Cook aka Kristi Astor.  Already a successful Kensington historical author before I met her, I am honored to call her my writing partner (with Charlotte Featherstone) in the mini-series Celtic Spice anthologies we concieved and wrote together.

But today, we're going to talk about overcoming obstacles. And Kristi's story is one of many I have come to know about, particularly in the writing world. We were just talking about this and had to wonder of the connection to this condition to writer's. I rarely hear of men with the same symptoms, but perhaps they too, exist.

Nonetheless, of those women that I know, who write and also deal with physical obstacles in order to do so, my admiration soars for their courage and tenacity--for their passion to tell a great story!

So, warm up your cups and gather around the table to hear how she spends a typical day in her "office."

"Survival Gear"

So….here I sit in my office, all bundled up in my sweats and thick socks and Ugg boots, my two space heaters roaring away to supplement the heat from my radiator. I clutch a hot mug of tea in my hands, and consider plugging in my heating pad to put in my chair, behind my back.

You’re probably thinking, “Wow, it must be really cold there!” No, it’s pretty much a typical crisp fall day here in the northeast, cool but not yet cold. Still, the heaters and warm clothes and everything else are pretty much my “survival gear”—the things I need in order to accomplish what I need to accomplish each day. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis. I was only diagnosed last year, so it’s still pretty new to me. I’m still adjusting—still trying to learn my way around what feels like a total new body to me (and a traitorous one, at that!).

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease. No one knows what causes it, why your body’s immune system suddenly begins attacking your joints. But there’s more than the joint pain and stiffness—there’s also fatigue. I’ve gotten lucky; my joint damage is minimal. I pop two pills every morning now. Interestingly enough, my meds are actually anti-malaria drugs that turned out to treat RA symptoms, too—I feel like I should make use of that and take a trip to Africa or India or something! Before I started treatment, I was having really bad joint pain and swelling in my hands and wrists, and my feet would hurt after standing for a while, but no actual damage was done to the joints themselves. At least, not yet.

The medication has really helped with that, though I still get occasional swelling, and in the dead of winter have been known to wear fingerless gloves all day long (even eating out at restaurants!). But it’s the fatigue that really gets me, and the meds don’t help that at all. I could sleep all day, every day. Getting out of bed to get my kids off to school is a struggle. First, because I’m just exhausted all the time, but also because it takes a good hour or so in the morning before the stiffness goes away.

I’m only 40, but in the mornings I feel like an 80-year old. As soon as my husband leaves to take the kids to school, I climb back in my bed, one of the few places that I always feel warm and cozy and comfortable (the other place would be in a hot bath). Sometimes it’s a few more hours before I get up again. I sometimes fear that, if allowed, I’d stay there all day.

Not a good way to live a productive life—and certainly not a productive life as a writer! Thus, the warm clothes, the multiple heaters, the hot cups of tea, the heating pad in my chair. It helps some, my survival gear, but I know I’ll have to make more adjustments in my life before I can be as productive as I was before.

We all have our own “survival gear” to meet our own individual challenges as women, as moms, as writers, readers. For some people, it can be as simple as a cup of coffee every morning. Or plugging into an iPod. Some women have challenges that are much more serious than mine—I’ve known at least one writer who required an oxygen mask to sit at her desk and write.

I want to thank Kristi for stopping by today and sharing how she is able to press on through this obstacles in her life in order to write. We all have those hurdels-large or small-- that we have to manage in order to achieve our goals. If there is something to be learned here, its that there are those who understand what you're dealing with and will support you and that tenacity and courage is essential to achieving your goals.

Today , Kristi is giving away her recently released, NASCAR series book-FORCES OF NATURE to one lucky winner who comments today!  This book is especially important as Kristi was in the midst of writing it when she learned of her condition. As authors, we pour our beings into writing--and as such, I 've no doubt that this is an exceptional read!
What about you? What’s your daily “survival gear”?

(*I think mine is that first cuppa in the morning;)...Amanda)