Many people reading this blog post will know that I have a Bachelors degree in English with a Literature concentration. That basically meant that once I got the general education classes out of the way, I spent three (3) years in college reading a variety of literature, then analyzing and discussing the meaning, themes, or lack thereof. Once I graduated from UCF and went to law school, those same skills came in quite handy, but for a completely different reason. No longer was I focused on uncovering the symbolism in the word usage or discussion the themes of a variety of works, I was focused on the issue, rule, analysis and conclusion (IRAC) and trying to survive the Socratic method when sometimes I had literally no idea what was going on. At least I’d mastered the art of sounding like I knew what was going on in my literature classes, it was much harder to fake it in law school. Plus, all of a sudden I wasn’t the most intellectual, the fastest to make connections. Suddenly, my classes and the assigned reading was hard and took all of my focus and effort.
I left the art of reading behind when I went to law school and then left it even farther behind when I started working. Yes, I still read for fun, but I mostly focused on light reading to escape from the seriousness of dealing with legal cases or read books that would help me develop some necessary skill, leadership or otherwise.
I re-embraced my rusty creative writing skills once I was diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer and started my blog.
Writing was fun again.
Instead of using my ability to put words together to accomplish some goal, I could write with no apparent goal. I could write for the sake of writing. Deadlines were no longer looming and time was available. My energy level is nowhere near what it was before obtaining a terminal diagnosis and the side effects that come from the medical interventions and necessary medications; yet, now there is space for me, space for me to write.
Writing has always been how I work out my feelings. When they stay locked up in my head or wherever feelings are, they are intruders, inexplicable and unknowable. When I can lay them out in black and white, with maybe a handy metaphor to make some sense of them, I can understand them. I think I’ve always been this way. I can focus on the here and now, but feelings often make me uncomfortable to the point of wanting to run away.
Writing keeps order.
The rules of spelling and grammar and structure give me a framework.
Without this structure, I feel awash, drowning in emotion, most of it dark and unwieldy. There just aren’t enough words or images that convey the reality of living with a terminal diagnosis, to seeing what was slip away, to watching everything I’ve known and relied upon changed irrevocably.
So I began to write. I began to give some structure to what I was feeling and seeing and experiencing. And it helped.
But I was still missing something.
Blogging is truly a solitary endeavor. I write my posts. I publish them. I add a picture or two and then I go on with my day, with my doctors appointments and the inevitable tasks that come with being a mom and a wife. Sometimes people comment. Sometimes it seems that a lot of people are reading a particular post. Sometimes I get feedback. Most of that is secondary to the catharsis of writing, of creating word images that reflect the moras in my mind.
And then I heard about the Unspoken Ink writing workshop with Lacuna Loft from my dear friend, Meg Chase.
And the sky opened up.
The act of writing and discussing and providing feedback and reflection with other women experiencing something so similar to me has been what I didn’t know I was looking for. Despite the vulnerability of sharing intimate thoughts while we all look at one another through the computer screen via Zoom, it is both a safe and an exposing experience. There are tears, laughter, kindness and yet a fearlessness that is necessary to particular.
I highly recommend this workshop. It is life changing, life affirming, awe inspiring, and oh so necessary.
The workshop is designed for early stage survivors and for younger women; however, despite the fact that I’m stage IV, I am getting a lot out of it. Despite the fact that it would seem that my perspective is darker, more grim, many of the women in the class are dealing with very similar issues as I do. Also, we have a few women who are older than I and that different perspective brings a different level of insight as well.
Bottom line, we are better together and when we are vulnerable together, it builds community, it builds our connection to others and it leaves us feeling less isolated.
Check out Lacuna Loft’s offerings and maybe I’ll see you during the next workshop series!