Grounded

Monday, August 9th, 2010 10
Posted in: Refocus

During this past week, as summer dwindles down and the pull of the upcoming academic year is getting stronger, I’ve been working on a “for-fun” writing project that has stemmed from a workshop that I asked (maybe even begged) a friend of mine to lead for our fabulous, intimate group of women friends.  The piece could have been about anything, as long as it was non-fiction. No other parameters. I toyed around with a few ideas, but it didn’t take me long to decide to write about my experience of having cancer (there it is–the”C” word). I haven’t written anything about that time in my life and I took this workshop as a good opportunity to explore what I had to say.

I’ve drafted about half of the piece and it has felt good to write. Good to write something non-academic. Good to write about a very existential period. Good to write my own story. It isn’t great and needs a lot of editing, but I think it’s a decent start. What I’m reminded of as I’ve been writing the piece is how centered and focused I was during that time. And no, I’m not the first person to ever express this, but it is true that a crisis of health (or maybe of any kind) can bring about such gifts. I was astounded at how my life came into very sharp focus during that time. All of the unnecessary and tedious aspects of my every day just fell by the wayside. I wasn’t stressed about tenure. I wasn’t obsessing about losing 5 pounds. I wasn’t going over my to-do list. I wasn’t waking up in the middle of the night remembering an email I had forgotten to send. I wasn’t thinking about what I didn’t have or what I hadn’t achieved. No, I was focusing on my relationships. I was paying attention to my dog (we just had Ripken at the time; Parker wasn’t a glimmer in any–human or canine–eye). I was feeling immense gratitude for all I had in my life. I was grounded. Really grounded.

Appreciating the sweet cherries of summer (and I love the combo of blue and orange)

And then, as my health improved, my “old self” began to slowly re-emerge. I allowed, without even realizing it, the work stressors, comparisons with the Joneses, and self-criticisms to take root right where they had been before. I found myself not paying attention. I found myself becoming less and less grounded. . . But I’m starting to wake up again. I don’t want something like cancer, or a job loss, or a relationship ending to have to be what shakes me by the shoulders. I don’t want to live a life focused on what I do. I want to live a life focused on who I am. I want to really try to focus on “what matters” and practice gratitude each day. Grounded. I think this blog and my photography are helping me make my way back (which seems much better than the cancer-route).

10 Responses

  1. Laura says:

    Grounded = Good.

    The glass, as always, is way more than half full… it’s the perspective that matters most.

    Love you Megs!

  2. I can relate on many fronts here. I’ve been through crisis periods in my life, and I know that sense of intense focus that accompanies them. You swear you’ll never go back to the way things were, and when the crisis passes you’re back to…the way things were. Why is it so hard to just BE? I very much want the same things you’re talking about here. And, I love that photo of the bowl of cherries. I’m so impressed by your skills already!

  3. Anne says:

    I’m impressed that you took such a big step to write about your experience. I hope it was therapeutic and cathartic. Sometimes it’s a relief to get all those internal thoughts out of our own heads and onto something tangible. And, I love that blue-orange combo as well:)

  4. Wow, thanks for sharing that. I think we all struggle with keeping life in perspective and it’s so helpful to be reminded how important it is to focus on what matters. Amazing how metaphorical photography is, huh?!

  5. Jan says:

    I had no idea you’d been through that! You expressed what I’ve found in those crisis times exactly. Randy was stationed in Panama during the Viet Nam War and I remember thinking I would never forget to appreciate be able to turn on hot water or having an oven that I didn’t have to open the door and fan to regulate, etc. Hmmm.

    Thanks for a beautiful blog. That photo is simply, simple beauty.

  6. Tiffany Hogan says:

    great post Meghan!

  7. mary ebers says:

    That is wonderful, Meghan. I still struggle to articulate all of the things I was thinking and feeling when I went through that. You are obviously much better at expressing those things! Thank you for giving me the motivation to look at that time again, and see how I can relate the experience to how I want to live my life now. I’d love to read the full piece when you finish, if you want to share it.

  8. The Zadge says:

    Found your blog via twitter! As a photographer, I say bravo! Follow your path! (And I love the cherries image!)

  9. […] experience of being diagnosed with cancer five years ago and the ways in which that health crisis changed me and my life in an instant. I’m sure as you are reading this, just as I sit here writing, […]

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