“Sharing the stories of your difficult times can also guide others in navigating their own journeys.” Writing for Bliss ~Diana Raab, Ph.D
I am so excited to be headed out for the “Writing for Bliss” weekend workshop with Diana Raab, Ph.D at 1440 Multiversity! Focusing on memoir and poetry is high on my writing priorities list this year. I read and loved two of Diana’s books so when I saw the workshop announcement in an email last weekend I signed up immediately.
1440 is a new venue set in Scott’s Valley near Santa Cruz, California. Adding in a bit of yoga, meditation, and a walk in the redwoods while I’m there sounds perfect ;-). Except for this nasty cough! Came down with the virus the kids have… but, resting as I write this post ahead of time, hoping I’ll be well enough to head out Friday morning.
My book reviews are here: “Writing for Bliss” by Diana Raab, PhD and here: “Healing with Words – A Writer’s Cancer Journey” by Diana Raab, PhD
Amongst other projects (grateful for the muse’s awakening but thinkin’ she’s afflicted with a bit of ADD!), I am working on my career memoir. I am writing about how grief, loss, chronic migraines, and trauma propelled me along my career flight path and ultimately into private practice a good fifteen years “ahead of schedule.” You see, in the beginning, I had it all worked out.
“I’ll work mental health & substance abuse, hospital & medical social work, get a few years in at hospice, then when I’m fully gray in my older years, vested with a nice retirement and needing to sit comfortably in a chair while helping others, I’ll hang out my private practice shingle.”
Well, yes, I did work in all of those environments. Yes, I followed my passion for working in healthcare that began as a teen.
And, well, yes, I worked at a hospice too, even if all too briefly. More importantly, though, hospice has been a part of my personal life while two loved ones died from cancer.
I loved each environment I’ve worked in for the challenges to my personal and professional growth, and the potential to positively impact the lives of those served. Deep friendships developed with colleagues and eye-opening, life-changing experiences on each leg of the trip contributed to how I live my life today, personally and professionally. For better or worse.
However, I had planned to stick with each one much longer than I actually did. Life happened. S*** happened. A toxic interpersonal environment propelled me to flee. Terminal cancer happened to a loved one (my brother). A brutal round of vicarious trauma occurred. Twins happened = JOY!! Oh, and let’s not forget my ever faithful traveling companion Chronic Migraine.
What is that saying, “Life is what happens while we are busy making plans”? Yep, that’s my life. Some plans have worked out splendidly. Overall, in the bigger picture, I’ve accomplished much that I set out to accomplish and I am grateful for that. Other plans, notsomuch.
By November of 2014, I was 49 years-old and ready for a new challenge. I had taken a year-long break from work. I refer to these periodic breaks as “layovers” on my career flight. A busy family life and the need to control my schedule and environment pretty much propelled my next career move. Private practice was all that was left on my career bucket list. Not yet “a wise old social worker,” I set out cautiously to “hang out my shingle” with advice and mentoring from two wise-women in my life.
Ironically, or perhaps perfectly timed, I was fully gray by then – a gift of genetics, I suppose! And life, well, yes, life brought a few experiences that do contribute to my ability to be a healing presence for others.
I am writing about the interwovenness of my career and life as a way to come to terms with certain realities – realities that are painful to look at, difficult to admit. Realities I am still struggling to accept.
Acceptance, a sign of the grief process advancing towards balanced integration, does not come easily. The process can be lifelong.
“Life” and work have always been intertwined, each affecting the other dramatically. I hope my career memoir will be helpful to others.
Private practice was the last goal on the list – it is ever satisfying and fits perfectly in my life now. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to be of service to others in the form of psychotherapy.
I imagine my memoir wrapping up as I walk through these days having lost my mother to breast cancer. Lots of gardening and spilling tears are forecast.
Seemingly out of the blue last summer (after a month of yoga!) my writing muse made herself known, loudly. Her voice was powerfully insistent on being heard. So, here I am, writing. It’s not a career – writing – it’s another part of the fabric of my life and work. Social work. Therapy. Integrating writing into my career was not on the original list. But, I am so happy to be exploring how to add it now!
Writing over the past nine months has indeed been healing. I’ve gone from nightmares of evil horses trying to kill me, to a sweet powerful red bay mare trying to save me from other evils while we ran with the wind. Now THAT is true healing. I know, because I lived the PTSD nightmare from an equine ejection event while in college. That was my first experience with PTSD. My second experience was by way of vicarious trauma on the job. A story for another time.
Just to exemplify my point about planning and life, this week’s plans were subverted by life, too. After a five-week layover to concentrate on being with and helping my mother during her last days I planned to go back to work. I made it through Tuesday. Bam! Nasty virus with fever, enters the picture!
And so, off I go (come hell or high water or snow which is forecasted!) to immerse myself in writing for the weekend! For bliss, as Diana says, for my family whose stories are epic, and for my spirit who soars when I write.
And of course, for anyone interested in my story!
*featured photo by yours truly – winter color
*Quotes of Wisdom – a Friday at 9am (Pacific Time Zone) series offering Wisdom, Feel Good, Inspirational and Thought-provoking Quotes. Sometimes with links and most likely, with too many thoughts of my own included.
As always, thank you for visiting! Feel free to like, comment, share, follow my journey or re-blog as your heart and mind desire. Namaste