Monday, September 08, 2008

Crash, Slip, Decree - Other Gifts of Destruction

Two Votre Vray Creative Women, Toni Quest ( and Dawn Clare ( had life interrupted by a devastating car crash. Ketra Oberlander (who will be featured later this week) became blind after years working in print media. Many Votre Vray women received or handed out divorce papers. Sometimes these seemingly destructive events change a person's life for the better. Out of the ashes, so rises our phoenix of personal focus and creativity.

When the message doesn't get through, sometimes you get told more frequently with vehemence. Let me give you a personal example of being too hard-headed to understand the messages. Nearly 12 years go I ruptured my post-tibial tendon (it is the one that runs from the inside of your knee, under the arch, back up toward the outer knee area). I was not a good patient. I insisted upon working when I was told not to. In the end, the doctor said he was putting me in a cast, sending me home for a month and when I returned at to have it removed, he'd not only yell at me, but put me into surgery and keep me out of work for at least six months. Okay, I stayed at home for a month, spent most of the time sitting and knitting, and went back to a job I hated, that was at least 85% rote and lacked creativity.

I realized I needed a change, so I switched jobs within the year, and returned to teaching in public schools. Within weeks I was overwhelmed by all the energy I was giving others, and began denying my own creative needs again. I became a ball of stress, but the next fall, as I began saying to myself, "This isn't working for me," I was given a chance to go for free to the National Storytelling Festival. Once at the festival, I learned of the master's degree program in Storytelling at East Tennessee State University. By the next fall I had resigned my position to be a full-time student of storytelling.

So enthralled with my creative life, I completed all my coursework in two semesters and one summer session. I then spent several semesters writing and re-writing my thesis (a topic for another day). While I worked on my thesis, I returned to public education as a teacher, and again found myself drained of any creative energy because I was giving all I had in the classroom. Soon, I found out I needed a partial hysterectomy due to tumors, one was the size of a tennis ball! (Just this past summer one of the Votre Vray Creative Women, Chris of told me she'd read those same tumors were considered signed of blocked creativity! I've since confirmed this research and heard that several self-help doctors agree.)

After my surgery, I yet again returned to public education, giving more than I had to give mentally, emotionally and spiritually to my students and job. I became clinically depressed. Then, and only then, did I say, "Enough!" and begin living the creative life of my dreams.

It took three hiatuses from work before I realized that loving the students and wanting them to be successful was not enough. I needed to care for my own health and success first. Now that I do that, I'm feeling better than I've felt in over a decade. I'm just sorry I was such a stubborn fool and that it took me so long.

Next time: I'll talk about fear and creativity.
Until then, keep creating!

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