The other day a friend stopped me. You haven’t updated your blog, she said. What gives? That’s a good question. What gives? The truth is that even since I gave my notice at work, I’ve been flailing a bit, tossed about by a bevvy emotions that I didn’t expect.
That’s not entirely true, I knew I’d be sad to leave. Swarthmore College is a wonderful place to work and I’ve been blessed with fabulous co-workers who have become so much more. I call us the sisterhood, or the ya-ya’s. We have a music video and everything! Okay, there’s no video, but you get the picture. Over the past almost seven years, we attended the wedding of one woman, two babies have been born, two kids have been launched to college, one spouse has completed a PhD and one has become an artist. We’ve helped one another through loss and celebrated one another’s successes. The great questions of life have been discussed around our meeting room table. (Is is wrong to feel that Taylor Lautner is hot? How many pumpkin spice lattes is too many? Should Adam Lambert have won?) These are the women who embraced the Twilight books with me and even attended the midnight show! They are my friends. So I was prepared to feel sad to leave them.
What I was unprepared for was how closely I’ve tied my identity to my work. I started to wonder: Who am I? What am I? Who will my people be? Where is my tribe? At the same time, I began to doubt my ability to succeed in the MFA program, becoming convinced that I’ll never have another story idea, I’ll never be able to pull a book through to the end. In short, I had a crisis of faith.
Then, my beloved coworker and first reader shared that her mother has rare form of cancer. The prognosis is not good. Within a week we also found out that the 9 year old daughter of an old friend has a rare form of leukemia. That’s not all. My writing partner and editor is in surgery as I type and my former boss had surgery yesterday. Both smart, amazing women. Both cancer survivors.
Feeling like a wind-tossed boat in an uncontrollable sea is not comfortable so sometime around last week, I stopped allowing my mind to go into free-fall. I set an intention to slow myself down; to calm my mind. I meditate, I run, I write. I pray for these good people going through rough times because I can’t do much else. And I turn to the women who have been my friends and co-workers these last years.
I’m old enough to know that bad stuff happens and situations change. And it’s all part of life, which is complicated and good but studded with challenges. Sometimes all you can do is show up, be a witness and offer love and support. So that’s what I’m doing. How about you? How do you handle challenges and change around you?