Seven years ago, I was hurting. Struggling. Sad. I was holding it together, but just barely. Every ounce of positive energy I had was poured into my little girl, just two-years-old at the time. I was still grieving for my dad, who died when I was pregnant. I was married to a man who didn’t have any idea (or interest in) how to provide emotional support and who was absent most of the time, busy with work and school. I finally broke down and admitted I needed help and I did two things which truly saved my soul.
The first thing I did was seek out a wonderful therapist to help me deal with the grief I’d tried to ignore for two years. The second thing was to find something for myself; something that would be just mine; that would separate Diane from Mommy and Wife. I signed up for a writing class at a local college. The class I wanted, however, was cancelled, and since I had to find one offered on the same night (my husband was only available to watch our daughter one night a week), I settled for a ‘journaling’ course. I didn’t expect to get a lot out of it, as I figured everyone knows how to keep a journal, right? But I soon came to understand that the Universe was smiling down on me the day I put my name on that class roster.
The course was taught by an amazing woman named Maureen Ryan Griffin. Maureen quickly became my mentor, my coach, my friend. What I love about her is that she doesn't try to teach you how to write. She teaches you how to find your voice. When I met her, my voice was gone... or I thought it was. She showed me it was only hiding... cowering in the dark, sad and sick. She showed me how to bring it into the light; she helped me to heal it. And in doing so, she helped me to heal.
In the last seven years, I’ve taken many of her classes and I've left every one feeling energized, motivated, positive, at peace, and reconnected to myself, my creativity, and a larger community of like-minded creative people. The feeling is… immense.
But... I moved away… and Maureen wasn’t willing to leave her family in Charlotte and trek five hours north with me just to make sure I got my ‘fix’ (go figure!). I try to plan visits to Charlotte around her classes but it’s not enough. I miss the classes… I miss her… and I miss me – the me who exists and writes and thinks and lives in her seminars.
A while ago Maureen and I talked about how maybe I should start a writing group here; how maybe I should offer classes similar to hers. I’ve been a corporate trainer; I’ve taught classes to adults for years; I write professionally and though it’s of a technical sort, words are what I do. And I know how her classes make me feel. I want to – and believe I can – do something that will make other people feel that way... I want to do something to help other people to find their voices. And I think maybe I need to do it.
When I was thinking about my bucket list and finding my life’s work the other day, I was thinking in big terms – big all-encompassing career-changing terms. But I realized I don’t have to make massive changes to do something rewarding. My current work actually suits me. I help people; I use my inherent talents and honed skills; I make my own schedule; I get to work in my pajamas. OK, so, it’s not always terribly challenging or creative or completely fulfilling, but I’m not prepared to give it up. Yet.
Taking that first class seven years ago saved my soul. Maybe facilitating classes is just what I need to feed my soul. And isn’t that what ‘life’s work’ is supposed to be about?