Being a witness to one wild and precious life: in memory of Beth Caldwell

Being a witness to one wild and precious life: in memory of Beth Caldwell
My go to in times of grief is poetry. “Tell me,” Mary Oliver wrote, “what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life.” We get just this one life, this one here and now, this one body and this one mind. Sometimes what we planned to do with our lives... Read more »

Christmas 2017: the stories we told and the stories we heard

Christmas 2017: the stories we told and the stories we heard
My husband and I volunteered to wash dishes from Christmas dinner. My sister- and brother-in-law made an amazing meal for 12 people, two of whom are vegetarian. My daughter and I are used to eating the sides and not worrying about a substitute for stuffing or turkey and ham. My in-laws took a different approach... Read more »

Eight gifts for people with cancer

Eight gifts for people with cancer
People with cancer, whether they’re in treatment, in remission, or in limbo are different now than before their diagnosis, both psychologically and physically. Some folks talk about cancer as a one-year experience from diagnosis through treatment and into remission. It’s “one and done.” Those folks have been lucky. Many are not so lucky because they struggle... Read more »
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ChicagoNow is a space that will always ache in your absence, Jimmy

ChicagoNow is a space that will always ache in your absence, Jimmy
I published my first Cancer is Not a Gift post on February 2, 2013. I had been keeping an informal blog, which my friends and family could check in with to see the progress of my treatment. Truth is, I wrote those posts as much for myself as I did for anyone else. Writing about... Read more »

Make room in your heart for yourself: lessons in self-compassion

Make room in your heart for yourself: lessons in self-compassion
It’s been a crappy day, which I will not detail for you. (You’re welcome!) I’ll be the first to admit that I’m prone to pity parties. Woe is me. Life’s a bitch and then you die. Fill in your own favorite cliché As soon as the words are out of my mouth, I stop. I’m... Read more »

It's our first Tuesday with our daughter living on her own

It's our first Tuesday with our daughter living on her own
When my daughter was about 10, I remarked to a friend that she was growing up too fast and I wished she would slow down. He said, “Have you considered keeping her in tupperware?” Well I didn’t keep her in tupperware and so she has grown up. She’s 19, working full time, and this weekend... Read more »
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Goodbye, a love story about teaching

There is a point in every semester when you abandon hope and start planning for the next semester. I passed that point a few weeks ago. I am not, in fact, going to teach the perfect class this semester. My perfect plan always falls apart, sometimes because of me, sometimes because of students, and sometimes... Read more »

Learning slowly: what writing teaches me about life

Learning slowly: what writing teaches me about life
A student came to my office today to talk about her literacy autobiography, in which she celebrates a teacher who helped her learn that becoming a writer takes lots of time. It struck me as one of those insights that everyone knows, but we need someone to put it into words for us. One of... Read more »

Being known helps to navigate the cancer experience

Being known helps to navigate the cancer experience
I wrote a few weeks ago about the words, “fellowship of knowing.” They resonate deeply with me, and so did the person who spoke them. Dawn Williams, LCSW, an oncology social worker with the DuPage Medical Group, was a keynote speaker at a cancer conference sponsored by the Cancer Support Center in September. The only... Read more »
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The five people you’ll meet in travel hell

The five people you’ll meet in travel hell
Sartre said, “Hell is other people.” If that’s true, then so is heaven. People just are what they are. It’s the “No Exit” part of Sartres’ equation that creates hell. Hell is standing in lines and sitting at airplane gates with the same 150 people for just over 10 hours. It’s not that they’re so... Read more »