Category: Writing

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 »

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 »

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 »
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Writing to remember the good

I facilitate an expressive writing workshop for Gilda’s Club, and a few weeks ago, in response to a prompt, one of the writers said, “I didn’t have much to say.”  Because he is prolific, I was surprised. “Why is that?”  “Because I’m so happy,” he said. That has stayed with me, and I get it.... Read more »

How a writing workshop at Gilda’s Club has helped me find a place of refuge

I have been organizing and facilitating an expressive writing workshop for Gilda’s Club in downtown Chicago. The first six-week session was last fall, and the second is wrapping up next week. Research by James Pennebaker and others shows that expressive writing can help us cope with difficult experiences. From pain and fear to loss and... Read more »

e.e. cummings offers a way into the heart

e.e. cummings offers a way into the heart
The inscription reads, “(your favorite poet) / to our favorite girl / from your favorite/ Parents…Mom and Dad 1977 / Happy Sixteenth Birthday.” My mom’s handwriting is lovely, even, flawless. She wrote these words, crafting them to look like an e.e. cummings poem. The book is Tulips & Chimneys, published by Liverwright in a “typescript”... Read more »
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Writing is worth the struggle: it helps me understand my world

Writing is worth the struggle: it helps me understand my world
I’ve been struggling to write over the past week. It’s not that I lack ideas. My mind is swarming with them. I attended the BCAN Leadership Summit in Rockville, Maryland, last weekend, and it was amazing. I want to report on immunotherapies for bladder cancer and on the power of advocacy and about how good it... Read more »

Just another of the Starbucks regulars

Just another of the Starbucks regulars
My Starbucks is just across the street from the Metra and Amtrak. That accounts for some of the folks who are regulars I guess. Commuters and wanderers. I come here too many times a week to admit in public. It’s one of the few places I can focus and work. Despite the tweens. God help... Read more »

How I’m spending my summer vacation: the coffee shop project and the Cancer Is Not A Gift writing group

How I’m spending my summer vacation: the coffee shop project and the Cancer Is Not A Gift writing group
I am sitting in the Blackberry Market drinking my second Americano. This place is buzzing with conversation, fueled by the world’s best cinnamon rolls and four-shot Americanos. (Eight shots of espresso never hurt anyone, right?) Today, in this coffee shop, I’m beginning the first day of my summer adventure. I want you to come along... Read more »
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Five reasons you should write if you have cancer

Five reasons you should write if you have cancer
I had been wanting to start a blog for several years when I was diagnosed with cancer in August of 2012. I was torn about it. Although I’ve always been a writer, and lord knows I have too much to say, I felt that I didn’t have a good theme or topic for a blog.... Read more »