On Being Inspired
Two years ago I was presented with an opportunity to be the writing instructor for the Cancer Support Community of Greater St. Louis.
It would be one of the best decisions of my life.
As a social worker and writer, I know that writing serves a purpose in processing our lives. I’ve been writing forever-my story, other people’s stories and through it all, I learned, grew, cried, laughed, and was able to understand on a deeper level the work I was doing was relevant and important.
Cancer Support Community of Greater St. Louis (CSC) has a mission: “To ensure that all people impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action, and sustained by community to enhance their overall well-being." CSC provides a comprehensive professional program of social and emotional support and education designed to enhance the mind, body, and spirit of people whose lives have been affected by cancer.
All of the programs and services are provided at no charge to participants (known as our members) so there’s never a financial barrier for anyone who needs cancer support.
No one should have to face cancer alone.
And we don’t.
Though I am the facilitator, I had no idea the level of stress reduction, inspiration, and messages that would be waiting for me. I had no idea the writers would help me to adapt, grow, evolve, and learn. One of my favorite lessons from wise women is this, “There has to be darkness to be light.” When I said I didn’t want the darkness, she smiled her wise smile. “The light shines brighter.”
Each week I create a lesson based on something I’ve read, a statement from a previous group, books suggested by members, a quote I’ve found, or someone has sent and sometimes from Maria Shriver’s Sunday paper. The writers take about 20 minutes to write in a workshop and then if they choose, they share their writing. I’ve always said I’m not an English teacher. I combined social work and writing- my purpose is to hold the space, encourage, ask questions, and process the writing with each writer. The supportive intention is for people to express and grow through writing. Growth comes from conversation. It is a stress management group that helps members decide how cancer impacts their life. To grow and live as they navigate how cancer affects them. To make decisions based on today and to continue their journey forward.
We have written letters, poems (a lot of poems), nature, adventures, hopes, losses, dreams, and conversations to ourselves. Once we even wrote about a shoe. Though a prompt is selected, the writing takes us many places-many times something else comes up and the prompt isn’t even used. Sometimes the prompt stirs something in a heart. The writing is nothing short of genius.
Many times The writing group turns me inside out with their truths, their honesty, and their authenticity. I’ve learned I’m always up for whatever messages present themselves; mostly I keep quiet so that I can hear. And always on Wednesdays, I smile the rest of the day.
I find this group joyous as their intention is to keep moving forward, celebrating each day, BEING in each day. Remembering the joy, the beauty, the love, and the happy. And we share this together. There are tears, there are revelations and there are breakthroughs in many different ways. The group is fearlessly supportive of one another. And fiercely protective of what Writing Workshop is.
Inspiration can strike anywhere and while I would like to think I’m a guiding light, I know in my deepest soul, the writers and the writing members choose to share are a light that shines brighter than any one person.
The following are poems written by members of the Writing Workshop at Cancer Support Community of Greater St. Louis. We post writing on the FB page and website as well. Find more at: http://www.cancersupportstl.org/ https://www.facebook.com/CancerSupportSTL/