Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

When It Hits…It Hits Hard

Last week I made reference to what I called “teachable moments”.  I’ve had some very interesting conversations with colleagues and other students from school and the conclusion is that those “teachable moments” are around us every moment of the day.  The real question is how open are we to letting them walk through the door. 

During my recent 10 day training in Oregon, the facilitators had selected readings that we read aloud as a group every day.  It was what they called a choral reading…creating harmony with the spoken voice.  We had been doing this for a week when a poem called “School Prayer” by Diane Ackerman was on the agenda and I got stopped in my tracks.  The words were so profound, to me, that I had to stop and take note of the meaning.  What increased the poems impact was the surprise factor.  We were standing there, a group of 35 people, reading this poem and I felt like I had been hit with a baseball bat.

Facing a health challenge I’m sure you know all about being hit with a baseball bat, but this is different because this is for your own good.  Moments like these are the ones that may catch you by surprise and throw you off balance, but they are the “teachable moments” that will renew your spirit and catapult you to a new level of understanding.  These are the moments when you get a glimpse of being totally awake; it may seem scary, but isn’t living a full life supposed to be a bit scary?

Many facing a chronic or life-threatening illness resort to the philosophy that it’s better to insulate oneself from those baseball bat moments because the diagnosis was so devastating.  However, the insulation prevents you from capturing those moments of intense emotion and connection to others.  Physical, emotional, and spiritual insulation prevents you from experiencing everything that life (including the illness) has to teach you.  Don’t built the fort so strong that nothing can get through because those “teachable moments” are the ones that can and often are the ones that will save your life, both figuratively and literally.


I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

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