It has been almost five months since I last wrote, but I’m back to share my experiences, thoughts, and questions I’ve developed over that period of time. The last 6 months of 2012 was spent completing my doctoral dissertation, and the first five months of this year I have been in rural western Tennessee for work.
I had the enormous pleasure and honor of interviewing artists with chronic and life-threatening illnesses for my dissertation. I completed my dissertation the end of July and successfully defended my dissertation the end of March. I have to share that being called Doctor is a bit surreal, but still pretty cool. It has been a long journey, six years to complete this accomplishment.
What have I learned from the dissertation journey? I learned that when you are totally engaged in a process the time flies. I learned that being of service to others is a blessing. I learned that it’s never to late to begin a journey that fills your soul. The completion of the dissertation was a huge accomplishment. However, the oral defense was a spiritual experience. Having three examiners share some special time, ask provoking questions, and request that I delve deeper into the subject I spent over two years exploring was uplifting, exhilarating, and terrifying.
The last part of the dissertation process took place while I was working in rural western Tennessee. I spent over four months in a farming community. It was a close-knit community and somewhat isolated from things I take for granted like cultural centers and a bookstore. However, I did learn about living in community, knowing everything about most of the people in a town, and how to thrive in a new environment.
I’m back at home and getting ready to travel to San Francisco for graduation. This will be the culmination of my educational career (at least I say that for right now). I’ll spend some time with my friends who took the dissertation journey with me and also received their PhD. I’ll be honored by the faculty for this glorious accomplishment, and celebrate the result of perseverance, tenacity, and love of a subject.
Where will I go from here? I want to begin sharing my background in art and healing. I’d love to come to a state, city, town near you and share the impact of your personal narrative on how you share your autobiography and its impact on meaning making. We all have a story that needs to be shared. Our culture requires that we share our stories so that we create a cosmic gestalt.
I look forward to sharing this next part of my journey. I hope you’ll join me!