Monday, October 12, 2009

looking through a new lens

as i approach the 2-year mark on my cancer diagnosis, i realize the complete absorption in everything related to my health is being replaced with concerns outside of me. slowly, the rest of the world is returning to focus. i really welcome this shift in attention. lately, i have had entire days when i don't think about cancer, my health or the past.

research, writing and reflection on what i am learning in grad school has my mind plenty full. what a relief!

this transition from being self-centered to other-centered isn't easy, particularly graceful or smooth, however. my social skills, specifically my listening skills, atrophied in the past couple of years. i am often feeling awkward these days, as i relearn how to relate, connect and feel comfortable out in the world again. i constantly feel the pull between my impulse to share my thoughts and the realization that i learn more listening.

shut your mouth, i tell myself. my head is busy with self-editing these days. i am trying to keep my self-judgment honest, but soft. i know beating myself up after a conversation isn't productive.

i feel incredibly blessed in my graduate program. the nature of our studies puts a focus on developing listening skills, with ample opportunity to practice. it's like going back to therapy, but this time, as the person listening, not the person talking. this blog is a good place to do the talking and processing i still need for growth, actually. and i am so thankful that there are a few of you out there in cyberspace that want to listen in on my journey.

i keep feeling amazed at my good fortune to have found this career path at just the right time in my life.

a little tidbit from my reading this week: did you know the human brain keeps on growing throughout your whole life? every time you learn something new, a new connection is made in the brain, it actually physically changes. finding opportunities as adults to challenge our brains to learn new things takes effort and commitment, if you aren't in graduate school. but the rewards are real.

next, i tackle learning Spanish. now that i know my brain is up to the task, i am excited. what are you excited about these days? i'd love to hear from you all.