The Transformation

Check out more slices at Two Writing Teachers
Check out more slices at Two Writing Teachers


SOL Tuesday

I am venturing back in to my “cancer” memories today because of an Instagram picture I saw Stacey post awhile back.  It was that of a doctor’s waiting room.  She has shared her frustration in the past about pediatrician’s waiting rooms and how they always seem to be devoid of anything but a T.V.  They have nothing for the kids to do or read.  Seeing that picture reminded me of a waiting room that my friend and I spent a great deal of time in at what seems like both a life time ago and as if it were just yesterday.  We were in the last leg of Kathy’s cancer treatment; radiation.  Stacey’s Instagram query had me asking a similar question…Do people try to make waiting rooms sad and uncomfortable places to be, or do they just not care enough to make them better?

Life in this particular waiting room became part of our morning routine during the month of September and into October.  The air outside was still warm and humid.  The leaves were just starting to turn.  The sun was rising later and later each day.  Every morning we’d set out, each in our own car, to the hospital in the dark.  Every morning we’d make our way to the hospital basement and wait to be called.  And wait.  And wait.

While we waited we had no choice but to look at our surroundings.  They were bleak. Our waiting room forced its patients to sit and look at posters that reminded them every day that they had cancer by advertising wigs they could buy and support groups they could join.  Along with the cancer posters, as we called them, we sat on broken down furniture and looked at ugly brown walls.

So, we decided to focus our attention on the people that inhabited our waiting room, instead of the things that inhabited our waiting room.  These were people from all walks of life.  Their commonality?  They were all women, as this was the “women’s side.”  They were different ages. Different ethnicities.  Different cancers.  The more we got to know these women the more disturbing it was for us to sit in such an ugly, sad waiting room.

One woman came every single day by herself.  She said her family had, in essence, disowned her because she had lung cancer.  They considered it to be her fault, that she brought it on her self.  For those 6 weeks we became her family.

Another woman came with her sister every day.  She was famous because she made her own maple syrup and she wrote a book about her experiences as a independent business woman, who had cancer.  She gave us her book….and autographed it.

Yet another woman was from the very poor neighborhood that was just outside the hospital doors.  She had a walker and always needed help getting her gown on and preparing for her treatment.  Sometimes her son would come with her, but he couldn’t come to the women’s side.  So we took her from him at the door.  She was a joy to be around.  We found that whether we said “Good Morning!” or asked her “How are you feeling today?” her answer always was “Alright, Alright.”  We loved her consistency  She made us smile.

These women were our friends.  We were warriors that set out each day to battle cancer, determined to win.  As we turned our focus to these fighters, we learned their stories and we shared ours.  We looked at our surroundings in a new way…with even  more determination that things HAD to change. We cared about these ladies now.  They….WE….. deserved better.

About half way into our 6 week routine we brought in posters that we created with positive affirmations and sayings.  Posters that were colorful and bright and placed strategically around our waiting room.  We taped them up and we watched.  Our ladies came in, one by one that morning and, as they approached the inner door that led to the changing room they stopped and stared.  Then we heard them read the poster aloud – “My Day Got Better When YOU Arrived!”  They’d say, “Huh” and a little smile appeared.

Then, those same wonderful ladies exited the changing room, sat down in the broken down furniture and read another poster, “Energy Creates Energy!”  Another smile!  This was the best feeling in the whole world!  These broken down women who dragged themselves into this crappy room day in and day out were now smiling and laughing and looking at their surroundings with a new eye.

It’s been five years since Kathy and I were in that room on a daily basis.  We still go back to the hospital for check ups but we only went back to the basement waiting room once.  We wanted to see if our works of art were still hanging.  And, they were!  Some were a little worse for the wear, but every single one was hanging on with their edges (and middles) taped for what looked to be multiple times.  We could tell that they were falling apart but someone – maybe many people – were taking care to make sure they stayed up.  Our waiting room was transformed.  Permanently.  Just like our lives.


I Got the DMV Blues

Hosted by Two Writing Teachers
Hosted by Two Writing Teachers

SOL Tuesday

Number 85

“Sign your name. Sit down. I’m going to take your picture.”

“Miss:  You can’t drink in here.  You can keep it but you just can’t drink from it.”

“Now serving number 63 in aisle 6.”

“Oh man.  Do you think I could sit over here?  I don’t want to sit over there all crammed with all them other people.”

“Sure.”  Great.  Now it’s crammed over here.

“Step to the left – take the vision test.”

“Read the first line.  Which side, the right or left, is the light blinking?”

Gotta figure out how to read those letters and see those lights without letting my forehead touch that piece that everyone in the world’s forehead has pressed up against!

“Sign your name.  Sit down.  I’m going to take your picture.”

Darn!  I signed my name in such a sloppy way.  Now I have to live with it like that for years.

“Now serving Number 64 in Ailse 7.”

“Ma’am: You can’t drink that in here!”

How did he see me with this coffee?!  I’m standing behind him!

“Step to the right – see the cashier.”

“You owe $30.00”

“Can I help you with anything over here?”  “I don’t care – whatever.”

“Sign your name.  Sit down.  I’m going to take your picture.”

“Carrie Ka Hill!  Come get your card!”

Nice butchering of the last name.

Please don’t let the picture be too terrible!

One hour of my life I’ll never get back.  I’ve got the DMV Blues….


Daily Good

Hosted by Two Writing Teachers
Hosted by Two Writing Teachers

I subscribe to a website called “Daily Good”.  This website sends short stories “daily” that have an inspirational message and words to think about.  I look forward to receiving them in my inbox when I wake up in the morning.  Today’s was especially provocative.

“The Most Human of Emotions.  Wonder is the Beginning of Wisdom.”  I’ve always been captivated by questions.  Why, if wonder is such a basic human instinct, is it so controversial?  So suspicious?  I know I’ve shared, on this blog and everywhere I else I can, that I was reprimanded for “asking too many questions” when I was in 6th grade.  Why does questioning cause others to become defensive?  To feel threatened?

I watched a video once with Stephanie Harvey and a classroom full of intermediate aged students.  She told them something that I hold dear to me every day……she said to them, “Your questions are the MOST important thing.  Nothing is more important than YOUR questions.”  In school it seems like almost the opposite.  The message we send to students is that OUR questions are most important.  And we ask them thousands a day.  I hope to change this way of thinking with my actions.  My acceptance of questions.  My ability to ask questions that hopefully provoke additional questions.

Reading today’s “Daily Good” gave me some more to think about in terms of “wonder.”  The last line in the blurb was, “As you look at the world this week, find opportunities to wonder, and to say “Wow!”   As I was standing at my kitchen counter, reading this story on my smart phone, I looked up and said, out loud, “WOW!”  I laughed and thought, “Consciously I wasn’t trying to do that.  It just came out!”  Here is what I saw.  I am very  lucky.