Tuesday, November 17, 2009

a circle of grace

once a month, the heads of small schools association meets for lunch. there are about fourteen members, and about ten people who come regularly. i like being in this group. it's helpful to hear what's going on at other little schools, and what other "small heads" are dealing with. it's also the only group i belong to as i have never even been invited to join so much as a book club. i'm thinking i might know why that is now...

yesterday we had a retreat, facilitated by this famous author who writes about resilience, secondary stress in the helping professions, and related things. he's a psychiatrist and a graduate school professor, and he gets paid thousands and thousands to speak to groups all over the world. somehow one of our members talked him into coming to our little group almost pro-bono.

we sit in a circle as he asks each of us about what is going on in our professional lives and what is causing us stress. as he picks up on a theme with each person, he goes off into wonderful, humorous, insightful stories, leading back to how this person should create space--a circle of grace--within their lives for reflection, etc. it was calming and inspiring. i felt great. although he did mention something to someone about psychophysiological diseases (psychophysiology looks at the way psychological activities produce physiological responses-wikipedia)--that caused just a tiny jingle of an alarm bell.

he gets around to me. i tell him that i love my work, it has been fun, creative, satisfying, challenging but that we all have been going at pretty much full capacity--and then i was diagnosed with breast cancer. he asks if i have any administrative help, and i say no, not really. he then says, "your body is telling you to let go of some of this."

wait. what? all of a sudden every muscle in my body is tensed and ready to spring. "are you saying... that my stress... caused... my breast cancer?" because, i think, if you are i will scratch your f*&%ing eyes out you self-important charlatan.

he damn well was saying that but he dissembled. pause. "no. i just meant that stress will make it more difficult for you to heal... there are studies that show that, you know." yeah.

an over-reaction? perhaps. this may be why i am not invited to join book clubs.


  1. You can join MY club! It's called "Friends of Katherine", it's here in St. Louis and we have LOTS of members! I hope you can make it to one of our lunch meetings sometime....

  2. That famous philosopher Marx (Groucho, not Karl) once said that he would never join a club that would accept him as a member...