On Courage

In December 1999, I got one of those calls from my doctor – “there’s something on your mammogram. You need to see a surgeon…”

In the single-digit-dates of January 2000, I had two outpatient surgeries to remove all of the bits that were later identified as ductal carcinoma in situ. In early April I finished six weeks of daily radiation treatments.

Throughout this experience, I learned as much as I could about dcis, questioned the doctors, confronted the technicians (on one necessary occasion), continued to work nearly every day, felt weak and tired, and, eventually, healed in a lot of ways. During those months, I acted in ways that were often outside of my previous pattern of behavior. Prior to this experience, I and others viewed me as a timid wallflower who was “painfully shy.”

In early 2000, I discovered that I am courageous.

Since then, I’ve done a few things that some people think “took great courage,” and maybe some day I’ll write about some of them. But this post is mostly sliding into an introduction of the next few posts I’m planning.

Sometime in the mid- to late-1990s, I learned about a man named W. Edwards Deming from a PBS biographical piece. Then I learned more about his work. Then, based on some of his approaches and philosophy, I wrote a manuscript for a book. I submitted it to a few publishers and was not surprised when they turned me down. I had no credentials, just what I thought were some good ideas. Coming up with some good ideas was not enough to get published in the mid- to late-1990s.

A week or two ago, I saw the 2012 commencement speech at the University of the Arts by Neil Gaiman that I’ve posted below. Gaiman  invites each of us to do what only we can do. Later, he says, “the rules, the assumptions, the now-we’re-supposed-tos of how you get your work seen and what you do then – they’re breaking down. The gatekeepers are leaving their gates.”

Between seeing this speech, and feeling courageous lately, I’ve decided to start posting chapters from my manuscript. It’s called “Quality of Life.” Coming soon to this bit of web-land…

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