Sunday, September 11, 2011
When asked to recite a favorite quotation, mine is always the same: "There are years that ask questions and years that answer." - Zora Neale Hurston
On a day that stands in history as a marker of both tragedy and courage, like many I'm inclined to spend some time reflecting on the last decade. Rather than make assertions about global or national states of affairs, my thoughts today are about individual experience.
2001 was a bad year in my life. I was in the middle of a three-year stint working in Indianapolis, and my mind and heart were stagnating at work. Since my teens I've struggled with chronic depression and in the second half of 2001 that condition overwhelmed all aspects of my life. I took a leave of absence from work and went home to reassess my life and try to find the sense of purpose I'd lost. From that place of emotional struggle came some of the best decisions I've made. I realized that my passion for learning needed further attention and I determined to return to school full-time in pursuit of a doctorate. I learned that depression isn't something that can be ignored, but requires healing and vigilant self care.
In 2002 I applied to graduate programs. In 2003 I moved to Minneapolis and started work on my Ph.D. Four years later I finished my degree and began a fantastic job teaching history at Macalester College in St. Paul.
But the story of finding a path to my true passions and goals didn't end there. After one year of teaching at Macalester, in early summer of 2008, I was in a horseback riding accident that left me with a broken foot and orders to stay off my feet for twelve weeks. Stuck in my house and on the couch, I decided to pursue a long-delayed dream: writing a novel.
The next summer my fabulous agents at InkWell sold my debut novel NIGHTSHADE to Penguin.
After 9/11 it felt like the world was ending, and for most of 2001 I'd felt like my own life was in ruins too. But life is always unfolding. Years to come will have answers...and there will be more questions...which brings to mind another favorite quote:
"If you're going through hell, keep going." - Winston Churchill