Friday, November 16, 2012

Surrendering to the Right Stuff

About a year after I started my daily writing practice in 1992, it became apparent to me that I could and that I wanted to become a writer full-time. I didn’t know how to do it, though. I saw others around me doing it. Writing books. Getting their poems published. Facilitating writing groups. Flourishing.

I didn’t see how I could do the whole thing. I needed to make money, so I had to have a job. That thought always boxed me in. I took that route, for more years than I want to admit. I avoided what was calling me.

I had a wake-up call. I didn’t listen. So I had another one. And another one. Finally, I started listening.

It wasn’t until this fall, 2012 – seven years after getting diagnosed with liver disease, 20 years after committing to writing daily – that I listened. That I finally surrendered to my passion, writing.

Since the spring of 2007 (a year after being diagnosed with a liver disease with only one treatment: transplant), I haven’t been able to work full-time. But then I didn’t see what was staring me in the face: I had a door wide open that I was ignoring. I couldn’t work at all after the spring of 2010, I had income from Social Security because I couldn’t work. I had time. I still had the daily practice of writing. I could call myself Writer.

I am, after seven years of living with it, grateful for liver disease. And since last year also grateful for breast cancer. That one seemed to be the toppling point. These two lousy diseases shoved me off my pedestal of indecision and hesitation and doubt about following my passion wherever it might lead me.

Liver disease has been teaching me how to listen with my heart and to act from my gut. Instead of always going to my head and listening to and acting from the craziness there. Reason got me well-paying jobs (that I hated) and good grades (they were nice) and a college degree that led eventually to nowhere.

Listening to my heart is harder – it has a quieter voice than reason – but acting on it is easier. Much easier. I just have to relax into it and the next right move shows up. I’m not used to it yet.

I still get caught up in long to-do lists and frenetic activity. But my liver beats me up when I push too hard on it. I get immediate pushback. I know when I’m tired and need to give in. When I don’t listen to those messages, when I allow myself to get absolutely fried from over-activity, I pay the price for days.

Listening. To my body, to my heart. I guess I always believed that wasn’t enough. I’m here to tell you it is enough. And it’s real.

Thank you, Universe, for these two crappy diseases. They have changed my life. They have changed me. I can never go back to the way I was. Thank you, Higher Power, Universe, the spirit within me, God, Goddess.

“I don’t know about you, but I am here to love myself. I don’t want to leave this planet in judgment of myself. I want to be my own friend. I want to have listened to my heart. I want to have spoken my truth. I want to discover all the colors of my possibilities. I don’t want to leave this earth, never having been myself.” – Tama J. Kieves, on Facebook, November 15, 2012. Author of This Time I Dance and Inspired & Unstoppable


  1. I admire you, Dana, for your courage and your honesty, for letting your diseases guide you but not stop you. Congratulations.

  2. Thank you, Karen. You inspire me with your determination to write and express yourself through acting and the theatre, too.

  3. Dana I echo Karen for you not letting disease stop you from your purpose. Wonderful journey you're on which I'm sure has already had many blessings.

    Here's to happiness and joy and wellness.