Centered and Whole :: by Jennifer W. McCullough
When I was a little girl, I loved poetry, theater, books, dance, but my heart was most in love with writing. I knew instinctively these things I felt drawn to nourished me and I made time for them in my life. As I grew older, my interests in reading and writing were strong, but writing was often neglected. As a young adult, I went to college and earned a B.S. in Communication Disorders (Speech-Language Pathology). This began my work with people with disabilities ages 3-90+. Writing would come up for me here and there. I thought about it more than I took time to do it.
Writing ran after me even when I was busy doing other things. I think my decision to pursue an M.A. in English/Creative Writing was an attempt to give writing some attention. I learned three things during my first graduate program. One, when I allowed it, writing made time disappear like nothing else I had ever done. Two, I felt relaxed and at peace after writing. And three, writing was something personal and sacred to me, not something I wanted to discuss in small groups where I was expected to critique the writing of classmates or have my own work critiqued. After graduating, I gave writing up again, pursuing a second graduate degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. I did this because it was practical and would continue my focus on work in the area of disabilities. I did it because I became afraid of the way writing made the world disappear and I didn't know what to do with that. My program was interesting, but I was miserable.
Finally, three degrees and several professional jobs later, I couldn't do it anymore. In the winter of 2010 I knew that if I continued to ignore my need to write, I wasn't honoring something that was a part of the essence of who I am. Many things led up to this realization - infidelity, major depression, a separation, spiritual growth, and just being tired of not being true to myself. I began writing non-fiction again and haven't stopped. My writing has become like a little anchor to my spirit. It keeps me well.
Today the art of writing is a part of my life through blogging, the creation of a book, and the development of writing and wellness programs for groups and individuals (http://jenniferwmccullough.typepad.com/my-blog/). I have a full-time job that has little to do with writing, but in my heart and in my head, writing comes first. Making this commitment to writing and having reverence for writing makes me a happier person, which makes me a happier employee, mother, wife, daughter, sister, and friend. I have learned that we don't do ourselves any favors by ignoring those things that chase after us and beg us to take notice. Whether we call them gifts, talents, or hobbies, it is good to pay attention to the things that leave us feeling more centered and whole. Good for us, and good for the world.
Learn more about Jennifer at http://jenniferwmccullough.typepad.com/