Last week I received an email that really made me smile. It was from the Senior Manager of Inclusion and Diversity in a major U.S. retailer. He is organizing book groups for those interested within a 3,000 member work-group -- to read about and discuss books that will help them explore how they might make their workplace more diverse and inclusive. He told me that they have chosen my book, Tempered Radicals as the first book for the program! (The book is now in print as Rocking the Boat: How Tempered Radicals Effect Change Without Making Trouble.) Needless to say, I was elated. Steve told me that when he came home last night and asked me about the email I had forwarded to him, I had the most genuine, joyful smile he had seen in weeks.
I was happy. I’m still happy. But I’m also reminded that I’m not doing that work anymore. I’ve turned down probably a dozen requests to come speak about my Tempered Radicals work. At universities. At conferences. At companies and non-profits. My speech still isn’t back to a place where I can effectively discuss – real time – the complexities of that work. Soooooo frustrating. And it makes me sad.
I think about the work I’m now doing now to write my next book – Identity Theft: Rediscovering Ourselves After Stroke. As I’ve written in this blog many times before, this book is one of the ways I’m trying to reclaim my professional identity – making a difference by creating and sharing knowledge. We all have emotional ups and down, but for me, that email – and my reaction to it – reminded me just how important it is to me to have professional activity that makes a difference. Just how much that is still part of my identity.
So back to the grindstone. Reading articles and taking notes for my book at a pace less than 1/10th of what it once would have been. Therapy to continue improving – my arm, my leg and my speech. Gathering thoughts about how we can do more to help stroke survivors and their families, as a board member of the Pacific Stroke Association. Doing whatever I can to help give Steve a bit of additional time, so he can help me with the book.
I guess some aspects of my identity – who I am – haven’t changed. I’m staying busy, working hard, and hopefully making a difference. Emotional ups and downs, I think, are just a part of life. I think my lows are definitely lower after the stroke. But sometimes I think that my highs are also higher…