The first slap

The first slap
This photo was taken the day after I was diagnosed, and it is my first bitch slap at cancer. I'm the one with the icepack symbolically placed on my boob. My teammates changed our team's uniform to pink at the last minute, and I came off the soccer field that night with one goal and a whole lot of love. Several of these women are my close friends, but they are all warriors, and they all helped me set the tone for this fight.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The buzz and flurry of Normal

It has been over a month since I have posted to this blog, and this passing of time should be read as a blessing. In more ways that one, my life is returning to normal. Travel with the family, gardening, running a 5K, the presence of hair. You know, the simple things. I am also resuming full time work, teaching a regular load of classes at Illinois State University in, you guessed it, Normal, Illinois.

Tomorrow I will meet my students and begin teaching my classes, two of which are an introduction to literacy and literacy instruction in elementary classrooms. I will be asking my students (future elementary, special education, and bilingual teachers) to introduce themselves, but I'll be asking them to do so through poetry. It is crucially important for Language Arts teachers to write, even if they find it uncomfortable or don't yet view themselves as writers. This is because teaching, like writing, is inseparable from who we are. They are both human endeavors.

In their book Authors in the Classroom, Alma Flor Ada and Isabel Campoy suggest a writing unit on Affirming the Self, in which Eoise Greenfield's poem "By Myself" is used to prompt and inspire students' own "I Am" poems. So in the spirit of embracing the human endeavor of writing, of poetry, and of good teaching, I have written an "I Am" poem, which I will be sharing with my students tomorrow before asking them to write their own. Here it is:

The Buzz and Flurry of Normal

When I am by myself
And I close my eyes
I am cancer free,
Without demons,
And without trepidation;

You see,
Last winter I was a deer,
Surprised and paralyzed
In the headlights of fear.
My mind raced and my body stood still;
Infiltrated and mutilated,
Intoxicated and radiated.

But I sent those demons packing.
Exhilarated, elated,
Now I am rejuvenated;
Grateful to the gods of science
And the buzz and flurry of normal

When I am by myself
And I close my eyes
I am happy
Just to be here.

    -Inspired by Eloise Greenfield’s By Myself


  1. Utterly outstanding!!

    <3, Michelle Sleevar

  2. You never cease to amaze me! It moved me to tears, but happy tears.

    -- Mom

  3. The poem is "a keeper". Thank you for your generosity in sharing so much of yourself and your journey with us.

  4. Lara,

    Yet another insightful, moving post. It has been an education to watch how you have handled this challenge with grace, strength, humor, and honesty. We are all immensely fortunate that you chose to take us all along with you on your journey and we are all thrilled that it has taken you to the buzz and flurry of normal.

    With sincere thanks.



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