Peering into . . .

the inner workings of Alison Miller Woods

I Draw a Squiggly Line: A Year Later August 29, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alison @ 9:39 pm
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When I was young, my family used to play a lot of card games. And, as it often goes, those game nights wouldn’t work out the same for everyone playing. Sometimes there would be a winning streak for one person, or a losing streak for another (i.e. my mom always winning).

Thus started the family tradition of a squiggly line.

If you were continually losing, you took the score card and drew a squiggly line on it. That meant that everything would change for you and – no more losing streak!


Last August (2016) I was tired of not getting everything I wanted to accomplished. I had no mental energy to do anything beyond work and family. And I wasn’t doing that very well either. So I decided to start a bullet journal because it seemed like a system that would work well for me. It started out well. I had August all written out (and September because I was that on the ball). I had things like Back to School Night on the 22nd. Kids start school on the 23rd. I started one semester of work on the 24th and the other job started on the 29th. Then…

August 21st I added in: E.R.

August 22nd I wrote in: surgery.

And August 26th: Home from the Hospital.

September has same-day surgery to place my port catheter. And the start of Chemotherapy.

My bullet journal fizzled out after that point.

I would like to go back and write about it all (at a future point) because I couldn’t write during the experience. I don’t mean to say ‘couldn’t’ like it was so horrible I couldn’t bear to write. I just didn’t write about it. I didn’t get all the reading done that I thought I would either. When I wasn’t actively running my kids around or working I was more or less vegging out or sleeping.

I am extremely grateful for blessings, miracles, amazing family and neighbors, and modern medical science. I know that my case did go like many others and I’m not sure why. I am grateful for another shot at all of this. I’m grateful to be here to hear my baby’s latest goofy phrases, send my oldest off to college, and every other kids’ step in between.

There are residual effects from the chemotherapy. It has taken a long time to feel close to being myself again. And so now, I draw that squiggly line and say that the past does not define me or where I am going now. I am changing how things are going. I may try that bullet journal again (where I actually drew the squiggly line in the photo) but I am taking back control of my schedule and my goals.

If  I were a tattoo person, I think I would like to get two of them. A semicolon and a squiggly line.


The Precipice September 27, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alison @ 11:59 pm
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I am standing at the precipice.

Toes curled over the edge, contemplating.

Just a few short feet below the edge floats a swirling bank of clouds. Blocking the way down. Is it a short drop into a safe pool of water? Is it a horrifying plummet with jagged rocks below?

I don’t know. Because I can’t see.

Tomorrow I begin chemotherapy for colon cancer.

What hides in the Stygian unknown? I have no frame of reference for what will happen. I understand the process that will occur tomorrow. But how will it effect me?

I hear stories of the ‘short drop’ variety and others of the ‘screaming and flailing’ flavor. What will be my experience?

I obviously won’t find the answers to these questions until I jump. It’s like life, I think. Sometimes the anticipation–the ‘not knowing’–is worse than the reality.

And if we want to fly, we always have to jump.

I choose flight.

My cancer story started last month and a lot of what I have been struggling with before that discovery makes more sense now. I haven’t been actively writing for a long time. The exhaustion went to the bone. It felt like my very soul was worn out.  So while I haven’t been able to work on the stories I love lately, it looks like I will have a bit more practice in the realm of creative non-fiction.  🙂


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