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Directing and Nurturing a Storytelling Group - Post #5, The End by Mimi Rockwell

I could have titled this post "Unexpected Changes." Quite unintentionally, I made the decision to resign from Beaver Creek Storytellers as their Director on May 21. Here's how it came about:

On April 10 I was finding it more and more difficult to breathe. I had had a cough and cold symptoms all week, but no fever so medicated myself with OTC meds. But that Friday, I actually used my husband's oxygen all day. When I got no better, I called the doctor who ordered me to the ER. I was admitted to the hospital later that night with severe bronchitis and athsma-like symptoms. They kept me there for eight days, so I was a pretty sick lady, and never did run a fever.

I am the major caretaker for my husband who has COPD and he could not manage the chores and his medical regimen longer than two days, so three days later he was hospitalized when he went into a full-blown COPD episode.

Something happened to me in the hospital, perhaps lying in bed for a week, perhaps my God(dess) directing my fate, but I began having difficulty walking without pain. Granted, I do take meds for spinal arthritis and I have had scoliosis since childhood. There has been speculation that my labored breathing was caused by my curved spine pressing against my lungs, and I have noticed a marked decrease in lung capacity over the past several years to the point that recently I couldn't get from a parking lot into a building without stopping to rest several times.

When I was released from the hospital, I was prescribed at-home oxygen, home health care, and physical therapy.
I had to ask myself, "Who's going to take care of me while I'm taking care of Rocky?" It was time for a reality check and a reassessment of my physical capabilities. I knew I had to let some responsibilities, some status, some pride, some pleasure and joy go.

The first thing to go was obligations. Feeling obligated to churn out publicity for an upcoming program; to find a venue; to liason with collaborators; to produce a storytelling show; to select, possibly write, and rehearse a story--
I needed the weight of all that off my shoulders. I have been Director of Beaver Creek Storytellers for 12 years. I fully planned to stay on for another five years, but Change had other ideas. I slept on it. A couple of nights. I thought about it during the day. I was very much afraid that without me the group would disband. They had always given me the directives to run the group pretty much how I wanted and they trusted me to be fair.

But then one of the founders came forward, and even at five years older than I am, he said he would be willing to direct the group, so I breathed a sign of relief, went to my final meeting as Director on May 21, and as of that date became just a member of the Beaver Creek Storytellers. I will be supportive, and will perform as long as I am sure that there is a substitute available to tell if I can't at the last minute because of my responsibilities to Rocky.

Nurturing a storytelling group is an awful lot like nurturing a child--sometimes you just hang on too long and you prevent the child from using the wings they've been developing for the past twelve years! I am content that no matter how much it hurts, I am being a good parent. Mimi Rockwell

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Tags: Beaver, Bristol, COPD, Creek, Director, breathing, capabilities, caretaking, health, nurturing, More…obligations, parenting, physical, reassessment, responsibilities, storytelling


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Comment by Pam Holcomb on June 8, 2009 at 9:41pm
Mimi: I trust this finds you on the mend. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. Pam
Comment by Mimi Rockwell on May 31, 2009 at 9:33pm
I need to apologize to Les Schaffer who had written the most beautiful comment on this page, and then I accidentally deleted it trying to figure out how to let him know how sweet his comment was. I quickly jumped up to "Undo" except it didn't work and there was evidently no way to undo what I had done. So, Les, please be assured that your words were so lovely, I decided to keep them all for myself! I really don't feel worthy of all that you said, but I will thank you just the same. A note about Rocky and me--we have had a couple of really good days; I think we may be learning how to live with our conditions. (Knock on wood!)
Thanks, everybody, for your support. Mimi
Comment by Pam Holcomb on May 28, 2009 at 10:37pm

I am so sorry to learn of your illness. I've had asthma attacks and it's a very scary thing not to be able to take a good deep breath - I can't even begin to imagine all that you've been through. Please take care of yourself, and know that you and Rocky will both be in my thoughts and prayers. My saying has always been that it's important to come apart and rest before you come apart. Life has it's ways of getting our attention.

Comment by Mimi Rockwell on May 27, 2009 at 11:51pm
Thank you, Reisa and Buck, for your kind words of support. Mimi
Comment by Reisa Stone on May 27, 2009 at 11:24am
Hi Mimi,

Eight days in the hospital! Yikes. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself. It sounds as if your group is stepping up to the plate, for sure. But letting go of status, pride and pleasure isn't easy. That's a fact. I'm proud of you for being able to state that.

All my best and a prayer for you,
Comment by Don 'Buck P' Creacy on May 27, 2009 at 5:06am
I will put you on my prayer list. I understand how quickly life can change because of health. Please take good care of yourself and Rocky. We love you for your contributions to and talents with and love for storytelling and your audience and peers.

We will love you no matter what...

Please take care of yourself. Do what the doctors tell you to do and allow yourself to let go of some of that stuff.

Your friend




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