Jill Jeffers Goodell
- Future Tuition:
My background is best described through the article listed below:
Turning point: Woman finds joy in new career
by Julie Sullivan, The Oregonian
Wednesday October 01, 2008
Jill Jeffers Goodell went to work at 15 and was still there at 55, pitching projects, closing deals, hitting deadlines before the next cold call. She chose advertising over law school, juggling multiple clients at her own agency, through marriage and motherhood, a Type A making good.
Then three years ago, the woman who couldn't quit, couldn't work.
Diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer that had spread to her lymph nodes, Goodell underwent a mastectomy, chemotherapy and a second surgery to remove her other breast in 2005. She had nerve pain. Her joints ached. She lay on her Tigard couch with a rescue Lhasa apso mix who'd lost almost as much hair as she had. Charlie was a sweet pooch. When she threw up, he threw up.
But it didn't make her feel better.
In a culture in which people are raised to achieve and acquire, Goodell's push to succeed had been stopped cold. In the forced inactivity, questions bubbled around her like a sulfuric pool: Why did this happen to me? What will happen to me? Who am I now that I have cancer?
"Here I am, no longer a vital contributor to the world, not getting paid, not going to a job, I felt hopeless and helpless," Goodell recalls.
As the blues descended, she called Providence's cancer counseling center and found Diane Harris at St. Vincent's, who had counseled oncology patients for 25 years. Harris had a few questions of her own:
What brought Goodell joy? What activities could she totally immerse in that would shift her mood? Who was she underneath?
For many people, this is the first time in lives they've slowed down enough to think about 'Who am I?'" Harris said. "'And who am I now?'" The licensed clinical social worker said Goodell was one of the few people who confronted those questions deeply. She enrolled in guided-imagery classes and found a support group in which people use directed thinking to relax and spur healing. Many members had battled cancer for years. They had "horrible stories, but there was a difference -- they were moving forward," Goodell said.
For Goodell, that was a turning point.
Goodell began to see the darkness around her not as black, but as shades of gray, orange, neon yellow and ghostly white -- as an artist.
Art gave her joy. She'd studied fine art in college, designed ads for work and she'd hand-sewn quilts, shirts for her brothers and dolls for her nieces. When she began a travel book years earlier, she spent more time illustrating than writing it. She'd checked book after book out of the Tigard Library. She studied under Susan Foley for pastels, Linda Aman and George Corneil for watercolors, and Renee Paudler for drawing.
She listened to lectures, visited art museums, strolled galleries and immersed herself in the old masters.
She realized, "I could teach art!"
At Harris' urging, Goodell called 12 friends and asked whether they would pay $15 for art lessons. The experiment was so successful that, as she healed, she started teaching at the Village Gallery of Arts. Then she started substitute teaching in Portland Community College's community education program and finally became a regular part-time instructor.
She was also juried into the Watercolor Society of Oregon and the Oregon Society of Artists and entered a swath of art shows, including the Rose Festival in 2005 and 2006. She donated an exuberant painting of a bald woman cheering, "Surviving in Grand Style," to Providence St. Vincent hospital's new cancer wing.
She never returned to advertising. Instead, on a brilliant September morning, she strides through the Oregon Zoo with four students from her "Sketch'n on the Go" class. Every Wednesday morning, the group visits Portland landmarks for on-the-spot instruction. They pause and whip out chairs, sketch pads, No. 2 pencils and digital cameras to sketch a tiger, the fruit bats and a meerkat.
"If you can write your ABCs, you can draw," Goodell says.
"You leave this class feeling so good about what you accomplished," says student Mary Kendall.
"Jill brings it out in you; she gets me excited," says Joyce Davis.
The women move on to the giraffe exhibit when Goodell pauses. Sunshine pours through branches above like holy light. Her husband, Hal, who retired from Intel and returned as a contract employee, has been supportive, but they have had to tap into savings. Their son, Alex, now a junior at the University of Oregon, said his parents' experience changed him.
"I'm much more likely to think about quality of life before money than I was before ... their new focus on what's really important has helped me, especially in this time of my life, when I'm choosing my potential career."
Alex plans to go to medical school. But it is his mother who has changed the most.
"This has brought me so much joy.
- Future Exhibitions:
- Sketching the Village Life
Acrylics, Collage, Coloured Pencil, Drawing, Pastels, Pen & Ink, Watercolour Pencil
Animals, Etchings, Flowers And Gardens, Illustration, Landscape, Seascapes and Water, Still Life, Townscapes, Trees and Foliage, Wild Flowers, Wildlife