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Life Etudes: Studies In Thriving At The University of Catastrophe


  • Marie Smith


  • General
  • Essays
  • Diabetes
Etudes /n/ :musical compositions practiced as a study to improve technique

Life Etudes /n/ :compositions about thriving after a catastrophe through changing perspective, finding meaning, strengthening endurance, reaching for transcendence, and making a difference

In 1998, Marie Smith was diagnosed with cancer and myasthenia gravis, a rare neuromuscular disease. Her life as an ordinary suburban wife and mother disappeared into a pile of appointment cards and medication bottles. Nothing in her past prepared her for this. Against her will, life enrolled her at the University of Catastrophe. In her book Life Music: Lessons Learned At The University of Catastrophe, Marie shared her remarkable story of resilience and courage.

After finishing 23 cycles of chemotherapy, and being declared cancer free, Marie thought the hardest parts of her life were over. However, The University of Catastrophe had other plans. Instead of a diploma she received a new major: diabetes. Adding another major to her already busy class schedule wasn’t Marie’s idea. Diabetes threw her entire life out of tune.

She needed new skills to help her handle the changes, but where would she learn them? As a musician, Marie turns to etudes to help her master new skills. Realizing her life needed etudes, Marie wrote Life Etudes: Studies in Thriving At The University of Catastrophe. Life Etudes is full of Marie’s signature humor, honesty, wisdom and gentle grace. It is an inspiring and hope filled look inside life at The University of Catastrophe.