I can't help but wonder what this year will bring into my life. It was one year ago this month that I knew I had cancer even before the diagnosis was given to me. The radiologist who told me said that everyone I'd met at the mammography center knew that I'd get through it, "just a detour for you. It's your attitude that will see you through." Perhaps I come across as having a good attitude but if they really knew how I felt inside I doubt I would have been told that. I can honestly say that I didn't expect to be here a year later. But here I am, still standing!
The image in the mirror is very foreign to me; it's as if the former me has been replaced by someone who now has silver curly hair. Gone is the blond who prefers shoulder length hair and the face that now greets me has become thinner and more wrinkled due to weight loss. I tell myself that change is good and that life is good, but my voice isn't very convincing. I did say that going through chemo and radiation would not only be like a tsunami but would give my immune system a clean slate on which to build a new one. Did that also mean a new body? Perhaps I wasn't clear about what I expected. I knew that presenting myself to the world with only one breast wouldn't be easy but I didn't expect to age so much as well! My energy levels are even lower than before and that was expected but not welcome. Too many days spent resting make for frustration and huge doses of self-pity. And so it goes . . .
There is always much to celebrate and I choose to do that most of the time rather than throw a self-pity party. I can't remember the last time I had a give-away. What better way to celebrate being alive than by giving away something that I've enjoyed creating? Fractured Grids. These studies are 5x7 inches done on mat board. They're not framed in the photo below, but I'll pop them into black frames before sending them out. Leave me a comment by the end of May letting me know which one you might enjoy, 1,2, or 3. Just yesterday according to the count of Blogger Dashboard there were over 30 visits to this blog. I don't know when the counter stopped, but visits are still noted on the Dashboard and to date there have been nearly 21,000. (Note: the counter still listed on the side of the posts notes world-wide visits. Can't remember when I added that counter but the total isn't accurate.) It would be outstanding to hear from many of you.
Follow the path of your appetite, your desires, and your secret wants.
I'm fond of photos that don't look like the standard sharp photos but it's rare when I pull that off.
This fella has an attitude and seemed to pose for me.
This grouping was edited in PSE.
His mate isn't as photogenic but she did stay put long enough to help create a fun image.
More April cactus blooms.
Quote: "Without goals and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set
sail with no direction." Fitzhugh Dodson
I used to have goals but for the last decade or so I haven't bothered making them mostly because they never come to fruition. Is it important to have direction in ones life? Do goals lead to happiness? I make lists of things I'd like to do and often they're executed swiftly and when they aren't I figure the plan wasn't meant to be. I often wonder if I should make long-term goals, but life is so iffy that I don't see the need. I suppose if one wants to be successful at something then creating goals or making a detailed plan is helpful.
So, dear reader/blog visitor, what do you think? Do you have goals? Do you feel like a ship that has set sail without direction and if so, does that concern you?
Eons ago I fell in love with a painting in a gallery window in Carmel, Ca. that I studied off and on for awhile. The lines attracted me but what I remember most was the ocean that was created with a few colors and bold brush strokes. That painting had a red and orange setting sun; this painting had other ideas. You never know what direction a painting is going to go in.
"Till now man has been up against Nature; from now on he will be up against his own nature." ~Dennis Gabor, Inventing the Future, 1963
Every April white cactus blooms often greet me in the morning, only to fold up by evening ending their day of glory. So far this year I've taken around 40 photographs, always looking for a different viewpoint. Most of the cactus are grouped together in the garden, but a pot of them provided something new; two blooms side-by-side plus a bonus flower bud.
I really wonder what gives us the right to wreck this poor planet of ours. Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Non-objective. Abstract. Acrylic painting.Tribute to Art Under the Umbrellas in Old Town, La Quinta. The season of art shows wrapped up last Sat. and I finally felt good enough to attend the last one, well, the last ones held in La Quinta. click here. Next month there will be an art festival in Indian Wells. Quinta is pronounced more like keynta than Quinn, in case anyone is interested. On my monitor the colors need to be darker . . . isn't that always the way?
quote: Why won't you run in the rain and play, let the tears splash all over you? Dave Matthews Band
Sometimes, more often than I care for, life hits a road bump along the way. Nothing major happened this week, but health-wise it wasn't a good week. Isn't there a stronger word for fatigue? Even exhaustion isn't strong enough of a word. Seems that the immune system wasn't happy this week and while I tried to figure out why it seems that perhaps the best thing to do is to surrender/accept what is rather than pester the glitch/bump to death. Pestering only makes something fester more. I like to fix things things so it's not easy to accept something as being a bump rather than a road-block and give it time to . . . well, do whatever it needs to do. Maybe in this case I need to slow-down?
This 5x7 piece started out life completely different than it ended up. I didn't photograph the layers underneath but suffice it say they were graphic in nature. Perhaps I needed to release anger over the mind-numbing fatigue by throwing paint at something and this tiny canvas was an easy target. The turmoil I felt this week was a reminder to "Release." The painting I did last month with the word-of-the-year written on it was soothing. March is never a soothing month as I remember those who passed on in March. It's time to celebrate their lives. Grieving is part of my past history. Creating a new history is about celebration and gratitude.
Speaking of gratitude; I'm always blown away by the first leaves to appear on the grape vines on what appears to be dead wood. Six leaves and counting. Actually, five leaves after I ate one. They are sort of peppery so I wouldn't want too many of them raw in a salad or green smoothie but they could liven up a dish. Plus, they're organic on the vines in the yard. Click here. and here.
Quote: "The more one hurries, the less time they have. Got that from an accelerated learning course I once took." www.tut.come
I can't remember the last time I picked up a paint brush. Most likely it was back in 2011. Anyway, it's been far too long and I feared that I wouldn't remember how to even hold a paintbrush. Quite a few bottles of pain had dried up giving me the perfect excuse to stop by Michaels Craft store on the way home from an appointment to see the surgeon. He was blown away by how well I've healed from radiation. Nice to blow a doctor away. The next day after stepping on the scale in the oncologist office and learning that another 5lbs had vanished I was told that not only were my labs great but that the cancer markers that had been extremely abnormal in May were normal. RELIEF and time to celebrate!
This is a tiny painting, 6x6 inches, that had been slathered with gesso and textured last year when I had visions of painting. There is a lot of be said for having prepped substrates ready; one never knows when the time to paint will strike. I thought I'd start with primary colors and see where that led me.
It's time to prep more canvasses and get on with life.
"Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong.
The canvas is 9x12 inches. Textured and painted with about 8 layers of paint. The letters spell "Release," my word for the year, andlet go with an added D for good measure. One thing I learned last year in the midst of all of the challenges was to release as much as I could: fear, anxiety, trying to fix everything, resistance and being in control all of which I'm still working on. When I release, whatever is gripping me, and allow peace to be the guiding force things falls into place.
Quotes: “If we can just let go and trust that things will work out they way
they're supposed to, without trying to control the outcome, then we can
begin to enjoy the moment more fully. The joy of the freedom it brings
becomes more pleasurable than the experience itself.”
"You leave old habits behind by starting out with the thought, 'I release the need for this in my life.'" Wayne Dyer
The last nine months have been surreal and I often think that the entire cancer experience has been an illusion; surely that didn't happen to me!
Being the CEO of the kitchen and making sure we eat better, whatever that means, cooking has taken over my life. I know that eventually things will fall into place and I'll have time to create but in the meantime I'm thrilled to have discovered Pixir both for the computer and iPhone. The portrait was manipulated on the iPhone. Life is often viewed through layers of veils, isn't it?
Wind storm? One of the projects in Susan Tuttle's Pixir workshop uses selective focus. I've always found it difficult to capture an imagine of trees being blasted by wind. This focus feature has graduated focus sections resulting in the bottom looking more blurry than the middle section. Great possibilities if I can figure out which photos to try. (this and the following photo is for C. )
Starry Night? Or is it? The photo was shot during the day but after adding quite a few layers this wintery sky was created. Gotta love apps!
It seems that I haven't posted since October so perhaps it's time to post again. Yes, I'm still standing! I say that often if for no other reason than to convince myself that I did survive the treatments for cancer. Two days before Thanksgiving to my dismay within 48 hours my hair literally fell out except for a few straggly stubborn strands on the top and a fringe at the back. I had mourned the loss while hair slowly fell out for months but once it was a done deal I was relieved. I chose to get a wig and am having fun wearing a style so unlike my hair that when I receive compliments about the color and style I can't help but wonder what everyone will think about my natural hair; I rarely received compliments anymore. The photo was taken four weeks after I was resigned to being bald for awhile. Obviously, my hair grows fast. I now have new glasses and my hair has enough growth for a wave to be evident. I still go out of the house wearing the wig or hats, but I imagine soon that will stop. Without planning for it I have a new look that has given me a new lease on life. Maybe it's good to have a clean slate after all.
The holidays were a blur as I was in the midst of treatments that drained any and all energy out of me. Now that the burn from radiation has healed happily there has been enough good days for me to believe that very soon I'll creating art again. In the meantime I needed something to jump-start what has been a long break from even thinking about creating something and the perfect thing came along. An online photo workshop where all I have to do is sit at the computer and play! No searching for supplies or trying to remember how to dye fabric or how to paint a canvas of which at this point I'm sure I have forgotten everything I ever knew. Susan Tuttle's class using Pixir has already awakened something I feared I had lost; an excitement to play. Life had become too serious and shouldn't life be full of fun?
This photo of a Calliandra Vine was shot for the workshop but the effect isn't part of the projects. I couldn't stop playing once I got going. Pixir is free and is similar to PSE and even though my brain cells are still MIA at times I do remember a few things about it.
The Calliandra has a short blooming time; I love the pink powder puffs and have photographed them numerous times but never against the sky.
I plan to post the projects on my photo blog, but I no longer make promises or plans. Life has a way of unfolding in unexpected ways.
Quote: Play energizes us and enlivens us. It eases our burdens. It renews
our natural sense of optimism and opens us up to new possibilities. Stuart Brown, MD Contemporary American psychiatrist
Wallowing in ones condition isn't conducive to healing, of that I am certain! When Melanie sent out a call for 1000 breast pockets I took on the challenge; a much needed one. The five pockets might have grown to a stack of at least 10, but a round of chemo a week ago had it's say and that's that. I'm learning to listen to my body.
The first person in our family to have breast cancer was my Aunt Gladys. For the last eight years she's had a clean bill of health. But even after radiation had been successful eight years ago that doesn't necessarily mean that can be counted on; just this last year she had recurrence followed by two unsuccessful surgeries. At 89 she's made the decision to end the battle and just live day to day until it's her time. What grace! (the cancer is non-aggressive)
My aunt's humor is so similar to that of my dad's that often when I'm talking to her it's as if I'm having a conversation with my dad who passed away 12 years ago.
One of my aunt's favorite colors is pink and another one is golden yellow. This hand-dyed piece of fabric honors my aunt for all she's been to me and her family. A loving and caring aunt!
Nellie, of Nellie's needles, and I have been cyber friends for quite some time. We'd been out of touch for awhile until a post on FB appeared letting readers know she was doing okay after a double mastectomy. Huh? Stunned, I reread the post a number of times. I was having my own cancer event and so was someone I knew. We reconnected and now have more in common than our art.
I've been a huge fan of Nellie's art since I discovered her through a mutual cyber friend. Cyber friends are the best!
The above pocket is a hand-dyed piece that shares a color combo of many of the spectacular sunsets that Nellie often shares on her blog and FB page.
The hand-dyed fabric below also honors Nellie who is known for her use of creative embellishments in her work, thus, two copper verdigris hearts.
Mom's pocket. Last year mom had her own breast cancer event, but being that she's so deep into Alzheimer's she's never been aware of it. I continue to take care of her and am amazed at how foreign her body is to her. Where there used to be arthritis and back pain and might have been pain from a mastectomy she seems to longer respond to pain. Alzheimer's is more than memory loss.
Mom loved denim jeans and jackets and at 87 she still looks great in them. This hand-dyed stitched piece is for mom whose strength I daily feel as I continue on my journey.
I has assumed my journey was full enough with losses and challenges but it wasn't until last April when I was faced with the largest one yet that I wondered if I had what it takes to deal with the entire package that comes with breast cancer treatment. I'm still discovering if I'm up to the challenge. But so far I've come through a mastectomy and 4 rounds of chemo better than I expected. I look forward to the day when I can say, "I'm doing great," rather than, "hanging in there."
And so this last breast pocket is for me. A little unbalanced perhaps, but that's where
Quote: what strikes me is the fact that in our society, art has become something which is related only to objects and not to individuals, or to life. That art is something which is specialized or done by experts who are artists. But couldn't everyone's life become a work of art? Why should the lamp or the house be an art object, but not our life? Michel Foucault
I never thought breast cancer would effect my family; not one member of my family had battled it, though, there were other cancers. Eight years ago my aunt had a lumpectomy and last year my mother had a mastectomy and was placed on a hormone for 5 years. And then in April with my head still buried in the sand I was told by an RN and Radiologist that I was about to take a detour. I absolutely never thought I would have cancer of any kind much less through end up with a mastectomy, chemo, radiation, and a hormone for five years. I've decided that the brutal treatments are a way of cleaning the slate, so to speak, and giving me an opportunity of building a new immune system. I'm sure that sounds hokey, but the old immune system wasn't serving me very well and chemo blasts away everything in it's path without regard to good or bad. The days are mostly gray but once in awhile the gray recedes enough that I can see down the road to a time when this will be behind me.
I joined Melanie's call for Breast Pockets. Check it out on her blog. She hopes to have 1000 pockets. I have 3 nearly done and two more planned. One for my aunt, one for my mom, one for me and two for a dear friend Nellie.
The piece, above never went anywhere so I'm cutting some of it up for pockets.
Please join Melanie's call for 1000 breast pockets; breast cancer effects us all.
The monitor is out of color balance so I can't seem to get this piece to look right, the colors that is. It's brighter than it looks on my monitor. I don't have the patience to fuss with anything. Anyway, it's a fabric piece that I did some time ago. The background piece is hand-dyed in purple and yellow. The next layer is splashes of black paint on fabric and the focal piece is rubber band stamped with metallic acrylic paint.
My birthday is tomorrow and I guess what I'll remember most about this birthday is that I'm half way through four rounds of chemo and my hair has started falling out. Not exactly the same kind of birthday I had three years when my guy took me to Vegas to see Cher and Cirque du Soleil.
What can I say about chemo except that it's like Chernobyl exploding in my body. I'm supposedly receiving a mild chemo combo but my immune system thinks otherwise. I am grateful though that the cancer was in the early stages so most likely I'll be okay. Who knows though what kind of damage the chemo is and will do in the long run. I'll be working on building a strong and healthy immune system as soon as the nasty chemo rounds are over which should be around Oct. 11th.
Quote: Joy is not in things; it is in us. Richard Wagner
Orvieto, Italy revisited. This photo was sent to the iPhone and edited using a lot of apps. of which I didn't take notes of. Too scattered.
Taken with the iPhone and edited a lot! A cactus has decided that it needs to be taller than the roof top and it's nearly succeeded. I nearly missed a bloom that had grown for over a week and only opens for 24 hours. It's magnificent, but the background isn't. Somehow I eliminated the cluttered background in PSE; I'm clueless about what I did, but it worked.
Another version of the same image.
So, why do I need the distraction? I often think that I've aired too many personal things on this blog so when the latest challenge hit I went off of the radar. I don't even know where to begin so I'll just say that I'm dealing with breast cancer and so far I've had a mastectomy and will start chemo soon. It was discovered in mid-May. I'm still in shock.