Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Thresholds (and Horizons)

I go back to MD Anderson every 3-4 months for checkups. During the between times, I really don't think much at all about my history of cancer. But each time, as the time for the appointments gets closer, I do start to think and fret, just a little bit, over what they might find. I wonder whether or not the cancer has come back. I'm a realist, the return is always a possibility. I don't want to have a fatalistic attitude about the possibility, but I also never want to breeze in to my checkups with the mindset that this is a problem that has been completely and totally obliterated.

Sometimes I get aggravated about having to go back so often, about having to take so many days off work to go get checked out. It's just part of the process. And the times between appointments will eventually get longer, if I keep having clear scans. But right now, the 3-4 months seem to pass so quickly and I feel like I'm going again when I just returned from being checked! I'd like to put it all out of my mind and my sight and just move on with my life. Like it was before the cancer. Every time I go back, I am reminded of the vulnerable state of my health.

I've been thinking about thresholds this month. This past week, while I was in Houston, showing up for various tests and appointments, I realized, that's all this is--another threshold that I happen to be standing on. There is no need for me to fret or worry or resent having to stand here on this particular threshold. Every single time I stand on this or any other threshold, there is a horizon beckoning. I might not know what's waiting out there in the distance but it's always something and all I have to do is keep walking my path toward the beckoning horizon. 

We all have thresholds where we stand and look toward the horizon. I'm not the only one who has unpleasant and uncomfortable thresholds to cross (and cross again). I've decided I'm going to release the view of myself as vulnerable to my health. I am vulnerable to my health, to my own mortality, but so is everyone else so why should I whine about the vulnerability always being "in my face"? Lord knows I'm not near as vulnerable as some. I am more aware than some. But there is no need for me to whine and complain about it. The dang checkups are a part of my new normal now. I'll live with them and accept them as best I can. I decided early on that things like this can surely shape me, but they will not define me.

(All was clear this time around. I still have to go back in February for the breast cancer checkup, and return again in a few months for the colon checkup. I don't go back for a liver check until next January!)

"One never reaches a horizon...To move toward a horizon is simply to have a new horizon." James P. Carse

"Every horizon, upon being reached, reveals another beckoning in the distance. Always, I am on the threshold. W. Eugene Smith

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Project Thoughtful Thursday, Week 17

After two weeks off, I'm getting back on track. I never really intended to post these things online. They are playing cards and so many times the writing has been hard to read in the photo.

"The world is a miracle and you forget time and time again your whole life. But if you remember more than you forget, you'll be fine." Brian Andreas

And would you look a' there, as big as Dallas, I've written "you're" when I intended to write "your." I hope that does not distract us from thinking about how often we do forget that the world is a miracle. I know many of us are having to work very hard at remembering more than we forget. 

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Thinking On The Page

I've often wondered, in the past year, if blogging is still relevant. I've asked myself if it matters whether I blog or I don't blog. Facebook, with its near instant response and continually changing flow of news has usurped my blogging habit. I've never really been happy about that. But I also haven't done anything to stop it from happening.

One of the lessons in the Spirit Wings class (Kelly Rae Roberts) I'm doing is on building community. It's also one of the chapters in her book, Taking Flight, written in 2008. When I started blogging in 2004, the poetry community I'd been involved in had broken down and I sorely missed my online community and had no outlet for writing, or for bantering back and forth about writing. I was also in school, learning about photography and art, which meant my blog soon took on a focus beyond the written word. Visuals were added. Now I feel like I need to include at least one picture with every post!

(Plus, one of my male teachers at school, where I was an older, non-tradtional student, probably only a couple of years younger than the teacher, joked that I was "technologically challenged." I remember working on getting this thing up and running, and I had fleeting thoughts of "I'll show you!" Ha! I'm stubborn
tenacious! The trait has served me well throughout my life.)

Relevant or not, I've made some great friends through writing on this blog. I've met many of them. I have a virtual creative community, a tribe, a sense of belonging. I'm very grateful for that. I do still long for an in person face to face creative community but have not yet found that.

My writing, my art, my life, so much has changed in the last 12 or so years that I have been writing here. I count that as all good. To me, it indicates growth. And I want to grow until my dying day.

I won't give this up. The habit, however inconsistent it is, is still relevant to me. The friends, the community, the tribe I've gained from being out here is all lagniappe. I'm grateful for each person who reads and/or comments on this blog. I'm grateful for the connections made.

I am still operating under the radar, so to speak. Most of my day to day friends know nothing about this blog. When I think about going public on Facebook, I get all tight and nervous. But I think bringing the blog out in the open might be a growing point for me. Doing so does not feel as scary as it has felt.

So, to answer my own question, yes, blogging is still relevant to me. It is a creative outlet. It is a source of friendship, community, and support. It is a repository for pieces of me.

If you aren't interested in reading my long self-indulgent ramblings, here, have some art. I have more ramblings on the mere word "art,' but I'll save those for another day! I checked out a book to read for free on my Kindle because I like this artist's work and wanted to learn more about it. I think I'll probably eventually buy the book, The Art of Expressive Collage: Techniques for Creating with Paper and Glue, by Crystal Neubauer. That's one of the things I want to do this year, stop just admiring other people's stuff and do more of my own stuff!


 These are experiments of learning. I can see where I can improve. But I have all these old letters and pictures and I've always been reluctant to use them, for fear of wasting them. Fooey on that! I'm going to be courageous in wasting...using my somewhat vast store of ephemera. This piece is on an 8X10(ish) sheet of watercolor paper.

This one is on a 4X6 piece of watercolor paper. I have blank cards and I will probably glue it to one of those.

Happy New Year. May we all do the best we can at sharing our particular light into the coming year.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Checking In Before the End of the Year

I've missed two weeks of the Project Thoughtful Thursday posts. I'll pick up next week, after the holidays.

In the meantime, here is a tiny little tree I sketched during my time off.

And another little sketch that I photographed and tweaked a bit before adding the words.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Project Thoughful Thursday Week 16

"Hold fast to dreams for if dreams die, life is a broken wing bird that cannot fly." Langston Hughes

I'm late this week. I've been doing some of the lessons in the online class I'm taking. I've finished one lesson, and one angel, and I've started another one. In between that, I did another face in the style of the first lesson. Only this time I did it on a piece of watercolor paper.

She did end up telling me not to give up! I didn't have any alphabet stamps to stamp the words on so I wrote them on a thin piece of paper and used the gel medium to glue the paper to the board and then blended it in.

This is the one I did on watercolor paper. But this time around I had the better oil pastels than what I had on the previous project. I carefully measured so I could put her in a mat with an 8X10 opening, then I proceeded to make her hair go over my  measuring line. I decided I could just lower her where all her hair would show because it would matter if I cut some off her dress. I forgot about that when I glued the words on tonight. I may have to end up cropping some of her hair off at the top. I think I could have made the letters a bit smaller. Eventually I will break down and order me a set of alphabet stamps just like Kelly Rae Roberts has. LOL I wish I could hand letter them, but my hand is not steady enough anymore.

Also, I made the picture smaller so it would load faster. The words say, "singing lullabies of love and hope for the little ones." 

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Project Thoughtful Thursday, Week 15

I've been chatting with a friend on Facebook. I said I was going to bed but here I am writing a blog post. For one thing, tomorrow is week 15 of Project Thoughtful Thursday. For the other thing, tomorrow will make five years that my son has been gone. He's been very much on my mind lately. I read about another friend on Facebook who also lost a son, and how he usually takes the day off. When I read that, I asked myself why I couldn't be smart enough to do that for myself.

I have people whose hearts will be with me all day tomorrow. People in my face to face world, and people in my online world. Because of so many horrible things happening lately, most everybody is familiar with the quote where Fred Rogers told him to look for the helpers in times of trouble. On a very individual and personal level, that's what I've learned to do during the harder times of my grief. I'm very grateful for the people who will be holding me in their hearts on this day.

How serendipitous that the card for week 15 would be this Anne Frank quote about all the beauty left around me. It's true, there is still so much beauty. We can get so distracted by the darkness and the sadness and the tragedy.

My angel I'm working on for the painting class is coming along. I have a list of supplies I will be ordering on Friday. Part of the work we are supposed to be doing is listening to the whispers, the words our angels might be wanting us to hear. I think I hear mine saying, "Do not give up."

I'm trying very hard not to. I hope you are too. We need to be here to share our gifts with a hurting world.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Hopeful Beginnings

I've had a chance to watch the first lessons of the Spirit Wings class. The supply list is daunting. The good news is that I do not have to have everything at once and I have a few things that I can use as substitutes for some of the supplies.
I've watched the first video lesson and an exciting thing for me was seeing her use vintage wallpaper scraps for her backgrounds. For years I've had this thick book of wallpaper samples. I didn't know exactly what I would do with it but I knew it would come in handy eventually. This morning I tore the pages loose from the book and tore smaller pieces to place on my board. So far this is what I have. I would have glued it down but unfortunately I have matte gel medium and I need gloss gel medium.

I don't know how much farther I will go because of a few supplies I will need that I have not found locally. I could try to make do with what I have. I'll see as I move along. But I will be ordering a few more supplies soon.

(To be honest, I glued the pieces down before I left to play tennis. I can tell you that my pieces did not get put on exactly like I have pictured here. I'm going to work on adding a couple of layers. We will see what happens.)