Thursday, February 20, 2014

new mixed media self portrait: "I Have a Voice."

Been working in the studio this past week on a new mixed media collage. It is for a possible submission to the Chico Art Center 8th Annual Contemporary Woman Juried Exhibition May 16-June 13, 2014. The Chico Art Center asked that your work be based on the following quote:

“It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.” – Madeleine Albright

This quote really appealed to me. I feel like Madeline Albright could have speaking to me directly in my post Leukemia treatment, in remission state. When reading through the quote, I thought that I could be the one having a voice, showing an image of myself with a word escaping from my mouth and being surrounded by works that are synonyms for voice: speak, say, feeling, articulate, declare, view,communicate, etc. It is still a work in progress but happy with the results so far.

"I Have a Voice."

"I Have a Voice."
Taking some time off until next week and will continue work on Monday afternoon.

Celebrating "Girl's Weekend" this weekend. It's a now 5 year gathering of we four women friends who have know each other for 30 years. Lots of changes go on in 30 years and we celebrate being together through it all!

Have a great weekend everyone.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Surviving Leukemia and Living in the Present

“One must simply take the days of their lives as they happen. If you spend time worrying over what is to come, which may or may not happen, then you will only be wasting precious days you will wish in the future you could have cherished a bit longer.” 
― R.J. GonzalesMundahlia

This post is dedicated to my dear friends Csaba Lukacs and David Lummis.
From San Francisco to New Orleans will all my heart!

~ me and Csaba, Thanksgiving 2013 ~
Dear Csaba has been living a life in transition due to some health issues.
We are survivors together!

I am a cancer survivor. I have survived a diagnosis of Leukemia. I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) on November 30, 2010. Since then my life has changed from a daily struggle of letting go of personal demons to a time when each day I live is a personal triumph.

My past life was difficult. I lived with many struggles: familial issues as a child and young adult, insecurities and a unnerving habit of being uncomfortable in my own skin. From the age of 25, I worked constantly at changing my ways, attempting to rid myself of these unwanted burdens. As a mother at age 34, I struggled to not pass on these burdens to my children. I did not want them held down by these battles. In my marriage I was fortunate to have a husband who could deal with the highs and lows. Love and patience played, has played a big part in our 30 year marriage. 

Always functional in my daily life, I covered up the fear that I felt an emotional storm always brewing close by. I never knew when something would set off my temporary equilibrium. It was an unsettling life. Finally, at age 56 came my diagnosis of ALL. From that moment on, my life was forever changed.

With my Leukemia diagnosis, everything I'd known in my life, up until that point,became null. Whether it happened or not, it was not important. What was important was the present: CANCER, LEUKEMIA, A HOSPITAL ROOM, DOCTORS, NURSES, NEEDLES, DRIPS, CHEMO, PROCEDURES.  I experienced many, many procedures Life, living was now about surviving. You dealt with all the discomforts, the lack of sleep, privacy. Vanity did not exist. I lost my hair. I used a commode. I couldn't make it to the bathroom because I was either too weak from the chemo or I couldn't move fast enough because I was connected to an IV stand. I had no control over my life other than I was going to endure this treatment and I was going to survive. My survival instinct became my livelihood. My doctors and nurses and cleaning people, people who wheeled me around to various procedures were all united with me to keep me alive. They were my friends, caretakers. We all silently agreed that I was not going to die. I was a living being who despite my illness could carry on a great conversation, laugh with them, smile and cry. I was living through this experience so I could live beyond this experience. My friends and family were also part of this silent agreement. They were with me to cheer me on, keeping me connected to the outside world and making me strive to imagine living again outside the hospital walls.

As it happened, I did survive. I am living in the world again. When I was first discharged from the hospital, I marveled at the wonderful home I had. It was so bright, full of sun. The house felt like it was full of love - the love of a family, of friends. My house felt so secure. Upon entering it, it felt like an almost human entity, welcoming me with open arms. My family was present also to welcome me with all the love they could share. I was enveloped with love. When I returned to my studio, I experienced another enveloping of love. Artists from around the building came around to great me with sweet, tender expressions of love and tears.My husband organized a RE-Birth Day party for me at the studio. I felt like I truly had been reborn, rebirthed and was being reintroduced into the world again.

So that is my story of now living each day as a personal triumph. When you experience the possibility of your life being taken from you much too soon, the strength and power to fight back takes over. As people have said, life and living is a gift. It is so easy to take this for granted and to allow yourself to wallow in perceived personal tragedies. I am not passing personal judgement here. I am not judging anyone else. I am speaking about what my life had been and what freedom I live with now. I am not perfect. I still have days when I get bogged down by personal issues. I am human. What has changed is my ability to rally back. I can let go of this issues much more easily than ever before.This is an incredible change for me. Yes, I still do have demons. Fortunately, the demons do not take a front seat to my living each day as it were a ray of sun, shining brightly.

Life is good. I am alive. I am living. I am here today. I can't control how long my journey will be, but I'm grateful that I have been given the chance to relive outside the walls and in the sunshine.