Monday, September 29, 2008

OC Race for the Cure

Over 2000 survivors sat on the steps today for the survivor tribute at the Komen OC Race for the Cure. I was sitting next to a 20 year survivor. I cannot tell you how encouraging it was so sit next to and see so many who wore so many pink bead strands. It is possible. During the survivor tribute a few spoke of reoccurrences – which is a very scary thought – believe me I try to push it out of my thoughts daily. They have such hope… some were on their 3rd reoccurrence and continue to fight. One of my favorite moments is when they ask the survivors to stand by the number of years of survivorship. Over 25 years… over 20 years… over 15 years… over 10 years… over 5 years… over 1 year… all survivors.

Another favorite is when they let the white doves loose.... although I have to admit you hope they have not eaten too much before flight!!!

We have come so far in the breast cancer fight but as you walk and read the signs of “In memory of” it just shows how much further we still need to go. We were walking behind a few who walked in honor of Melinda. She passed in January and today would have been her 51st birthday.

This is my neighbor. She gave me so much encouragement during my treatment. She still goes out of her way to tell me she is thinking about me and asks how I am doing. She is an almost 9 year survivor.

I loved being at the race today with my family. My sister came to visit and to walk the race. Two years ago she came to stay with us for 3 weeks while I had my mastectomy. It has been so nice to have her here. It is so nice to be healthy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What Matters?

Everytime I leave my therapist's office I see this tacked on the bulletin board. It is a good reminder for everyone, not just those of us that have had to deal with cancer...

What Will Matter?

By Michael Josephson

Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.

There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours
or days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or
will pass to someone else.

Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel
to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations
and jealousies will finally disappear.
So too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists
will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important
will fade away.

It won’t matter where you came from
or what side of the tracks you lived on at the end.
It won’t matter whether you were beautiful or
Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.

So what will matter?
How will the value of your days be measured?

What will matter is not what you bought
but what you built, not what you got but what you

What will matter is not your success
but your significance.

What will matter is not what you learned
but what you taught.

What will matter is every act of integrity,
compassion, courage, or sacrifice
that enriched, empowered or encouraged others
to emulate your example.

What will matter is not your competence
but your character.

What will matter is not how many people you
but how many will feel a lasting loss when your

What will matter is not your memories
but the memories that live in those who loved you.

What will matter is how long you will be
by whom and for what.

Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by

It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.

Choose to live a life that matters.

Friday, September 19, 2008

My Dream...

Last year part of an essay that I wrote was published in
the local paper. My title was
“What a difference a year makes….”
In September of 2006 I was not able to participate in the Komen Walk because I had just finished Chemo and I was scheduled for my bi-lateral Mastectomy in a few weeks.
By September of 2007, I was finished with my treatment
with the exception of 2 outpatient surgeries and I was able
to walk in the 5K and be a part of the survivor tribute ceremony.

When I dropped the kids off at school last September I
went to Barnes and Noble and bought some craft/art magazines to get some new ideas for the new life that I wanted to create after cancer.

An article in
Cloth, Paper, Scissors
by Kelly Rae Roberts
spoke to me so deeply that I had to send in a
comment to the editor.
The article spoke of Kelly Rae’s path from
a social worker to living the creative life as an artist.
This is something that I have dreamed of for awhile.
I have been busy all year creating mixed media
collages, acrylic paintings and fused glass jewelry.
Kelly Rae has a “style” but I felt my work was all
over the board.
Perhaps I needed a style of my own. So I just kept
creating. At this same time I went back to my old
interior design job as a consultant. I needed to know
that I could work and function as a professional after
my cancer.

I started donating my fused glass jewelry and my collages
to various non-profit fundraising auctions - I felt it was a good way to get an idea if people liked my work. Even though I would love to be a full-time artist, I need to bring
in a salary. It is an endless fight in my brain, continue being an interior designer as it is where I have the most experience, go back to school and get my Master’s, get my credential to be an art teacher??? I can always create my
art while having a “real job”.

So after my interview experiences over the summer (see last post) I felt I had to figure out some other way to make a salary, something more flexible. My daughter said one night at dinner…” maybe God does not want you to find a job, because He wants you to sell your art and jewelry.” I think deep down I really want that too, but it is hard to believe in yourself sometimes.

Currently, I have a part-time interior design job consulting for an architect, I am a part-time Art for Healing facilitator and I am trying to build a business of selling my art and jewelry. I am preparing to sell on Etsy and on my own website. My dream would be to sell my jewelry, my original art and prints. I would love to have my artwork licensed on products. I want to keep working on the many children’s book ideas that I have as well as working on the other trillion ideas that I have come up with over the years. There, I said it… my true dream.

The next step on this path is to have some of my work framed and entered in a juried show. So I picked a few pieces and met with a framer. There was one piece that I wanted to have scanned before it was framed so I dropped it off at the photography shop that I use. The next day someone from the shop called me and asked me how much I sell my work for? “Ah, well, I have mostly donated my pieces for charity.” He wanted to buy the piece that I took in. I quickly figured out a price and told him and he said “yes” and then proceeded to tell me
that I need to raise my prices!!!
The next day I went in to the shop to meet him and he
told that his wife liked the collage so much that she wants
one for her office and one for home. He “commissioned” me to create another in the same style as the first. He called me back a bit later and asked if I would work larger. So I am
now working larger than I ever have before and working
on my first commissioned piece!!!

The income is not enough to live on yet, but it sure has
given me confidence that perhaps this is my path.
Maybe this dream of mine could come true. Again, the difference another year makes…

I also think it is interesting that the first piece that I
sold is my number one lesson learned from Cancer!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

what I do NOT want....

For most of my life, I may not know what I want in my life, but I usually know what I do NOT want…

I have been trying to figure out what I should (there is that should word again) do with my life. I think I was trying to figure this out before cancer and after cancer it is weighing on my mind every day. This summer I have been looking for a job in Design. It is what my degree is in, it is what I have the most experience in. I have sometimes wondered if I have passed up the “good” opportunities because I have worked part-time for the last 15 years. So I decided I would look for a full time job and perhaps I would get that good opportunity.

Last month I interviewed with a very large firm here. Close to my home – perfect since many commute so far. Over 200 employees, an established name, beautiful office. I showed my portfolio, answered all of the questions. I thought I was interviewing for another department, but I tried not to show my disappointment. Then comes the talk about the hours – ah yes the hours in design… “Well we like people to arrive between 7 and 8 am and then you usually are done by 5pm”. I must have looked a bit shocked – because she chimed in “we work 4 - 9 hour days (10 including lunch) and from 8-12 on Fridays”. Oh that is a little better… but “once a month we have a companywide meeting from 12 to 1:30… but they buy us lunch”. “Sometimes a client wants a meeting on a Friday afternoon so we may have to accommodate them”.

Now having been around the design block so to speak, I dare to ask hour many hours a week they “average”? “Well, we are hoping (another operative word) that if you come on board we will eventually (another operative word) be able to get to a 40 hour week”. So how many hours are you putting in now? “About 50”.

So lets see – I will have to leave the house about 6:30am, find somewhere to drop my son off and have someone get him to school because he does not start until 8:40. I will be able to pick him up at 5:15 – but wait I still have to fit in an extra 2 hours per day so I pick him up at 7:15pm or 6:15 and I still work all day on Friday, plus probably part of the weekend and/or through lunch.

I finished the interview, got to the car and said NO WAY to myself. My thoughts were: I will get sick again, I will never see my kids, I just can NOT do it. I will have to figure something else out. I swear the thank you, but no thank you letter got to my house faster than I did. I guess the look of shock and the been there, done that demeanor did not help!!!

So, I still do not know exactly what I want to do or what I should do, but I know what I do NOT want to do. What I can NOT do. I may have done it before cancer, but I definitely can NOT do it after cancer…

Monday, September 8, 2008

Courageous Women...

Today I spent 2 hours with 10 very courageous women. I facilitated an Art & Creativity for Healing workshop at a shelter for abused women. I have been there many times before. The women change over time, their individual stories are different, but they share abuse in their lives.

They all did a wonderful job expressing their emotions through color and paint. Every time I leave there I am so inspired by their courage. I guess the only thing that is certain is that abuse can happen to women of all ages, races, income levels.... Thank goodness there are places for women and their children to go to make the necessary changes in their lives.

Please say a prayer for these women who have made the biggest step: leaving their abusers. And even more prayers for those who have not yet gained the courage to leave, but are still enduring abuse.


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