Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Heroes

After most of my intensive treatment was completed, I started to redesign my new life after cancer. I immersed myself into my art. One of my goals was to have a collage published in a magazine. The first submission theme that I read about was a call for work entitled “Heroes”. I did not have any trouble interpreting what or who a hero was to me. This was my first “publishing” of my bald self. I had hair now and felt it was safe to let people see me without my hair.

My submission was not accepted to be published in the magazine. When my copy of the issue arrived I was anxious to see what Heroes had been chosen over mine. There were the Heroes that come to everyone’s mind: firefighters, soldiers, Fathers, artists, movie stars, Women, Gandhi, but there were no cancer patients or survivors. It is hard to make a pretty picture out of cancer ... cancer is not pretty.

I have to admit that before I became a cancer survivor, before the 8 rounds of chemo, the loss of hair, breasts, ovaries and dignity…..I am not sure if I would have portrayed the cancer survivor as my hero either. If I saw a person battling cancer I had sympathy for them, but now I have empathy. Empathy for my fellow warriors.

So my heroes are the ones who have come before… Andrea, Lisa, Amanda… we can learn so much from them and the countless others who have gone before. We learn to fight, cope, live and even when and how to surrender to this disease.

My heroes are those of us who are in this club, in various stages of this disease. My friend who has just entered Hospice… a friend of a friend whose breast cancer has metastasized to her spine and brain. All Mothers with Cancer who contribute to this site and those that are just visiting.

My heroes are those that will come after us, who can hopefully find comfort in some of the words and experiences that we write about here.

My Heroes…

My Fellow Warriors…

those that came before … those that will come after…

cross posted at motherswithcancer

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Planning to Achieve Your Goals


12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women
By Gail Meekin

Secret Twelve – Planning to Achieve Your Goals

Think carefully about if and how you want to share your creative work.

I have thought a great deal about sharing. I want to share my work… I felt I had to create a body of work and find my “style”. I now have a small portfolio of collage and mixed media.

I share on this blog
I share by submitting to magazines
I share by donating my pieces to non-profit organizations for their fundraising auctions
I will share in my first local exhibition on Sunday
I share on Cafepress
I share on Etsy

A goal is simply a statement of intention – a result toward which effort is directed.

My creative goals:

Redesign my website
Create an inventory of prints and Giclees on canvas
Submit my work to shops and galleries
Submit my work to companies for licensing

Most people let the day overwhelm them and then end up with no time left to work on their goals. Only you can change this dynamic – no one else will do it for you. Watch out what you agree to do in your life and see if you need to make any changes to free up more time.

I think being a part of this group and reading this book has really helped me in this area. I have had to find time to read this book, blog about it and realize that many of the things that do get in the way are also choices that I have made. I have forgiven myself that I have not posted exactly on Fridays, but when it fit in my schedule. I find I sometimes have a 1 ½ hours here and then 45 minutes there. I am accepting the fact that at this time in my life this is how my days look. I am learning to maximize my creative time in short segments. I realize that it will not always be that way. Right now it is. I am okay with it.

Procrastination is often indecision.

I really liked that sentence. It clarifies that we are not bad because we have procrastinated, but perhaps we just can’t make up our minds which way to go, or what to do first. I watched a special with Ellen Degeneres this past week and she had a wonderful skit on procrastination. I love her humor. Eventually it will all get done… it always does, at least the important things do. I think it is perhaps more about indecision, mixed up priorities and timing.

Don’t be afraid to claim your dreams and experiment with your creative style.

I feel that I am moving one step closer to my dream every day while also living my dream every day. I will not get caught again in the thinking that we can’t enjoy our life until we reach this goal or that goal. Life is happening today. Our dreams are happening today. I am trying to find happiness in each day, balance in each day while truly living each day…

Thank you to all who have visited my blog because of the 12 Secrets. I have truly enjoyed being a part of this creative group!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Subtracting Serenity Stealers

Struggles of Life...


12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women
By Gail Meekin


Secret Eleven – Subtracting Serenity Stealers


Power of Subtraction: Get rid of everything that you neither need or want in your life.

I am a collector and a saver. I enjoy old things and I always think that I could find a different use for many things. But at times I feel a compelling need to clean house and go through the stuff that I collect. My parents were both savers – I think for them it probably had more do to with growing up during the depression. My Mother loved collections. She had a ton of dolls, some she made and some she bought. When you would go to her house there was no room to sit because the dolls had taken over. She used to say “this will be worth something someday!” When we made our move across country five years ago, we had to pare down. There was no way we could bring all of the collections and things that we, but mostly I had acquired over the years. I had a wonderful collection of Hall Autumn Leaves china that was given to me by my Aunt. I grew the collection up to enough to serve 25 people. I had fun antiquing to find the missing pieces. I sold much of my “stuff” on EBay. My Mothers’ prophesy did come true, much of it sold very well and was worth something. We still moved a semi-full of stuff out west, but other than a few items I never really missed much of what I had accumulated over the course of time. Now after 5 years here I am feeling the need to have a major spring cleaning.

When your body and psyche sound the alarm, your job is to listen and redirect your life.

I think I touched on this in the last chapter… Cancer has made a large impact and forced me to hear the alarm when it goes off, after years of ignoring the alarm. I had to make a choice just the other night. I wanted to complete a submission for a magazine due Friday, but I also had the paperwork due for a fundraiser that I am running for my son’s school. I enjoy the volunteer work for school and I know that he will not always be in school so I have a limited amount of time to give back. I did not finish the paperwork until 1:30 am. In the past I would have stayed up and kept working on the submission, but I know now that is not the healthy answer. I chose to go to bed and not send in the submission. I feel bad, but I have also had to learn not to beat myself up about it and move on. There will be more submissions.

Learn to say “NO”

This is so hard and I have been trying this one for a long time. Just this past fall, after finding myself involved with many non-profit organizations I had to make some choices. I had to decline some positions and some involvement. It was hard and I feel badly about it sometimes. Even when I sit in PTA meetings I have to sit on my hands sometimes so I do not find myself on another committee. The 80/20 rule is so true and I am usually a member of the 20% doing the 80% of the work. Now after 6 months I have seen the benefit of saying “no”. I have produced more art, moved forward with my blogs and enjoyed having more time to build my business slowly.

There will always be unavoidable serenity stealers in life. I enjoyed one of the quotes in the book from
Designer Diane Ericson… “I get that all we can control is what we do with what happens. And that’s been an incredibly important, painful, joyful, intense lesson for me.”


I feel the same way. Cancer helped me with control, or the illusion of control, but I still have to try hard everyday to remember the lesson learned. Yesterday I had a major and a minor “stealer” happen that I will have to deal with but I also had some wonderful news too. I received notice that one of my submissions to the Cloth Paper Scissors calendar contest for 2010 was chosen as a finalist! But the best news of the day was that my recent MRI is clean!!! Talk about a Serenity booster!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Living in Abundance with Positive Priorities


12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women
By Gail Meekin

Third Gateway – Actualizing Creative Results: The Power of Positive Priorities
Secret Ten – Living in Abundance with Positive Priorities

Cancer has taught me so much about this chapter. It has helped me to define abundance, realize the power of gratitude, do more of what I love, care for my body and mind, learn what supports and detracts from my creativity and it really has helped me to identify my positive priorities!

Scarcity thinking comes from fear and a lack of trust that your needs will be taken care of.

For those of us growing up in dysfunctional homes, I think this is a biggie. It was not my physical needs that suffered, but my emotional needs as a child. We carry that thinking with us into our adult lives. I am trying to put it all into perspective as an adult. I have had many trials in my life, but I have also had much abundance in many ways too. There will always be someone with more and someone with less, so sometimes being in the middle is a good place.

Abundance beckons as a state of mind, beginning with gratitude for what you already have and followed by a vision of what you want to create in your life.

I am grateful for everyday… everyday that the cancer stays away. Every day that I am not in pain. Every day that I can get up and have the energy and health to do what I want to do. I have a vision of what I want my life to look like. I am trying to live that life every day. Cancer helped me to put it all into perspective. I have a tendency to not use the “good things” that I acquire in life. If I buy good paints, then I am afraid to use them. I love to have a new box of colored pencils, but I do not like to use them… I want to save them. If I get a really nice dress … sometimes I am afraid to wear it. Cancer has really helped me with this. I can save those paints, or those pencils, but for what or when? I may not be here when I want to use them. So now I am trying to live more in the moment. To use what I have… not waste it mind you, but enjoy each day that God gives me. So many of us and I am guilty of this too, think I will do this when I get to this point… or my life will be complete when I get this or do that. But I think we need balance. You cannot spend every penny that you have, but you must enjoy each day. BALANCE. None of us knows how long we have in this world. Cancer gave me a wake-up call, a reminder that I can only control so much… so I best enjoy what I have, NOW.

Your life choices, positive and negative, determine your well-being. Body, mind, and spirit – it’s all connected.

I am trying to make more positive choices in my life. Since cancer, my priorities have had to change a great deal. Number one is to stay healthy. I have had to learn to listen to my body after a lifetime of ignoring my body. If I was working and I felt tired, I just pushed through. Now If I am tired I must stop and rest. It is still difficult for me as I am a task master. But I have learned if I am not alive, I really will not get anything accomplished… so I have to listen to my body, try to get out of my mind and then my spirit will be lighter.

I guess the quote in this chapter by Catherine Ponder sums it up…

“You are prosperous to the degree that you are experiencing peace, health, and plenty in your world.”

Monday, March 9, 2009

Transcending Rejections and Roadblocks


12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women
By Gail Meekin

Secret Nine
Transcending Rejections and Roadblocks

I really enjoyed this chapter as many of the messages resonated with me.

Putting yourself out there and sharing your work qualifies as an act of courage and tests your fortitude.

I have been doing this slowly. I am putting my paintings and collages out into the world to see what people’s reactions are. I do believe that events happen for a reason and when they are supposed to. Little by little, one collage at a time.

Sometimes I struggle with selling my paintings; they are like my babies… I spoke to an artist friend of mine who has sold many. She told me you have to “get your message out into the world, to hang on someone else’s walls”; her biggest piece of advice was “you can always make more”.

We must be able to move in the world knowing that not everyone will approve of us or our creative accomplishments consistently.

I think this is good advice not just for our creative endeavors, but life in general. We have to do our work and let our creative message out. Not everyone will like our work or approve of our message, but that does not mean that we should not create.
When I spoke to an agent about my work she had told me it was not Middle America enough. If I wanted to have my work licensed I may have to change my style to sell. I immediately thought “I do not want to change my style to sell my work.” My next thought was so my work is not Middle America… that is not a bad thing.”

Locate people who have accomplished what you want to and try to meet them, read about them or study their work. Try to figure out the secrets of their success.

I love to do this. The internet has made this so much easier. Even being a part of this blog group is an example of that. To me, it is research and it opens up my eyes to other paths that people have taken to get them where they want to go. Their path may not be the right path for me, but at least it brings the options into my consciousness and then I can decide what I want to try or better yet, what I do not want to try!
We can decide how we want to use the information that we have gathered to further our creative life, but just like Gail Meekin’s final sentence in this chapter:

We each have to be true to ourselves first.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Selecting Empowering Partnerships and Alliances


12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women
By Gail Meekin

Secret 8- Selecting Empowering Partnerships and Alliances

Carve out a niche for yourself and experiment.
“Hungry people make poor shoppers.” Never agree to an alliance out of desperation; wait or explore other options for yourself.

I think that is what I am doing. I am not exactly sure of the direction that I want to go. Until I do know I can use guides and build alliances but I do not think I am ready for a business partnership yet. Luckily I do not have to bring in an income right now. I do not have to rush into anything. I can experiment, investigate and learn.

Many of the women who have experienced collaborative disasters didn’t follow their intuition about the situation and redirect things in time.

This has recently happened to me. I have been collaborating with someone in the design field on a project. I did my part of the work, but was not paid on a timely basis. I stopped working on the project and have finally gotten paid two months later. I feel bad that the client has not gotten their project completed but I cannot work for free either. Time spent on this project also takes me away from creating and building my new business. If I follow my intuition it is screaming DO NOT WORK ON ANY FURTHER PROJECTS….. so my choice on the original project is bill the client directly or completely remove myself from the project, income and potential headache.
I suppose I should keep rereading the last sentence of this chapter:

Most of all, be true to yourself and link up with others only in good faith and sincerity.

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