My Husband has a great laugh. It's one of those deep down from the belly, uproarious, a wee bit too loud and very contagious laughs. You can't help but giggle, or even join in with gusto if you hear him. In fact, it doesn't even matter if you heard whatever started the outburst.
I grew up with a family full of comedians. The quick wit of my siblings and father were unmatched, or at least I was no match for them. My youngest brother never stops. It seems to roll out of his brain effortlessly and continuously and can cause sore stomach muscles by the end of an extended visit.
I know for certain the healing capacity of laughter, it is as they say, medicine for the soul, and free. While I didn't get the gene that makes me funny, I do like to make people laugh if I can.
During the seven weeks of radiation therapy, I recently went through, I became close to the other patients in the waiting area each day. They were always so upbeat and cheerful, and while I do my best to be as positive as possible, I am also a shy person. I am more comfortable in the background. To remedy this, I made t-shirts emblazoned with humor, or at least, happy thoughts. You can see some of them in the gallery of photos below. In an almost ritualistic manner, I would walk into the waiting room, ready to reveal my t-shirt to any who might ask. The smiles I received were my pain management for the day, and my hope was always that it was mutual.
Before I was finished with my treatments, I had also gifted anyone else there each day with a shirt of their own, including all the wonderful staff of Radiation Specialists.
It is the simple things that we often take for granted, like laughter, that can make even the darker moments bright and shiny, and maybe even a little fun.
My T-Shirt Humor Wardrobe
Gifts for Others
Today was a momentous day. What started as a little glimmer, blossomed and grew and has become a reality. The once frightening mask that caused some apprehension, has been transformed into something that for me is a symbol of a sort of resurrection. Butterflies are traditional representations of that transformative power of rebirth.
I love fairy tales. Even though they sometimes have a frightening component to them, usually a dragon is slain, and the story culminates with a happy ending. There is something very compelling about the prospect of living happily ever after, isn't there?
I am about to share a story with you that while it is not a fairy tale, does have a some potentially fearful moments as well as many very happy ones. This story has not been shared with many people until now. It is my hope that in its telling, you will find the same hope and happiness that I have.
I suppose I should start with "Once upon a time", but that would be rather silly, since it was, to be specific, March 12, 2023.
On that day I received unexpected news, delivered very clinically, I was diagnosed with cancer. A type of cancer that is not particularly rare, that in fact there is a vaccine against, (parents, please be sure your children are vaccinated). In my case the cancer found its way to the soft palette of my mouth and my left tonsil. Because of its location, surgery was not advisable. Treatment took the form of seven weeks of radiation therapy every day. The days following were full of uncertainty and a fair dose of fear, but rather than dwell there, (I did say I like fairy tales, right?) let us get right to the dragon slaying.
I hope you will stay tuned to see what becomes of the BIG IDEA, the less scary, more beautiful, hope filled mask. In the meantime, here is a little sneak preview of the goings on, behind the scenes.
My deepest gratitude to the entire team of Swedish Cancer Institute, Issaquah Campus.
The same creative possibilities that widen your visual vocabulary, can also overwhelm and stall the creative process. At some point creative play may border on procrastination. When I get a bit lost, I can ask why the BIG IDEA has come, what is its purpose. If I have already been given my marching orders, and have just lost sight of them, moving from gathering and making into action helps me refocus. It is now time to take the materials and elements which have been created and transform and compose them in a manner that will best honor this BIG IDEAS’ message. A message of new life, hope and beauty. A visual presence that will quiet fear and shed light even in dark places.
There is more to the story . . . stay tuned.
If you entertain a big idea, you must be willing to experiment, it will demand that of you. Give it space, and it will guide you into some of the most unexpected places.
What do you do with that big idea? The one that awakens you in the night, taps you on the shoulder, as if to remind you it needs to be birthed. I begin by gathering, collecting its colors and textures. I ask what it's essence must feel like and what part of the spectrum it wants to land in.
Sometimes a big idea charges into the room demanding to be created this way, or with that color and that feels like this. At other times the idea enters softly, no less large and every bit as persistent, but less defined, that can be frightening, or it can be an invitation. Listen, let it breathe into your heart, let it blossom, but begin, somewhere.
I remember its first glimmer, that thing that woke me not so gently in the night and whispered, this is how it shall be. It took the form of butterflies. And now, it grows into so much more.
Once I have gathered materials and set my sights on a course of action, I begin by creating some of the elements that appear in the vision in my mind. Here are some of the components created so far, including needle felted wool feathers, bees, a nest and a hummingbird and machine embroidered freestanding butterflies.
There is a delightful book by Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Mae Besom called "What Do You do with an Idea?"
(check it out HERE). What I love about the book is that the idea is as an egg with legs that can walks around with the main character, nudging him along until he has the confidence to bring the idea into being.
I have always felt like the really Big Ideas do take on a life of their own. I have learned to pay attention, from their very inception, perhaps just a passing vision, giving the idea space to grow and being careful to listen to its nudges and taps on my shoulder.
The process is fascinating to me, and most likely different from your process. I think we all find our way with this Big Ideas, sometimes ignoring them completely because we are "too busy". It saddens me to think that as adults, we "grow up" into the notion that entertaining a Big Idea, or submitting to the sheer joy of creative play, is somehow folly and far too frivolous for a normal, responsible, adult to engage in.
I don't profess to be a normal adult, although I am pretty responsible. Follow me if you dare, and see what can happen if you entertain a Big Idea.
“I am a contemplative artist who has trouble accessing verbal skills. Finding the right words to talk about the amazing things I observe around me can be frustrating. It is much more natural for me to pick up a paintbrush, some embroidery floss or my camera when I wish to share some new discovery. The artwork I create is meant to be enjoyed on whatever level the viewer experiences it and not layered with complex meaning. Feathers, fur, flowers and the incredible variation I find in wildlife not only inspire me, but compel me to share every nuance with you.