When Diane and I envisioned this blog months ago, it was as a way to communicate what we are experiencing as we move through the world as creative people, as cancer survivors, as friends. There was the intention that it would be a joint effort, but up until now the extent of my effort was simply to support Diane as she got the blog up and running—which she has done beautifully and courageously. I couldn’t seem to get myself to contribute. I suppose there were a number of logistical reasons--my own recurrence of colon cancer, caring for my family and myself--but there was also a way that I was simply holding back.
Diane and I have had many conversations about fear—not the kind of fear one might think two people with Stage 4 cancer would talk about, not the fear of death, per se, but of not living fully. Starting a blog was a dream of Diane’s, and while I love to write and have often turned to that as a form of creativity and expression, it is painting that has been gnawing away at my heart for years. I have had periods in my life where I have successfully made art, showed the work, and had some small measure of “success” in terms of how it’s been received, but then it always goes underground. Work and family take over, and it is simply so much easier for me to care for others than nourish myself--physically, emotionally, and creatively. Cancer has changed that.
Over six months ago, after I was recovering from my second cancer surgery, it became clear that I would need to take a leave of absence from work. My hope then was that I would not only devote more time to making art, but that it would become an essential part of my healing process. And yet it still took six months before I was able to get up to my little third floor studio and start. That is okay—I don’t judge myself anymore. But now that I’ve been up in the studio working and bringing a few pieces close to completion, it seemed that the next step was to share it, on the blog. This of course meant pushing through more fear. “Is the work too emotional?” “How will people respond to the text/prayers?” “Is this other, newer style really mine, or did I borrow it?” Telling Diane that I was ready and having her come take pictures was a little uncomfortable, but do-able. Then there was the actual writing of this piece and publishing it. More resistance and fear. It’s not even so much a fear of “not being good enough” anymore (as that was the fear for years), as it is a fear of simply being seen, of taking up space. It’s what the blog is about too--and I think Diane would agree—being willing to say, THIS is who I am, in all my imperfection and vulnerability. In the past, keeping myself small made me feel safe, but that doesn’t translate into fulfillment and joy. So, voila. Artwork, unfinished, untitled, but out there.
|An older piece (1997)|