Sometimes life deals us a hand that we do not want, one that places on a journey we are unsure of where it is going or why we are there. One of those hands was shuffled to me nine years ago and the journey I have found myself on has been a series of discoveries and self-revelations. Nine years ago, my life was shaken to its core. I heard the words from a Doctor that no one wants to hear, ever. “It is Cancer” …. I am not really sure what he said after that, as the room went dark in my head, those were the only words that kept replaying in my mind, over and over again.
When my latest journey began I was a 40 something-year-old mother of 4, firefighter, military spouse and internationally competitive athlete. To say my life was much different then, then now would be sort of a huge understatement. Going from saving lives, running into burning buildings and traveling the world to lift weights competitively to being a visual artist and cancer thriver, and a guide for cancer patients through their journey of surviving to thriving. It has been a huge change, mostly for the better, although I will admit to missing the burning building part.
The journey from survival mode to thriving mode is a most interesting one. For me, it has involved a lot of self-forgiveness, body acceptance and a reinventing of who I am or want to be, how I want to show up in the world. Helping others is just part of who I am, not something I am willing, nor do I want to change about me. But loving who I am, that has taken some time and work. Much of that work has come through my art, in many different mediums: photography, scannography, mixed media, art journaling, painting and even some drawing.
The one thing in my journey that I have regretted not having is a record of me. I have a visual record of how I felt during parts of the journey, but no record of how I was physically. No images capturing the beauty in the darkness of the journey. Nothing I can look back on now and see just how far I have traveled. When walking through the journey, it is one of the last things you consider. I often thought how I did not want to remember any of that period in my life, not realizing then just how important that time frame would become in my journey forward. Not realizing how possible it is to become stuck in the cycle if you do not process everything so you can move forward.
Now my journey is to teach women, like you, to use the creative process to become more mindful and self-aware, so you can navigate the challenges of cancer and treatments, and design the life that you want. Along with teaching skills, I also want to capture the memories, the beauty, and strength of these thriving warriors. Using all of my skills and knowledge to steer a ship of those making a journey with cancer to a place beyond just survival, but a place where Thriving is the goal.