Wednesday, November 30, 2011

One More Piece of Hospital Art

While having another chemo treatment, I hauled out my art supplies and started to play! (The nurses were full of questions about what I was doing -- and some showed me their latest projects ;) I started with a little canvas on which I had painted a picture I didn't like. At one point I decided that I'd like some of that picture to show through, so I sanded a few spots -- but I'd forgotten that I'd turned the canvas upside down because I thought the way the sewing patterns I'd glued on looked better that way :{ Oops! Some upside down tree branches in a sky on the ground :{ 

Anyway -- I wasn't sure I really liked the end result. 

But then I stuck it in an old frame I found in the basement, and I liked it better. 

I'm still not sure I'm fond of my lady -- especially her face -- but as usual, it simply felt good to be creative. It sure made the hours of chemo go by faster! I didn't even have time to finish the little project until I got home.

Have you done any creative therapy lately? 

The Virtues of a Vegetable Peeler

Sometimes we have to get creative with the tools we have on hand, don't we? We recently acquired a lovely Cradle to the Cross wreath, but the candles we purchased were too big. Nothing a trusty vegetable peeler couldn't change! I neglected to take a picture of the featured tool (I can assure you it wasn't my good Pampered Chef one!;) But here's a peek at what a peeler can do :)

That's not a pile of fake finger nails -- it's all the candle wax shavings ;)

Don't you just love the little wooden figure of Mary riding the donkey that moves through the wreath as we count down to Christmas? For lent, there is a figure of Jesus carrying the cross -- and two extensions for the wreath. 

Have you gotten creative with any tools lately?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Gratitude Challenge November 20 & AEDM

Today I'm giving thanks that I serve a God of miracles! Yesterday, the resident oncologist making rounds on the floor felt for the tumour that I had discovered just over a month ago (it was about the size of a grapefruit and very palpable) -- and she couldn't find it!!!! I felt around, and I couldn't find it either! So God is kicking this cancer in me -- the treatments are working and I'm feeling great! I don't know the status of my other tumours, but that one was huge, and now it's not! Hallelujah! 

Because my friend down the hall at our hospital "B&B" was recently diagnosed with cancer and also believes in miracles, I painted a little picture for her of an image that continues to stick with me (you'll see virtually the same concept in other work on my blog ;) You can't see the sea salt effect on the background, and I don't like the lettering on the word "miracles" --  I hope it blesses her a bit :) Of course, it will be accompanied by some gum -- a whole pack -- as she seems to enjoy that so much ;)

For what are you giving thanks today?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Art Every Day - November 2011

My friend Sara sent me a link to some art ideas that were perfect for my art outlet while in the hospital. The links, in case you're interested, are here and here. As usual, they were more challenging than I anticipated and took much of the day (on and off) -- but art therapy is, well, therapeutic -- and I'm in here for healing! (BTW -- don't you love my sham and hand-painted silk pillow case? Such blessings of comfort and colour!) 

Gratitude Challenge November 19

Today I am thankful for the forced rest and relaxation I am getting because of my cancer. The hospital is not my first choice of venues for such R & R, but choosing to see it as a B & B, where I get to linger over coffee and a magazine with breakfast in bed, my every need is met by others, and the sun beams blessedly in my face for the better part of the day really helps me to appreciate the gift I'm receiving here. While even in this place where I can't "go go go" there don't seem to be enough hours in the day to do the little things I'd like to do (read this book, write that letter, try this art idea, watch that video), I have the freedom to decide what I want to do and when (except maybe shower -- I have to wait for a nurse to unplug me from my IV). Today, my mom visited, and while she read to me from the book I'm reading (cuz she likes the books I read :), I tried my hand at some art activities that my friend Sara sent to me. So I enjoyed Peace and productivity! ;) Even though I cannot sleep well (too many trips to the bathroom -- which is a good thing because it will mean I can go home sooner!), I am enjoying the quiet rest this environment affords. 

For what are you grateful today?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Art Every Day - November 18 - More Hospital Art

While I like to think of myself as an artist, I confess that I lack confidence to tackle any big project that requires any degree of skill. So Kathy Barbro's blog Art Projects for Kids often inspires me with simple projects for my children -- and for me. Last night she posted about a Kandinsky Water Colour activity, and I decided it would be a perfect hospital project for me, especially since it would be fun to make another variation of our Family Art Day Project a couple of years ago. 

I didn't have crayons in my Art to Go kit, but I figured oil pastels would have the same resist effect with the water colours. With this Kandinsky painting in front of me, I spent a good deal of time painstakingly painting in my circles, only to decide I didn't like the neat lines and controlled colours. (I wish I'd taken a picture, though, to compare! You'll have to use your imagination.) So I put random blobs of watery paint all over the page and held the paper vertically, letting the paint drip and wander where it willed, bumping into the oil barriers of the pastel lines, and running in different directions. Call me crazy, but I like the effect much better! It is somehow more unified and interesting. 

It got me thinking about my tastes in art. Would I be drawn to this kind of art to decorate my home? Mmmmm. Not so much. But I like it! And I think I like it because I look at it and think, "I could do that!" And I like the random, funky nature of it. I think I'm becoming random and funky in my old age! (I hear someone saying, "You mean crazy!" ;)

I also found myself wondering, "What's the point?" It's not like I would frame this and hang it on my wall (except maybe in our art room, where few people go. I'm more likely to recycle it and use it as a background for something else). But I remind myself -- it's the process, not the product. Some people might feel like doing this kind of art is a waste of time. But I do believe in the healing power of art and creativity. 

And since I need to heal, and it's fun, I think I'll ignore the voice in my head that says I could find other ways to be more productive. I can't remember who it was that recently reminded me (in a blog post) that Peace is more important than productivity in any given day. 

So I will pursue Peace. And letting the Spirit inspire me to be creative is one way I can do that. (Just rediscovering an old book by Brenda Ueland called, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit. In a letter to her friend, poet Carl Sandburg, she said it was actually "a book about the Holy Spirit." That interests me! I don't know much about either of them, but since I already own the book from years ago, I thought I'd see what she has to say.)

Do you agree that Peace is more important than productivity? If so, how do you pursue Peace?

Gratitude Challenge November 18

Today I'm thankful for little luxuries that make my life more comfortable right where I'm at . . . the beautiful bedspread on my hospital bed (thank you again, Susan!) . . . packs of gum to get rid of the bad taste in my mouth . . . lip balm . . . my cozy shawl (thank you again, Helen!) . . . toilet tissue from home (seriously -- it makes a difference!) . . . yellow curtains that reflect and magnify the sunshine . . . my computer . . . my Art-to-Go case . . . books and magazines to read . . . music to soothe the soul . . . little gold slippers given to me by my daughter . . . a book light . . . a lamp with an incandescent bulb . . . natural skin moisturizers . . . an IV pump chord that reaches all the way to the bathroom . . . so many little luxuries . . .

For what are you thankful today?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Blair's Balanced Boost Juice

When juicing vegetables, it's easy to get one vegetable standing out in strength of flavour, which isn't always very palatable -- especially if you don't follow a recipe. My DH did some juicing for me at lunch time today, and he managed to concoct a perfectly balanced juice blend that I really enjoyed! The vegetables in it are good for boosting the immune system and energy -- hence the name I gave it ;) 

Blair's Balanced Boost Juice

3 carrots
2 apples
2 tbsp. pomegranate seeds 
1 beet with greens
1 clove garlic

Juice all in an electric juicer, stir, and enjoy!

Let me know if you try it :)

Do you have any favourite juice recipes you could share?

Gratitude Challenge November 16-17

November 16 - I'm grateful for the Awana program and the tool it provides for teaching my children to hide God's Word in their hearts. I'm also grateful for all the volunteers that run the programs in so many churches internationally -- but especially at the one where our littles attend. 

November 17 - Today I am extremely thankful for the team of ladies up in my bedroom as I write. They are blessing me with a room make-over!!!! I can't wait, can't wait, can't wait to enjoy the haven of rest being created up there! I have no before pictures (just trust me -- it was an ugly catch-all room with 10 year-old builder's white paint on the walls) -- but I will post pictures when it is all done :)

For what are you thankful today?

Art Every Day - November 17, 2011

Last night I had some time to just sit with my Art-to-Go case. I looked for some inspiration in a creativity book, but after half an hour of not being inspired, I decided to just go with the flow. My friend Malcolm had said he'd like to see an artist's rendition of The Cat Lady, so I thought I'd give that a whirl, though I really have no clue how to draw (and I told Malcolm that ;). The proof is in the pudding; The Cat Lady is Asian, and my rendition sure doesn't show it. But whatever. The drawing gives an idea of how she would curl up at the end of her bed like a cat. 

I gave up on my drawing and decided to just doodle on black lined paper with a silver gel pen. 

Nothing terribly inspirational -- but it was fun to just "play" :)

Have you played with anything lately -- just for fun?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gratitude Challenge November 12-15

Where do the days go???? My lack of participation in the Gratitude Challenge the last few days is not an indication of my state of mind -- I actually find myself more grateful than ever for all kinds of little (and big!) things. But the days are just slipping by so quickly! Let me catch up now . . .

November 12 - I'm grateful for all the support I've been receiving since I was diagnosed with lymphoma. Family, friends, hospital staff, community care workers, cancer support centers -- it's incredible how much love and support my family and I have received! It's overwhelming (in a good way!), really. 

November 13 - I'm thankful for my sisters and brother. We didn't really grow up together, but now that we're all adults (well, kinda ;) we are growing together in spirit. Only one of us six sisters has not joined the Cancer Club, and while that's not a club any of us would choose to be in (or see others join), it has certainly served to unite our hearts. They have become such a blessing to me, and I'm grateful for their presence in my life. 

November 14 - I'm grateful for homeschooling. Today I enjoyed some serendipitous learning time with my littles, and I just felt so blessed to be teaching them, learning with them, and spending time with them. It's not always easy, and I have the perpetual plague of comparison to contend with (Are we doing it as well as ___? Are we doing enough? Would it be better if ____?) -- but I'm thankful for the freedom we have to be living a lifestyle of learning. 

November 15 - I'm so thankful for the variety of foods that God provided to nourish our bodies. I've been reading a lot about juicing lately, which has enlightened me about the many nutrients housed in fruits and vegetables. Last night I juiced some celery, carrots, parsley and garlic (ooohhh, that made it zingy! -- I had to add an apple to take away some of the garlic's zapping power!). Well, I don't know if it was the juice -- the tomato-parsley salad my friend made for me -- or the leek soup another friend gave me -- but after supper, I had more energy than I've had since my diagnosis! For the first time since I started chemo, I felt like my body was working the way it is supposed to work. I think I'm onto something here, and I'm grateful for the discovery, as well as God's provision. 

What are you thankful for today?

Art Every Day - November 15, 2011

So art has not been happening much lately. Amen. But I did manage to finish some ornaments I started before my diagnosis -- intending to participate in an ornament exchange. (I made these ones as a gift, so the work I did back in September was not for naught;) I made these with my children and their friends years ago -- but I rather like them as an adult activity, too :) They are simply heavy wire shaped by wrapping it around a cookie cutter, then that shape is wrapped with finer wire (I used a silver for the frame and gold for the wrapping). Two of them are then covered in glass beads (just glued on with gel medium). Simple, but pretty -- and prettier in real life :)

Do you have any simple, go-to craft ideas? How about some ornament ideas? I'm always on the look-out for creative ornament ideas. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Gratitude Challenge November 11

It is only fitting that today I express my gratitude for the freedoms we enjoy in our country -- many of which have come at a cost to people's lives. I am thankful for this country -- Canada -- and for the rich heritage it has of people who have dedicated their lives to serving God and others, even if that has meant their own sacrificial death. 

For what are you thankful today?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Gratitude Challenge November 10

I'm a relatively new blogger -- I've only been at it for about a year and a half now. But in that time, I have come across some amazing blogs that offer so much inspiration for me as a follower of Christ, a wife, a mother, an artist, and a home maker. So today I am expressing my gratitude for all of the bloggers that inspire me in my faith and journey through life. 

I'm listing a few of them in case they might inspire you, as well:

Ann Voskamp @ Holy Experience
Sally Clarkson @ I Take Joy
Kat @ Inspired to Action
Emily @ Chatting at the Sky
Emily @ Imperfect Prose

If you would like to read more about my own spiritual journey as I undergo cancer treatments for aggressive large B cell lymphoma, you're welcome to join my family here at CaringBridge. Incredibly, others have been inspired -- so perhaps you will, too. My hope is that you will see the Holy Spirit at work as you read our story! My sister (of All About You Video Productions) and husband just put together an amazingly beautiful video about the journey so far. I am so blessed! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Gratitude Challenge November 9

So today I'm expressing gratitude for our fourth child, this cute, little monkey:

He is known for his huge smile, infectious giggle, and mischievous ways. (Today at our visit to the local cancer clinic, a number of people commented how nice it was to hear a child's laughter there!) Boy barbarian through and through, he wields weapons, destroys everything that can be pulled apart -- just because it's possible -- and loudly plays pirate searching for treasure in any pile of dirt he comes upon. Curious and creative, he requires close supervision because those same qualities can get him into some serious trouble ;) One day, though, the traits that are such a challenge to us as parents now will make him a creative genius who will accomplish all kinds of brilliant achievements! (Right???? Tell me it's true!!!! ;)

I'm thankful for his rare cuddles and sometimes begrudging hugs (though they are coming more willingly and frequently these days!) -- and I love the fact that he enjoys reading together at bed time. 

He's our feisty Fireglow -- a burning ball of blessing -- and I thank God for making him part of our family! 

What are you thankful for today?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Art Every Day - November 8, 2011

This isn't exactly art, but it's creative -- so that counts, right? ;)

During my weight loss journey, I kept a food and water journal, and was drinking around 14 glasses  of water per day. Now that I'm not trying to lose weight anymore, my water consumption has dramatically gone down (to maybe two glasses!). That's not good, especially since I need to be clearing my body of the chemo toxins. So I devised a little tool for keeping track of my water without having to use a pen and paper. It's a craft stick with marked holes. As I drink my water, I move a marker (an elastic band) to the appropriate hole. The whole thing is attached with elastic bands to my water bottle, so it's always handy to keep track. 

We'll see if it helps me to be more conscientious in my water consumption.

Do you have any unique ways of keeping track of things you need to do on a regular basis?
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