Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Past the Sky

Wow, what an intense, happy day.  I will not include the rough morning, in which i made my husband very grumpy, snoozing my alarm for 1.5 hours before turning it off, then oversleeping with 5 minutes to both get ready and be at the hospital.  we were very late.  he got no breakfast or coffee because we were late.  his cafeteria lunch sucked. this made him grumpier.  i ran the battery out on his laptop.  oops. grumpier.  had a typical argument about money (evil green relationship saboteur!).  lets just delete that part of the day. we hugged it out later.  It's supposed to be all about me today anyway!!

I put a flower in my head scarf, some lip shimmer and off we went.  Got to the hospital about 20 minutes late.
a nice man in blue scrubs named Christopher (who was very kind about my tardiness) tested my heart today with the little echo machine and the blue jelly.  "your heart still looks strong.  this is veddy' veddy' gooood.", he said.

headed downstairs to meet with my amazing oncologist named Dr.T.  She spent so much time answering all our questions and telling us what to expect going forward after Chemo.  She palpated all around "does this hurt?... this?", did her stethoscope tests, and said, "your doing really great, erica.  really great".  She doesn't give you any B.S. though and i like her honesty about my future.  Then she gave me a big hug which made my day.

Then headed down the hall to my final Chemo treatment (6 of 6, i jump for joy!)  Someone asked me how I felt about this being the last day?  " sad, scared, and elated, all at once", i said.... Sad only because i love the nurses and all the people there dearly.  i will miss them but will still be there every 3 weeks for a year for a quick infusion called Herceptin.  Scared because the chemo, which although it is pretty toxic,  it's oddly very comforting knowing your actively fighting those little cancer buggers that might have got away... (now how do i keep fighting?) Elated, because, hey - i probably don't have to explain - chemo kinda sucks and i am nearly through with this suck-fest after a few final weeks of annoying side effects!  can i say, "woo hoo!"?.  Oh and i got a glittery smiley face sticker.  (-:   If i could do one of those goofy little heel click jumps out to the side on my way out of there today, i would have. high fives all around instead, so i don't hurt my clutzy self.

Mom and dad and Lucy came for dinner to celebrate a little.  Felt very happy to be with all my family who made sure i was never alone during one treatment, and even spent overnights on my couch taking care of me when my husband was away for work.  You guys rock.  you too, stewie and lucy!

 It has been a long road so far, but at the same time it really does pass... the chemo, the surgeries, the pain, even when you think it will never be over.  It is all up from here. 

My hair will grow back.  
My nails will grow back. 
I will get stronger. 
I will dance again.  
I will meet more lovely people. 
I will become whole again. 

Life will never be the same in so many ways.  I plan to just reach for the sky now.  Who knows... maybe I'll make it past the sky. 

love, e

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

S.K.B.F. (Shameless Kitty Blog Filler)

Sorry people.  i haven't done any art lately, and haven't had anything special to write... so i will just say hello & share some cute pics of my sweet Stewie Buddy when he was a baby.   He is seriously part human i think...he sits in chairs, eats ice cream, gets (very thorough) therapeutic hand massages, and makes funny faces.  Maybe someday I will start a separate Stewie blog... because I know most of my (awesome 5) visitors don't come here for silly pics of my cat.  Anyway, he is part of my healing process, and I hope he brings you a smile today...
love, e

Sunday, May 9, 2010


You are the one, who drove me to every lesson.
You are the one, who sewed every sequin.
You are the one, who taught me to dance.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom.
love, e

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cloudy with a Chance of Cats and Dogs

When I just can't seem to get my mind off the clouds and gloom, when my bones are aching....
when everything tastes like garbage, and i just feel like I'm mad at the world...
I take a fluffy little dog, and a sneaky little kitty,
bring them into my sunny little studio,
and the mischief ensues...

let the wild rumpus start!

I am telling you, the clouds disappear,
the bones stop aching, I forget about the yuck mouth,
and I can't help but join in the fun.
These are the moments that take the edge off.
 These are the moments that are necessary for getting well.

Stewie Buddy and Lucy Lu.  My Sweet Little Wild Things.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Chasing Rainbows


I didn't know she'd be passing through...
she arrived at the most perfect time.

In her backpack, she brought
healing herbs,
healing powers,
healing light.
She warmly shared her gifts with all those
who would agree,
she arrived at the most perfect time.

She did not know we would need her so,
but we did more than she will ever know.
Because of her we have LIFE!
A more beautiful life than before.

And as perfectly as she arrived, she as swiftly must go.
To bring her light to others who love and need her.

Though she rolls up her bedding, and heads for higher mountains,
her light will remain here forever.

We hope she will pass through again.
Until then we will wait... for the next lovely traveler.


I had to say a teary-eyed so long today to one of the wonderful nurses who has cared for me throughout my chemo, which by the way... I only have one more round of!  Unfortunately for us, she is a traveling nurse and she is now on her way to new adventures, and new patients... but we are so lucky to have had her here, (at the most perfect time), and we know she will bring light wherever life takes her.  She always knew the perfect thing to say, and her voice got me through many needles and difficult moments... even when she wasn't there.  "Don't get yourself more worried than you need to be sweetheart", she would say..."it only makes it harder".  I paraphrase, but I can't tell you how many times those words get me through.  Somehow she knew just the words I needed to hear, and now somehow I feel stronger. I am lucky to have so many other wonderful nurses as I continue my journey, but the warmth of this traveler's voice will never be far when I need it.

I made this little book mark for her, of leather, wooden beads, and paint.  It was inspired by a pair of Eeyore scrubs she wore that always made me smile.  They said, "I'm always chasing rainbows".  

Thank you to all my caregivers.

love, e

p.s.  No... my hair has not magically grown back long, awesome and straight.  (darn it!)  This is my awesome wig, from Tonkin's Wigs in Waterbury, CT.   (-:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

It's Good to Laugh About It. And I'm Still a Girlie Girl.

Ok, so this is not my best look, 12am, exhausted, no make-up, wearing my favorite kitty clawed to bits T-shirt.  Even my lumpy little port is showing.  I actually can't even believe I am about to post this dreadful picture to the public, but hear it is.  It, like a thousand words, tells me a story when I look at it...although not the best photo (so I'll make it bubblegum pink to distract us all from that). 

My husband (he is the creepy looking guy behind me) (haha just kidding, he's so cute, i love him), is about to shave my head in this picture which was an extremely dreaded moment for me in this whole experience.  I was home alone a few weeks earlier when the first clumps of hair started coming out exactly 14 days in to my chemo.  I called my husband and tearfully said "it's time."  Busy at work, he stayed on the phone with me, until my tears were gone.  A few days later, he took me to the wig shop where the amazing woman who owns it helped me cut my braid off.  I cried, but by the time it was done I was laughing.  I was fine.   The buzz cut was even more difficult.  However, I was so blessed to have someone there, for both of these experiences,  to make me laugh, to tell me how beautiful I still am, and to help me to just do it with all the dignity in the world.  ooooh... i'm telling you, i did not want to do this.  I've had a major life-long love/hate relationship with my "unique", not straight, hair, and I had only recently learned to simply LOVE it... I knew I was lucky to have it,  it made me feel girlie, even on the rainiest, drizzle frizz days (not the gray though... did not love the gray).  Cutting it sucked, but not nearly as much as it would have sucked without my husband powering me through.

This person for me happened to be my husband (we look better in orange, yeah?), but it could have been a parent, a sister, a friend, a great hairdresser, an awesome wig lady, etc.... and it made all the difference.  I look at these photos, and find it hard to believe I could look so smiley, so at peace (although very tired), moments before doing what I was about to do.  'Will I still feel like me?  What if my head is shaped weird? Will I still feel feminine, at all?  I'm a delicate flower!  I need my hair!'

Most importantly, what I will always remember about my hair farewell, and many other dreaded moments, are the wonderful friends and family, doctors, nurses, volunteer workers, and some total strangers, that were there for me in those moments, making me laugh... deep belly laughs, giving me strength, and making me feel like myself during each step of this crazy head to toe body-transformation.  (I hope you find these lovely people surrounding you, in the moments when you need them.)

Many people like to tell you, "it will grow back".   Yup, it will.   In addition, I would like to think, "I will grow back."  "I will grow better".  "I already am"... with a little help from my friends... and a magical prince.  Rapunzel lives.

oh, and I will always be a Girlie Girl. 

love, e

Saturday, April 3, 2010


The cutest little confection appeared on my doorstep today.  All alone, gooey, sugary, stale, wrapped in plastic, laying on his side, spreading Easter cheer.   I thought about eating him for a moment, but he was much too cute to eat.  Besides, there are a lot of sickos out there.  I decided to take his picture instead.

Would you believe there is a Peep Fairy?  Well there is.  In my town, there is.  Weird.  

I suppose, even the Easter Bunny doesn't have job security these days.

Happy Easter.
love, e

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I've been blessed with so many lovely friends throughout my life.  Some have been in my life since the '76 bicentennial, and very big 80's hair.  Some are no longer in my life, but they are no less important in my journey through the years.  Some of my newest friends I would have never known if not for the personal struggles in common we face.  I wouldn't change a thing.

This is a little leather key chain my dad and I made for one of my very new friends, inspired by a necklace that brought us together. 

Make time for friends... have tea, take a walk, make some art, laugh your butt off...

love, e

Friday, March 26, 2010

eenie, meenie, miney...

Hello?  Is it spring yet??

I am trying to come out of a late winter funk.  I know I could use a good healing soup, and maybe a big colorful energizing salad.

However, today, I am feeling a little bit devilish...

Be back soon!
love e

photos (and recipes!):

Sunday, March 7, 2010

They Had Me in Stitches

The morning sun came flooding through the bedroom window, a Saturday morning, my favorite morning... usually this would put in me in a pretty happy place.  I was having a hard time for some reason, I woke up feeling pretty blue and could not shake it.  Blue, blue, many shades of blue, clouding my day.   
"Snap out of it!" I said to myself.  So I made some French toast, even though I didn't much feel like it.  The maple syrup tasted so good.  I put on some sneaks and went for a walk, even though I didn't have much energy.  The sun felt so warm, the air so refreshing.  I did a little yoga, even though my bones were aching.  My body felt so much better.  The blueness was fading.  Lighter, and lighter.  Pale, misty blue.

Then my family came over.  My parents, the dog, my husband's parents, his sister, his brother, his brother's wife, his little sister...they all just showed up.  It wasn't really planned... we made dinner, we talked, we ate, we laughed, we watched a movie, we had crumb cake, they told me my new hair was pretty... before I knew it, the blue was a happy sky blue.  Wedding dress blue.  And as the sun went down... there was purple, and pink, and yellow, and orange. Lovely perfect orange We laughed for hours.  They had me in stitches... and I forgot about the sad shades of blue that had earlier clouded my day.

Blue can certainly be a happy color... if we know where to look.

love, e

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Do Your Plies!

photo: The Basic Principals of Classical Ballet, Vaganova

In my studio, the music playing... dancing, stretching, tree posing, doing plies.  I often think, who I would be now, had I not gone to all those ballet classes? .... classes that so many nights I did NOT want to show up for.  From age 7 to my late teens, and even throughout my twenties.. I showed up again and again.  Why?  Most days it seemed like torture.  But I couldn't not go.  "Ugh... paleeezze mom...don't make me go" I would think, nearly every time.  I felt sick during the opening plies, especially if I didn't get my desired place at the barre, thinking I would never make it through the 1 1/2 hours that lay before me.   I somehow got through it, though.  Cramping calves, bloody toes and all.  I was addicted to the way I felt when it was over... when we stretched, and it didn't hurt anymore.  I'd surely show up again tomorrow, and face the torturous hours once again.  I did after all, love dance.

Thousands of plies later...I feel like no matter what is happening in my life, this will forever be a part of me... dancing, escaping through movement, enjoying the ability to move with purpose.   My gratitude for this experience is even more evident now... healing from multiple surgeries, dealing with the pain and fatigue of chemotherapy, having lost control of so much of my physical self... it is empowering to still find control in my muscles and movements.  Later in life I happily discovered there are other types of dance out there besides ballet, that I feel is more comfortable for my body and didn't hurt so much (hooray for belly dance!).  But thank goodness I stayed the course, and did my plies.  I still do them.  And they are fantastic.  I just do them now to drum music... instead of Tchaikovsky.

Even without a childhood full of plies and dance classes, anyone can find joy and healing in movement.  It doesn't require sweat or pain... just whatever type of music you're in the mood for, some comfy clothes, and maybe some lipstick or a flower in your hair.   And it helps to have a happy little place in your home with some candles, a mirror, and a yoga mat...  where noone is looking.

love, e

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Granny Square of Joy

I Crochet!  I Crochet!  I've been wanting to say that for so many years.  I finally made it to one of those adult ed classes tonight, and I'm doing it!!  And here I am, sitting on the couch with my cat and my little 'robin's egg blue' crocheted thing, doing the one stitch I know.  Now, I can't stop.

These photos of yarn found on Etsy make me think of my hair, that now sits in a basket in the corner.  Pretty, isn't it?  Ok, I want to buy it.


Sunday, February 28, 2010

A View From My Little Orange Studio

This was not today of course.  Most of what can be seen from my studio today are shades of white, brown and grey...February...New England.   Still pretty, but today I prefer to think of this sunset last of the most colorful moments I've seen from my window, and my lame attempt at photography doesn't do justice to the colors I saw that evening.  I try to recreate them as I mix gobs of purple and orange with iridescent yellow on my paper plate, but I can't quite accomplish any of these colors in acrylic. 

Today I practice... mixing, gluing, shading, sketching, painting hair.  Happy, colorful distractions from my newly shaved head.  I really didn't know my head was so little. (-:


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Resting, Saying "Ta-Ta for now" to my Hair. Enjoying Etsy and all it's Healing Powers.

I really hope to get my butt in my studio today but we will see.  I tried some yoga this morning, but it's just a little too much I guess right now.  Had second round chemo Tuesday and it's kickin' my behind a little but I always seem to have energy for Etsy surfing.  Overall, none of this chemo thing has been too too bad...tolerable, hair has been cut off and falling out like crazy, but still plenty on my head to look cute before the wig.  (-:   Obviously this name I originally picked out for my blog and my Etsy had something to do with a connection I always felt with Rapunzel, my obsession with long long beautiful hair, and my life-long goal of growing mine to ridiculous lengths until I'm mature and grey, just in case some crazy lady locked me up in a tower or something.  Actually, I more connect with the part where I picture her, or me  (-:, dancing in the garden after she is free.  

Anyway, the hair not so long anymore but I suppose I will keep the name because it does grow back!  And I can always paint the hairdo's I dream about!   Although some sadness naturally comes along with the hair loss, it is nothing compared to the second chance at life I am given.  I took the advice of many before me...get a wig you love, and some soft hats/scarves before chemo starts, cut it off when it starts to fall out (mine exactly 14 days after first chemo day), buzz it when it's starting to get patchy...  that's about to happen for me next few days.  Then just have fun with your beautiful new head accessories, and be open to loving your new shiny head.  

Working on this little leather piece that makes think of my friend, her lovely spirit is so strong and giving, and her hair which grew back so beautifully and curly after her chemo.  I'm deciding what to put it on so I can give it to her. 

Hear are some pics of my before and after hair.  Stewie Kitty was not amused.   Next comes the buzz!


Off to get lost in some Etsy art and find sunshine on this cold, rainy day.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Oh my goodness, I'm procrastinating again!!

So it's now been over a month since my last post... that does not a good blogger make me.  But I should not give up, correct?  Thanks Mel and Teru for encouraging me to keep it up!  I had the MOST amazing day with all of you, dancing and drawing with sweet Teru (and eating pizza!) - you have inspired me beyond words and the energy you have brought to my little orange studio draws me in there more than ever.

So I don't have any art to share right now because pic uploads are backed up (more procrastination).  However I have been doing more art and feeling more inspired all the time.  Started chemo, which is no excuse to not keep up with my blog, but I guess it got a little lost in shuffle.  Doing a lot of experimenting with mediums and techniques, and trying not to judge my art too much at the moment - just finding my style and enjoying the days i feel good and spend time in my studio.  Very therapeutic and learning a lot!  Also doing lots more walking when weather permits and gentle belly dancing to keep strong.  Magical.

I decided to just share a few photos of our wedding day from last November - which is a bit off subject, but not totally.  It took place a few days before my double mastectomy, the entire event was planned in 4 days flat, and it was the most perfect, amazing day of my life, the dearest people in my life ALL showed up even from out of state - and it was definitely a shining moment of a frightening life altering 2009.  It was a DIY wedding all the way.  Our fondant cake was lovingly made by my mother-in-law and sister-in-laws and was delicious!!  It was their first attempt at fondant and it was the most perfect, beautiful cake I could imagine.  The colors just happened to match our wedding attire perfectly, even though we bought it all at the mall 2 days before the wedding an they never saw it.  My head piece was made by me, and it was the day I made peace with my glue gun.  My (now) husband helped me realize it's not scary or high-tech, it won't burn me, and it's not a real gun - so we're cool now... glue gun and me.  (-:

Love is all around me.  I feel it.  I hope you feel it too.

love, e

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Flashed my boobs today. Where's my beads?

No art today.  Was kind of busy so I won't beat myself up about it this time. Went to have second opinion for chemo treatments today and well... now although I feel more educated, I also feel more confused.  First oncologist recommends AC+T, this one recommends TCH.... pro's and con's to both.  Does one get third opinion now? The Adriomyacin (spelling), or the "A" can cause more heart damage long term according to the second doctor... etc, etc.  Not to mention this doctor seemed somewhat alarmed I had opted for a double mastectomy, instead of another lumpectomy, but I must learn that every doctor will have different opinions no matter what.  I personally feel comfortable with my decision but it should not be without a lot of education, thought and weighing of options.  Lot's of research to do still, but I am still glad I got more than one opinion.

Also went to a wonderful support group tonight, and that has it's pro's and con's as well.  It made me feel a little sad, but I will definitely stick with it because it is very helpful and you learn a lot from others at different stages of what you are going through.  One very lovely young girl about to get married, worried her wedding dress may not fit right - having surgery in a few days - she was very happy to see my new half-done breasts, with temporary implants ("expanders") in them, don't look as horrible as she thought they would.  I got quite a few compliments actually, and I don't even have nipples... so this is very encouraging for all involved.  I'll show them again if it helps someone else feel better.  Although I never thought I'd be flashing a bunch of women in a rest room - ok maybe i did it once when i was really drunk, who knows, but very different reaction.   (-:

In summary second opinion - good to do.  Support group - very good depending on your personality and state of mind - flashing boobs is optional, and best when for a good cause.

love, e

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Forgot to call my Aunt..

Happy Birthday Auntie Di!  Miss You!

Unfinished Art... no...Happiness in Progress...

Picked up a few unfinished, i mean in-progress canvases this week and finally just let them become what they would.  Nothing totally finished yet, but definitely making progress.  For this particular piece, I am given away by the sunshine and greenery in the photo, since here in Connecticut we are now well covered by months of dirty snow.  Still working on it.

It's never easy getting myself started though - as in getting the water in the bowl and the paint on the brush.  It's as if I need to become accountable for "showing up" to my studio, as if it were one of my jobs.  I mean, I have never just not shown up for work - yuck - cubicles, deadlines, dress pants, rules... why was I so good at showing up for these drudgeries?  Why, when all I have is time right now, when I know how happy it makes me feel, when I can wear whatever I want all day, do I find it so hard some days to show up to my studio??? - it's next to my kitchen for heaven's sake, it is the sunniest room in the house and it is filled with all my favorite colors and my most precious things.  My therapist might say I am afraid to succeed or something along those lines...

Anyway, I made some progress by actually showing up this week and man... did I feel HAPPY when I was in there!  Breast cancer?  What breast cancer?  I can tell you that when I'm in that place, I forget about everything difficult, negative and painful, and I only feel happy, alive, and free.  Creating heals me.  As does dancing.  As does my cat.   Everyone needs something like that in there life, whether it's painting or fly fishing... I hope you all find that thing that heals you. 

I plan to actually finish a few pieces soon, which will require me to somehow find the balance of treating it like a job without compromising the joy I feel as it's happening.  It will require me to "show up".

Love, e