As I continue to explore the creative me

It was just about three years ago that I painted on my first canvas. The result was raw.  I continued to allow myself to learn to “play” and participated in several more events at Artful Dreamers Studio in Tacoma, Washington.  (The new website is beautiful!)

Last year I went to the “Warrior Goddess” event, and created the canvas you see on the left. I actually hung it up on my wall. The black and white stripes on the face were representative of my “zebra stripes,” as I continue to live as a zebra (person diagnosed with neuroendocrine tumors [NETs]/carcinoid cancer.)

Life is and always has been a journey. The process of getting through and going beyond any challenge takes some chance–a risk–and it is not comfortable.  Expressing myself through art has been just as uncomfortable as any other challenge I have had in my life. Some day, I will tell more of that story.

Yesterday I took the warrior goddess off of my wall, and decided to spend a couple of hours working on this painting at Open Studio hours. For some reason, she was calling to me, as never before.

Two weeks ago, I started spring quarter at the local community college taking a Sculpture class. In these past two weeks (four sessions), I have begun to see things through a different perspective, as we have worked on a clay-sculpting project of a live model’s head. It has required me to view the world in much different ways.

So, Warrior Goddess made the trek with me to Tacoma, and she has evolved into what you see on the right. I still have a couple of things that I want to add, but I am pleased with the changes, and I will finish soon, and then glaze the piece.

Creativity is within me, though it’s taken many decades for me to take the risks to tap into what there is to discover.  But discovery is also exciting and I am learning that I am beginning to see some things through a more discerning eye.


Why I dislike these cute little kitties

Cute kittens are my enemies. I really don’t like them very much because they are insidious in the way they creep their way into my heart.

They do everything in their power to make me want to like them, acting as if they want me to adopt them. They offer humor, playfulness, occasional cuddling, and so many other things that make them so appealing.

But then… the evil little creatures prick me with their claws, they will rub all over me with their fur, they will sometimes lick my face or hands.

If these things happen I swell up with large bumps from the little claws, my eyes swell shut, my lungs decide to overreact, and I can end up in the hospital.

It’s easier if I just could learn to hate these little devils. Being allergic to them is my hell.

Otherwise, I would have a dozen of them!!

Photo credit: Pixabay, public domain

Walking the walk and walking away

We all have encountered those who go on about how people “should” do this or that, citing common decency and religious values. However, they do not blink an eye when they act out the ugliness within their hearts, somehow able to justify the disparity in their messages from their behavior. I have always been extremely frustrated by those who have mastered talking the talk, but who will not walk the walk.

I do not claim perfection in my life. I know how easy it can be to make the wrong decisions. It is also true that none of us is perfect, and we will trip up from time-to-time.

However, if there is one thing I have learned in life is that I need to pay attention to do the right thing, even when no one is watching.

This also means that when people ARE watching, one does not have to amp it up in order to try to impress or compete. Many others will recognize it for what it truly is–ego-driven sanctimony.

All we encounter in life is an opportunity for us to learn and grow. I truly believe this to be truth. However, in the words of a wonderfully wise and dear friend, “…more that the lesson is (theirs) to learn, and (they refuse) to even consider the possibility. Whatever may come, don’t feel you must follow through…it’s OK to walk away…”

Perhaps, “walking the walk” is also learning to be okay with walking away.

Enjoy life? Too much to do first!

As we all go through life, we may look around us and try to justify why we should or should not allow ourselves to do things to relax and have fun, especially if there is something else that needs to be done.

So many of us were taught that being productive is the only way to live one’s life.  Anything else is “laziness.”

Sometimes, the things that we have been taught need to be reexamined.

The all-or-nothing approach to life is not a balanced one. It is one of the reasons that so many of us seem to have  issues with balancing the all of the things we have going on in our lives. We just cannot seem to win.

When we choose to do something that is fun and breathes life into us, even when there are things that stare us in the face that need to be done, we do NOT need to feel shame and guilt for doing so.  We may even hear those damned voices loud and telling us otherwise.

So many of us have come to believe that life is “black or white,” “good or bad,” “either (this) or (that).”  Others fall in the middle with a belief that life is “gray,” all being mixtures of the two.

I have learned (and am continuing to learn) that explanations are not all that simple.

Life is BOTH black-and-white, good-and-bad, this-and-that. Recognizing this as truth allows for us to face the difficult things AND enjoy ourselves in the process. Learning to rid ourselves of the shame and guilt of life is not easy, but by learning how to enjoy life in the midst of all the tough stuff is important!

Photo credit:  Pixabay, public domain

Do it before it’s too late

It’s been nearly eight years ago since a dear friend of mine died at the age of 41 from aggressive metastatic breast cancer.  I met her early in 2006 on a training walk. She had been diagnosed several months earlier, at the age of 37.

We spent some face-to-face time together from time-to-time, but most of our friendship was spent talking on the telephone. There was an instant connection between us, whether we saw one another at events, had lunch together, or talked for minutes or hours.

I was 13 years older than she was, but Kim was wise beyond her years, and I learned so much from her.

As the time came closer to losing her battle, I remember the weekend that Kim, her husband and young son, sister and brother-in-law, and mother went to the coast together to take Dad’s ashes to scatter them into the ocean.  Kim’s Mom had kept the urn in the bedroom for the 10 years, but as Kim told it to me, “She needs to let him go as she faces losing another family member.”

It broke my heart on so many levels. I was glad that they were able to do this as a family.  It certainly marked a moment of reality in their lives.  It was a remarkably bittersweet moment of love and family.

It serves as a reminder to me (to us all?) that family get-togethers are important to take when they are joyous memory builders.  The same can be said for friendships.

How often are we “too busy” to make time for friends and family? How often do we simply NOT take the time for those we say are important to us? How often can you “not afford” to share in moments that may cost nothing more than time and willingness?

At the point that I met Kim, I had not dealt with the loss of too many people, other than those who were quite old.  Losing young people I knew personally was new for me. I could not imagine having lost a child or a sister.

I was as involved as I could be toward her end-of-life. It was not easy, but I learned the pain of life and of death having gone through it with this woman and her family, all whom I loved dearly.

Since Kim’s death in 2010, I have lost some significant people in my life, ranging in age from their 20s to 80s. Each is loved as a child, parent, friend, friend and more. It escapes no one.  I have also know many other people in my life who has shared their heartaches of losing with me.

There is universal advice that I have heard throughout the years since Kim has passed…

Spend time together, no matter how small and insignificant it may seem to be…not just once a year on an obligatory holiday. Whether by phone, through regular mail, or face-to-face, take time to laugh and cry with one another. Let one another know your secrets.  Make memories. Include, do not exclude. Ensure that they feel loved.

Not everyone has as a family that was as intact as what I experienced with Kim and her family.  I was lucky to experience it and to be included in the family as a friend and extended family member.

We can choose friends to be the family we do not have. We can build on what we do have with family members who are important to us.

The important thing to remember is to get-together.  Laugh. Make memories. Love one another. Take time. Show love. Create. And, please…

Do it before “losing another…”

Kim 2009


Photo credit:  (Photo 1) My photo of Kim carrying the strength banner at the 2008 Seattle Breast Cancer 3-Day.  (Photo 2) 2009 photo shared at her memorial.  Kim passed away in May 2010, just three days before her 42nd birthday.


Without forgiveness there is no future. ~~ Desmond Tutu

Forgiveness is a conscious decision to let go of resentment.  It can lead to having compassion and empathy for one who has hurt you.  This does not take away someone’s responsibility for their actions that have hurt you. Nor does it justify what was done to wrong you. But forgiveness allows you a sense of peace that can bring about a certain level of understanding.

Forgiveness creates opportunities to show kindness and compassion, and fosters a willingness to grow past the transgression and work on building a healthier relationship.

There are times when you must also ask FOR forgiveness.  It requires an honest look at what you have done and how it has impacted someone else.  If you are truly sorry for something you did or said, it may be that you talk to the person that you have hurt and share your sincere regret and specifically ask  for forgiveness.  No excuses. But remember that you are human, and making mistakes are part of being so.

Remember, too, that not everyone will forgive you.  You cannot force someone to forgive you. Others will have to come to terms with the situation as they feel they can and move toward forgiveness in their own time.

Whatever the outcome, commit to treating others with compassion, empathy and respect…AND….commit to treating yourself with the same.

Love Yourself on Half-price Chocolate Day!

So, you are like so many of us and did not get chocolates from a “special Valentine”?

Today is half-price chocolate day!

Of course, you do have to buy it for yourself. However, that might just be preferable to having to live with someone day in and day out.
And, if you did, they may not know the difference between good chocolate and bad chocolate. ( I do not subscribe to the idea that ‘Any chocolate is good chocolate’.)
So, if you are single and living by yourself, remember that…

You can still have your chocolate…and eat it too!

Love yourself and get it at half-price on all those special after-Valentine’s Day sales!

Happy Birthday, Mom

Today, I wanted to pick up the phone to talk to my mother. I wonder if it gets easier. Today would have been her 84th birthday.

I share this piece from five years ago (2013) to honor her again on her birthday.


I woke up this morning wanting to pick up the phone to call to wish her, “Happy Birthday, Mom!

She would have been 79 years old today. 

It still is hard to believe my mother is gone from this physical world.  It’s been nearly two years. I wonder if it ever becomes believable.

Though not “close” by what others’ definitions might be, my Mom and I had a unique relationship.

In some ways, we were as different as night and day.

But in other ways…

There was a time when I would have never admitted that we shared anything in common.

Nowadays, I often tell my friends,  “You’ve just met my mother, Marian!” as I laugh (or cringe) while recognizing her voice and  words coming out of my mouth.

And there are  times I see her facial expressions in photographs of me or staring back at me…

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18 years… no longer a little boy

I was not there for the birth of my grandson, as I was for my granddaughter three years earlier. Things were such in the family that I did not receive an announcement but heard the news from others. The estrangement had been solidified soon after my granddaughter was born.

Miles was born 18 years ago today. I met him for the first time when he was nearly two years old. He was in my life until the last time I saw him, nearly three years ago, shortly after my daughter left her marriage. He has lived with his father and things have been strained since. There is no contact with his grandparents, and it’s one of the toughest things anyone should have to sit by and watch or endure.

I am grateful for the times over 12 years I was able to see him and spend a little time with him. He was such a cute little boy and as he grew into a teenager has become a handsome young man. I appreciated his creativity and his sense of adventure through storytelling. He had a loving, Generous Heart.

Today is his birthday, and I have no way of reaching out to him to let him know that I’m thinking of him today and that I love him. We should be celebrating as a family these milestones.

I keep looking forward and trusting that someday there will be reconciliation. Life can be so confusing and so painful for so many of us from early ages into old age. I pray that someday soon we can all get together and celebrate those things that we have missed.

I love you, Miles, and I hope that you enter into this stage of adulthood with anticipation of wonderful things to come. I’m proud of you for your creativity, your generosity and your wit. I’m sure that in this next stage of your life you will do great things with all of them.

Happy 18th birthday.

Our last phone call

I remember the phone call. My sister-in-law was the the one that called me about 11 p.m. I was already asleep. It was three years ago tonight.   I offered to make the call to two of my other two sisters who had not yet been called.

Our father died that night. He had just had his 83rd birthday a little over three weeks earlier.

I had spoken to him for his birthday. It was the longest conversation that we had in well-over 40 years ago. It lasted for nearly 20 minutes. Through the years, the birthday calls lasted about two or three minutes.

There were decades that passed in our lives with little communication between us.  Oh, there were the obligatory phone calls, holiday cards he signed as “Neil,” and we saw one another five or six times in those four decades.

I always tried to be a “good daughter,” to mend fences, and always told him that I loved him, but always seemed to run up against a brick wall. I could not seem to break through, and he never seemed to be interested in helping to knock down the walls. I never did quite understand the reasoning behind it, and it is never something he ever cared to share.

At one point many years ago, I knew that I could no longer hold onto a fantasy of a father-daughter relationship that I wanted.  It was when I finally was able to let go and forgive the hurts of the past.

Back in June 2012, a few days after my surgery after my cancer diagnosis, my father called me in the hospital.  I was still dopey from morphine, but I remember him saying, “You tell that cancer to leave my baby alone!” 

I remember little more about the conversation, but I remembering him offering the words in return, “I love you, Coral.”   I had not heard those words in several decades.

When we spoke for his birthday, we spoke of music, health, and a bit more. It was a pleasant call, and he once again surprised me.  He offered, “I love you, Coral,” before I had the chance to say it first.

“I love you, Coral.”

These were the last words I heard my father speak to me. They were also the last words I spoke to him. He passed away three weeks later.


Though decades passed and what might have been in a family never came to fruition,  I am forever grateful for the two calls that helped to mend the many years of silent pain between us. My only regret is that we did not have more years to explore together.

I love you, Dad, and hope that you are resting in peace.

From (what you called),

Your #1 Daughter