Tuesday, September 28, 2021


It was Wednesday, January 6th of this year and the U.S. Capitol was under siege. Thousands of right wing protesters were bashing their way into the Senate Office Building, leaving a wave of death and destruction in their wake. Terrified legislators went into hiding. The nation watched in horror while the pro-Trump hooligans had their way with the precious historic building that is our Capitol.

I found myself so traumatized by what I saw on TV, the videos were non-stop. Try as I might, I couldn't get the ugly images out of my mind.

The next morning I got up with a mission. I headed to my studio determined to soothe my eyes and my soul. I would paint, and that hopefully would ease my angst over the disgraceful - and deadly-- behavior of the rioters the day before.

I opened the cabinet in my studio and reached out for paints without even looking at what colors I was choosing. It turned out to be yellows and white. I smiled. Eggs. That felt soft and reassuring. Using my old credit cards (instead of a pallet knife), I started layering the paint on the canvas. I told someone later that it felt like I was layering thick frosting on the canvas. The paint had a buttery feel and it eased my soul to slide it around, making waves and lines and peaks and curlicues. Soon I was done. It had been fun, but I had no sense of whether it was a strong painting.

I got reactions soon enough. My dear poet friend Nancy Dunlop wrote to tell me how much she loved it; she saw galloping horses and other images in it. So inspired was she that she composed a mythic tale about the painting. Another friend, Renee Pettit, composed a clever journal entry.

Once again, art came to the rescue, comforting us as we struggled to make sense of the vicious mobs and their rampage through the Capitol. I called the painting "STUDY IN EGG  YELLOW I."

So now, I find myself in need of comfort once again. Recently I have been struggling with persistent anxiety. No matter that I do deep breathing, yoga, tapping, chanting and yoga nidra, I am often walking around with a nervous stomach.

The good news is that I have a new doctor and she is taking a fresh approach to the situation, revising my medication and encouraging me to start doing the things I love. Like paint.

So yesterday, I painted "STUDY IN EGG YELLOW II." I chose to do another painting in egg hues because I find the colors so soothing. So sunny and life-affirming. I also found out a couple of weeks ago that my earlier egg painting is one of my son Noah's very favorites. He just bought a house in Denver and while visiting here, he wanted to take it home with him.

I hesitated. No, I told him, you can't have it yet, I'm not ready to let go of that painting.

So now here is number II. 

When I go to Denver for a visit next week, I will bring Noah one of the egg paintings. I am so grateful for the comfort and inspiration that painting offer. And I'm grateful to my doctor for nudging me back into the studio!

Friday, September 03, 2021

Hurrah hurrah, celebrating the SYCK NO MORE tree


It's taken four days to begin to write the conclusion to my cancer scare story. 

It's Friday morning September 3rd and I am taking a morning walk. At some point I pass the majestic old sycamore tree up on Shun Toll Road. I say the name of the tree to myself: sycamore.

And that's when it hits me.

I say the name of the tree again in a new way:


Now it starts. The flood of gratitude that my cancer test on Monday was CLEAN! After weeks of worrying,

I couldn't be more grateful. 

But the anxiety of the lead up to the test was absolutely tortuous for the whole family. My daughter Jocelyn, a nurse practitioner, told me at one point that rationally, she could decide that the test wasn't going to reveal any tumors. After all, the CAT scan of my chest that had been done in the hospital in July was clean (and my cancer 20 years ago was in my chest.) But the doctor insisted on a CAT scan of the full torso. 

And so like the rest of us in the family, she was a nervous wreck anticipating the scan. Anyone who is a cancer survivor or the loved one of a cancer survivor knows exactly what it feels like to anticipate a test. There is the dread that builds up to the day of the test. And then there's the torture of waiting for the results. In this case, we had four long days to bite our nails -- and pray.

OK so I'm going to have to PAUSE HERE RIGHT NOW, because writing this piece is raising my anxiety through the stratosphere. At moments like this I put on my headphones and listen to a very relaxing form of yoga known as Yoga Nidra. The words and the music combine to soothe the nerves.

I've been doing Yoga Nidra like crazy.

At this rate it may take me many days -- or weeks! -- to finish this post. But at least you know now, the results of the test were perfect! The doctor delivered the good news late last Monday afternoon and when he left us in the examining room, my husband broke down crying. I was flying sky high with  joy.

I plan to keep celebrating every chance I get!