Doodles: My Journey in Images
Everyday in my professional life I am blessed to witness the power of art to heal. When Chris was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer in the late spring, I felt like my world fell apart. It had been just five years ago, when he was 46 years old, that he had a life threatening heart attack and a quadruple bypass operation. With this new diagnosis I was overcome with sadness, fear and anger. How could this happen to us again? What have we done wrong? Is he going to make it? Can we survive another such test to our emotional strength, our energy reserves, our finances? It didn’t take long before I found myself doodling, a practice I have done over the years to heal myself. The drawings never fail me. As long as I don’t think too much or try to hard, something always emerges that my soul needs me to remember. I am sharing my “doodles” to keep my creative energies flowing, my inspiration up, and my heart open. I hope you enjoy them. After our concert and art show later this year they will be available for purchase. In the meantime maybe you’ll be inspired to do some doodles of your own!
“All Dressed Up with No Where to Go” June 12, 2014
I created this doodle from the energy I found swirling in my belly that wanted to speak. As it revealed itself I imagined it was the cancer out for a night on the town, unaware of our plans for its demise. At this point we had all the details – aggressive growing (Gleason scores 7-9) cancer cells in Chris’ prostate gland. Fortunately the bone scans and cat scans had come back negative so the cancer is localized. This image tells me to lighten up, play, and remember I have a sense of humor. We can conquer this!
“Mother Watching” June 14, 2014
I awoke early on the 14th for some much needed time to myself. The huge full moon was still in the sky. Chris had started to get sick the night before and I felt something powerful was afoot. This lady, Mother Earth, it seems, spoke to me that this would be a journey of connection. The earth, the moon and the stars were our allies. We had chosen to do holistic medicine including naturopathy that would work to heal the underlying imbalances as we killed cancer cells. We were prepared for surgery, but we wanted to heal what created the cancer in the first place. The message from this image was that I needed to embrace beauty and faith to make this work. By the afternoon Chris had a fever of 104.4 and so began his powerful cleanse. It was scary and I wanted to call the ambulance, but once the tylenol brought his fever down I felt he would be more comfortable at home. Surely the journey had begun..
Shaman’s Might” June 15, 2014
When Chris got diagnosed we immediately knew he had some emotional clearing work to do in order to heal himself at all levels. I called two friends, Jeri and Ana (see Allies section of the website), spiritual healers who work with diseases of the body and mind. Their work combines indigenous healing practices with deep emotional work, all in the context of ceremony. I had invited both of these wonderful ladies to work with me with some of my trauma survivor clients and knew the power of the medicine. There is something about healing ceremony that reaches a place inside that words and medicine can’t begin to touch. This image arose as Chris was descending into a “healing crisis” and it gave me a deep sense of wonder and trust for his journey.
“Help Arrives” June 16, 2014
When first receiving the diagnosis, Chris and I pulled back and disengaged from much of our social support. We felt too overwhelmed and vulnerable to share with many people and needed some time to process what this meant for us. By mid-June we had begun to share with others and were touched by how much people wanted to help. We felt the emotional support coming in and the fear started to lessen. This image also spoke of support from another realm. We knew a lot of people were praying for us and we felt it. There would be moments of unexpected peace that would fall upon me – experiences of grace.
“Embraced” June 21, 2014
There have been moments of tremendous fear and overwhelm on this journey, but also moments of deep joy and connection. This day we were concerned for Chris’ blood pressure which had reached dangerously low levels such as 75/49. He had fallen the night before when he got up to go to the bathroom. We called our doctor who told us what to do to replenish his mineral levels. It seems he may have gotten a nasty case of the flu on top of the cleanse he was going through. I was concerned for how incapacitated he was and called my friend and office mate, Blair Gray (see Allies) , acupuncturist extraordinaire who encouraged us with stories of healing. That night I went out for dinner with my friend Sandy and felt enormous relief re-engaging life outside my home. When I got home I created “Embraced” showing the feeling of being held and nurtured on this mysterious journey.
“Candle of the Moon” June 22, 2014
We live outside of Santa Fe, NM where the skies are clear most nights and where the moon and the stars make their presence known. The June full moon had begun to fade by now and the nights were darker. I woke up early, just as the sun was rising and this symbol poured out. It felt like a break from all of the intensity…something as stable and secure as the moon lights up our darkness along with a candle of hope. Surely this was a spiritual journey. We started reading about Job and wondered what we could do to be closer to the Divine and its plan for our lives. Despite our overwhelm we knew this illness was part of the plan and its purpose would reveal itself in time. The urologist who had diagnosed Chris, told us that we needed to act quickly, this was not your typical prostate cancer, it was fast growing and aggressive and we had a month to decide our course of action. As we walked out of his office that day his last statement was “make sure you play a lot piano.” In that moment the idea for this website was born.
“Anger to Release” June 23, 2014
Despite all of my hopefulness and faith in the power of prayer and potential for healing, by now, I am drained. Irritable…exhausted…at the end of my rope….pooped…We have been helping Chris’ mother in the nursing home who is in late stage dementia. There is deep pain and sadness in this…It feels like Chris’ illness has overcome us. I am wondering if I have enough energy to keep doing this. He has been so incapacitated…almost autistic in his functioning. When I walk into the room there is no engagement. His energy is extremely low and he has little to give. It all needs to come from me and my own spiritual connection, but I feel spent…From the expression of these feelings arises a powerful female image, a being grounded in the earth, whose body is the trunk of a tree. She wears a bronze crown. She holds up Chris in one hand and his mother in the other, giving them to God, to life,…releasing them to a power beyond herself. As she does so she starts to sing, her hair grows long, and the stars start to shine brightly. She is not in control, nor is she alone…
“A Visitor from Another Realm” June 26, 2014
This mystical bird arrived a day after Chris and I finally had the time and energy to fully process what each of us is going through. I had been so scared that he might never come back, lost in the illness. What if this is the wrong path? Should we have just gone for surgery and not forced his body to go through such a deep cleanse? It occurs to me that holistic healing is no bypass and no short cut. He has had to be “all in” just to come back from this.. As a professional musician he lived many years on the road with late nights and lousy food and now he is paying for it. It seems every cell wants to detox and unload what no longer serves him. We just never thought it would be so hard! This lovely bird came forward in the wee hours of the morning and developed from the inner spiral in the center of the page, then asked for feathers, a beak, a crown. As I surrendered to what she wanted from me she showed me her beauty. And now I feel more relaxed, more hopeful, more in touch with the beauty of this journey.
“Surfing the Great Kachina” June 27, 2014
This image, started from a tight sensation in my belly (the amber vortex in the center), was actually created upside down, then it asked to be moved to this position and voila – there was the giant Kachina. In the cosmology of our local Pueblo people, a kachina is a spirit being that has an essence or life force. According to this cosmology humans must interact with such forces in order to survive. In this image, we, as a family, are surfing the cosmos in the presence of the Great Kachina. The image makes me think of cancer and what we are to learn from its presence in our lives. It is easy to want to get “rid” of the cancer in his body, but we must listen to its message or perhaps it will return. The message seems to be that Chris must be still, rest, and recover. He has been doing way too much, not making enough time to be creative. There is no rushing through this. Even though he may still need surgery, a deeper healing than just cutting out diseased tissue is called for here. We are united in this knowing.
“Traversing Week 5” June 28, 2014
We are in week 5, symbolized by the three figures under the 5th green block. The path brings us to our hearts and towards the light. I’ve begun to study hard for my upcoming national exams. I’ve been licensed as a therapist since 1998 but never sat for the independent license exams because I was always too busy working to do the next step. Chris and I agreed that this summer I need to get through them, so while he heals, I study. It feels a bit safer to have a left brain focus during this emotional time. Still…I have so many powerful feelings swirling inside I’ve begun to do my doodles on much larger paper. Express and release…Express and release.
“Angel of Mercy” June 30, 2014
I finally had time work on getting this website together yesterday. My friend Rebecca Farr (see Allies) came over and we struggled through some arduous instructions on WordPress to create this blog. We had wanted to create this for the past month but Chris was so incapacitated we couldn’t rush it. Now there is hope that we can get back to our creative intention. Two exams are coming up, but I feel confident enough to shift gears and make this happen. I am so technologically incompetent it sure is good to have a friend who is willing to guide us. Thank you Rebecca. You ARE an angel…You inspired this image…Of course I didn’t consciously know that at first, I just began with the little spiral in the center and slowly she was born.
“Intrusions” July 4, 2014
There is way too much going on right now. I am studying 6-8 hours/day in preparation for my exams and they both feel like intrusions into my otherwise heart-centered life. My studying feels like it takes away from my family and I am divided. Once again I arise before dawn with the stars still in the sky and this image pours out. Tonight I must take a break. Even with two exams in the week before me I must take our daughter and her friends to the fireworks. Take an evening off. Remember I can have fun…That’s a big heart being violated. No wonder I feel so torn. Chris is going to venture out to play a gig, the first since he got sick. I know he will be with good friends who will take care of him if he falters. Milton and the “Pollo Frito” band. He will be with his tribe…It’s time for me to have some fun.
“The Driver” July 13, 2014
It’s been a long time since I created a doodle. In the meantime I took two out of the three exams I need to take. I had a few days of relief, but now I find myself in “Driver” mode. Conflicting impulses, paint Teslin’s room, get ready to study for next exam, spend time with Chris, get this website launched. I have no peace inside. This image pours out. I don’t like it…it shows just how I feel inside…Lots of conflicting impulses…go here…no there…do this…no that…Lots of energy for movement, but no flow…I put the image on the kiva and sit back to reflect. I laugh to myself. Oh yeah, that’s right. I do have that powerful driver inside…I am spinning my wheels. What a relief to get this out on paper. I thought I was going crazy…the stress has finally gotten to me. Chris is feeling better, but it seems he now has gout. His right foot big toe joint is swollen and angry. When will this guy get a break? All of these feelings find a place in this image and in my journal and I walk away relieved. As long as I can create, I can cope…My psyche always wants to talk to me…even when I don’t want to listen.
“Grounded and Flowing” July 14, 2014
After spending a frantic day in “Driver” mode yesterday, today I yearn to let go and get back into the flow. The desire for flow begins as the diagonal snake-like line in the center, then three circles emerge, and voila, our family. We need trees to swing from and roots to ground us, and of course, the night sky is watching all of this unfold. I’ve just finished exam #2 a few days ago and I need to relax, not move into doing too much more. It’s hard with my husband facing cancer to let go and take care of myself. It’s hard, but if I don’t, I could get sick in some way too. Today is a day to trust…that we are being taken care of, that I don’t have to catch up on everything that got put aside during my studies today, that there will be space and time to do it all. This image brings comfort as it talks to me and I immediately calm down. There is time to swing in trees and raise our arms to heaven and celebrate. Chris’ soul needs us to be open and positive. This is the first of my string of images that our daughter likes. Some form and order are emerging from the crisis. The gifts in the root system will reveal themselves as we ground ourselves.
” Star Fish Under the Watchful Night Sky” July 19, 2014
Our daughter leaves for LA today to visit my brother, Tim, his wife, Lyn, and their three kids. It’s chance for her to have fun while Chris recovers and I study. Up at the crack of dawn, once again,I feel an opening in my belly, like something is moving. A fish emerges and asks for seaweed and two gates through which to swim. At first it seems that this will be an underwater scene, but then the infinity sign creates itself and, morphs into eyes which watch from from the night sky. Stars, once again, appear, even underwater. There is something comforting in this image. The fish in the deepest ocean gets watched, just as we ourselves get watched, by God, consciousness, the stars above. There is a connection between the deepest oceans and the darkest skies. We are all one. What a joy it is to watch Chris heal. We are going to attempt to attend a music festival today, to take a break.
“Glory” July 20, 2014
Chris and I got a chance to go to Summerfest in Albuquerque to see some old friends play music. Taking a day off, from all the stress, was just what my psyche needed. The fact that Chris could endure the heat and walk a few miles to see all the bands shows he is getting his stamina back. This image speaks for itself. I feel full of joy, balanced, and grateful. I am deeply inspired by the depths to which Chris is taking his healing. It gives me great hope.
What a beautiful way to share your deeply personal journey. So much love and support flows into our lives to help hold us up when we are courageous enough to be vulnerable about our struggles and fears. You are courage. You are loved. You are in my prayers.
Love & Light, Janice