To My Colleague with Breast Cancer: You Have This Moment

faith

I read a little of your story today and it broke my heart. I see you wearing courage and faith openly, but I know you’re hurting, suffering, and perhaps afraid. I want to talk to you, but I don’t know what to say.  That I’m praying for you? I am.  But how many times a day do you hear that?

Whenever I see you, I think of Karlette, my little sister. The loss of her. The grief that still challenges every waking minute.  The sorrow that changed me. That changed all who really knew her in unspeakable ways.  Knowing this very real loss of her, I cannot offer you empty platitudes and mere words. I will not ever say to you what many cancer patients often hear:  “You’re a fighter. You will make it.  You will come through this.”

hope

I don’t know that. Neither of us do. Unless we are speaking of a future in the heavenly realms, earth offers no guarantees. Faith that can move mountains assures us that God is faithful. But. Faithful God allows grief, disappointment, and sorrow.  No matter how unfair or mean or downright unacceptable it seems to us—faithful God says, “some sicknesses are unto death, some for testimony.”  This can be a hard, hard pill to swallow.  But it is truth.

I wouldn’t say any of that to you either. You already know it.  You began this difficult line of thinking when you first heard the diagnosis or when the treatments did not bring desired results.

Then, I remember a conversation with Karlette on one of my visits.  In 2011 or 2012.  She had so many battles, so I’m not sure of the year.  She was weary of people seeing her as a cancer patient, as a cancer victim.  When people saw her, she felt, they saw cancer and not her.  She wanted to talk about MORE than that.  She was so much more than that, but when cancer takes over your body and your life and you can barely lift your head most days, even you begin to wonder.  I remember saying to her—you are not your cancer.  Or maybe, she said to me–I am not my cancer.

I say it to you–you are not your cancer.  You are more than this disease that disrupted your happiness and altered your life so completely that you are no longer who you were. I say to you–embrace the uncertainty.  Live and dance and love in beauty and in the sacredness of your being, and be everything you are in this moment.  Only this moment is sure.

love

Happy World Post Day!

I just found this gorgeous postcard in a stack of mail that came while I was away at a conference. Amy, Eclectonote on Swap-bot, sent this postcard for a World Post Day swap.  I almost forgot about World Post Day! Gasp!

Mailbox

Mailbox

The swap called for sharing postal-related postcards.  I

My “send-to” partner, Maria–who lives in Moscow–probably won’t receive her cards for a while, but when she does I hope she loves the postcard featuring the vintage postal boxes in our campus post office.  When I returned as a faculty member to my alma mater four years ago I was tickled pink that the mailboxes I knew as a student were still there!

Vintage Post Office Boxes, Photo by Me!

Vintage Post Office Boxes, Photo by Me!

My box was #57, so I made sure to include it in the shot.

World Post Day is celebrated on October 9.  According to the Universal Postal Union, its purpose is to “bring awareness to the Post’s role in the everyday lives of people and businesses, as well as its contribution to global social and economic development.” You can find out more on the UPI’s website.

I have a busy Sunday ahead of me, but that won’t stop me from taking a few minutes to write some happy mail!  Will you join me?

Love Notes!

Love Notes begins tomorrow!

Love Notes is a postcard project coordinated by Jennifer Belthoff that “encourages slowing down, getting back to basics, and connecting through handwritten notes sent through the mail.”  Participants sign up for the swap on Jennifer’s website and then she assigns partners–notified via email–who correspond with each other for three weeks based on a prompt she provides each Sunday. The swap is hosted a few times during the year. Although the swap has been going on for some time, I only recently heard about it through Christine B., a penfriend I met through Liberate Your Art 2016.

Postcard writers can respond to the prompt in any way they choose–sentence, paragraph, poem or list.

Angie, my partner for the July swap, lives in Tampa, Florida. She sent three postcards that had an element of “handmade.”  The  first one was the front of a greeting card, too cute to toss, and perfect for her message in response to the prompt, “Begin each day with…:”  Begin each day with hugs, flowers, and friends.

Hugs, Flowers, and New Friends

Hugs, Flowers, and New Friends

Angie’s week two card, art deco fashion, was also appropriately chosen for her response to the prompt, “Yesterday…Today…Tomorrow…” She wrote: “Don’t ever lose your sense of style!  Be brave…Be strong…Be bold…Always!”

Felt hat and purse with triangular decorations, 1928

Felt hat and purse with triangular decorations, 1928

Angie had fun experiementing with her new watercolors. This postcard is from Pepin Press.

And lastly, in response to the prompt, “In my next 30 years…,” Angie wrote, “You get to choose what you spread.”

Spread Kindness by Angie C., Tampa, Florida

Although most participants share their own art and photography, Love Notes may be handmade or storebought.  In fact, participants can send note cards or letters instead of postcards.  The idea is to send a handwritten smile to be found among all the bills and junk that clutter our mailboxes.

Through the Love Notes Facebook group I connected with other participants and exchanged additional postcards.

Joanne from Ottawa (Canada) sent:

With Love from Ottawa

“With Love from Ottawa,” Photo by Joanne.

She penned a Henry David Thoreau quote on the back: “To affect he quality of the day that is the highest of arts.”

Christine B., who regularly shares her photo postcards with Love Notes participants, sent two cards, one featuring purple hydrangeas.  She sent this one “in solidarity” after yet another police shooting of an unarmed African American.

Hydrangeas by Christine B.

“Hydrangeas” by Christine B.

After receiving a photo postcard from me of a tree with birds’ nests, Christine sent a card featuring a snow-embellished tree she shot last winter.  She sent her card with well wishes for the academic year and a quote:  “Courage is fear that said its prayers.”

A reminder that summer's over. Photo by Christine Brooks of Flagstaff, Arizona.

“Winter,” Photo by Christine B. of Flagstaff, Arizona.

Lorelei C., a paper artist from Pennsylvania,  kindly sent two handmade postcards with lyrics from songs–the  catchy Bobby McFerrin “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” and John Lennon’s “Imagine.” [Click an image for a closer look]

Finally, Deb, an artist from Virginia Beach, Virginia shared her lovely postcard made with ink, a “Make Art” stamp, washi tape, paint, and glitter pen.

Make art.  An elegant “mandate” that we craft and create.  No objections from me!  I love how Deb accented the postcard with a dash of color and some of my favorite washi tape.

I’ve been looking forward to Love Notes since the July swap ended. If you haven’t noticed, I participate in a lot of mail swaps, but what I appreciate about Love Notes is the opportunity to make a real connection with individuals.  Besides, I’m more than ready to give all the “thinking” and “doing” of the last two months a momentary rest and send more pretty out into the world.   Partners have been assigned.  Now, we just wait for the prompt.

If you want to see more Love Notes, check out the Facebook group or search the #lovenotesjb hashtag on Instagram.  Be sure to check back. I’ll blog postcards as they come in!

Happy Weekend!