Beauty and Purpose

Zinnias by Rift Vegan

Today,  I [re]opened a purple envelope filled with beautiful blooms photographed by Rift Vegan, one of my A Thousand Words pals on swap-bot. She sent the flowers a year ago for “Pink and Purple Awareness,” a swap organized to raise awareness and honor victims and survivors of breast cancer and domestic violence.

Here are her photos with her notes:

“Beauty Berry” by Rift Vegan

This lovely plant is actually native to your area, not mine! They plant all kinds of interesting things at the Rhododendron Garden at Hendricks Park–a favorite place to hike!

“Cosmos at the Community Garden” by Rift Vegan

“Rhododendron” by Rift Vegan

This photo was shot early October last year, so Rift wrote:

Prime time for the rhodys is April, but there are outliers that keep the garden in color all year round.

“Asters” by Rift Vegan

I love asters, but they tend to die when I plant them at my community garden plot. It’s been a few years though. It might be time to try again!

“Pretty” by Rift Vegan

I don’t know what this is, but it’s pretty!

As I read Rift’s notes and tidbits of information, I felt like I was taking a walk with her through the gardens. Along with the pictures, she enclosed a much longer note relating her “pink and purple” stories.

Having lost two sisters to breast cancer and a cousin and acquaintances to domestic violence, these issues are dear to my heart. Of course, the problems cannot be solved with flowers. The flowers are simply a beautiful way to honor their strength and remind us of hope.

Pink Is More Than a Color

Pink is not just a color. It’s an attitude.

Here we are at the end of October and I haven’t even checked off half the blog posts I’d plan to write this month.

But I cannot let the month end without acknowledging Breast Cancer Awareness Month and reminding readers to mind their breast health. Though my sisters, Karlette and Lori, eventually succumbed to breast cancer, they first detected the disease via self-examination. If you’re not in the habit of performing a monthly examination of your breast, begin today. Be sure to examine yourself monthly and schedule mammograms regularly; your doctor will help you determine what regularly means for you based on age, health, and medical history.

If you’re unsure of how to do a self examination, there are a number of resources available online. Some are simple and straightforward and some provide a bit more detail.

There are also many organizations that provide free or reduced cost mammograms for those who do not have health insurance or cannot afford the cost of mammograms.

Finally, if you or someone you know is coping with a breast cancer diagnosis, allow me the pleasure of sending a bit of cheer and light. Simply, click the Karle’s Wings link above and fill out the contact form near the bottom. I’ll be sure to send heart mail soon.


About the image: The image above features Ellie’s Belles, a gift from my dear friend Lauralee (LL).  LL, who works with organ and tissue donation, hosted a BRA Day event earlier this month in which the dolls were featured. She gave them to me when I visited DC earlier this month and spent a few hours with the family. The elegant dolls were created by artist Loren Martz. You can find these and many other dolls in her Etsy shop.  [Thank you, LL for the special gifts, and thank you, Browns, for making time for me. ❤ y’all!]

About the title: The title of today’s post was inspired by one of the art journal pages my photographer friend, Diane W., posted on Instagram earlier this week. “Pink is not just a color. It’s an attitude.” It’s an attitude  that I hope is sparked whenever we see the color pink, an uncompromising attitude that we will do what we can to manage our breast health and well-being and do all we can to support our sisters [and brothers] who have to deal with breast cancer.

Dancing in a Pink Tutu

“It’s all about a man, his pink tutu, and raising funds for women with breastcancer.”

My penfriend Christine sent me the postcard above a couple of months ago. The photo of Bob Carey, “the burly, hairy-chested man in the pink tutu,” made me smile. I have been consumed with thoughts of cancer and how much I absolutely hate the disease. It is a heavy, heavy thing to deal with for the patients and those who know and love them. I needed to remember my smile, so I picked up the postcard again late last night when the house was quiet.

I love what “the man in the pink tutu” is doing to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer patients. I love how he manages to help us laugh in the midst of some of the hardest moments. He reminds us that there is still so much more to life, so much more to celebrate, so many reasons to dance.

Cancer has taught us that life is good. Dealing with it can be hard, and sometimes the very best thing—no, the only thing—we can do to face another day is to laugh at ourselves, and share a laugh with others.  –Bob Carey

You can find out more about the Tutu Project and how to support through donations, fundraising, and/or purchase, by visiting the website: The Tutu Project.

I’m going to dance in a pink tutu. Do you care to join me?

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

Fight Like a Girl!

“My Sister’s Tat”
One of my younger sisters, a four-time breast cancer survivor, had this tattoo done after her first round.

In case you haven’t heard, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM).  “Someman” posted on Facebook that he’s “offering”  free “exams” to women during BCAM.  I found it insulting, creepy and a bit disturbing that he would trivialize such an important matter to get laughs. Breast Cancer–cancer period–is no laughing matter and we must do everything we can to raise awareness and encourage women to examine themselves monthly and have mammograms done annually.   We must also do what we can to help those who are suffering and continue rallying around survivors and co-survivors.  Those are goals of one of the swaps I participated in and of some of the mail I received this month.

The card below completes the “Think Pink” swap I participated in earlier this month (You can see the first card I received in the “Good Mail In…” post).  TeePeeMaiden made this and sent it all the way from Canada.  I love all the layers!  I am honored that she shared this with me since she also made the card for one of her friends who is a breast cancer survivor.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Handmade card and envelope art by TeePeeMaiden/Donna B.

The next piece is an Artist Trading Card (ATC).  ATCs are miniature pieces of art (2.5 x 3.5 inches in size) that are usually shared among artists, crafters and collectors.  Even for the “craft-challenged” like me, ATCs can be addictive.  This one, made with paint, a sharpie, ribbon and a little bling, features the theme “Fight Like a Girl.”

“Fight Like a Girl” made by MLRobinson/Journal Junkie

If anyone thinks “fight like a girl’ is an insult or an attack on masculinity, he or she needs to meet my younger sister.  She is now battling cancer for the fifth time in seven years.  She’s dealt with chemotherapy, radiation, a double mastectomy and other radical treatments.  She’s more than a survivor.  She’s a fighter who didn’t run and hide from “the enemy” that assailed her body relentlessly.  She’s a fighter who stared death in the face many times and, by the grace of God, is still here.  She’s an inspiration to anyone who hears her story.  Her very presence motivates me to stand up to my literal and figurative bullies and “fight like a girl”–fearless, relentless, strong and hopeful.

Good Mail In…

This was a rocky week for me, but finding good mail in the mailbox always cheers me up–immediately!  Here are the goodies that came this week:

Ernie the Envie, the swap-bot logo. I sent one out and I took one in!

This beautiful purple flower postcard was made by fellow swap-bot Sharp Shooter, FundyGirl. She photographs flowers in memory of her late grandfather who was also a photographer. What an admirable way to honor his memory!

This GORGEOUS breast cancer awareness “greeting” card was made by Namabear, a member of the swap-bot group, Crafting Queens. This was made for the “Think Pink” swap in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October). Neither the scan nor the photograph does justice to this awesome card.