It has been a very interesting year for me. Last spring my daughter graduated from high school. In the
final moments she ended up at GA Tech. In June she started Tech’s summer school, living down the street from my son/her brother. I found myself alone without my children for the first time in 21 years. I filed for divorce at the end of June after 28 years of sharing a life together. I went to yoga everyday, and focused on mindful living.
August 10th I was rear ended by a woman texting. She did $5,000 worth of damage to my car, and I was injured in a bad way. The divorce was final on August 11th. Within a week of the accident, the whiplash was so bad that I could hardly sit up in bed. No yoga, no painting, no guitar playing. I had to lay in bed wondering if the pain would go away.
My former husband and I remained living together until the house finally closed after being sold twice. I moved into the most adorable rental house in October that my dear friend owns. I have always wanted a house that looked like a spaceship, and I FINALLY got it.
During this scary time MANY MIRACLES happened. The most incredible friends showed up out of the blue at the perfect time showering me with light when it was DARK. Because of the neck injury, I could not sleep, I could not excercise. I just sat there missing my kids while in pain and could hardly play my guitar or paint. I had two performances and had to tough it out. The Orthopedic surgeon did several tests and found I had incurred a bulging disc as a result of the accident and put me on prednisone 3 times, pain killers, and sent me to the physical therapist, etc, etc.
I had been asked in July if I would paint in November breast cancer survivor’s physical breasts with body paint for a charity called Breast Strokes, hosted by Hadassah. Hadassah is an American Jewish volunteer women’s organization that fundraises for community programs and health initiatives for all people. Growing up most of my best friends were Jewish so this was a no brainer for me. With all of my heart, I was honored to paint for this organization.
I am actually in many ways a very shy person, so I was a bit nervous. I had never used skin paint before.
My first survivor asked for a butterfly. She had one breast, and was left with only part of the other breast with no nipple. As we talked and I transformed her idea onto her skin, her breasts took flight as did her spirit. It was so incredibly humbling for me to sit with her and transform her scars into an image she treasured. I received so many incredible gifts from her. Her courage and strength were contagious and transforming to my heart.
The next survivor I painted was from Texas. She has lived in Atlanta a long time but yearns to return home. She wanted the yellow roses of Texas, bluebonnets and the outline of the state. This was extra serendipitous because I had sung a Willie Nelson song earlier in the year for a different charity and I just love him. It turned out she loved him too, so we bonded immediately over
Willie. As I started to paint her breasts I got the idea to turn it all into a giant tattoo. It was fun how it all came together. We drank wine, laughed, cried a little and she will forever hold a place deep in my heart.
My experience painting these survivors filled me with hope and in awe of the resilience of the human body and spirit and the witnessing of women who actually punked breast cancer and are thriving in ways they never imagined because of the power they found in themselves during the battle for their life.
I continued to ache through the Holidays and on Christmas morning decided enough was enough. I consistently thought of my survivors. I quit taking all medicine and started going to yoga again. Sometimes I just sat there doing nothing if it hurt to do the pose. I started juicing and meditating daily. My neck is getting better all the time, I am happily divorced and I am enjoying life alone tremendously learning I am stronger and more capable than I ever knew. Every time I use my hammer drill I get a little cocky and think I’m Wonder Woman until I almost fall off the ladder.
On Saturday night, Hadassah had The Big Reveal where all the breast paintings were printed on canvas’s and auctioned off. I went alone and immediately bumped into my beautiful Texan survivor. We took pictures, hugged and together said a million things with out saying a word. All of the survivors inspired me profoundly. During the holidays these woman gave me a real reality check.
I will always view breasts in a completely different way for the rest of my life. They are miraculous. It is amazing that something so beautiful that feeds an infant into self sustaining life can also be the thing that kills a woman, a mother, a sister or a daughter. I pray Hadassah finds a cure, I pray this disease becomes obsolete…….. most of all I pray that anyone currently battling this disease knocks it in the trash, and any one who has already conquered this beast continues to thrive and inspire. You all more than inspired me!!!