Friday, April 9, 2010

Embracing your Golden Shadow

It has been over a month since I got back from Tucson. Much has happened since I returned from my adventure. Now I am dealing with another kind of adventure . . . healing from eyelid surgery. I have to admit, it's not nearly as fun as Tucson! I knew when I got back from my trip, I would have to have this skin cancer taken off from my lower right eyelid. I just didn't know that they would end up taking 75% of my lower lid. I had been dealing with irritation in that eye for the last two years and I could see a white area inside of my lid. The eye doctor thought it was a clogged pore. I kept putting warm compresses on it and using eye bright. However, it kept bothering me. Finally, the eye doctor recommended I see an eyelid specialist. I ended up finding out that it was basal cell carcinoma two days before I left for Tucson.

After having 75% of my eyelid removed, I went to the eyelid specialist the next day for a repair. He took skin from behind my ear and did a skin graft on my lower eyelid. In order for the skin graft to take hold and live, it needs a blood supply. So, they take a flap of skin from the inside of my upper eyelid and pull it down to the skin graft. (I know, I wasn't too thrilled with the idea of this either) Then they sew the upper flap to the skin graft. This means that they have to sew your eye shut so that it can heal fully. I have had my eye sewn shut now since March 17th. I will get it re-opened on the 19th of April! I can't wait. I only have over a week now.

I have been exploring this whole theme of having my eye closed. I found out that in Greek mythology, the right eye represents the sun. The left eye, which I can only use now, represents the moon. This makes a lot of sense to me, as I have been going within a lot more since I had the surgery. Only having the ability to see out of one eye, makes you rely more on your other senses and your intuition to do things. I have been a lot slower at doing things. It is even difficult for me to do my art, as it tires the one working eye and my depth of perception is way off. The moon also represents the hidden side of yourself that you don't always acknowledge. Some people call this your shadow side.

I had to ask myself, "What am I not seeing in my life?" I was asking myself this question when I was in Tucson, as I knew I had skin cancer at that time. I kept thinking that it must be something bad that I wasn't seeing about myself. (We all assume the worst about ourselves.) Little did I realize, until some time passed, that I wasn't seeing the good in myself. Having my show on display at the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun, helped me to see how gifted I was. People kept telling me how creative and talented I was. I was getting positive feedback about my art, which helped me to really see myself in a different light. I was touching people's lives in positive ways. I knew then that I needed to embrace my gifts and my golden aspects. This made me realize that we do have "golden shadows" as well. Our shadow side isn't always dark, more often than not, it is your beauty and light that you are holding back.

So, I have been able to complete two shadow boxes since I have had my surgery. Both of them deal with this new way of seeing myself. They also deal with listening to my own intuition and trusting my inner knowledge. It has been very healing for me to create these pieces while I am patiently waiting for the opening of my eye!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A much bettter day!

Today was a nice leisurley day. I decided to take my time and to stop at as many rest areas and tourist info centers as we wanted. This really broke up the day. I still made it to Lincoln, IL tonight, so now I only have 300 miles to go tomorrow. Then I will be home! Also, tonight we found Kickapoo Creek Park. It had a lot of land with many many trails. We went on a couple of longer trails and Moon Shadow loved it. She ran a lot and seemed thrilled with the leaves and grass.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Tiring Day

I started early this morning in the dark, hoping to make as many miles as possible. I wanted to make it at least to Joplin and maybe even farther. It ended up being a very long and tiring drive. There was construction going through Tulsa and the toll roads took up time as well. Oklahoma does not have any rest areas. They only have "picnic areas" that do not have bathrooms. This means that I stopped at McDonalds along the way. Each time you got off the toll road, you had to show them your receipt and get a refund at the exit and then pay as you got back on the turnpike. Talk about a pain! Then I had to make stops for Moon Shadow that were separate from my stops. Overall, I ended up making 530 miles. I was pretty much ready to stop driving an hour before Joplin, but the area that the hotels were located at were not very good. They were basically a gas station and a hotel next to a field and dirt roads. So, I pushed on and made it to Carthage, MO. I still have about 700 miles to go. At least Missouri and Illinois have rest areas!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Las Cruces to Vega, Texas

I made it to Vega, Texas today. It was about a 400 mile drive. I drove on US 54, which goes through the valley of many different mountains. It was very scenic. I had a hard time finding places to stop, as the towns were very small and far between. They didn't have much in the way of parks, etc. I think Moon Shadow is feeling confined in the car, as she sits up and looks at me like "when are we going to stop?" She doesn't sleep at all when we are driving. I know she will be happy when we finally get back to our home where things are familar and where she can go to all of the parks she ever wanted to.

Also, today I had to go through another border patrol inspection. Brent and I went through one coming from Tubac, AZ. Some times they just set them up on the highway. The one I went through today was a permanent one. Yesterday I saw 4 border patrol trucks that pulled over a car on the side of the highway.

I am posting some of the images from yesterday's blog of the crows flying into the wind. I heard this morning on local news that there were actually gusts of 50 mph yesterday. It definately felt that way!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Blustery Goodbye

I headed for home today after dropping Brent off at the airport. I left in the pouring rain. Little did I know I was going to be in for sleet, snow, then rain, then 40 mph winds! As I drove through Texas Canyon (in Arizona), the elevation increased and the temperature dropped from 48 degrees to 32 degrees. Then came the sleet and snow. It also was real foggy and mysterious driving past these huge boulders covered in snow. As I drove out of the snow, I stopped at a rest area. When I got out of the car, I couldn't believe the wind. I didn't feel it in the car, as it was blowing directly behind me. I found out later on there were gusts of 40 mph. With the wind, came the dark dramatic skies and the tumble weeds blowing across the highway. I never had such an entertaining drive! I decided to stop in Las Cruces, NM. When I took Moon Shadow for a walk at their State Park, there were crows flying everywhere. They would perch on the side of this dirt mound that ran along the road and then almost jump into the air to glide in the wind. After a while they would come back down to rest and then do it all over again. They looked like they were having such a good time.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sabino Canyon

Yesterday, Brent and I went for a 4 mile hike at Sabino Canyon. It was a beautiful warm day. The water was high from all of the rain. The most exciting part was at the end of the hike. We had to cross a river that was up to our knees in some parts. I had to roll up my pants and of course our hiking boots got soaked! The water was very cold!

Today we are packing things up, cleaning our little rental house, and doing laundry. Brent flies home tomorrow and I start for home. We had a great time on this journey.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Desert Museum and the Historic Downtown Walk

We had a very full day today. We went to the Desert Museum near the Saguaro National Park. It was a beautiful sunny day. They have live Predator Bird Demonstrations every day. We were able to see a raven, hawks, and a road runner fly above us and perched on trees. They fly back and forth to their keepers because of the easy food. They truly are amazing creatures.

Then I had an appointment at the Old Pueblo Frameworks and Gallery in Tucson. I met with the owner, Kathi. She ended up taking 6 of my shadow boxes. It felt so good being the artist having a gallery owner take my artwork, instead of the other way around, which I was very familiar with when I had my gallery. I really felt good about having my artwork in her beautiful gallery. Her website can be viewed at

Then after this, Brent and I went for a walk with Moon Shadow along the old historic route in downtown Tucson. We saw some really amazing adobe buildings, St. Augustine Cathedral, old courthouses, etc. One really beautiful place was The Wishing Shrine. Many people come to burn candles and pray, asking for help with their problems. They say if you light a candle and it doesn't burn out over night, your wish will come true. Of course Brent and I each made a wish!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Saguaro National Park and DeGrazia's Studio

Yesterday Brent and I went through Ted DeGrazia's Museum of artwork. He had quite an impressive array of work. My favorites were his paintings of myths from Arizona. We also saw the paintings he did while studying with Diego Rivera. These paintings were in oil and were much heavier than his later pieces. He also worked in clay, bronze, watercolor and built his own gallery and studio. He was quite a man. I took one photo of his studio.

Today Brent and I were able to go out to Saguaro National Park. We went to both the East side and West side. We were more impressed with the views of the West side. They also have a little hiking trail on the West side that takes you to the petroglyphs. You can actually get close to them. The Saguaros are amazing. They grow all the way up the sides of mountains. How they hang on, I will never know. Native American Indians tell a creation story of how people came from Sagauros. They say that at dusk and dawn, the Saguaros look very similar to people. We had a great day, even though it rained on and off and was only in the 50's.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Savoring the last day

Yesterday was my last day at the Little Gallery. It was a beautiful sunny day. Brent went hiking at Finger Rock, while I stayed at the gallery. I savored the day and relished all that I accomplished. At the very end of the day, I sold my Shield of Abundance piece. I thought that was my best piece of the show. The couple that bought it, really liked its message and said they might not have bought it without having read the artist statement. The meaning behind it really spoke to them. Then I also sold my last book. I had to give people my card so that they could order it online. After 4pm, Brent and I took down the show. It only took us a couple hours. We had to go back today to pick up the few remaining things that didn't fit into the car.
I am very happy with the show and with all of the people I met. Now I am ready to relax a little and take the sights in. This is a really nice way to reflect on the last month and let it soak in. Tomorrow we are going back to DeGrazia in the Sun, so that I can actually see his museum of works. I wasn't able to do that while I was working at the Little Gallery.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Reflecting on the last two weeks

Well, tomorrow is my last full day at the Little Gallery. I feel so grateful for all of my experiences and all of the people I met. I sold three of my Shadow Boxes and they all seemed to go to just the right owner. One couple who bought one of my Dia de los Muertos boxes, were living in their camper trailer. They were in the process of selling their home so they could travel around the United States. They were very fun and lively. You could tell they were on an adventure. Come to find out, they would be traveling to Michigan in the summer to work on Mackinac Island. They wanted a smaller piece that would add a nice touch to their new traveling home. I gave them a little extra putty so that it wouldn't fall off the wall when they went over bumps!

Brent also arrived today. I think he was very impressed with DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun, even though he had seen my pictures. Moon Shadow and I had fun showing him around and taking him to Moon Shadow's favorite parks. It is nice having someone to share my adventures with.

I am posting some images from DeGrazia's front altar in their little church. This is my way of showing gratitude for everything. Also, the photo of the couple is Paul and Candy who are traveling around the U.S.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Artwork in the Sun

It was a little slower today at the Gallery. Between visitors, I would take my art outside to photograph them. I thought they looked so good in a desert setting. They looked like they grew right out of the ground.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Wedding at DeGrazia's Chapel

Today was an exciting day at the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun. They had a wedding at the chapel. How appropriate for Valentines Day. It was a beautiful sunny day for a wedding. I had fun watching them all wait for the arrival of the bride. It looked like it was her mother that walked her down the aisle and they had a woman minister. Here are some photos of the event!

Friday, February 12, 2010


It has been a real satisfying experience having my work on display at the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun. It gives me a lot of opportunity to share my story and to hear other people's stories. I never would have been able to have this many visitors or this kind of exposure in Grand Rapids. I am very thankful.

Yesterday I had a flurry of activity. Three tour buses came in at the same time. A whole group of people came in and were looking over everything. People started buying my cards and books. I was signing books, collecting money, and trying to put through a credit card transaction when a man came up to me and wanted to purchase one of my shadow boxes. The energy in the room was alive! Then as soon as it all came together, it was all over. It happened so fast. It was great fun while it lasted.

Today I went to this African Village that is set up for the Gem Show. I went immediately after I got out of the gallery, as it only lasts until 6pm. Because it is towards their final days, they had lowered their prices. I bought a lot of wonderful things for future shadow boxes. And my most prized possession was this amazing beaded African Headress that came from the Yoruba tribe. I love it! It must weigh ten pounds or more. This one is for me and is not going in a box!

So, needless to say I am very grateful. I feel like I have been very blessed. Here are some photos of the chapel on the grounds, of Moon Shadow laying among the shadows, and of the really awesome headress I bought.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Art is Healing

I have met a lot of wonderful people at the gallery. There are so many like-minded people. It amazes me. I have had a lot of people comment on my artist statements. It really doesn't take much to start a conversation with them. It seems that the art some how gives them permission to share their own personal stories as well. Yesterday an older gentleman shared with me that his daughter, "who was larger than life," died in the Twin Towers. She was a police officer and was rescuing people when the second tower collapsed. He loved his daughter so much. He said he still is hearing stories from people of how she changed their life. I think that a lot of us do not realize how we are making a difference in other people's lives. Another woman named Loretta shared with me her mystical experiences over the years. She was a teacher in New Jersey and lives in Tucson in the winter months. She seemed like a long lost friend to me. All of these experiences make this exhibit at DeGrazia Gallery so rich and rewarding.
The photo of the woman by the church is Loretta. I took the photo of the rainbow today. This was taken at a local park. It had rained most of the day and then as the sun was setting, it came out from under the clouds. A perfect way to end the day!

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Swan

As I was driving to DeGrazia Gallery this morning, I was thinking how interesting it is that DeGrazia's address is 6300 Swan. I really liked that name for a street. Then it dawned on me that I really feel like a swan here, as opposed to an ugly duckling. Many people that visit the gallery and see my work say, "Your work doesn't look like you're from Michigan. It looks like you live here." Then another woman said, "The South West must be your spiritual home." Everyone understands and appreciates my work here. I don't have to explain what Day of the Dead is and I don't have to tell them who Guadalupe is. So it almost feels like a homecoming. I have found my swans. Even though I would not want to move here permanently, it always is a spiritual journey for me when I visit Arizona or New Mexico. It is what inspires me and nourishes my soul.

I am hoping to find a gallery that fits for me and one that I can trust. I have really put a lot of faith in myself and in my work to take this risk. There is always the risk that I won't sell anything but greeting cards, that I won't find a gallery that will accept my work, and that people will not like my work. However, I have already overcome the last risk. People do like my work and do give me compliments. That has been such a blessing to me.

The photograph that I am posting today is the outside of the Little Gallery where I am exhibiting my work. I am the "Guest Artist" as it is posted on the door as you go into the gallery.

Opening Reception at the Little Gallery on DeGrazia's Property

Yesterday was my opening day at DeGrazia's Gallery in the Sun. My work is displayed in his adobe building called the Little Gallery. It took me 8 hours to hang my show on Saturday and then the reception was yesterday. My very first visitors were a bus load of people from Michigan! I couldn't believe it when I asked them where they were traveling from and they said Grand Rapids, Michigan. They thought it was very funny that I was from Grand Rapids. Word spread around to the others and everyone kept coming in asking where the artist from Michigan was. They were traveling with Shrine Tours. I sold 20 cards to that group. Very fun!

So, I am posting the photos I took from inside the Little Gallery. It also has a wonderful little fireplace. I had a very fun and successful day!