As you read this I will likely be in the dream-state of surgery, having both of my breasts removed. I am 39, I am in otherwise good health, I am the mother to two young children. Yet four weeks ago my whole life changed when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. That news, of course, led to today, which I know is only the first step in what will be a long journey of treatment ahead. At least that's the hope.
When I first discovered the lump – which, by the way, happened while I was trying on bathing suits, so never feel bad about playing dress-up, friends! – I had a sinking feeling throughout my entire body. I just knew. I knew what it meant. Still, it took about a week to find out from the doctors that it was indeed cancer. And from that moment on, everything has been a whirlwind.
I suppose you could say that I went into a bit of a fugue state. There’s a desperate rush to quickly “figure out how cancer works.” Who manages your care? What doctors should you call? What about insurance? Who’s in charge? Who makes decisions? What are my options and where do they lead?
Nothing prepares you for the project management that comes along with rapidly realizing your mortality.
In the background I was in a sort of trance. It was almost like there were two tracks running - me the patient, trying to produce a show called “cancer” and coordinate all the things; and me of the internal world, floating through states of awareness that had been blocked and clogged until the illusion of immortality was broken and a gush of life force energy rushed through.
Even before I learned for sure that it was cancer - when I lived only in that space of internal knowing - I started in on the new work I want to share with you today. I sourced some free things from craigslist and set up a painting studio in our barn. I began the work that has been on my mind and in my heart for years, but which I’d been too scared, or too blocked, or too preoccupied to get to.
This work includes practices I do alone and with spirit, and practices I want to do with others. Since I was a little girl the lines between creative flow and communion with the spirit realm have been one and the same. This knowledge has been part of me my whole life. It has given me strength and wisdom at different times, information at others. I have willfully ignored it when I wanted something else; I have returned to it again and again. This practice – this flowstate – is something that has tethered me to my path for as long as I can remember.
It took a cancer diagnosis at what feels like a relatively young age to help me see that this part of me, and my desire to do something more with it, is at the center of what I want and who I am. Cancer clarifies things quickly. Suddenly whatever pedestrian things I had been wrapped up in, my woes and struggles and discontent, fell away. I wanted only to live – breasts or no breasts – first and foremost for my kids, who need me more than anyone else, I realized. And there is no time to pretend or hide. None of us have that time. To show up as my truest self feels suddenly like the only way to live. The lines between existing and impermanence draw this out with great clarity.
We must show up fully for ourselves and as ourselves. As the oft-quoted but aptly-loved quote by Mary Oliver asks of us all:
“What will you do with your one wild and precious life?”
And so, my friends, I’m doing it. I’m gathering all my bravery, I’m doing the surgery and whatever follows. I'm praying that it all works and I have more time... time I desperately appreciate in a new and unyielding way. I am stepping into this new season of my life and bringing my full self to every moment of it, because that is the only choice I have.
The artworks I am sharing with you below will live under a special name, S | G | L WORKS, and are enchanted for healing and growth. The first Collection, v e s s e l, is a visual meditation of talismanic paintings harnessing the beauty, complication, and complexity of the female breast. Making these works has been integral to my process of accepting my diagnosis and making amends with this part of my body. It has allowed me to truly honor these vessels and all they have given me. There is still so much grief in losing them. I find myself wondering sometimes – were they loved enough? Devoured? Cherished? Were they useful enough? Ignored, forgotten. Regretted, even. Did they nurture enough and did they work well? Did I take enough pleasure in them, did I speak sweetly to them, did I say thank you.
The female breasts hold so much. They are sex and gender and beauty and shame and danger and safety and literal life. They are so powerful that in many cultures we are forbidden to freely share them, have them, embody them, and gaze upon them.
Each of these paintings is a unique portal into the work of not looking away. They are about seeing what really is. When you encounter them, whatever comes up for you is the first nudge towards a place of deeper witnessing. Through color, stroke, and the use of discreet symbols called sigils, they stand as energetic blessings, protectors, and celebratory icons to infuse your homes and your subconscious with daily reminders of your unique path towards deeper self-knowing and self-loving around your own complexity. Choose your vessel with intuition – the right sigil work will find you.
Proceeds of the v e s s e l works will support me and my family with the cost and care associated with my cancer treatment – including childcare, as I will be cutting down a lot of my existing work for the foreseeable future. In addition, 15% of all proceeds from this Collection will be donated to Family Reach, a non-profit putting money in the hands of families dealing with the cost and care of cancer diagnosis and treatment.
I’m honored for you to witness these works. Please share them with your networks and always get in touch with me if you want to talk about any of this.
I appreciate you all, Friends. I’m so glad we're connected during our time here on this swiftly tilting planet ♡
All I have to say about this one is that I curated it for the persona I've been working on for my post-surgery recovery (and anticipated identity-crisis). Imagine a combination of Thelma & Louise, Shane from The L Word, 1970s Farrah Fawcett & Gloria Steinem mashed together, and Anna Wintour with resting bitch face and huge black geometric sunglasses at the first show of Fashion Week in Paris. If somehow this all makes sense to you then you know more than me! Listen your hearts out to amplify these vibes for me while I recover from my surgery over the next few weeks ♡♡♡
Here's where I'm putting my new works - a place for aesthetics & energetics, art & spirit to commingle. I'd be honored for you to check it out ♡
Read more about this first series of paintings in a short blog post on the site ♡
For those who haven't checked it out yet, the best way to stream my album is on Spotify. Click HERE to listen ♡