I came to see that God placed in my heart the desire to create art to sell so I could give and support causes and people. When I studied the book, Follow Your Heart And Discover God’s Dream for You, by Judy Peterson, it all come together for me. Part of the reason I sell my art, prints, and cards is so I can give back. I read the book around the time my kids where in high school as they were getting older. I knew they were moving on soon and as I fulfilled my role as a mother, I wanted the rest of my life to have purpose too. The book was about dreams and finding out that thing God has placed in my heart to do.
Trying to live out the dream
I am launching a project that has been on my heart and in my mind for a while. That’s how it is with me. I think about something, write it down. Sometimes it gets lost until I find that piece of paper again. I say, “Oh yeah! I need to do that!” Can you relate?
Last month I shared with you about the Teal Shell Notecards that I created in honor of my older sister Nancy and her fight against Ovarian Cancer. This month I’ve asked my sister Mary to share. I’ll let her tell her story. It’s part of my dream now that I finally created her project, one that I’ve had on my heart for a very long time.
Hi! I am Ruth’s sister Mary. Ruth has asked me to be a guest writer this week and I agreed. I’m going to take you in a different direction though and talk about cancer. Yes, cancer.
I started my cancer journey 19 years ago when I was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) on Oct. 3, 2001. Prior to that in the early spring, routine blood work showed that I had a slightly elevated white count and further blood work showed it wasn’t going down.
I spent the next few months going to the doctor and having more blookwork. In the meantime, I began to experience fatigue that I just couldn’t get rid of. Finally, my family doctor sent me to an oncologist.
After this new doctor did more testing and x-rays and finally a bone marrow biopsy, he determined that I had CLL.
It was not easy to call my parents and sisters to give them the news. And it was hard to explain that while I had cancer that 1) since it was a chronic form of leukemia, treatment was not recommended at that time and there was no telling when I might need it. And, oh, by the way, 2) it’s incurable (so they say).
Life went on. I saw my oncologist every 6 months. My white count continued to slowly rise, my fatigue continued, and my immune system started to weaken.
I worked two jobs at the time, both with children. I quickly quit one of them so that I would have enough energy to focus on my main job as a preschool teacher.
Finally, though, I was not only catching every little bug or virus I was exposed to, I was also staying sick for long periods of time. Five years after my diagnosis, my husband and I made the decision for me to stop work.
Again, life went on. I continued to see my oncologist every 6 months; my white count continued to slowly rise and about 9 years after my diagnosis, my red count started to go down. I became anemic, but there was nothing that could really be done for it. I continued to have problems with fatigue, and I continued to catch just about anything I was exposed to.
Darkness before the Light
In September of 2012, my oncologist told us that it was time to start treatment. I had 6 rounds of chemotherapy. One day of chemo followed the next day with a shot of Neulasta. Yes, I had the inevitable nausea, but the worst of the side effects for me was even worse fatigue and increasing weakness.
My chemotherapy ended in March 2013. I celebrate remission day on January 13th of every year because that’s the day (1/13/13) my doctor told me I had achieved it, even though he wanted me to have the full 6 treatments. He expects me to stay in remission for a long time. I am now one of his patients who has been living with CLL for a long time.
I am the youngest of 4 sisters. I have been married to my husband Jim for 39 years. We have a son, Jimmy, who is married to his wonderful wife Kim. They have 2 children. I am an avid reader. I love to take pictures of my grandchildren and post them on Facebook for my family and friends to see. I like to do coloring pages and have discovered paint with water books and scratch art for adults. And I am a flip flop lover.
Flip flops are sort of a passion for Mary, I would say.
I had been doing other pieces of artwork for different people in the family when I finally asked Mary, “When are you going ask me to paint you something?” Then I told her I wanted to do a project like I did for Nancy. I told her, I will put it up in my shop and when the prints and cards sell, I will donate to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). She agreed to think about it and a couple of weeks later I received a drawing from her with a simple idea. That idea is now a work in progress. I told Mary it would be a minute. It is a watercolor painting and I needed to find the reference material for it. When I found just the right photo, she approved, but it’s still sitting on my drawing table.
I had this other idea that I tried to explain to her about flip flops. I couldn’t really put it into words and finally two weeks ago I did a sketch and came up with the first design and sent it to her. Mary approved and I worked on the other designs. You see, I can’t just make flip flops in one color. I had to make flip flops in all the colors, which I did. Along with the colorful flops, I had to find whimsical flip flops sayings, because that’s so Mary. I sent the final designs to her and she loved them. Today I’m releasing the first part of the project, The Flip Flop Designs. When I finish the painting, you’ll be the first to know.
I originally planned to release the designs in September, but as you know, I got delayed. Then I saw that Dallas was having Light the Night November 5th. Realizing I needed to delay the project, I rescheduled it to coincide with this event. I participated in Light the Night a few years back and it was one of the most meaningful events I have ever done. The Flip Flop Designs are a fund raiser for that event and beyond.
About Light The Night
Light The Night is a series of fundraising campaigns benefiting The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) funding of research to find blood cancer cures. We bring light the darkness of cancer by working to ensure access to treatments for all blood cancer patients. We bring communities together to celebrate those who are fighting the disease and to honor those we have lost. Click here to learn more.
Mary helped curate the products that will be a part of the launch.
Thank you for being a part of my art journey and I pray you find the dreams in your heart and as always, Be Inspired.
These are the designs I created for Mary. They are available in prints and notecards in The Shop on Ruthieonart and my Etsy shop. Mugs, totes, and notebooks are available on Zazzle. A portion of the proceeds will go to the The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society,
Who doesn’t love the beach? This week’s download is In honor on my sister’s journey with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), it is one of the designs I created with Mary in mind.
If you receive my weekly email you will receive The Flip Flop Print. If not, sign up through the form on the upper right corner of the blog and I will email you one.
Once you receive your download and follow the instructions provided to print!