Merry Met and Merry Part

After much thought and in the spirit of downsizing my life into a voluntary simplicity mode, I have decided to close Stitch Witch Cottage. It feels like a good decision. I don’t know what my path is any longer and due to new health issues (first fibromyalgia, then cancer, and now atrial fibrillation) I really feel that I need to spend more of my time taking care of my health, body/mind/spirit, and my personal artistic endeavors

I’ll leave the site up in case there is something useful for you here but I won’t be posting in the foreseeable future. Foresight has never been my forte (I’m more psychic in the moment and in the past) so you never know but right now it looks like I’m moving into a new phase and place in my life.

May you always have many blessings in your life.

So Mote It Be.

Tattoo Me

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, after all the panic and tears and research and questions and appointments and tests and FREAKING OUT, I started work on an art project.

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This is a tree of life and it’s pretty large, big enough for a large throw pillow. There is oak for strength and long life, pomegranate for a juicy, passionate life, vetch (wild sweet pea) for tenacity and because I hate peas as much as I hated chemo, and blackberry vines, also for tenacity, for juicy goodness, and healing.

I got this far before the chemo ruined my finger tips and  made it very difficult to hold something as small as a button or a needle.

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I don’t know if I’ll pick it up to finish or not but when it was time to think about tattoos I happened to have this close by.

I have see-sawed back and forth about whether I would tattoo my double mastectomy scars or leave them be. I’m also a little afraid of doing anything else that hurts in that area. I have had enough pain and it still isn’t gone. I have some bad pain days still. My boyfriend could care less about tattoos and why have something no one would ever see?

My first tattoo was years old and while it was a dedication to the Goddess at the time I got it, it was a bit worn out and sad looking. Partly due to time and age and partly due to the fact that back then tattoo ink had nickel in it, which I am allergic too. I decided that covering it up wouldn’t change the original intent and this would actually add a good magical boost to it. I would design the tattoo based on this embroidery I may never finish so my cover up tattoo is really a microcosm of the tree of life.  These are phone pictures (I really need to start keeping my camera close to hand again for better quality photos) so apologies for the fuzzy-ness.

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Oak leaves, vetch, rose, bleeding hearts (no lie), pomegranate, lavender. I decided not to do the bee. I don’t know why as I LOVE bees.

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Hee “I’m so fucking happy!”  I do sometimes make random notes on my sketches. I was momentarily happy because of this sketch and that wasn’t something I was used to feeling recently.  Worth taking note.

I love my new tattoo. The central rose was really difficult because it was covering almost total charcoal. It was hard to figure out the colors and have them be bright with that underneath but after this healed the colors deepened and brightened. I’m really happy and looking forward to warm weather to show off what may be my last tattoo. Oh! But wait. I have four little tiny dots where the radiologist marked me so they could align the radiation beams 150% accurately. No mistakes could be made (not like okay with radiation ever) because I had a tumor that was inoperable under my sternum and the angle brought the beams so close to my heart they had to be even more careful than their usual 125%. I still lost 25% of my right lung but the left lung fills up the space so most of the time I don’t get too winded and between 2 lungs I really only 12.5% total lung capacity. Anyway. Those dots are now covered with little magenta hearts.  THOSE are probably my last tattoos. Except maybe I will need to add bees.

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Dark to Light

I love my man. He’s so good to me. He amazes me continually. We’ve been together a little over two years now and I have to hand it to him. Our first date was 2 months after I finished radiation treatment for breast cancer, I had an inch of hair if that, and no breasts. I still have no breasts. And he loves me. I’ve never felt loved by a partner in my life (partly because I didn’t understand love and partly because I frequently had a poor man picker), not like this. He deserved something truly cool for Yule, our anniversary, this year.

Did I mention he’s a bass player? Sexxxxxxyyyyy.

I asked him what he might want on a guitar strap and he sent me three famous guitar logos. I’m so not all about logos but leaves and ferns and nature. But I found a way to make it work. I also asked him for a favorite quote. I was so surprised by the quote, it was quite unexpected but it had great meaning to him.

But just saying it could even make it happen.

~ Kate Bush

How cool is that??  Such a deep and meaningful choice. I love this man. He’s so honest, he’s so there, he’s so kind, and oh so beautiful.

And suddenly I knew what to do. This is my first experience doing pyrography on leather but it won’t be my last. Enjoy!

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These two images go on either side of the sunburst shown in sketch below.

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Lost and Found

34 years ago I had to make a very hard decision. I was married and, within a month, pregnant. My husband was an alcoholic. I knew that raising my son either in that chaos or by myself with no skills and poverty being a sure thing were not options for what dreams I had for my son. So, even though married, I gave my son up to a family who I knew would raise him to be a man and that, if we were really lucky, that they and he would have a good time doing it.

He was born the day after the Winter Solstice and he’s always been a rising golden son to me. Even though I never saw him again after his third day of life. I grieved the loss as though it were permanent. I am also adopted (part of why I felt it was a good decision, my adopted parents were and are fabulous) and so I expected that was that. I thought of him all the time. I cried. My grief subsided over the years because I eventually stuffed my feelings as deep as I could so I could move on with my life but I still thought of him often and still have my regrets.

Last May 2015, I got a message in LinkedIn from a stranger. The only reason my LinkedIn account was turned on was because I was laid off from my job and looking for work. His photo was tiny and the letter respectful and it contained his birth date. I looked at that photo so hard my eyes couldn’t focus but I could have sworn this boy looked just like me, twins even. Further photos bore this out, we were twins until puberty hit. I clearly see how that lay off turned into my own personal miracle. My baby boy was a grown man and he wanted to meet me, know me, be my son. And I’m Mom.

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I still get extremely emotional over this for so many reasons that are just too personal to state here but one of them is gratitude.

We’ve spent some lovely times together since then (we met 2 weeks later) but they live in another city and we don’t see as much of each other as I would like but we do try to make the times we get together memorable. We’ll meet next at Norwescon.

It’s astonishing how much we have in common and none of them have anything to do with how we were raised. We both hate peas, like to design houses (his are modern, mine are cob/round), and we love watching back to the earth how to videos on YouTube, which we did on my big screen last Christmas. And we yakked through them all, discussing what the guy was doing and basically completely geeking out. It was AWESOME. We’re both in the IT work world. Who knew that kind of stuff was GENETIC?

For his birthday I wanted to give him something very special. The photo above is of my son and his wife and their son (yes! I’m Grandma too!! and I adore his wife, we are all just so well suited to each other, how can you not love a woman who goes around in public with a dinosaur bike helmet???) walking down a crowded street. Aside from the cars and signs and buildings I felt this photo to be so poignant. I brought it up on my laptop, placed a plain sheet of paper over it and traced the three of them.  Did you know you can use your monitor like a giant light box?

After we had eaten dinner, I told him there was a present on the wall that you see when you walk into my home and to go find it. And I heard him gasp. Best response ever. I love him so. I wanted him to feel loved every time he sees it.

What follows are a few photos as I moved through the process from photo to pencil design to transfer to wood burning and coloring. Please enjoy!

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P.S.  I’m the birch tree in the close distance and that is a sun RISE.

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You Is Kind. You Is Smart. You Is Important.

This jewelry box took form in my imagination after the Strapped To The Gurney episode. I realized a week or so after that event that no matter how humiliating it had been there was a very important message there that I had missed.

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I HAD ASKED FOR HELP!!!

OMG!

What a breakthrough. I had done something to really, REALLY, take care of myself. I had saved my own life! From that point on, my pattern of spiraling into hell as the result of a panic attack started to change. Part of it was a change in my medication. But every time I felt the spiral start to come on it took less and less time for me to find my way out. Now, I go home, take a hit from my medical marijuana vapor pen, and call my boyfriend or my mom or one of my two best friends. I save my own life all the time now. I have stopped praying for the cancer to come back so I can just let it take me.

This box is one of the results of this epiphany, this complete 180, this psychic change. Change is a strange thing. It doesn’t happen overnight and one day I got slammed so hard I almost didn’t make it. My first bona fide suicide attempt with booze and pills. But before I got the pills in me, I called my boyfriend. My NEW boyfriend by the way. Not the pathologically lying, crazy, fucked up, brain damaged dude before (oh the stories…).

New boyfriend was there in 20 and took care of me and ever since I haven’t had a real thought about it. Not one I’ve entertained more than a couple minutes. I pick up the phone. I turn on some music. Okay, I’m lying too. I turn on America’s Next Top Model or Grimm or The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series (Swedish version) or Practical Magic. Sometimes music. Sometimes a book. If I’m home and I don’t have to drive, I smoke out. They all make the Panic go away. Sometimes I feel like Gollum having an argument with himself but the good one wins every day now.

So. The “You are Worthy of Life” box. Inspiration was also from the book, “The Help,” when Aibileen is talking to the young girl she cares for. It is something she repeats to her almost every day, knowing that when Aibileen isn’t there the little girl isn’t loved at all. I felt I needed this for myself. Because I’ve spent my entire life getting to believing this. That I am Loved. Worthy. Kind. I still have days when I can’t but they are becoming more rare.

I have a few last things to complete, the bottom edge and the feet and then a good varnish. Then I’ll show you the final piece. This is a magic box, make no mistake. Everything that goes in it is a little charm for life, for love, and for joy.

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Pineapple Madness

On this day last year I checked myself into Harborview Emergency  (the worst place I could have chosen, all the wackos go here when they have no insurance) so I wouldn’t kill myself. This is one of the reasons I wasn’t posting. I had to get some distance before I could even talk about it. I’d been gradually more and more suicidal and depressed the year after my cancer treatment. Meds weren’t working. I called first, asked if I should go home first and get pj’s and toothbrush and they said, oh no, we’ve got everything you need. You just come in, we’ll get you a room, get you cozy, and take care of everything.

They sedated me, strapped my hands and feet to a gurney in a busy hallway for 5 hours and then after another 5 more hours in the ward and a talk with a doctor they sent me home. They had lots of chairs in the special psych emergency ward where I could have quietly sat and read for those five hours but if there is no bed, you get a gurney until there is a bed. The beds are all in rooms with doors so the other weirdos can’t bother you. One guy stood just outside my door until they shooed him away. It was a horror show. It was clear I wasn’t as around the bend compared to some folks there. The doctor’s advice? “Usually after a couple hours here, most folks feel just fine and just want to go home.”

Once you tell them you feel suicidal you lose ALL your rights IMMEDIATELY and COMPLETELY and not even a lawyer can get you out. Trust me. I called. You’re in until they say you’re out. This is how they treat a breast cancer patient with PTSD.

My one triumph was that I was able to get one hand out of the straps and use my cell phone and hide my head under the blanket. Some triumph huh? Pathetic. At the time it was as good a fuck you as I could come up with.

And I guess I was glad I didn’t have a pineapple growing out of my lady parts. Must have been Pinterest. I spent a couple years on Pinterest. The first year I was so drugged out it was all, “oooh pretty, pin.” over and over and over again.  or “oooh funny” or “oooh I wish my life was that pretty”

These are the photos I found a year ago on the day that this event happened. For your enjoyment. I mean who wouldn’t want a pineapple coming out of their butt?

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P.S. It’s taken all 2 years post treatment to get to a place where I call someone when I feel the spiral down into hell begin. And I get home and smoke some medical marijuana, it takes the suicidal thought jag away immediately. I don’t know what I’d have done without Casey. Why he stuck with me through all this crap still blows me away.

Work in progress

A subject near and dear to my heart, I’m working on a 9 x 12 panel piece. I’m really excited how it’s turning out. I can’t show it all just yet, it’s a present, but here are some close ups that hopefully won’t give it away, at least not too much. Lots of love and protection and prosperity magic going into this large stealth charm.

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