What is Life?

Page 3 What is Life collage and penwork small

Hello friends

I hope everything is good for you and you are keeping well and happy.

I am back!  We went away for a couple of weeks and I had a total digital detox – we had no phones, no internet, no blog, no Facebook and no television (although the tv bit is not so unusual for me) for 2 whole weeks – it was great.

We went away in the Bongo (campervan), it was a bit touch and go right up until the last few days whether or not we could go in the Bongo as it was in the garage waiting to be repaired until the Friday before we left and the garage were not sure they could get the part to fix it.  I had a ‘Plan B’ if the Bongo was not fixed and that was to go in the car and take the ordinary tent.  The weekend before we went I put the tent up in the garden just to check everything was still there and I knew how to do it.  Camping for 2 weeks in that tent would have been difficult as despite being big enough for 4 people neither of us can stand up in it so we would have come home with bad backs from two weeks of stooping.  But fortunately the lovely people at the garage were able to fix the campervan in time for us to take it away, and we had no problems during the two weeks.

We went to WOMAD (World of Music, Art and Dance) festival at Charlton Park in Wiltshire for the first long weekend, then to another small festival in Hampshire for the next weekend. In between we stayed at a campsite near to Bath and had a visit from one of our oldest friends while we were there.  That was lovely.  T and S were best friends when I met them when I was 15 years old and 46 years later, even though we hardly ever see S these days we are still good friends and always enjoy seeing each other.  Being away for 2 weeks and doing 2 festivals was pretty tiring and T’s health was not very good while we were away so at times it was a real struggle, but I really like the outside living, even when it rained I thought it was OK (although I’m not sure T would agree).  I broke my camera on the first day so was not able to take any photos, but in a way that was good too and it felt like part of the digital detox.

I finished the page above while we were away, it’s a page from my Tikis and Totems journal – all the collage and most of the penwork was already done so I just added the quote. I’m not sure the quote really goes with the image but the colours reminded me of a sunset so I used it anyway.

Here’s a comparison between the page with just collage and the finished page.  All the collage elements came from a children’s book I meant to make a note of the title and the illustrator, but unfortunately I forgot!

Page 3 what is life before and after

While we were away we put ‘The Furry Boys’ into the local RSPCA boarding cattery.  We felt awful about doing that but at least that way we knew they would be safe.  We could have just left them at home and got a friend to come in and feed them, but because they don’t like each other and sometimes fight we were worried that either one of them would get injured or that one of them would decide to move out and go and live with one of the neighbours rather then be in the house alone with his brother! We both thought about them every day while we were away and worried about them in those small pens at the cattery.  So as soon as we got home we rushed to collect them.  We thought they might be angry with us for abandoning them for two whole weeks but they were so pleased and excited to see us and it was great to all be back home together.  They have been very affectionate and while I’ve been at work they have both brought T presents every day – either a mouse or slow worm (often dead).

Bill and Jack

Bill and Jack – the Furry Boys

From now on I will be back at work full time and just have my normal quota of holiday so hopefully at long last I will start to get back into the swing of full time working.  I have had so much time off work in the last couple of years – 8 months sick leave then a phased return to work then almost double the amount of normal holiday in the last year – it has been difficult to get myself settled back into the routine.  I think I needed all that time off though because even after I finished the treatment for cancer and have been in remission for over a year now, to be honest the bit after treatment has been, in many ways, more challenging than undergoing the agressive treatment itself.  Finally, I think I am getting my head around it and can move on with my life 🙂

Just recently I have been getting more creative too and that’s always a good sign and good for my soul.

It’s a beautiful sunny day here so I’m off out to enjoy what will inevitably be the brief but pleasant British Summer so I’ll post this later when I get back.

Take good care of yourselves and I’ll be back soon.

Big love

AJ xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2011-2016 unless otherwise stated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

Courage

Courage

Hello friends

I’ve been away from my blog again for a while so I hope you are all doing well.  What a lot has happened since I was last here!

My health

During the last couple of weeks of radiotherapy treatment I was getting quite tired and often went to bed as soon as I got home, apart from that I didn’t feel too bad although the inside of mouth was sore a lot of the time.  The final treatment was on 29 April.  I thought I would feel euphoric at reaching the end of treatment, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  After the treatment ended the sores in my mouth became worse, my tongue felt like a piece of old carpet, I lost all sense of taste and eating was very difficult.  For a few days I suffered from what I assume was depression.  I was still functioning and being creative but I became even more introverted than usual and very emotional.  Thankfully things are now beginning to get better, my mouth is no longer sore and my taste is gradually coming back (I had no idea how difficult it would be to eat when there was no taste).  I’ve got a red mark on my face where the beams targeted the mandible in my jaw bone and I look like I’ve just been slapped, but that doesn’t hurt, it just looks a bit odd.

I do have this strange sense of being left in limbo though.  The last 6 months have been really difficult, but I have no idea if the treatment has worked or not.  I don’t go back to Southampton hospital until 8 June and I’m not sure what they will be able to tell me then as I have no scan or blood test scheduled before then.  The oncologist I saw at Southampton did tell me that after that appointment in June all subsequent appointments would be at my local hospital.  I was horrified and told him I didn’t want to go back there as I was so unhappy with the way I was treated.  We are going to talk about my concerns when I see him in June.

The face mask

At the end of my treatment I was given the mask to bring home, I also asked if I could have the ‘dreaded’ gob-stopper, they thought that was an unusual request but gave it to me anyway along with the piece of thick pink wax which was helping to protect my skin.

I think it needs to be turned into a piece of art eventually.  I’m not sure what I could do with the gob-stopper and the wax so I might just hide them inside so I will know they are there even if no-one else does.

 

Once I start to feel better physically I’m sure my low mood will improve as I generally work on the principle that if I feel OK then I am OK.

The death of a friend

cheesybitsThe friend we visited at the Hospice on 29 March sadly passed away on 15 April he was at his sister’s house and surrounded by his family when he died.  We attended his funeral on 27 April (2 days before I finished the radiotherapy treatment).  We were not very close friends and we hadn’t seen him for a few years before we visited him at the hospice, but he was part of our history. Back in the 1980s he played in the same band as my husband. He was an absolute giant of a man with a cutting sense of humour, but he was always lovely to me and I liked him a lot.

I think his death really brought home to me that people don’t always beat cancer and that probably has contributed to my anxiety and low mood at the moment.

Rest in Peace Dave “Cheesybits” Bowater and thanks for some great memories.

The earthquake in Nepal

Durbar-Square-KathmanduOn 25 April there was a massive earthquake in Nepal, a poor country where life is normally hard for the people.  The devastation caused by this earthquake has left 8,413 people dead, 17,576 injured, 260 still missing and many thousands of people homeless.

We spent time in Nepal in the early 1970s, it is a stunningly beautiful country and the people are welcoming and generous.  It breaks my heart that the people are suffering with this devastation now and I’m giving what I can to the relief fund.

The building in the image is one of the historic buildings in Durbar Square Kathmandu now destroyed.  That is sad but right now it’s the people who need our help.

Other news

On 2 May a royal baby was born and apparently the ‘whole’ country celebrated.  I’m not sure I did celebrate though, I mean I am pleased for them as a family but it’s just another baby and I’m sure there were lots born that day throughout the UK.

Then yesterday we had an election, perhaps you heard about it?  I’m just too pissed off to talk about it really.  Things are about to get even tougher for the poor and disadvantaged of this country and it does not make me proud to be British today.

Right, that’s got all that off my chest so now for something cheerful and positive 🙂

Holiday

I’ve booked our accommodation and the ferry for our holiday at the end of May and I’m just looking forward to getting away and having a break for a few days before I start my return to work.  I won’t even mind if it rains for the whole week because I’m just going to be chilling out.

The artwork

The page above is a page from my Tikis and Totems journal which I did last week, here’s what it looked like with just the collage:

I cheated with this one and I downloaded a totem pole from the internet, it was a colouring sheet for children to colour, I cut all the different parts from collage instead of colouring it in and then did loads of penwork over the top.

Before-and-after

That’s all for now folks, sorry this was a long one.

Stay well and happy.

Big love

AJ 🙂

 

 

© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2015 unless otherwise stated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

 

 

Time for Tea!

Teatem Pole

Hello friends!

I hope all is good with you, we are currently enjoying some lovely spring weather here, a bit of sunshine and warmth makes everything look and feel pretty good.  It probably won’t last so I’m making the most of it while I can.

I’m now a third of the way through the radiotherapy treatment and I can’t wait for it to be over.  I think my head must be expanding because I swear that mask gets tighter every day!  I really hate being encased in it, but I’m a good patient so I don’t make any fuss about it, I try and keep calm while it’s on and breathe a mighty sigh of relief when they come and release me from it.  Still I’m sure it’s worth it and it will soon be over.

This is another page from my Tikis and Totems journal.  I decided to do something completely different and I made a Teatem Pole instead of a Totem Pole.  I’m British and we are famous for our tea drinking so I think it’s appropriate that we have a Teatem Pole to honour our heritage 🙂

I didn’t do too much penwork on this page, here is the before and after images:

Teatem Pole before and after

Take good care of yourselves and I’ll see you soon.

Big love AJ 🙂

 

© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2015 unless otherwise stated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Totems

Totems

Hello friends!

How are you doing?  I am doing well and all is good here.

The page above is the first page inside my Tikis and Totems Journal inspired by the Artstronauts Club.  You have to be a member of the club to see the full contents of the website, but it’s not expensive to join and it’s mega-value for money 🙂

I have started with the radiotherapy treatment now, I’ve had three sessions so far and now I’ve got the weekend off.  Next week I have 5 sessions, then the week after 4 sessions and in the final week 3 sessions.  Each session takes about 20 minutes, but I am away from home for several hours, because of the travel and the inevitable waiting around, but that’s OK.  I am doodling at every chance I get 🙂

Having the face mask on is REALLY claustrophobic and I have to concentrate on my breathing (and silent chanting) to stay calm.  It’s just about bearable because I know that it will soon finish, but it’s definitely not pleasant.  That mask fits my face REALLY tight.

I have had so much time off work that I am finally going from full pay to half pay this month. That’s a bit of a blow but fortunately I do have savings so we will be able to manage until I get back to work.  It must be really difficult for people who don’t get sick pay, who are self-employed or who don’t have savings.  Dealing with cancer is difficult enough as it is without having to worry about money as well.  I am so lucky that I don’t have to worry about our finances at the moment.

It looks now like I will be returning to work in the second week in June but we are going to get away for a week before that.  I have booked us a self contained chalet on a hillside somewhere on the south coast of England and not too far away from home, for the first week of June,  I’m really looking forward to a week off-line and away from normal life before I start my gentle and phased return to work.   We don’t really have anything planned just a week away with just the two of us.  Luckily a good friend is coming to house/cat sit for us so The Boys will be looked after while we are away.

I am guessing that even when I return to work I will still be monitored to see if I am and remain clear of the cancer, but I feel pretty good so I don’t think I have too much to worry about on that front.  I am looking forward to getting a normal life back though, it’s been pretty tough this last 6 months.

Here is my page with just collage compared to finished page:

Page 1 before andafter

 

Have a good week and I’ll see you soon.

Big love AJ 🙂 xxx

 

 

© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2015 unless otherwise stated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.