From a sacred place

Leaf from the Bhodi tree 1

Hello friends

I hope all is good with you we are doing well.

The other day I got home from work and I saw this leaf in a nice wooden frame, I couldn’t remember seeing it before so I asked T where it came from.  He told me that it’s a leaf from the Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya in India and it has been pressed between the pages of a small buddhist book we bought when we were there in spring of 1976 over 41 years ago!

You probably know that Bodh Gaya is a very sacred place.  Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment meditating beneath the Bodhi tree and became Buddha in the 4th century BC. Of course the tree that this leaf came from is not that original tree but one planted on the same spot in 1881.

There are many buddhist temples in Bodh Gaya the main one which marks the spot where Buddha gained enlightenment under the tree is the Mahabodhi Temple.  There was a big religious festival while we were there.   T told me the festival was to celebrate the solar eclipse which took place on 29th April.  I don’t remember that bit but I do remember the masses of Tibetan monks assembled at the temple, the thousands of butter lamps, the music and the chanting.  It was a spectacular and moving event, we even recorded some of it on a cassette which I’m sure we still have somewhere, but we have no way of playing it now.

Anyway I am so pleased this beautiful leaf decided to show itself again after all these years and bring back some magical memories.

I’ve been wondering what new art I could share with you now that I’ve completed the Radiant Warrior Women project.  This page is from an altered book I started back in 2012 and still haven’t finished.  The book was a children’s book called Bringing Down the Moon, but it won’t be recognisable when I’ve finished altering it.

Spread 1a with copyright

This page isn’t actually new but I haven’t shared it before.  It’s the first page in the book and it was created when I attended the Call of the Wild Soul Art Retreat run by Erin Faith Allen at a place called Croydon Hall in Somerset in September 2012.  The workshop was run by Orli Aveneri.  The page was a collaboration between myself and (I’m not sure about this but I think it was) Pat Beaumont from Liverpool we both worked on each others pages under Orli’s guidance. I really like how my page turned out.

Attending the Call of the Wild Soul Art Retreat was a huge, scary adventure for me.  As an introvert I was out of my comfort zone and incredibly nervous (actually “freaked out” would be a more apt description of my state of mind), but it was a fantastic experience.

The other workshops I attended on the retreat were run by Teesha Moore, wife of my friend Tracey Moore who I had met in 2007, and they have both had a massive and positive impact on my life and my art. I love them both.

The truly wonderful Flora Bowley also ran a workshop and she got us dancing and painting intuitively.

I met some fantastic people at Croydon Hall and many of them have remained friends. (I met up with some of them recently when I went to London to see the Basquiat exhibition at the Barbican called Boom for Real, I’ll tell you about that in another post). The whole Art Retreat event was good for my soul and my creativity.

That’s all for now.  Take good care of yourselves and I’ll see you soon.

Big love from me

AJ xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2011-2017 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.

 

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A Give-Away and an Update – the journey continues…

Live, Love, Laugh

Hello friends

The page above is the front cover of my 16-page Teesha Moore inspired journal.

An apology

First off an apology, I am sorry but I omitted something from my last post.  A little while ago I was contacted by Jenny of This Rosy Life blog asking if I’d like to participate in a blog hop.  I really was not up to it at the time so I declined the invitation, but nevertheless Jenny still mentioned me and my blog in her post  here.   Jenny is an amazing collage artist and I am really impressed because she uses lots of flower images in her work, I’ve always found flowers to be quite difficult to use in collage.  If you have a few minutes to spare why not pop over to Jenny’s blog, have a look at some cool art and say Hi to her?  This Rosy Life.

The Give Away

I promised recently that once I had finished the chemo therapy I would have a ‘Give Away’ to celebrate that milestone.  I have made up 3 packs of art supplies that I no longer want or need.  All three are similar and look something like this:

Give Away Pack

There are collage sheets, papers, some stamps, embellishments, bits of maps and printed papers in each pack.  It looks like there is money too, but the £20 and £50 notes are actually printed on serviettes and are NOT genuine currency 🙂

Each pack will also include one of the small journals I made from a pile of scrap papers:

New Journals

If you would like to win one of these packs please leave a comment below and I will pick three random winners on Sunday 22 March.  It doesn’t matter where you live as I’m prepared to post to anywhere worldwide and I’ll mark the package as a gift with low monetary value so you shouldn’t have to pay any import tax if you receive one.

Update on my health and the continuing journey

I had the last round of chemo on 24 February *Happy Dance*, I’m so glad that part is over. I’ve been feeling pretty good since then, so good in fact that I thought perhaps that was the only treatment I needed and I even began to think about returning to work next month.

I’ve been spending a lot of time still de-cluttering my room, I’ve made several trips to the local municipal tip and donated loads of stuff to a local charity shop.  Making up the scrap books from the 10 years worth of local magazines took me about 2 weeks and it was a really boring task, but I got there eventually and now I just have a neat little pile of scrap books instead of a huge plastic box full of magazines. The more I’ve got rid of stuff the easier it has become and it no longer feels quite so oppressive in my room.  I still reckon I could get rid of at least 50% of the stuff that’s left but for now I’m taking a break from de-cluttering and concentrating more on creating art.

Because I thought I’d be going back to work soon I collaged one of the small journals I made.  I needed something small to fit into my handbag and carry around with me with a few pens so I can journal whenever I get a few spare moments.  That will still come in useful but I won’t be needing it as soon as I thought I would as it doesn’t look like I’ll be going back to work any time soon.

Yesterday I had an appointment to see the oncologist at Southampton Hospital.  T and I set off at 8am and it took a couple of hours to get there.  I drove over to Cowes parked the car and took the ferry to Southampton then got a free mini bus to the hospital. It took us about half an hour to find the right department in the vast hospital and then we had a short wait before we got to meet a very lovely female doctor who asked me lots of questions about what had happened to me and seemed genuinely interested in me and my condition. She said “We recommend that you now have radiotherapy” and explained why they thought this was necessary.  Not only did she explain things, she checked that we had understood her explanation and encouraged us to ask questions.  If she was able to answer the questions she did and if she was unable to give us answers she explained why there are certain things they don’t know about my specific cancer but why they think the radiotherapy is necessary.  She explained all about what will happen next and during the treatment and what the likely side effects will be, including mouth ulcers, sore skin and the possibility that the saliva glands on that side could be damaged by the treatment and how that will be dealt with.

Next Monday I will have to go over again for another CT scan and to have the face mask made up.  The mask is necessary to ensure that they can target the area of my jaw bone while causing as little damage as possible to any other area of my face and mouth. The mask will also mean that I am unable to move my head and will hold my mouth open during treatment.  About two weeks after that the radiotherapy will commence.

I have to say it doesn’t sound like it’s going to be much fun but the treatment should be fairly quick.  I’ll have the treatment every (week) day for three weeks, the actual ‘zapping’ is only for a few minutes but the fixing of the mask and lining everything up takes a bit of time so I’m probably looking at about 20 minutes or so each day, plus what ever time I have to wait around at the hospital (for some reason there is always an element of ‘waiting around’ at hospitals) and about 4 hours travel every day.  I think I am going to be very tired at the end of this treatment, but hopefully by then I will also be in a good position to get on with my life and think about returning to work.  Most of the side effects should start to improve soon after treatment finishes.

So after this long chat with the lovely doctor we both read and then I signed the consent form and then she said, “Now I’m going to get Dr B (the boss) and he is going to come and talk to you.  During your treatment here we will both be looking after you and you will be seeing one of us at least once a week during the three weeks and we will be checking on your progress”.

Dr B must have been busy because it took a while before she came back with him.  He too was was very friendly and warm, explained things to us, checked we understood and encouraged us to ask any questions.  I told him that we were not used to being encouraged to ask questions and in fact we had both been made to feel like we were being awkward every time we asked the consultants at the local hospital any questions.  It was just so refreshing to be treated like adults for a change.  So we did ask questions and he gave us full and frank answers, then eventually I plucked up the courage to ask the one questions I really wanted the answer to, I said, “There is something else I’d like to ask you and I don’t know how you will react to this because I’ve asked two different consultants at my local hospital the same question and both times I’ve been made to feel that it is a totally unreasonable and ridiculous question to ask, but anyway here goes.  Is it possible for me to see the scans I’ve had taken and be given an explanation of what was found”?

Both doctors immediately said “Of course you can see your scans, you can see them right now, it’s not an unreasonable question, it’s something we would expect you to ask and we always show patients this information”.  Within a few minutes he called up the information on a computer screen. First of all he showed me the CT scan I had taken at the local hospital when I was first diagnosed and still had the tumour in my mouth.  The tumour was really obvious in the image.  Next he showed me the PET scan I had taken at Portsmouth hospital a few weeks later by which time the tumour had disappeared and he said “So we can see there is no tumour evident in this scan however when we get right into your jaw bone these bright areas show that there are still some cancer cells active and as you can also see here there are some large voids in the jaw bone”.  I was told that once the cancer is eliminated there is a good chance that the bone will grow back, but in all likelihood I will always have a weakness in the jaw bone and I may have dental problems in the coming years.

Dr B said “I’ll be honest with you, there is a possibility that the chemo has already dealt with the cancer, but to have this type of cancer in the location where you have it is extremely rare and it can be difficult to treat.  I want to give you the very best chance of survival that I can and that’s why we recommend this further treatment.”

I don’t know but it felt like they both really cared and although I’m not entirely happy about having the radiotherapy I also want to give myself the best chance of surviving this cancer so I’m OK about going along for the additional treatment.   And so my journey continues but I finally feel like I am being dealt with by people who care about me and are involving me in the decision making, it’s a refreshing change from how I’ve been dealt with over the past 5 months.  I hope I don’t get referred back to the local hospital when the treatment is finished because I don’t want to come under that hospital again even if it means I have to pay to travel to the mainland to be seen there.

So that’s where I am right now, probably not going back to work until the end of May, by which time I will have had more than 6 months off!  I’m fortunate that I work for a good company and they are being very understanding and caring about me too.

I hope all is good with you all, take good care of yourselves and make sure you have fun because you have no idea what could be waiting for you just around the corner.

Don’t forget to let me know if you want to be included in a chance to win one of my Give Away packs. Good Luck!

Big love from me

AJ     🙂  xxx

 

© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2011-2015 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.

 

 

 

 

See what happens

See what happens

Hello friends

I hope all is good with you.

I have been doing well since my 5th round of chemo three weeks ago, I’ve had much more energy and I haven’t been watching day-time television.  I’ve even managed to do some more of the de-clutter of my room (still lots to do though), I’ve thrown out lots of stuff and taken several boxes of more useful, but unwanted, things to a local charity shop.   At the moment I am de-cluttering a big box containing 10 years worth of local magazines.  I bought some scrap books and I am in the process of cutting out anything relevant to the town where I live and sticking them in the books.  They will become reference books for the local history group.  I reckon I will have 4 or 5 scrap books of cuttings rather than a big box of magazines at the end of it, so that will free us a bit of space for me.  It’s taken a week so far and I’m only half way through.

I’ve been doing little bits of art in the meantime, but not much.  The page above is from my latest 16-page Teesha Moore styled journal, all the collage and much of the penwork was already done but I managed to finish the page this week with the quote.

Today I have been to see the consultant at the hospital and my final round of chemo is tomorrow. It should have been today but I wanted the specialist nurse to come to the meeting with me for support and she does not work on Mondays so last week I changed to appointment to today and the chemo to tomorrow.  I phoned the nurse (she wasn’t there) and left a message on her answerphone asking her to be there today.  I needn’t have bothered because when we arrived this morning there was no sign of the nurse and we were informed that she is off sick today (just my luck)!

I really hope I don’t need any more chemo after this because it has been pretty difficult over the last few months.  I didn’t realise just how bad I had been feeling until I started to feel better.  I just hope I don’t get ‘knocked out’ by the chemo again tomorrow.

The consultant told me that I will now be referred to the oncology/radiotherapy specialist in Southampton Hospital and he will decide if I need to have radiotherapy.  I asked if I could speak to this doctor but she said in a rather cross tone “No! I will speak to him.  If he wants to see you, you will go to Southampton and you can speak to him there in his clinic”.   Well that’s really all I wanted so she didn’t have to snap at me, I am so fed up with just being the subject of the treatment, not being involved in any of the decision making, getting contradictory information and being made to feel like a nuisance every time I try to ask questions.  I just want to have a conversation and explanation from someone before I agree to any more treatment.  I have had absolutely no indication from my consultant as to whether or not the treatment is working.  Maybe she doesn’t know but I’d have thought that as the cancer is in my blood then they might be able to tell from the blood tests I am having every three weeks.  When I asked the other consultant about this she said in a rather irritated voice that that is NOT what the blood tests are for, she didn’t say what they are for though.

Fortunately I still think I am going to be OK at the end of this, but it would have been nice to have had some feedback and encouragement from the team looking after me.  If I ever have to go through this again I think I will ask to be referred direct to the specialist cancer team in Southampton as I have not been inspired the consultants or care at the local hospital.

However I have no complaints at all about the chemo suite which is at the local hospital. All the people who work there are very lovely and professional and, although all my visits have been about 7 hours long, they have been very kind and nice to me and have done their best to make sure I’m comfortable while I’m there.  There have been a couple of times when my treatment has taken longer than it should and they’ve had to stay beyond their normal finish time, but it didn’t alter the way they treated me.

So, one more visit to the chemo suite tomorrow and then … wait and see. I didn’t get a blood test form today so it looks like I don’t need any more blood tests and I’ve got no appointment to see the haematologist consultant again so I guess I just have to wait to hear from the doctor in Southampton.  She did tell me that after our discussion three weeks ago she wrote to the Maxillo Facial unit and told them that I would like to see them to discuss what needs to be done about my degrading jaw bone and the tooth that was almost pushed out by the tumour. She said they should be writing to me direct with an appointment.

Gosh, I’ll be glad when all of this is over and we can just talk about art and normal life again.

Following on from my last post here is my 2nd journal video, it’s an early journal I made in 2011 and was inspired by watching Teesha Moore’s YouTube videos on her journal process.

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

Big love

AJ xxx 🙂

© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2011-2015 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.

My Kind of People

Crazy People

Hello friends

How are you all today, I hope it’s good.

I am fine, I had my first round of chemotherapy on Thursday, it took over 7 hours because I had a slight reaction to the antibody (that’s the bit that locks onto the cancer cells and flags them up as targets for the other drugs), so it could only be dripped in very slowly. When the antibody was finally in it took just over an hour to get all the other stuff in. Because of this reaction it means all the other treatments (another 5) will also take that long.  The plus side of this is that I’ll have plenty of time for doodling and that’s never a bad thing 🙂

So far I’m feeling OK and I went in to work on Friday. I am still taking meds that I bought home with me, they finish in a few days time and I’ve been told I might feel a bit unwell for a few days after that, then I’ll start feeling better, then I see the doctor for a check up, and then on November 20th we start round 2.

I have a feeling that the problem with my ‘none’ treatment on Wednesday was due to staff shortages and overwork in the NHS so I’m not going to complain.  I think someone just overlooked my paperwork because they had too much to do.  I know it’s shocking that it could happen, and fortunately for me the consequences were only upset and inconvenience, but I don’t want anyone being ‘hung out to dry’ for that. They know it’s happened and it is being investigated but I don’t need to add anger to the equation.

I’ve had a really good day today, the weather has been warm and sunny and early this morning I received a package from my FB friend Iain ‘Oli’ Oliver containing this wonderful limited edition print by artist Jamie Reid:

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

I took the photo under artificial light so the colours are not true in the photo, but it’s bold, bright and uplifting and I LOVE it, thank you ‘Oli’ ❤ It brought me JOY 🙂

I had a slow and lazy morning pottering about – making sure I took meds at the right time, doing some washing, making a batch of smoothie, having breakfast, taking more meds and getting showered and dressed.  Then I wandered in to town and did some shopping and when I got home there was another package waiting for me.

 

This time it was a the book Dizzy Spells by the artist David Shillinglaw:

Dizzy Spells

I ordered the book about a week ago I think and I was so happy to receive it today.  I love David’s art, especially his wall murals, they are so colourful and cheerful.  There’s lots of symbolism and repetition in his art that just speaks to me at a deep level.

I had made tentative enquiries about getting him to come to Ryde, the town where I live, to paint a wall for our local arts festival next year.  We have a perfect wall that is in desperate need of a piece of wonderful artwork but I have to be honest I’m not really sure how I would get permission from the owners to have it painted (maybe just ask?) or raise the funds to pay for the project, but I’m sure it would have been worth the effort.  Then I got hit with the cancer so now everything is on hold until I recover in that regard. Never mind I can still go on enjoying his artwork even if it’s not here in my town and Dizzy Spells is a little gem of a book, full of black an white illustrations from David’s journals.  He is very clever with his use of words too, it makes me smile.  Thank you David 🙂

And that brings us neatly to my little offering of art at the top of the page, it’s a page in my journal inspired by ‘Teesha Moore’s Amazing 16 Page Journal‘ and the quote says: ‘Life is about finding the people who are your kind of crazy’.  And I reckon that Teesha Moore and her husband Tracy (both of whom I’ve met), Iain ‘Oli’ Oliver and David Shillinglaw (who I haven’t met) are definitely my kind of crazy people. 🙂

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

Big Love

AJ 🙂

 

 

 

© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2014 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.

 

 

The love you make

The Love you Make

Hello friends

I hope all is well with you.

The Arts Festival is over now for another year and it was a great success, I really enjoyed it this year.  The artwork, created by a local artist and local youth groups was outstanding and the opening concert was very moving.  All week there was stuff going on.  A really great effort by the team.

Since then I finished a journal I started over a year ago and the image above is the back cover.  It started out it’s life as a child’s board book that I picked up in a charity shop for a few pence.  I peeled off the plastic covering from all the pages, gave them a coat of gesso, then coloured them, added collage and penwork.  The book had a pocket in the back cover but I sealed it up completely and just left the flap.

I’ve covered the outside of this journal with strips of clear packing tape so, hopefully, the collage elements won’t lift.  You can see where the tape overlaps and I realise that might bother a lot of people, but it doesn’t bother me, the tape gives the cover a high gloss finish that I like.

Here is what’s under the flap.

The secret under the flap

 

And here is the finished journal.  I started this journal over a year ago in Teesha Moore and Jane Davenport’s Mermaid Circus 1 online workshop, but I only did one page and the rest of it has been completed as part of Teesha’s Artstronauts Club.  There are only 12 pages in total including the front and back covers, but I usually have a number of different projects on the go at the same time so that’s why it takes so long to complete anything.  I always get a great sense of achievement when a journal is finished.

Finsiehd journal

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

Big love

AJ 🙂

 

 

© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2014 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.

Getting Away With It

Getting Away With It

Hello friends

Thank you for your kind comments after my last post.  To be honest I am still feeling conflicted about the whole blog thing and I need to give it some thought.

In the meantime I have finished the front cover of my board book.  Just got the back cover to do now, but that could take a few weeks at current rate of progress.  I sealed the collage with clear packing tape, so it has a gloss finish.  You can see the lines where the tape overlaps, but I don’t mind that.

I hope you are keeping well and happy.  I’m really enjoying the sunshine and long hours of daylight at the moment.

See you soon

Big love

AJ 🙂

 

© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2014 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.

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

Hello friends

How are you?  I really hope all is good.

I’ve had a wonderful weekend, the weather has been very springlike and sunshine always raises my spirits.

Friday evening I attended a quiz at the local library with a bunch of friends.  We didn’t do very well at the quiz but we had loads of fun and a fish & chip supper.

On Saturday morning we had the quarterly meeting of the local history group and that was really enloyable.  I gave my Chairman’s report first and then a few other people from the group gave their reports and the meeting was concluded with an interesting talk about a hotel in Ryde that was demolished in the 1930s.  Afterwards a few of us went out for lunch.

When I got back home I decided to cut the grass in the back garden.  Unfortunately the lawn mower died just as I finished so I don’t know when it will be cut again.  I just don’t feel like paying out for a new mower just yet.

Today T has been working in the garden and I decided to start tiling the kitchen walls.  Yes the kitchen is almost finished now – there is still that one cupboard to build and hang on the wall and the tiles (which I bought last week).  The kitchen is looking good but until the tiles are put up it won’t be finished.  Unfortunately there was so much preparation to do on the walls that I haven’t managed yet to put one tile up today!  We did manage to get the splashback (which T insists on calling the ‘flashback’) up. Next weekend we have 4 days off work so the kitchen should be finished by the time we go back to work on Tuesday. (But don’t hold me to that)!

This afternoon I have been for a walk in the cemetery with a friend and visited Mum and Dad.

So all is good with me 🙂

The page above is from my Teesha Moore inspired ‘Amazing 16 page journal’.  I’m really pleased with how this one turned out. I like the colours and the quote, and I’ve always been attracted by the Wild Side 🙂

I’ve posted the image below before, but I’m reposting it again today.

When someone shows you who they are

I made this page in response to some nastiness that was going on in my life, if you are interested you can read the post here.

I am posting it again today to remind myself what a valuable lesson I learnt from a very nasty, stressful and difficult time. Something similar happened recently but this time my reaction was different. Eventually the ‘story’ being told about me got back to me, but this time I just laughed. I’ve grown, I’m happy and confident with who I am, if people want to believe lies about me, then it’s really none of my business. As Gandhi said “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet”.

Have a great week everyone

Big Love

AJ 🙂

 

© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2014 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.