Determination: firmness of purpose sunset portland oregon summer

Since I last posted, I have been to the depths of despair and back again. This fifth journey through lymphoma was painful, literally and figuratively. I have never seen cancer the way I did this time. I was stuck in bed, watching it grow. My husband, family and friends got me through each difficult day. We tried so many things to heal me. We finally found a treatment that was stronger than the lymphoma. It was hard to tolerate, but worth it. Since finishing treatment, I have been embracing life! Walking, swimming in lakes and rivers, painting, etc. I have been eating whatever I want too! I am rebounding. It's been two months since treatment ended. I'm still finding my way, figuring things out, unsure of my future, grateful for every minute I can bend at will, jump, walk -- everything I could not do for months.

As for my work? Who knows. I am my work and my work is me. HOW I share it and live from it is another story to be written. I wanted to capture some of my thoughts here, tonight. I cannot compare myself to anyone else, any more. It serves zero purpose, even though I do try sometimes. I am determined to live fully, with love and in color. That's all I know for sure.

An Untold Story of My Life

When I found out about my relapse, after I moved through the grief and shock, I wondered on an energetic level why cancer would return to my life after such a long remission. I asked a trusted friend for guidance and she asked me what untold stories I had inside. I knew right away that the biggest untold story in my life is about my relationship with my mom, who has been absent from my life since I was very young. It is time to share the story. After my friend asked me that question, I decided with utter confidence to contact my mom at the last known email address that I had for her to find out once and for all the real story of how and why she left me. I told her there was nothing she could say that would scare me. My mom's husband replied quickly to my email and said my questions were a shock but that a letter would arrive soon. I was deeply happy to know the email address was valid and the communication process had begun. I felt like a little girl as I checked my mailbox every day. The letter arrived and my mom explained everything to me with sincere and plain honesty. It was a very sad story and I finally learned that she always did love me and that not raising me and being estranged from me broke her spirit in terrible ways for most of her life. At the end of her letter, she asked if I thought I would ever come to a place of forgiveness. Instantly, I emailed to tell her that I completely forgave her. It was the lightest, easiest and most free decision for me to make. It was an utter relief to know the truth finally and I knew it was time for both of us to heal.

nissa morning

Shortly afterwards, on November 6th (a full moon), I met with a shaman for energy healing work to restore the buried and hurt parts of me from losing my mom as a young girl. When I was originally diagnosed with lymphoma, my intuition at that time that told me there was a connection between that parent/child relationship and my health. I worked with a hypnotherapist and healed my relationship with my father, from whom I had been estranged for a year before he died. I trusted myself this time too (see step 6 here) and I knew it was time to heal my other parent/child relationship in order to release all this deep, emotional pain that had been stored in my body for my entire life.

My work with the shaman actually ended up centering largely on how my mind works tirelessly to keep my heart safe from pain and this has actually enabled me to survive many things. However, my brain needs to work with my heart and soul now. We came up with a plan for me to claim space for my heart and my emotions so they don't get brushed aside where they can do me harm. My biggest fear going in to the meeting was that I would cry in front of her. I can cry fairly easily when frustrated but it's very difficult for me to release tears of deep sadness. Guess what? I started weeping at the door while she was smudging me. It was the start to a vulnerable, powerful and very emotional journey.

dear brain

After I left Nissa's house, the beautiful shaman,  I took a lot of time to get home. I stopped in the St. Johns neighborhood, a place I've driven by and through many times but never stopped. I followed my heart to a boutique, a vintage shop and an awesome camera shop. When I got home, there was an email from my mom with this photo that she had kept all this time. I had never seen it before. It is the sweetest gift.

mom and me

I never expected to find myself in this place where I am now. It's a peaceful place of curiosity. My mom and I are continuing to exchange letters and emails. All the anger of my childhood and indifference in my adulthood towards my mom has evaporated. I'm getting to know her now, at the age of 44. It's remarkable.

It has taken me 40 years to find the courage to ask my mom how she could leave me and a month to find the courage to share our story. Vulnerability is hard work but I'm learning time and time again that it's worth it. My name is Jess and I'm not a motherless daughter anymore.

Love Makes the World Go Around

I believe love (and art and flowers) makes the world go around. red rose photograph text graphic

Valentine's Day is a natural time to introduce you to one of my favorite companies online right now, So Worth Loving. I discovered them on Instagram last fall and I received their yummy hoodie as a Christmas gift from my husband.

So Worth Loving company, Free to Be poster

Every day on the SWL Instagram feed, I am treated to wonderful reminders about the importance of living with love for yourself, daily lessons in being kind and gentle and forgiving. Please gift yourself the time to click on the SWL about page and watch the adorable Eryn Eddy explain her company and what it's all about.

Textual excerpt:

It's not about your relationship status.

You're worth so much more.

So how do you define yourself?


More Love

I guess I am full of hearts and love this week. I was at a beautiful baby shower on Saturday and my niece asked me to take a little walk outside with her. I was tickled and on our way back in, I made this heart out of the leaves by the walkway to the front door.

I mused on Twitter last week that I hear the phrase holiday madness everywhere and I want to invite the holiday happiness into my life this season instead. Why are we bustling and hustling anyway? It's because we have so much love to share and show to our friends and family. Right? Finding balance is always important in my opinion, but especially during the holidays. What's the point of stressing ourselves out to give our loved ones a perfect representation of our feelings for them if all month long we are grouchy and cranky? I admit that I can be very guilty of that! 

Guest Post: Jamie Watson

Good day, friends of Sweet Eventide! My name is Jamie Watson and I have a blog called PineappleLuv. When Jess asked me to be a guest here, I was honored and a little nervous. But I truly only had this one idea for it. Something so special it brings tears to my eyes.

You see, Jess is one of my best friends. When I met her in late 2001, it was friendship at first sight. She had just fallen in love with Jeff (now her husband). Anyone around them could feel the giddyness of their love and they were constantly smiling. Well, fast forward a few months in early 2002 when I met Jay (now my husband). Something hit me like a ton of bricks but I was so nervous about it all! I started relying on the expert, Jess, for my personal love advice.

About 7 months into my relationship, Jess shared with me love advice so wise and profound, it stands the test of time. Anyone around the world could read these words on lasting love and gather comfort. This is what I would like to share with you all. Please enjoy in Jess's own words, her (edited) loving email to me in early 2003.

Polaroid of Jess and I in Venice, California, 2002

Subject: more on butterflies

I just thought of something else. The constant butterfly feeling from the beginning has been replaced not by "plain" feelings but a feeling even better than butterflies. I don't know how to explain it. Maybe it's like cement. Not very romantic sounding. When Jeff and I first fell in love, I felt electric when I touched him or thought about him. He would touch my hand with his and I literally would feel a shock. It was amazing. It's a high.

Now when he touches my hand with his, I don't feel that. But it feels even better. I feel solid with his hand on mine, I am not in shock from the electricity, so I can see how strong his hands are and yet how soft and tender. When Jeff is away and I think of him, my belly doesn't do flip-flops all the time, but it feels settled. I feel cemented to the earth knowing he is out there in the world coming home to me. I guess you can call it plain, but it doesn't feel plain. It's like vanilla, some say it's the most boring flavor out there. But if you have real vanilla, it has amazing layers of deep flavor.

The best thing about moving past the all-the-time butterflies is you get this stronger feeling of security and when they come back to visit (as they do!), you have a doubly good feeling in your heart. You get to feel totally secure and safe while going on a mini-rollercoaster. I think that is what keeps a good relationship going for years and years and years. Butterflies are not very strong creatures, they are not cement.

Polaroid of Jeff and Jess at their old home in Venice, California, 2002


Thank you Jess, I will always treasure these words that truly helped me. I imagine us as old ladies baking pies together, talking about our families and our loves.

Mother's Day

It occurred to me it might be nice to post something happy after reading about my dad's depressed state of mind. So here you go, see how my sweet boys made me smile upon waking with a beautiful hand-picked, and totally surprising, bouquet of flowers.

Once the camera was in action, Jaden wanted to assume his position behind the lens and snapped up this little gem:

I wonder what it's like to grow up with happy parents who love each other so much?