Wednesday, November 9, 2011


I wrote this post originally for my CaringBridge website, but I got several requests to share it more widely, and this blog is a good forum to do so. Please take a minute to click through to the links, this is very important.

​You would think that this past month of Breast Cancer Awareness, where everywhere you look are pink ribbons, would have been a happy month for me. It's my month, right? When everyone is focused on the disease that radically changed my life almost a year ago. Well, the truth is that, no, I didn't feel happy about all the pink this past month. It actually got me down, and it turns out I'm not alone. There is an undercurrent in the breast cancer community that wants to raise awareness, not about breast cancer itself (is there really anyone who isn't aware of breast cancer?), but about where all the money raised during "Pinktober" is going. And about the realities of breast cancer, especially metastatic breast cancers, which is what I was diagnosed with last December. The reality is that no one dies of breast cancer that stays confined to the breast. A few women (& men) die of the treatment used for a cancer that stayed in their breast, but otherwise anyone who dies of breast cancer dies after the disease has spread (or metastasized) outside the breast, often to the liver, lungs, bones, or brain. My cancer had already spread to the liver, lungs, and bones when it was diagnosed. I've been reading a lot of blog posts and articles about these issues this month, and I'd like to share some of these with you that I found most poignant and informative. There's really two issues that have been on my mind lately regarding breast cancer: the truth behind all that pink advertising, and the truth about metastatic breast cancer. 

​First the truth behind all that pink. I think we've all heard that we should check into the charities that we choose to give our money to. But somehow that seems to go out the window when faced with all the cute pink products that are out there, or even the "normal" products that are pinkified every October. Where is the money for these products really going? And even if it's a reputable charity, what are they using the money for? Turns out that very little of the money that we think we're giving "for a cure" is going to towards research, which is really the only way we'll find a cure. I have no problem with charities that are primarily raising money for patient support or advocacy, but we should know where our money is going. And also think about the motives behind the pink item we have in our shopping cart. Did the company slap a pink ribbon on their product (which may not be all that good for you, like the pink Kentucky Fried Chicken buckets) just to try to get you to buy it? I personally would rather give my money directly to the charity (or charities) that are using that money to fund the causes that I really believe in and that are reputable, using the majority of the money for the cause, as opposed to overhead or advertising. Here are a couple links that give more details and explain this issue better than I can:

​This pink issue has been on my mind this month because of the onslaught of pink products everywhere you look. I never even noticed this before, and probably bought some of those pink products, thinking I was doing a good thing. And I'm not saying its not a good thing, I'm just wishing consumers were mindful of where their money is going instead of succumbing to the "tyranny of passive consumerism," as mentioned in the Ottowa citizen article linked above. 

​Second, the truth about metastatic breast cancer. This one is on my mind year-round, because this is the disease I am fighting. It's the disease that kills almost everyone who dies of breast cancer, and yet it only gets 3% of the funds directed towards breast cancer research! The statistics for the number of people who die of metastatic breast cancer hasn't changed significantly over the last 20 years, despite all the awareness raised with all the pink advertising every October. This article gives you the facts about the disease I'm facing. It's incurable. Unless you happen to die of a car accident or something like that, this will be the cause of death of everyone who gets it. But I like to focus on #11 on that list, "Metastatic breast cancer isn’t an automatic death sentence. Although most people will ultimately die of their disease, some can live long and productive lives." Although I am in the rare 6-10% of people who are Stage IV from the initial diagnosis, I also hope I am among the "some" who live long and productive lives. But having this disease, and being Stage IV from the beginning, I feel like I don't fit in with the pink, hopeful stories that dominante this month. I'm the ugly step-sister that other cancer survivors don't want to hear about, because I represent their worst fears. Everyone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer fears that their cancer will spread, that it will come back. I never had to live with that fear because mine spread before I ever knew about it. Here are some more articles focusing on metastatic breast cancer: 

​I have recently discovered the organization METAvivor, which was started by a woman living with metastatic breast cancer. Their newest initiative, launched this month, is called 30% for 30%. As stated on their site, "Since thirty percent of all breast cancer patients develop MBC [Metastatic Breast Cancer]-- a fatal condition, then 30% of breast cancer research funds and 30% of breast cancer support activities should be dedicated to MBC." At this time, doctors have little knowledge about why a cancer will spread or how to prevent it from doing so. It seems that the seeds for metastasis are sown before the primary tumor is even big enough to be detected. About 30% of people with breast cancer have or will develop metastases, and this number hasn't changed significantly over the last 20 years. As the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network said, "Early detection is not a cure. Metastatic breast cancer can occur ANY time after a person’s original diagnosis, EVEN if the patient was initially Stage 0, I, II or III and DESPITE getting annual checkups and annual mammograms." So all the awareness to get people to have mamograms & do self-exams has NOT changed the number of people whose cancers spread or the number of people who die of metastatic breast cancer. Imagine the knowledge we could gain and the lives that could eventually be saved if more money went towards researching why cancer spreads or how to keep it from doing so instead of more awareness.

​I hope this post doesn't bring anyone down. I've had these issues on my mind all month, and I want to do my part to raise awareness of both the issues behind "passive consumerism" and the truth of the disease I'm living with every day. I hope you spend a bit of time clicking through to some of the links above and learning a bit about these issues, so that you can be a more informed consumer and just generally be more informed about metastatic breast cancer.


Monday, September 19, 2011

A Challenge and a Tutorial

I've been scrapping lately, and I'll share some of my recent layouts hopefully soon, but I wanted to share this one and I had a request from an online friend to show how I did it. It all started with a challenge from The Daily Digi. There was a great post over there about combining two templates into one layout. What a great idea! I'd never thought to do that. They issued a challenge to complete a page with this technique and I just had to try it.

Here's the template I started with, it was a freebie by Katie Pertiet at Designer Digitals called EmailInspiration22711.

I wanted to add something to that space in the upper right and I just bought a bunch of really fun, clustery templates by Little Green Frog Designs (with a coupon from The Daily Digi, here). I chose this template and wanted to use that cluster in the upper left. 
So I selected all the layers in that cluster and dragged them onto the Katie Pertiet template, holding down the shift key to make sure they landed in the same spot on that template as they were on the original. I couldn't select all the layers at once, as they were interspersed with layers in the bottom right cluster, so the shift key was very important to make sure they all were aligned correctly. It looked like this after that process.

Of course I didn't want the parts of the second template to be in that position, so I selected all of them, shrunk them down a bit, and moved them into position. This is what it looked like after that.
When I'm working with a template, I usually drop the pictures in first before I start adding papers and embellishments. Here's what my layout looked like after adding the photos.
I thought the colors and the fun nature of the photos would work well with a new kit that Cilenia Curtis has coming out this week, called Beautiful Mess 6. The photos have mostly pink and orange in them, but there are a couple pops of turquoise, so I wanted the background to be mostly blue. There is a really cool piece of blue artsy paper in this kit. Here's what it looks like.
And here's what it looked like behind the photos. I also added an orange paper to the block behind the photos.
I thought it was a bit dark, so I added a neutral version of the same paper on top of it, and set it to soft light blending mode to tone down the blue a bit. Here's what it looked like after that.
The blue matched the photos so much better with that slight change. Once I get my basic papers decided, I usually add my elements. I went back and forth on a lot of these and putzed around with it a lot, but here's what I eventually came up with (the elements are from Beautiful Mess 1 and Beautiful Mess 6).
I also changed the color of the title and added the journaling. It's actually white and I think it'll be OK to read when it's printed, but it is a bit tough to see on the web-sized version. The final thing that was bothering me was the purple. I wanted to keep the color palette to mostly pink, orange, and turquoise, so I went back to the kit and added some of the transfers that were included. These were multi-colored png files, so they would basically be like rub-ons in paper scrapbooking. I used those and one of the brushes in the kit to cover up most of the purple on the background paper. And here's the finished product!

Emma summer 2010_KPertiet_EmailInspirationTemplate22711_LGFD_Fairyland_template 4

I love how these bright papers really highlight how fun Emma is and the fun we had doing this photo shoot with her new clothes. I loved combining two different templates, and I hope to do it again sometime.

Have you ever combined templates or do you like to find one that will work as it is?

P.S. I won the drawing for the challenge at The Daily Digi! I won $10 to Micheline Martin's store!


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Art Journaling on the road

A couple weeks ago, we took a family trip. Because art journaling was so new for me, I wanted to continue it on our trip, as much as I could. I brought just a few supplies with me. Because we were travelling by car, I didn't have to worry too much about the size or weight of the items I brought. I packed my journal, my basic scrapbooking tool kit (includes scissors, corner rounders, a tape runner, a glue stick, a hole puncher, etc.), watercolor pencils, gelatos, some Tim Holtz tissue tape, some old magazines, a couple paint brushes, and my Sakura pens. I thought I would work on my journal each evening after the kids were in bed, but I didn't have the energy for it every night. We were away for four nights and I think I worked on it on three of them. One evening I just added journaling and some tissue tape to a background I'd already done previously. Remember this one?
When I finished it, it looked like this:

Because this was our summer vacation, I had summer on the brain and I wanted to work with the magazines I'd brought. I created this background:
I cut out all the words that meant "summer" to me from the magazines (I tried to stick with those that would be big enough to stand out on my page) and stuck them around the edge of the page with a glue stick. I doodled in some of the letters. I colored the "scene" with my watercolor pencils and got it wet to "activate" the water colors. I doodled on the sun and added the doodly flowers. This was done over more than one session. I will add more to this page before it's completed. 

So that's one completed page on a background that was already done and one completed background on a five-day vacation. I think that's pretty good! For more ideas on travelling with your art journal, check out Julie's post here

Have you ever taken your art journal on vacation? Did you get as much done in it as you'd hoped?


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Some completed pages

In my last post, I showed some examples of unfinished backgrounds. Today I’d like to share a couple of my finished pages. The first one is the one page I’ve sat down and made start to finish. 
I just wanted to play around and make a whole page (I think this is the first one to which I added journaling, also). I like pink (but maybe not this much pink!), so I painted the background pink. Then I stenciled with an alphabet stencil and a different shade of pink. I added some stamps with white ink and started thinking about what to write. I had an idea of how to lay out the page and I was planning to put the title in the upper left and journaling down the right side. I stamped a pen in the middle and thought I’d put my journaling starting at the tip of the pen. But then I stamped my title with some really big foam stamps and ended up covering up the pen (you can see it behind the ‘ha’ in What, going towards the ‘y’ in my). I’m working really hard on letting go of perfectionism, so I just left it (although I have to admit that it still bugs me a little). On a scrapbook page, I almost certainly would’ve fixed it somehow (or planned ahead better), but an art journal page strikes me as much less permanent, so it doesn’t bother me as much. The journaling is just a stream of consciousness of what was on my mind that day (I blurred it a bit, as I don’t really want to post my blathering for the world to see). I would like to use this journal as a way to work through some of the thoughts and feelings I have floating around in my head, so I may not post many completed pages. I want to feel completely free to express myself without the pressure to share.

The next one started out as an experiment with watercolor pencils. I remembered drawing a random pattern and filling it in with crayons as a child, so I did something similar with watercolor pencils. I didn’t really love it, so I covered it with some tissue paper I had from an American Girl doll outfit my daughter bought with her birthday money. 
Then I “stamped” the circles with paint and a metal cookie cutter (an idea I got from May Flaum). I still wasn’t sure what I was doing at this point, but I had the packaging from the doll outfit which had several words on it that made me think of the first week of the She Had Three Hearts workshop by Christy Tomlinson. The class is based on a Chinese proverb that a woman has three hearts: one that she shares with the world, one that she shares with her family and close friends, and one that she shares only with herself. I thought about cutting out the words from the packaging and writing my thoughts on how each relates to my heart that I share with the world. So I just adhered the cut-up packaging and wrote around the circles.

I’m not completely in love with either of these pages, but they are my first efforts and I hope that with time and practice, I will find my style. For now I’m enjoying the process and just playing around with my supplies. 


Thursday, August 11, 2011

What is art journaling?

So what is art journaling and why did I get into it? Art journalers will tell you that it can be anything, but I know that’s not a very helpful definition. I use my art journal for a couple purposes. The first page is filled with doodles, mostly from an e-book I purchased at called Oodles of Doodles
The book covers doodling as an embellishment on scrapbook pages mainly, but I was intrigued by the repeating patterns. I sought out more ideas online and found Zentangle, which is an art form all to itself. Now that I’ve started using my notebook for art journaling, I’d like to get a different notebook for doodling. I usually doodle when I’m out and about, waiting for something, and I’d rather not carry around my private art journal. Not to mention that my journal is often sitting on my table drying and I can’t just pick it up and go. 

What do I mean by art journaling? I am honestly so new to it that I’m still working out what it will mean to me and my creative process. I’m allowing myself to just play and become familiar with my supplies and, hopefully, find my voice in this medium. So far I’ve only completed three pages. I generally start by just making a background, having no idea where the page is going or what the theme will be even. For example, I had some turquoise paint left over from something else and I didn’t want to waste it, so I just brushed it onto this page. 
It’s still just sitting in my book waiting for more layers. I bought watercolors in tubes to play with and I’d never used that type of watercolors before, so I just squeezed some out and painted them onto a page in stripes. I picked it up to show my husband, and it started to drip because it was still wet. I liked it, so I sprayed it with more water and dripped it more. 
This one is also just waiting for more layers. I’ve been searching for a spray that will stay put once it’s down, and I tried making Rit dye into a spray. I’d heard this wouldn’t run if it got wet, so I was just experimenting with it. I liked the spray OK, although some of my spray bottles didn’t work that well. But when I went over it with a wet paintbrush (after it had dried), it smeared all over. Well, now I know. I started turning my experiment into a page by doodling on top of it (I was also playing with some new pens I’d bought, to try out all the different tips). You can see in the upper right corner that this is the back of my doodling page. I was using a Sharpie for most of that page and it bled through the paper.
As you can see, I’m just playing with this stuff. I’m not trying to make masterpieces. I’m just figuring out what happens if you get the different mediums wet and discovering how saturated the colors are on a page. But I have been working on it every day, sometimes just a tiny bit, and sometimes making an entire page start to finish (OK, I only did that once!). I hope this gives you an idea of how to start, it can be as simple as painting the page a color. And from there, it really can be anything, just like the art journalers say...


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A New Direction

Hello, friends. So it turns out that I was over-enthusiastic about my plans for this year. I thought that if it seemed feasible when I was at my lowest energy in December, that it would only get better. It turns out that months upon months of chemo take their toll and I wasn't really at my lowest point in December. Around May of this year, I basically stopped scrapbooking. I just didn't feel like it. The only layouts I'd been doing were the ones for the Log Your Memory challenges, and while I loved the layouts, I wanted to be able to scrap whatever I wanted with my limited time and energy. So I allowed myself to change my mind about doing all the challenges. Really I let myself off the hook and I don't feel guilty about not completing my goal. With all that I've been through, I can't hold on to guilt about scrapbooking, right?

I've been scrapping more lately, and getting more organized with my photos and layouts with the help of Stacy Julian's Finding Photo Freedom class at Big Picture Classes. I would like to share some of those layouts and tips here, but what I want to talk about today is a new creative direction I've taken this year.

A friend of mine referred me to the SheArt class run by Christy Tomlinson. She thought it would be fun for me to create a canvas of a girl for each of my daughters. I'd never done anything like this, but for some reason this particular class really appealed to me. I signed up and started slowly working through the material. Here's the first canvas that I created:
She Art 
She Art detail

Here's the second one, which I've since given to a friend:

And, finally, the third one. This was my least favorite, but that's what happens with stuff like this, right? These were all from the first week of class material!

So starting with making canvases, it was an easy leap to art journaling. If you don't know what art journaling is, I will be sharing a lot more this month, but here's a great resource to learn the basics. I'm going to join in Julie Fei-Fan Balzer's Art Journal Every Day for August and I'll be sharing something about my art journaling every week. I don't think I'll share all my pages, because the whole intention for me is to have the actual journaling be private and just for me. If I have the pressure to share the finished product, I won't be as honest as I'd like to be. Please come visit me throughout August to learn more about art journaling and maybe see some new layouts, too.

Have you ever kept an art journal?


Monday, April 11, 2011

Log Your Memory Week 14

Log Your Memory: Week 14

This week's challenge was to document the changes in one aspect of your life over time. This was one of the weeks where my layout was used as the example for the challenge. For my original layout, I documented my life as a new mom vs. my life as  mother of three. Here's that layout:
Lisa New Mom
Template, papers, and concept from Type+Writer 1 at

For my new layout, I knew I wanted to use some journaling I'd written for my CaringBridge site back in January. I was laying awake one night unable to sleep thinking about all the changes in my life since my diagnosis. I eventually did fall asleep, but the next day at treatment I started writing this list. I knew it would eventually make it to a scrapbook page, but I waited until the opportunity presented itself. When I saw the challenge for this week, I knew it was perfect! Here's what I came up with:
Storyteller Collection No. 2 by Tiffany Tillman at Design House Digital
Treasure the Memory by Sugarplum Paperie at The Digichick
Fonts are Caslon and CK Vogue
Here's the journaling:
Two months ago I was tired all the time. Now I have energy most days.
Two months ago I didn't know what was going on with my body. Now I have a diagnosis and a plan.
Two months ago I could work to help support my family. Now I don't work, but I still help to support my family through the generosity of others giving me their vacation days.
Two months ago I could lift Sarah to put her in her crib, or her high chair, or change her diaper, but it was excruciating every time. Now I can't lift her, and I need help to take care of her on a day to day basis.
Two months ago I often felt sad. Now I feel hopeful.
Two months ago I was in pain almost all the time. Now I am mostly pain-free.
Two months ago I couldn't exercise at all. Now I can "jog" for 10 minutes on an elliptical machine.
Two months ago I thought I didn't have very many friends. Now I am overwhelmed on a daily basis by how many friends I have and by their generosity.
Two months ago I had plans for the future. Now I live day by day.
Two months ago I worried about what people thought about me. Now I realize that's not very important.
Two months ago I had hair. Now I am bald.
Two months ago I was on a diet to lose weight and I often felt deprived. Now I am on a diet for my health and I sometimes still feel deprived, but I'm working on it.
Two months ago I spent my days taking care of my kids and my house. Now I need help to do both those things and I spend my days focusing on my recovery.
Two months ago I was a mom, a wife, a sonographer, a scrapbooker. Now I am a cancer patient.
Cancer changed everything about my life. But who is to say whether it was for the worse?

I could almost write a whole new list now because things have already changed so much again since January. 

Can you think of a time in your life when everything changed? Have you ever documented those changes? 
Designs by Dana
© 2011 Designs by Dana
© Kit by Karla Dudley