Well who would have thought - the past 18 months or so have been rather challenging in our household but life is getting back to normal- looking back it all seems rather blurred now - the tests, radiation therapy, oral chemo and all the associated doctors visits etc -and that was just for hubby - then for me two hip replacements and an abductor muscle repair - which ironically was supposed to have me up and running (so to speak) so I was not crippled with pain and immobile! Well that certainly didn't happen but all is going well now and we are finally getting into a more normal routine!!

One thing that didn't change was my passion to paint and paint I did - what a life raft - to have in your life something that can take you away from the worrying times and actually make life seem on a level plane - in fact I actually produced enough paintings to have an solo exhibition this month!!

Thinking back over the worrying times I came to realise that we can take strength from anything - if looked at from a different perspective - we could have quite easily fallen in a heap especially with a cancer diagnosis for hubby but early on we decided that we could only take one day at a time and go with whatever was thrown at us - I would like to point out that we are not brave or have some inner strength that nobody else has or any of the cliche' that can be offered to sound good but we do have a faith in God who is in charge of our lives and a sense of humour - laughter is such a healing thing, I know it isn't politically correct to laugh at cancer but there have been some genuinely funny moments amongst all the other stuff - we have been fortunate to be under the care of our marvellous oncologist (who has the most amazing dry sense of humour), haematologist and surgeon who's care and compassion through difficult moments has been part of us keeping a smile on our faces- one of the funniest moments to us is whenever hubby has to have CT scan locally, once he is put into the machine suddenly heaps of people would be rushing around getting opinions - even though Trev would say - oh I have a huge hole in the bone there don't panic!! - for some reason I guess they don't read the paperwork closely and are suddenly faced with a patient who only has a fringe of bone!!

Which brings me back to the inspiration thing here are a few things I have learned which applies to my life now:

The really tough bits make us stronger - things around us take on a significantly deeper meaning if we don't just gloss over them - I now look a lot more closely at conversations with friends, try and help practically if needed and find that times like these round us out as people more than the "good times" ever could. - I still need to work on my listening skills but being a woman I can still hold a conversation with three other women and keep on track lol.

The really tough bits also make us weaker!! - I am not ashamed of feeling weak any more, for tears shed and living with a little lump in my chest (I call that lump "the future") for none of us know what it holds so that little reminder is always there but I won't let it be what weakens me further - I just acknowledge that it is there!! and for some odd reason I find inspiration in that thought.

Your friends are there in difficult times - they keep in contact regularly, drop by unexpectedly, (one dear friend made fruit cakes so we had something to share if people visited- mind you said hubby who loves fruit cake did try and hide more than one away) and often supplied meals etc which were so welcome when we were both hobbling around, even the cleaning lady has now become a treasured part of our lives - she is wonderful, has a brilliant sense of humour and drops by for a coffee and chat!! - these wonderful people who made and make the process a bit easier and brightened our lives so much.

Don't stay away - even if you don't know what to say it really doesn't matter - words are just words - its the action of doing something that helps so call by for a coffee etc - of course everyone is different and copes in a different way but .... you can always ask what they need !! We don't know what the future holds but we only have to worry about today as tomorrow can take care of itself.

So what has this all to do with painting - for me I have become more relaxed about the process -if I make a mistake its ok, I now reduce my compositions down to what is important and don't put off doing a painting if I want to, I have learned to leave out what isn't necessary - we don't need the "fluffy stuff" which can mess up the whole big picture and lastly the beautiful bits are often the simplest things - gosh it sounds just like life!! And finally I now feel like teaching again - I have a two day workshop coming up and that will test how I go but I am looking forward to starting again!!