A Grateful Heart

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Hi Everyone,
Earlier this year, someone in my immediate family was facing surgery with a probable cancer diagnosis… and I was shocked, devastated and terrified when I heard the news. As I tend to do in times of crisis, I work through my feelings by putting pen to paper… and tonight I’d like to share a few pages from the journal I kept that week. These are unretouched photos of the thoughts which poured from my heart… I’d recommend reading the journal pages, then going back to read the notes I wrote about them.

I instinctively place my words where I think they will most express how I feel. For example, in the piece above, I wanted to convey the impression that I was cowering in a corner…On the page below, I changed the style of lettering, and had the last word run off the edge of the page in an attempt to visually communicate being breathless.

And this page is where my soul spilled out… it expresses my total disbelief at what was going on. I used question mark symbols as dots on the ‘I’, to add a sense of surrealness. 

This next page was a fervent prayer…

While I didn’t awaken to discover that the whole thing had been a bad dream, my family was lucky enough to receive good news… and to have gotten through this particular health crisis. Unfortunately, some of my friends and family members have not been so lucky. In the past few weeks, six people that I love have lost people that they love… and my heart grieves with each of them. Several other friends are fighting valiant battles against cancer; their strength, grace and courage continually inspires me. In their honor I am dedicating tonight’s blog post to everyone who is living in the shadow of loss, facing a life-threatening illness, or supporting someone who is. 

In America, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and I created some new Zenspirations® Pink Ribbon art to help raise awareness… (while we are on the subject, please remind those you love to schedule their mammograms!). Below are three designs that you can download, print and use as a springboard to let your coloring and creative skills shine. The first is a greeting card:
Click here to download the Pink Ribbon Survivor card.

The next two are Create, Color, Pattern, Play pages:

Click Here to download the Pink Ribbon Circle design.

Click here to download the Pink Ribbon Flower design.

I’d love to see how you interpret these designs, and invite you to post your finished piece in the albums I’ve set up in the Zenspirations® Create, Color, Pattern, Play  Facebook Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1471158256528576/). I encourage you to reach out to someone you know who is dealing with cancer and send them a card and/or coloring page, along with a note letting them know you are thinking about them. It always helps to know that others care, especially when you are facing a life-threatening illness or mourning the loss of a loved one. 
And while we are on the subject of loss, many of you have written to me to ask where you can get a copy of my new book, When You Lose Someone You Love
I’m delighted to report that you can purchase it at two venues: Sam Flax, Orlando’s awesome local art supply store, and at the Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park. The Morse is one of my favorite museums; it houses an incredible collection of the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany, and is well worth a visit. And, for those of you who do not live in Central Florida, the Museum Shop is willing to ship within the continental United States. So if you have been patiently waiting for a book, please reach out to the Morse.                       
Before closing tonight I want to share one last page from the journal I kept earlier this year… written before the surgery. I did this page as a reminder to myself that looking for the blessing in every situation— especially the truly challenging ones— is the best way for me to stay grounded in gratitude, for it is when my heart is grateful that I truly feel connected to God. 
I would love your thoughts on the journal I shared tonight… do you think I should turn these journal pages into a book? If so, should I make it the same size as When You Lose Someone You Love, or should I keep it in a vertical format? I’d really appreciate your leaving me a comment with your suggestions.
Stay Zenspired,

30 thoughts on “A Grateful Heart”

  1. I love it. I think it would be a great, comforting gift to give someone who has lost a loved one. I know I would find comfort in the quiet time and the tears that it would bring!

  2. I love this!! Nov. 8, 2013 my son died suddenly. No warning, just collapsed and was gone. He was 5 days from his 30th birthday. Your journals and writings have been so inspirational. I was able to give the information for the Modern Widows club to my daughter-in-love. She was looking for something and everything she came across was for much older women who lost husband's. I can't tell you how much trying my hand at this type of art journaling has been a blessing. I still miss my son everyday and think of him several times a day but it is getting better. Thank you Joanne.

  3. Joanne,

    I love how you open your heart and these amazing things pour out. I have a friend who had breast cancer and I'm happy to say she went through it all like a trooper and is doing great today.I am happy your person received good news, too! My heart goes out to anyone who is fighting this horrible disease and I pray they win their fight. This would make a great book for anyone dealing with this life changing diagnosis and I think it would be good in the smaller, portable size.
    Thanks for all you do!


  4. This is a great way to show the care and concern for someone in crisis. Moreover, its a really good way to pen down our thoughts…I feel it relieves our tense mind. I also have this habit of writing what I feel.

  5. What a lovely idea! I think this is the start of a great journal. I would want it to be a little bigger than the When You Lose Someone You Love book so I would have room to write. Bigger is the attribute most important to me. It does not matter if it is horizontal or vertical.

  6. Absolutely beautiful and yes a little book of understanding would be a great idea i know it would help someone. Thank you so much for the pages I look forward to coloring them.

  7. I love the idea of your journal pages becoming a book. The size is not as important as the message it sends. We all have been in your shoes at one time or another…your thoughts and feelings are eloquently put and would be helpful to others. Thank you for sharing your raw feelings…it is not always easy. God has certainly blessed your family with the positive news.

  8. Thank you Joanne. I am in my office an came across your email about your blog. I just witnessed the EMT come into our facility to help someone and a million feelings rush across your mind reliving my loss. I came back to my office with a hot cup of coffee and had a moment to read your entry. Thank you for your inspiration and sharing such a delicate emotion. You give strength when we least expect it. Hope all is well and I look forward to seeing you soon. J.K.

  9. I definitely think you should turn these journal pages into a book; the size doesn't matter. For those of us who are unable to express ourselves as wonderfully as you can, it would be a very meaningful gift for someone going through crisis.

  10. I can see your journal words being completed into a book as a great help to those going through a crisis. A little book the same size as When You Lose Someone You Love would be nice but using the vertical format for this one. It seems to me that something about feeling so small in such a big overwhelming situation might get a touch lost in a horizontal format. But I would like to reserve the right to be able to change my mind about size and format… 🙂 A book is a forgone conclusion in my humble opinion… Blessing to you, Joanne.

  11. Joanne, Thanks for sharing your journal with us and for the pink ribbon sheets. It is a very special subject to me as I have several friends that are survivors and three friends that lost the battle. I have started doing a journal made up of coloring pages as well.

  12. Dearest Joanne,
    I am so sorry you had this kind of scare, it is emotionally difficult. I appreciate how you deal with these stresses. I appreciate because it benifits me as well. You share so much. I do appreciate you for it.
    This past march, I too had this kind of scare.. I did not wake from its dream – not with out Chemo and radiation. Then surgery and a colostmy, and now 6 more months of chemo. I am doing really rather well.. GOD is with me, and all is well.
    I appreciate you having the giving spirit you have in this. Thank you for sharing. I appreciate you so very much. I would love a book along these tlines. I am making some sort of thing calling it my summer of cancer. I feel I have lost this year.. I don't remember what I did or have done prior to cancer. But come Febuary 2016. I should be done, and right as they come. GOD is willing. I am too. Again Thank you for your givingness. You are a treasure to me. love and prayers Cyn

  13. The journal pages are very moving. Years ago I got very interested in what I called "the architecture of the page". Your use of that concept works very well; i suggest you keep the vertical format. The horizontal format of "If You Lose Someone…" is so appropriate for that subject, but your use of vertical space works for the new / different subject matter. The design, placement of text, and various printing/handwriting styles speak volumes about what is in your heart.
    Be well..

  14. Joanne – You inspire when nothing is left to inspire for…. You give hope through crisis…. You help to show that challenges are worth facing – as one grows from each and every one – you help others to see that no matter how hard things are – ti s always better to reach a lending hand to those in need of help… and last but most importantly – you remind us to give thanks for what we have…… Thank you…

  15. My husband is going to be undergoing surgery in a few weeks and it terrifies me as I just recently lost a very dear loved one from complications from a surgery and I try not to think about it or let it consume me but that What If always tugs at my heart saying What if my husband were to pass from complications ? Even though it's a small surgery to remove a mass behind his ear I still no anywhere near the neck is a very sensitive area with lots of important nerves, arteries, and one oops can be major. I just pray and leave it in the hands of God that my husband will make it through the surgery fine and trusting in the doctors to do their best.

  16. I just want to add…when my niece lost the love of her life in a motorcycle accident, I wanted so much to help her through the pain. Living so far away from her made it even harder. But I found one little thing I could do, and that's when I bought your book for her — "When You Lose Someone You Love". Because her life was in such chaos, the book was lost for a while. She didn't know I had sent it. We did find the book, and it meant a lot to her that I cared enough to get it for her. So thank you, for helping me help her, in a way that I could.

  17. Joanne, oh yes, I think you should publish this nearly as-is. Especially love the vertical aspect as this may encourage the recipient to add more words of their own – just listing them or scattering randomly around the page might be freeing. Seems so many are now facing terrifying surgeries or long long illnesses. A book like this might help many in the family express their concerns and prayers. I love that you invite everyone to share your creation making it one of their own also. What a kind and generous gift to the world. You are blessed with this additional gift, the talent to create for others' sake.

  18. Sadly breast cancer will affect nearly 1 in 3 of us Joanne…such a shocking statistic. Your feelings and words would give hope to women (and men) going through such a crisis. I think a book is a wonderful idea. Sometimes it is so hard to express how you feel when someone you care for faces this terrible ordeal and your words are so open. What lovely printables you have also created too..they will give light and hope to people in such a dark tunnel. Hugs xx

  19. Having this would be so very meaningful to me and I know many others as we face various crisis in our lives. I would love to have a copy that is large enough to color if I wish but not as large as your regular Zenspirations books. I have When you Lose Someone You Love on my Chanukah wish list complete with where to order it. Don't want any mix ups! Thank you for continuing to give your gift to all of us.

  20. Joanne, having gone through this with my husband's sister and then his mother a journal like this would have been lovely to have to help keep my thoughts sane and focused on the One who created us. It was so hard to watch these brave ladies fight this horrible cancer. His sister begged me to ask G~d to spare her life. I talked with her many times about how G~d loved her and how He could spare her soul… She couldn't understand how He could spare her soul and not her life. I couldn't reach her…. She passed on and I can only hope and pray she found Him in the end.

    I would love to see a book like this published! I would buy several copies and put some of them in the offices of Oncology.
    Thank you Joanne for sharing your precious gift with us!

  21. Hi Joanne … I pre purchased yourbook (When you lose someone you love) several months ago and still have not received it. How would I go about finding out the status of my order.

  22. This would be great to give to my daughter who's dad (my ex)died in a car accident back in June. We're all going through the grieving process.

  23. Hi Joanne, I came across your site this evening while looking for a design hand out as a card or preferred post card idea at Pinkalicious breast cancer awareness dinner and auction. The monies from this event stay within our small rural community to help person with travel expenses for medical appointments and treatments. Our theme this year is Spread Hope and Kindness. I wonder if you have a design or two that can be placed on a post card with hopes to have the ladies color the image and either mail to someone who could use a little love boost or collect to s3nd to the cancer centre

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