The concept of starting a creativity movement that fosters greater global awareness for the cause of love really began after my mother died.
The idea blossomed gently out of a conceptual art project that I created for myself. It was something I needed to do instinctively to help with my grieving. I purchased a set of letters to spell the word love. I definitely experienced a kind of magnetic attraction to these letters. This sparked a feeling of curiosity and playfulness in me that I knew I wanted to explore further. I wasn’t at all certain what I actually wanted do with the letters initially. The whole concept of using the word love as image came a little by chance and mostly from a very intuitive place. I knew with certainty that I must create something with text and the word love. It was calling me.
Creativity helped me define, understand and transcend my experience of loss.
After mom’s funeral, I felt like there was something else that I needed to do. I was desperately searching for meaning. Losing a parent and especially a mother is a life experience that impacts us all. We are so profoundly connected to life on earth through our mothers and their energy. They create and give birth to us in this material world. I wanted to communicate the intangible notion of a timeless and yet ephemeral connection. The life we share on earth is so profoundly grounded in this love.
I believe that love is the energy of creativity and it’s a lifelong gift we receive on the day we are born.
This energy exists everywhere and is forever in cycle. We just need to practice mindfulness and tap into it. I wanted to honour her on Mother’s Day with my husband and teenagers. I wanted my kids to understand that sense of deep connection to life through our mothers. I chose to plant a beautiful pink dogwood in the backyard. Our love tree is a spring-flowering tree that thrives on the West Coast of British Columbia, Canada. The planting of our love tree expresses our love as much as it is an act of remembrance. My mother passed away in March 2012 and so this was our first Mother’s Day without her. My husband also lost his mother within a few weeks of my mother passing away. Together we mourned and celebrated the life of two dearly missed mothers.
That’s why her passing away was a particularly harsh reality for me. Planting the tree was important to help me find some peace and closure. At first, mom didn’t tell me that she too was battling cancer. It was a secret she kept to herself for several months until her symptoms became too painful to hide. Moms are good at doing this: sacrificing themselves for the benefit of their children. She didn’t want to worry me or add to the challenges I already faced. I think, in retrospect, that she was probably scared for herself as much as she feared for my life as well. I was just beginning to undergo treatments for an aggressive form of stage two breast cancer at the age of 43. Terror is probably what my mother felt. The thought of losing yet another child was as much unfathomable as it was agonizing. The raw ache in her heart was still more like an open wound.
My sister, Marie, died of ovarian cancer in 2006 at the age of 50. Two years later, in 2008, my father died of leukemia. My mother tried to heal her broken heart over the tragic loss of her daughter while caring for my dad who was himself approaching death. Two years later, in 2010, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I survived and count my lucky stars that my mother was able to see me come back into health before her own death. The cumulative impact of all the stress and extreme sense of loss was in the end too much for her to bear. So after my coming through almost two years of very difficult cancer treatments and surgeries, I discovered that mom was terminally ill with cancer. She died a year later after a steady physical decline.
I can’t begin to describe what kind of human experience it is to face your own mortality head on at a young age and then watch your own mother die a slow and excruciatingly painful death from cancer.
The sadness was overwhelming. After all of this, I decided to find a way and a reason to carry on. My kids and husband, of course, are the number one reason but I needed to find a deep inner source of strength. The strength I found transformed me. There is so much life to live. I am blessed. So, given the story of how I came to conceive of My Loving Art Project, I am certain that you will understand why planting our love tree means so much more to me.
Trees are a symbol of regeneration, transformation and of the continuous cycle of life.
On a deeper level, planting the love tree and starting My Loving Art Project are life affirming acts which I feel compelled to do. It is a way of declaring my belief in my future and my continued hope for the life that I am still here to live. I am here. I am alive and well. That is a miracle. My wish now is to devote my life to these creative pursuits. It’s what brings me joy and it is what I am here to do.