Tag Archives: autobiography

A Tribute to Walt Pascoe: Savage Uncertainties On The Road Home Reprise

Walt PascoeOn December 21, 2015–Winter Solstice, the day with the longest night of the year–a dear friend and an extraordinary human being said goodbye to life on earth. His name is Walt Pascoe and many of you know of his very human, honest, luminescent, and soaring artwork–artwork that matches his spirit completely. Many of you also knew the man himself–and, if so, feel the loss keenly.

Walt wrote an essay, accompanied by artwork, for Creative Thresholds three years ago–it ran December 21, 2012 (this is uncanny, perhaps fitting)–about his struggle with colon cancer. A searing, poignant, and brutally honest account of his experience. I’m choosing to run it again in honor of this amazing human being and friend.

We miss you, Walt.

Melissa
Curator/editor

Savage Uncertainties On The Road Home

by Walt Pascoe

And but so yeah.

Having recovered nicely from the insult of surgery to resect 10 inches of my large intestine, I was more or less happily bobbing back up to the surface of my murky little emotional pond. It had been disappointing to learn that cancer cells were already frolicking around my lymph system like unruly children, and that the tender wisdom of western medical modalities dictated a course of prophylactic chemo. But after a brief time for contemplation and acceptance I’d come to terms with “stage 3” and prepared myself accordingly. There was the relatively minor surgery to insert a semi-permanent, sub-cutaneous port in my chest for easy access to a major artery, and the inevitable institutional waltz w/ the doctors office and insurance company to pre-approve this gold-plated poisoning. And finally a couple more visits to the various scan-masters for more complete head to thigh reconnoitering of my tender corpus, in order to be doubly sure there were no other cancerous redoubts hidden under a rock somewhere. All this transpired in a relatively compressed time-frame, the doctors and staff proceeding w/ an admirable, if not entirely reassuring, sense of professional urgency. And so it came to pass that my oncologist only received the latest reports the night before I showed up to begin chemo infusions.

The six-month course of chemo for my particular cancer goes by the vaguely militaristic sounding acronym FOLFOX. Essentially it involves kicking back in the coolest recliner you’ve ever seen while various anti-nausea meds and the main chemical arsenal are deployed sequentially for a few hours. (What is it with all the battle metaphors?) One of the meds is more effective if administered in small bursts over 46 hours, so before you’re allowed to leave a pump is hooked up to your port and you wear this home. Its a robust little programmable squirt machine that looks more or less like the FedEx guys’ scanner, and you get to wear it on a belt around your waist or over your shoulder. So much for any shred of sartorial hipness I might have been clinging to in the waning years of middle age semi-decrepitude. On the bright side, the pump makes a rhythmic clicking sound which, while lying on the bed next to me at night, is not without a certain comforting intimacy…

“Incantations on the Road Home” 48”x64” Graphite on gessoed panel

“Incantations on the Road Home” 48”x64” Graphite on gessoed panel

Wait… what?

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Turns out there was in fact a further metastasis. Stage 4. Another decent sized tumor wrapped around a bronchial tube near the entry point into my left lung, snuggly nestled next to my heart; a weirdly poetic location given the stressful mid-life transitions I’d been enduring of late, but one that rendered it inoperable. So a second biotherapy (a monoclonal antibody called Avastin) was added to the FOLFOX chemo regimen, all to be administered over a 6 month period…

“Raven Gets In” 48”x60” Oil on canvas

“Raven Gets In” 48”x60” Oil on canvas

“I always put lime on the people I kill. Wait… are you calling 911?” ~ Drunk guy in a Mexican restaurant, as related by my friend Melissa Johnston.

And so it seems that cancer has created the mother of all liminal spaces in my life. And it is from this strangely pregnant territory that I peer out into the… I want to say abyss… but like so many words now it seems inadequate, overused, and worked to within an inch of its word-ly life by the incessant hype culture hum we wallow in. The title of some crappy movie, complete with cross-licensed plastic action figures free w/ your next Happy Meal. And seriously, how many of us ever reach beyond the tremulous shadow of the concept and endeavors to actually process this deep down inside our whirring, buzzing lizard-brains? It crouches at the center of your chest like a cold rock, pulling you down through the turbid water more effectively than the finest cement shoes. Who the heck would want to go there voluntarily? Who…

“Fatal Shore” 48”x64” Acrylic on canvas

“Fatal Shore” 48”x64” Acrylic on canvas

Blaise Pascal wrote in “Pensées,” “We run heedlessly into the abyss after putting something in front of us to stop us from seeing it.”

It’s amazing how emotions flow just like weather.

I can go along doing what I think of as “well”: feeling optimistic, comfortable being alone, celebrating the liminal, accepting the transitory nature of things, handling the chemo, sensing health and wholeness on a walk in Whites Woods, meditating, reading, feeling a measured enthusiasm for the future w/o treating the present like just something to be got through, the master of silver linings, counting my blessings, deeply grateful for the love and support of my friends and family, acquaintances at the Post Office saying “hey, you look great”, relieved by the fact that I haven’t yet assumed the grayish-blue pallor of the wasting.

And then there will be this slow creeping intimation of unease, like a little darkening on the horizon. Just a few clouds on an otherwise sunny day…

Stillness and solitude in White’s Woods, Litchfield

Stillness and solitude in White’s Woods, Litchfield

Willem DeKooning referred to himself as a “slipping glimpser”.

As the storm gathers and starts to darken my interior landscape I can feel the slipping; the accumulation of tension in my heart and body. Fear, longing, and worry… a somatic ache that fluidly transmutes into a profound and painful spiritual dread if not checked quickly by some distraction. This is where it gets tricky being alone. It is so much easier to distract yourself from it when you are with other people. Just ignore and bury it in the cosmopolitan joy of human culture and friendship. Or loose yourself engineering a life.

“[…] almost nothing important that ever happens to you happens because you engineer it. Destiny has no beeper; destiny always leans trenchcoated out of an alley with some sort of ‘psst’ that you usually can’t even hear because you’re in such a rush to or from something important you’ve tried to engineer. ”
~ David Foster Wallace in “Infinite Jest”.

I guess this terror has always been present, and is for every human being. We do with it what we will. Tune it out. Turn it into art or literature. Transmogrify the brutal fact of our inevitable decay into infinite varieties of work and the illusion of progress. Am I thinking too much?! This is not always true. There are times when laughter and joy come in solitude and I can revel in it. But the laughter is hardened and forced when you are filled w/ grief at the prospect of loosing all you love… threatened in such an immediate, tangible way… I’m attached to my attachments! A lousy Buddhist if ever there was one! It’s amazing how I can go along feeling buoyant about the possibility of remission… and oh the delirious possibility of “durable remission”, held out there like the most seductive of outcomes. And then just tank for awhile… fall into the dark… gazing up into a night sky perversely ornamented with PET scan constellations of cancerous cells awash in radioactively tagged glucose, collaged all over my chest and neck, blinking out an inscrutable code… exhausted from the grasping after some more universal, ever-present , capital “L” Love. God. Some hopeful bulwark against the immensity of the void surrounding my fearful and trembling self. A glimpse perhaps…

The Real Work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do

we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go

we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.

~ Wendell Berry ~

(Collected Poems)

And so it goes. Alone with the Alone. It is a choice. A pseudo-monastic exile, punctuated by genuinely caring and helpful visits from my loved ones and the logistics of the chemo rhythm. Simone Weil said “attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity”…

"Exile Study No.4 ~ Perdita" ink and graphite on paper, 22"x 30",

“Exile Study No.4 ~ Perdita” ink and graphite on paper, 22″x 30″

And what exactly is it that I am attending to now?

Seeking Now through mindful solitude. That word, though: seeking! Seeking itself one of the most seductive of attachments. After the briefest foray into the silence, I flee back into the endless loop of intellectual and aesthetic dialogue w/ the dead. With those I’ve chosen to valorize as artistic mentors for 30 years: David Smith and Charles Olson. And into the radiating web of endlessly fascinating threads that fan out from their volcanic productions. Back into yet another painting or drawing, searching searching searching, always searching… wading through a rich but terrifying uncertainty…

“The Secret Life of Wind” 48”x64” graphite on gessoed panel

“The Secret Life of Wind” 48”x64” graphite on gessoed panel

“Sometimes when I start a sculpture, I begin with only a realized part, the rest is travel to be unfolded much in the order of a dream. The conflict for realization is what makes art not its certainty, nor its technique or material.”
–David Smith

In Alex Stein and Yahia Lababidi’s wonderful conversation, “The Artist as Mystic”, Yahia quotes Heidegger: “Longing is the agony of the nearness of the distant.” This resonates now. Not just a little! The words vibrate in my chest as if I were standing alongside a huge, beautifully wrought bell being rung. Small pieces of the rock crouching there begin to fall…

“The Chain of Memory is Resurrection I” 30”x40” graphite and acrylic on bristol board

“The Chain of Memory is Resurrection I” 30”x40” graphite and acrylic on bristol board

 

Writer and artist: Walt Pascoe

Please check out more of Walt’s art at http://www.waltpascoe.com/.

Savage Uncertainties On The Road Home

by Walt Pascoe

And but so yeah.

Having recovered nicely from the insult of surgery to resect 10 inches of my large intestine, I was more or less happily bobbing back up to the surface of my murky little emotional pond. It had been disappointing to learn that cancer cells were already frolicking around my lymph system like unruly children, and that the tender wisdom of western medical modalities dictated a course of prophylactic chemo. But after a brief time for contemplation and acceptance I’d come to terms with “stage 3” and prepared myself accordingly. There was the relatively minor surgery to insert a semi-permanent, sub-cutaneous port in my chest for easy access to a major artery, and the inevitable institutional waltz w/ the doctors office and insurance company to pre-approve this gold-plated poisoning. And finally a couple more visits to the various scan-masters for more complete head to thigh reconnoitering of my tender corpus, in order to be doubly sure there were no other cancerous redoubts hidden under a rock somewhere. All this transpired in a relatively compressed time-frame, the doctors and staff proceeding w/ an admirable, if not entirely reassuring, sense of professional urgency. And so it came to pass that my oncologist only received the latest reports the night before I showed up to begin chemo infusions.

The six-month course of chemo for my particular cancer goes by the vaguely militaristic sounding acronym FOLFOX. Essentially it involves kicking back in the coolest recliner you’ve ever seen while various anti-nausea meds and the main chemical arsenal are deployed sequentially for a few hours. (What is it with all the battle metaphors?) One of the meds is more effective if administered in small bursts over 46 hours, so before you’re allowed to leave a pump is hooked up to your port and you wear this home. Its a robust little programmable squirt machine that looks more or less like the FedEx guys’ scanner, and you get to wear it on a belt around your waist or over your shoulder. So much for any shred of sartorial hipness I might have been clinging to in the waning years of middle age semi-decrepitude. On the bright side, the pump makes a rhythmic clicking sound which, while lying on the bed next to me at night, is not without a certain comforting intimacy…

“Incantations on the Road Home” 48”x64” Graphite on gessoed panel

“Incantations on the Road Home” 48”x64” Graphite on gessoed panel

Wait… what?

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Turns out there was in fact a further metastasis. Stage 4. Another decent sized tumor wrapped around a bronchial tube near the entry point into my left lung, snuggly nestled next to my heart; a weirdly poetic location given the stressful mid-life transitions I’d been enduring of late, but one that rendered it inoperable. So a second biotherapy (a monoclonal antibody called Avastin) was added to the FOLFOX chemo regimen, all to be administered over a 6 month period…

“Raven Gets In” 48”x60” Oil on canvas

“Raven Gets In” 48”x60” Oil on canvas

“I always put lime on the people I kill. Wait… are you calling 911?” ~ Drunk guy in a Mexican restaurant, as related by my friend Melissa Johnston.

And so it seems that cancer has created the mother of all liminal spaces in my life. And it is from this strangely pregnant territory that I peer out into the… I want to say abyss… but like so many words now it seems inadequate, overused, and worked to within an inch of its word-ly life by the incessant hype culture hum we wallow in. The title of some crappy movie, complete with cross-licensed plastic action figures free w/ your next Happy Meal. And seriously, how many of us ever reaches beyond the tremulous shadow of the concept and endeavors to actually process this deep down inside our whirring, buzzing lizard-brains? It crouches at the center of your chest like a cold rock, pulling you down through the turbid water more effectively than the finest cement shoes. Who the heck would want to go there voluntarily? Who…

“Fatal Shore” 48”x64” Acrylic on canvas

“Fatal Shore” 48”x64” Acrylic on canvas

Blaise Pascal wrote in “Pensées,” “We run heedlessly into the abyss after putting something in front of us to stop us from seeing it.”

It’s amazing how emotions flow just like weather.

I can go along doing what I think of as “well”: feeling optimistic, comfortable being alone, celebrating the liminal, accepting the transitory nature of things, handling the chemo, sensing health and wholeness on a walk in Whites Woods, meditating, reading, feeling a measured enthusiasm for the future w/o treating the present like just something to be got through, the master of silver linings, counting my blessings, deeply grateful for the love and support of my friends and family, acquaintances at the Post Office saying “hey, you look great”, relieved by the fact that I haven’t yet assumed the grayish-blue pallor of the wasting.

And then there will be this slow creeping intimation of unease, like a little darkening on the horizon. Just a few clouds on an otherwise sunny day…

Stillness and solitude in White’s Woods, Litchfield

Stillness and solitude in White’s Woods, Litchfield

Willem DeKooning referred to himself as a “slipping glimpser”.

As the storm gathers and starts to darken my interior landscape I can feel the slipping; the accumulation of tension in my heart and body. Fear, longing, and worry… a somatic ache that fluidly transmutes into a profound and painful spiritual dread if not checked quickly by some distraction. This is where it gets tricky being alone. It is so much easier to distract yourself from it when you are with other people. Just ignore and bury it in the cosmopolitan joy of human culture and friendship. Or loose yourself engineering a life.

“[…] almost nothing important that ever happens to you happens because you engineer it. Destiny has no beeper; destiny always leans trenchcoated out of an alley with some sort of ‘psst’ that you usually can’t even hear because you’re in such a rush to or from something important you’ve tried to engineer. ”
~ David Foster Wallace in “Infinite Jest”.

I guess this terror has always been present, and is for every human being. We do with it what we will. Tune it out. Turn it into art or literature. Transmogrify the brutal fact of our inevitable decay into infinite varieties of work and the illusion of progress. Am I thinking too much?! This is not always true. There are times when laughter and joy come in solitude and I can revel in it. But the laughter is hardened and forced when you are filled w/ grief at the prospect of loosing all you love… threatened in such an immediate, tangible way…  I’m attached to my attachments! A lousy Buddhist if ever there was one! It’s amazing how I can go along feeling buoyant about the possibility of remission… and oh the delirious possibility of “durable remission”, held out there like the most seductive of outcomes. And then just tank for awhile… fall into the dark… gazing up into a night sky perversely ornamented with PET scan constellations of cancerous cells awash in radioactively tagged glucose, collaged all over my chest and neck, blinking out an inscrutable code… exhausted from the grasping after some more universal, ever-present , capital “L” Love. God. Some hopeful bulwark against the immensity of the void surrounding my fearful and trembling self. A glimpse perhaps…

The Real Work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do

we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go

we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.

~ Wendell Berry ~

(Collected Poems)

And so it goes. Alone with the Alone. It is a choice. A pseudo-monastic exile, punctuated by genuinely caring and helpful visits from my loved ones and the logistics of the chemo rhythm. Simone Weil said “attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity”…

"Exile Study No.4 ~ Perdita" ink and graphite on paper, 22"x 30",

“Exile Study No.4 ~ Perdita” ink and graphite on paper, 22″x 30″

And what exactly is it that I am attending to now?

Seeking Now through mindful solitude. That word, though: seeking! Seeking itself one of the most seductive of attachments. After the briefest foray into the silence, I flee back into the endless loop of intellectual and aesthetic dialogue w/ the dead. With those I’ve chosen to valorize as artistic mentors for 30 years: David Smith and Charles Olson. And into the radiating web of endlessly fascinating threads that fan out from their volcanic productions. Back into yet another painting or drawing, searching searching searching, always searching… wading through a rich but terrifying uncertainty…

“The Secret Life of Wind” 48”x64” graphite on gessoed panel

“The Secret Life of Wind” 48”x64” graphite on gessoed panel

“Sometimes when I start a sculpture, I begin with only a realized part, the rest is travel to be unfolded much in the order of a dream. The conflict for realization is what makes art not its certainty, nor its technique or material.”
–David Smith

In Alex Stein and Yahia Lababidi’s wonderful conversation, “The Artist as Mystic”, Yahia quotes Heidegger: “Longing is the agony of the nearness of the distant.” This resonates now. Not just a little! The words vibrate in my chest as if I were standing alongside a huge, beautifully wrought bell being rung. Small pieces of the rock crouching there begin to fall…

“The Chain of Memory is Resurrection I” 30”x40” graphite and acrylic on bristol board

“The Chain of Memory is Resurrection I” 30”x40” graphite and acrylic on bristol board

 

Walt PascoeWalt Pascoe is a Montreal-based visual artist who received a B.A. in Fine Art from St. Lawrence University in 1980. You can see more of his work at www.waltpascoe.com

Necks, Scars, Cancer, and Pink Worms

by Melissa D. Johnston

“It’s a giant, juicy, pink worm tied down by Lilliputians.” This was the answer to my friends, post-surgery, of what my scar looked like. To my parents it appeared that my neck had been clotheslined—not metaphorically, but with actual clothesline wire. This belief persisted long after the stitches came out and persists to this day, echoed in the surreptitious glances of strangers who may or may not wonder if I’d once had a particularly unfortunate day playing Red Rover.

In reality, the pink worm was born as the result of a partial thyroidectomy, a procedure in which a surgeon and his team removed part of my thyroid through a 2 ½ inch horizontal incision in order to whisk away a microcarcinoma (a nice, mellifluous word for a small thyroid cancer) and banish it, after much study, into the biohazard waste basket.

And so they did, and now my worm has advanced to middle-aged skin at the height of a dry winter, where moisture must regularly be applied to keep that plump, pink, youthful appearance. The rumor is that he’ll disintegrate to a ripe, flat old age and then into a grave marked by a bright, thin, barely-there line—where I’ll have to be the one to point him out if I want others to make his post mortem acquaintance. That’s the story according to my surgeon, anyway.

I still have a special fondness for his preteen years, though. The awkward stage where he still struggled with wire braces, the stitches that had to set while he lay inflamed but protected by daily swabs of hydrogen peroxide and generous amounts of petroleum jelly. A time when I made my first public appearance after surgery and couldn’t cover his raw body with a scarf because it was still too sensitive—no small deal since I’d known others with thyroidectomies who’d been asked, in all seriousness, “Did you try to slit your throat?” I didn’t fancy appearing extremely qualified as a candidate for Remedial Suicide Methods 101.

Most folks in the southern U.S. are polite. If they did think I qualified for Remedial Methods, I never knew it. That first day out, in fact, I got plenty of furtive glances, but only one direct stare, from a man whose wife tapped his arm and said, “Honey, Honey—Look!” When I turned my head, she immediately averted her eyes but her husband continued to stare until I wondered whether I’d lost a standoff when I looked away.

One person that day hadn’t seemed to notice at all. She took my order at one of my favorite local New York style delis and looked directly into my eyes, as she seemed to do with all the customers. It was only when I was getting my soft drink that she came over and said, “Do you mind my asking—what surgery did you just have?”

“I had a thyroidectomy.”

“What was it for?”

“I had thyroid cancer.”

“Oh.” She looked down and paused for a second. “I could tell it was fresh…” She finally looked back up and into my eyes. “My son was just diagnosed with leukemia.”

We talked for the next several minutes about her son, cancer, and how crazy life can be with kids. We talked about what we both had been through in the past couple of months and how the cancer diagnoses had affected our families. I walked out of the shop feeling support from someone who one hour before had been a total stranger. I hope she felt the same.

That conversation changed how I viewed my scar. These two digital pieces, which are chronicles of my wrestling with what thyroid cancer means for me, feature my preteen worm in all his pinked, stitched glory.

** 11/19/12  Update:  Alas, my worm never made it to old age. He was whipped out mid-life during a second surgery, where the surgeons, due to finding cancer in my lymph nodes, needed to complete the thyroidectomy and perform a central compartment neck dissection.  New skin puckers where he’d  been, forming glued bumpy borders I’ve yet to explore…**

**7/27/14 Update: My worm rode the wheel of life one more time. As much as he loves me and I him, we both hope it’s his last incarnation. After a third surgery and radiation, I’m hoping to get the all-clear (and it looks good!) to be able to say that I’m a one-year cancer survivor. I’ll know in a few weeks….

Dive I: The Journey Within

Dive II: The Journey Expands

Feeling Color

photo by Teia Pearson

by Teia Pearson

I am grateful to be alive and enjoy life as I feel time passing me by. My last sense of innocence was playing under a maple tree at sunset on my fifth birthday. Like dominoes falling, that day set my life on a course of uncertainty. Since then, I faced one challenge after another. Enough to make anyone else lose hope. With every obstacle put in front of me I persevered stronger, never giving up.

The biggest challenge, nearly ten years ago, threw me into a different life with internal head and spinal injuries. My then spouse and I were driving to dinner as a treat for my ovarian cancer recovery. While waiting for a stoplight to turn green, a utility truck slammed into us. Like an overloaded circuit, the impact caused a major fuse to blow in my brain. Surging forward in time, with one last clear memory of flying into the front window, I live on to share my life lessons with others.

At nearly age 40, retraining my brain and body function has been a lifelong process. Every morning I wake up feeling the same as I did after the truck accident. Head spinning ready to explode with a loud high-pitched sound ringing through both my ears. Feeling like a Mack Truck hit me, or that I’m suffering the worst college party hangover ever—times ten. You may be able to relate.

Before pushing myself up from wherever I lay, I savor a brief moment when all pain is quiet and muscles are relaxed. Daydreaming I have a partner to share a dance with all night as I once did before. Such a lovely vision to savor.

Dream over. I use all my strength to push through brain fog and severe fatigue to start my day. Once standing up, all muscles tense as vertigo pulls me back. Starting the day ever so slowly to avoid causing a massive muscle cramp. All of my joints and muscles are stiff causing me to walk like a rusted Tin Man. Ice picks pierce in waves up and down my spine as my body ignites with a hot flash. Immediately I run to a cold bathroom or an open window before I pass out. My stomach starts summersaults while my right brain is asking “Where’s breakfast?” Left brain just wants me to hurl so I can feel better. Not happening!

Strong tea with supplements and medication start my day as long as my hand decides to function and not drop another cup. Having little to no memory of previous days, I open my laptop to help me recall what I am doing. I feel stuck in time, like it is still the year 2003, as if the lives of others move on and I am standing still.

This is what living with constant vertigo, tinnitus and fibromyalgia is like after surviving a traumatic brain injury. There is no Band-Aid and no cure, just hope for a new, brighter day. I enjoy life to the fullest like everyone else. “Where there is a will, there is a way,” words I came to live by growing up.

As my brain functions with a broken memory circuit, I read through old journals revealing shocking things written not too long ago. Feeling like I am reading about someone else, I do not recognizing my own writing or photos. Horse photos remind me of a Secretariat grandson I rescued off the racetrack many years ago. In my younger days, I had a passion for riding dressage and cross-country jumping. I remember living the American dream with my own business and custom-built house out in the country.

After a bitter divorce ending with a black and blue face, I wonder how I ever did it all. I could not have been very happy as I love living, as I do now, in a big city. Where I once had the great physical strength of superwoman, I now have the great mental strength of Anne Frank to make every day count.

When I was young, my biggest inspiration was creating things with color. Every different shade of color and feel of paper provoked my senses. Time disappeared when creativity carried me away from lonely mornings waiting for the bus, or lonely nights waiting for my parents’ safe return.

I hold onto the feeling of innocence, taking me back to the moment spent coloring under the big old maple tree at sunset when I was young. I go back to this feeling before everything changed. The feeling of peace in times of pain and uncertainty. It has kept me alive over so many years.

I was taught to be a perfectionist. “Color in-between the lines,” my mother would say. Yet, little did I know my life would be so full of color inside and outside the lines.

After surviving ovarian cancer and developing vertigo with fibromyalgia and tinnitus, Teia Pearson retired from her lifelong career with horses. She now focuses on her other life passion for writing and art. She currently lives in Chicago helping to promote the arts as director of EscapeIntoLife.com. Currently working on her inspiring new memoir Writing Color, about surviving a very troubled childhood and life’s most tragic events. Teia strives to show everyone the more positive side of life. Read more about Teia at her blog  Just Breathe and learn more about her upcoming memoir at Writing Color.

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