The Stomachless Artist

The Stomachless Artist

 

Hi, I’m Michelle. I thought I would reintroduce myself to everyone. In 2011 my world changed forever. Not only did I survive stomach cancer I also discovered I live with Lynch Syndrome, also known as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer. For anyone who has carries a genetic predisposition there is a lot of anxiety attached to it.

I attended self development for many years, have read a pile of books, connected with others living in similar circumstances and have spent an awful amount of time in my head. In my newsletter I wrote “One of the things I will take away from 2017 is that I have tried very hard to be a bee over the last few years. Encouragement pushing me in that direction has only made me more conflicted and aware that I was trying to be something I was not. My business was not gaining momentum because of what I was projecting and I know now that that was not my authentic self, rather a productive version of me that I felt I had to be in order to be successful. All the while I was unconsciously projecting the very fear of success I was afraid of by not being true to myself. “

This has been a confronting year of truth and as Kerwin Rae says ‘Just trust the path as you go.’ Doing things through fear has held me back because I believed that I had to find one thing and be great at that. But, I am not one thing, I am many things and I can BE all of them. It has taken some serious life lessons to realize I just need to be me.

Fact, I live without a stomach everyday and some days are more challenging than others. My art is my healing space and my time to create for others. I am a mother, a wife, a cancer survivor, a healer, a writer, an artist, an explorer, a creator, a business woman and a friend. In order to live to my full potential I need to accept all of me without self judgment.

So with excited uncertainty I do not know where the path is going to take me in 2018 but I know I will be embracing it with both hands. ?❤️??

#bio #Artist #magical #uniquegift #abundance #livewithoutlimits #cancersurvivor #stomachcancer #bringon2018 #artistwithnostomach

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Fearing Success

Fearing Success

I was reminded last week that when we fear success we actually block it from happening. This can happen with so many things that our hearts desire. Loosing weight, a loving relationship, a fantastic career.
We find subtle ways (and not so subtle ways) to self sabotage so we don’t reach that success.  Why? Personally, I feel its because we don’t like to embrace change.  Perhaps we think we do,  but when we get down to the nuts and bolts most of us like living in our familiar comfortable discomfort. Maybe loosing weight will make you feel and look more attractive. This might make you unconsciously uncomfortable. In your mind you don’t know how you are going to deal with accepting compliments or maybe you are afraid of attracting the wrong attention.  So a cycle begins. A committed week of 3 gym sessions and monitoring every morsel ends with a big piece of cake and a large glass of wine.  You deserved it right? We can justify this sabotage because we look at it as a reward.
My fear of success stems from the feeling  that I actually don’t deserve it. This has been reinforced throughout my life by others who have taken it upon themselves to put me down (probably just stemming from their own insecurities). From my younger years as a ballet dancer, to my short drama career, a massage therapist to finally finding my creative outlet through art. It gets embedded into your psyche even though as an adult I logically see things for what they are.
How many of you have positive affirmations that you look at daily? How many self help books have you read (or have sitting on your bedside table collecting dust.) How many courses have you done and yet you are still the perpetual student. Until you step out of fear and actually start to implement everything into your life they are just words not worth the paper they are written on. This in itself makes me want to take the horse by the reins.
I have come to realize that if I don’t step through my fear and just let go of controlling the outcome then how can I possibly inspire other people? By simply blogging about this it might light the spark in someone else. What if I had decided to just keep all this in my head this morning and go on with my day?
Being a creative, emotional critter I wear my heart on my sleeve. A nasty comment can have me retreating back into my shell quicker than a tortoise being poked with a stick. My reality is I have had an extremely hard life. If every sin carries its own punishment then I have worked through life times of karma this time around. This has made me a sensitive soul, and I have to be very vigilant in protecting my sovereign space.  Stepping out onto the stage leaves me open and vulnerable to the opinions and judgment of others.   My adult self is very encouraging and fully supportive, my inner child however is teetering around the edges of the pool (and has been for a while).
If I jump in what is life going to look like on the other side of success?  I’m not really sure yet but I’m about to leap in and see.   3, 2, 1 JUMP !

I Have Lynch Syndrome

I Have Lynch Syndrome

I was a normal six year old girl enjoying a carefree life, laughing with my friends, and starting my second year at primary school. I was Daddy’s little princess and my life literally changed overnight. My childhood was ripped away from me and the harsh reality of Dad’s death stole my innocence. It all seemed to happen so fast — my tiny little head did not have time to take in the reality of it all. Having been diagnosed in December of 1977 with a secondary bowel cancer, my Dad died four months later at the age of 36 in April 1978. After my Dad’s death, I was thrown into a world of grief; I no longer had my Dad to comfort and to hug me. I no longer had my Dad to read me bedtime stories, to tuck me into bed at night, to praise me after my ballet concerts, or to hold my little hand when we went for a walk. Unbeknownst to me at the time, my Dad had Lynch syndrome.

Experiencing the death of a parent at a young age is certainly a character building experience and can be the catalyst for a young girl to develop “daddy issues”. These daddy issues manifested themselves in the form of  manipulation and promiscuous behaviors during my teenage years. I sought father figures in all my male relationships throughout my twenties, which only led to broken partnerships and a failed marriage. Independence was my armor and I gave power to the masculine side of myself and not necessarily in a healthy or productive way. I consciously quelled the very essence of my feminine side down. I feared I was weak, could easily be hurt, and was vulnerable — I was a survivor who needed to be in control.

My second marriage came with its own set of challenges. Despite our backgrounds and former spouses, our union seemed strong but after ten years of financial pressure, challenging teenage stepchildren and two babies of our own I had started seeking a way out. I began with riding my bike taking every opportunity to escape. I had commenced self-development class once a week in the hope of rediscovering myself, picked up a part-time job, which got me out of the house mainly at nights and on weekends because blended family time was finally taking its toll. I just couldn’t do it anymore. It broke my heart to be despised in my own home every fortnight; I was at a complete loss. The environment around me was becoming so toxic and I didn’t know how to fix it. If I really wanted to self sabotage my life the Universe was about to give me a permanent way out if I chose to accept it.

You know when you just know certain things? Well, my intuition knew that I had cancer even before the doctor’s appointment. My husband and I went up to the mountains and sat quietly in a little tea house. We held hands, cried and made a promise to each other that no matter what the diagnosis we would get through it together. We walked to a small gift shop and I was drawn to purchase a beautiful aquamarine pendant. I didn’t know at the time but the benefit of using this crystal is that it aids you to let go of emotional issues from your past that you have been holding on to. When I paid for the pendant we started talking to the owner of the shop, she just happened to ask what my star sign was. When the word “Cancer” fell out of my mouth I just knew the heaviness in my heart was a fear I wasn’t sure I was strong enough to face. It wasn’t just my star sign, that same afternoon my doctor confirmed I had stomach cancer.

 During treatment and surgery something beautiful happened. That little girl that lost her Father resurfaced. She finally had an opportunity to grieve the loss of her Dad. She looked into her own children’s eyes at night and felt the heartache her Dad must have felt, knowing he was not going to see her grow up. She had time to sit on the floor and play with her boys. She had to hand all the masculine stuff over to her husband from the running of the house to the organising of everyone’s life. She only had one job – to get her adult self well so she could love and guide her little boys into men. The cancer diagnosis exposed the my feminine side that had been so carefully hidden high in my subconscious for so long, had finally re-emerged, and spilled back over into my life.

I took my power back, faced my own mortality, beat the statistics, and chose to live a life of self awareness. My feminine side was not to be feared. She is kind, nurturing, creative, healing, and most of all incredibly powerful. Allowing the creative side of myself to explore my emotions through art was my modality for healing during my illness. Painting was my passion prior to my illness but the work I was starting to produce began surprising me.

Yes, I have Lynch syndrome, but it does not take over every thought of every minute of my life. I am not my genes and I am most certainly not the cancer. I have used the experience to empower my life and to make a difference. I count, I am a survivor but I am also a creator, a healer, a mother and a wife. I am grateful for the knowledge of my genetics because I can now be a proactive, a happier person who doesn’t sit in drama or sweat the small stuff. My perspective and ability to bring hope and healing to others through my experience and my artwork has changed my life. The cancer and the Lynch syndrome diagnosis have opened my eyes, saved my marriage and awakened me to possibilities far beyond anything I could have ever imagined.

Michelle Lykokapis
Melbourne, Australia
http://michellepotter.com.au

 

But You Look Great!

But You Look Great!

Truthfully, people say this alot and I’m not just saying it.  If you can pull through a very serious illness and inspire others by walking the talk then I am very humbled by the complement.  The life I choose to live is a healthy, proactive, productive and positive one and when I walk out into the world this is the face I would hope most people see.  

However, with every ray of light there is a shadow and that is also what I have had to accept and to learn to live with with eveyday. Having gone through the physical, emotional and financial experience of cancer it is not uncommon for people to come and ask for my help.  I would average at least one person a month either asking me to call their friend or requesting my number “to give to such and such’.  I am a loving, caring person but in all honesty I simply cant. Not just for my own health and well-being but I am not a professional counselor.  Don’t get me wrong, I do understand the importance of  being able to connect to someone when you are going through a tough emotional time or not coping with prescribed treatment, but there are structures within society that will assist those that need it.
 
Just like most of us, it takes me all my own energy to get through each and everyday and I would hope people understand that one can only extend themselves so far.  For me life has always got to be about boundaries and balance. It is actually a critical part of my life now and I don’t expect people to understand unless they have lived through this surgery and have the looming threat of cancer over their heads.  I discovered through my journey I have a genetic disorder called Lynch Syndrome. In a nutshell I have a faulty cancer protective gene which is in each and every cell of my body. This means I am far more likely to develop one or more cancers throughout my lifetime as this is the more dominant gene in the cell. So, you see I live with the threat of disease everyday of my life. As proactive and as positive as I am nothing helps the anxiety leading up to quarterly blood tests,yearly scans and intrusive procedures. I will never be ‘over’ cancer, this is something my human side has to deal with for the rest of my life, period
 
I wanted to give back to society after my illness so I put a structure in place to be able to do that. I created a Support Group on Facebook called https://www.facebook.com/SupportGroupForPartialTotalGastrectomyPatients for people who live with partial or no stomach.  Along with four other administrators (all stomachless) I am able to help people on a daily basis just by living my life and sharing personal experiences and information.  I do not extend myself further than that unless someone locally with stomach cancer comes through the No Stomach for Cancer website (http://www.nostomachforcancer.org) , my GP, my surgeon or my oncologist.  For my own sanity and to stay out of the depths of other peoples despair this is just one boundary I am constantly having to uphold. 
As well as being extremely lucky, I am also not your average type of girl. I am committed to do the work on myself to evolve. I believe anything is possible and I want to express myself and inspire people through my artwork and hopefully light a few internal flames in those who are searching for more than this human experience,  I have committed myself in spiritual meditation classes for over five years and I’ve had to do alot of self healing and releasing during that time. The more I define myself the clearer the decisions and choices I have to make.  This includes finding that cold compassion with people and being able to detach from those who are no longer a reflection of me, no matter how long they have been a part of my life.  Letting go of the past is incredibly difficult and emotionally hard, but for those committed on this journey of higher consciousness there is no room for illusion just the truth.  It takes a lot of hard work spiritually, emotionally and physically to ‘ Look Great’. So when someone pays me this complement, I know I’ve earned it!