It’s clearly fall here – incredible leaf colour, changing temperature. But the significant sign of fall on my Tuesday walk through Chinatown  is having my favourite garden packed up for the season. What a transformation from the lushness of just a few weeks ago……

to the tidy beds of today

It was my day at the chemo unit, but, alas, no chemo. Long story, but a mix-up where I finally decided that to resolve it and stay six hours at the hospital would be worse than missing my drugs.

But since there is not much to report from my non-event, I will share a discussion that I have been having with Viola Moriarty about hair. Of course, cancer treatment often leads to losing one’s hair – a fairly traumatic event. I was sharing some thoughts with Viola about my own experience and she shared the following with me.

I had my daughters cut off my hair in advance of the chemo the first time, too, at the Peace Pagoda…..JunSan the buddhist nun there shaves her head , so I decided that my baldness would represent service and that this cancer journey would be dedicated to service through my art and through my life. My hair came back worse than it was before, but it came back after chemo.  Last fall after whole brain radiation I had a haircutting party with my daughter and husband and a few friends in the woods and we shaved my head.  It grows back, but VERY patchy, in fact it’s like a reverse Mohawk,there’s an airstrip on top of my head.  So I shave it once a week.  It’s a weird ritual to do all the time.  But each time I do, I say please let this cancer and this baldness somehow be of service…let me be useful through these and through my work.  

I just loved this and had to share it. Losing hair often causes a pain that can cause us to freeze up and turn inward. What a way to transform this loss into an event that moves one forward and outward to other people. There’s my inspiration for the day.


Good day all and happy October!

Today I offer you another couple of gems from Viola Moriarty.  I love Viola’s paintings and I love Viola even though I have never met her in person. I connect to the colour and lines and the feeling of the painting and they  seem to me to be portholes into her personality (as much as I know her so far). You should go right this minute and check out her collection at  (and notice what a beautiful bald head she has – I drool in envy  - mine wasn’t so pretty).




In her own words:

“Physicists tell us that the very act of seeing changes us, and changes the object of our perception. I paint
solely and directly from life largely because of this energetic exchange between the seer and the seen.
Creative process is perceiving information and deciding how to personally engage that information; it is
this process that most interests me. Painting is also hard work. It requires a particular kind of focus and
energy. When I step to the easel, I feel I was born for this work. All my liabilities—my tenacity, boldness,
tender heart, passion and insatiable curiosity–become my assets. When I am painting, I feel like myself.

Nature is my sweetest and most demanding teacher, and it is to her that I am most grateful.”

Viola Moriarty


Nicole P

By Viola Moriarty




Things Happen

By Viola Moriarty

Today I’m delighted to present another art work by Viola Moriarty. I love this painting and the surreal combination of the every day domestic with the reality of a life with cancer.  You can  learn more about Viola  and her amazing art work at






live your life (my oncologist says)

by Viola Moriarty

Ultra Sounds Mondays, May 7, 2012

Welcome back after a quiet week.

Over the last few months I have had the pleasure of getting to “know” the wonderful Viola Moriarty online. I am delighted, thus, today to present some of her work for today’s submission. This will be our first mixed-media submission and is part of Viola’s “Barbie gets cancer” series. You will never look at Barbie the same way again. Click   to read more about this series. Click to visit Viola’s website.



Here’s what Viola has to say about herself:

I  painted my first painting almost 10 years ago, and knew as I felt brush and paint on canvas that I would change everything to paint.  And I did. 

 In 2007 I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer, had partial mastectomy and 18 lymph nodes removed, targeted radiation and 6 rounds of kick ass chemo, followed by tamoxifen.

Last August I was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer with metastesis around all my organs, the CNS, and many large and small brain tumors.  Had full brain radiation for three weeks followed by a lot of vomiting (lost 50 pounds in two months–good thing I had the extra to lose!), then femara and now fasolodex shots.  The treatments have been working and right now I’m doing great.  
My greatest love—even more than painting–is my family.  I have two amazing daughters:  Anna Moriarty Lev () and Phoebe Moriarty Lev ().  And I’m married to their father and the love of my life, Jon Lev.  Henry and Dulcinea are our two cats.  We live in Vermont, though I am from Denver, Colorado
And here is what Viola had to say about the “Barbie” series:
The barbies  are from the Barbie Gets Cancer section of the ExVoto Suscepto Exhibit which traveled to several venues in 2009, including a presentation at Stowe Weekend of Hope in Vermont, Southern Vermont College, and the Southwestern Vermont Cancer Center.  They were part of my response to my first diagnosis in 2007.  I’m now working on Full Brain radiation Barbie, Fasolodex Barbie, Brain Met Barbie ….along with a series of paintings called “live your life, my onclogist says”.  

No matter what I envisioned when I played with those dolls (just as I’m sure Ruth Handler had no idea about her future when she invented them) I never once saw myself as growing up to get cancer.  
Tamoxifen Barbie, 2008:
Radiation Barbie, mixed media on board, 2008:
Dexamethasone Barbie, mixed media, 2008:

A creative family

Some families seem to have a concentration of creativity. I have stumbled upon a wonderfully creative family who excel in a multitude of ways. Yet each of them has carved out her own style of writing and art that is distinct from the others.    I have truly enjoyed gazing at and reading their work and eking out the bits of their story that they are generous enough to reveal on their sites.

Viola Moriarty is an artist and poet with metastatic breast cancer. Her work stands alone as incredibly beautiful, but seeing glimpses of her story, makes looking at her work an especially poignant experience. You can find her amazing art work and poetry

One daughter, Anna Moriarty Lev is a writer,artist and cartoonist who has written some sharp and touching cancer cartoons based on her mother’s illness. You can see her cartoons and other work  .

Then there is a second daughter, Phoebe, who is also a writer and  artist (and farmer, I think). View her blog

I came away from viewing these sites feeling as if I had just had an afternoon visit with a lovely group of kindred spirits, perhaps over something yummy to eat. I bet they cook too. Grab yourself a cup of tea and go for a visit.