my book of scraps . . .

book made from scraps

I made this book for collage class. I love the layered edges where all the different papers & cardboard show. The cover was a failed collage that I cut up, see so it really is made from scraps. I love this idea. It sort of feels like all my art is made from scraps of my memories. I can’t say it was my life, not the reality of my life, who knows really what that was, all I have are my memories & the meanings I gave to these events.

So within the pages I wrote snippets of thoughts like scraps of memories, songs, words, inspirations, they may make no sense but it would be incredible if anyone who read them just pieced the scraps of words together between the flipping of textured paper & scribbles & allowed these words to make a personal meaning of their own.

last page

For years, I have dreamed of piecing together a book of images, words, etc from my experience in Iraq in this sort of way, that wasn’t linear or even very clear, more like sifting through scraps of images, poems, memories, bits of stories perhaps unfinished. The reader/viewer would be a bit of a voyeur who found a box of scraps & pieced them together to give them meaning, personal meaning.

Let me know if you think this would be interesting. I think it is organically coming together as I progress in my creativity.

The image above is one of my photos from Iraq transferred onto a brown paper bag using matte medium, letting it dry and then rubbing off the paper with water & my fingers. The bottom one is on cardboard that I gessoed first. I love the gritty feel it creates. It’s as if a photo has been found from a century ago, hidden in a dusty, damp attic. I love imperfection.

peony transfer with added tissue

shaking things up . . .

ont the set

It feels like these first two plus weeks of the year have flown by in a magnificent way. Big things, big shifts are occurring, I miss my quiet, slow pace of last year, but I have been feeling the desire to add more umph to my experience. I’m feeling like perhaps I can take on a little more. Perhaps I can take a step into new ventures, nothing real big, but just a little bit out of my comfort zone. Of course, almost immediately after that thought I start getting calls to do interviews. I got a call to be interviewed for the Chronicle, then to sit on a panel after the showing of the movie, Lioness. Watch the trailer and the movie if you get a chance – its intense.

Then the moderator of that panel, Patricia Grass invited me to be on her local PBS talk show, and then Fox News just interviewed me for a “feel good” piece on my story of recovery and my time in WISER (the PTSD inpatient program for women at the VA Hospital here in Houston). All of the these interviews were about my experience in Iraq and my journey back to my whole self.

getting unplugged

being silly

me & Patricia Gras

I feel very honored to be able to share my story and have people listen. I believe stories can be so healing and that is what I’m finding in this process of sharing. I’ve trained myself to live in the moments, and take life day by day so I haven’t seen all the progress. But now as I’m stringing it all together through the questions from my interviewers I’m seeing all the progress I’ve made over the years. It has been therapeutic for me.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ~ Maya Angelou

I’ve also been getting nudges from deep within that perhaps this is the story I want to tell. There are plenty of stories about Iraq but I think what is more interesting is the journey I’ve been on over the past five years since returning home. It feels congruent to who I am today. I think I’ll start writing a book/memoir or something. Does anyone have any thoughts, ideas, connections to share – I’m open to receive.

I find it interesting that this subject would be the one I get so much attention from since it’s the one that still scares me the most. I still fear the scorn of my fellow Marines. I think I need to learn from the Alan Garner character in The Hangover when he says, “I tend to think of myself as a one-man wolf pack.” Besides Larry told me that he would be my “unit” from now on, so I wouldn’t feel so alone when I run. Maybe Larry & I have our own wolf pack now! I like that idea.

Big Love to all you,


remembering Megan

Major Megan McClung

Today I am remembering my fallen friends, Maj Megan McClung, SSGT Mike Dickenson, Maj Mike Martino, and Cpl Salem Bachar. . This is part of my daily struggle – I don’t believe in war yet I mourn all those who we have lost in these conflicts. So today I take a moment or two to remember everyone who has lost their life, limbs, brain usage, and soul.

My prayer is that we will wake up and come home. Please bring us home.

let us not forget

I took the photo below for a book cover I was thinking about writing. The beautiful woman is Capt Julienne Shin. Perhaps I will write it someday. The photo to me

depicts the fullness or whole-ness of many who serve.

More meditation is always a good idea.

In war I saw the devastation and cruelity of humanity at it’s worst and I also witnessed exhileration and tears of gratitude for the expansive love and generosity of the human spirit. In this space of great divided possibilities I captured many insights  in the journals I kept. I thought about calling the book, “Slaying the Dragon.”

We’ll see . . . for now it feels too painful and stressful to dive into.

Slaying the Dragon

Slaying Dragons