Sustaining Jennifer


www.SustainingJennifer.com

Unbeknownst to me, over the past eight months, Daniel and Dakota have been working on a secret project. Using both of their musical expertise along with contributions from percussionist Jim Roberts, they created an amazing cover of the classic song "You Raise Me Up" by Rolf Lovland and Brendan Graham. This is Daniel's largest musical production to date, featuring hundreds of instruments. Daniel and Dakota are both musically gifted and their talent shines through on this amazing piece with Dakota playing the viola solos and appearing in the video. The video highlights my photographic work and special memories. All of this was done as a way to support me with the overwhelming costs of cancer treatment.

The goal was to create a product that could provide cash flow for years to come to support my current and future medical expenses. Needless to say, I was/am overwhelmed by this gesture and so grateful. Please visit the website below where you can purchase this song . Each version of the song is just $1.00 but you can give more or buy multiple versions if you wish to be especially supportive. 

Please share this link with the world! My love and gratitude to you all.

www.SustainingJennifer.com

Mint Milkshakes

self-portrait

self-portrait

This journey (and, lord, how I have grown weary of that phrase and its haphazardous use), has been teaching me a lot of things and also strongly reinforcing things I’ve always believed. I am grateful for new perspectives. 

When I was a teenager and read the book She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb, the quote that burned itself into my brain was: “Accept what people have to offer. Drink their milkshakes. Take their love.” For the context, I highly recommend you read the book (all of Mr. Lamb’s work, for that matter). 

Excellent life advice in one succinct sentence. No one person can be everything you need them to be. There will be things that I deeply dislike or disagree with in a person, but then they show up with a milkshake. And it helps me to understand that people are composed of more layers than the crust of this planet and while some of them are sharp and hostile, others are smooth jade. 

Recently, a woman I had just met asked if she could pray over me. I said yes, because I will never be so ungrateful as to not accept someone’s good wishes for me no matter how they express them. It’s not always easy because I experienced religious abuse as a child and I don’t like reliving those feelings. 

As she prayed, she said the usual things. She asked God to heal me, to give me the strength I needed to fight. Then she added, “But, we will accept whatever you have planned because you are our God.” 

I physically bristled. My shoulders went rigid and I loosened my grip on her hand. Everything inside me was silently screaming, No. Fuck that. 

I sneaked a tiny glimpse at her face out of my closed eye. She had tears in her eyes and her voice was cracking. “But,” she added. “What we seek is full healing.” Her face right then looked like she wanted it just as much as I do. 

So, I drank her milkshake. 



There is another section in the aforementioned Lamb novel that has the main character being told that there is wild mint growing in her backyard, but she has never found any. One day, during one of the lowest places in her adolescent life, she finally sees it. The line is: “I had just found the mint.” 

I remember how I teared up when I read that. The mint, for me, became synonymous with not only unexpected pleasures, but also revelations. For the last 20 years, I have said to myself many times, “I have just found the mint.”

My advice to you from someone who has come face to face with mortality and has zero plans of giving in even an ounce: always take the milkshakes. Always look for the mint. You will be better for it, and so will the world around you.

scanxiety

Over the last week, I have embarked on a project that I did not plan to do. I was playing around with scanography and the concept began to unfold before me with very little cognizant control on my part. This is the first time I have really dug down to artistically express what it's been like to be in a battle with my own body. It's going to take some time but the drive and motivation are strong and almost intoxicating, but can be overwhelming and require me to step back for periods of time. The basic concept is prose and imagery, all images being the result of scanography as a companion to all the scans required when one has cancer and the intense anxiety that surrounds both the scans themselves and the anticipation of the results.

I've included here an image concept that will be in this collection with a written piece about losing my hair (yes, I keep my lost hair in a jar in my office). I hope you'll follow along on this journey with me and, as always, so much thanks to my family and friends for all the support and love you show me every day.

 

© jennifer summer | 2018

© jennifer summer | 2018

Zen Meditation Room

I feel most at peace when I sit quietly and envision my body healing itself from the inside out.  I always think of Amanda, and of Nana, and try to "find them" wherever they may be and feel that they are with me.