Moving on…

Moving on…

Hana Bay, Maui, Hawaii

Hana Bay, Maui, Hawaii

Have a seat, this is gonna be a long one.

As many of you know I was diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer in January 2012. Its probable source was the breast cancer I thought I had beat in 2002 – so it was almost exactly 2 months before my ten year “cancer-free” anniversary.

Kinda sucks, doesn’t it?

Well, yes and no, really. Yes, it sucks to have a terminal disease no matter what it is and yes, it sucks that I almost made it past the magic ten-year mark.

But if you have to have a terminal disease I guess it’s better to have one for which there are many many treatments available that are working for a great many people, including a good friend of mine who has had my exact disease for going on 12 years now, and she’s doing well.

So I don’t plan on going anywhere for a great many years.

Except to Maui.

The “no, it doesn’t suck” part of the answer above is due to the fact that when you are facing your own mortality, I mean REALLY facing it as in “I know what I will die from and I know that it will be sooner than it would have been,” you tend to grow up – a lot! And fast.

You soon realize that your life has been a series of compromises, and a lot of “just settling.” You compromise with your partner on where to live, you compromise with friends on where to have dinner, you compromise your passion in order to make money, you compromise your standards in order not to make waves.

Many of those compromises are great – one does have to live in this world with others – well, most do, unless you have removed yourself from society. But some of those compromises don’t make you a better person, don’t make life easier for anyone else, don’t adequately feed your soul, and some are  downright damaging.

Since my diagnosis last year I have been choosing my compromises carefully. I have been saying “no” more to things and people that bring negativity into my life. I have been saying “yes” more often to things that are important to me, like family, and work, and friends that either bring joy to me, or to whom I can bring joy.

I have not always made the “right” choices this past year, but I’ve recognized my mistakes more quickly, and in many cases have changed something to work towards a better choice.

Life becomes very clear when you know you’re not going to be around as long as you’d like. I haven’t “suffered fools gladly” in the past year. And my dear, dear husband has agreed that our lives would be better lived in a less-stressful everyday environment, where the sun shines year-round and the ocean breezes bring the sounds of birds to our ears rather than the roar of I-5.

For me it will be like going home. Not that I ever lived for very long near a sunny beach – the longest was 9 months spent on St. Croix in 1980; before that it was 3 months on Nags Head, North Carolina the summer after high school graduation in 1972. But as you can tell from my paintings, I almost worship sunlight. (Could it be that 37 years spent in Seattle could have heightened the desire to live where the light actually casts shadows? I mean, really! Even Cincinnati light casts shadows – evidence: my “Are You My Mother?” series based entirely on photos taken in Cincy.)

VegetableDress2MBVegetable Dress

Those are some deep shadows there, people.

I believe I am more myself when near the ocean and in the sun than I am anywhere else. It’s as if the sun reaches deep down inside me and lifts me up to a better place. And Maui has plenty of sun and plenty of ocean, as evidenced by the photos below.

Many of my most recent paintings are based on photos I have taken while in Hawaii, or in sunny locales: Marco Island, Cape Hatteras, Sunlight Pool in Cincy. I am drawn to the colors and high contrast atmosphere I find in those places, and those have been the subjects of my work since I took up painting again.

Living on Maui is also a great deal like living in a small town. There are more opportunities to know people, be part of a community, and celebrate day-to-day living than I’ve found in a big city. Not that I don’t have a fabulous community of friends and family here, but I tend to get lost in just the hard work of living each day with traffic, noise, pollution, and bureaucracy here.

So we have decided to pack a few items and move. We bought a condo in Kihei, on the sunny side of Maui twelve months ago and have been renting it out as a vacation condo to pay the bills. Oh, and yes, we’ve used it quite a bit ourselves, as well. We are renting our house in Seattle to friends who have graciously allowed us to keep our bedroom, which we’ve turned into a kind of mini-hotel-like suite, for our return visits. We’re not taking much from the house, just things that have deep sentimental value and art. And my paintings and studio supplies of course.

IMG_3975 Our living room. Pretty spare right now as a rental, I hope to “homey it up” when we’re living there permanently.
IMG_3977 You can see the spare room behind the orange sofa – it can be closed in via the shojii screens.
IMG_3980Another view – lots and lots of windows, and the lanai (out of picture to the left) affords a tiny ocean view – we’ve even seen whales from there!

I’m not sure where I’ll be painting – our spare room at first I suppose (behind the orange couch in the photo above) but I’m hoping to find an inexpensive (HA!) studio somewhere close to our home.

I do know that I’ll have ample inspiration for paintings right outside my door. We’re just about one block from Kam III, one of the nicest beaches on Maui, and within minutes from glorious Big Beach.

IMG_4317 Big Beach, Maui (McKenna Beach)
IMG_4257 I see a painting in here somewhere
IMG_3254The beach in front of Sarentos, Kihei 

Here is one of my favorite paintings based on a photograph I took on Oahu a couple of years ago. I expect this is a series to which I will return many times once I live here.

White Hair on the BeachWhite Hair on the Beach

So there you have it. My number one reason for moving is pictured in the above photographs – note the light! I’m hoping that you’ll come with me, via this blog, as Richard and I head towards our next great adventure.

Aloha, and Mahalo (thank you)!


12 thoughts on “Moving on…

  1. Jerri Etchason

    Dear Gini, How wonderful that you are pursuing your next life at the beach – and in Hawaii! There’s something about being in a place where you can walk on the white sands and sense the movement of the tides – and I believe you will capture this and make it memorable.

  2. Kathy Paul

    As much as I don’t want to wave “farewell” when you take off for your new home, I’m glad you are keeping your suite in La Paloma, because I know I’ll get to see you once in a while when you return… to cool off. Gini, you are my hero in so many ways… your grace shines through you and it is a beacon for the rest of us. Aloha, baby!

    1. Gini Lawson Post author

      Oh Kathy – I am so not a hero. My many failings keep me awake at night. But I am grateful for your friendship and your spirit. Seattle will always be “home base” (which is so strange for me to write – Cincinnati was always my home, but I guess when you live somewhere for almost twice as long as you lived in the city of your birth, it becomes home base) because my dear friends, and more importantly, my children are here – or at least consider Seattle their OWN home base.

      Thank you for trusting me with your friendship. Keep painting (please?) for me, as well as for your mother.

  3. Kris Otto Schmutte

    Dearest Gini: You are such a source of strength and JOY…I feel it in your paintings…I feel it in your words…I wish we could see each other before you head out to Hawaii…I want our paths to cross again…I send my prayers, my strength, my love and my wonderful memories to you….but I do have on question…. what the fuck were you doing dating Bo Donaldson??? HAHAHAHA….Love you, gal…..

  4. Margaret C Wheeler

    Gini, We don’t know one another but I have known Richard since he was about 14 or so. His FB posts come up on my page so I read them to just see how he is doing. Maui has always been my absolute favorite place in the world and when I saw today that you were moving there I had to read your blog. I was very touched by your piece and can only wish you and R. the best together for the rest of your life. You are making the right decision and I know you are thinking how can she know that when she does not even know me. Well, you talk about the thirst for light and I lived in Seattle for 13 years (originally a Montana girl, heart and soul) and even though I loved so many things about the city I felt like I was slowly dying. I complained constantly about it being so dreary had trouble sleeping but had trouble getting out of bed plus many more maladies. Long story short we moved to Leavenworth where there is more sun and relatively no rain. My life improved but nothing compared to visits to Maui. You will find that your sense of well being improves. Our mind leads the body.
    I also am an artist or try to be and just reached my 70th birthday this month. So I wish you many, many days in the “studio” and great joy on the wonderful island of Maui. Blessed sunshine. Aloha……. PS My best to Richard.

  5. Toni W. Chapman

    Loved reading your blog above. I am now a “fan”.
    Mahalo Akua ho’omaika’ioe
    Toni W. Chapman, Cincinnati, OH


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