Bottling Grief

 From my grief sketchbook & journal:

Grief Should be Bottled

Bottled Grief Art -- copyright Mark A Hicks
When you have those moments of entitlement, when you feel superior, when your compassion for others wanes, when you have no empathy, when you put your own selfish needs above your loved ones’ needs, you take a whiff from the bottle. And it brings you to your knees.

Suddenly an unimaginable heartache hits you. Then an overwhelming fear that your world has forever changed. The bright future that you had so vividly imagined turns dark and bleak. The hopeless feeling that all the things that you held so dear have been ripped from your arms never to be embraced again. The painful guilt of missed opportunities to share your love or just simply say “I love you” sets in. And the tears flow uncontrollably.

Slowly the you regain your composure as the effects wear off. You rise up from your knees with a renewed gratitude for life. And gratitude that it was only temporary and you thankfully will not have to carry those horrid feelings with you for the rest of your life, unlike me who had a loved one die from cancer in my arms.



The Wizard of Oz said, "Hearts will never be practical until they are made unbreakable."

I will be taking a long break from the drawing board and sketchbook because
my heart has been ripped from my chest and crushed and creativity drained from my soul.  In June, the love of my life and mother of my child lost her courageous fight against hereditary breast cancer and passed away peacefully (traumatically for me) in my arms.
My beautiful wife was a sweet and generous soul. A loving wife and nurturing mother. A world-class educator. All stolen away by an evil disease.
Her nearly 4-year cancer struggle was a nightmare journey through some of the darkest regions of hell for her, me (her primary caregiver), and our adult daughter.  Heartbreakingly, it was preventable.   Genetic testing and prophylactic surgery would have reduced her risk by 95%.  Unfortunately, despite a devastating family history of cancer, the need for urgent genetic testing was never made clear to her by relatives acutely aware of a germline BRCA2 mutation for many years.

Because family members too often fail at effectively communicating the seriousness of the risk and the urgency of getting tested to other family members, there is dire need for more education about and better screening for hereditary cancer risks. To learn more about hereditary cancer and how you can help improve the lives of families and individuals facing hereditary cancer go to: FacingOurRisk.org or BrightPink.org. Assess your personal risk for breast and ovarian cancer here: www.assessyourrisk.org/

Take time to care. A little effort and love can make a big difference. Not just in one life, but in all the lives connected to that life.  -- mark


On the Other Hand

Sometimes life literally changes in a minute. Plans change, or more accurately, you are often forced to change your plans. (Hmmm, that theme seems familiar -- I think I wrote and illustrated a children's book years ago about plans changing.)
Recently a loved one had a life-threatening medical crisis related to her cancer battle.  Now I’m reevaluating plans and reinventing myself to give my full attention to where it is needed the most. That means that updating this journal/blog might be a little sporadic for a while.

Needless to say, my creativity took a serious nosedive because of this crisis. However, while waiting for news from the doctors and surgeons I spent time doodling with my other hand to try and divert my attention. I leave you for now with a couple of those doodles from my sketchbook rendered with my other hand…


Dumping on 2020

 2020 was the Year of the Rat and it was a real %!*#$! stinker and needs to be dumped on!

2020 was the Year of the Rat, but as it turned out, it was really just one big stinking rat's arse of a year. I sincerely hope 2021, which according to the ancient Chinese zodiac is the Year of the Ox, will be a better year for the world and not full of BS.



Nature's Greetings

Nature's Greetings
Sending out holiday greeting cards that I illustrated has been a tradition for over 40 years. However, this year I agonized for weeks on whether I should even send out cards. And if I do create artwork for a card, what should I render? A cartoon? No. Something whimsical? No.

The pandemic, the tanking economy,
the passing of friends, a loved one battling cancer  -- like so many others, 2020 was a rough year for my family.

Ultimately, I decided to go ahead and create a card so my family and I could once again reach out to relations, friends, and business acquaintances with a personal touch. And I looked for
my muse where I have so often found inspiration and solace  – among the natural beauty and wildlife of the canyons of the West.

Best wishes. May 2021 be one of recovery, hope, love, and beauty for you and yours.


Know nature. Learn to be still.


A Jolly Howliday Children's Book

Fun Holiday Children's Book
Coyote Claus: A Southwestern Desert Tale
, is a
holiday children's book with a fun southwestern-themed take on Clement C. Moore’s A Visit from St. Nicholas. Now into its second printing!