Monday, April 16, 2012

Thank You Brené Brown

Brené recently had a post titled ‘The Worst Advice EVER’ that really hit home for me.  In her post, she writes about her take on a little piece of advice that I’m sure all of  us have heard at some point – ‘You can rest when you’re done!’  You can read her post here The Worst Advice Ever
Living with chronic illness and disabilities is an ongoing, daily and often, a moment-by-moment process of redefining my way of being in the world.  I’ve often been given advice along the lines of ‘You just have to try harder’; ‘You need to make more of an effort’ or the related ‘You’re not trying hard enough’  and ‘you can be sick when you’re done’.    Then there’s that two edged sword that some people try to bring into play, comparing my situation with someone elses.  ‘So-and-so has chronic illness too, but it doesn’t seem to stop her.  She never uses it as an excuse!’

Do I need to mention the guilt I used to feel (and I admit I sometimes still do) at hearing those?  Yes, I think I do.  They are comments given by well-meaning friends, family and acquaintances.  People who really have no concept or understanding of what it is to be me; to live my life on a daily basis; or even to simply live with chronic illness and chronic pain.  Words that are meant lovingly and offered as a gift instead become judgment.  And those judgments have the power to create heartache, self-doubt and blame, hardship and yes, physical pain!

I ask you to keep in mind that, if I share something of what I’m experiencing, I am not making excuses.  I am not asking for or expecting your sympathy, your pity.  I am simply expressing a part of my reality.  I ask you also to remember that what I (or any of us!) experience each day, and how I experience it, is going to be different from everyone else – even those who share the same exact illness and disabilities.  Our coping mechanisms, our various boundaries, our tolerance levels, our experiences will ALL be different and defined by our individuality.

 I can only speak from my own experience; I can only validate myself.  ‘You can rest when you’re done’ has a totally different meaning within the context of my life.  For me, resting when I’m done means learning to honor myself by listening to my body’s cues.  It means finding my own stopping and starting points in everything that I do.  It means learning to live in the moment and also learning to be gentle with myself. 

How I wish that those were skills that I was able to learn BEFORE becoming ill…because I firmly believe that having those core skills would have helped me to avoid becoming ill to begin with. 

If you like the artwork that I'm showing here, I've made it available for you to print!  Just go to  Be Gentle With Yourself then right click and choose 'print'.  Let me know if you print it...this is the first time I've made something available for printing and I'd love to know!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Artist Trading Card Experiment

My daughter and I both participated in our first ATC swap last month, also making our very first ATC's.  It was a nice way to have Marta be involved, and with only three of us trading, it was a small enough project that I was able to complete it even while in the midst of a fibromyalgia flare up.  And small enough for Marta to be able to fit it into her busy schedule.  Working full-time, taking college courses and parenting a three year old don't leave a lot of time for other pursuits (can you tell I'm a proud Mama?).

This is one of a series of cards my friend Terri made with "Home is Where the Heart Is" as the theme. 
She started by lightly sanding and then applying acrylic paint as the foundation, followed by inking the background using gauze to daub on two different colors of Ranger paints.  She used paper from Heidi Grace that depicted a series of whimsical houses, cutting each house by hand.  To give each card a 3D effect, Terri added and outlined trees and painted the sun, following up by hand sewing beads and sequins to the background. 

I love the detail, layers and colors on these ATC's!

If you line up all three cards, it looks like an actual street of houses - as Terri says 'like we are neighbors, because I think of us as not only friends but as neighbors'.  

As special as the cards are, that sentence is even more so!

This next card was done by Marta.

The background was done using tissue paper and irridescent strips of paper.  The birds and hearts were cut by hand from scrapbooking paper and the legs were hand drawn, then 'adore' and 'happiness' stickers were applied before finishing up with a coat of gel medium.

Marta's second and third cards (not shown here) were done by coloring the background using liquid chalks, then applying black and white floral cutouts.  The cutouts were colored with artist markers and then the cards were finished using rubber stamps.

I didn't follow a theme for my cards, but this is the first one:
The background was first sprayed with homemade alcohol ink spray and then lightly coated with liquid chalk.  I used an East Indian motif from Dover and applied the image as a transfer (my first attempt at doing a transfer!), which I then colored with artist markers and outlined in black.  The words are handwritten. 

I'm happy with ALL of the results and very much enjoyed doing the ATC swap.  We're going to be doing another one for April, with the addition of one more person.  We're open to having more people participate, but the deadline is April 30th!

If you'd like to give and receive little pieces of art from the heart, let me know.  Group swaps will be between five to seven people, no matter how many participants there are!  Just leave a comment here with your contact info (your email address should be in this format to discourage spam, etc:  CreativeArtitude at hotmail dot com)