Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Hero's Heart

I had trouble picking up the coffee pot this morning.  Arthritis…I think I have more trouble with the psychological aspects than the pain, I really do.  

I’m remembering being 31 and beating two grown men who jumped me.  I had just had my daughter two months before (a Caesarian) and she was in her car seat, in the car, when I was attacked.  I remember other times when physical strength was a blessing…not just during times of crisis, but in daily life.  In being able to do things for myself and hold my own when working with others.  

And when my legs, feet and lower spine started affecting my ability to walk and stand I can remember how precious and exciting it was to discover kayaking.  It was an activity that I could do using my upper body strength; it allowed me to be and feel active and I loved it – until I became ill with fibro.
But even with the fibro, I could still lift coffee pots.  More than anything else that my body has experienced, the arthritis makes me feel weak.  Makes me feel helpless and dependent.  I’m struggling with that right now.  I know the pain is related to the cold weather, with temps below 30 degrees many mornings.  And I know that I’ll adjust and adapt, it’s just being in the ‘how’ stage that is uncomfortable.

Multiple crises in my life have taught me that I am strong.  Not just physically, but emotionally as well.  I am not afraid of taking action; I’m not afraid of stepping in and doing what needs to be done or of defending others when it's needed.  

 I have no idea where it came from, but I have a hero’s heart.  I can see that so clearly now.  And that heart has made a difference, not just for me, but for others as well.

From living through a revolution in a ‘third world’ country at the age of 6; surviving years of abuse and neglect; an abusive marriage; many, many multiple miscarriages and a near death experience; being hit by a car; single parenthood and poverty; to surviving a bombing and the resulting homelessness at the age of 36, I have survived.  
In being called to work in social services; in advocating for myself and others; in speaking in public and giving workshops; in using my life experiences as fuel to make a difference; I have survived.

I have been true to what has meaning in my life and am learning more and more to be true to myself .  I have grown, I have triumphed and I KNOW that there are so many different kinds of strength other than the physical.

If I hold these memories close right now, it is because they remind me of who I am and what I’m capable of.  They give me strength for this part of my journey, traveling through my personal ‘undiscovered country’ and seeking new ways of being in the world.
Yes, I may have trouble lifting the coffee pot.  But I can still hold my grandson and hug my kids!  I can still create and craft.  I can write, type and read.  I can advocate.  And I can see, feel and cherish all the good, all the light, that life has to offer.  I’m still learning.  Part of the wonder of being human is our ability to learn, to change, to adapt, to grow and to choose, in each moment, what our perceptions and focus will be.   

What are you choosing? 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Imprinting With Craft Foam

I've been experimenting this morning and I have to admit that I'm really happy with the results! 

I bought a package of craft foam at Dollar Tree - ten 8" x 12" pieces for, you guessed it, a dollar!  I cut each piece in half (4" x 6") before starting.  

I played with pen and paper at first, trying different designs, and once I had a few that I liked, I began drawing the designs directly onto the craft foam using a ball point pen, thickening the lines as necessary.  This particular foam is fairly thin and I had to be careful not to imprint to the point of cutting completely through to the back.  I didn't worry about having everything perfect.  I think that any imperfections just add charm to the end results!  These are the ones that I ended up with:


These are the results on paper.  I used foam paint brushes and acrylic paints to coat the foam sheets, then flipped the sheet over, applied it to the paper and gently smoothed the back of each sheet to make the imprint.  I recommend rinsing the sheets and gently cleaning after use to avoid paint build up and allowing multiple usage.

The one shown here (to the right) was my first attempt, and I used the spiral design in decorating the cover and back for the journal I've created to use in The Truth Project which is an eight week long workshop that I'm taking with Stephanie Gagos.  I used permanent marker to highlight the spirals.  You could use markers of different colors, a glaze, wash of watercolor, apply multiple colors in layers or highlight with glitter...and have a variety of results.

I have to admit to having favorites!  The spirals, the swirls that remind me of bandanas, and the leaves.  The geometrics are nice too and I think they, especially, would work well highlighted with markers.  And just the idea of having up to twenty different imprints for only a dollar - well, the frugal me is loving that too!