Friday, 3 April 2015

Creative Baby Steps

There is my creative work and then there is all the other stuff I do.  Mostly that other stuff I think of as filler, as something I do when too tired physically or mentally to work properly.  Because this happens often, it's time for me to reevaluate how I think about this other stuff.  It's time to stop relegating it to a category of unimportance and consider it valuable as well.  I cannot exist in a life designed purely to entertain myself without sinking into depression. Like most people, I need a sense of purpose.  Fortunately for me I do have passions, but being prohibited from working on those passions by a body or brain that are refusing to cooperate with the requirements can leave me with idle and dull days of just passing time.  It is not a life of leisure; it is a form of imprisonment when your body cannot sustain sitting up, even supported, and your arms and hands cannot sustain enough range of movement even for knitting.  When your brain refuses to concentrate and you re-read the same sentence over and over several times not taking it in or making sense of it, this is not a life of leisure. 

If one more person makes a suggestion for treatment, as though I am not doing everything that can be done already, or have not tried and abandoned all sorts of nonsense out of desperation, if one more person says to me how they envy me and would love to have this leisurely life, I will be so angry I will....I will...probably write about it in this blog.   I am not actually any good at anger, though I am pretty skilled at being indignant.  I also have some reasonable skills for coping and I'm going to share them, along with my skills at layering.

It really helps to be flexible, to be able to see things from a different angle if you find yourself frustrated by where you are.  Not only can I lean to the right in a doorway, but I can also lean to the left.  



So in keeping with being able to lean left or right, I am reminding myself that there are other angles I can take on my frustrated days.  Instead of trivialising what I do when I am less able, I will remind myself that it is all part of how I seek inspiration and fuel for creativity.  Whatever I am taking in, whether it is imagery or text, is all part of what feeds my experiences that influence output.  It is easy for me to get focused on output or lack of it and to forget that I need input as well.  Yes, I wish I could have a bit more input from walks in nature parks or at the beach, or losing myself in a crowd downtown.  But focusing on what I do have instead of on what I don't have is a much better way to remain happy and so I remember that every little bit counts.  On some days I take creative baby steps.
  
I make notes on my ideas
I collect inspiring images online. 
I write in my journal and don't worry if it makes sense or not. 
I read things in small chunks so as to better process them 
I plan an outfit to look forward to wearing on my next non bedridden day.
If I can spend a couple of hours in a cafe, I can people watch and eavesdrop.

I have learned how to adapt, just as when I was a teacher I would adapt the environment or lessons for students with special needs; I must adapt things for myself as well.  For some reason, possibly to do with the low blood volume a person with ME supposedly has (my blood volume has not been measure but my symptoms fit the low blood volume theory) I can often function better mentally or regain some physical energy by periods of lying down.  I can still read and write when lying down though admittedly painting in bed is not ideal.   I may not read and write as well, but I can dabble at it.  Or lying down all afternoon may allow me to paint for a few hours in the evening.

The require attitude adjustment is that all of these little bits feed my creative output.  They have value and I must recognise it.

And now, here is the intellectual version of today's outfit. It is accessorised with glasses, a serious frown and a double chin.


And while Coco Chanel may have preferred to take one accessory off at the last minute, I am usually inclined to add one or two.  In this case, I added a leather bracelet and my watch.



20 comments:

  1. I love your steps you wrote out and what a great idea I wish I'd thought about at one time in my life. I spent just one year on chemo and radiation years ago but that was hard enough. The fatigue and inability to get out was a real drain in so many ways. I love the reading in small amounts, then pondering over it more. Another wonderful idea to plan an outfit you can look forward to and hang it out to view until you feel up to it. Fantastic! You've learned some useful survival skills a lot of us may not have an opportunity to develop.
    I've been watching your pins on these layered looks and I think I love this outfit you've pulled together the most. It's an awesome color on you too. Why, I don't even see the double chin!! ;)
    Hope you have a good weekend on your lovely Island,
    Joni

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    1. Thanks Joni, for the compliment on the outfit and the double-chin blindness. I know how sick chemo and radiation can make a person, having had a few friends who've had to go through it. We may all deal with illnesses differently but I sometimes hope that by sharing how I cope I may be able to help someone who is also trying to cope right now. Also, to say that sometimes I don't cope. Sometimes I just feel frustrated and that is okay too. Have a great Easter weekend, lovely lady! xoxo

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  2. Marginalizing anything you produce is not the way to go. I'm sorry that your ME takes away from activities you would like to enjoy, it must be very frustrating. Like Joni I also had cancer, but it was 11 years ago and physically only took a direct toll for a year or so. Mentally much longer. Chronic illness is something I can only imagine the frustration of. Your blog gives many people enjoyment, and that is something to celebrate and appreciate your efforts. I imagine it speaks to both artists and other women looking for a bit of humour and enjoyable writing with their fashion posts! I enjoy it very much :-) I really love the layers and the way the colours build in this outfit. I don't wish to give unwanted health advice, truly I know how annoying it is from experience(!), but I will say that Reiki did help my energy levels during chemotherapy - I know not everything works for everyone, just in case you hadn't tried it. I do think having a holistic treatment here and there (I've also tried and liked Acupuncture) maybe just helps the mind to relax and de-stress as much as anything. I don't believe they are cure all's, but if your body is under perpetual strain it might help. Maybe a day visit to a gym or local pool where you might sit in a warm pool if you are up to it. (And if you have tried these things sorry if I'm overstepping). But it sounds like you have a routine that works well for you anyway, I guess I just wanted to double check you were focusing as much on self care as on what you are capable of producing, it's something I myself had to learn. All the best, Steff xo

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    1. Steff, I recently read on your blog about your experience with cancer, and I know you have a scar to remind you of it daily. Thanks for caring enough to share one of your successful strategies. You are right that sometimes it is easy to forget self care and sometimes it is just too exhausting to manage it. I sometimes get massages to help with the aches and pains that come with ME and when I can't do 'real' yoga I have a little stretching routine I call my bed yoga. Even a nice soak in a warm bath can be a little bit of self care that makes a difference. I am fortunate to have a nice deep soaker tub. I tried acupuncture and my body reacted to it like it was being
      attacked. This sounds like a lot of whinging, but the times when I need this sort of self care the most are the times when I am barely able to get out of bed and definitely not able to get myself to treatment facility. I suppose for that reason I do rely a great deal on my mindset and on keeping my attitude positive.
      Have a great weekend and thank you so much for the thoughtful comments you leave on my blog. xo

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    2. I know from experience that there are people who will line up to inform you that you can cure your own illness with homeopathy, which is irksome in the extreme, so I'd never want to push any particular treatment on anyone. I also found acupuncture intense at times,sorry it wasn't for you. Reiki was much gentler for me though also makes you tired before the energy comes back. And if you did try it I would say different people have different effects,I know it sounds a bit loony but I had three different practitioners at a cancer charity and there was one who by far connected the most and made me feel better, whether that was just a personal comfort thing I don't know. Glad you are enjoying massages, you have every right to have a whinge (I love that you use that word across the pond!). With ME you would hope for charities that could do more home visits, I can only imagine how frustrating it is and you are doing a great job staying positive and I wish you only health and wellness. xo

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  3. It is very good to make baby steps, that is where everyone begins. I am sure people with advice are well meaning but I understand it must be really.irritating!!!!x

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    1. Yes, they are well meaning. I am a firm believer that most people are good, kind people. It is really the comments about my enviable life of leisure that are irritating and even then, I know those people do not mean to be insensitive. It's not as though I have never said a stupid thing before ever! Have a great weekend, Kezzie! xoxo

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  4. Life can be hard so learning to adapt is essential. Rarely is everything lost so we need to focus on what's available to us, not what's missing. Nice post. BTW, during my visit with Megan Mae last week, she gushed about how much she likes you. Just sayin'....

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    1. As in Just sayin' 'why the hell have you not visited her blog?' No good excuses other than my own personal fatigue and confusion but I adore Megan so I will make it my mission of the day to fix my oversight. xoxo

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  5. lagenlook at its best my dear!
    love your thoughts about changing the perspective! for most things in life - things we can not change - this is the best we can do. frida kahlo made her best paintings while lying in bed with a broken spine....
    hugses! xxxxxx

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    1. Lagenlook is meant for doorways. Either nobody has caught my little joke of the upside down book or they are all too polite to point it out.

      I thought of Frida painting in bed but then I remembered there were other people to clean up. I would end up stuck to the sheets with paint and never been seen or heard from again! ;-) xoxo

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    2. :-D i just imagine you encrusted with paint in your bed - oh my!

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  6. Dear Shawna, such a beautiful outfit (maybe my fave of yours yet), and such hard-won wisdom, skills, and truth. You are a shining star, no matter which way you lean. :)

    Boy, do I hear you on the unwanted medical advice! I appreciate you sharing what works best for you. xoxo

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    1. Thank you, Amber. The best thing about this outfit is that it is as comfortable as pyjamas. Mostly I lean left in all things. ;-) The medical advice is always well meaning but ranges from the benign and well intentioned to the dangerous and wacky. People can be as enthusiastic about their cure beliefs as they are about religions ones! xoxo

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  7. The blend of colours and layers here is so soft and pretty - very you, Shawna!
    I agree that a good way to approach reduced energy/activity levels is to reduce self-criticism about the issue, since that can only serve to make you feel worse. And I like the idea that input and process are just as important as output. You are approaching your limitations with compassion and creativity, and what could be better than that? xxx

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  8. You created such a beautiful layered look here! Wonderful! A double chin is only another imperfection which we want to embrace. :))) That's my mantra anyway.
    Love xxx

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  9. First, you look gorgeous. Your hair is just.. omg love, and then the outfit but THE SHOES. I have been on the hunt for 'work appropriate' mary janes and those look so adorable.

    Second, I hear you on 'helpful' people. I stopped blogging (for many reasons, but as Alli and Megan can attest-- ) because I started to get real life criticisms and suggestions from people that have no idea what I'm going through. From my weight, to my struggle with depression, to my art/clothes- instead of doing a write up I just started to feel stifled. I hope you do a write up. I could really use suggestions on how to nicely put well-meaning but seriously clueless people into their place.

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  10. This hair is several months of growing out a pixie and trying to grow out my bangs. You should see it at the moment after I have slept on it. It is all flat on one side and sticking out on the other. LOL
    Here is what I know after 48 years of living. There are three kinds of people: really nice ones you should spend your time with, ignorant, unkind or absolutely awful people you should ignore, and people who can't decided which of these to be so they do both to you. From those people you should run far away.
    Like all of us, I think of the best comebacks when it is much too late and also, I am (shh don't tell anyone) really nice and find myself unable to say something that sounds nasty to someone who has just said something unkind to me. Unless it is really blatant. I fight back if someone throws a punch.
    I wish you could just come over and hang out with me and we could have a really good chat about all the witty things we would say to these people who want to criticise us and then we would laugh about how sad they are in reality. As for the honestly well meaning but ignorant ones, we would just privately roll our eyes and maybe have a contest to see which one of us is best at eye rolling.
    Big hugs for you, Meghan. I miss you blogging but I am so glad you popped in here to chat. You are awesome and really cool smart people like me know it! ;-) xoxoxo

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  11. Playing catch up, just want to say how much I like you in those colours!!

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  12. If one more person suggests to me some other form of treatment, I think I might just slap them:) at least in my mind...I'll rather stick with what my doctors are telling me to do, thank you very much. People can be so insensitive sometimes....and sometimes just downright mean. I'm so tired of people sometimes....envious people are the most tiring ones, aren't they?

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