• A funny thing happened yesterday. After I wrote the post about how much I was struggling with answering the call, I posted it to a Facebook group of people who've come together around an online workshop we all took recently - Lisa Congdon's "Become a Working Artist". The first person to respond recommended I read The Artist's Way - the proverbial bible of how to be an artist, as they had been working through it and finding it useful.

    Funny thing is I've owned a copy for at least a few years, and though I think I've cracked it open a couple times, I never made it past the intro. Alas, I've often found that when the time is right, the book finally resonates, so I went and pulled it off of my shelf upstairs. Then I sat down, and pressed on through the preamble, and both Introductions (I have the 10th Anniversary edition, so there's an intro before the intro) in full. All the way into the first chapter. 

    What do you know - the time was right. From page 5:

    Working with this process, I see a certain amount of defiance and giddiness in the first few weeks. This entry stage is followed closely by explosive anger in the course's midsection. The anger is followed by grief, then alternating waves of resistance and hope...

    This choppy growth phase is followed by a strong urge to abandon the process and return to life as we know it.

  • "He who would be what he ought to be must stop being what he is." - Meister Eckhart

    I unabashedly love Liz Gilbert. She just did a two part interview with Oprah on Super Soul Sunday, and the first part aired last weekend and is now online for all to see. I highly recommend you watch it. (The second part is coming up this weekend.) This first half is focused around the topic of figuring out what your "quest" in life is, why you're here and how to make it happen.

    This part really resonated with me:

    Oprah:
    Isn't it true though, I knew this for myself, when there came a time for me to leave Baltimore, and everybody around me was saying, "No, there's no way you're gonna succeed." I didn't hear it as much as I felt it - I felt that if I didn't move, from where I was, for whatever I was being called to, here obviously, in Chicago... I felt that if I didn't do it, a part of me would die. I felt that I would just sort of like, not physically die, but that parts of me would sort of shrivel up in some way, and that I would not be emotionally, spiritually, myself. Did you feel that?

  • This morning I read this article on xoJane about apologizing. The part that stuck out at me wasn't the main point of it, though:

    Our reluctance to say sorry when we’ve been wrong often causes more harm than our original offense. We argue, we gaslight. We force the person we’ve harmed to justify, over and over again, their right to feel hurt by our actions, and then we still deny them that. We make them the enemy, we become the injured party. We demand apologies for having to think of ourselves as less than good people. And we don’t learn. - Ijeoma Oluo 

    I only learned the term gaslighting more recently, but the phenomenon is familiar. It's something I've lived through over and over. From when I was somewhere around five years old, my feelings were not only invalidated, but I was made to feel like I was crazy, overreacting, too sensitive, too emotional... When I got picked on, harassed, and bullied, I'd get upset - I'd try and stand up for myself, but beneath the surface I was internalizing all of it. Eventually I would crumple emotionally, and run away to cry my face off.

  • I just came across this video of model Melanie Gaydos from the What's Underneath Project.

    What an amazing, humanizing, project and video. Usually stuff like this rubs me the wrong way, but this felt different and lacked that exploitative quality (maybe because it's not a project specifically about disabled/chronically ill people?)

    I love the way she talks about her body and her life so much - I can relate to her story even though her personal and health experiences are magnified by the severity and visibility of her illness, and the intensity of the history with her family...

  • I've been pondering recently...

    Social media makes life - even personal life - oddly impersonal. We click "like" and feel like we've REALLY supported someone (emotionally, or in their work), instead of actually giving real tangible support. For example, someone is fundraising for a project or a charity, or showing their artwork, and we click "like" and feel like we did something good to support them, when really we did nothing. We no longer feel any obligation to actually put our energy or money where our mouth (or mouse?) is. We don't really show up for people.
    We post our thoughts and feel like we're actually talking to people, but when we read people's posts, we feel like they weren't really trying to communicate with us. So few people will actually respond to a meaningful or heartfelt post in any earnest or genuine way. We'd rather assume it wasn't for us, or maybe we feel uncomfortable, and we decide it's best to do nothing.

  • Happy fall equinox folks! I'm so happy to be finally feeling the hints of fall arriving... Back to school has arrived a little late where I live (thanks to a long teacher's strike here), so I guess this still counts as back to school time! Even if you (or a little one in your life) isn't actually going back to school, it's easy to still get wrapped up in that feeling of possibility and wondering what the next many months will bring...

    My latest Heartgirl's message feels so very appropriate for this time of year, as it can be one that brings up those feelings of wondering if you'll be accepted by your peers, if your teacher will like you, if life is going to be a struggle or if it's going to feel easy as delicious pie... Sometimes we need a little reminder of just how wonderful we really are.

    lovable
    ~ You are so loveable! Heartgirl by Ariane K ~

  • I discovered this video by Hank Green (of Vlog Brothers fame) last night, and had to share it here. I used to watch Hank and John Green's videos religiously, back in the Brotherhood 2.0 days (this will all be gibberish to the non-Nerdfighters out there). But then there was just so much stuff on the internet that it became impossible to keep up on everything I wanted to read and watch, so I just catch the odd video here and there... All this to say, somehow I missed this video. 

    Last night I was feeling super duper down on myself and life because of how shitty and sick I've been feeling lately, and was reading some internets, and down the internet vortex I went, and I ended up at this video, and sometimes the internet is just wise and leads you to exactly what you need in that very moment. I hope you'll watch it, because I relate a ton to what he says.

  • I've been biting my tongue on this for so long... I know how some of it is going to sound. No, really, I know. People just don't say these things, or maybe they don't think about them or realize at all. It's very real though. There is a hierarchy of illness, and it leads to massive inequality among people who are sick. It leads to unthinkable hardship for those who have the "wrong" kind of illness. It's like some form of sickness-ism (discrimination of sick people based on exactly which type of illness they have).

    My friend Stephanie summed up life with ongoing illness so well:

    "It's very upsetting to wake up day after day with hopes and plans and dreams and be completely unable to do any of them."

    I quoted what she'd written on Facebook, followed by my own addition:

    I often think about how lucky most people are to just be able to do what they want without such immense and non-negotiable restrictions. I don't think I even remember what that's like anymore.

    That I can usually cope with. What's hard to cope with, what makes me really sad, is how people who haven't been through this can't understand it. They still believe somehow it's a choice. That if I really wanted to, I could just do things. That the barriers are only psychological (and I don't mean mental illness, I mean lack of will or motivation).

    I will never be able to understand how anyone could truly believe that someone, that I, would choose to live like this.

    But this problem is a symptom. I've been thinking about why this mentality exists, and that's my conclusion - it's a symptom... of the hierarchy of illness.

  • I wanted to write a quick post to announce a new Heartgirl drawing, the first since I completed the original six. This one's message: You are not a lost cause.

    Did someone give up on you? Did you give up on yourself? Is it all too far gone, rock bottomed right out, down in a deep dark bottomless pit that you'll never crawl out of? No, no, you are not done yet. Nowhere near out for the count. Don't let them write you off, and certainly don't give up on yourself. You have strength within you that you never knew existed... and they don't know a thing about it. If I know one thing, I know this: I am not a lost cause, and neither are you!

    You are not a lost cause
    ~ You are not a lost cause Heartgirl by Ariane K ~

  • Last week, I wrote this long blathery post about navigating friendship with chronic illness. Then I sat on it for several days. I'm still sitting on it. Something about it didn't quite feel right...

    Friendships, or really any relationships, and how they last or don't doesn't actually have much to do with whether you're chronically ill or not. Chronic illness is just one among the many things that can make or break any close relationships - things like going through a breakup, a divorce, a death in the family, a major career change, financial woes, the birth of a child... Anything that shakes you out of your routine and your comfort zone, and pushes you into the unknown, into grief and loss, or the new and unfamiliar. Anything that makes your life afterwards somewhat (or very) unrecognizable.

    I've lost a LOT of friends over the past five years. If I started listing them all, I might have a full on self-hate and shame meltdown. ("It must be me!!!!" "What will people think????") It'd be like having a scarlet letter on my sweater - except F for Failed Friend.

    The thing is - it is me, not them. Yes, me. My unwillingness to be taken advantage of. My unwillingness for a relationship to be completely on another person's terms. My failing tolerance of my kindness being taken for granted. My finally standing up for myself, and learning that I am worthy enough not to go chasing and pandering after people who don't really care about me the way I deserve.

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