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This guy...

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The last post might have made it sound like it, but fortunately 2014 was not all about health problems. On my better days, I slowly but surely worked on my creative projects, and looking back I actually made a lot of things! Making these things made me really happy, and let me get back in touch with myself and my creative passions. In 2013, I learned to sew clothes, and in 2014, I continued to hone my garment sewing skills, but I also learned pattern drafting (how to design my own custom fit patterns), drew a lot, published a second issue of my zine, created eight Heartgirls, and took about a zillion photos!

The moral of the story is I spent a lot of happy time here:

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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...

Health is not binary. People who are chronically and/or mentally ill may indeed be "sick" (a term with a huge amount of complexity in its own right), but we are not on any given day A) sick or B) not sick. These conditions can be lifelong or last many years, going through flares and remissions. But we are not just "sick", we are people with hobbies, partners, friends, and if possible, jobs. Our illness(es) may feel all encompassing at times, but they are not us. They are only a part of us - people who are just as complex and nuanced as any. And yet, it seems at times that there are absurd standards, perceptions, and expectations about what someone who is "sick" looks like. This only exacerbates our already complicated relationships with our bodies.

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I've been super duper laid out with a chronic illness flare for the last couple weeks, and as I've embarked on a Facebook fast, I guess I'm posting more here instead when I have things to say! 

For better or worse I usually use FB to kind of numb out and passively entertain myself when I'm not feeling well, so this has been a real challenge - I even let myself off the hook for a few of the worst days, cause frankly I wasn't actually losing any time to do more productive things. But I also use FB to stay in touch with friends, as do many people with chronic illnesses who can't get out and socialize in person as much as they'd like. Communicating online can be a huge way to avoid feeling completely socially isolated when you're sick a lot.

Over the last few weeks and through holiday socializing, I had couple of interesting commentaries from people in my life about my art and wanting to do creative work. The comments were very different, and very entertaining and thought provoking... One essentially compared the idea of trying to do creative work for a living to wanting to get paid for being a professional slacker. The other, from someone who came by and saw a drawing I'd done recently, was shock and awe, as in: I know you doodled, but this is really good...like you can really draw!

When Vivienne announced later in the summer she'd be doing a special edition of Be Your Own Beloved called "Beloved Body" in the fall, focusing on seeing our bodies with love and compassion, I was pretty excited. 

BB Day 1: embarking on a very long day with compassion

As part of my health and healing adventures, I've been working towards not seeing my body as the enemy. Even more challenging, I've been exploring how not to see my body as separate from my self or my mind, feeling like "it" is ruining all my plans and all my fun and getting in the way of things. Instead, I'm starting to see it as an ally and support that's doing its best every day, appreciating it for all that it does for me and how magical being alive at all truly is.

When we decided to try and extend our trip to Belgium, part of that included having time for a side trip so I could see a bit more of Europe. I agonized over where to go - flights are fairly cheap, and everything is so close together (and Bruno was fair game and let me have my pick)! In the end, I really wanted to go back to Berlin...

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I started weeding through my trip photos from September a few days ago because there are some really wonderful ones I wanted to share. I ended up splitting the side trip to Berlin into a separate post because there were just far too many!

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Happy long weekend y'all.

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