Self-care

It's been a while now since I've come out of denial about my illness. I've had some time to at least begin to grieve the losses that have come with it. Friends, family, future plans, hobbies... my loss list is long and detailed. I have also been able to receive some gifts from my illness - it's not all loss. But the gifts don't make the loss any less real, any less difficult.

One of the bigger things I've lost is my ability to be gainfully employed. I haven't been able to work even part time in over two years. All the shame, judgment, and social implications aside, there is something that feels degrading about having my daily purpose and to an extent, my financial independence stripped away. These have probably been the hardest for me to adapt to. And yet, adapt I must and I will!

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Me, at peace, making art in my home studio, 2013
I want to maintain this elusive calm in my work life

Limits. We don't like them. We don't want to be told by anyone - not even ourselves - what we can or can't do. That each of us will eventually hit a wall at some point.

While working on my previous post on illness and beauty/body image, I had several conversations with different friends, and one of the topics that people kept really honing in on was denial. An email exchange with a friend turned into a long rant on my part, and I thought it was worth sharing, so I've fleshed it out into this post - I feel like it's a very important awareness to develop.

loss-final
~ Let your loss set you free Heartgirl by Ariane K ~

I think I first discovered zines in my later years of high school. My crash course was through two books: Pagan Kennedy's book "Zine", and then this compilation called "A Girl's Guide to Taking over the World". It would be years before I'd get my hands on an actual zine...

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.

I came across this again today, it's as wonderful as the first time I saw it. Had to share it here for posterity... 

It's been turned into a book now too. Tanya Davis wrote and performed the original poem.

I'm reading an amazing book right now, recommended to me by my friend who passed away earlier in the year. I wish I could thank her for bringing this book into my life, but since I can't I'm going to make sure to share it with as many other people as I can. I've been sharing bits of it on my various online channels, but I wanted to write a bit about it here for anyone who's not able to see my other posts. Every one of you should read this book! 

It's called How to be an Adult by David Richo, and it is basically a guide to how to behave and think like an adult - responsible, assertive, self-actualized, healthy relationship boundaries, and all that good stuff. It's so clear and specific, and it's a short book but it's absolutely packed with insights.

Goodbye 2013. 

BB Day 27

You rivaled 2012 for how shitty I often felt, both physically and emotionally. But I also had some reprieves and glimmers of hope, showing me that change may be slow, but it's still possible. 

You were at once one of the hardest and most important years of my life. I'm tempted to say "good riddance", but that wouldn't be quite right...instead I'll say thank you.

This afternoon I got to do something really special, and it occurred to me I should get these thoughts written down before they start to dissipate. I figured why not share them with all of you, lest they be of a tiny bit of help or inspiration to someone else... The special thing I got to do was join a few other women on a Google hangout (ie. video call) with two of the creative women who I admire the most: visual artist and illustrator, Lisa Congdon, and founder of Design*Sponge, Grace Bonney!

diamond studded

Earlier this week, I was inspired by Vivienne's "word of the year" post, and really challenged myself to come up with one of my own for this coming year. I've half-heartedly considered choosing a word of the year before, but I've never actually done it (and I certainly felt a level of resistance around it, not sure why). This time I felt ready, but I didn't really know where to start, so of course I googled it and found a helpful worksheet that helped me to hash things out.

I've been feeling very stuck these last couple years, like I've been trying to get somewhere, and can't seem to figure out where it is that I want to go or how to get there. I've been feeling this immense pressure to figure it out, to get healthy, to get going... but it's so counterproductive - pressure is the enemy of an anxious person with chronic illness! Round and round I've gone, wanting, yearning, but feeling held back by my body or my mind or my history or pretty much everything. It's not a nice feeling and as much as I've wanted to, it's been hard to shake. The reality is that I had expectations about where I'd be by now, and they haven't been met.

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.

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