Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Priorities, people and learning to cope

I try to be cognative about my priorities, I work on it daily, and try to put my energies into what is the most practical and valuable thing I am able to do at that time. I also try not to overdo it, and that can be discouraging because I have to say "no" a lot (especially to myself!), but does result in more times when I'm able to do what I really I need to do, and lets me have more time that isn't severely painful, or when I can't do anything at all.

I've come to terms with it, most of the time, but occasionally I find it very difficult to deal with. I find that it helps to verbally acknowledge both the desire to do something, and the emotions, and then the fact that it's not such a great idea. I'm trying NOT to be my old Wonder Woman self, act like my body is a "tank", and then pay for it later with excessive recovery time.
This has some mixed results, and lately is partially responsible for a rift with someone I thought was a close friend, who has some major physical challenges of her own. She has gone into a big denial phase, for many reasons, and I remind her of my reality too often to be comfortable for her... so we've pretty much gone different ways.
It's a pity, but I am comfortable with my choices for now, and I'm convinced that denial just does not work for me at this point. When I act on denial, I end up even more limited for a time, and miserable, so what's the point?

This makes me wonder if reminding other people of their vulnerability, and non-immortality, is what makes it so very hard to be disabled, physically ill, or otherwise different in this society. I have been treated pretty rudely in public by strangers, and it reflects a great deal of fear, I believe.
So many "dear friends" from my past have dissappeared abruptly as soon as I had obvious physical limitations.
Are most people that afraid? It's a terrible thought, because most of us will eventually have some physical limitations to deal with, visible or not, and whether we choose to admit it or not... it's real, and I think coping with it, and adapting as much as possible, is much wiser than hiding from it.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Speaking of being a bit indulged...

I feel very loved, and though of, this Yuletide. My dear stepdaughter, who means the world to me, took time from her insanely busy life to find and send me a killer lavender bathrobe, a bit small, but so pretty! It was definitely the thought that counted, here, because she called us three days in a row, just because she had a chance and wanted to talk to us. She is so amazing! There's a magic frame, too... I mean computer frame, and I can put digital pictures in there, and use them to paint from, as well as putting them in a place where they can change and we can enjoy them! I have an idea about that...

My beloved husband went a bit nuts and not only got me the sewing machine I desperately needed, he got the very best we could possibly afford, because he knew I'd enjoy it. I had earlier asked for some special painting dvds by Don Andrews that I wanted very much, and/or some paints... but when my sewing machine was going, I thought he'd get it INSTEAD of the painting supplies.

Nope, they are here, too, and I've already seen one of the dvds and it was very much better than I would have thought it could be! Plus, he got me the paints... best of the best brand for my style and purposes, special ingredients, and they were not cheap! I can paint with them for months!!! Very special stuff, with ground turquoise, tiger's eye, other gemstones for heavy granulation, and I love the textures I can achieve with them, that are not possible with "standard" paints.

I love things I can use to make something else, use with my creativity, or learn something I'm interested in. I also got gadgets to use my Sandisc in the car, new headphones which I needed that retract, all things that I can use in my daily life.

Stuff isn't love, but being thought about, and cared about, and sometimes seeing that reflected in stuff, is love. I need to know I matter, and today it feels like I really do matter, even though I can't do everything I want to do.

I'm Very Happy about my Sewing Machine!

I got a new, gorgeous, fun fun fun Janome Memory Craft 9500 for Yule! I got a lot of other fun and great stuff, because I am spoiled, but I'm so happy about the sewing machine!!!

My old beloved Janome Memory Craft 4000 that I got in 1998 had many, many sewing and quilting miles on it, and has been leaking oil, squeeking because things are worn, badly worn, and has even been overheating and threatening to freeze up and never go again. I've had to turn it off to cool very often, and oil it/clean it thoroughly every sewing hour. I am not complaining, it has made many curtains, gifts, quilts and clothing items... but it is definitely ill. I am going to take it down for an evaluation to see if it is worth keeping as a backup, with a bit of repair... maybe, and maybe not.

In the meanwhile, all the special attachments I have for my old machine, fit and work on the new one. I have some familiarity with how it works, PLUS the new one has computer capability of some sort (still learning) and does some fancy embroidery, if I can learn how... ok, WHEN I learn how. Woohoo!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve in So. Cal.

This is just down the street, taken the other day when I was out painting in watercolor. This is really a beautiful climate, no matter how much I complain in the hottest parts of the year. I wouldn't mind more rain, or more cool days, but we just don't have blizzards, or ice storms, just heat and winds, but you CAN go to the beach, or probably find some air conditioned refuge. There is no refuge from an ice storm, if you have to go get supplies or run an errand.
I don't dream of a white Yule, not for more than a visit, I'm already in a paradise, with roses in my yard, Right NOW, in December, and plumeria still blooming a bit in front, they make leis out of them in Hawaii, and my herbs grow all year around. I could use a little more rain, but I'll settle for gorgeous Southern California!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Watercolors from this term... progress, I think?

I should take pictures of some of the others... these were on the wall for the class review and critique, and the ocean was really praised. More photos later!

Quilt pictures for this Yule

I got four !!! quilts completed, lap size (plus one for Susie that I didn't take a picture of before it got away), and we're going down to San Diego to set them free in their natural habitat - and I really hope they are enjoyed!

First, for my Niece:

Second, for her Grandmother:

For my Sister in Law:

And for my Brother in Law:

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Looking Forward to Olli

I sent in my $215.00 in to Olli - Cal State Fullerton, for a whole Year of fun, learning, and challenge. It's my job to pick my battles, find the things that will work for me, and not over do it. I see that they have a weekly Wednesday afternoon watercolor class, also there is a Plein Air class at the university side, but I need to know if they paint on the grounds, or go off campus to paint... also the art buildings are on the opposite side of the campus from the Olli building, so what should I do about parking?

I will have full access to the gym, and I need to find out what they have that I might be able to use - pool? jacuzzi? how hard is it to get to it all? What's the locker setup, can I leave things there, or must I bring it each time? Is there an arthritis aqua aerobics class by chance? It would be so nice if I could manage it, but there are some things I may be able to participate right at the Olli building, as I feel able.

I'm feeling enthusiastic about this, but I need to remember it's a challenge, and I'll go and check the place out physically and think about my strategy to make this a success.
How hard is it to get to the library?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

OLLI at Calstate Fullerton

It looks like this older adults program is tailor-made for me! It starts back up after January 17th, and I'm planning on going by and checking out location, parking, accessibility issues before then. I talked to their office, and classes I'm interested in will let me audit them for sure, space allowing.

I'll be able to work with a variety of University level art professors, take some other interesting classes at my mental level, as well as participating in the program classes I'm interested in doing, like joining the knitting/crafts circle for hanging out and getting a few projects done, the Watercolor Workshop on Wednesday mornings, and maybe some drawing or working on my Spanish, which would be helpful.

When Will retires, there are things he'll like, you get full access to the P.E. equipment, pools and stuff, there are philosophy and religious studies majors he would want to audit, as well as a lively and active computer school including opportunities to teach at the older adults program if he wants to.

You even get parking passes and full student status - access to the huge library, discounts on plays and shows, I'm so there! My only concern is getting around the huge campus, but the OLLI program is in a special building on the edge of campus, and as I get familiar, I can work it out... there may even be some transport available... sure wish I could still bicycle, that would be ideal!

They are sending me all the information they have so I can make plans in advance, and overcome some of the difficulties by anticipating them. I really can't wait to try it out!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

When you run into a wall...

...it's time to feel around for a door.

I searched the Cal State Fullerton website for a rumored program that has educational and creative opportunities for someone like me. And, I found it! For about $200/yr, I can basically participate in any of the senior activities they have going on, plus if I can get permission from the instructor, I can audit any of the university courses I want to!!!

Wow!!! I have to check this out, will be going to see the building they have soon, then see about maybe painting with them, or attending the knitting/needlecraft group, just to get a feel for what is available.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Right ankle train wreck

I have an ice pack on my ankle. I went out of the classroom today, ironically to leave a message for the disability office with my cell phone, and coming back in I hurt myself on the wooden object being used to prop the door open, because it blended in and I couldn't see it. I would have fallen all the way down, but caught myself on a nearby desk.

Of course, my right knee and ankle hurt, but I thought it wouldn't be too bad, and I was interested in the last class today, and the demo the teacher had arranged. Of course, it started swelling up, hurt worse than I expected as my pain meds wore off, and by that time they were filming the demo and I didn't want to interrupt. It escalated to a pain level 8 or 9, and I ended up clutching my ankle, tears running down my face a bit. As soon as it was over, I was given some ice in a bag, I had taken some more pain meds and they had started to work, and two students went to my car with me and carried my stuff.

What am I doing wrong? Maybe I should rethink something about my classes, but I know I can get hurt anytime this way... but somehow it's more embarrassing in a class full of people in their 20's, who don't have my issues at this stage in their lives.

The ankle will be ok in a few days, but the situation will come up again, and again, so what to do?

Access brainstorming

I've been taking a highly rewarding watercolor class at the local community college, and this term has been challenging because the teacher that uses the room previously, I'm not sure how much earlier her class ends... does not make the effort to get the classroom straightened up before she leaves.

This results in the "accessible" desk and chair for me, with the lovely signs on them, being crammed together in the back of the room along with anything else they want out of their way, including heavy cast iron easels, extra seating, spotlights... even loose trash, papers, pencil shavings, all over the place.

I have been asking for, and getting, help from my fellow students, or the kind teacher if he is around, but I have asked him to talk to the other teacher. He didn't do it. He "forgot", and finally last week I went to the art office and told the secretary there to tell that teacher. She did confirm that the teachers have a class at the beginning of the year telling them what they are supposed to do. I still don't think anyone has talked to this teacher, and my teacher came and told me honestly that he "forgot" to do it, and it's really too late now (today was the last class) to bother.

Results: This teacher will be continuing as usual, her students will not become more sensitive and responsible, and whoever comes to her classroom after her next term, will have the same problems, if they have physical challenges... including me, of course, since I'm continuing that class, in theory.

hmm. What to do?

Saturday, December 06, 2008

'Fessing up

I haven't been posting to my blog. I ended up abruptly quitting the oil painting class I was taking, just right before the end of the term, when the teacher's cumulative rudeness, intolerance for my disabilities, and some good old fashioned anger at being humiliated in public, made me decide it was not where I chose to spend my time.

I waited some time, then decided that the situation needed to be addressed, and I wrote and dealt with it... but it was several months before I could make myself pick up a paint brush again, and I still really haven't worked in oils since the disastrous parting with the class. I'm trying to go back into the oils, but it just hasn't happened yet.

I did sign up for a watercolor class in the Fall, and I've been enjoying it, but still having to fight with myself to get my creative side to cooperate. So, I've not been painting enough, and I have been producing a lot of unappealing work because I second guess myself and tighten up.

Starting last month, I decided that painting outdoors on Friday afternoons for a couple of hours would be a way to inspire myself and free myself from some of the negative results of the other class, so I have made it a point to go the last three Fridays, and I'm beginning to feel more inspired by nature and outdoor lighting... and letting myself relax more. I started a Yahoo group for any of the students in my class who want to do this, too, but I'm doing it for myself, first.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Life Painting class in Oils

I've been struggling with oils all term, and this is everything I've done so far. I see myself progressing, but each assignment has been a struggle, getting the desired textures, using only the colors allowed by the teacher for each assignment, painting myself without avoiding looking clearly at myself... these assignments have been really tough. The Spring break is over and Friday we start doing some new exercises. I need to remember that it is ok if I'm not happy with the limitations, because this is a learning experience, not about creativity. B*B, Ysabeau

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Challenges and point of view

First of all, it's a stunningly gorgeous day here, 75 degrees, skies bluer than a sky blue crayon, some light breezes doing a wafting thing with the leaves, and twittery birds here and there. It looks like something out of a happy childhood dream.

I've been dealing with a flu bug, but I was enticed out into my patio, with my book, coffee, and happy little dog. One thing was bothering me... I wanted to lift the patio cover up (it was dropped down to shelter from winds a few days ago), and that's a little tough for me. I sat there a while. I read and sipped coffee. Birds were in the pepper tree in our yard, and I couldn't see them... so I decided to raise the canvas cover. It is important to realize that I was doing this as a compromise because I wanted to take the dog to the Dog Park but thought this would be less difficult.

Putting the cover up, involves pulling each leg up to a certain height so it can click into a fastener, and is uneven until you get them all done. One done, no problem. Two done, ok so far. Three, oh, oh, not so good, have to slide along the side and support it until I can get to the last leg. I have to shove the glass table out of the way with one hip, step over some bricks to put pots on, carefully.. and my bad ankle chooses this moment to give out, with no way to catch myself.

I fall slowly, hard, my ankle wrenched because of an old metal piece fastened into the concrete that my shoe caught in, down onto my bad knee, I can feel things tearing a bit in my abdomen, block some of the force with slapping the concrete but can't get a good hit, and hurt my left wrist and palm when I come to rest, but that's no big deal. My bad knee has a palm-sized purple mark, in spite of long pants, so I iced things down, sat in my chair, and cried with pure old anger and frustration. It seems like I just can't do anything, without making a mess of myself.

This is why I have to be so thoughtful and plan out my adventures, and still expect some time to recover. In early February, I was trying to clean up the patio so I could use it, and ended up getting bit badly by one or two of the immature black widow spiders I found, and was killing with a stick. I didn't know I was bitten until later, because I can't feel my skin on a lot of my abdomen, and I had fourteen (I counted) bites in that area. I was pretty sick, but they are almost gone now, just little red marks and small lumps under the skin. Last term I was walking across a classroom, stepped on a cluttered ramp and my ankle just went and I really hurt it, if I hadn't had a cane I'd have fallen flat, and I was so embarrassed when I made a hurt sound, and everyone in the classroom heard me and people tried to help, and I couldn't keep from tearing up with the pain.. very frustrating!!! and it hurt bad for over a week, and slowed me down a lot.

I have a list of things I need or want to do, and I work away at it, but always much slower than I think. I want to do reasonable things, I try to be patient, but it is not easy for me. I like to keep our home up, cook for us, make things, and learn something. I see myself as a tough, resilient, intelligent person, and I try to break tasks down into smaller bits so they are more manageable, but I am not so perfect, and I lose my patience, my sense of humor, and don't always handle it well.

So, right now, I'm going to sit down and have a yogurt, drink my coffee, read a silly book, and put some happy or bluesy music on Rhapsody. I am going to accept my challenges, as much as possible, and try to keep my balance, because I love my life and it's a more than half full glass, all the time. I'm probably not going to go to the Dog Park today, though.



Thursday, January 24, 2008

Outdoor painting and rain

They don't go together. The wind keeps blowing my sunshade over in the back yard, and it's chilly and damp. Maybe I could paint out the windows?