{being transformed}

"free to fly"

Last week, I officially became an Arizonian!

And I managed to take a GREAT license picture.

I also ventured to the Tempe Public Library, an impressively large, newly-renovated library where the library cards are not only designed by local artists, but you can choose which design you like most for your card.


While searching for books and running around the stacks as I worked down my list, I found the most amazing book: When Walls Become Doorways: Creativity and the Transforming Illness by Dr. Tobi Zausner. The book contains little profiles on artists and how they create art despite disability or illness and HOW they beat all odds to create when faced with difficulty. As I began to read, I became more and more enthralled with the idea that I, too, could create despite my limitations.

For years, I have pushed myself to sit at a desk and work, or stand and paint against a wall. And while I love creating, and have painted and drawn and collaged in such ways, I felt ucky after, or had to leave while in the flow due to pain. How, then, could I create without causing myself unnecessary pain?

I already wrote while sitting in my comfortable recliner, so why couldn’t I paint?

So I grabbed the drawer tower thingy I got at Walmart and plunked it down next to my chair in the living room. Pulled out the paints and stacked them on top, treating it like a table. Now, I’d have all my supplies close at hand and could remain comfortable while painting!

With my paint near the TV, I could paint while watching my favorite Primetime shows (I’m currently listening to Castle!)! And, amazing thing - I was more productive!

According to Zausner, people with ADD can usually find it easier to focus when music, media, or the spoken word is played in the background - and I agree, though I’ve never officially been diagnosed with ADD. By letting something play in the background, I don’t get “bored.” Usually, when reading or writing or doing art, I’ll be in the flow and then my brain will grab onto something else - I’ll check Twitter, my email, or just daydream - before I go back to what I’m working on. With music playing or the TV on, I can be much more productive and focused.

Which shouldn’t be a huge surprise, seeing as I’ve done most of my writing while watching my shows at night. But it was a breakthrough to me. 

"high in flight"

And what else could I do to promote self-care? How do you take those limitations or disabilities and turn them into a fresh, unique piece of artwork? When I move to make art, now, I allow myself to be me - completely and totally me, with whatever supplies I have and how I’m feeling - and make my art.

These new journals I’m making are a singular piece of art through smaller parts. I allow mistakes and new ideas and non-standard sizes. Instead of seeing my shaking hands and lack of proper foot on the machine as a negative, I’m using it as a positive to make art instead of simply a product. I am more joyful in creating, more open.

My style is now influenced by all the new scenery around me, the plants foreign to me. Loops and solid colors and less collage. I will work through it, add more and more of myself to it, but I’ve dived in, laughed, and allowed change. It’s an amazing feeling.

So now I’m making smaller 6”x6” pieces on paper that are available. I’m putting myself out there. If you’re interested, leave a comment. Pay what you’d like. And I’ll make more feathers and flowers and put them out there, too.

Even if I’m petrified to come straight out and say to shop owners, “Your store is amazing and I’d love to teach here!”