A day in the life…Art Teacher

A day in high school again, well half a day. Still. Given the opportunity I would never repeat high school. I spent all my time in the dark room if I could help it. Otherwise I took off to a crappy job scooping ice cream to fill the time away from snobby clicks and all the related drama. If you haven’t guessed yet, I’m an introvert.

My thoughts spin into a downward spiral of all the things hated from ages 13-17.*sigh*

On a more positive note, and the reason for this post… I tagged along with Mr. Gonzalez while he taught his high school ceramics class here in Highlands Ranch CO. Daniel Gonzalez is an extremely talented artist and spends his days as a High School art teacher passing on his expertise to budding students. I’ve known Daniel for a while now, so to see him in action as an authority figure and more importantly a teacher, was a surreal experience for me.

Daniel’s easy going attitude mixed well with the interaction he had with his students. Teaching hormonally spastic teenagers how to do something that requires concentration and physical interaction with a medium has to be a serious challenge. I mean come on how focused were you at age 15? Especially in art class full of 40 other kids. Yet these kids set to work as soon as Daniel, sorry Mr. Gonzalez, said go.

The surprising part was that the kids on the wheels were focused. Even when for some just centering their blob of clay on the wheel was a challenge. But regardless of their skill level they kept at it and started over again when their clay didn’t form into whatever they saw displayed in their head. Daniel constantly challenged them. Can’t center your clay? I’ll show you how. Leading by example he would fix their mistake and a gleam of happiness would show in the kids eyes because now they wouldn’t have to do it themselves. Then, wham! a knock to the side of the clay to off center it again then he’d hand it back and say try again. The light in the kids eyes would dim in disappointment but then they set their elbows down and tried again. I honestly don’t know how he did it. I didn’t see one ounce of attitude until it was clean up time. For some reason sweeping the floor caused more uproar than getting clay all over their $150 jeans. Go figure.

I only observed for half a day but I had a great time. Watching these kids dig in and get their hands dirty made me want to jump right in with them. By the time I left I had absorbed an impromptu lesson on how to make a bowl on the wheel which I haven’t done since my junior year. No, I will not say how long ago that was.  Maybe next time I crash his class I’ll actually get to try it.

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Top 10 Inflammatory Foods to Avoid Like the Plague | The Conscious Life

Top 10 Inflammatory Foods to Avoid Like the Plague | The Conscious Life.

 

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out what foods cause more stress to my  body…this certainly cements some of my inklings.  I’ve also been told dark red or purple foods like tomato and eggplant should be on the no-no list.

A Compass To Lead

I’ve been neglecting my blog and all the topics I want to rant about in favor of trying to make a bunch of cards and things for my www.etsy.com website. Is this the better choice for me? Spending time making cards that have a minimal profit margin? *shrugs* not really sure. But the process makes me feel slightly useful, lets me know I’m making some money while not having a job. Even if it only buys us a meal or two for the week. The hope is a larger inventory on the stores site will bring in more sales. Let’s hope diversity in product makes a difference.

But even while I sit around making things with paper and glue, feeling like I should be back in elementary school, I cant stop thinking about the million other things I should be doing or researching or studying. That butterfly on crack comment I continually make about myself still holds true. I run around the house one minute being the diligent house wife while changing the laundry, the next minute saying screw this I need to make money and work on some paper cutting. Then head to my computer to look for jobs because really paper cutting is making next to nothing. Then I get depressed because there is nothing online I want to apply for. I do it because I know I should, I just don’t want to. So I berate myself for the resentment I feel towards myself for that statement. Then I go back to doing house wife chores like prepping for dinner so I feel useful before the husband gets home.

It’s a never ending cycle. I have a hundred paths to take and none seem like the right one. Well, I amend that. A few feel like they should be the right one but will take time and money we dont have to pursue. Does that make it the right choice then? Some say that if it made me happy then of course it is. But if i can’t help support my family but it makes me happy is it the right road to take? A part of me rebels at that kind of choice. I haven’t depended on anyone to take care of me since i was 16. The feeling of letting someone, even my husband, take care of me while I go off an ‘explore myself’ or ‘find myself’ or whateva is extremely difficult. Too many paths are staring me in the face, making me feel like i have some extreme form of ADD because I cant seem to focus on anything for any length of time. At least I can blame part of that on having lupus and fibro…brain fog and all that. However its not enough of an excuse to make all my indecision’s okay.

So where does my brain take me when I think of career paths?

1. start a business. what kind? wont go there, it would be a huge list of possibilities. most of which I couldn’t be able to realistically peruse. ok here’s a few: bookstore, cafe, manage dad’s company…..

2. photographer. not wedding nor portraits. why? dunno, just not my thing.

3. graphic designer

4. some type of art critic, analyst, choreographer, designer, editor…. I have no idea what kind of job would let me do this stuff but I’m guessing I’d have to have a hellva resume to get it. Maybe working for a magazine or marketing company, or something like etsy.com. Realistically I see myself managing art in some way rather than being the artist…..so where does that take me?

5. fiction writer. Yes i know how flippn difficult it is to get published. No i havent tried, I’ve just read enough to know it is. I think this will always be a side project I dream about. If one day i do get something, anything published, I’d be ecstatic. Until then it’s a pipe dream. Did I mention I have the worst editing skills possible?

If I could do any of these things without consequence what would it be? Study photography. Going to Brooks was a dream I’ve had since high school. Second would have to be writing but i’d need a wish from the genie bottle to make myself more competent in the field. Third would be to work with my Dad and create and market products around his artwork. The most realistic would be studying graphic design and see where that takes me. Hell right now I would settle for a boring accounting job with a really fun, creative company. Just working in the environment would go along way in making me enjoy my job, even if it wasn’t me doing all the creating.

So where do I go from here?

I dont have the training or education for any of these things. I’ve circled once again. And this is only the icing on the cake, the things I think more about than others. I need mentors, contacts, ideas, friends….*sigh* I need direction, a path, a compass to lead me. I’ve already been a housewife, a landlord, a photographer, a crafter and a writer today. It’s only 11:30. I’m tired of flitting around looking for a path and being afraid of where it will lead me or what it will take to get there.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wonder

Canal in Venice

 

Venice is , so far, my most favorite city I’ve visited. I fell in love with it just from photos, well before I ever stepped foot there. The buildings have so much character and beauty. Getting lost in this place is wonderful. You follow through a tight pathway with buildings crowding in on you. Then you turn a sharp corner and suddenly your in a giant courtyard. The shops, the bridges, the cafe’s, the piazzas….all wonderful. To top it all off the city seems to float, which I guess it really does.

Summer Time Designs

I’ve been busy over at www.etsy.com working on my store of eclectic handmade things. Mostly stationary and embellishments for scrapbooking projects.  I was laid off recently so there has been time during my day to work on things I have put off for a long time. I never expected to get custom orders which has been the large part of my first few orders. This week I’m working on an order of 75 Thank you cards. It’s the first time I’ve taken on something so big and oddly finding it easy.

 

Bohemian Thank You

Bohemian Birthday

Now the problem is I dont think I’m charging enough. It’s part of my little business plan to generate business, get good reviews and hopefully build on referrals and repeat customers. In the process slowly increase the prices. In some ways that feels like cheating, yet its hard to determine the prices I should charge to make sure I’m actually making some profit. There’s been some but not enough to make this worth not looking for more permanent work while doing the store on the side on my spare time.

So when I take breaks from playing with paper and how to shoot my creations in the best light, I search for jobs I really dont want in hopes of finding one I do. My background in finance seems dull unless I can work with in a more creative environment. But you say finance and creativity, together? Noooooooooo. Here’s to hoping! If you  have any ideas of where I can apply plzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz send me the link 🙂

 

In the mean time do you need some quick gift ideas? Check out my store Summer Time Design

 

Handmade Paper Flowers

Handmade Paper Flowers

 

 

 

How do you cope?

My name is Sommer Rabellino, I’m 28 years old and I have Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Sjogdrens Syndrome and quite possibly a few more things I don’t know about. I’ve been sick and in a flair for almost 4 years.

Okay, this isn’t some medical version of AA. I’ve just found healing in talking about the things that affect my body. The diseases I have are not widely known and seriously need attention.  Today’s blog is more about my progression with the effects of telling people I’m sick.

I can give you all the definitions and list all my symptoms but all you really need to know is that having even just one of these diseases or any other autoimmune or chronic pain disease is like playing roulette, except instead of numbers you insert a different variation of symptoms.  Then you get to play multiple times throughout the day because that’s how often our symptoms can change from bad to worse to better again. No patient reacts the same to environmental triggers; no patient’s symptoms are the same; no patient’s medical treatment plan is the same.  I guess we’re all unique like snowflakes but look exactly the same when lumped into a snowman.

I hate to admit this, but I’m actually starting to enjoy studying the responses people have when I tell them about my diseases and there subsequent crappy symptoms. Now don’t get me wrong, I do not tell people to evoke responses to observe. Getting people educated about Lupus and fibro is why I talk freely about my health. Some patients stay very private about how their body betrays them. There is nothing wrong with that, I’m just not one of them. If you have a question, I’ll answer it to the best of my ability. The more people know about these diseases the more support the diagnosed receive. That is why I talk to people about my health issues. Plus, there has always been some level of comfort for me when I talk about it. However the therapy of that comfort has evolved. Sort of like the stages of grief I suppose.

Until recently, I hated listening to people’s responses to my bodies disabilities. Somewhere over the last few months that reaction has changed. Now I savor the response, it tends to tell me a bit about the person I’m talking too. During the process of the education I’m not focusing on the reactions of the person I’m conversing with. The enjoyment doesn’t come until after the situation has passed and I have time to dissect the conversation.  To be honest, this is a whole new development in the way I process the typical ‘I’m sick and these are the things I go through’ conversation.

When I was first diagnosed, talking about my symptoms and the diseases were, in a way, a type of therapy. More than that though talking about it with others helped to educate me. People would ask questions I didn’t know the answer to so I would go look it up. There were so many issues already clouding my mind that many questions had yet been conjured by my brain. I bought a lot of books and wrote a lot of questions for my doctors. It helped. I thought I had accepted the hand I was dealt. Looking back now, I know I had only accepted that I couldn’t change the diagnoses, not the way my body was betraying me.

I started using my lectures as a way to vent.  I wanted the piteous reactions people normally give. I sadly felt entitled to them.  The ‘I’m so sorry’ is the most common response. I wanted to be sarcastic and say “why yes you should be, you are healthy after all.” That was a time with a lot of self-loathing and depression. I suppose the snarkiness I wanted to express came from anger as well.  I can’t forget to mention the constant complaints that came out of my mouth. No one was ever nice enough to tell me to shut up, suck it up and move on. Somehow I came to that conclusion on my own. I’m surprised I didn’t drive my husband insane. But one day I woke up and got sick of hearing people’s pity. I know their just being polite. What else are you supposed to say,  “Glad I didn’t get your lot?” Nonetheless, I didn’t want to hear it anymore.  So instead of wallowing in my own misery, I shut down. I didn’t want to deal anymore.

I went on autopilot. I learned as much as I wanted to about the diseases and answered questions to the best of my knowledge without any thought or judgment about the very things my body was doing. It was a coping mechanism I suppose. I just shut off and distanced myself from the situation. I turned into a hermit, stopped socializing, spent my life in urban fantasy books. The idea was that if I removed all the normal stresses in life that my body would calm down and stop betraying me. My symptoms stayed the same. My doctors called my flare ‘stable’.  Since I didn’t get sicker I suppose my theory worked for a while. Then I pulled my head out of the clouds and started getting angry because I wasn’t getting better and my doctors didn’t see a problem with that. After 2 years of spending my life in a cave and being passive to my health I decided I needed to take a different path and try something else.

Anger is helping me gain bits of myself back. It doesn’t sound healthy, yet it’s waking me up slowly.  The awakening is causing me to accept who I am and who I don’t want to be anymore. Instead of the tunnel vision, with me on one side and me on the other, I started to see how my sickness was affecting others. For 3 years my illness was all about me. I never really thought about how it made others feel. My anger at my health and what I was letting it turn my life into simmered hot enough that I pushed through some of the brain fog that clouded me every day and started assessing all the different aspects of my world. That’s when it hit me that I’d neglected others reactions because I was so focused on my body’s betrayal. At this realization, I felt like a heel. Having never been a self-centered person I couldn’t believe my own narcissism. People would tell me I was being an idiot, that I had every right to be focused on myself given the circumstances. The only problem with that is: I focused on the negative. I was being passive, letting the diseases have their way with me. I thought I had no choice in how my body treated me. When I started getting angry I realized what a fool I’d been. I couldn’t let this rule me. I wouldn’t let this tear me apart. It was time to get proactive rather than reactive.

Easier said than done, yet it is helping. It’s a pin in my ass and when I sit down to give up I yelp and jump back up, figuratively anyways. I still have my moments of moping and narcissism but who doesn’t?

So one thing I enjoy a bit now is how people react. I’ve spent some time rewinding past conversations with people I’m close to. I dissected their reactions trying to figure out why they reacted the way they did. I did this because some people’s reactions hurt me in the beginning. They showed little interest in my illness and the consequences of it. These were people who were close to me, who had loved me my whole life and I couldn’t figure out why they didn’t want to learn about it. After time the conclusions became clear and it gave an insightful look into how some people cope with bad news.

There are a few that don’t know quite how to process my situation; they don’t know how to cope with my issues. They really have no reaction because they don’t know how to respond. There might be a blank glazed look in their eyes for a while, than they will fill the need to say something and then ask my favorite question, “Isn’t there a cure?” My secret sarcastic side says “Really? Do you think I would have spent the last 4 years being sick every day, lose my career and change my way of life if there was a cure?!??!?!?”

It is a good question though.

I do have 3 diseases; there might be a cure for at least one right? No. The lack of knowledge on the diseases is really disconcerting. But that is a topic for another day.  These people who don’t really react, who don’t ask many questions do it as a way to cope because they don’t know how to in the first place. Ignorance is bliss. It still hurts to know that people I love don’t want to know anything about something that affects every aspect of my life. But now that I understand their reactions I can learn to accept it as a part of who they are and know it’s just how they deal with something difficult.  Good thing I didn’t inherited that coping mechanism, it would have certainly put me in the hospital had I not educated myself. Not understanding what your bodies triggers are can make you even sicker.

Then there are those people who are truly intrigued. They ask question after question to better understand  and you can see a gleam in their eye telling me their wheels are turning, processing the new information. Those are my favorite. I can still be asked questions I don’t know the answers to and have to do some new research. It also tells me their interested in really understanding what makes me sick. They want to know what kinds of things I go through. Knowledge is power and their questions show a need for answers. Their interest may purely be for understandings sake or it may be because of the level of care they have for me, or both. Either way that level of need to know makes my heart warm.

Then there are people in the middle. You know they care because they always ask how your feeling but never quite know what to ask about the diseases because they simply don’t understand. They consistently see us and we look fine, so the details about what are body is doing conflicts with the image they see of us. There is a reason why Lupus, chronic pain and auto-immune diseases are called ‘invisible diseases’.  It’s because they are. We learn quickly to put on a mask when were around others. We roll out of bed, get dressed, paint our faces and walk out the door with our armor, a big smile. Then we pretend we feel fine. For some of us the only way to feel fine is to pretend.

What most people fail to miss is the extra heavy under eye makeup, which masks the purple under eye circles from lack of sleep or consistent pain, or both.  The crinkles around the eyes, maybe tightness around the mouth from the stress of whatever pains were trying to cover up. Light hugs rather than tight ones. The days when hugs are painful seems to affect me the most. The idea that simple touch brings tears to your eyes because of the pain is…emotionally draining. Maybe our speech isn’t as enthusiastic as usual, we might even slur or consistently forget words or restart sentences. We sit more often than stand. We often turn down active outings. We don’t eat much of the food on our plate. We yawn a lot. Maybe have a limp in our walk, or just walk slower than usual. I could go on but I suppose I need to keep some of our secrets. The point is: there are clues to how we are feeling even when we do our best to cover them up. There are some people who can’t physically see why we feel sick therefore we can’t be sick. There is no way to truly convince them of the severity of the illness unless they wanted to come live with me for a few months. Instead I take away the knowledge that they wont really understand without physical manifestations and I hope that will never happen.

So I’ve found some clues about you. Clues to how you’re feeling when I talk to you about my health. Clues to how you deal with bad news. It’s not much in the grand scheme of who I am and the constant attack my body has against itself. But I’ve found a new light at the end of the tunnel and my face isn’t there anymore. I still want to help people understand these diseases and now I have a new tool to help me do it. I don’t have to get upset if I don’t get a particular reaction or if you issue certain statements. Because now I better understand why you react the way you do and accept the coping trait you use.

I’m no psychology major; maybe I’ll take some classes. But I do know this. I’m healing, albeit slowly. And telling you about what ails me is helping me to do that. It truly makes me feel better knowing that I’ve educated one more person in the world about these invisible diseases.  So thank you for reading and hopefully clicking some links below to learn a little about auto-immune and chronic pain diseases. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. If you want to tell me about your reaction, I’d like to hear about that too.

butterfly from Canada

PS

Thank you to Jackie and Daniel for helping to reveal what had been a subconscious process until now.

 

 

Links:
Understanding Lupus

http://www.medicinenet.com/fibromyalgia/article.htm

http://www.sjogrens.org/

Auto_immune_disease

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fibromyalgia

Lonely Leaf

Pictures from around the house and a few more HDR trys below.

Lonely Leaf in the snow

Door Knob

Some HDR trys. These were my first attempts so no laughing.

HDR try 1

The above shot turned out well, however the one below didnt line up but I still like the effect it had……

HDR Try 2