Yes, I can.

Yet to be named. #bloomtrue

Yet to be named. #bloomtrue

At the beginning of 2013, I vowed to stop putting off things that I’ve always wanted to do. Along with many other goals, learning to paint and draw were high on my list. Ever since I could remember, I looked with envy upon those who were artistic. My youngest daughter has drawn since she was knee high to a grasshopper and I longed to do the same. Yet, because of an incident that happened when I was a child, I’d convinced myself that I was not creative; thus, I couldn’t possibly draw or paint.

Unlike many past New Year’s resolutions that ultimately fall to the wayside, I began to seek out ways to be creative, and particularly, to draw and paint. It was not feasible for me to take actual in-person classes, so I went online. To my surprise, I discovered scores of artists who taught painting, mixed media and drawing through online e-courses. Frankly, I was skeptical of the idea of an e-course that might effectively teach these skills. I finally realized that my hesitation had less to do with skepticism and more to do with fear, and I threw caution to the wind and registered for my first painting course. From the beginning, I was hooked.

I am happy to say that I’ve taken three courses this year and am already registered for 2 year long courses in 2014. The above painting is from my most recent course with the amazing artist Flora Bowley. The course was a life changer and cemented my love for painting and the whole painting process. Although the course has ended, I have six months to wade through the course materials and lessons, and the painting continues.

In addition, now, I can say with confidence that I can draw. I stumbled upon Jane Davenport’s “Draw Happy” class and within a week, let go of the foolish notion that “I can’t draw.” It took about a week of mistakes and wearing down an eraser, but with Jane’s detailed and clear instructions, I drew/painted/collaged this beauty:

Whimsical Faces 2

Whimsical Faces 2

I love her! Granted, I am still trying to draw one to rival her, but I have no doubts that it will happen. I know that with practice and hard work, I can draw. Currently, I am registered in three of Jane’s e-courses, and I just added another drawing e-course, Fabulous Faces, to my line up. The course is taught by the artist Tamara Laporte.

Usually, by this time of the year, I find myself ruminating upon all of the things that I intended to do in the past year, but didn’t. It is true that I fell short of many of my 2013 to-do’s, but I’ve decided that instead of dwelling on the negatives, I will focus my attention on my accomplishments. I mean, I finally let go of my inner fears and negative self-talk and proved to myself that I can do whatever I chose, be it painting or drawing. I’ve come to understand that there are no limits on what I can achieve, except those that I place on myself. Learning the art of photography and becoming fluent in Spanish are next on my wish list, and I look forward to 2014 with excitement instead of trepidation. By this time next year, I intend to say with confidence, “Yo hablo español.”

Blessings, Lydia

Out of the mouths of babes

Lately, I have been worrying about my age and how I look; especially when in the company of others.  So, when dressing for my counseling appointment it seemed natural to put on a little makeup for the visit.  I choose eye makeup and lip gloss.  My youngest daughter has been driving me to appointments and errands because I could not drive because of some treatments  that I was undergoing.   So she picked me up for my appointment, to which I went to, before we picked up my g’daughter (short for grand daughter) Dai from pre-K.  We later picked Dai up from pre-K.

First, I will say that I have a very close relationship with Dai.  I see her often and we talk daily, and are always glad to see one another.  Anyway, as is usual, my reunion with Dai at school involved her catching sight of me and running to greet me with a big hug and an “I am so glad to see you g’Mom “(short for grand mother)  Then she takes my hand and introduces me to her teachers and all of her many friends who are told to “Say hi to my g’mom.” They say hi and we can go on our way.


After picking up Dai,  we were driving me back home and as is our habit, I sit in the back seat with Dai.  [As an aside, her parents or any of us who do so always laugh about driving Miss Daisy!] We were talking about her school day , which is alway “excellent,  Out of the blue, Dai turned to look at me curiously.  I knew she had something in mine, so I just waited her out. Finally, she  asked, ‘g’mom, what is that purple stuff along your eye lashes?  I was surprised that she even noticed. I told her it was eye makeup that women sometime use to look pretty.  She shook her head seriously and said “G’mom you shouldn’t use eye makeup because you are pretty like me and you don’t need makeup to be pretty. The only makeup that I will use is lipgloss.” As I was hugging her and saying thank you, I was thinking, ”out of the month of babes.” 

Thought for the day

NyckelringNyckelring (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For months now, I’ve been undergoing some medical treatment during which driving is a contra-indication.   At first, I thought “no big deal” and I relished the idea of being chauffeured about like I was Miss Daisy, but that feeling has long sense passed.  That feeling is long since gone.  I now realize that it’s true that we don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone.  I’ve come to realize that along with my ability to drive, went my freedom to do what I want, when I chose to do it, for as long as I chose, without catering to anyone else’s needs.  I can’t wait to get those things back. When I do, I won’t be taking them for granted.
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But, You Don’t Look Sick

“Dear God, I want to thank you for being close to me so far this day. With your help, I haven’t been inpatient, lost my temper, grumpy, judgmental, or envious of getting one. But, I’ll be getting out of bed in a minute, and I think I’ll really need your help!”

I stumbled across this prayer while reading a Kindle sample of the book “You Don’t Look Sick: Living Well With Invisible Chronic Illness,” by Joy Selak and Dr. Steven Overman. The prayer was sent to Ms. Selak by a friend with fibromyalgia–a condition that I know well.  Nevertheless, neither fibromyalgia patients, nor any group for that matter, can stake any special claim to this prayer, as it has universal appeal to each and every one of us.  Anyway, the prayer, though humorous and most mornings, all too appropriate, is not the real reason for this post.  


In November 2010, I began a blog post titled “You Don’t Look Sick,” much like the title of the book.  The post was in response to yet another “but, you don’t look sick” encounter that occurred earlier in the day.  In that particular encounter, I was just getting out of my car at the grocery store where I’d stopped to go to the pharmacy. Before I could get both feet on the ground, a woman, that I did not know, violated what any reasonable person would agree was my personal boundary.  One of the store managers sheepishly stood behind her. (I knew him well.)  Pointing her little bony fingers in my face, she said to him, “See what I told you. She is one of those people illegally parking in spaces reserved for disabled people.” You see, in my haste to get to the pharmacy, I’d forgotten to put up my hang tag. Dennis, the store manager said, “Lydia,  would you please use your hang tag?,” and he turned around leaving me to deal with the still unsatisfied and irate woman. 

She proceeded to accuse me of illegally parking with someone else’s reserved  parking hang tag and threatened to call the police and more.  I made a sincere effort to calm the lady, but there was no reasoning with her.  Finally, she uttered the words that I’ve heard time and time again, “You don’t look sick!” so that tag cannot be yours.” At this point, my patience and attempts at reason were spent and I slammed the car door and stormed into the store, before I said something that I’d surely regret later. 

Long after I returned home and the immediate sting of the incident had passed, the woman’s words continued to reverberate in my mind. I have no doubt that there are those who will read this post and consider my response as unjustified, overly sensitive, and in the category of ‘making a big to-do about nothing.’  For those without an “invisible chronic illness” or with no contact to one who has such as illness, it is often difficult to understand what it is like for those of us who do.  I mean, who can blame you when there are patients who are still confronting doctors who refuse to acknowledge their condition because it cannot be substantiated by x-rays, CT scans, MRI’s, blood work or any other means of diagnostic tools.  The underlying message becomes, in order to be deemed “sick,” there must be objective evidence supporting your illness; for example, a broken limb or a bald head (indicating a potential chemotherapy recipient or cancer patient).  The problem is further compounded when pain is the primary symptom because there is no objective way to measure it. 

On its’ face, “you don’t look sick,” (often with the emphasis on the word ‘look’) is seemingly innocuous and usually said with no malicious or bad intent.  Nevertheless, to those of us in the throes of a chronic, invisible illness; this otherwise harmless statement, raises yet another obstacle in the fight against the illness. If wishes were true, I’d gladly turn over both the hang tag and the parking space.  


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