The past year has been, as I am certain it has been for many, a bit of a trial.
Personally, I've been... hiding? Stealing the space and time needed for the necessary and painful processes of healing. Learning to function as a better human despite the imperfections of my body and the scarred bits of my soul. Struggling to comprehend lessons which I've carried too much shame for not having learned yet (despite never really having a teacher), and setting down that extra burden, too. Slowly mastering the curricula of my self.
I do live to create, of course, so I have not abandoned my art even if I've been quiet in "the world". I've been working on some new abstract paintings based on the ying/yang symbol I'm calling the Personal Tao series. I've made some progress on Carina and have done a few other ad-hoc paintings and crafty-sort of things. I'm developing some weaving projects and some political works that will take a bit of logistical doing. In general, simply trying to capture all of my fireflies of inspiration in as many mental jars as possible. (They're so pretty!)
Challenge the first: We relocated, from our cramped-cluttered-cozy-Camberville walk-up to a (relatively) sprawling (still tiny) 1950's suburban tract ranch house. The property - for a number of reasons - seemed destined for us, and I'm more than happy that my beloved has clawed back 22 days worth of not-sitting-in-traffic time as a result of this move.
Settling into a new home always requires more adjustment than I expect, and this transition has been no different. The physical and psychic dust hasn't quite settled yet, but I have a studio set up now (for reals, mostly). Our living space is still not exactly where we want it to be yet - but at least the 80's-hotel-vinyl wallpaper is gone, and our cozy bedroom is our signature deep, beautiful red. Our honey-do list for home improvement and garden/land work keeps rolling on, adding new ones as fast as we're ticking off projects we've done. At least our garden was healthy enough to go feral, and thanks to targeted irrigation abundant enough to not only feed the wildlife but to give us at least 200 pounds of tomatoes and tomatillos over the course of the season. (However, I have learned a lot about what to not and not do for next year - Mother Nature is nothing if not a strict schoolmistress.)
Challenge the second: Despite the pleasure I take in gardening and the gradual us-ifying of the house, a shadow has loomed over it all: a creeping, chronic, pain that mostly radiated from my chest and core but attacked my feet and hips and shoulders and left me, at this time last year, literally crying as I tried to get out of bed in the morning.
So after some diagnostic mystery-solving, a sharp and intuitive physical therapist literally changing my life by going on a hunch, and lots and lots of rejiggering my "normal", I'm finally - after a literal year - in a place where I can wrap my head and life around the pain, so that it has diminished enough to let me be *ME* again.
My pain is largely caused by a chain reaction caused by an odd quirk in my body's structure, which is both boon and bane. It is a gift because it can be largely addressed by things I can do, on my own, with supportive help from experts; it requires no opioid dragon to tame nor does it carry the menace of an immune system turned against me. (Rather, it's the arduous and tedious task of retraining large chunks of my neuromuscular system one block at a time) . It's a curse because there is no "cure", just lifelong awareness and management and an ongoing commitment to practice the physical therapy techniques and exercises that keep me moving and my pain at a tolerable level.
So this past year has been one of, above all, regaining balance. I have felt at once both alienated from and trapped within my body by my pain; both too far outside of and withdrawn into myself to make contact with much of the world comfortable. (That, and 2016 as a whole has been a fustercluck of a year, so that hasn't helped.)
The good news is, I am emerging from this forced hibernation with a renewed sense of purpose. There really isn't any bad news at the end of that, it really is very good news. (The bad news is I had to go through it at all, I guess?)
I'm in the mid-to-late steps of developing pathography.org, a site dedicated to chronic pain and illness. Patient stories (pathographies) and experiences will be front and center - my own are all I have to start with, but my hope is to gain contributors and a community along the way. I aim to eventually be a deep resource for those suffering from pain, expanding to help not only primary sufferers but their families, caregivers, and medical teams as well.
It's a big goal and I plan to meet it. For those of you who love my art, do not despair, I will return to it after the New Year. In the meantime, thanks for stopping by and expect much more life around these parts.