I’ve been lost. I haven’t posted on the blog for a long time, because my health situation has been stupid and maddening and I’ve been unsure if it will ever settle down and let me return to Who I Used to Be.
I’m beginning to really own that.
I have chronic migraines.
I also have an eye condition called retinal vasculitis in my left eye that I think I’ve mentioned before. I’ve had the eye problems since 2001, and it has been a very slow progression of complications. Most recently, the medication I take to control it resulted in the need for cataract surgery. Not being able to see correctly and clearly has been a HUGE stumbling block in my creative process. We had some challenges in getting through the surgeries and then my adjustment to having one eye focus properly and the other needing to see through a progressive lens. People adapt to this all of the time, so I have tried to be patient with the adjustment. I’ve had excellent care from my eye doctor and optician, and I am fortunate to have the best options available to correct this problem of seeing.
But the migraines. Those are new. And they are nearly constant, and they like to lurk in that same eye, so that even though my eye is now functional, the migraines obscure my vision and cause ice pick pain to lance through my skull. They upset my balance, cause me to feel sick to my stomach nearly all of the time, and make my eyes very sensitive to light.
I stopped blogging because I forgot who I am. This problem — not being able to see or focus literally, but also figuratively — caused me to doubt my purpose as an artist. If I can’t see tiny little bits of metal and manipulate them into wonderful bendy pieces of jewelry, then what am I for?
This process was not helped by the drugs I tried to control the migraines. I’ve learned an important fact: I do not function on anti-convulsants. The words don’t come. I have the ideas and the feelings and the thoughts, and they stay locked in my mind, because I can’t find a way to express them coherently. Also then, what am I for? I’m a verbal person. I live for ideas. I couldn’t communicate on those medications.
I’ve stopped taking the drugs. I’m back to the “normal” migraines — the pain, the nausea, the bouncing off the walls like a drunk person, but I’m now ME again within the confines of my own mind.
Which got me to thinking…just how scary it is to lose the ability to follow your passions. It is, for me, so tied to my identity to make things, and to help others with their own creative processes. That is what I am. That is what I do.
So I’m writing this as a reminder to myself to hold on to that self, and to take the moments when my body gives me a reprieve to indulge in a small passion. Hence the photo of my cat minding his own business amongst his toys. I like taking spontaneous photos. He was picturesque. It was a moment and I claimed it. And I feel like me a little bit more.
I’ve been so fortunate to not be forgotten in the worlds in which I circulate. I don’t feel I’ve contributed much of late, as I lost my words for so long. I lost my sense of place. But I have wonderful artist friends who have not forgotten me. I have kept in touch with the metal world and read along with the conversations and squirreled away little lessons I hope to incorporate in my own work.
My husband has bought me tools! Wonderful hammers and anvils and a books about metal and gems. He is the rock in my world — always encouraging me ever so quietly. Always providing me with a challenge just slightly out of my reach. It’s exciting, and slightly scary, but he gives me room to make mistakes and find my way without pressure. I’m very lucky.
I also have wonderful friends who function on an additional level — a highly intellectual level. They’ve really been my saving grace in so many ways in recent months. Keeping discussions going that engage my wonder and critical thinking. My body has not been cooperating, but they have been enriching my mind. They also challenge me. Involve me in projects I never would have dreamed of. I love it.
So in the end, I suppose that after what has been a long and dark journey for me in the past months…I find myself feeling grateful. And perhaps even hopeful. I have a suspicion that the migraines are here to stay. They will force me to adapt to their schedule, and it is going to change the way I create. I think I will take my time to joyfully stalk my pets with a camera when the mood strikes. I will continue to read the occasional manuscript that comes my way and immerse myself in the worlds of another (which is difficult and fulfilling and fabulous). And when I can see well, I will work in metal.
I think the reality is that I will not ever be famous, nor will I sell enormous amounts of work. But that is okay. I see this as an opportunity to distill down what interests ME. Not to worry about being commercial. Not hoping that someone will buy what I’ve made and pandering to that market. But instead to explore ideas and skills and make things that matter to me. If those pieces end up speaking to others, then that is wonderful. And if I sell pieces, that is even better. But baby steps. Life has changed for me a great deal. I need to focus on what is fulfilling for me.
So with that in mind, I will be experimenting with metal and taking random photos and I hope to be better about posting what I’m working on. Feedback is always welcome…I just may not follow advice! I’ll still listen, though. I’m always interested in how people perceive art and craft. I learn as much about the person commenting as I do myself in such conversations. And NO! I will never understand my camera fully! The picture above with taken with my iPad. I’m a winging it kind of photographer, and that is just the way it is! Metal is different. That’s discipline, but I need the freedom to be messy in my art somewhere, and it looks like that will be with photos.
A note to my friend Scout: This blog will now be subtitled Life Askew. Thank you for the suggestion. Now I need to go fiddle with titles and see how I can incorporate that!
And bonus, we may be building a house. We’ve bought land, and we are working with an architect, so if plans go forward, stay tuned for photos of that process. This is a very exciting development for me. We may not be able to build soon, but I have land. Land that I hope to live on for the rest of my life. I can stand on it and see my mountains. It brings me peace and contentment.