Monthly Archives: February 2014

Can Art Take Away Pain?

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Can Art Take Away Pain?

My daughter was recently diagnosed with POTS–postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome.  Basically her body isn’t responding to the pull of gravity, so her blood pools when she stands up, the brain doesn’t get enough blood, it sends out panic messages, the heart races, adrenaline flows, and the poor kid ends up in a constant state of nausea, dizziness, lack of focus, and many other symptoms.  Treatment involves medication, exercise, increased sodium and fluid–and it is incredibly hard work to get better.  Rebecca has  a good attitude, but many of the things she most enjoys aren’t feasible for her right now.  To my surprise, she has turned to drawing as both a way to pass the time and as a stress reducer.IMG_3267IMG_3268

Why to my surprise?  Wouldn’t you expect the child of crafty lawyer, with all those crafty forebears, to be into art?  Ah, that’s not the way the world works, is iit?  She always enjoyed art, but didn’t have a passion for it, even though she has great color sense. She never particularly liked making jewelry, either, especially since she could just tell me what things she liked and I would make it!  But in the last couple of months that has all changed.   Not only has she been drawing every day, but she designed a few necklaces as thank you presents for people.

She started out doing a pain journal, using drawing to show how she was feeling–an example below.myheadissplitAfter that, she started drawing everything, especially people, which is hard.  I’ve always found that I could get the curve of a hairline or maybe a chin right, but would have trouble with the eyes or the nose–it’s interesting talking about those things with her because it helps me understand how she SEES things and how that tranlates from eye to brain to hand.

The Travelers--sketch in progress

The Travelers–sketch in progress

More importantly, with an illness that zaps concentration, to see her so focused on trying to capture the line of an object or the curve of a smile is exciting.  None of us can figure out exactly why this kind of concentration brings her comfort, but I’m glad it does.  I’ve always found that creativity, in whatever form, is an outlet that calms and energizes.  I’m glad in this difficult period she, too, is finding that art brings solace.

trees--a common theme.  Her cardiologist saw this and said it reminded him of blood vessels--appropriate for someone struggling to keep her blood flowing, perhaps

trees–a common theme. Her cardiologist saw this and said it reminded him of blood vessels–appropriate for someone struggling to keep her blood flowing, perhaps

How do you use art to calm your soul?

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In the Words of Rosemary Clooney, et al “SNOW!”

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I love snow days.  Seriously, when there is the first hint that we may get a major storm  I start to stalk the weather blogs and watch the predictions of 4, 5, 6, or more inches and keep my fingers crossed that the world will come to a halt for just a day.  We have snow day rituals in our home that require us to  a) build a fire b) bake and c) roast something.  More and more, my husband, Michael, is the chief cook on such days and today was no exception.  He made potato leek soup and Irish soda bread for lunch and there is a slow cooking  (200 degrees) roast beef noisily  caramelizing in the oven right now.  Unfortunately, I worked all day, but working in front of a roaring fire with your loved ones nearby is a pretty sweet work-life balance.

My mom sent me this picture of her amaryllis in bloom--the backdrop is the icy Missouri river.

My mom sent me this picture of her amaryllis in bloom–the backdrop is the icy Missouri river.

Some recent soldered charms i made using 1940s children's books--expressing my feelings about snow!

Some recent soldered charms i made using 1940s children’s books–expressing my feelings about snow!

Poor guy.  All snowmen should have coats, don't you think?

Poor guy. All snowmen should have coats, don’t you think?

This may be why I like snow days.  As long as we have electricity and heat and plenty of chocolate, the snow is a welcome pause in our hectic lives.   With email and gotomypc and such, we are never really disconnected from work, so things that must be done are still done around here, but I just love looking up from my computer and seeing husband and child doing their thing while I do mine.

I also love to go around the house singing, “Snow, snow, snow,” per White Christmas and Rosemary Clooney.

I will pass on washing my hair in snow but just the thought of snow can make me smile–with or without Bing Crosby or Danny Kaye.