I know you all usually get to read a wonderful and insightful post from Traci every Wednesday, but she’s had a busy week and knew she wouldn’t get a new post done so she asked me to guest post for her this week. In my usual style, I’m a day late getting this posted (sorry Traci!), but better late than never, right?
I first met Traci when I was pregnant with my daughter who is almost (holy crap!) eight years old. We worked together in a sweat job, also known as an advertising department, and pretty much immediately hit it off. I think we get along because we are both intelligent people with an oddly clumsy nature and an offbeat sense of humor. We can relate to the things the other is going through and we find the same things funny, including the ones that probably shouldn’t be funny, so when we were both diagnosed with a slew of diseases and experiencing less than normal symptoms, that really didn’t seem that odd either. You can explain symptoms that you have to people who are healthy and they just don’t get it. They don’t know what to say other than maybe that they’re sorry, but when you have a friend who understands exactly what it is that you’re going through, they know what to say and they can laugh about it with you. The conversations about your frustration and the creativity that it takes sometimes to overcome things aren’t awkward and they might actually contain some good solutions.
Like Traci, one of the main ways I keep myself busy and not focus on the pain and other frustrations of having to deal with an illness is to keep myself busy. I do a lot of things: work full time, go to school full time, play a bunch of sports, PTO President, travel quite a bit for work, but the thing I most enjoy is anything crafty. I get to use my creativity and I have a good time doing it. I do a variety of different things with different mediums. I have a degree in graphic and web design and have previously worked as a graphic artist. Remember that sweat shop I mentioned? One other positive is that I not only keep myself busy and focused on other things, but it makes me so happy to see people’s eyes light up when you give them something you’ve made that means something to them and I also make a little money.
My secretary recently approached me at work and asked if I knew how to make burlap wreaths. At the time, I hadn’t made one, didn’t know if I even could, but I had watched a few videos on how to do it and was looking for an excuse to give it a try. Her mom’s birthday was coming up and my secretary had just gotten married. She asked me to make her mom a wreath out of the burlap from her wedding and the burlap flowers from her bouquet. I nervously agreed. I pulled up this video on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBJVh1rK40U) and I don’t think it was too bad for a first attempt. Things got a little hairy because I ran out of burlap and didn’t quite have as many flowers as I would have liked but she was thuroughly excited when I gave it to her. She’s even asked me to make a second wreath for her.
Excuse the crappy cell phone photo!
My mom approached me last week and asked if I had anything I could give her for a charity auction that she needed silent auction items for. I’m not exactly sure which charity it is, but my basic understanding of it is that they offer low income mothers a place where they can leave their kids while they are looking for work. My mom is involved in so many great organizations that I never know which one she is currently working with. I’m pretty sure my mother is going to be granted saint status when she dies, although, she’s pushing 70 and would give the Energizer Bunny a run for his money so Saint Peter may have to catch her first to give her the honor. I asked her if she had a preference on what I made, and she suggested one of the painted crosses I’d been working on and maybe a burlap wreath. The auction isn’t until mid November so I’m not quite finished with the wreath yet, but she requested something fall themed. I used a wider burlap than I had been given for the first wreath and then bought some orange and burlap chevron ribbon to go on it. I’m fairly happy with it so far. I still have a big orange bow to put on it and some fall leaves and stuff, but here is where I am so far. Again, excuse the low quality cell photo.
The other thing my mom asked me to include was one of the painted crosses that are kind of my newest obsession. I was in Hobby Lobby one day and saw these unfinished wooden crosses. They come in numerous sizes and shapes. I thought they would be neat layered on top of each other with a bunch of different paint and maybe some mod podged scrapbook paper on them. Turns out I was right and that this was already a thing and I was unaware. I posted a couple in my etsy shop and went to post them on pinterest thinking I was onto something, but it turns out about a million people had that idea before me. They still sell well though. I recently found a supplier for the wooden crosses on etsy that will GREATLY reduce my supply costs though so I see a lot more of these in my future. Anyway, here are 3 pictures of crosses I’ve done. The black and white one is the one that I gave to my mom for the charity event. The blue one is hanging on my living room wall and the red one is still a work in progress.
The one thing that each of these projects have in common is that I often can’t do them quite like a normal person would. I have a slow moving form of MS that really doesn’t effect much on most days. I have pain and severe headaches everyday, but for the most part I’m good outside of that. The last month or so, I have pretty much lost most of the feeling and movement in my right hand though. Its been coming and going for years, but I’m a little afraid its not coming back this time. Being right handed, this is sort of a disadvantage, but it has taught me to be more open and creative in how I accomplish tasks. I’m learning to write, paint, tie bows, etc. with minimal use of my dominant hand. I think its important to not give up when we are facing a hardship and a disease like MS or EDS definitely challenges that belief some days. If we get depressed and get down about the things we can’t do then we will never find an alternative way to do them.
I read a book a few years ago….anyone that knows me well knows this doesn’t happen very often….and I really wish I could remember the name of the book or even the author. This lady was a pastor’s wife and she had ten special needs children. TEN! Holy crap! I can barely keep up with ONE smart mouthed seven year old. I cannot imagine ten with special needs! The book was actually kind of a dialogue detween this woman and God. She repeatedly asked God why he gave her all of these children that were so difficult for her to care for. God finally told her it was because she could handle it. I kind of look at having a disease in the same manner. God gave this to me because someone had to go through it and I was strong enough to deal with it and smart enough to find a way around the issues it causes me. Next time you’re faced with a task that seems difficult because of a possible disadvantage, instead of thinking “Why me?”, consider that you were given these obstacles because you’re strong enough and smart enough to handle them.