Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Long Slow Unraveling

It is an absolutely gorgeous Memorial Day weekend, traditional beginning of summer, throw open the windows, baseball on the radio, lawnmower humming, hamburgers on the grill kind of day, and these sunny skies with puffy clouds have brought a wistful sort of restlessness in my spirit. 

I've been contemplating sharing what's happening in my life, yet finding it impossible to form the words. Impossible really, to even wrap my head around it, let alone find words to tell you. 

I could gloss over the details and tell you how much I am learning through the events of this season, because I am. I am learning. So. Much. I want to rush through these lessons and get to the victorious end and report these things from the other side of it. Standing on the podium, diploma in hand. 

But I'm not there yet. I am in the messy middle.

I've turned a page in the textbook and suddenly I understand what the lessons are. Two + Two = Four but that root? Wait, what was that root number again? I sigh as my pencil begins to dull. Or maybe it's my thinking, as it were, because Lyme does affect the sharpness of my thinking. 

Chronic Lyme. There, I said it. I have just been diagnosed with Chronic Lyme. Those words have been rolling around in my head, stuck on my tongue, for the past few weeks. It explains so very much.

It is a relief really, to know the root cause of the myriad of illnesses and symptoms I've been suffering for so long; the bone weary exhaustion, the arthritic deep muscle and bone pain, the sleepless nights, fluy aches, the pops and fizzles and twitches and spasms in my muscles, anxiety and depression, the dull thinking and memory lapses and missing words. The crazy hyper sensitivities and so many more inexplicable debilitating symptoms.

But then again, it's kind of devastating.

Last week I told you about my awesome new studio, the permanent one in the same building where I had set up a temporary unit for a few weeks to participate in the Racine studio tour and teach my latest workshop. It's a fantastic space in a building that houses over 50 other artist studios. A community of artists like I have been dreaming of working in for several years. I am finally here and I know it is where I am supposed to be right now. But what I didn't tell you was the full of the why I chose to make that move so soon after moving into my huge studio loft apartment in Racine.

Mold. Unfathomably, I moved into another home that has some sort of issue with mold. And I became sick again. Really really sick. It was hard at first, to acknowledge it, because what the actual f#*k?? But the fact is, that I have not stayed inside the apartment for more than an hour or two since the beginning of April, when I finally had to acknowledge that my symptoms were mounting and the management was not going to fix it.

The doctor noted swollen lymph glands, red irritated respiratory track, sinusitis, hives, and it was hard to overlook the complete loss of my voice, but the suspicion of Lyme was what really threw me. What could this experience possibly have to do with that tick-borne disease?

Quite a lot, as it turns out. Lyme disease gone undiagnosed for decades- misdiagnosed as Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Thyroiditis, Tachardia Arythmias, and a host of other seemingly unrelated illnesses, wreaked havoc on my immune system, causing a hyper-sensitivity to issues like exposure to mold. Compound that with genetic markers, discovered through recent labs, that prove me to be among the 25% of the population whose bodies cannot clear the biotoxins created by mold exposure, lyme, and other toxins and you've got a formula for one very sick puppy. This exposure has left me slammed with a flare of debilitating symptoms I can't begin to describe. 

I have been at a complete loss of words over it, and so have avoided mentioning it at all. But it is hard to put on a happy face and not let on that I am in the midst of this crisis. It isn't unusual these days to get concerned email wondering why I haven't yet managed to fulfill some responsibility that I have committed to. All I can say is that it is hard. And I am genuinely sorry. And I am doing the best that I can to keep up. And so much has gone by the wayside.

Yesterday I moved out of the apartment and stored the bulk of my things in my new studio. My husband and I are still working through our issues, not yet ready to reconcile, and though I have a place to stay, I am without my own home until I can find a clean, safe place to move.

I have begun the first steps necessary to help my body clear the biotoxins that it is unable to release. It will be a very long and painful course to try to stabilize enough to even begin to look at treatments for Lyme, and after decades of this disease doing what it will in my body, there is no guarantee that I will get well. The only guarantee is that not addressing it will mean my health continues to decline.

Author and blogger, Glennon Doyle Melton described coming to terms with the chronic nature of her own battle with Lyme disease as a dreamlike picture of God knitting her life together in a sort of wild and beautiful swirly afghan. For myself, the opposite picture holds true, as I get impressions of a “long slow unraveling”.

Tear down this temple and I will rebuild it, Jesus said. He knew that the old systems had to be completely let go before the new could be established. I don't know whether I will be cured of Chronic Lyme disease, the doctor guarantees it wil get worse before I get better. But one thing I can say is this crisis is being used to challenge the old systems and belief patterns inside me. Each one being pulled away to free me. In a long slow unraveling.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The thing That Led Me To The Thing

"The man who removes a mountain, begins by carrying away small stones."
~Chinese Proverb

This year my poor blog has oft been neglected. I share news in other forums, my newsletter, facebook, instagram, but here I log in and it's nothing but crickets. So here, in an effort to keep you in the loop, dear blog followers, is the last newsletter news that went out in April. . . . (thus, the events noted may have already passed)

Studio Tour and News 

It's been one of those months - the kind that disappear without a trace, slipping away into the landscape of fond memories and unexpected turns. Home from my teaching trip to Seattle and vacation in Hawaii, I've made a big decision about my studio space and started to implement it.

When I moved up to Racine, I was looking for an affordable large space where I could easily connect with other artists. I found my warehouse loft apartment while doing a search for just such a space, and while these units were advertised as an artists community, I've been disappointed to find hardly any artists here. I did meet one woman in the elevator who heard rumor of an artist moving to her floor, but I think she was talking about me.

The city of Racine, on the other hand, has been a tremendous surprise for the good. There is a thriving community of artists living and working all over the city and I've found many opportunities to connect and get involved. I applied for the Racine Art Museum's Fellowship Grant and was thrilled to receive the nicest rejection letter telling me that my work had been strongly considered and encouraging me to add "finalist" to my resume. This past week I was one of the feature artists included in The Journal Times article about the upcoming "Get Behind the Arts" studio tour in both Racine and Kenosha.
Check out the article here to read all about this outstanding event.

And this brings me back to that big decision I was telling you about; while I was disappointed that the building I moved to did not contain the artists community I was looking for, it was the thing that led me to that thing. This move led me to connect with artists who are working in just the type of place I was looking for - the 16th Street Studios in Racine, where over 50 artists have studios. I weighed many factors in contemplating moving my studio again, but in the end I knew I needed to work in the same building as this thriving community sooner rather than later - so as of this Wednesday, I will be signing a lease and beginning the transition.

I will be setting up shop in a temporary space on the 4th floor - studio #4198 while I wait for my permanent space to be ready and you are all invited to come see why I love it so much during the Get Behind The Arts studio tour. Check out the article I linked above for details, or go to the event page on Facebook here. I hope you can make it!