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The ART of Survival

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– – – STICKY POST – – –

Those suffering from chronic, debilitating illness and/or terminal conditions understand how isolating that can be, even when they are lucky enough to have (healthy) friends or family around them. Ironically, many who are blessed with not looking as sick as we really are, may tend to increase that isolation as a result of being weary of having to explain to well-meaning (but reproving) inquirers that just because “So and So” was able to work full-time and not miss a single social event while she went through Chemo doesn’t mean those of us confined to bed for years on end are either “milking it” for sympathy or given in to depression. I am among those, both cursed and blessed, stubborn as hell and determined to survive. So what’s any of that got to do with a blog ostensibly about icons?

…Absolutely everything!

HCV.pngCaduceus 306My Chemo Diary

While my body has failed me and left me too weak to even sit up longer than 20 or so minutes at a time, much less take part in the active type of life I had enjoyed six years ago, I know how important it is to keep one’s mind active and one’s attitude positive. For me, having a laptop computer that I use even when lying flat on my back, has been a God-send and a broadband connection to the internet made it indispensable. It’s been my lifeline to the world I knew and introduced me to scores of people, ideas and subjects that I could never have known . While I was creative in general and had a decent enough level of skill in Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) to make a good living at it before I got sick, since I didn’t know how to paint, draw or sculpt, I hadn’t considered myself an artist – nor had I thought I was capable of becoming an artist. At the same time, being an artist was always one of those impossible dreams in the back of my mind that I didn’t have the courage to seriously attempt. That’s where the twisted-type of “luxury” of feeling I had nothing left to lose came in and gave me a new sense of freedom to experiment and learn new skills without having to worry about deadlines or win the approval of clients. I started out with creating icons for two simple reasons: 1. I was bored by the standard icons on my Mac; and 2. Compared to designing and drafting an entire set of construction plans for a Dental practice (which I no longer have the physical stamina or mental concentration to do) creating artwork optimally viewed at 128×128 pixels wasn’t so intimidating.

ADA Fldr 3HealthMediNotesGold

So am I an artist now? I don’t know who makes such determinations. I still don’t know how to paint or draw with a pencil or sculpt in stone and I’m certainly not pretentious enough to consider my work superior to those who’ve had years of formal training or apprenticeships and even more years of professional experience. But I believe that what I create IS art and I know that others have found it to be pleasing enough to say ‘Thank You’ and that some even found it useful enough to pay generously for the right to use it in their software, brochures, or on their own websites. Most important of all though is that the process of researching and creating my artwork and having the ability to share it with others as a contributing member of society, despite my physical confinement, has been a major reason in how I’ve managed to beat the odds so far, which is why I refer to my collective creations as “The ART of survival”.

20 thoughts on “The ART of Survival

  1. I can relate to your story, my friend! Once upon a time in the not too distant past I too had a debilitating disease that left me house bound and very often bed ridden. I had ulcerative colitis. There were times when I was completely unable to leave my house at all. I was sick with this disease for over 4 years and then underwent 2 surgeries in a year and a half and am now finally “cured”. I am back in the world again and leading a full active life again, but I will never forget what it felt like to be too exhausted to walk from my bedroom into my children’s bedrooms to tuck them in and say goodnight. It is a horrible place to be. I have been absolutely inspired by your website and I think your icons are truly artistic. If it is a label you are looking for, I dub you “Madame Artist”!

  2. Thank you for sharing your story. Your artwork is beautiful. Be well. My positive thoughts are with you.

    I appreciate your kindness, compliments and taking the time to share them. Stick around and do let me know if there’s anything in particular you’d like to see as far as topics, styles, etc. for icons or desktops. — Leslie

  3. In my book you are a hero, and as far as I am concerned there is nothing greater than heroism.

    May the Force be With You.

    That’s extremely kind of you, Arj. I’ve never thought of myself as a “hero” but I’m honored if I’ve been able to inspire you or others in some way. I certainly have had my share of great role models in my life (Hi there Dad! You, too, Art & Enid!) While we’re all very different individuals with different paths before us, it helps to know there are people beside us, rooting us on! Bless you!

  4. This posting, “Art of Survival”, is very emotionally and mentally thought provoking for me. I have known you for many decades now, and I am still often surprised by your ability to express your thoughts and emotions through the wide variety of written, spoken, and visual media. Your ability to explain the difficulties that you have endured is both eloquent and easy-to-relate-to. I thank God that we met on that special evening so many years ago. I look forward to many more years of enjoying your company, your talents, and your love. Signed, your Hubby.

    • I must say that the above comment is as good as any comment ever gets! If I had a hubby it would be have to be one who would write a comment on my blog just like that one!

      • I agree! Wish I could figure out how to clone him or create a new spray-on product: “Essence du Doni”… 😉 In March we’ll have been married 33 years and counting and with every day that goes by, I feel ever more blessed to have found him.

  5. Oh….I m spooked out, you know.
    I don’t do the church or even religion thing, but I have a deep faith in God (or whatever name people wanna give to the masterful energy being who created the whole universe and…well, never mind , lets get back to the point, shall we? LOL)…and this God has never let me down. Never.
    Every time something disastrous seemed to happen, a new door and zillions of opportunities, people, love, knowledge, stuff comes through.
    And lately this God has put in my path, strategically, I must add,some amazing people.

    OK, you may not be understanding anything, so let me explain: I’m Mrs Peel from Scrapblog.com.
    This morning, can’t even remember why I came across your Scrapblog page because I was looking into some Brazilian girls pages, but a little thumbnail of yours called my attention, I went there and left you a message.
    Well, so far, you know it, because you have answered already 🙂

    Now I come here ad read your sticky post….and this is the spooky bit.
    I have a congenital condition none could tell about, or at least not unless I was in my bikini on the beach and then my map of scars was visible, but that never stopped me.
    Then I had a full on life, but, lets make this long story short, I had a few operations in 2003 which were meant to bring me back to full time work in 4 months tops….
    Well again, 7 years later, 5 operations in the count, I have nerve damage plus my congenital condition, plus the collateral effects of the whole ordeal.

    When I read this post, it was like it was me talking, me thinking.
    I haven’t gone through Chemo but have gone through other things, still, I know no pain or ordeal can be compared, for each of us, our fight is the one to conquer.

    I’m so, so pleased to have found you.
    Now, I had a full on day but will book mark you to come back and read more, also get some icons…I scrap with other programs too, so when using your icons will be giving you due credit, and posting in my blog too, apart from coming here.
    You are incredibly talented, that I know and I need no more than a few samples I saw to be really looking forward to see (and read) more of your work.
    So, talk soon 🙂

    • I know how you feel about having just the right people placed in your path at just the right time. I’ve been incredibly blessed that way, too. It’s just a matter of keeping your eyes and heart open to recognize them.
      You’re right about “no pain or ordeal can be compared” but at the same time, I have two seemingly opposite thoughts:

      1. That we all (with perhaps the exception of psychopaths) experience the same degree of pain and hurdles at some point in our lives regardless of what it may look like from the outside and regardless of what caused it, simply because it is happening to ourselves and empathy aside, we can not actually “Feel” someone else’s pain; and
      2. By recognizing someone else’s pain and burdens are as heavy to them as ours are to ourself, we open the door to being able to share each other’s burdens in a way that seems to lighten the load if only for knowing we are not alone and someone understands.

      It’s really for these reasons of wanting to reach out to others for a two way conversation, sharing thoughts and beliefs and feelings and our ways of coping with life, that spurred me to start this blog. It is wonderful to know that it’s reached someone who understands that.
      Bless You.

  6. Hi. Well, I left you a comment before I read more of your posts. To find you through searching for Rosa la Rouge, then to discover you have a serious health issue is one of those little happenings in life that seems to weird to be coincidental. I don’t really believe in coincidences anyway. I have already received by having read your post here. Thank you for writing. I look forward to visiting your blog again. Have a blessed day!

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  9. Hello Leslie,
    I’m thinking of you and missing your blog posts. I wish you wellness, rest and peace, my friend, but I do also wish to see you back around here soon!
    I bet if your blog could talk it would call you up and say what’s up?

    Peace, love and blessings to you and yours,

  10. Hi again Leslie,

    i can access because you email address by clicking the email button, because stuff is missing on my computer. Could you send it to me please ?

  11. Pingback: Grand Rounds Blog Carnival – Vol 5.47 Invisible Illness : Invisible Illness Awareness Week

  12. As a sufferer of severe COPD (completely invisible as long as I don’t exert myself) I empathize and I thank you. Too often I’ve overheard the insensitive whingings about these “so-called disabled” people living off the public teat and taking our parking spaces. More of us “invisibles” should speak out, if not for ourselves then for those without a voice.

    Like most of us (I assume) I went through a period of despondency and self-pity but came out the other side with a new appreciation for life. Like you, I turned this semi-internment into an opportunity to revisit old loves and dreams yet undreamt. My “thing” is music and writing although I have tried my hand at the visual arts despite the handicap of being colour blind and utterly devoid of talent.

    What the hell? YOLO. Live long and prosper.

    • Drakakis —
      Thanks for your comments. By nature, I tend to be a loner, not because I don’t like people or don’t get along, but more because my interests and hobbies tend to be solitary activities. But I must admit finding it an incredible relief to hear from other “invisibles”, to not feel so alone with the experience, and to try to help each other to not fall into the trap of thinking we are no longer “whole” or without value just because we are handicapped by our health in some way and/or because others fail or refuse to recognize and have respect for our reality.

      Good for you in seizing the opportunity! Attitude is absolutely everything.

      As to your being “colour blind and utterly devoid of talent” – Beethoven was deaf when he wrote his most memorable music – and IMHO, talent is one of those judgmental words that other people use to dismiss all the hard-work and effort that others put into their craft. I truly believe that if you have an eye, ear, or feel for appreciating other’s art (including “mother nature’s”) – then you are capable of creating art. Sometimes it just takes a while to find the right medium. For me, I can’t even draw a straight line with a pencil or paint brush – but with a mouse, the skies the limit! It’s basically a right brain/left brain thing. But it’s also a matter of not judging yourself nor listening to what other’s say about your “talent” or potential. Just follow what you “feel”.

      Life’s an adventure. Enjoy the moment.

    • Drakakis-
      Nope, I’m not self-hosted. Just using a free WordPress.com account (although I have signed up for the custom css add on plus some extra storage space for images). I’m not certain whether you need the custom css to create a scroller widget in the side-bar or not but if you don’t already have that service, it’s well worth the annual price. In any event, here’s the basic code I used:

      INITIAL STEPS: • Go to the widgets settings page in your dashboard (under “appearance”) and create a new text widget.
      • Give the widget any title you want (It will be displayed in your sidebar just above what is coded below)
      NOTE: • The sizes and colors in the following code are what I decided would like best for my blog. Nothing sacred about them, so feel free to adjust them as you like.)
      • You can add as many additional paragraphs, images or line items as you like, just follow the same format.

      *div class="scroller" style="background-color:rgb(230,229,206);color:rgb(84,84,84);border:solid 3px #646462;height:300px;white-space:pre-wrap;overflow:auto;font-size:15px;line-height:119%;padding-left:8px;padding-right:8px;padding-bottom:2px;margin-top:2px;margin-bottom:2px;margin-left:2px;"~*img src="URL FOR YOUR IMAGE" alt="YOUR IMAGE TITLE" class="wp aligncenter" /~*p~YOUR TEXT HERE*/p~*p~*strong~YOUR HEADLINE FOR A LIST OF ITEMS TO FOLLOW*/strong~*/p~*ul~*li style="margin-top:1px;margin-bottom:1px;"~*a href="URL FOR LINKED ARTICLE,BLOG OR WEBSITE" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"~TEXT FOR TITLE OF LINK*/a~*/li~*li style="margin-top:1px;margin-bottom:1px;"~*a href="URL FOR LINKED ARTICLE,BLOG OR WEBSITE" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"~TEXT FOR TITLE OF LINK*/a~*/li~*li style="margin-top:1px;margin-bottom:1px;"~*a href="URL FOR LINKED ARTICLE,BLOG OR WEBSITE" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"~TEXT FOR TITLE OF LINK*/a~*/li~ul~*/div~

      That should do it! If you have any trouble with it, I’ll be happy to take a look at your code.
      Good Luck!

      UPDATE: I’m having trouble getting this code to display as text vs. the result of the code. but if for some miracle it comes out as code on your end, copy and paste it first into an empty plain text document. Do a find on all “*” and replace with “”.

  13. While it has been the greater part of two years, know I am still wishing you nothing but the best of prayers for a pain free existance, know also that I would view you as an artist–simply because anything we create in any medium is art.

  14. Thanks a lot for sharing this with all of us you really understand what you are talking about!
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