A lot going on

Many good things are happening these days.  The lovely and talented Dru curated a show based on my Gay for Eagles piece.  Check it out!  A couple of my pieces didn’t make it to the studio, but I have some weapons and a self-portrait hanging. 

I’m extremely depressed that I spent my day taking a miserable Mental Health Nursing exam instead of attending the show at Hotel Hadley Studios.  If I had known how bad the test would be, I’d have tried harder to go to NC.  School is such a beast right now that I can’t even schedule a doctor’s appointment.  I can’t miss 5 fucking minutes and non-nursing students have a hard time understanding that.  The end is in sight, but it feels farther away than ever right now.  I graduate June 10, then I get to sit for the NCLEX-PN.  Then I get to do another year of this to become an RN.  I’ve decided that taking some time off to just work as an LPN is the best decision for my mental and physical health right now. 

Every LPN to RN career ladder nurse I’ve met says that the RN (care plan writing school) portion of the ladder is much easier than the LPN portion.  I didn’t respect LPNs the way I should have.  I thought they were just glorified CNAs.  I had no idea how hard the schooling was.  I had no idea how hard they work.  With the exception of hanging blood, pushing certain IV cardiac medications, and writing care plans, LPNs do full nursing duties.  They just don’t get paid much to do it.  They also don’t get the respect they deserve.  God bless nurses no matter what letters follow their names!

In other news, Leanne Prain wrote a book about unexpected embroidery to be published this Fall.  I am so honored to be interviewed in this book.  The Amazon page is up.  Add this baby to your wishlist!  Here is the publisher’s description:

Hoopla, by the co-author of 2009’s bestselling Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti, showcases those who take the craft of embroidery where it’s never gone before, in an astonishing, full-color display of embroidered art. Hoopla rebels against the quaint and familiar embroidery motifs of flowers and swashes, and focuses instead on innovative stitch artists who specialize in unusual, guerrilla-style patterns such as subway maps, feminist Girl Guide badges, and metal band letterforms; it demonstrates that modern embroidery artists are as sharp as the needles with which they work.

Hoopla includes twenty-nine innovative embroidery patterns and profiles of contemporary embroidery artists, including Jenny Hart, author of Sublime Stitching; Rosa Martyn of the UK-based Craftivism Collective; Ray Materson, an ex-con who learned to stitch in prison; Sherry Lynn Wood of the Tattooed Baby Doll Project, which collaborated with female tattoo artists across the United States; Penny Nickles and Johnny Murder, the self-proclaimed Bonnie and Clyde of embroidery; and Alexandra Walters, a military wife who replicates military portraits and weapons in her stitching.

Full-color throughout and bursting with history, technique, and sass, Hoopla will teach readers how to stitch a mythical jackalope; needlepoint nipple doilies, a ransom note pillow, and mean and dainty knuckle-tattoo church gloves; and create their own innovative embroidery projects. If you like anarchistic DIY craft and the idea of deviating from the rules, Hoopla will inspire you to wield a needle with flair!

I’m a little over 1/4 of the way through my 1000 miles of running.  I’ve been struggling with keeping my blood pressure high enough with my Addison’s Disease and the stress of nursing school, so I don’t run as often as I want to.  I had an adrenal crisis in March and had to take massive doses of steroids for weeks and they make me feel like crap.  I’m seeing a new endocrinologist who is going to try to keep me healthy and energetic, so I have a lot of hope that I’ll be back on track soon.

Enough about me!  What have you been up to lately?

Showtime!

I’m a little late announcing this, but here is the information on the show where you can buy a Pez portrait.

The theme is childhood holiday memories and consumer consumption.  Artists with very different media all contributed.  I was pretty impressed with David Todd Trost’s ceramics (below).  The whole show is really fun, though.  You can purchase by contacting Jordan through   http://www.360seegallery.com/exhibit/door_busters_bigtime

 

This candy necklace by Rebecca Zemans is pretty fun, too. 

Check it out.  Stop by if you live in Chicago.  There is free Christmas Eve/Hanukkah delivery within 20 miles for all purchases.

Submersed in the culture.

The best way to learn a foreign language is to be submersed in the culture.  You need to order your breakfast, ask where the toilets are, and pay for movie tickets in the native tongue.  Medicine is the same thing.  You can’t dip a toe.  You have to dive in.

closeup

If you’ve never been to nursing school, it’s nothing like college.  This is hard.  You study (yes, even the really smart people who never have to study have to study) like a maniac, then get up at 5 in the morning for rounds.  You take care of actual live human beings and try really hard not to fuck up and hurt them.  You work until you want to cry some days.  You run every time there is a bedpan to empty or a bed to change because you have to prove yourself.  You have to want to succeed and you have to prove it to your instructors and the hospital nursing staff.  You clean up puke without gagging, you do procedures that hurt the patient and you don’t cry.  You suck it up and keep going.  Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning.  Then I remember that drama isn’t going to help me, so I get out my books. 

This piece is called “Waiting Room.”  It is hand embroidery with cotton and linen floss on a scrub smock from the Army hospital where I was born.  This shirt used to be a deep burgundy, but it has seen countless surgeries, lives and death.  This shirt has seen blood and vomit and tears.  It’s been washed too many times to count.  Now I see the blood and the scrubbing and I watch to see how it will change my colors. 

I’m just plain grateful to be a part of medicine.

5 foot 2, eyes of molded plastic

I’ve been a little busy.  I’m in clinicals 3 days a week and working my butt off studying for two tests a week.  I mean I’ve literally been working my butt off.  I’ve lost 48 pounds.  I average over 10,000 steps per shift at the hospital.  My pedometer doesn’t measure moving patients, making beds, and generally shaking in my boots as I try new skills on actual human beings.  Then I come home and run (okay I jog) a few miles. 

I’ve managed to finish these two pieces.  I’ve always wanted to do portraits of Pez Dispensers.  They have a personality all their own.  I was playing with the concept of hero worship when I decided to use repuposed USAF uniforms as backgrounds.  They turned out okay!  I really can’t believe that I found the time to finish them.  They are headed for a show in Chicago this November.  I’ll post more details when I get them. 

In other news, I found out that I have Addison’s Disease.  I’ve probably had it for over 15 years as my body slowly attacked my adrenal glands.  It’s rare and incurable, but very managable.  My body quit making cortisol, the “stress hormone.”  You can’t live without it.    The symptoms are:  fatigue, weakness, dizziness, hyperpigmentation (my armpits turned coppery brown), low blood pressure, hypoglycemia and…depression.  I was weak and sick and exhausted.  Now that I’m taking steroids to replace what my body wasn’t making, I feel so much better.  The medication makes me hungry, but I am exercising so hard that it doesn’t matter.  I’ve also started taking some thyroid hormone.  I’m finally on a level playing field and it’s amazing what I can get done in a day with a functioning endocrine system. 

Life is good.  I wasn’t lazy and dwelling on my depression.  I was really fucking tired.

That said, I had issues.  I still have issues.  I can’t just give up on exploring my emotions because I found a physical reason for my overwhelming fatigue.  I know that a lot of you still have depression that won’t have a “quick fix.”  (It only took 15 years!)  For years and years doctors treated me like my exhaustion was my fault for not going to counseling enough, exercising enough, for eating too much sugar, because I didn’t drink enough water, because I didn’t forgive people fully, because I lived in the past, for feeling sorry for myself, for being too negative, for not wanting to get better, because I’m such a hypochondriac, etc.

I don’t think that anybody should suffer for years because medical staff act like the illness is the patient’s fault.  I was tired of hearing how my fatigue was due to my noncompliance and piss-poor attitude.  I follow doctors’ orders.  I blamed myself.  I struggled.  I sincerely hope that you don’t put up with it, whether your problem is physical or emotional.  Nobody deserves to suffer.  Keep trying.

Checking in

Nursing school is going well.  I’ll soon be on site at my first clinical experience.  I’ve learned to do amazing, healing things with my hands and I get to use my skills to help people.  It’s pretty damn exciting.

I’ve lost so much weight that I had to buy new scrubs.  My prepregnancy jeans (circa 2003) are getting too loose to wear.  Damn exciting.

I’m not running to lose weight.  I’m losing weight so that I can run better.  My running is changing my life.  I look forward to my runs like a dog looks forward to a walk.  My body is getting stronger every day.  My jiggly bits are getting firmer.  My husband can’t keep his hands off of me.  My body composition is much leaner than it was last time I was at this weight.  My resting heart rate has dropped 10 beats per minute.  I have more energy.  I’m alive and it feels great.

I updated my Etsy shop.  Shipping is free to the US, UK, and Canada. 

I recently received an award for having a great art therapy blog.  I was nominated by my readers, so thank you!  People send me messages telling me what an inspiration I am.  The truth is that my readers inspire me.  There are times when I feel uninspired and untalented, but I always have friends waiting to share their work.  You guys keep me going.

Top Art Therapy Blog

I’m working on a couple of pieces for a show this winter.  It’s really hard to find the time to work on it, but I like what I’m making.  I won’t be posting pictures until after the show opens.  I don’t want to spoil the suprise.

Papa Badger’s New Stripe

My husband is getting promoted August 1st.  I’m pretty excited about it.  I’ve been getting ready for the ceremony.  We’re also looking at houses.  Our VA loan came through and I have my eye on a 4 bedroom on a corner lot with a fireplace. 

I love Sgt. Walters.

I know that this blog uses a lot of emotions–most of them painful.  I want to make it clear that my life is full of joy.   I’m tired of keeping my happiness a secret because I’m afraid to hurt the feelings of someone who is miserable.  I’ve done that for too long.

So many good things have been happening.  I’m in nursing school.  My husband is getting a brand new stripe on his arms.  We are buying one of three beautiful houses.  I am getting close to seeing the end of 20 years of medical problems.  I’m off Prozac.  I’ve lost 25 lbs since my birthday.  I’m training to run a 5K in November.  I have the most beautiful, smart, and hilarious second grader.  My husband loves me more now than he did when we got married.  I have two of the best dogs on the damn planet.  Life is really good.

Art works.  It’s the best form of therapy in the universe.  I am a whole person.  My past doesn’t hurt.  I embrace my mistakes for making me Alexandra.

Blah, blah, blah…whatever.  I hope you readers are doing well, too!