Perhaps because I was a psychotherapist, the human form and face is what draws me (pun intended) as art subjects.
There is an interesting process in painting that mirrors our human progression: Start with a sketch, fill in the darks and lights, correct, edit, change colors, redo, undo, fill in more detail and continue with more redirection and correction.
Each of these studies has layers and layers of acrylic paint. Traces of the colored layers are still visible . . . like all humans . . .
I finally run out of steam . . . or interest . . . declare it done and move on to the next challenge. Like my life
Unbeknownst to you, who read posts, on MAXyourMIND and CURIOUStotheMAX, you occupy an important place in my ever shrinking life.
If you are a recent blog follower you may not know I struggle with a chronic condition – fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue. I look fine (except for the weight I’ve gained self-medicating on food) and when out and about I am reasonably coherent and polite Few people would know:
- I avoid interacting with others and lead a relatively solitary life because normal stimuli is a stressor and triggers even more bone-deep exhaustion, whole body pain and brain fog.
- My feet burn from walking
- My gums hurt from chewing
- I retired largely because I would be out-of-commission for days after seeing clients
- I regularly have appointments with 4 different medical specialists plus 5 irregularly (the appointments are irregular, not the specialists)
- When depressed I cry at dog food & laundry commercials.
I was diagnosed in 1986 when the “condition” was considered by doctors to be psycho-somatic – not real, just something I “thought” was wrong with me and psychiatric treatment was needed.
As I’ve gotten older (and of course, wiser) my system responds more and more negatively to all kinds of stimuli. Just reading, watching, listening to strife, mayhem, pillage or plunder (whether fact or fiction) as even pleasurable activities, like being with friends, can trigger days of physical and mental exhaustion. I could go on and on about all my “symptom-stuff” but it depresses me to write about it (a symptom not talked about because it requires psychiatric intervention, just like all the doctors believed). I’m not complaining (I save that for my husband and close friends – aren’t they the lucky ones, irony intended).
Why then am I yet again writing a post about fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue? After reading Ron Davis’ story I decided it was a small thing I could do to help raise awareness for National Fibromyalgia ME/chronic fatigue day.
Ron Davis pioneered technology that fueled the Human Genome Project. Now his greatest challenge is curing his own son.
Ron Davis’ son Whitney is on the extreme end of the spectrum whereas I mirror just a teeny bit of his journey on the mild end of the spectrum.
Whitney was functioning as a photographer for a good portion of his young adulthood until his ability to withstand any outside stimuli increased and his functioning declined. He is now bed ridden, fed through a feeding tube and all sensory input – sight, sound, touch – triggers an overwhelming, debilitating cascade of symptoms.
These types of “conditions” are beginning to be researched (now that pharmaceuticals have realized there are millions of people afflicted world-wide and million of dollars to be made). Fibromyalgia is one of the most common chronic pain conditions. The disorder affects an estimated 10 million people in the U.S. and 3-6% of the world population.
I thank you for being a part of my life (a much bigger part than you ever knew), helping me keep my brain working, my sense of humor in tact (if not in bounds) and give me a reason to contribute in some small way.
I say a Baha’i prayer every day and thank God for what he hasn’t given me. I’ve been blessed and unbeknownst to you, you are all a part of my blessing.
If you want to know more about these invisible illnesses you can read.
“Happiness Hacks” are quick and easy ways, based on scientific research, to lift your mood. We are compiling them into a book, but want to share them here with you.
I’m a hugger. I admit it. It’s almost a reflex when I see someone I like or admire.
In the 1970’s I taught 3rd grade. It was common for some students to run up, throw their arms around my waist and give me a big hug. We teachers would always hug back. When a student got hurt or was in distress a hug was automatic. Our cultural climate has changed and teachers are no longer suppose to touch, much less hug, students. Our cultural climate is continuing to change and unwanted, unwarranted “hugs” are rightly being brought out into the open and condemned.
So I share this information from the work of Alex Korb, UCLA neuroscientist author of The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time with the acknowledgement that we should only be touching others who want to be touched.
“Got someone to hug? Go for it. Alex Korb, says ‘A hug, especially a long one, releases a neurotransmitter and hormone oxytocin, which reduces the reactivity of the amygdala.”‘
“Hand holding, pats on the back, and handshakes work, too. Korb cites a study in which subjects whose hands were held by their partners experienced a reduced level of anxiety while waiting for an expected electrical shock from researchers. “The brain showed reduced activation in both the anterior cingulate cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex — that is, less activity in the pain and worrying circuits.”’
And if you have no one handy to touch, guess what? Massage has also been shown to be an effective way to get your oxytocin flowing, and it reduces stress hormones and increases your dopamine levels. Win win.
The value of touching shouldn’t be overlooked when you’re down. According to Korb:
“In fact, as demonstrated in an fMRI [functional magnetic imaging] experiment, social exclusion activates the same circuitry as physical pain . . .”
The next time you see me HUG AWAY!
When under ground
and no one’s around
it’s very dark before the dawn
or perhaps it’s dawn before the dark?
It’s sometimes hard to tell
So make sure you’re planted
at just the right depth
and not in some deep well
SInce retiring Peggy & Judy (hereby referred to as P & J) have not been able to keep me in the style in which I prefer to be kept. Gourmet doggie treats, doggie day care and trips to the salon are not, so they say, in their Social-Security-check budget (Social Security, it seems, is neither very social nor secure . .. for canines).
I thought about crowd-funding but have settled on T-shirts. They require no ironing and are user-friendly (the T-shirts as well as P & J).
Please buy my T-shirts. click here zazzle.com/store/curioustothemax. They make wonderful Canine Companion Clothing for all dog and human-walking. I promise to use all the proceeds for MY DOGGONE GOOD.
Freddie Parker Westerfield, CCE
Certified Canine Entrepreneur
On a plane ride returning back to California from a trip to Alaska, I opened an in-flight magazine and was mezmerized by a picture of Multnomah Falls, a waterfall so beautiful that I knew I had to go see it in person.
620-foot (190 m)-high Multnomah Falls.
“Multnomah Falls, is located in the Columbia River Gorge – the area with the highest percentage of waterfalls (over 90) in the continental U.S. The Columbia River Gorge is a canyon of the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Up to 4,000 feet deep, the canyon stretches for over 80 miles as the river winds westward through the Cascade Range forming the boundary between the State of Washington to the north and Oregon to the south.”
The area is known for its high concentration of waterfalls, with over 90 on the Oregon side of the Gorge alone. Many are along the Historic Columbia River Highway, including the notable The gorge was formed when an upstream glacier broke and came crashing through a riverbed towards the ocean. The flow of melting ice and debris widened the riverbed.
“The same Ice Age floods that created the Willamette Valley carved a wide river gorge through the Cascade Mountains, tearing through ancient volcanic rock and cresting at more than 700 feet high. After the floodwaters receded, they left behind a mighty river flanked by towering cliffs, its tributaries now flowing into dozens of towering waterfalls – the tallest, Multnomah Falls.”
I’m happiest around water and tons of water cascading over beautiful terrain was my idea of heaven on earth. I invited my two daughters and a friend to join me on what turned out to be a wonderful trip. We hiked steep trails, had picnics in the rain, and decided we wanted to quit our jobs, move to Oregon and buy a small restaurant. Needless to say that never happened.
We never opened the restaurant. Now that I’m retired I’ll settle for a vacation home next to a waterfall and take-out dinner.
See our post on Max Your Mind “Falling water, raising spirits”