Frankly, it’s hard to know what to say after all the events that have transpired since January. It feels like a lifetime ago, already. There are so many people arguing and divided that it sometimes just feels hopeless. There are so many things I want to say, but don’t know if I should say or even if it’s the right time to say them. If I say them will they even help? I have no idea. No one knows how the rest of this will pan out. I truly believe we haven’t hit the bottom yet, but again, who knows.
There is one thing I do know it’s that things need to change. How can I contribute to that change or at least the change I want to see? The only change I have control over is the change within myself and the environment I create. If I believe that we need more diversity in the creative community it starts with how I create. If I believe we need to be more environmentally conscious that starts with changing the way I create. If I believe art can change our view of the world it starts with me changing what I create.
I am tired of seeing our creative community chase trends to get Instagram or Facebook famous. I want this community of photographers and artists to use their work to really say something, make an impact with it, care about what you are putting out into the world. If you’re not doing that, than what’s the point of art in the first place? Because if it’s superficial than aren’t you using your influence to create more superficiality. Let’s not do that OK? Let’s start to care about our work again and give it some quality.
Maybe you’re thinking to yourself that art doesn’t have a place in politics or beliefs it just needs to look pretty. But that’s where you are wrong, so wrong. Art has had long history of pushing societal boundaries and shaping spans of history. Have you taken an art history class? Art is an important function in expressing societal issues. It has great emotional impact on people. One photo, video, painting, etc. can spark an entire movement and has for a long time. It’s how we as a society spread messages of change.
Here is an amazing article of the history of protest art and how it’s impacted social movements. https://www.format.com/magazine/features/art/brief-history-protest-art
And if someone says they don’t like you’re art because of the message you are trying to convey than guess what? You’re doing right. You’re making change and making a difference. Keep using your voice to make change. And if you’re not, deeply look inside yourself and understand why you are making art. Maybe you just want to bring happiness into the world and that’s OK too, but use it for good, use it to say something, use it for change. Don’t hold back, just be you and what you believe in.
I don't often share looks inside my sketchbooks, but lately I have drawing, collaging (is that a word) and painting things I am feeling. Maybe one day I'll make a poster on illustrator of some of them. We'll see what happens. For now it'll be a part of the sketchbook project, which you can find more information about here.
*Update: I did a quick graphic from this design in Canva because I wasn't planning on using illustrator for it, but thought it would be fun to mock it up. It was fun and I kind of like it! Here it is and feel free to share!
Slowly, during this time pandemic I have been working on my Etsy shop. I have been trying to add listings of stock photos and instant download printable fine art photos. I have taken so many photos over the years, but have always been afraid that they weren't good enough to sell. I finally realized that I will never know if I never put them out there!
So I am happy to announce I have three new fine art listings on my Etsy shop! You can find them in my shop by clicking here. Or click the picture below.
I am working hard to get my California photos up and ready for sale. The photos are from my small town project.
I am also working hard to get more stock photos up. If you have any stock photos you need please feel free to offer me some suggestions.
Yes, I slacked a little last week and didn't do my virtual ride, but I have hopped back on the bike this week to finish the 44 mile ride to Bigfork from Whitefish, Montana. Check out my last post about the first leg of the virtual ride.
These past two days I have completed the first leg of my virtual 252 mile ride through Montana. The next leg is a 62 mile route from Bigfork to Condon. My goal is to raise money for every dollar I ride. So far I have raised $145, which means I have to at least ride a total of 145 miles. Thank you to those who donated. I very much appreciate your support in these crazy times. If you would like to donate please click here for more information.
In the meantime enjoy some of these photos from trips to Montana I have taken in the past.
So this year I had a resolution for myself to raise money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. I signed up for a few trail runs and thought I can use these as opportunities to raise the money. Obviously, those runs got postponed until the fall and who knows if by then everything will be back to normal. I’m guessing it won’t.
I wanted to run these races to prove to myself that I can still do those particular activities despite my disease. I wanted to prove that I could still do the things I want to do and be fit.
So it got me thinking, there are still causes out there that need our help, communities that still need money. Since I live with Colitis it only makes sense that I get involved with that foundation. Also I still have the desire to prove to myself that I can be fit again.
Instead of sitting around thinking about doing it, knowing I can’t with the trail runs, I’m going to put my Christmas present to good use. My husband got me a spin bike this past Christmas that I have only used about once a week. He even got me a Peloton subscription! I really have every tool at my disposal which is why there is no excuse not to exercise. I can use it to do a virtual ride that will raise money for the Crohn’s and Colitis foundation.
I am actually really excited about this! Its always easier for me to have a purpose when I’m exercising other than just being fit. I have always wanted to ride one of the routes from the Adventure Cycling Association, but never felt I was ready. So instead I’m going to use my spin bike to virtually ride one of the routes, track it in my blog and on social media and raise money for the foundation.
The ride I chose is Cycle the Divide - Montana. This loop is 252 miles in Whitefish, MT. I chose Montana because I’m thinking we probably won’t make in there in person this year for vacation so I’m visiting in my daydreams. For people who are used to riding long distances this ride would normally take 7-10 days. For me it’s going to take a little longer, not sure how long, but I am sure I will build up mileage as I go.
I would like to raise one dollar for every mile I accomplish and you can do that by clicking this sentence (only if you're able, obviously). I have my fundraising goal set for 252 dollars for the 252 mile loop. This week's goal was to ride the first leg of the loop from Whitefish to Bigfork, Montana. So far I have completed 16.8 miles. I have 27.2 to ride today, but knowing myself that will take two days to ride. First, week will end a little late, but that's OK.
Next week is a longer ride from Bigfork to Condon, Montana. It's a 62 mile route in the mountains. You can read about this route at Adventure Cycling Association Cycle the Divide - Montana.
Someday I would love to do this ride in real life because right now, the situation we are in, doesn't feel real. But for now I will just have pretend and show you pictures of Montana that I have taken while visiting family there. We can dream together!
You can follow and see my rides on Instagram or keep up with this blog. Thank you for your support and your donation to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation.
In case you don’t know, I have an autoimmune disease. My disease is ulcerative colitis. It’s like Crohn’s disease, but only affects my colon. Recently, I have also been diagnosed with psoriasis.
I am on a drug called Inflectra. It’s an intravenous drug that suppresses my immune system to control the symptoms of my disease, which are constant diarrhea, blood in the stool, cramping, urgency to go to the bathroom and many other issues. Every 8 weeks, I drive to Roseville to the Kaiser Oncology Department to have this treatment.
I want to start off by saying that I didn’t choose this disease. There are lots of people out there that think they can cure me because they believe I am eating the wrong food or I am taking actions that caused me to have this. Let me just say that I consider myself to be a healthy person. I have always eaten well, I exercise, do yoga, try not to stress (this is the hardest for me, but I am working on it). I don’t smoke, barely drink alcohol, and have never done drugs other than what’s prescribed to me. I have always believed in being healthy and that food is my best medicine!
Unfortunately, genetics play a role in my health, and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about that. We can not choose our families. I mention this because I feel that maybe the root cause of my autoimmune disease is genetics.
A few years back, I took one of those ancestry tests. (I love family history and just wanted to know more about my people.) As you probably have guessed my ancestry mainly consists of Irish, Scottish and English, but it surprised me to find a good mix of other ethnicities in my results including Jewish.
I want to point out the Jewish aspect because there is a certain type that is more prone to diseases. They are the Ashkenazi Jewish people, which is the ethnicity stated in my ancestry test. Some of you women out there may remember that survey your gynecologists gave you that asked if you were of this certain ethnicity, when you were trying to get pregnant. It’s because if both you and your partner are have these genetics you could pass certain genetic diseases on to your baby, some that are fatal.
My Ashkenazi percentage is small, but great enough to know that one of my great grandparents was a full blood Ashkenazi Jewish. This is important because it plays a significant role in my health. Here’s an excerpt from the 23 and Me blog about Ashkenazi Jewish and their health.
“During the Jewish Diaspora – or migration of Jewish people from the Middle East to other parts of the world – the vast majority of Jewish individuals married and raised families within their faith. Many generations later this means that Ashkenazi Jews can appear more genetically related than they actually are. This genetic isolation has had important implications for health.”
If you want to put it in layman’s terms or make it more understandable, you can call it inbreeding. We all know what inbreeding can do in dogs such as bad hips in German shepherds and diabetes in chocolate labs. For people, it’s the same thing.
“One example is Crohn’s disease. People with Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry are two to four times as likely to develop Crohn’s compared Europeans in general. Although it’s not yet clear why the rates are higher in this population, it’s likely that genetic factors specific to Ashkenazi ancestry play a role. Knowing about your ancestry can teach you about your family’s heritage and your risk for certain conditions. More knowledge means more informed decisions.” - Bethann Hromatka. Ph. D.
The reason that I am giving you background about my health is because I know many of you will play my disease off like it’s my fault and I brought my health issues on myself. Obviously, not the case. Does anyone want to get cancer? No! Why would anyone want any other disease? I can not choose my genetics, nor how my body will react to my environment.
So now I sit here with two autoimmune diseases. Psoriasis, which I know for a fact runs in my family and ulcerative colitis. I live with fear every day about my conditions. I am constantly asking myself if I will make it to see my son live his own life, especially when I am sick. These questions are now amplified with the novel coronavirus. Will I get COVID-19 and how bad will it be for me? Will I make it out the other side if I do get it?
As cases are on the rise in California and across the country, I feel like I am developing agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is basically the fear of going places or leaving home. Because, for people like me, the threat of this virus is real! Again, I think about how bad will it be for me? Will I get the care that I need? Will I live to see the end of this year? You, healthy person reading this, those questions probably never entered your mind when you think about getting sick.
I feel like when I go out I should wear a bright colored shirt that says “I am immunocompromised keep back 6 feet,” just to get people to understand that social distancing will help me and you. It could keep me from getting critically ill and taking up hospital space.
Another one of my biggest fears is that I am a burden. I am a burden on my family because I don’t know if I could hold down a full-time job. I am a burden because I get sick and take longer to recover, even from a cold, which means my husband has to take more time off of work. I am a burden because I can’t always take my son to the park for fear of not having a bathroom readily available. I am a burden to my friends because I can’t go out to eat or drink on the weekends without running to the bathroom a thousand times. And now I fear I am a burden to society during this pandemic because I have a disease that compromises my immune system and everyone has to practice social distancing to save those who are at high risk.
Many of my fears have caused me great anxiety. Still does sometimes. I am only human. But I have learned that fear and anxiety only make my symptoms worse. I know that my fears aren’t who I truly am. I know that I can control my worries. I have to remind myself every day that living with this anxiety and fear is irrational. There’s absolutely nothing I can do, but be happy and follow the guidelines of those smarter than me (doctors, nurses, immunologists, virologists, etc). As you should too.
Ever since my diagnosis, I have developed a lot more empathy for others. Mainly because I do not understand what you or anyone else is going through and because my husband has taught me to be a caring person. He is the most caring individual I know. Honestly, I have it great compared to so many other people.
Since I have been living with my disease, I also noticed that I am not as selfish as I used to be. I also know that I couldn’t have made it through some of my low points without the selflessness of others. It’s why social distancing is so important right now. The situation will only get worse if we don’t take the time to do what society is asking us. You can not get through life without the help of others.
Honestly, I hope no one gets COVID-19 or any other disease in their lifetime and I hope it doesn’t take you getting a disease to realize you should have been more sympathetic to other people. I don’t wish this on anyone.
So don’t be selfish. Even if you are young, you could be asymptomatic and still spread the disease. We have no vaccine for this, no treatments, nothing. Yes, things are being developed, but it’s about a year off until they are widely available. Whereas for the flu, you can get a vaccine, there are antivirals and so many other options to treat it. So I don’t think it’s fair to compare the two. Our best treatment for COVID-19 is to stay away from each other. If you don’t take this seriously the United States will be the next Italy.
So if it helps think of me when you still have that party with friends, when you just can’t be in your home anymore or you are at the grocery store standing too close to the next person in line. If you stand that close to me, I will say something even if there’s not a pandemic, it’s just weird to get that close.
I know that this will be over at some point, and it’s why I am not panicking. Stores that we need are still open. There are very brave and dedicated men and women working amid it exposing their families to it. Society will halt for a little while, but it will flourish once again. Our lives may not be that different when it does.
Most of us will survive, but there are others who won’t and their friends and families will be devastated. Those people will be sorely missed. Help those families, help me, by keeping your distance, by washing your hands and staying in your home during this time. For one moment in your long life, be selfless.
I'm in pursuit of living a simple, healthy lifestyle by getting back to the basics and creating a lifestyle conducive to my autoimmune disease. I believe food is medicine, gardening feeds the soul and art quiets the mind. Welcome to my creative corner of the internet!