My first display- part 2

Remaining nimble

“Hello.” said the grand mom-ish figure who appeared and sat at the computer. She didn’t look like a particularly nimble grand mom  How did she successfully navigate her office?

“You are interested in using one of the display cases? she asked.

“Yes, ma’am.”

We wrapped up the business and I carefully maneuvered out of the room.

Fast forward to the end of this February. The nimble g-mom calls to ask if I still want to do the display for the month of March. My first thought, “Drat, how did I forget about that?!” Second thought, “Of course! I can get something together in two days.”

I was pretty annoyed that with four months for preparation, I was going to be running around like headless poultry 48 hours before the display went up. But I’ve been preparing myself mentally to keep a nimble mind, so that I could hurdle unexpected situations and slip through narrow time frames to meet the opportunities on the other side.

My display went up on time and was beautiful. My website had a nice bump in traffic this month. The manuscript went off to the editors. Being angry and headless was only temporary.

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My first display- part 1

Avoiding pigeon-holes

Back in November of last year I was walking through our local library. I noticed original art of a surprisingly ethnic type, on display. There were some rappers, a black Jesus and other pieces. They were well done, just seemingly out-of-place. But it hit me, why shouldn’t my art be in a display case too?

I went to the information desk to find out who was in charge of the showcases. I was directed upstairs to a large office with lots of…books…everywhere. As I waited for the nimble office dweller, I thought about my art. Sometimes it feels as if African-American artists are required to do “ethnic art.” As I look online and in galleries for black artists, I see tribal influenced works, urban scenes, musical and erotic pieces. They are often bold, exaggerated or colorful.

I’m not sure my stuff really fits into any of those categories. Actually, if you didn’t know I was African-American, would my art tell you? Should it? Well, I’ve always seen my race and culture as just two of the factors that define me, not even the most important. Really the strongest visual theme in my art seems to be my identity as a women, and my concern for other women.

Display at Lewisville Public LibraryMarch 2013

Display at Lewisville Public Library
March 2013

Hey, perhaps there are lots of artists of color that I haven’t discovered, simply because their work is not ethnic in a traditional sense. Well, not liking to be pigeon-holed myself, I’ll try not to have preconceived expectations for artists of color. Instead,

I can simply enjoy the diversity their experiences bring to the canvas or potter’s wheel.

My book’s extraordinary cover art

She’s sitting in the corner, all curled up. Ponytail, barefoot, jeans and a white t-shirt. There is a small area on her side, where her shirt has risen up to expose skin. That she hasn’t straightened her shirt suggests to me that she is not much concerned about how it all looks anymore. I also believe that her being insensitive to the cool air on her side says she’s numb to feeling much of anything now.

The walls around her are pulsing, like a heart beat on a monitor the colors race up and then down. Red pulses into brown, brown into blue. It’s jarring to see the movement of the walls when she is so oblivious, so still.

I think I know her. I think I recognize this place. She’s me. This place is my vibrant life, swirling and shifting, unconcerned about me in the middle of it.

The artist captured it all. How did he know? Maybe because I’m not the only one like that, in a corner of a pulsing room.
——————-
People are surprised when I tell them the art on the cover of the book will not be one of mine. They just assumed I would use one of my pieces. The piece I’ve chosen is called Depression. It’s by a young, male artist in Oregon, named Cory Graham.

Soon after starting this blog, I began looking around to see who else was in the WordPress blog universe. I did a search for depression. Cory’s blog Expressionistic Depression popped up, and there she was. I was immediately disturbed and delighted by the piece. I had to reach out to the artist. He shared with me through emails and his blog about his battle with coming to recognize his issue as being bi-polar disorder, the search for appropriate medication and balancing his life now. His talent and his openness drew me in. Also, I could never get the girl in the corner out of my mind. I knew I wanted her to be my cover. I told Cory almost a year ago, but I don’t think he really believed me.

Now with the first draft submitted, it was time to create the back and front covers. Cory was gracious enough to allow me to use the piece. I have my buddies Tom and Cindy at www.MountainHornMedia.com designing the covers.

There is a lot more work for me to do on the project. Marketing and publicity will be more of a challenge for me than writing the book. However, I know how important the title and cover of a book are, especially for a new author. I feel like I’m setting myself up for success with the talented people I’ve been able to create with.

Here’s the link to see and purchase Cory’s art.

http://corygrahamart.com/2013/03/19/my-blue-is-blue-book-cover/

By the way, I’d love to hear how this piece affects you.

Five excuses for not taking your medication – and why they are all stupid

Yes, I’m about to go on a rant directed at those dealing with an anxiety, bi-polar or depression diagnosis.

1) I don’t trust medication (doctors, hospitals, shrinks…)
Hmm, are you also suffering from paranoia? If not, then you can research several doctors online, ask for recommendations, ask questions of your team, research the treatment plan and the medications. But you’re sick so maybe you can’t do all that. Here’s where a trusted friend or family member can help you. Become informed and empowered or discuss a possible additional issue of paranoia or irrational thinking with your therapist.

2) I don’t need them
Really? If it has just been suggested that you take a medication, yet you’ve decided you don’t need them, let’s go back to what precipitated the doctor visits. Either you were sent to the doctor or were brave enough to go yourself. In either case, something was deeply disturbing and painfully obvious. A thorough physical exam was done and the medical fields of mental health and internal medicine converged with a diagnosis. With several years of experience in their fields and an acute awareness of the delicate nature of a troubled mind, a plan to address your issues was created and it included medication.
Perhaps you have been taking the medication as prescribed for weeks, months or years. But now because you are “feeling fine” or because you aren’t feeling better, you’ve decided you don’t need the meds. Bad strategy friend. Instead talk with your doctor and therapist to determine the best adjustments to make. Or find new professionals if you aren’t comfortable with your current team. You, by yourself, simply aren’t qualified to make those determinations.

3) I don’t want to be dependant
Ok, so you acknowledge that the medication is helping you feel better. However, you’ve become impatient with the healing process. “It shouldn’t be taking so long.” “How do I know when I can come off the meds?” Valid concerns that you need to take up with your health providers. If you’ve gotten the homework done on the doctors and your diagnosis, you then need to have patience to work your individualized and multifaceted plan.

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4) I forget sometimes
Your mental and physical health are important enough to set up a system to combat forgetfulness. Here’s another time family or friends can help. First, decide you are going to be accountable to someone for taking all medications as prescribed. Use one of those nifty pill containers with the days of the week on it. Before time to take them, I bring my meds from the medicine cabinet and sit them next to me. When I take one, I turn the bottle upside down. I have found this very helpful. Not missing a dose is super important to me. I’m aware of the dangerous safety issues that can occur if I allow the levels of medicine in my bloodstream to drop dramatically.

5) I don’t like the side effects
“I might gain weight.” “I don’t feel like myself.” “I just feel sleepy all the time.” “It gives me headaches.”
Yeah, but before the medications you were afraid to leave your house or crying uncontrollably several times a week or acting out sexually or unable to care for your newborn.
Talk with your doctors honestly about your side effects. They may be able to make or suggest changes to reduce them.
Sooo, if you really weigh the negatives against the possible positives, isn’t it short-sighted to use side effects as your excuse?

“A 2003 study published in Current Medical Research and Opinion found that 65% of the 1000 people surveyed said they had stopped taking their medicine, and half of those people cited side effects as the reason.”
-“Coping With Side Effects of Antidepressants” WebMD.com February 12, 2012

photo courtesy of http://www.123rf.com/12556053