I wrote this post a week ago, but I didn't post it. I knew deep down that it wasn't quite sitting right. And my gut was right, since I pretty much had to rewrite half of it before posting it today.
Back in September, I wrote about my plan for the fall. I was pretty jazzed about it. Yes, jazzed. But I never really told you about what happened, did I...
Emily Carr - going to art school! NOT.
Well, my little foray into "art school" didn't go exactly as planned. The textile design class - the one I was most looking forward to - was canceled last minute. The drawing class (the other early fall class) was intolerable. The painting class later in the fall was to be taught by the same instructor. I dropped both. I decided to drop the final class, as it was the one I was least interested in, and it didn't matter in the end because it was also canceled due to low enrollment.
And just like that, Emily Carr didn't happen. And you know what? I'm totally okay with it. For two reasons: 1) I was still feeling really awful in the fall and I think it would have been really exhausting for me to have gone through with, and 2) the power of my dream of going to art school has been doused. I had this idea, this dream up on a huge pedestal, believing it was what had kept me from becoming an artist all these years. But things didn't go how I thought they would, and in some weird way, it freed me from my attachment to the idea of going to this school. It made me realize that it's not the only way to get into creative work, and that having my bubble burst may actually be a good thing in the greater scheme of things.
Teeny tiny health progress
I wish I could tell you differently, but the truth is I'm not really doing a lot better...yet, but some good - nay, great! - things have happened. In December, I found a super wonderful clinic on the west side of the city called Connect Health. It's an Integrative and Functional Medicine clinic where they practice in a holistic way, and can really take the time to treat patients properly and as a whole person, not just a set of symptoms. The founders are MDs who studied at Andrew Weil's Center for Integrative Medicine in Arizona, and there are several integrative MDs there, as well as nutritionists, massage therapists, acupuncture/TCM, counseling, etc. No, it's not fully covered by MSP, but it's also not exactly fully privatized healthcare either as testing and prescriptions are covered, and there are options to do MSP covered group appointments. As much as I love and have hope for the public healthcare system, it has been completely insufficient in providing care for me, and the level of care I've been getting there has been well worth it.
I started seeing one of the doctors there and worked through some extensive testing, which brought to light some new information about what was going on with my body. And then I started on a long term treatment plan to work on getting me back to health. It's been slow going, as I had a major setback when I picked up some kind of virus over Christmas that took me until a couple weeks ago to recover from, and then just had a bad 24 hour flu or food poisoning a few weeks ago and am only now starting to get things back in balance. But for the first time in my life, I have a doctor to work with who both understands the conditions and symptoms I have, and actually knows what to do to try and help me get better. It's a far cry from some of the doctors I've seen who have literally said "What do you want me to do?" and shown me the door.
Some of you might be wondering what I'm actually doing to get better - maybe I'll get into that in more detail someday. But for now, to give you the gist, I'm on a regimen of vitamins and supplements to help support my digestive system to heal, get my gut bacteria into balance, bring my energy levels back up, balance my hormones, decrease inflammation, and help my adrenal glands start functioning properly again. On top of that, I am doing meditation, working with a dietician to help eat a diet that supports lowering inflammation and getting enough nutrients with my sub-par digestion, going to a massage therapist (as I have been for years) to help ease chronic pain and calm my nervous system, and seeing a counsellor as needed (as I have also been doing for years).
I've been learning a lot and so many pieces of the puzzle are starting to fall into place as far as understanding what's going on. It give me hope that I can feel better one day, even if I haven't seen big changes yet - it took me years to get into this place, so I'm being patient with getting back to feeling better. With this hope, I try not to get my expectations up too much, and try to keep accepting what is, as I don't know if I will get better. But I also have been thinking more about what I would like to do if/when I am able to start working again.
Take 2: Textile design
Months later, I was still bummed about not getting to take that textile design class at Emily Carr. I've read a lot of books about it since then and dabbled with some stamp carving since then, but I knew I could really use a crash course. Luckily, some opportunities arose, and I decided to take another stab at doing some hands on learning. Unluckily, I had to back out of one of the first workshop I'd registered for at the last minute, as my digestive system had another out of the blue flare up.
I was supposed to be in Portland for the next few days, at a workshop taught by one of my absolute favourite textile designers - I was super excited, but also super nervous because let's face it, I haven't been doing a lot other than "convalescing" lately. It was already going to be a challenge, and emotionally a big risk with my regular day-to-day health issues. But adding in the after effects of the flu (which I think with a bit of stress led to the flare up earlier this week), and a pinched nerve in my ankle which has only half-healed, I listened to body and for once actually canceled the trip. I've come close to cancelling trips before, but this time I just knew it was the best thing to do, that I needed to be kind and let myself off the hook. So I made a very difficult decision, and canceled. I hope that I'll get another chance to take the workshop, maybe next year.
In the meantime, I'm doing some more self-study, reading about design and the business of quilting textiles. It's not the same at all, but it's better than nothing.
The second course is completely different despite being on the same topic. It's a 6 week online course learning how to do surface pattern design (designing patterns that are printed on things like fabric, paper products, wallpaper, etc.).
Why textile design? I love fabric, and I love drawing. It seems like a great combination! It's also a really practical creative line of work - it doesn't require an art degree, or too many fancy tools. It just requires a bit of talent, a lot of practice, a ton of persistence and work (of course!), and maybe a pinch of luck. It's taken me many years to even begin to un-brainwash myself from thinking that pursuing a creative career is unrealistic and doomed to fail (that's bound to become an entire post of its own). So I may still be thinking about the practical side of things, but I'm also learning to tap into my dreams and passions again, and give them a chance to see the light of day.