Day 182 – I Will Walk Where There Is No Path

Art Apple - Day One Hundred Eighty Two

Six months ago my life changed drastically.

At the time I was working as a software sales consultant. I would read business and strategy books for tips and to keep motivated but my career was unfulfilling and lacking so I picked up a book called Linchpin by Seth Godin – one of my favorite authors. One of the main points I took away from Linchpin was to find ways in your career to not get jaded and always work to be the linchpin of your organization. Although he doesn’t encourage people to up and quit their jobs – that is what I did. I had not read a book like it before. I’d been in jobs that I loved and hated but for the first time I saw my energies were truly being wasted. I craved something more. Since I spent almost 5 years not working at all due to AS, I felt behind my contemporaries and I didn’t think I could catch up – I was at a crossroads.

I had spent the 20 years since receiving my Bachelor of Fine Arts ignoring my artistic talent and convincing myself that I really didn’t want to be an artist; that I in fact didn’t want to create. I’m not sure how I pushed this huge part of who I am away for so long but I know now it was fear. I felt I had nothing I could tie the creative process to so I felt very uninspired when I painted. I was afraid I wouldn’t be good enough. I was afraid I would not succeed at it. I was afraid of exposing myself to criticism and because of all of this, it just didn’t feel good. On top of that, I was in pain and looking for answers. In the years when I was so sick before starting the anti-TNF’s I spent years in struggle, misdirecton, and never ending pain and fatigue. There was just no room left for me to think of my future; all I was doing was existing and coping. My path appeared to be paved to a future of physical pain, emotional strife, and not much else. They say amazing art can come from deep anger and pain but my spirit and soul want to paint hope and joy. So the art didn’t happen.

And then I felt better, went back to work, and eventually found myself at those crossroads six months ago.

I decided to be my own linchpin and to listen to Emerson:

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Six months ago I started my Apples for AS campaign and with it I found my inspiration. I’m at the half-way mark today and if feels so good to be on the journey, past the crossroads, and blazing a trail!

Until tomorrow.

Jenna

Day 182 was created in pen & ink.

Day 178 – Oh The Glorious Apple!

Art Apple - Day One Hundred Seventy Eight

 

When people ask me “Why an apple as a symbol for AS Awareness?” my immediate thought is:

Oh the Glorious Apple!

All these gifts from just one seed,
The apple, soul and body feed,
Plant a seed and time will show,
That from one seed a tree will grow.
Oh the glorious apples.  – Bill Harley’s Johnny Appleseed Song

Yeah, that isn’t really an answer so I thought I’d share with you some of  my answers to “why apples?”

1. When I decided to use art to help raise awareness – I needed something I could create over and over again in many forms. Not only did this mean a shape that could be transformed but one that is extremely difficult to dislike. Who doesn’t like the glorious apple? I’ve so far created simple artistic representations in multiple media, some really fun pop culture apples like R2-D2, Super Apple, and Mr. Apple Head, and I’ve wrapped the apple in zebra, had it get an i.v. infusion, thrown it out as a baseball on the first night of the World Series – who knows what might be next!

2. Apples have anti-inflammatory properties and have recently been shown to be such amazing super foods that one a day can extend lifespan by up to 10%.  There are all sorts of great benefits of the glorious apple!

3. The adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” is a powerful statement for people living with chronic illness. If it just took eating an apple a day to be well then we would all happily eat our favorite roughage and get on with our lives. Since eating your daily apple isn’t enough to make AS disappear – I thought that maybe if I “fed” or produced an image of an apple each day it might provide hope that one day saying “I have Spondylitis” will be as understood as “I have Cancer.”  A tall order but that is what I am passionate about and what I work for everyday!

The Feeding Edge is where I can talk about what a life with spondylitis means and make it accessible to people who don’t have AS. I feel that for us to spread the word, we have to find a way to reach outside our community. Hopefully my endeavor, my journey to create 365 daily apples will interest people from all walks of life and maybe, just maybe, be interesting and challenging enough of a personal crusade that I can get some press. Awareness starts with stories and  I am working on building a story. I hope you’ll all join me in being a part of this campaign. If you like the idea – talk with people about what I’m doing. Send my link to friends and family and join my Facebook page or better yet – get your Daily Apple in your email each morning! Share the images, post them on Facebook – these apples belong to you!

People don’t understand what we are dealing with, but perhaps they might like seeing each new daily apple creation and learn something about Spondylitis in the process.

Oh The Glorious Apple – now you know!

Until tomorrow.

Jenna

Day 178 was created in pastels.

 

Day 175 – I Will Not Give Up, I Will Not Give Up…

Art Apple - Day One Hundred Seventy Five

I simply refuse to give up.

I’ve given up before and I don’t like the feeling. You try to justify why you quit – you just changed your mind really – it wasn’t quitting.

Stopping for reasons beyond your control happens to everyone – myself included and there are reasons to make a life change. I did resign at my last job. Was that quitting or simply moving on to the next stage in my life? We weigh the pros and cons and make judgment calls but when personal commitments we make to ourselves are broken simply because it’s the easier path, well, that is another story. I want to promise myself that I will find my way through whatever I attempt to do be it physical or emotional and I will never, ever, give up.

Easier said than done but it’s something I want to strive for – it’s a way I want to be.

My apples are symbols. They represent my health and my life and hopefully for some they will come to represent a disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis – they most certainly do for me. Every day I struggle to continue this journey – there are many reasons to stop. Uncertainty, insecurity, and simple fatigue. But I feel driven and my drive to create 365 days of apples is to prove something to myself and to stand tall for all AS’ers and show the world who we are! We overcome the most amazing adversity. We live with a disease that exists in obscurity and I will keep working and fighting to raise awareness. That’s my pledge to you!

Until tomorrow.

Jenna

Day 175 was created in mixed media collage. An old Webster’s Dictionary page with inspirational and coincidental words on the same page, a sheet of yellow legal paper with “I will not give up” written repeatedly, and some pastels to make it all pretty!

Day 170 – Ahoy Apples!

Art Apple - Day One Hundred Seventy Ahoy Apples! I have just published my first YouTube video of the painting of today’s Art Apple for AS! I’m so excited to share it with you please take a look – I jumped into this so I haven’t figured out the exact best placement of my video camera and I think next time I’ll brush my hair! But I loved doing this – it isn’t from start to finish because I haven’t figured out how to edit yet which is also why it is really long – about 8minutes. I’ll promise to make future videos shorter – please let me know what you think!

Until tomorrow.

Jenna

Day 170 was created in mixed media. Acrylic as a resist, watercolor, and collage letters from a Smithsonian magazine!

 

Day 167 – Pink Lady

Art Apple - Day One Hundred Sixty Seven

It may be almost St. Paddy’s day but the Pink Lady inspired me today!

The real Pink Lady has a “distinctive pink blush over a yellow background” but I don’t really do much of anything in a blush. I live life in more of a Rogue Rouge!  I happen to be more comfortable in full force impact – good or bad – my intentions are always genuine.

Writing a blog and working for AS awareness leads to the most interesting crossing of paths. My friend Kelly who was one of the founders of HurtingButHopeful.com and the amazing Facebook page ASAP (Ankylosing Spondylitis Awareness Project) knew that I was painting a pink apple tonight when I posed the question on Facebook – “So – I just got a new watercolor called Opera – not Oprah 🙂 Any guesses on what color it is?

Wonderful guesses were made – from yellow, to gray, to blue. But Kelly guessed the answer is HOT FLORESCENT PINK!. And – she informed me that her favorite apple is the pink lady. So much for knowing about apples – I’m learning everyday from so many amazing people and places.

 

And my friend Michael Smith – the king of the Haiku wrote:

‎”Oprah’s seldom seen,
In hot florescent colors,
That’s Lady Gaga.”

Until tomorrow.

Jenna

Day 167 was created in some glorious new watercolors – Opera, Marine Blue, and Bright Violet – as well as some Liquid Acrylic colors – like Pyrrole Orange and Quinacridone Magenta! wooosh – I had to spell check those 🙂

****** New Guest Apple ****** Mary Cay Mullem sent me the most amazing apple for the Art Apple A Day project – a St Paddy’s Day tribute!

Day 164 – Positively Positive… most days :)

Art Apple - Day One Hundred Sixty Four

You can live in a positive universe or a negative universe, but the choice is your – Albert Einstein

I’ve recently come across a Facebook page and organization called Positively Positive. I’m in love with it. It’s full of inspirational quotes, links to amazing people, and tidbits of good and positive thinking.  Their latest post is a Seth Godin video talking about optimism. He says that we stick with things because as human beings we have hope that it is going to be worth it. We all have our own challenges – some may need to stick with their piano lessons or a daily walk but for many of us with AS, it is about sticking with the fight to be better. I have hope that all our lives and health will continue to be better – it just may mean shifting some focus to get there. That’s a very difficult task when the pain takes up so much space in our brains. Yes, that is what constant pain does – but in the moments where there is an ease away from the pain, even if being positive about your current situation doesn’t seem possible – choose to dwell in optimism.

I spent so much of 2004 traveling in my mind to the HGTV dream home in St. Mary’s, Georgia. Sounds kinda funny now, but it saved me. I needed to find someplace to go that was a place without the pain and fatigue and uncertainty. I loved that house and registered to win it everyday. I can still walk through it and sit in the screened-in porch with the big fireplace and read a book. I can see the clawfoot tub through the French doors at the end of a hall and hear the water running for my bath. I can visit and paint in the tower perch with the 360 degree view. I went there when my body was so full of pain that I could only lay in bed and fight to get through another day. When the only choice I had was to hope for better days to come. Sticking with something for most people means a dream of inventing the next widget or being the next Michael Jordan – for those of us who have dealt with chronic illness – it can have an entirely different meaning.

Today I stick with my apples – my hope is for more people to understand that while being optimistic is a choice – under certain circumctances it looks different than these wonderful, inspirational teachers have any clue. Choose to dwell in optimism and hope – it doesn’t mean your life is in a good place but the practice can be wonderful and – worthwhile. And you will have learned how to fight for hope and optimism for when you feel well enough to make those dreams come true!

Until tomorrow.

Jenna

Day 164 was created in acrylics

Day 162 – Go Team!

Art Apple - Day One Hundred Sixty Two

I’m drawn to painting blue apples.

The Blue Apple to me  is the Spondylitis Apple. I’m sure I’m drawn to the blue and green ones because of the connection I feel when painting one. They appeal to me so much more than the warm colors, so I would bet if I went back and did a count the blue & green team would be far ahead. Speaking of teams and challenges…

The Global AS Project to raise awareness is on!

We need your photo so that Michael at Spondyville can start on the video and I can start to work on my photo mosaic contribution to the project! Once you’ve uploaded your photo I start to work.

Good night for now – I’m going to turn off the computer – I would say that my dear, wonderful husband deserves a night with me all to himself. Big Hugs!

Until tomorrow.

Jenna

Day 162 was created in fluid Golden acrylics.

Day One

My first Apple
Art Apple - Day One

So here’s the Concept:  To give the gift of my art in a unique way.  To bring awareness to Ankylosing Spondylitis and support my love of creating art.

Idea:  Make a piece of small art of an apple each day starting October 1, 2010 and give the original away and document the process online via blog and website.  Start by posting it on my blog – thefeedingedge.com.  Post the piece each day and follow up with posts of who I gave the original to and a story about it.  Prints will be available for sale onwww.ArtAppleADay.com.

This concept incorporates

  1. Ankylosing Spondylitis Awareness
  2. Sharing my art with the world.
  3. Community and giving.

Background:  An apple a day keeps the doctor away has its beginnings dating back to 1866 as Welsh folk proverb.  http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/an-apple-a-day.html .  I will use the image of the Apple every day as a way to help people with a horrible disease by bring awareness, giving gifts of the pieces to my supporters, AS survivors, and people who need a piece of joy, and by selling the prints to support my efforts and future donations to great causes for health.

Specifics of Art:  A small manageable daily drawing/painting/mixed media piece produced each day.  A 6” x 6” piece of paper with a 5” x 5” image – no other restrictions.

Jenna