Day 310 – Situational Awareness

Art Apple - Day Three Hundred TenI am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition. – Martha Washington

We all have a certain amount of situational awareness or (SA). I can predict some things with certainty. The cat will sit on top of the the dryer every night starting at about 8pm waiting for his evening meal, Doug will not put the salt & pepper shaker back in the cabinet but place them on the counter below, and if my Dad is in a waiting area in an airport with time before a flight – he WILL call me. I find it to be a crazy concept that we can predict much of anything in life but the concept of SA is “knowing what is going on around you so that you can decide what to do” is a given – having a concept for this makes me laugh. You can predict certain behaviors but you cannot possibly know everything that is going on – that is counter intuitive if you ask me. All we can do is decide what to do based on what we do know and are paying attention to. For all you scientists or philosophers or anyone who has an opinion on this please – tell me where I’m going wrong. And, Doug – explain it to us in terms of baseball… (check comments – he’s dying to explain to all of us SA in terms of baseball.)

Things that we feel are predictable help make life less chaotic. But, times come when we need to mix it up a bit. Change sides of the bed you sleep on, try a new hairstyle, or… purchase art supplies that you’ve always wanted to try but didn’t want to risk not liking. What I did today was unpredictable even to myself – I’m going to try it more often!

I went downtown this morning to meet my friend Nate and his new friend Justin for brunch and afterwards I was right around the corner from the art super store. I could have bought the same old, same old but I saw that they had some new watercolors. A brand that I’ve considered purchasing before but hadn’t because I would have had to order them online and I am very set in my watercolor ways. But, I bit the bullet and purchased 4 of the super expensive (Doug is now thinking – how super expensive) paints – just to see. I got home and started on my daily apple, excited to experiment with my new paints. And… well, I have mixed feelings. There was no way I could predict this – I just had to give it a go and although they didn’t “act” the way I expected I’m very glad I got them and I know that I will find a way to incorporate them in a way that works and is blessedly predictable. If that doesn’t end up happening at least I tried and know and can now make a situational decision.

I plan on looking for ways to break out of my usual and normal situation – I might not be able to predict the outcome but like Martha, I can feel confident that I’ll meet it with happiness no matter what because that circumstance I can determine!

Until tomorrow.


Day 310 was created in a mixture of Danial Smith watercolors and my “usual” pallet as well as prismacolor pencils, graphite, and a gold sharpie! FUN

In The Studio

1. Countdown – 55 days to The Big Apple Paint-A-Thon to raise money for AS Education!

2. In The Studio – So many colors too few days!

3. Apple Recipe of the Day – Pork belly with apple and celery salad.





Day 309 – Nolo Contendere

Art Apple - Day Three Hundred NineI am guilty of wanting to get something big to happen in the world of spondylitis awareness. It has been my whole mission and constant and full time work for over 10 months – many days working 10-12 hours much to the dismay of my husband and family. I have had a single mindedness and felt so driven that at times didn’t border on obsession – it has been an obsession.

I have been guilty of passionately wanting something so badly. I want for people to understand what AS means as much as they understand what diabetes or RA or Lupus means. I don’t want anyone to have to deal with the huge lack of understanding that exists. I believe that in sharing my project and my art and in sharing our stories while living a positive life in the face of the pain and illness, that we have a chance of going beyond our community – which is what I see is needed to raise awareness. We cannot have the world know about this disease if we only speak to those who know about it already.

I am guilty of wanting to help. I have made some wrong turns but, I have fulfilled my commitments – every day. All I can do is continue in the face of difficulty, work as tirelessly as I have, and believe in myself and my intentions and my heart. That is all I can do. So I will.

Until tomorrow.


Day 309 was created in mixed media – pen & ink, thread, acrylic, and watercolor.

Day 307 – Holy Apple, Batman!

Art Apple - Day Three Hundred SevenI’m a bit slap-happy tonight but I couldn’t resist.

Lots of wonderful things going on here in the world of Apples!

Stay tuned and if you haven’t *liked* me on my Facebook page or signed up for The Daily Apple to get the latest updates – please do. We’re in countdown mode and things are coming together for the Apple-A-Thon – a 24 hour painting extravaganza to raise awareness and money for AS Education happening in – you guessed it – The Big Apple!

Until tomorrow.


Day 307 was created in silver sharpie and watercolor.

In The Studio

1. Countdown – 58 days to The Big Apple Paint-A-Thon to raise money for AS Education!

2. Apple Recipe of the Day – Apple Dumplings

3. AS Blogger Spotlight – A Rough-Hewn Kind Of Beauty – really wonderful and worth a read.

4. AS Blogger Spotlight – Thrive Out Loud – Kim shares another way of looking at things!





Day 302 – My Inspiration

Art Apple - Day Three Hundred TwoOver the winter I talked a lot about feeling like I didn’t have any ideas for my apples. I probably became a bit of a broken record for a period of about two weeks. And then it cleared and I’ve been fine until today.

Total creative block.

So I asked for help – thank you Facebook for instantly connecting me to so many people. My friend Betsy replied with a photo. A photo of her using a nebulizer. She then asked me if it inspired anything and of course it absolutely did.

Betsy and I chatted for a bit – I was concerned for her and curious. AS can throw us many curve balls and include complications beyond the joint fusion we typically initially talk about. Since we all seem to present with different variations and intensities we tend to talk about the key issue that affects our daily lives and we all have in common – which is pain. We don’t talk too much about the what-if’s of some of the less common complications and one of the reasons I think is because, well – they are scary.

Betsy told me that last week she passed out at home alone and awoke with heart palpitations. She didn’t know how long she had been out but she knew something was wrong and she did what many of us would have done. She got up and drove herself to the hospital telling herself that was the reasonable thing to do since a world renowned hospital was 5 minutes down the road. And after a number of tests and a few days in the hospital she is facing a meeting with a cardiologist – and using a nebulizer in the mean time to help keep her heart rate regulated. I don’t understand really how the heart and lungs all interconnect but what I do know is that this is scary and hits home and makes all of us with AS ask that question. “Will it happen to me?” It isn’t something we can dwell on but it is something I hope everyone is monitoring. Her situation is a reminder to us that AS is a difficult disease to deal with on a daily basis but we also live with the worry of the future in a way that involves a stress about how the disease will manifest. It isn’t like most people who wonder about what disease might or might not strike in old age, for us we know the general course of our disease enough that our minds have a place to wonder to and to imagine.

I asked Betsy if she was freaked out or if she was just numb. That may seem like a shocking question for me to have asked her but for a fellow AS’er – we do become quite numb to the latest symptom and complication. We have no choice but to deal with the stark facts and do the best we can to face our circumstances. I know Betsy would agree that if the time comes  to freak out – she’ll do it and then do what she must. She is brave and strong and she will get through it – I have every faith in that fact. Thank you Betsy for reminding me that when I need an idea – you are all around me – you are all the inspiration I need.

Until tomorrow.


Day 302 was created in mixed media. It is two haves of the cross section of a bronchus or lung airway. One side is open and the other constricted. The photo she shared with me of her using the nebulizer inspired a google search that resulted in this medical art image and I then took a lot of artistic liberties.

In The Studio

1. Countdown – 63 days to Apple-A-Thon!

2. In The Studio – Process pic of the day

3. Apple Recipe of the Day – Apple, Ham, and Grilled Cheese Sandwich

4. Interesting Article Of The Day – Feel Good Story



Day 288 – The Important Things

Art Apple - Day Two Hundred Eighty EightLife has a way of reminding us of the important things.

I needed to take care of someone I love dearly who I haven’t heard. I’ve been distracted and “my stuff” got in the way.

I can become extremely focused to the exclusion of everything around me. I think I feel that I have to prove to the world that AS may have stopped me for a bit but I’m fighting back – I push to make a difference in Spondylitis Awareness but I am also driven to prove that we can lead good and demanding and full lives in the face of chronic illness and pain.

This drive ends up being to the detriment of my friends and family because I don’t feel like I can stop until I feel that I’ve proven this. I hate AS. I. Hate. It. I tell people I’ve reached a level of acceptance. Perhaps. Most likely – perhaps not.

I’ve mentioned this on my blog before and promised that I wouldn’t let it happen again, that I would find a balance and simplify to make sure that I took care of the important things – the important people. And here I am – realizing that I’ve done a horrible job at it and continue to make a mess of things.

The important things in life are the ones we love. I love you sweetheart.

Until tomorrow.


Day 288 was created in acrylics and watercolors.

Day 271 – Caution Wet Paint

Art Apple - Day Two Hundred Seventy OneWe all have the family stories we tell over and over again.

Usually they involve Murphy’s Law, a fit of hysterics, or childhood antics. I guess this story involves all three of those!

When I was around six we lived on a farm outside of Montpelier, Vermont. It was somewhat isolated up a hill off the main road and with only one other house nearby. My parents bought it knowing it would need some “work” and one of the projects was painting – isn’t it always.

I’m not sure why my Mom thought it would be all right to place a 7 and 4 year old in front of a can of paint and place brushes in their hands and  just run inside for a moment to fetch something.

I swear that Jay Jay started it!

When my Mom came outside we were completely covered – I’ll never forget the sheer joy and giggles – so much more fun than painting the side of the house. We were ushered (that’s putting it in kind terms) inside stripped, bathed and sent to our rooms where we proceeded to sit in our individual door ways and continue the giggles. Mom still gets exasperated in the telling!

Until tomorrow.


Day 271 was created in drop after drop of acrylic paint – some swirled together for effect.

In The Studio

1. Countdown – 95 days to Apple-A-Thon!

2. My process photo from today.

3. Apple Recipe of the Day – Star Spangled Apple Pie

4. Interesting Article of the Day – Apples To Apples – The Apples For AS project was featured today on


Day 266 – Turn the Blue Apple GREEN!

Art Apple - Day Two Hundred Sixty SixI’ve been making apples for 9 months now.

I’ve learned so much about so much. What a crazy wonderful ride it has been so far and I love every day I can say I’m an artist, a blogger, and I want to tell the world about Autoimmune Arthritis and Ankylosing Spondylitis. Some may ask why I decided to do “Art Apple A Day” – to spend a year of my life dedicated to this crusade and all I can say is that it was just what I had to do.

I deal with this disease but I feel fortunate. The medications help me and I no longer suffer like so many people with this disease do. But, I’ve been there.

I’ve. Been. There.

I’ve been in a place that no one should have to ever be, a place of constant and non-stop pain. I do not want people to have to live their lives this way. I am not immune to the fact that I could be back in that place. The medications can stop working, the options can run out, as they do for many or, I could never have been able to get them at all.

I live with this knowledge but as long as my pain is lessened and my disease is somewhat controlled I feel that I need to work to help people who are in “that place” – I feel a responsibility since I am one of the fortunate. And I feel guilt because I do not understand why I can get a medication that helps and others cannot.

Because of all these reasons – I do this.

Until tomorrow.


Day 266 was created in liquid acrylics and watercolor.

*** Please help me “Turn The Blue Apple GREEN” – Today is my 100 day countdown to the end of this journey. Today I announce a new initiative to raise funds for others suffering with Ankylosing Spondylitis. To learn more about this project visit my Apples For AS page – the story written by fellow AS Advocate and friend Michael Smith.

*** For news, updates, and information – get your DAILY APPLE – sign up to receive my apples each morning in your inbox!

Day 264 – New Friends

Art Apple - Day Two Hundred Sixty FourI am constantly amazed at the new friends I meet through twitter, facebook, and my blog.

I love meeting and connecting with new people. Yesterday I met a fellow artist and blogger who has created an amazing book using his art and his thoughts about dealing with life with AS – talk about a fellow traveler of life.

Recently I’ve been working with a new friend named Arish in efforts to raise awareness and funds for a new project we are working on with another friend Abdul who I met at the beginning of my Apples for AS project. More on this tomorrow! Please stay tuned – I’m so excited to share it with you all!

As a kid I spent a month each summer at Chimney Corners summer camp – as did my brothers and my mother before us. We sang camp songs and one of my favorites was:

“make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold”

It is sung in a round – like row, row your boat. I believe I am made rich by both – my old friends and my new…

Until tomorrow.


Day 264 was created in mixed media.

*** I asked Doug if he knew the song “Make New Friends” and he did not. However – I insisted he sing it with me in rounds. Beware – this is not something anyone would wish to witness – neither of us can carry a tune 🙂 – well maybe Doug can when he concentrates!

*** Please visit Behind The Lens – Newal’s website and links to his book!

Day 257 – Crimson Thread

Art Apple - Day Two Hundred Fifty SevenAn invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstances. The thread may stretch or tangle but will never break. – Chinese Proverb

A red string in Chinese folklore connects those who are destine to meet and in Tibetan Buddhism a red string is a “blessing cord” and according to the Kabbalah, the red string is for protection against negative forces. All of these meanings associated around the symbol of a crimson piece of string, whether tied between soul mates, around fingers or wrists, they all have one beautiful thing in common – hope.

Hope for love.

Hope for blessings.

Hope for safety.

With this hope and I will tie a red thread around my apple project – and hope for the love, blessings, and safety it contains while I finish the next few months. I have hope this virtual string watchs over me and protects me to reach my goal. Because – I put on a really good game face – but many days are difficult. I work to find a cure for this horrible disease and to end the suffering of millions of people in pain because I know what our days are like.

Until tomorrow.


Day 257 was created in crimson red ink and watercolor.

The inspiration for today’s apple and post came from the newly launched project The Brave Discussion. Thank you for the article they have included on their site about this project and the need for AS Awareness. A special thank you to Kathie Melocco.

Day 252 – Zen and the Art of Apple Maintenance

Art Apple - Day Two Hundred Fifty Two“Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation.” – Michael Jordan

I was chatting on twitter with a friend who has AS. She has a wonderful positive outlook. In fact, she has a mantra of sorts called “negative to positive” that she penned and created for twitter. Denise’s personal story and journey of living and dealing with a life with Ankylosing Spondylitis are on the Hope & Apples website – what Denise has endured is amazing – she almost lost her life from heart complications of AS which is part of why I so find her outlook on life truly inspiring.

Today after I had just finished telling her that my brain was not cooperating in my efforts to find inspiration for my daily apple, I asked her if she had any ideas for me. She immediately went to positive  images and ideas to soothe my frazzled brain. A distraction of the mind image, a yoga apple, a relaxation apple. And that was all I needed for the trigger – a zen circle apple!

A Zen Circle is a circle drawn in a single fast stroke by a human hand. The artist practices the circle to perfect the roundness of the circle in a single sweeping movement. Zen is the practice of meditation and creating a zen circle is a way to absorb the creator in the moment. The circle shows the beginning and the end representing the circle of life. It is a way to focus the mind.

Perhaps a zen approach to maintaining my apple practice will help me clear the clutter of the day so that I can find my inspiration more easily. I may begin each day with a zen circle, a quiet time to focus my thoughts on my purpose and to keep the idea of living a positive life at the forefront of my consciousness.

Until tomorrow.


Day 252 was created in the style of Japanese sumi-e using a black ink stick and brush (the set was given to my by my Aunt Jill who practices the art beautifully) The red chop mark in the bottom right corner is a “close” representation of the Japanese symbol for Golden Apple