His article explains in clear terms what happens in the body when Autoimmune Disease is triggered. I was stunned by the comments – I had to weigh in myself because people turned his article into a three ring circus of ways to “cure” us and all of the things we’ve done to bring these diseases on ourselves. These comments we feel deeply. Very deeply. Like arrows in our hearts.
It’s time for us to fight back – shoot those arrows back at them. One comment here and there won’t have an effect but if we bundle our shots together, we can change this perception.
The comments could wound me if I let them. I choose to not let them anymore.
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!
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.
These two simple words have great meaning for me. They’ve become a bit of a personal mantra as well as the slogan for the Spondylitis Association of America. They remind me to keep the notion close at hand that I need to stand up straighter and taller. This is important not just because my default position is, well – not great (I’m being kind to myself here) but also because if I continue to slouch it will become the place my body is the most comfortable, less painful, and due to having AS, could possibly be the posture I’m in if or when the joints in my spine fuse. There are fewer people with AS who will see this happen to them thanks to more education and research. The majority of which is done through the help and efforts of the SAA.
The other important aspect of this phrase is that it serves as a reminder to me to be strong and proud – to stand tall – and not hide my disease from the world like I really have wanted to do. It was my default emotional position about my AS until only a few months ago. Life as yourself is a much easier place to exist so I urge everyone – whether you have AS or not – to Stand Tall!
Day 120 was created in pen & watercolor.
Happy Open House to the SAA for their new office space celebration on Saturday. I’m thrilled to have 4 of my apples on their walls. If you are interested in which days they choose they are giclees of Day 2, Day 41, Day 75, and Day 93.
I have to admit that I wouldn’t have made it this far without the encouragement and support of so many people. As time goes on, I will be talking about how my support team and some new friends have kept me going. I will fulfill my pledge and create my 365 days of apples and we will have all done it together. Since I live with AS, there have been some difficult times but I refuse to give up or give in and AS has taught me that this is the only way to live our lives no matter what challenges we face.
I’d like to thank the Spondylitis Association of America who helped me a few years back when I really needed a connection and a community and then again this year with their support of Art Apple A Day. Their dedication to fighting AS and related diseases and those of us living with AS is truly amazing – I feel hopeful and confident with them at the helm.
For any new visitors who found your way here from the SAA Holiday Card – I’d like to thank you as well. Your support of the SAA means more research for a cure as well as continued programs, seminars, and outreach. Please follow my progress as I work to raise awareness of Ankylosing Spondylitis with my Art Apple A Day. You can sign up to get the daily Apple emailed to you each morning – there is a sign up box in the upper right hand corner of my blog page. Also – apple ideas are welcome and truly appreciated! I’d love to hear from you – your comments and feedback keep me on my path 🙂