24
Jul
15

Dear William, the traveling nurse

Dear William,

I’m writing this because chances are that I will never see you again. I have a strong desire to communicate to you and so, I write this and will publish it out into the universe in the hopes you’ll see it and read it. It’s the best I can do under the circumstances.

I do not have your last name and only a few identifying details. I was a patient at Mercy Hospital in Fort Smith, Arkansas and you were my nurse during my inpatient stay. It was the overnight shift of the 19th into the 20th of July, 2015... On the 4th floor general surgery wing. You told me you’re a traveling nurse—one who takes nursing jobs across the country because you have a child with special needs (like mine) and the income is more if you travel. You’re married. You call Nashville home. You have short, dark hair. A little gray at the temples. You are trim (Fit? Athletic build?). You seemed tall but I’m a short person so… may be of average height. I share these details only so I don’t forget them and so that you can recognize yourself. I want to thank you. From the deepest part of me. In general, I have come into contact with many nurses. Some I call friends. I was a patient to some. And I’ve met some fantastic nurses. Nurses who do their job, in kind, caring, and professional ways before. But dude. That night had me in tears I was in so much pain. From top to bottom. When EMS was called to my house, I felt like I was hanging on to my life. Holding a tiny thread. I was scared. I was scared my kids would be without their mother by the week’s end.

The night you were my nurse was actually my second, and last, night in hospital. You had told me the chances were I’d be in hospital a few days more. Who knows but I choose to believe that you helped heal me faster. *soft smile*… You were SO kind. So caring. So gentle. I cannot find words to express the tenderness you showed. The understanding in your eyes when I expressed fear for my children. Who would raise them if I’m gone? No one can do it better than me. I didn’t give full voice to that thought but you showed you understood perfectly.

With doctor’s orders, you helped take my pain away but it seemed to me that it was more than just the pain medication. I don’t know how to describe exactly what I mean because even now details are fuzzy. Remembering details has not been a strong suit of mine ever since a car accident I had on December 31, 1996. By the by, the man who hit the car I was in, head-on, was named Bill. He showed the same caring, kind, gentleness when he was blowing on my face to get the glass off of my eyes. My fantastical mindset wants to insist you’re the same man. What are the chances? Coincidence, I’m sure. But my writer’s mind wants to believe you’re the same man.

I am home now. Feeling better. It is because of you, and the other staff, at that Hospital. I just feel you were above exceptional in your care of me. You showed the same towards the other patients. Courtesy to your fellow co-workers. Respectful. You, Sir, are a wonderful human being and I just wanted you to know—someone noticed. It helped someone. It healed someone. Thank you is just not an adequate enough statement to express the gratitude I have. I wish for you many blessings in your future. You deserve them all. I think your wife and daughter should know what type of man their husband and father.

Thank you.

and these are my words….

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12
Jun
15

Dear Mr. Sean Patrick Flanery, Sincerely, A Fattie

I was on twitter recently where someone had shared a tweet that had a video attached to it. The video was of Sean Patrick Flaney, known for his role in the Boondock Saints movies as well as others. He’s also known for his practice of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, part of the Shen Wu Martial Arts. In the video, he reads part three of an ongoing fiction piece that he periodically publishes on his blog, Shine until Tomorrow.

After watching the video, and laughing hysterically, I went to his blog where I caught up on the first two parts and read the rest, up to part five. I was thoroughly entertained and laughed uproariously many times.  After reading all there was of this story, I decided to see what else he shared on his site. I read his latest post called ‘Somewhere… In the Congo, with Love”. It was a haunting short piece that tugs at the heart. It’s short on details but has just enough that the reader can fill them in for themselves and take away from it what they need to. It was very well-written and I was impressed. I saw that there was a navigation menu and began clicking on the links. Under the title link, ‘blog’, there were two choices: ‘elvis’ and ‘martial arts’.  Now this interested me and I wanted a closer look. I first clicked on ‘martial arts’ because I used to practice martial arts. Specifically, I used to practice Shotokan Karate (Red Sun).  There was one post for this category and it was a “welcome to my blog” type of post. Thought to myself, “Thanks for the welcome and now moving on…”

Elvis is of interest to me because I grew up watching his movies all day on my birthdays, January 8th, the same as his (different years, of course) and my mom was a fan because Elvis and my Grandmother (mom’s mom) grew up in the same town. There was only album art of Elvis on the right side of the page—no posts. I scrolled down a bit and there was a ticker labeled “Popular Posts” with titles like “The world doesn’t have a weight problem” and so on. As I posted not too long ago, I am on a weight loss journey. I used to be a very active person prior to being in a car accident, and almost 20 years later, I’m still fighting to get back to doing what I ‘usedtocould”.  I’m never going to give up.  I didn’t give up when doctors said I wouldn’t walk again. I didn’t give up when they said anything. I don’t believe anything is impossible. Given the right conditions, anything is possible, even if improbable. Just have to find out what the solution to any problem is, right? Right. When I read one of the post, this paragraph jumped out at me.

“If you care about your kids or loved ones, how about giving them an extra couple of years to spend with you?  And if you just wish someone would love you for who you are??  Step in front of a mirror, because that’s EXACTLY who you are.  The care that you take of your own person speaks VOLUMES about your own personal value for life.  There is simply no way around this.” ~Sean Patrick Flanery

This is the second time he’s said this. Different-ish words but it all boils down to the same “Step in front of a mirror”.  When I read the first post about making goals, writing them down, and sticking to them, I was inspired.  Losing weight isn’t easy for many people and I’m no different. I may have different challenges than the next person… but again, nothing’s impossible. Right? Right!

First time I read that line about looking in the mirror if you want love… it didn’t hit me the same way reading the above did. It was troubling me after I read it the first time but I couldn’t put my finger on WHY. I read it out loud to my sister. She nodded her head like “Yes, this is good wisdom.” She didn’t seem perturbed by it.
Why I was perturbed would come when I read the second time he used it (as quoted above).  So… he’s saying to those, like me, as he has referred to as “fatties”, that we are unlovable.  He quotes us, “We want to be loved” and his reply is, “Well, look at you! Who would love you when you LOOK like that?”
THAT bothers me greatly. But more on that in a minute.  There’s a post with a list of what he calls “excuses” he’s heard us fatties use over the years when talking about our weight problem.  One blog post titled “The world doesn’t have a weight problem” has the subtitle, that we “have an overeating problem.”
And oh yeah, he has the cure! Nope, he’s not selling it or anything. Just put down the ding dongs and get off your fat ass and move. There. Problem solved. Here’s a sampling of the excuses and his snide remarks about them:

“Here’s a list of some of the excuses I’ve heard through the years of why people “can’t” get healthy.  …Enjoy.

“I can’t lose weight because of genetics.”        (in-between bites of a chili cheese dog)

“But my thyroid!!”           (said while driving down the mall in a power chair)

“Just wait until YOU have kids!!”      (has 2 nannies)”

Link to his post

Those were just the first three and I’m not enjoying this post. I’m pissed off. But I walk away from the rest of the related posts because I wanted to figure out if I was pissed because this man is offering a truth I just didn’t want to hear (a common occurrence among humans) or if it was actually offensive. I did go back and read the rest of his offerings. Yeah, I was still mad. I waited to write this for two or three days. Lots of “food for thought”. Well, let’s start with his first “excuse”. I don’t know if the person who said this to him was actually eating chili cheese dog or not. But yes, I’ve seen those who’ve made this excuse. I’ve said similar “Well, I’m a typical Polish woman with a large frame… “ But is it only bullspit?

According to this study, “Science shows that genetics plays a role in obesity. Genes can directly cause obesity in disorders such as Bardet-Biedl syndrome and Prader-Willi syndrome. However genes do not always predict future health. Genes and behavior may both be needed for a person to be overweight. In some cases multiple genes may increase one’s susceptibility for obesity and require outside factors; such as abundant food supply or little physical activity.

We don’t know if this chili cheese dog consumer also has one of the above-mentioned genetic conditions. So, we have to ASSUME like Mr. Flanery did. I choose not to assume anything and therefore refuse to judge this person’s food choice as I don’t know his or her story.

The second “excuse” is about a person’s thyroid. I do know a bit about bad thyroids. They can affect energy levels which would make that “fattie” need the wheelchair in the mall. The person could have eaten at the mall, thyroid does its thing after a meal, and the person’s energy level drops to the point of near lethargy and the person wants to finish their plans. Maybe he or she is tired of missing out on life and is being determined to stay out of the house for just a little while. We don’t know because Mr. Flanery doesn’t offer those details. So, I cannot judge properly as I don’t know this person’s story, either. Really, though, I don’t expect Mr. Flanery to “get it” because he’s not a woman and this most commonly occurs in females with hypoactive thyroids. (re: Thyroid Facts). It makes it more challenging to lose weight because of its connection to metabolism. It’s a real thing. No, it doesn’t make it impossible but it does make it harder

The third “excuse” in his list is about a person (gender unknown) who says, “Wait until you have kids!” but then says this person has two nannies. What does that have to do with the price of tea in China? Nothing! The two don’t connect for me. Most people mention their kids in connection with obesity because they put on weight during pregnancy. Having a nanny or two does not promote or inhibit weight gain during pregnancy. However, perhaps he meant this person is not as active because he or she does not have to chase after the little ones. Or because the person is claiming not to have “time” to exercise? I don’t know and really, Mr. Flanery doesn’t know either. We NEVER know someone else’s story.

And that’s my point here. I don’t know these people at all and it sounds like these are people Mr. Flanery has come into contact with but he doesn’t share any other details so we don’t know if these are really excuses or are reasons. There is a difference between the two and yes, people can use reasons as excuses. Again, nothing is impossible and anyone can find a solution to their weight problem or health problem given the right circumstances.

If one has a hypothyroid, for instance, she can take medication to fix it. If that doesn’t work, she can have it surgically removed. If she doesn’t have health insurance, she can save up money to visit the doctor and/or have surgery. She can visit a doctor who has a sliding fee scale, a free clinic, and the like. She can write directly to the medication’s manufacturers and see about getting the medication free or at a reduced price. The doctor could give her free samples he receives from the pharmaceutical representatives. But not knowing this person Mr. Flanery speaks of, it’s hard to know if she’s tried any of these or not. We don’t know where she is in her journey of life.

There are many contributing factors to obesity BESIDES the one Mr. Flanery mentions, ya know, simply overeating. The Mayo Clinic has an excellent resource for looking this type of stuff up and you can find a whole list of reasons. Yes, they include overeating, eating the wrong types of food and not enough activity. Behavior is just part of the problem but not always the only problem. If only it were that easy!

(Contributing factors by Mayo Clinic)

I wrote a blog post which touched upon SOME of the contributing factors in my obesity.

Instead of talking about hypothetical people and their hypothetical situations of which I know nothing about, let’s talk about mine, shall we? I don’t know about Mr. Flanery but I’d feel more comfortable talking about what I know.

I have medical conditions that contribute to my weight gain over the page 19 years, since being thrown through a windshield. My problem has really been an inability to LOSE weight more than it has been gaining it. I gained my weight with long periods of time of maintaining the weight. I mean years-long time periods. Almost a decade for each weight gain. Having a medical condition that prevents activity sucks. Having multiple conditions sucks big time. I’ve struggled with my physicians for YEARS trying to lose this weight. On April 15th, I posted a public blog post about my commitment to making this next step in my journey. I never give up. I may LOOK like I have given up on myself. I may LOOK like I don’t love myself. I may LOOK like a lazy slob…but that is NOT who I am. There is MORE to me than what can be seen in the mirror, Mr. Flanery. There is always the “more”.

When fatties like me talk about wanting to be loved for who we are, we want someone to go beyond skin deep. Or scale. After all, when you speak about obesity, I’m sure your intent is for folks to “get healthy” and being overweight certainly is NOT healthy. The scale is just ONE measure of health though. Your never having had a BMI of over 35 before, I’m sure, contributes to your lack of understanding these “excuses” you keep hearing. Some of them could be  actually reasons and rather than offering your judgment, maybe you should ask them more questions. Maybe they found their hypoactive thyroid difficult to overcome and they’ve given up for that snapshot of time you met them… and your words may indeed have the power to inspire. Or they may have the power to harm. Use them wisely, Sir.

There’s tough love and then there’s being an asshole. You don’t know me and you don’t know my story.

How about instead of jeering in judgment at these faulty folks, you share your own setbacks. Surely, you’ve had some according to that picture you posted of your own goals. I mean, you crossed out “Give up alcohol” and made it “drink less.” Why? Alcohol offers no health benefits that you cannot get through a more healthful option. You’re a human. You’ve faltered somewhere. Share more of those stories if you want to but don’t share other people’s stories with your snap judgements. That helps no one.

I went looking for inspiration and instead found a trigger for my oppositional side. Oh yeah, I wanted to go into my pantry and kitchen and bake a cake and eat the whole damn thing because who are YOU to tell me I have an overeating problem? I’ll show you it’s okay to be a fattie and still be loveable… Worthy of love. I didn’t. I didn’t do it because despite what people think of me when they look at me, I do NOT want to be fat.

See, that’s the thing. People see me out and about in public and assume I’m disabled because I’m fat. They (like Mr. Flanery) assume I over eat. Before I started the diet on April 15th, I ate once a day. Those that live with me will tell you. They don’t know why I’m so fat. I don’t buy snacks and junk food. I haven’t in years. I even think it is part of the reason my husband and I split—he missed the snacks! No, it wasn’t a problem of how much I ate in that I ate too much. I didn’t eat enough according to more than one doctor. I’m nutritionally starving and so my body stores everything.

It is about WHAT I eat. While I don’t eat much, and I don’t eat much junk food or snacks, I do eat a lot of grains. Bread, rice, and pasta. And that is bad for MY health. Since I made the commitment in April, I’ve lost four pounds. It may not sound like much… but it’s more than I’ve lost in the eight years before that.

When you have a hiatal hernia, a bad gall bladder, arthritis, no cartilage in your joints so any time you move, it’s bone on bone crunching, fibromyalgia, and other contributing medical conditions, physical activity may be damn near impossible. It may seem impossible. But it’s not. It all starts with the commitment. I have to remind myself constantly, it’s not about what I can’t do… it’s about what I can and doing that. I may not be able to stand up and do the Zumba dance videos. But I can chair dance. It’s a start. And it’s been working for me. It can work for you. You just have to find your own right solution.

My point is this: Mr. Flanery does not seem to understand that some people like me aren’t disabled because they’re fat—they’re fat because they’re disabled. It does happen. It’s not an excuse; it’s a reason.

It’s a reason to try harder. So, when you see me waddling through a store, Mr. Flanery, I hope you don’t judge me or the next “fattie” you come into contact with. While you may not find us attractive, or worthy of love, there’s good news. You don’t have to. We don’t need it. I’m going to file your “advice” under the category of “Just another celebrity talking about a subject of which he knows nothing about.”

I know you’ve inspired millions to “get healthy”—whatever that means for them—and that is commendable. I’m proud of those individuals, too. Just don’t judge what you don’t know. For all you know, I may be half the size I used to be, half way down my weight loss journey, and your look of disgust and judgement on your face may be what brings me down instead of lifting me up and carrying me on my journey. Normally, I don’t say anything about celebrities being a role model because really, you’re just a dude who gets paid to play pretend… but you put yourself up as a role model.

I also know that these posts of his are “old”… published in 2014. I don’t follow celebrity news much about their personal lives. Usually doesn’t interest me in the slightest. It’s “new” to me, though. And I know one doesn’t have to be fat to understand that it’s unhealthy. But I think if one is going to judge another’s attempts at getting healthy, etc. one should have at least had to face the struggles he or she is dismissing as “bullshit”.

And these are my words…

17
Apr
15

Starting a weight loss journey today….

Heather_Johnson_Before_Collage

Way back when… I used to weigh 350 lbs. I went down to 150 lbs by eating only 3 pints of Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie dough ice cream a day and on Sunday’s I ate winter soup. That was so not a healthy way to lose weight. Over the last 16 years, I’ve steadily, slowly, packed on the weight again. The contributing factors were many.

First, I gained 72 lbs while pregnant with my eldest son and was unable to lose the weight after I gave birth. I only gained a net 2 lbs with my second son’s pregnancy but after I gave birth to him, I gained another 30. I was 166 lbs when I confirmed my pregnancy with my eldest. By time my youngest was a year old, I was 240 lbs. I stayed that weight for about six years. When I began chemotherapy treatments, I started gaining weight rapidly because part of my chemo drugs was prednisone, a steroid. I jumped up to 298 and stayed there until 2014 when I started gaining weight again and added 30 lbs. I’m down a few pounds here in April of 2015 and weighed in two days ago at 313 lbs.

My doctor explained to me to that I am “metabolic efficient”. Meaning, my body will burn exactly what I take in. Great for maintaining weight… not so great for losing weight. I tried many different ways to lose weight over these years. I’ve tried different eating plans. I’ve tried exercising best I can. Doctor-supervised, physical therapist, nutritionist.. no matter what we tried, I either just didn’t lose anything or I gained weight.

I had a consultation with a general surgeon. I have a hiatal hernia and bad gall bladder. There is a surgical fix for a hernia that takes the stomach and staples it to the diaphragm. With my medical history, they decided that would not be a good option for me. Also, not being able to eat 3 times a day has had its impact on my weight. The hernia blocks food from passing into my stomach and small bowel for digestion. It just sits there and if I eat as often as I am supposed to, I clog up my esophagus and end up vomiting.

What I eat plays a rather larger part for me. I don’t like meat all that much nor veggies. I’m a pastatarian. Pasta and breads. That turns into stored fat on my belly. So, I have to make some BIG changes.

After the past six years, talking with various doctors and nutritionists and other professionals,  I have decided to have gastric bypass surgery– specifically the Roux en Y procedure. Because of my hernia, I am starting the post-surgical diet now. Two weeks before surgery, I will start an all liquid diet. My calories will be restricted to 800 a day (what I take in now). I’m to start walking 10 minutes a day and quit smoking. If I smoke, or even ingest second hand smoke, my surgery will be canceled. No refunds.

This is a whole program one has to go through. It starts with an initial consult with the surgeon. Then a brief consult with the surgery program director. Then a seminar. Then 3 appointments over 3 months with a nutritionist. And 3 appointments over 3 months with an exercise supervisor. A psychological assessment to make sure one is ready, willing and able to handle the life-long changes this surgery will create. THEN another consult with the surgeon and then the surgery gets scheduled. Then the surgery happens and regular follow ups for the rest of my life with the surgeon and my regular physician. I will take supplements for the rest of my life, too.

The hardest parts, for me, will be the not smoking and the diet changes. My regular physician who has had the same procedure done on himself said that after two years, my diet will resume to normal but that I just won’t eat the same quantities. So, I will be able to eat my yummy food again, one day. Just won’t be the same amounts. I can deal with that.

Because of my hernia issues, as I mentioned above, I am on the post-surgical diet. Also, it will help me get into the groove of all liquid diet I will need to be on 2weeks before the surgery. That is to shrink the liver to make the surgery easier to perform. Today, I had a peach protein shake for breakfast. I will have another for lunch. I will have half a can of prepared cream of celery soup. That is it. And I started my multi-vitamins.

The shake recipe is 8 oz. of  low-fat milk ,one serving of low calorie, low sugar yogurt, cup of ice, and a scoop of protein shake mix. I have found I do not like the chocolate one because I did not add the yogurt. I am going to try that one tomorrow with strawberry yogurt. If I STILL don’t like it, then I won’t us it anymore. I  do like the French vanilla.

Smelling the food the rest of my family eats is difficult. But not too hard to deal with. Keeping an eye on the prize. This weight loss will help so many of my health problems. I do not have diabetes but this surgery cures Type 2 in most patients who have it. It will help with my hypertension, osteoarthritis, other chronic pain issues like fibromyalgia. And on and on the list goes.

I’ll post some as I go along, at each step. this is going to be epic!

30
Dec
14

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,900 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 32 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

12
Nov
14

guilt and ability

I posted this yesterday on my Facebook. I decided to share again. But this time, on my blog so I won’t lose it. I only intended to write that I was enjoying my cup of coffee. 
 
So, am slowly waking up. Some days are so hard. I try not to vocalize it because then it’s hard for me to ignore and push past. I have such guilt inside over the things I don’t get done. I try and explain why to my kids. But it sounds like a broken record… I’m just as tired of saying it as they are of hearing it. I know they know. They intellectually understand.
My eldest, I think, has the hardest time with me limits. He remembers what it was like before… before all the sickness took root. Before the cancer, before the chemo and radiation, before I became who I am today. Before the chronic pain that can make the simple act of sitting up and breathing more excruciating than anything I’ve ever experienced–yes, even more painful that going head first through the windshield during a car accident.
I have such guilt when I ask for help. I ask for a cup of coffee… And I know it’s a simple thing but in the moment, I hurt too much to even stand up…never mind move. I should be able. I tell that to myself. I was able an hour ago. Why not now?
And the guilt I feel when I ask for bigger things.. Like unloading the dishwasher, cooking, laundry.. It’s immense. That was my job. Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to be a mom…a stay at home mom, if financially able…never wondered what if I’m not physically able. I should be able is what I tell myself.
And it’s not like it’s a fixed differently abled thing either. If I lacked a right arm…people could see why I could not shake their hand in the way of our customs. And it would be the same now as it is two hours from now… I still wouldn’t be able to shake your hand. If I could predict what I was unable to do at any given time…I think that might be better. Because then I could plan. Then I can make accommodation for it. But if it changes hour by hour or minute by minute, how do you? How does one plan for that? To stand up, intent on making supper for her kids, only to sink back down and try to hide the grimace of pain?
How does one sit there, realizing that here is another night the child will come out about 5 p.m. and ask “Aren’t you going to make supper?” How does one not feel so much guilt.. So much that she lashes out with a “Don’t rush me!” Not because the child asked for supper but because she’s scared that tonight the child will have to cook for himself? And feel that guilt. How can one plan for this when one doesn’t know when she will be able and when she won’t.
Make an appointment for a month from now; wake up and unable to go. The doctor only sees a flaky person costing them a missed appointment.. And so they drop me as a patient.
I am sorry that I am not the mother, the woman, the sister, the daughter, that I feel I was meant to be. I fight so hard not to be a burden to anyone… Do they see? Do they really understand? Was that an eye roll? Does he think I’m just being lazy? Or that I’m more into my show on T.V.?
Words really can’t express these feelings and they never truly go away. Words can’t really express the enormity of these feelings. Words cannot express how broken I truly feel. But I feel compelled to try and explain myself.
I fight with others when I perceive them trying to take away from me the chance to try for myself. Don’t assume I can’t unless I say I can’t. It must be confusing for them, as it is for me. Yesterday I wanted help navigating through life, needed an errand ran, an onion chopped. Today, though, I can do it! Don’t hover! Don’t walk behind me like I’m a toddler, learning how to walk, with your arms out, ready to catch me if I fall. Let me fall, darn it! Just be there to help pick me back up.
How can I make others understand what I don’t understand myself? I feel useless, unhelpful, ungrateful, unwanted, just…. Unable.
And then, I’m reminded. I’m reminded that it is because I feel that I am alive. I have a heart and it beats. I’ve been put here for a reason. Not sure what but don’t really need to know right now. And so while I may not live up to my expectations every day, I keep going. I keep trying and I keep pushing. The more I do for myself, the more I can do. Finding relief in laughter, in my sons, my sister, my family… God has blessed me. I have much to be grateful for, really. I still have a chance to live…and to love. And love….is the greatest of all. Isn’t it?
Maybe one day I can accept this new normal. Maybe one day I can even forgive myself and love myself, as I am today, right now, five minutes from now, tomorrow… Wherever I’m at on the able scale, maybe one day.
But just not today. Not yet. So, I’m going to take a sip of this coffee and be thankful I made the pot and cup for myself. That at this moment, as I finish these thoughts, all is possible. Including love of self. Love of me.
18
Jul
14

Is my art fake?

Is my art fake?

No, it is not fake. I actually put acrylic paint on to a canvas. I have stated from day one that I cannot draw well. Some of my pieces are drawn by me, I use a grid method to copy the picture I want to paint onto a canvas. Some are not. Some I have printed in grey scale directly onto canvas. And then paint from there..using glazes and washes and color, in layers to bring out a full color rendition of an image. Sometimes I do images originally done by the Masters.. by people like Van Gogh, by people like Linda Coulter, by people I see on my friends’ list on Facebook! I do images of pretty places. I did not want to be stuck or hindered by my inability to draw. My paintings come out better if there is an image to paint on first (sketch or otherwise), of course.

It began in the 20th century that artists started focusing on direct (alla prima) painting, also known as au premier coup (at first stroke). It is a wet-on-wet style of painting. With that favor though, one art form has become almost lost, it seemed to me and that is the grisaille method.

You can read more about it at these links:

Grisaille info link

How to Paint Grisaille

What is Grisaille and Why do We Care?:

From the last link, I will quote, “In and of itself, grisaille can be used as a stepping stone toward a finished oil painting after adding glazes, so I know that any work I produce in this way can have a life “in living color” if and when I decide I’m ready to go there. So in a way, grisaille painting is a gateway painting method. It has been around for centuries, was an essential exercise for the Old Masters, and still has much to teach us today.”

I use acrylics rather than oil as I like to finish really quickly. Within a day if I can. And since acrylics are fast drying paints, that works well for me. Acrylics are also more forgiving when making a mistake. Once dried, you can color over a mistake and it not be noticed.

I am a self taught artist who is still learning to paint. Someone recently complained to a friend of mine that I was “fake” and trying to sell my art for a lot of money. So, let me get that straight here and now.

A direct quote from that person was: “Another advocate friend told me she has definitely changed. That her artwork is not even her own, that she is tracing copies off well known artists like Van Gogh. Not just saying this to be mean, but truth…..but on the other hand, do any of you fel she is trsutworthy now?” (copied and pasted, any errors are that person’s).

Tracing? I do not own tracing paper. Come to my house and you will not find any. I was going to buy some once as I thought it would be easier than doing it grid-style but I never did. Because then I’d have to get images the same size as my canvas in order to trace over. Here is a photo that I have shared to my art page on Facebook (Art by Heather E. Johnson).

As you can see, there is the original image next to my painting that I used for inspiration, etc. Yes, it is “copying”. However, you will find that many students of the arts “copy” as they master techniques, long before they start doing originals. Or, at least, they used to.

Here’s an article that discusses that controversy.

Here is an article that supports my position.

By the time I am done, I consider my rendition to be mine and mine alone. For example, I posted a pic of the rendition of Van Gogh’s Cafe at Night.

This is the original by Van Gogh himself, in 1888, done in oil.

This is the original by Van Gogh himself, in 1888, done in oil.

“Café Terrace at Night, also known as The Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum, is a coloured oil painting executed by the Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh on an industrially primed canvas of size 25 in Arles, France, mid-September 1888.”

Here is my version:

This is the painting I created when I did the grisaille method using a black and white image printed onto a canvas.

This is the painting I created when I did the grisaille method using a black and white image printed onto a canvas.

Here is a screen cap of a photo album on facebook where I show my progress as I go. I have said it many times and in many places!

The progress I made while painting

The progress I made while painting

Here is the about section from my art page:

I mention, with a brief description, what art style I am using. Anyone who knows art will likely be familiar with the style. If not, they can always google it.

I mention, with a brief description, what art style I am using. Anyone who knows art will likely be familiar with the style. If not, they can always Google it.

As you can see, I even have an extra person in mine! I also have more stars, etc. There are lots of differences. So, of a sorts, it does become an original. There are some pieces labeled, “not for sale” on my art page. That’s because I am no longer in possession of them. I often give them away, for free. Some insist on paying for them and so I might get a token payment of about $30/each. That covers the cost of the canvas, paints and postage. Nothing for my time. To date, I have not received a single penny from them.

So the claim that I am “ripping people off with copies” is false. I am not. I am full and upfront about my style of painting and anyone can Google the title of that Van Gogh picture and see many others who have posted their renditions, some are even for sale. There’s even museums just for showing copies.

[Update: Recently, I came up with a multi-step process for getting the image onto canvas prior to painting it with color. It takes me a minimum of 24-28 hours to do it but I don’t have to pay someone to print an image on to canvas. ]

That is all. Thank you.

And these are my words….

18
Jul
14

Ableist versus Assumption of Competence

Ableist versus Assumption of Competence.

I am going to share, what I think, are two competing ideas that have me so confuzzled. I am hoping my friends in the autism community can help explain things to me, please.

First, the definition of Competence:

This is from one blog post about it: “If you assume competence, you are giving a person the opportunity to succeed.  Does it mean that he or she will always achieve the desired success?  Not necessarily.  But isn’t it more damaging to not provide him or her with the opportunity at all? “

This is another definition: “The principle of “presuming competence,” is simply to act as Anne Sullivan did.  Assume that a child has intellectual ability, provide opportunities to be exposed to learning, assume the child wants to learn and assert him or herself in the world. To not presume competence is to assume that some individuals cannot learn, develop, or participate in the world.  Presuming competence is nothing less than a Hippocratic oath for educators. It is a framework that says, approach each child as wanting to be fully included, wanting acceptance and appreciation, wanting to learn, wanting to be heard, wanting to contribute.  By presuming competence, educators place the burden on themselves to come up with ever more creative, innovative ways for individuals to learn.  The question is no longer who can be included or who can learn, but how can we achieve inclusive education.  We begin by presuming competence.” from this about Helen Keller’s teacher, Anne Sullivan.

And now.. ableism.

From dictionary.com: “discrimination in favor of able-bodied people.”

And another: “Ableism is a form of discrimination or prejudice against individuals with physical, mental, or developmental disabilities that is characterized by the belief that these individuals need to be fixed or cannot function as full members of society (Castañeda & Peters, 2000). As a result of these assumptions, individuals with disabilities are commonly viewed as being abnormal rather than as members of a distinct minority community (Olkin & Pledger, 2003; Reid & Knight, 2006). Because disability status has been viewed as a defect rather than a dimension of difference, disability has not been widely recognized as a multicultural concern by the general public as well as by counselor educators and practitioners.” quoted from here: Laura Smith, Pamela F. Foley, and Michael P. Chaney, “Addressing Classism, Ableism, and Heterosexism in Counselor Education”, Journal of Counseling & Development, Summer 2008, Volume 86, pp 303-309.

Okay, so ‘splain to me how my sharing an article (link to article) to someone who wanted to know WHY people were refusing to be her friend, WHY people would “throw her away”, etc. is ableist? I wrote a comment on the article posted on my timeline that stated:

(Names removed): take this with the intent I mean and not wrong. EVERYONE has traits that can annoy others or drive others away. Reading this, I recognized myself and you two on some of these things (none of us lack empathy, tho). So I thought y’all could benefit from the reading as well.”

Benefit from reading = understanding the WHY.

How am I being ableist by sharing this article with friends who have specifically mentioned this being a problem and wanting to change it?

You see.. here’s my dilemma. If you presume someone CAN control their behavior (or learn how to), you are using the presumption of competence. However, if you do presume competence, you’re an ableist. Why? I don’t get it. Please, someone help me.




These are the types of things I talk about

Read it again?

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