Monthly Archives: January 2015

Easy Art Activity #19 Fight, Flee, or FLOW

As I was working through Day 21 and Day 22 of  FLOW #30dayjournal project I accepted that Living Well with Arachnoiditis means developing a delicate balance between the decision to Fight or Flee.  My natural inclination is to FIGHT! against the injustice that allows arachnoiditis to occur…to FIGHT! against any threat to those I love…to FIGHT! against the arachnoiditis-related threats to my independence…

FIRST GENERAL ORDER OF THE U.S. ARMY:  “I will guard everything within the limits of my post and quit my post only when properly relieved.” I am pretty sure that I believed this mantra even BEFORE I joined the Army. Active duty just made it stronger.

“Adjust to the object and you will find your way around or through it.”

Artwork by by artist Gavin Aung Than
Artwork by by artist Gavin Aung Than from Day 22

As I mature, I am beginning to realize that there are ways to “guard” the intangible valuables of our lives without active, physically and emotionally exhausting aggression. To Survive and Live Well we must choose our battles carefully. Save our resources for the battles that matter and fight at a pace that will NOT conquer our inner strength.

Apathy is the enemy of progress but, being geared toward constant combat will be the death of me. I can’t/won’t be the doormat under the boots of corruption but ammo explodes to its demise after its launched into the fray. The Happy Place lies somewhere in the middle.

Fighting for and maintaining my happiness and the happiness of those around me  must always be my priority. The other battles, although very important, are secondary and require a support team.

if you struggle with feeling good (~Lisa Sonora)
“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it.You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings.And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.”—  Elizabeth Gilbertfrom Eat, Pray, Love
Don’t give up. For the sake of happiness, be selective. Perhaps it is best to avoid the lonely fights that trap and bind us at the bottom of the ocean. Unite the forces which breathe life into our efforts. ~slk

“Ferdinand ran to the middle of the ring and everyone shouted and clapped because they thought he was going to fight fiercely and butt and snort and stick his horns around. But not Ferdinand. When he got to the middle of the ring he saw the flowers in all the lovely ladies’ hair and he just sat down quietly and smelled.”

Ferdinand Flowing in Flowers
Ferdinand Flowing in Flowers


Expanding on the FLOW suggestions from the Day 22 post,

Step 1: Reflect on the most difficult battle you are fighting today, this week, this month, this year.

Step 2: In your journal or on another surface, cut, paste, draw, paint a representation of this battle.

Step 3: Find the music that comforts you during this struggle.

Step 4: Listen to this music as you draw a symbol of yourself flowing peacefully in and around the structures and obstacles of this combat zone to come out the other side in one piece.

Fight, Flee, or FLOW
Fight, Flee, or FLOW (sample collage) ~ fighting from the Prone Position

The Playlist that FLOWS me through the battlefield today: 

Roll The Bones ~ Shakey Graves, Wildewoman ~ Lucius, In My Mind ~ Amanda Palmer, Little By Little ~ Fritz Kalkbrenner, Write Your Story ~ Francesca Battistelli, Garden ~ Mikaela Davis, 46 and 2 Tool Cover ~by School Kids, Wildlife ~ The Prickers, and the Original Music at SheilaLynnK Art Studio by Brian Decker.

No explanations. Just sharing. Wishing you all a low pain week.

Feel free to share your resulting images (without any explanations) here. Use the Registration Form if you would like an image of your work today to be included in the FIRST Art For Arachnoiditis Project Public Exhibit. CALL FOR ENTRIES ENDS Feb. 15, 2015.

Resources for Your Well-Being

COUNTING DOWN TO LIFT OFF! The Wellness Universe Website Launches Today!
Directory of Resources to Expand Your Well-Being


Efforts at the studio to contribute

to a better world have been recognized. 

Dedicated to the Wellness and Empowerment of Arachnoiditis Survivors, the Art For Arachnoiditis Project at SheilaLynnK Art Studio is an official Member of this Directory. 

At no cost to this charitable project, this directory makes the Art For Arachnoiditis Project and other valuable Wellness resources for Arachnoiditis Survivors available to survivors not currently subscribed to Facebook. 

The Wellness website launches TODAY! 

What seems like a brilliant, keyword searchable catalog of pages in this online directory are far more than that. The actual people creating these pages come together to better the world through their individual efforts, as a whole… is a natural solution to search for content people want to see.” ~BBC Record London Soul Ventures Corps Launches Directory of Facebook Pages

“The Wellness Universe answers the need for an organized resource where the public can reference any topic related to wellness,” states Michelle Gould

Launching Today

Resources for your Well-Being, 

Join us! Find Love, Support, Hope, Inspiration, Education from the BEST PAGES of Facebook. 

Wishing you Wellness in the year to come! 

Arachnoiditis Survivor Portrait Project Recipient, Melanie Lamb, talks about living with Arachnoiditis

January 21, 2015 Posted by Melanie Lamb on Facebook K-9 Trainer and author of Standing With The Dog, speaks out.
Survivor Portrait In Progress for Melanie
Survivor Portrait In Progress for Melanie at SheilaLynnK Art Studio

“What happens when people with my conditions wake up…
We have to get a grip on our body and focus beyond what “focus” means to most.
It always begins in my feet. Burning and needles- intensifying with each passing nanosecond, until you feel as if your feet have been covered in lava. With me, then it begins in my back – until my whole torso is engulfed from the inside out- organs feels as if they should be melting. It then spreads to the rest of my body. Heart pounding so fast it hurts and feels as if my chest is going to explode. Very deep, fast and intense spasms filled with electricity surge through every fiber of my being. Then the sweating and tremors begins. It usually takes about an hour to recover, or it can set the stage for how our whole day will go.
What happens when we are abruptly or unexpectedly woken up – the same thing- only 1000 xs Worse.
We don’t sleep like “normal” people, so we take and cherish what rest we are able to achieve. We don’t reach that REM state of sleep because we are lucky if we reach 3 hours of sleep while sedated before our pain or sensations wake us. I really wish I had the ability to allow some to really FEEL what it’s like… over and over for just few minutes. And a few select others, I wish they could feel it as often as I do. Every single day. Yet, what most of us do IF asked the question, How do you feel? We smile and say “I’m okay” – because deep down, we know that typically when we are asked that, most times the ones asking… really don’t want hear exactly how or what we are feeling because they either simply can’t handle the description they will be given, or, they just really didn’t want to know to begin with, but asked anyway out of habit. Then there are those in our lives that see the pain through our smile or hear it in our words- and refuse to accept that “I’m okay” is the final response and will do anything to make your world a better place… we are NEVER okay. We condition ourselves to get by and make the best of what we have. Our “okay” level of pain lands most people in the ER.
Love my Tish ♡ Today, we both recover .She is never far away.”

Melanie’s Journey with Arachnoiditis and RSD/CRPS

Easy Art Activity #18

Creative Adaptability:

Working toward Productive Horizontal Time

Working toward Productive Horizontal Time

A New Approach
A New Approach

“It’s difficult to get your creative juices flowing if you’re always being practical, following rules, afraid to make mistakes, not looking into outside areas, or under the influence of any of the other mental locks.”

— Roger Von Oech, A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative

As I was working through Day 18 of the FLOW Journal Project , it occurred to me that many of my successful adaptations to accommodate arachnoiditis were ALL about breaking the rules. Living with Arachnoiditis meant that I needed structure and time management to keep my body functioning at its best. However, ADAPTING to arachnoiditis meant that I had to break most of the “rules” and “systems” that had defined my life prior to this medical injury.

“Gravity Sucks! …I began to realize that I was gravitationally challenged.” ~slk Still Standing, Sometimes

While my trusted medical care providers were trying to help me figure out what had actually happened, I remember saying that if I could just go through life suspended from boots attached to runners on the ceiling- like clothing at the dry cleaner’s- I would be fine. Although that was NOT a practical adaptation to make, it was a light bulb to the fact that I needed to STOP trying to function within traditional, socially acceptable boundaries.

I hated being in bed looking at the ceiling..doing NOTHING. In the beginning there was so much pain that I didn’t really notice. But, gradually it became evident that horizontal time was controlling the pain. I had to figure out some way to be productive WHILE I was horizontal. I designed the ProneWorks table and consulted with occupational therapy to find out more about what my body would need to work this way. It became part of my studio business plan and I incorporated the design into my small business grant application. It was going to cost $1800 to make the first prototype.

The week before I was scheduled to meet with the carpenter/upholsterer to finalize arrangements, I discovered the Ostrich Cot. Although it did not have a built in structure to accommodate standard positional cardiovascular concerns, with a price tag of $49.99 at that time, I had to try it.  Thinking outside of the box  helped me preserve my independence. With appropriate timing to permit proper blood flow, the Ostrich Cot became the foundation for me to resume making art.  I know I am still working to adjust my ideas about “the box” because I get self-conscious using the cot in front of other people. Being/working in the prone position feels simultaneously liberating and vulnerable. I am hoping to demonstrate the cot and allow others to use it during the Opening Reception for our FIRST public art exhibit.

Art ACTIVITY #18  Today, make a simple doodle or sketch of the ideal environment OR perfect assistive device that would make living with arachnoiditis easier for you. This environment can contain known objects or new innovations that you fantasize about. There are NO rules here. If drawing is uncomfortable for you, then use cut out images and paste together a NEW device suited just for you. Defy Gravity.

Extended Activity  Make a list of FIVE impractical activities you can do that support and will not conflict with your arachnoiditis-related needs.

My List 

Getting Horizontal after the trip to Indiana to interview Jack Pavlekovich
Getting Horizontal after the trip to Indiana to interview Jack Pavlekovich
  1.  Take a blanket and lay down in a public place…even if~especially if~ my body doesn’t really NEED to lay down right now.
  2. Fight Cabin Fever~ going out is hard, invite people into the studio but, ask or designate an alternate host/hostess to stand-in for me while I visit with everyone.
  3. Make my own ergonomic workstations…again.
  4. Publish the book
  5. Create an arachnoiditis adaptability class

You are invited to share your ideas, sketches, collages, and discoveries here.

Use the Registration Form if you would like your work today to be included in the FIRST Art For Arachnoiditis Project Public Exhibit. CALL FOR ENTRIES ENDS Feb. 15, 2015.

Eight Lessons Learned and Remembered

This just in! The ice is falling off of my Frozen Muse!

Those are NOT tears today. Look closely. Teeny-tiny trickles of creative energy are beginning to FLOW beneath the surface of her frozen facade.


Winter wonder, in all its fluffy, frigid, crisp clarity lands me in some difficult paths of self-assessment and sometimes leaves me wandering aimlessly away from my intentions in an effort to relieve physical discomfort. The discrepancy between my scheduled goals and actual achievements can be quite disheartening at times.  This is when it is crucial for me to visit activities and inspiration which remind me to:

Day 12 image from Lisa Sonora's FLOW 30 Day Journal Project #30DayJournal
Day 12 image from Lisa Sonora’s FLOW 30 Day Journal Project #30DayJournal

It is a struggle for me to accept what I CANNOT do. Sometimes so much so that I forget to see and celebrate the things that I CAN do and am doing, RIGHT NOW.  This mind set can become a slippery slope for an Arachnoiditis Survivor. I have added the above quote to my Wander Land Cards so that I don’t forget to accept where I am right now instead of beating myself up over that which I have not yet achieved.

However, our Project Deadlines are looming large in my mind. The CALL FOR ENTRIES to Survivors to Register for the First Public Art For Arachnoiditis Project Exhibit  ends February 15, 2015. Thanks so much to all who have submitted entries, supported the project, and participated in the Arachnoiditis Survivor Portrait Project. Please keep doing what you are doing! Let people know that we still need MORE entries to make this a show worth visiting.

The last few weeks have been a harsh reminder of lessons learned that I forgot to remember.

1. Don’t over do it!  Listen to your body. Stop BEFORE it tells you that you must.

2. Plan wisely. Time management is key.

3. Be Realistic! Winter is the WORST time for me. Over-extending during the holidays is a mistake. It is best for me to set aside career/studio projects and goals until the third week in the New Year. For my own personal best results it might be good to make January a month of hibernation. So that I can remain Sustainably Creative. 

Relocating to a more suitable climate might be realistic and more than beneficial for some Arachnoiditis Survivors.

Although I often fantasize about warmer climates, the benefits of living two blocks away from my only Grandchild far outweigh these balmy whispers and the wintry obstacles. The superglued fragments and the few unbroken places remaining in my heart would be shattered by the loss of this wonderfully uplifting, simultaneously challenging, Grandma experience. Appropriate planning allows me to accommodate and accept winter so that I can keep what matters most.

4. My Living With Arachnoiditis Daily Plan (especially in winter) should include space for unexpected visits, emergencies, AND recovery time. If none develop, this is just free time to do more art.  

Cabin Fever Can Be Spiritually Crippling. In the grip of an Upstate New York January, visitors are welcome but require vertical time. I forgot to leave time for this in my day. 

The unexpected New Year’s Eve death (read, “winter burial”) of Smoke, our 14 year old cat, was not only sad but, was, potentially, a horrendous physical set back. Thankfully, the weather was oddly warm up until that day and the ground was sort of easy to manipulate. Life is full of surprises. Plan for that. Malachi’s special daily doggy needs combined with his unexpected medical maintenance this winter  equals mass miscalculations and manipulative juggling of the once-manageable time table leading to virtual mayhem… in my mind. Did I also forget to mention that PERCEPTION is 9/10ths of the law of survival?

5. Self-employed/stay-at-home/ housebound people, NEED tools, time, and space to relax, too.  If you have ever worked from home, you know the challenges of leaving your work AT work. Designating a physical space for work and relaxation respectively can be very liberating. As a youth advocate, I learned that I served my clients best by leaving THEIR needs behind for a little while. As an Artist and Studio Owner, as well as,  Survivor and Advocate for the Prevention of Spinal Adhesive Arachnoiditis; I have found this to be equally true.

Orchestrating this becomes an exercise in actual and virtual compartmentalization. Although very physically demanding, in the long run; FINALLY organizing my live/work studio space so that there is tangible/physical space…with room to be horizontal or vertical as needed… set aside for:

family & visitors, my work, and ME (apart from my WORK)

was a major physically demanding but life-altering step that I SHOULD have taken when the weather was warmer but, for the sake of my sanity and creative productivity; could NOT wait until it warmed up again.

Horizontal Work Station that is NOT my bed.
Horizontal Work Station that is NOT my bed.

During the first few years of crippling pain, and even as recently as December 2014; the need to be horizontal so often sometimes leads me into the bad habit of having my entire life occur in my bedroom. It is/was never unusual to see books, papers, laptop, journaling projects, and art supplies stacked and piled around me on my bed and all over any flat surface near it. I think, even prior to arachnoiditis, my workaholic personality sometimes lead to this.

For me, this is NOT a good thing. It all becomes jumbled together. Eventually, I lose the ability to focus. Since CSF issues make focus a challenge at times anyway, built-in focus zones are incredibly beneficial for me. Structure is GOOD. When I keep designated tasks and objectives in designated areas, it allows me to always have a healing place for  RETREAT.

With the launch of the Art For Arachnoiditis Project in March, by the end of 2014; my existing workstations had just started to become too heavily merged with my down-time locations in my small house. At the end of December I was so overwhelmed by the inability to get away from the endless to-do lists that no art was being made. Frustrating  for me to admit, even with the legit technical difficulties at the time; The Survivor Portrait for Melanie Lamb came to a screeching halt. 

6. SIMPLIFY! and know thyself.

As long as I am the only one doing the work, (generally my selected mode of operation) my house/yard/life will NEVER be as clean/organized/tidy as I WANT it to be. Just when I think I cannot minimize or downsize anymore, I realize there is still room for some elimination of unnecessary material distractions. I also know that, for me,  the more organized the existing items are, the less distracting they become.

This even applies to lawn maintenance. Over the summer, I realized that if I grow edible weeds in my yard, there is less lawn to mow and it changed how I see that  unmanicured “mess” that it becomes when I am unable to maintain it. No longer an eyesore, it becomes a renewable resource. Not sure my neighbors agree but, it is what it is. 

7. LET GO! Remember that it is NOT your job to store, manage, or organize the possessions, obligations, or responsibilities of others.Let them clean up their own mess so that you can clean up yours. It’s good for all of us. 

8. FORGIVE YOURSELF when you are unable or forget to do these things.

From Christina Lane
From Christina Lane

Have you learned anything that helps you manage living with arachnoiditis? Please tell us about it here. 

Easy Art Activity #17

Create a Journal Page using your favorite childhood art supplies.(From Day 4 of the FLOW:30 Day Journal Project )

Sometimes keeping it simple opens the door to big ideas, personal revelations, and a few memorable minutes of unadulterated fun. My favorite art supplies were Pencils, Crayons, Spin Art and Spirograph.

Wow! I really miss the Spirograph. Not surprisingly, this memory came up a lot when I was working through the 30 day Mandala project last year. I remember it was just such a relaxing way to spend a few minutes exploring lines, layers, patterns, rhythm and colors.  The designs I made could be as simple or as complicated as I wanted them to be…

Although I have since learned to enjoy many different art supplies, especially painting; a lovably portable #2 Pencil and a box of aromatic Crayola crayons remain in the highest ranks of my favorite multi-purpose art supplies.

My flash back journal page
My flashback journal page

Take a refreshing flashback to simpler times. Feel free to share your work. No explanations required.

Use the Registration Form if your work today to be included in the FIRST Art For Arachnoiditis Project Public Exhibit.

Easy Art Activity #16

Using the development of symbolism described in the previous post, create an image (use any media~collage, photos, pencil, crayons,etc.) that shows how you spent the holidays 2014-2015.

It is normal if this process brings about some melancholy and some joy at the same time. You may even find yourself expanding the project to include images from Christmas Past. If you do so, why not also add images from your Christmas Future? This is written from my perspective as a person who celebrates Christmas and New Years as a time for gathering with close friends and family and a time for personal renewal. If you are NOT one who celebrates Christmas per se, use images, concepts, and experiences from a time in your life that best helps you express these similar gatherings.Use the Registration Form if you would like this work to be included in the FIRST Art For Arachnoiditis Project Public Exhibit.

Farewell to our furry friend.
Farewell to our furry friend. Smoke, would have been 14 in February. He died on New Year’s Eve.

Celebrating Christmas with my children and my grandson and my significant -other (ALL of them were able to get home at the same time this year!) was an amazing, hectic, joyous experience. With it comes the aftermath of domestic chores…which inevitably lead to remembering the ones that I had been procrastinating in order to make art.

The sudden loss of our last cat, Smoke, set off a flurry of transition in my live/ work studio space. It has been over 20 years since we have been cat-less. It is strange to be so now. However, given the limitations and restriction of arachnoiditis, it would be unfair and selfish of me to bring another animal into such an unpredictable environment with so few resources.

The decision to accept my cat-less status has prompted organization of domestic vs. work/art-designated spaces that could not have happened if I was going to be able to keep the cat and my grandson apart. (He has severe allergy symptoms when exposed to cats.)

The last few weeks have been all about clearing that board of chores and tasks, so-to-speak… Making room for being creative again. The FLOW: 30 Day Journal project is helping me to work through some of the tasks: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, financial, that I need to resolve in order to resume my creative work in the studio and the Arachnoiditis Survivor Portraits. I am hoping that taking the time to do these things will result in quality work without detriment to the over-all project and our fast-approaching  deadlines.

As an Arachnoiditis Survivor, what gets in your way of making art? of creating? Even if you don’t consider yourself an “artist” this question pertains to you. The benefits of the creative process are not limited to visual and performing arts.
My comments to FLOW Day 7 Prompt conclusion “~Your Turn:What thoughts stop you when it comes to making your art? Dare to share!”

“Planning HOW I will share the work with others seems to get in the way the most. How will I record the portraits for the Arachnoiditis Survivors as they are being made so that the Survivors can be included in this process? This has been a technical challenge and frustration since the launch of the Art For Arachnoiditis Project. The recording process interrupts the creative process and I lose my smooth focus and flow. Technical issues make it a fragmented process jumping from paper and pencil to editing video & audio and sharing & posting when my natural approach is to draw until I reach a comfortable stopping point. This is a true stretch of my natural rhythm of creativity.
In order to accommodate arachnoiditis in the studio, I have created multiple work stations and change position frequently. So, in many ways this NEW process feeds into that and supports that. I am consoling myself with the reminder that the intention of THIS project is to empower other survivors via participation…inclusion and community are key…The completed conceptual portrait is only ONE portion of the full creative process. It is NOT the MAIN objective. This is a difficult thing to remember.
The HOW of sharing the art often gets in my way with other more direct, canvas, gesso, paint, hang projects.
I continue to struggle with ways to make my work (and the process) accessible to others. This particular post/prompt is helping me work through some of my mental blocks about that. I am coming to realize that there are easier ways to make this happen. I love sharing my work with others.I have very few qualms about that. It’s figuring out the logistics of that which gets in my way. So, I will be trying to focus more on making-with-intent-to-share included in the process…instead of letting it be a task/plan I MUST conquer BEFORE I can create.

Today’s post, Out With The Old In With the New, tells more about these processes in the studio.

Easy Art Activity #15

These truths are meant to be private. Just like the journal.At some point, it may be relevant to share your discoveries, along with your journal pages, with others.Most of the time, it’s a simple, quiet exploration that needs no further explanation.And not having to explain yourself, even to yourself, is one of the most radical creative acts you can make.It opens the doors to the unknown, to the mysteries within, awaiting your discovery.” ~Lisa Sonora

Symbolism is a wonderful creative element which allows us to express what matters most to us without crossing our own comfortable boundaries. It can provide a safe conduit to work through our thoughts and experience.


Create ONE symbol to represent ONE of the concepts, ideas, or obstacles that you included in your response to Lisa’s journal prompts for Day 1,2 or 3. You can draw or paste these directly into your journal or create them on any other surface of any materials that suit your needs.

FLOW day 1 “No Matter What” A quick sketch to express my first thoughts about my list of obstacles~slk

The majority of my journal entry will remain personal and private. There will be limitations to how much I want to share publicly. However, for the sake of providing an example for this activity, I have included my notes from my thought process from the Day 1 prompts.

FLOW Day 1 Prompts
FLOW Day 1 Prompts

Easy Art Activity #14 ~Step 3

Step 3 

Using methods and resources from Steps 1 & 2 illustrate the spirit, people, places, and things that will help you overcome the obstacles to your desired vision for 2015. This may be challenging. You will have to open your mind to consider how you can do things differently than you have done them your entire life.

“For me, this process helped me to clarify the things that really matter to me. The activities and experiences that are worth making these adjustments pushed me to put these concepts down on paper so that I could make a plan for my year. It worked. Although I am not moving as fast as I may have done in the past~before arachnoiditis~I am moving and the Art For Arachnoiditis Project is now a public reality and resource available to other survivors.”~Sheila

Adaptability Goals
Adaptability Goals~ From the Values Cards that I made during the Right Brain Business Plan Project, Feb.2014. This project and process helped me define my goals and became the foundation for the Art For Arachnoiditis Project launch. The encouragement I received from other members of the RBBP group helped me be confident enough to make this happen. [Jennifer Lee starts the RBBP 2015 session on January 5th.]
Mapping my goals to creating a community of wellness.
Mapping my goals and resources available  to enable me to create the healing community of wellness that was my vision for 2014.


If you feel comfortable doing so; please post your Activity #14 Steps 1-3 thoughts and images or collage to share your arachnoiditis obstacles with other visitors to the page. Use the Registration Form if you would like this work to be included in the FIRST Art For Arachnoiditis Project Public Exhibit.

Perhaps, the free FLOW: 30 Day Journal Project with Lisa Sonora will help you expand on these ideas and find your new path.

“I will be using the FLOW project to continue to develop my own personal healing goals and to maintain my focus and momentum for my own recovery and motivation. This project will be my go-to resource for the Healing Art Activities at during the month of January 2015. I hope you will join us for this process.”~Sheila

Although women have been the most vocal about this process, so far, this healing art process is beneficial to all survivors. Not just women.

Holistic healing is for men too.  “Through art therapy men can expand their creativity, gain greater awareness, and challenge life issues such as work, family and relationships.”  ~ From Express Yourself, Child and Family Art Therapy

More Resources:

Opening Up ~Daniel Leighton talks about how art has helped him cope with chronic pain, illness and trauma

Men and Art Therapy: A Connection through Strengths

Unmasking the agony: Combat troops turn to art therapy