Monday, February 18, 2013

Overcoming the Lie: My Phantom Limb Pain

This is a blog entry to promote the Overcome the Lie Campaigin: inspiring a generation of women to overcome many of the lies we tell ourselves because God created us in His image.

The people who know me just through this blog mostly see my creative endeavors. I am also a teacher of the visually impaired and a technology specialist for children with special needs. This blog was originally created for me to focus on my creative endeavors and hold me accountable to filling up a space with something creative -even if it was just an Instagram photo collage. It was a way for me to remember my "Phantom Limb" as Austin Kleon describes it:

"you can cut off a couple passions and only focus on one, but after a while, you'll start to feel phantom limb pain."

I have my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art History and Mix Media. When I graduated from college I thought I was going to become a photographer or get my PhD in African Art History, but then I burned out whole heartedly from the art world. After 10 plus years creating art, I fried and burned. I was jaded by the negative aspects that comes with living and breathing art.  I longed to connect to people in an authentic way, but lacked the ideas on how to connect that to art.  My art became stale and frankly so did I.  In 2006, I got a job as a paraprofessional to special needs kids in Kansas City, KS. I loved it so much that I decided to put my career as an artist in hold for a bit as I explored my skill development as teacher of the visually impaired. I learned Braille, educational/assistive technology, and got my feet wet in the world of Social work by working on my Master's Degree in Special Education and in my current position. For the last six years I have been teaching children with visual impairments Braille, independent living skills, adaptive technology, and supporting their families by providing resources. However, in the last two years my phantom limb pain for the artist in me and yearning for the color, funk and flair of the art world continued to become more and more apparent.  Remembering that side of me that creates, lives outloud, wears funky scarves, bold earrings, photographs the hearts and souls of people wanted so desperately to connect to the social service worker in me. The mothers of children with visual impairments that I work with inspire me everyday.  Sometimes their stories are so heavy I take it home with me.  But sometimes the things I see at work inspire me to art journal and build on my passion for authentic living.  

For the longest time, I thought we should only focus on that one passion so we could really master it, but the older I get the more I realize that God wants us to use all our passions and talents to work. Focusing on just one of my gifts is a lie I am choosing to overcome in this chapter of life. If we are living passionate, beautiful lives then chances are we are finding that we have gifts and interests that exceed just our vocation or the one talent we have chosen to focus on.  I struggle with the way this looks in my life.  I struggle with the balance, but I am choosing to not struggle on what to focus on.  Instead, I am choosing to create space in the time allowed to create, photograph, and share my work.  I am choosing to use my current "9-5" as a place to find inspiration.  In the line of work I do, there are so many stories to retell through creation and experimentation.  
Because really art and creation should be ingrained in every part of my life.  I just need to create the space to tell the story in a creative format.  Living a life where one aspect of it inspires the next is my truth to overcome lie that we should only focus on one of our passions at a time.

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