“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
― Thomas Merton, “No Man Is an Island”
Recently, I’ve come to realize (again) just how much being chronically ill has stolen from me, and not just in the obvious physical sense.
Little bits & pieces of me, of who I am, have been slowly slipping away into the morass of living with ME/CFS/Lyme, etc., buried under the avalanche of chronic illness, a little bit (or occasionally a lot) at a time, as I slowly spiral downward.
And then I found myself again, all the little missing bits, in the most unlikely of places.
The loss of physical function, of ability, is the easy part to see.
I can no longer ride horses, garden beyond a few pots on the deck & my beloved bonsai, or even make a trip to the grocery store without seriously overtaxing my body. Those long hikes in the Woods are long gone.
Less obvious to those on the outside looking in are the loss of the ability to watch TV or movies because of sound & light sensitivity & the damned migraines. I
had have my favorite sci-fi & fantasy shows & movies, and I miss them, though they wait patiently for me on the DVR.
Perhaps most of all, I miss the ability to inhale a good novel, to luxuriate in a fantasy world of warrior women, magic, and quests to be fulfilled, or to travel backward into history & relive the ancient past. I used to read upwards of 150 pages a night of a good book, but I lost the ability to retain what I read, and so keep track of plotlines and characters, about 10 years ago.
But the Amazon warrior woman within, the myths & magic I love so much, reside within me still, I have found.
Rather than be pushed away into the fog and forgotten, they beg to be brought out into the open, acknowledged, and, even, nourished.
They are part of who I am.
Exploring more, I re-discovered the thrill of seeing a beautiful vista from a far-away land, a gorgeous garden, an amazing animal, an unusual and well done piece of art, and so much more.
And so I have found myself again, I have awoken from my soul’s slumber, thanks to that unlikely source I mentioned: Pinterest.
For those who don’t know, Pinterest is a highly addictive online “pinboard” site, where you can create pinboards – collections – of images of things you like, and keep them neatly arranged in as many boards as you like. You can “follow” people who share your interests, and browse their boards, and repin what you like to your own boards. Most of the pins lead to websites, often of interest, too.
To be honest, I joined Pinterest because I saw friends joining, and didn’t really expect much to use it.
But then I discovered the world of imagery that resides on the web, the treasure hunt that is Pinterest, finding people who like the same things I do, and began luxuriating in the glorious artwork & photography the way I used to do with my reading, tv and movie watching, and travel.
During a bad migraine day, of which there are many, I barely feel like moving, and thinking is terribly difficult. About the only thing I can do at such times is to immerse myself in the fantastic art & images of the divine, creative DIY ideas, magical homes, forests & sacred spaces, found on Pinterest, all while barely budging from my pillow, on my smartphone.
As I collect and categorize, I am both losing myself from the pain of the migraine & drudgery of another day of “chronic-ness”, and also finding myself, the parts so long buried & lost, hidden away. But still there.
Buried, but still alive & well inside my heart & soul.
It’s been six months of pinning now, and I’ve found it to be an interesting & invigorating process, both spiritually & emotionally.
Hidden anger & grief has risen to the surface to be dealt with, as I see things that remind me of The Before Times, of things I used to do, places I wanted to see, but now can’t.
I thought I was over that aspect of this illness we call ME/CFS, over the loss of so much that was a part of my identity.
But seeing some of these images, these visions of the Past and hopes for the Future, served as a reminder to me that grief is a process, a spiral, not a circle – we don’t go through the steps of the circle and be over it.
Instead, we go ’round and ’round the spiral of grief and anger, mourning the loss of Life-As-We-Knew-It, and with each turning of the spiral, the grief in our hearts heals a little more, slowly, ever so slowly, fading away…
As I’ve wandered the spiral of grieving for my life, I’ve found Pinterest to be invaluable in renewing my hope and fueling inspiration.
Creativity has budded, and begun to flower.
Images and how-to’s fill my Creativity board of things I know I can make and do, albeit very slowly. I can revisit and refine what inspires me, as new pins are found and pinned, and not-quite-right pins are removed. They remind me that:
I can still create. I can still make beautiful things.
Another board reminds me of my deep connection to Nature, and is populated with images of wild women and wild places, prompting the sleeping wildling within to awaken.
With every visit, the fires of inspiration burn brighter.
Once upon a time, I had my very own, very large, herb garden, with just about every herb, medicinal and culinary, you could have. But for now, we have the Woods, some pots on the deck, and dried herbs that can be purchased.
Pinterest has re-kindled my interest in using natural ways for healing. The internet is full of tons of information on using herbs & foods for healing, and my board is a great way to organize all that info – and encourage me to try it!
When things are very bad, physically, I can drop myself into the sacred imagery, fantasy art, especially lovely places, or beautiful wildwoods that populate my boards, and hide myself from the pain & distress. I can distract myself from the boredom of living a life filled with chronic pain & exhaustion by going treasure hunting – for new & wonderful things to pin.
It is a refuge, a respite, and a renewal, that I never expected, but am very thankful for.
To see my entire collection, please visit me on Pinterest ~ and if you’d like an invitation to join, just let me know (it’s free).