2018, I hardly knew you! 3

I can’t believe it’s the end of the year already. That makes sense considering I slept through the first 8 months.

To date, besides a few measly paintings for 30 in 30 back in January, I have not completed one painting this year. It’s so easy to beat myself up about that, but the sacrifice has been worth it. I know, you’re demanding to know how I think anything could possibly justify not finishing paintings for almost an entire year. Let me tell ya, it’s not an easy thing to find the silver lining in, that’s for sure.

However, if the long-term benefits of this year are that I can paint more in the future, I’ll gladly sacrifice 2018 to the art gods.

I have spent 20 years asking medical doctors why I’m so tired all the time. They would give me a thyroid test here and a blood work up there, only to tell me everything was fine and send me on my overly dramatic and attention seeking way. Or so they seemed to think. I’ve since discovered even when things haven’t been okay, I was not made aware, but that’s another story for learning to get all your test results for yourself.  It also never helped that most of the people in my life would just tell me I was lazy. It turned out this was usually because they were trying to make me do more than my fair share of the work, but that’s neither here nor there. I, too, would tell myself I was just lazy, even though I knew better. I knew, when I had energy I did things even if I didn’t like doing them. Even though I knew I had accomplished more than most people I knew.

It was so easy to just agree that I must be lazy.

I finally found out at the end of last year I have Sensory Integration Disorder or Sensory Processing Disorder. This causes me to have a lot of anxiety and become worn out/irritable from things most people can filter out. It took two months after my occupational therapist made an off-hand comment that I was uncomfortable all the time for me to realize what I felt all the time was uncomfortable. I thought that feeling was normal.  Until about August I was sleeping all the time. When I managed to do something, like an artventure, it would wipe me out for the rest of the week. I’ve since learned a ton of life hacks that work for me and my energy is slowly returning to normal (for me) and hopefully better than ever.

My life already looks so much different than it did a year ago. It’s hard to make sure I go slow enough to maintain, let alone continue the progress. I want to go full steam ahead. Luckily, being paranoid of returning to the exhausted shell I was is a good reminder to just relax. I don’t need to be perfect right now because I’m already better than I was. Not only do I still do the morning pages, but I finally found a morning routine I love. I’ve attempted a routine so many times in the past, never finding one that stuck. Yet, here I am, with a two-hour routine I do more often than not and feel really out of sorts on days I don’t. I am hoping to build it into a full, daily routine, but considering earlier this year I’d have to go back to sleep after my morning pages, 2 hours is awesome. I don’t even nap at all any more, unless I have a cold.

I still have a ways to go, but it’s easy to feel grateful for even the smallest victories right now.

I’ve also been lucky in that I’ve been surrounded by supportive people this year and have health insurance which covers many resources I’ve needed. It’s been a tough, but I have never felt luckier or more blessed. I’ve still had my moments of depression and feeling hopeless, but it’s hard to stay that way when I’ve also felt contentment for the first time in my life. I know that this year was to clear the rubble and start building a better foundation for the future. That’s exciting.

In August, I judged an art show and since September I’ve taught two classes of home school kids on Fridays and I have a workshop in Holland scheduled for the beginning of April. I went to Arkansas again and I had my art in a gallery in October/November. The Alliance Français De St. Louis has invited me to hang my work in their building in January. There might even be an MFA program in my future.

I may have slept all year, but the universe has definitely been working on my behalf, putting opportunities in front of me that I have just had to find the energy to show up for. To be fair, that took everything I had, but the universe never called me lazy or accused me of making it do more than it’s share.

About Elisha

Elisha Dasenbrock is an award winning, international watercolor artist. She paints with a limited palette on claybord. Dasenbrock graduated from the American Academy of Art in 2009 and has been painting professionally ever since.

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