Visual Journal – Connection

I went to a new mental health clinic.  A friend of mine drove me and I used my new light weight wheelchair.

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The clinic takes medicare and medicaid, so there were lots of older people and people with disabilities.  In the middle of the the parking lot, was an older woman in a wheelchair.  Her back was so hunched over that she had to tilt her head sideways to look at anything besides her lap.  She had one leg amputated below the knee.

As far as I could tell, she was by herself, dropped off by one of the non-emergency medical transport companies.  She looked so frail, but was also able to get around in what looked like an extremely heavy wheelchair — up and down the ramp, and over thresholds, into the clinic.  I needed help from with that from the friend who drove me there.

When the older woman saw my wheelchair, she was delighted.

I used to get lots of compliments and questions about my 3 wheel walker, an easily maneuverable thing that didn’t take up much space.  Then I became too unstable for it, so I started using the standard 4 wheel one.  I found that I missed the attention I got with my old walker — I guess I felt I was a cool handicapped person with the 3 wheel one.  None of us are immune to wanting a little attention and compliments.

Now I’m using a wheelchair most of the time.  I have a power chair for everyday use and a manual one for when I need a ride somewhere and can’t take the bus.

So, when this frail, friendly woman started complimenting my chair, it felt really good —  that she noticed me and took time to tell me, in her own way, I was lucky.  And, as often happens, when I go to clinics, I realized how much movement and mobility I still have.

I had a good session with my new psychiatrist, but I think the thing that felt best was my brief connection with this woman, her clothes tattered, her body bent, her eyes a milky blue, her life limited but so alive.  And though it was a short conversation, it lifted my spirits.  What people go through, what they survive — it seems like resentment would cloak us all, but over and over again, I see people find a way to shed bitterness and share their sweetness and light.

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In my journal, I tried to capture her glow as well as the golden autumn light that shone on our brief meeting.

~~~

Thanks for reading my post.  If you like it share it.  If you find a typo, please let me know and I’ll send you a thank-you postcard.  

You can now follow me on Instagram@joymurrayart and Twitter @joymurrayhere.  I no longer have a facebook account.

You can get prints and cards of some of my work on Redbubble.  They also print my work on lots of other items, including phone skins, tote bags, shirts and journals:

https://www.redbubble.com/people/JoyMurray?asc=u

If you’d like to support my art and writing, please consider becoming a donor on Patreon.  If I get enough supporters, I can make this blog ad-free!  Here’s a link to my Patreon page:

https://www.patreon.com/user?u=8001665

If you prefer to make a one time donation, you can do so at paypal.com  Please email me at joyzmailbox@gmail.com if you’d like details.

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Less Facebook, More Time in the Garden

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A dahlia bud starts like this

This week I took Facebook off my phone (though I still get alerts for some reason.)  I haven’t yet decided on whether or not to remove messenger.  I don’t mind people getting in touch with me through it.  It functions more like email.

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And it blooms like this.  You can see my sandal and footplate from my wheelchair.  

I found myself looking at my phone a lot for awhile, then remembering, there’s no stream of information.  Nothing to follow.  I read my email, maybe a blog, but then it’s back to reality, baby.

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I brought a lot to life, even though my own health degenerated.  Every day, this summer, I watered my front porch garden from my wheelchair and it just bloomed and bloomed.

A few days later, I took it off my kindle.  Now I don’t check facebook before I start to read.  I just start whatever book I’m reading and become engaged in a long insightful story.   Or, I pick up an actual paper book, and let myself get lost in another person’s story, or the story of natural history, or the way our brains work.

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I went with a friend to see the giant Art Outside installations of Brook’s Museum of Art
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Installed on an abandoned building on E H Crump Bvd
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The original painting at the Brooks has always been a favorite of mine — William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Au pied de la falaise (At the Foot of the Cliff), 1886

Now the only place I can check facebook is by sitting down at my desk and deliberately looking at it, checking on a few people.  I read a post that seemed pretty benign, a joke, but turned into a lot of argumentative comments, and I turned the damned thing off.  Still, I felt residual anxiety about needing to inform the people I disagreed with.  As if that would make a difference.  They aren’t going to make a difference in the way I think.  Not in the small, hostile comment format.

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Another exhibit at the Brooks — Wednesday is free day

It’s an addiction, facebook.  I have an addictive personality, in many ways.  I also tend to fester over things that make me anxious, things I hear about from others.  I feel my own powerlessness over it all.  And yet, I keep on looking into that small screen of the world, and thinking I can somehow make a difference.  Or maybe it’s a kind of thrill seeking.

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How will she bear the weight of her hair? by Joy Murray 2017

My goal with my own facebook page was to share my art, share others’ art, and add a little bit of beauty to other people’s day.  I shared serious matters, too.  I found a community of people dealing with long term disabilities like me.  But it all got overwhelming in this past year.  Maybe the whole world was going to hell in a handbasket.  All that anguish, it colored my life.

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The Fragile Nature of Delight by Joy Murray

Then I realized I can do all I want to do online with just my blog, and by reading other people’s blogs.  Blogs are more thoughtful, I think.  We take a little more time, it’s more lie an essay.   It’s a long deep breath, not a short sharp gasp.

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Still She Rises by Joy Murray 2016

There were so many times this week that I thought, I should put that on facebook.  I’ve become used to looking at the world in terms of whether it will make a good facbook picture/post.  The first few days, it really was like withdrawal.  What will I do with all my photos?

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Hibiscus, Morning Glory, and City Street

Well, I found I could edit my photos a little bit.  And then if I want I can share them here, with you.  Friends who support and make time for me.  Comments can be made here.  Communication can happen.  There are no algorithms to worry about.

I’m happy if people share my blogs on facebook or twitter or reblog them.  But my job is to deepen and improve my art.  That’s what I can do to make the world a better place.  Open my eyes to it all, paint and write.

And share.

Thanks to all the new subscribers and Patreon supporters.  I hope we all take a deep breath, hold on to our sanity, and take some time to see what it blooming all around us.

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I saw Delight by Joy Murray

~~~

Thanks for reading my post.  If you like it share it.  If you find a typo, please let me know and I’ll send you a thank-you postcard.  

You can get prints and cards of some of my work on Redbubble.  They also print my work on lots of other items, including phone skins, tote bags, shirts and journals:

https://www.redbubble.com/people/JoyMurray?asc=u

If you’d like to support my art and writing, please consider becoming a donor on Patreon, a monthly donation platform that helps pay for internet service, art supplies and living expenses.  A little bit each month goes a long way.  If I get enough supporters, I can make this blog ad-free!  Here’s a link to my Patreon page:

https://www.patreon.com/user?u=8001665

If you prefer to make a one time donation, you can do so at paypal.com  Please email me at joyzmailbox@gmail.com if you’d like details.

Drawing Myself

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August 29, Joy Murray

People often ask what’s wrong with me, or more rudely, “What happened to you?!?”  I try to give as short of an answer as possible because my story is complex and I know most people don’t want to hear all that.  “I have a degenerative disorder,” is my standard answer.

But terms and words jangle around people, and I caught myself wondering about these things, how to describe myself and others with dignity — you know short of just calling them by their name.  I usually don’t ask about a person’s physical make-up, unless I see someone in a cast or with stitches that weren’t there before.  And I know them and care for them.

Anyway, I had to go three places yesterday where using a wheelchair wasn’t an option.  I wonder sometimes when I’m in a wheelchair permanently, how I’ll get places.  I’m working on it, checking out medical transport and the Memphis PLUS bus.  But for now, I can still hobble a bit.  So sometimes I do — but only when others are with me, in case I fall and can’t get back up.

When I got settled and rested, I drew myself with a handy cap.

It cheered me considerably.

~~

Thanks for reading my post.  If you like it share it.  If you find a typo, please let me know and I’ll send you a thank-you postcard.  

You can get prints and cards of some of my work on Redbubble.  They also print my work on lots of other items, including phone skins, tote bags, shirts and journals:

https://www.redbubble.com/people/JoyMurray?asc=u

If you’d like to support my art and writing, please consider becoming a donor on Patreon.  If I get enough supporters, I can make this blog ad-free!  Here’s a link to my Patreon page:

https://www.patreon.com/user?u=8001665

If you prefer to make a one time donation, you can do so at paypal.com  Please email me at joyzmailbox@gmail.com if you’d like details.