I am aware that I am less than some people prefer me to be,
but most people are unaware that I am so much more than what they see.
— Douglas Pagels

Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye (and good riddance) 2010! Happy New Year 2011!!!

Happy New Years Eve! If you're new to My Roller Coaster Life, I'm Kelli and I have been blogging for nearly 10 years now in various places on the world wide web. Every new year, I create a list of goals (or resolutions, if you want to call them that) for the upcoming year. Then on New Years Eve, I review them and post new goals for the upcoming year. Thanks for reading and wish me luck!


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A Recap of 2010 Goals:
1. Continue college education 
Holy School Daze, Batman! 25 hours down, 4.0 GPA.

2. Return to Florida for Bob Ross training (either Florals cert or Landscape/Seascape audit) 
It darn near killed me, but I did it. I still can't believe it.

3. Become more organized in every aspect of my life 
I will give myself half credit for this one. I came nowhere near being organized in EVERY aspect, but in some, yes.

4. Find a way to pay off some medical bills 
I paid off my primary physician, but have the rest of my life to go in medical payments elsewhere. Systemic disease sucks.

5. Put a significant dent in one or more manuscripts 
Didn't touch them. Didn't have time!

6. Knock out at least one item on my 2010 Bucket List 
I am collecting postcards again. I am forever learning to draw. I increased my volunteer work. I have plenty more to accomplish, but I guess this is enough to say I completed the goal.
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And away we go...the new list!

The Mainstays (aka the stuff that's ongoing and on my list every year):

Reach/maintain a healthy weight and keep blood panel numbers at an acceptable level. Losing twelve pounds and lowering LDL cholesterol levels are on the agenda in 2011. I've done it before so I hope to do it again despite my significant decline in health and increase in meds.

Stay involved in one or more charities/ministries. No problem. It gives me a reason to live.

Read more, write more, and learn more. Most definitely. As I said last year about this, it's inevitable as I am in college! :-)


Be a good friend and relative. This is always my prayer.


Goals For 2011:

1. Figure out what to do about my college degree, and make it happen.

2. Road trip out of state to visit family and meet my new niece due to arrive in March!

3. Increase and become more organized in my teaching business.

4. Decrease my debt, whatever it takes.

5. Put a dent in one of my manuscripts...article, short story, fiction, non-fiction...who cares! Just work on something!!!

6. Remain honest and aware, pray, and strive to improve myself each and every day.


I decided not to list getting well as a resolution, because I am doing my best. God will have to do the rest.


I will be going into great detail about 2010 and beyond in a separate entry. It has been a challenging and sometimes very difficult year, and I need to get it out of my system so I can do my best to move forward.

I wish each and every visitor to my website a safe and happy 2011! Hugs and blessings to you all!

Love,
Kelli

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mentoring Project

Who knew I would be in college at my age?

Who knew that I would ever join a fraternity?

Not me, that's for sure.

I stick out like a sore thumb in Phi Theta Kappa. I remember meeting the PTK-lady-in-charge for the first time. She immediately encouraged me to transfer to a Mississippi university, and informed me that PTK could benefit me through scholarships and other perks if I participated enough. I let her know that I'm in my 30's and that I won't be moving to a big university in Mississippi, but I am joining because my friend Andrea was involved and doing a lot of volunteer work, and that was something that I'd like to be a part of. I sat in her office and filled out the application for membership.

As she took my money, she asked "What are you majoring in?"

"I'm an art major", I replied.

I will never forget her expression as she looked down at me through her reading glasses. She appeared utterly disgusted by my choice. As if an "art major" was not worthy of being in her presence, much less joining her honor society. Her tone of voice even changed. It was almost funny.

I could have taken my sixty bucks elsewhere, but I didn't. I told myself that if she doesn't have an open mind or an appreciation for all majors, including the fine arts, it is her loss. I didn't join for her and I didn't join for the title of PTK member. Heck, I haven't been to one meeting, haven't applied for one scholarship, and don't have a clue where that little pin is that they gave to me when I was inducted. I imagine it's in one of my dresser drawers, collecting dust.

But almost every time I get an email from this lady concerning a charity or volunteer project, I'm on it. Usually anonymously. But this time, someone will see my face and my name, so the pressure is on. I am mentoring a young lady in a middle school on the Mississippi Delta. I just sat up all night and read this book...



...and I will crawl out of my sick bed and drop it off at school tomorrow, where it will then be sent to the young lady. She will read it, then we will meet and discuss via internet. I will encourage her to keep reading, stay in school and make good decisions. This is right up my alley. I love kids and I love mentoring. I guess it's the wannabe-mom in me, but I've always been the type. I want to help. I want people to be happy...to succeed in life. I want to make a difference. This is what gets me out of bed. THIS is where I belong.

So whether or not I'm good enough for the lady with the PhD who rules the honor society roost is meaningless.

I want to be good enough for a 12 year old named Kiarius.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Glass

I will never get used to systemic disease.

Or the burden of needles, powders, and pills.

Or the constant pain and exhaustion.

Or the chronic debilitating weakness.

Or the bizarre and unpredictable symptoms.

Or the realization and frustration of so many limitations.

Or the fear of others not understanding.

Or the feeling of urgency in living and loving with all that I have, because I know it could all be over in an instant.

I will never get used to systemic disease.

But I will never forget to be thankful for blessings of hope, mercy and grace in each and every day.

A priceless gift given to me in spite of myself...my painfully obvious flaws...my overwhelming humanness.

The glass is half full, in spite of all circumstances.

May I choose to see with eternal perspective.

May my heart forever be grateful.

May I never take life for granted.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Kidneys don't know how to tell time...

Another kidney stone.

Right kidney is killing me.

Praying it passes asap or goes dormant again.

This is terrible timing as I have so much to do this week and this month altogether.

As if there's ever a "good time" to have a kidney stone.

I have no idea how many I've passed now. I lost count at 30.

I feel like I'm living in prison. Bound by disease. Behind bars of disability.

I don't know why I was chosen to walk this road, or why God allows it.

But I know I'm not alone, even when I feel that way.

And I count my blessings in spite of it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

DRUM ROLL PLEASE...



I'm going to have a niece and she's due the week of my birthday! WOOHOO!!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

After nearly 33 years on this spinning ball of insanity...

...I'm FINALLY gonna be



WOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Spoon Theory - A MUST READ!

Click here to read The Spoon Theory written by Christine Miserandino

This is utterly BRILLIANT and absolutely true for all who live with Systemic Disease. Thank you Christine for helping others to understand our daily lives!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Wish you were here, little boy...



Written on the sands of Daytona Beach a few weeks ago:
Max Edward 10/17/95 - 6/18/96

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Save The Gulf of Mexico

As I'm sure you've all heard, there was a terrible tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, resulting in millions of gallons of hazardous oil continuously gushing into our waters and spreading.

My cousin was working on a rig when the explosion happened. He was one of the first responders, and is still out there now. I am so thankful that he is alive, but others are not. First and foremost, please pray for the loved ones of the eleven people who lost their lives in this terrible accident.

And of course, those of us who live on the Gulf Coast greatly appreciate your thoughts and prayers as the oil arrives on our shorelines. I live right on the Gulf of Mexico on the Mississippi/Alabama state line, where my family has been in the seafood industry forever. We are heartbroken to see our coast once again devastated, less than five years after losing everything in Hurricane Katrina. This one is a little different, as it is a man-made disaster that continues to get worse every day, and there is little that we can do to help. I wish it was as easy as going to the beach with soap and towels, but this is an extremely complex situation involving uncontrolled hazardous material. Only those trained and licensed to handle the oil, tar, and affected animals are allowed to lend a hand. I understand this completely, but it doesn't make it any easier to sit back and watch our livelihoods at risk yet again.

On top of daily weather forecasts on the news, we are now receiving daily "oil spill forecasts". It is truly sad.

Pray for us, friends. If you would like to stay up to date on the oil spill from a local Gulf Coast source, there is a group on Facebook that is going strong. Click below to check it out.



Many thanks to all around the world for your thoughts, prayers, and support during this stressful time.

Kelli

Monday, May 31, 2010

A few paintings...

Still in training at the Bob Ross Art Workshop. Love it! It has been very, very hard on me physically but I wouldn't trade it for the world. I am no great artist, that is for sure, but here are a few paintings that I have worked on over the past couple weeks...







(I'm sure this goes without saying, but these images are copyrighted by law and may not be used in any way. Thanks!)

I have to say that this certification is about the same as the first...I'm having good days and bad days. Florals Cert is more technical, though, so it is tougher in some ways than Landscapes. You can paint a happy tree on a hill and if it looks like a tree on a hill in any way shape or form, you're usually A-OK. But if your pansies look like giant mustached flower monsters? NO. Just no.

I swear I laugh my butt off every time I look at my pansies...they are THAT funny. My roses are a little creepy too. I have a LOT of work ahead of me before I am worthy of teaching this technique...that is for sure. But I have hope that I will eventually get it.

Four days left. Then home again to the Gulf Coast. I haven't ignored our oil spill situation, just haven't had time to blog about it yet...I will eventually.

Hugs to all.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Passion Matters!



(At the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse in beautiful Ponce Inlet, not far from the Bob Ross Art Workshop in Florida)


I have to give kudos to the folks at the Bob Ross Art Workshop for making these long road trips to Northeast Florida worth the time and money. Their business is very well operated and their certification training is extraordinary. And they're just darn sweet, too! It is such a relief, because as someone who lives waaaay below the poverty level, this pursuit has been a serious step of faith. Five years ago, if someone had told me that I would be a Bob Ross painting instructor today, I would have laughed in their face with utter disbelief.

I'm a left-brainer with no natural artistic talent. My first certification was in Office Administration. I've run so many different offices, I could write a book (and plan to, thankyouverymuch). I like non-fiction such as history, biographies, law, and medicine. I'm slightly (or maybe definitely...) OCD about order, symmetry, and correctness. I'm a nostalgic, introverted, internet-savvy office nerd. I have systemic disease that leaves me with poor motor skills, severe pain, endless exhaustion, and the occasional brain fog. But in the midst of that, I have managed to stay on the President's List in college ever since I started a few years ago. I have to admit, of course, that does not include a lot of math. It is my Achilles' heel and will ultimately be the downfall of my 3.9 GPA. But I digress...

I say all of this to say that I am proof that if a person truly has a passion for art, they can train to be an artist. You don't have to be born with it. Some people are, and that's awesome. Some people, like myself, can't draw a straight line for nothin'! If you are like me, please be encouraged by the fact that art is an outlet available to everyone, and you CAN learn it. If you love art and wish you could do it - DO IT! Take the plunge! Throw your fear of failure out the window and give it a try. You may find, like I did, that it's not all about drawing straight lines. PASSION MATTERS! And like Bob always said...with patience and practice, you can make it happen. I am making it happen...by the grace of God, the love of family and friends, and the support of my wonderful students...my childhood dream is in progress. It is overwhelming. It is hard. It is humbling. It is amazing. It is the gold at the end of my rainbow.

Life sure has its surprises, doesn't it? It has its ups and downs, and my trees aren't always happy, but I am thankful and blessed to be where I am today. Alive. Mostly functional. Doing better than expected in some ways...worse in other ways...but that's the way it goes. I am forever striving to keep things in perspective, be grateful, and seize the day.

Today is a gift. That's why they call it the PRESENT. :)

God bless, and talk to you soon.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cool Flowers





I'm in Northeast Florida on Bob Ross Instructor business and had my camera handy when I passed by these beauties. Anybody know what they are?

(Click to see in larger view)

Thanks in advance!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Design Project...Sunflower



Middle Panel: Original colors of photo reference
Two surrounding it: Color complements
Two surrounding those: Opposite value
End panels: Opposite chroma

20 x 24 illustration board, 3 inch mat mounted on foam board

Going in a student show next week! :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I'm gonna miss this place

I have to say that 2010 has been a little difficult so far, and I'm really struggling in school this semester. The full time schedule and the classes have been hard to deal with. I'm making lower than expected grades in two of my academic classes, and it is very disheartening. I'm also still not well most mornings, so I'm barely making it through Design without being sick. It is hard to pretend that I'm not miserable. I want so much to be a good student and make everyone proud, but right now I'm not doing that. The exhaustion and frustration nearly brings me to tears, and at the present time I feel that I'm not cut out for this college thing at all. I'm tired, in terrible pain, and unusually depressed. I don't want be this way.

But I count my blessings daily. I know I'm lucky to be in college at all. My God, this is my third or fourth attempt for crying out loud. And I'm here, in school, learning the elements of design like I always wanted. Sometimes I stand in that room and look around, and all I can do is shake my head, hold back the tears, and say thank you. It is surreal. I'm finally here. And when it's time to go, I'm gonna miss this place.

There are days when I love being at school and being around everyone. There are days when I want to adopt half the people in the art department because they just flat out make my heart smile. Being involved in the club gives me a reason to get out of bed, and I pray that I can somehow make a positive impact. I don't take a minute for granted, because I know that someday soon, I'm gonna miss this place.

There are days when I get aggravated, upset, and stressed out. There are days when I can't stand the thought of getting out of bed to go. There are days when I feel like I don't belong and I'm not worthy of anyone's time. I get so frustrated with myself and sometimes others. But in the midst of all of these feelings, I remind myself of where I've been and where I am now, and I know how much I'm gonna miss this place.

I may crawl away with lousy grades, but I'm gonna keep trying. God bless my teachers for bearing with me. I love them for it. So I will continue to hang in there as best as I know how. I'm here and I'm thankful. I care too much and I've worked too hard to give up now.

And on top of that...I'm really, really gonna miss this place.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

To Write Love On Her Arms



Helping those suffering from depression, self-affliction, and suicidal tendencies. Join the movement at http://www.twloha.com.


(P.S. - Henna tattoo, left arm)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

School and Teaching Update

I have a lot of blogging to catch up on, but I also have a lot of schoolwork to do, and that takes priority. While I have a minute, however, I figured I would ramble about this semester and my teaching gigs:

Surgery went very well on January 4th, but I returned to school this semester in horrid shape with the Periodic Paralysis...the worst I have been in years. I could barely lift my arms and legs at times and I was constantly nauseated and disoriented. I realize now that I should have gone to the ER, but hindsight is 20/20. My condition continued to decline and I had to withdraw from my Drawing class - broke my freaking heart. Also pissed me off. A lot.

Thankfully, I have had a tremendous breakthrough in my condition, and while I have a long way to go in getting it under control again, I'm half way there.

So I returned to school, and I'm trying my best to catch up. I have 13 hours (after dropping Drawing)...English Comp II, Computer Apps, Physical Science I, and Design II.

English II is nothing but writing. Writing writing writing. Somebody told me last semester that it was mostly reading and discussing literature. WRONG. It's writing, with a side order of writing, and writing for dessert. Writing. Can you feel the excitement? I'm a writer, yes, but not of topics that I care nothing about, and not on a deadline. But I am this semester. So suck it up, Kelli, and start writing.

Computer Applications is a necessary evil. I took $1200 worth of Microsoft Office classes a few years ago, only to have Office 2007 come out a month later and it be DIFFERENT from what I had just taken. Thank you, freaking Microsoft. So now I'm learning Office 2007 Professional. Evil. But necessary.

Physical Science is taught by none other than the man who taught Chemistry at my high school when I was there 16 years ago! What are the odds of that? He is a HOOT...funniest teacher ever! I absolutely LOVE him! The course is freaking me out somewhat...has a lot of math and I can't do higher math. I aced the first quiz ONLY because a friend tutored me prior to the test. I would have most definitely failed otherwise! WHEW...

Design II is of course my LOVE. It is extremely frustrating right now (partly due to being behind and partly due to being more sick and miserable than usual), but I am trying my best to hang in there and not drive my teacher batty.

TEACHING! Yes, I'm going to be teaching again starting this Saturday. Thank the Lord that I'm gonna be able to do it. It is my only income (and a low one at that), so canceling classes really hurt me. I look forward to returning to Hobby Lobby in Mobile and Biloxi...I love my students!!! They are the best...truly...I am so blessed!

This is Seascape Month in Mobile. I will be teaching the wave in our first class and then we will do it again in a more detailed seascape in the second class. I have a full class in Mobile and had to stop advertising...that's a good problem! I'm working hard to keep it going.

If my health continues to improve, I will be well enough to make the trip to Florida for my Bob Ross Florals certification. This will open up new doors and double my class load (and income) if I can pull it off. Praying that I can make this dream a reality this summer!

I guess that's all for now. I need and appreciate your continued prayers, friends. Talk to you soon.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The fight is on

Seems like it's been a while since I've blogged. I can say for sure that this has been one of the longest months of my life. I can't believe it's still January...feels like it should be at least mid February by now. I've been wanting to blog, but haven't been able to find the words. Or at the very least, the words I did have weren't worth repeating. That's more like it.

I'm at a very low point in life. So sick and tired and weak with this disease that I can't sit up for more than 5 or 6 hours at a time...yet I can't sleep either. I have officially crashed and burned. I knew it was coming but I couldn't do a thing about it. I'm physically and emotionally exhausted. Miserable. Lonely. Sick. Depressed. Angry. Weak. Tired. Wash, rinse, repeat...

I don't know what else to say about it. I just know that I don't want to be like this. This is not living. This is merely existing. And it's unacceptable.

I'm reading and researching and doing what I can to deal with my condition(s). I have two doc appointments this week - one is a surgery follow-up and the other will be with the internist to discuss more aggressive treatment for the Periodic Paralysis. She clearly doesn't understand the condition so I will be bombarding her with pages of info this time around. I realize that I'm a lowlife with no insurance (God forbid) but I'm sick and tired of the ignorance and carelessness of the medical community. If I have to find my voice and rant and rave to make these doctors care, so be it.

School is in session, but I've only attended two days so far and I barely made it through those. I knew that I was crashing and that I wouldn't be able to make it through the school day anymore, but my teacher encouraged me to try, so I did. Unfortunately, I had to drop my Drawing II class today. I'm going to try to survive Design II, but I don't know how well that's going to go. My teacher told me not to worry so much about it but that's easier said than done. I'm so thankful that he's working with me and I wish I could be a better student. I've had to back out of the art guild (which was also very important to me) in addition to dropping Drawing II. These people are having to deal with me at my worst right now, and I can't put the disappointment into words. I feel useless and defeated.

It seems like no matter how hard I try, my goals are simply not within my reach. I don't understand why it's so unreasonable when it all boils down to is trying to better myself and become independent. But once again, it feels like a pipe dream...something that will ultimately never happen. I hope I'm wrong. I do know that I am going to continue at JC for another year of academics as long as the financial aid is there, and hopefully I'll be able to jump back into Drawing II at that time as well. But after that, I don't have any idea what I am going to do. Physically speaking, I've become so limited that my options are flying out the window...I don't know if I have any left, honestly. But I can't give up.

I can't give up.

I can't.

I have to keep telling myself that every day.

Proverbs 29:18 says "Where there is no vision, people perish".

To stop trying is to start dying. To give up is to die.

I can't give up.

I won't give up.

But I'm hanging on for dear life, by a thread, and losing strength. I need your prayers. I cannot do this alone.

At times it is very difficult, but I'm doing my best to keep life in perspective. I am grateful in the midst of all of this, even if it's not showing right now.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Post-Surgery

Sitting up for a few minutes. Still very weak and in a lot of pain, but the meds have kicked in and I haven't been sick once (major shocker...hooray). Everyone at USA Children's and Women's Hospital was super nice. They took all of my risks into sincere consideration, and this is the best I've ever done post-surgery. They said that the surgery went much more smoothly than they expected. I'm so relieved and so, so thankful for everyone's thoughts and prayers.