Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Another 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, March 30, 2010

School Daze...

...not to be confused with School Days. Then again, they are one in the same right now. Craziness! This past week was Spring Break, but it didn't feel like much of a break as I had so much to do. I didn't go out of town like I wanted to, but I did take a few days off to sleep late and celebrate my birthday...thanks again for the birthday wishes everyone!

So school...yeah. What a realm of insanity it has been this semester, but I can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel (let's hope it's not that proverbial train everybody talks about) and my grades have improved, thank God. I am still struggling with Physical Science, but my teacher (have I mentioned that he's the FUNNIEST MAN EVER AND I HEART HIM?) is being very understanding and even says I am one of his best students *SNORT* ...surely he jests! Surely. I'll be very lucky to end that class with a B minus...that's what I'm hoping for. Mr. M is great though and I wish he could teach all of my college classes (except the art ones...I would very much like to keep my art teacher too, please and thank you)...

Speaking of art, I thought I would share one of my design projects. It is a Photoshop illustration that focuses on texture. I mentioned it a while back to a few friends and they are curious as to how this thing turned out. So, here's a preview...

I obviously still have some cleaning up to do, but this is the gist of illustration to go along with a poem that a young lady wrote in her English class. We did not get to choose the was random selection. Well lucky me, I ended up with a poem about sex. (This is the part where you laugh hysterically. Yes, let's have the celibate prude illustrate sex. That's a GREAT idea...)

OK, I'M A BIG GIRL...but yes I had to chuckle. I could see my friends doubled over laughing at the irony. I get picked on fairly regularly as it is, so I knew this was a field day for my peeps (who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty). :) Would I be less of a prude if I was in a serious relationship? Of course! I will admit that I am very awkward in general and I will also admit that it's a self-esteem issue, but sex is something that I take seriously in the long run, which is why I don't have it. It is sacred and meant to be shared in love. Again, that's LOVE. Not because I'm bored, not because my buddies are doing it, not selfish lust. LOVE. The real deal. So call me an awkward prude, but this is the mindset that I have purposely instilled in myself as a single woman, because I believe that it is the right thing [for me] to do.

Okie dokie?

Okie dokie.

So...the illustration! While this poem is not my genre of writing, it is intriguing, well written, and I give kudos to the young lady who had the boldness to write it. I can't share the poem with you because I don't have permission, but here is my description of the illustration:

Fantasm is about a woman’s dream of a dangerous one night stand with her polar opposite. The illustration shows the woman looking in her bedroom mirror to find a foggy, undefined image of a man. Her hand is touching the mirror (in close proximity to her lover’s heart...which wasn’t planned but I like it!) in anticipation. I purposely did not give a face to either character, because it forces the viewer to analyze it on a more personal level (Is it your face, perhaps? What if this was your dream? Who is the man in the mirror?), which creates further intrigue.

The colors have symbolic value. I originally planned to draw the woman nude, but I failed miserably so she’s wearing a gown, which I think worked out for the best. The color red represents danger, passion, and seduction, all of which fit perfectly with this piece. I knew from the beginning that I would make her bedroom walls dark blue. The symbolism of dark blue is very ironic – those of us who were alive in the 70’s and 80’s may remember that dark blue was the color of happiness and being in love. And in the world of art therapy, blue is consider an anti-depressant. However, in the TV and film industry, dark blue is a symbol of fear, loneliness, and despair (the greatest example of the use of these colors as symbolism is a movie that I have great appreciation for, the modern musical Moulin Rouge). I felt that this was the perfect background color for this illustration, as the poem describes a temporary, false sense of happiness (“gloomy smiles”, “morning boasted a lie”).

I was hoping to meet the writer of the poem before finishing the illustration, but did not get the chance. I did see her, however, so I decided to change the woman to have long, brown hair. Forgive me for my extreme lack of experience with computer-based illustration...this was my maiden voyage. The poem challenged me as it is not my genre of writing, but I certainly appreciate it for what it is and I give much applause to the writer. I hope that my visual interpretation has done it some level of justice.

Alrighty...well I know the quality of the illustration leaves much to be desired, but I am happy with the overall idea. I just hope the young lady that the finished piece will go to is not disappointed.

In other news, I am very relieved that my grade in Computer Applications has improved greatly, as I got an A in Excel and Powerpoint. WHEW!!! That class has been so much more stressful than it should be and I will be glad when it's over! And finally, English Comp II is going well and I have an A+.

So I'm in the last 5 weeks...the 7th inning stretch, so to speak. I'll take whatever I can get but I'm really hoping to end up with 3 A's and a B. That's a long shot, but possible at this point. Wish me luck...I definitely need it!!!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Giveaway Winners!!!!!

1. Janie - Avon Set
2. Zeah - Clinique Duo
3. April - Crosstitch Kit
4. Stacy - Earrings
5. Cheryl - Bob Ross Print

CONGRATS EVERYONE!!!!! I'll contact each of you to get your mailing info!

Thanks so much for the birthday wishes and for playing! I'll do another giveaway soon, that will include my overseas friends! :)


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Kelli's Big Birthday Bash Giveaway!!!

It's 9:29 AM, and according to my birth certificate, I've been occupying this spinning ball of insanity post-womb for exactly 32 years. Crazy! I always reflect on my life on this day and it is a combination of bittersweet and hopeful. I'm grateful to God for sustaining me through a lot of tough stuff over the years. Life can be down right hard sometimes and He has saved me time and time again from literal physical death to extreme emotional turmoil and everything in between. I am thankful that He is with me in the good times AND the bad, and I know that I know that I know that I would not have made it to 32 without His faithful hand on my life each and every day. My prayer is that somehow, some way, I can make Him proud and fulfill the purpose that He has set aside for me...whatever that may be.

OKAY...TIME FOR A BIRFDAY GIVEAWAY!!! WOOOOOOOO! I have quite a few readers and growing, so I know you're out there...TIME TO DELURK, PEEPS! Come on...yoooou can dooooo it!!! :)

Here's what I'm giving away!

#1 - Avon Anew Full Size Gift Set

#2 - Clinique Duo

#3 - A lovely Crosstitching kit by The Gold Collection

#4 - A pair of sterling silver Swarovski crystal earrings (hand assembled by yours truly)

#5 - Last but not 8 x 10 Bob Ross print "Cabin by the Pond"

These prints are NOT sold anywhere, but I have a few of these lovelies to give away this year. :)

So how do you win? Well for starters, you need to be in the U.S. or Canada (sorry international peeps! I LOVE YOU)! Next, there are three ways to enter. You choose which you want to do, or do all three. Each one counts as an entry in the drawing!

1. Post a comment here telling me where you're from and a little bit about yourself.

2. Follow me by subscribing on your Blogger Dash or adding me as a Google Connect friend.

3. Post about this giveaway to your friends on your blog, Facebook, Twitter...wherever! And let me know that you did (post the link, if you will please).

The entry period will end on Saturday, March 27th at 11:59 PM Central Daylight Time.


Friday, March 12, 2010

School stuff, health stuff, and tough stuff...

I apologize once again for the hiatus. Life has been very, very crazy. It still is, and there's no end to the craziness in sight. Even if I had time to blog over the past week and a half, I doubt that I could have found the words. I still haven't, and I'm merely rambling right now, but it is something that I need to do.

There are a lot of things that I'm struggling with lately...things of varying importance...things that I know I must face.

Some of the stuff is easier to face than other stuff.

Some of it, I simply don't want to face.

Some of it, I just don't know how. I guess that applies to most of it, really, but I'm making an attempt to process it...which as usual, leads me to blogging it out.

School has been really tough this time around. I know I blogged about last semester and how I thought it was going to kill me, but THIS semester...dear Lord...this semester has been so much harder. I've come close to dropping out altogether due to my health, but I'm determined to get through it even if I have to crawl. I'm at risk for failing one of my classes, and it's hard not to be very upset about it. I don't want anyone to think that I'm whining about school because God KNOWS that I am so very grateful to be there. So, so grateful. But it has been a rocky road thus other way to say it. It's just the truth.

But I am so incredibly blessed. I sit here with tears going down my face as I type this, because while I am miserable and struggling and my grades are not what they should be, my teachers are being ever so kind. I have emailed a couple of them off and on, very concerned because of my low grades and confusing assignments. They both have shown me great mercy, to the point of letting me turn stuff in late with no penalty and even curving my grades a bit. I absolutely do not deserve it, and I sit here sobbing, so thankful that God gave me such favor with these people. I'm just awestruck with every one of my teachers so far...they are positively super and I appreciate their patience with me so much. I am a strong believer that teachers can make or break a student's school career, and since returning to school in 2008, I have been greatly blessed by teachers who didn't give up on me. To bring some new readers back up to date...I attended my first semester of school in summer of 08. A ten week semester. I was out for nearly three weeks due to an acute kidney obstruction resulting in two surgeries. I returned to school failing two out of four classes, and two of my teachers expressed concern that I wouldn't catch up. My other two teachers said just keep moving forward and we'll do what we have to do to get you caught up. It was my English professor that talked me into not dropping out, and through a great deal of hard work (AND NO SLEEP!), I walked away with 2 A's and 2 B's...on the Dean's list with a 3.75 GPA.

My next semester was in fall of 2009. I started school in bad shape with my health, and it continued to decline until I was barely functional by the end of the semester. I had flipped back into Renal Acidosis complete with nausea, weakness, kidney and bone pain and was in a severe abortive attack of Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis. I was also in Hypertension, Tachycardia, and desperately needing uterine surgery. I was sick ALL. THE. TIME. I was walking in a disoriented fog, and I nearly collapsed at school on several occasions (it has happened before...thank God it didn't this time). Again, it was the mercy of my teachers that kept me going, and I ended up with straight A's and a freaking 4.0 GPA. I absolutely could not believe it. How in the world...

Now I'm in my 3rd semester. I had surgery the first week of school, and have been more ill than I have been in years, but I'm trying to hang in there. Sometimes I think school is killing me and I'm not doing nearly as well as I should be, but again I'm blessed with absolutely wonderful teachers that I would not trade for the WORLD. I want to KEEP them. I'm going to MISS them when I leave. This school has greatly redeemed itself from the problems they gave me years ago, and it is because of these people that I now love this place.

So now what? The school year is drawing to a close, and I have to figure out what to do. I had to drop drawing this semester (still devastated about that) but I hope to take it during the summer. I am concerned, though, that I won't do well. I see the drawings that are currently on display and I know that I am NOWHERE CLOSE to that. I can't even fathom achieving what I'm seeing. I just don't know. Maybe I worry too much (ok it's not a maybe) but I feel very inadequate in the art department. I love it and don't want to be anywhere else, but sometimes I don't think I'll ever be good enough. Good enough for what, or for who, I don't know. It's just a general feeling, I guess. In a way, I want to show the naysayers (I do have some) that I can accomplish this. I also want to make my teacher, my family, and friends proud and not let them down. As for me, it is a childhood dream, and whether I'm good at it or whether I suck, I don't really know. I just know that I don't have the heart to quit. So I have to figure out what to do and where to go from here. Could you say a prayer for me that I'll make the right decision where school is concerned? I would appreciate it.

I have readers who have asked, so I suppose it's time for a health update. I had made an hour of video explaining my conditions and what has been going on with me over the past 16 months, especially in January which was my worst month in years. Unfortunately, the videos are not uploading. I don't have a clue why, they're just not. So I'm stuck giving you a summary until I either figure out the issue or transcribe the videos. I'll decide soon which one I'll do, but for now, here's the scoop: I have systemic disease which includes two primary conditions, Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis and Renal Tubular Acidosis. These conditions cause a chain reaction of other conditions throughout the body that lead to organ failure if not tightly controlled. As of right now, they are not under control. I had a significant relapse in September of 2008 and have been declining ever since. After having uterine surgery in January of this year (pre-cancer removal, D&C, and ablation), I declined even more and was in bad shape. My pH was 4.5 to 5.5, dangerously low. My potassium level dropped and my muscles were extremely weak and absolutely excruciating. I couldn't sit up for more than a few hours a day. I was sick and nauseated all the time. I was having constant heart palpitations and a fast heart rate (Tachycardia), and I was very disoriented.

I went to the doc, who happened to be brand new and not familiar with my condition, so she wasn't comfortable with my request for increased potassium therapy. On the way home, it suddenly hit me that my decline began when I stopped taking a specific drug called Avapro. Avapro is irbesartan, an angiostensin II receptor antagonist, and it is used to not only treat Hypertension, but kidney disease as well (something that I did not know until now, and my doc didn’t put 2 and 2 together either). It occurred to me that when I switched from that drug to a different drug to treat my Hypertension is when I flipped back into Renal Acidosis, resulting in completely losing control of the Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis (because the diseases...both primary in my off of each other). I immediately drove to the office of my internal medicine specialist, which I had not seen in over a year, and made an appointment. She agreed wholeheartedly with this discovery and I am back on Avapro ($90 freaking dollars a month...God help me). I have also increased my potassium intake drastically...starting by tripling it and now quadrupling it. I have seen an instant improvement since doing this, and while I am not out of the woods, I am doing much better than I was and I expect to improve over time (whereas I was declining rapidly before) as you can imagine, this is HUGE. Unbelievable whirlwind of events. My head is still spinning from it all. And again, I am definitely not up to par yet and it may take a while, so I would greatly appreciate your prayers. I have a long way to go, but I am so thankful that I'm seeing better days again. I cannot describe the relief. I have cried bitterly over losing nearly two more years of my life to this disease, but I have hope again, and that is priceless.

For those who want to know, a comparison of meds lists:

Before February: Klor-Con 10MEQ once a day, Lisinopril 5MG once a day, Flexeril 10MG PRN, Tramadol 50MG PRN, Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda in water) several times a day (once I discovered I was back in acidosis), Calcium Carbonate (tums) as needed for acid reflux, Provera (until surgery in longer taking). None of the above was doing its job and I continued to go downhill.

Meds now: Klor-Con 40 MEQ a day, Avapro 150MG once a day, Flexeril 10MG at night...THAT'S IT! I live with terrible pain but with my kidneys currently in jeopardy, I'm not allowed to take any pain meds (and don't like to anyway). I am still having significant muscle issues and believe that I will eventually have to up my potassium to 60 MEQ a day, but I am doing it gradually. I am still not out of acidosis but it has improved and I'm only a point away from normal. Once my pH is normal, I'll get out of this frustrating mental fog I've been living in for months. Thank God! I'm also now on a low sodium and low glycemic diet (as per the new HypoKPP studies). Thanks to the Avapro, my Tachycardia is infrequent now and my Hypertension is under control again! HUGE!!!

More on this stuff later via video blogs if I can ever get them to upload...wish me luck! Please though, if you have ANY questions, don't hesitate to ask!

Ok, time for some stuff that I am having a really hard time talking about. I've been struggling with feelings lately...feelings that I haven't had in years. Feelings that I don't like and don't exactly know how to deal with yet. I have felt so free and so thankful since my divorce. Anyone who knows me knows that I have, and I still do. However, I have been feeling noticeably lonely over recent months...more so than I have in many years. It came out of nowhere, like a 90 mph curve ball, and let's just say that I am terrible at baseball. Because I am. Just terrible at this.

I hate to even type the word "lonely". It doesn't suit me at all. I am very independent-minded and I am usually content being the lone ranger. I have been for years and not only has it not bothered me, I've embraced it. But I'm finding lately that nights are becoming more difficult. On top of that, days are becoming more difficult as well. I have felt sad over having no one to love, harass, and share life with. It is so unlike me that it scares me. I've even shed tears over it. I don't like to think about this, but I know I have to face it in order to resolve it, so I'm finally putting it out there.

And no, this is not a plea, nor is it an invitation...just an observation. I am not looking for a man. :) Not by any stretch of the imagination. I think that would, in fact, be the WRONG thing to do. I've turned down dates over the past few years (even a spontaneous marriage proposal, oddly enough) and I don't regret it one bit, because I know in my heart that it was the right decision. And I still believe that being single is the right decision, but it has suddenly become a decision that is hard to accept...right or not. It makes me upset that I suddenly feel this way again. Everybody wants to be loved and everybody wants to be happy, but I was ok with merely being content and grateful (and I am still very grateful for what I have…I am not taking anything for granted). I’ve been unusually depressed lately, though, and it occurred to me the other day when I was at a restaurant alone that I was subconsciously wishing that I had someone beside me to talk to. Not really just talk to, but someone to have a genuine, intimate conversation with, someone to laugh with, someone to share my burrito with (ok, they can get their own burrito...heh). Cheesy? Yes. But it’s how I felt at the time, and that’s when I realized that I was experiencing a loneliness that I had not seen in years. A few nights later, I got out of my car and looked up at the sky, and there were a million stars out. It was awesome! But I couldn’t help but wish that someone I loved was there looking up at the stars with me. My heart sank a little and I wanted to run away or somehow escape the feeling because I feel guilty for feeling that way at all when I am so blessed. Life isn’t making sense to me right now.

Love is a gift that is defined by giving, not receiving. What do I have to give?

My life is complicated. Why would I ask someone that I love to share it? Unfair, I’d say. About like subjecting them to poverty and strife in the wilderness when a lush paradise is waiting for them right around the corner. Just seems absurd, you know? The grass is greener on the other side, they say. And no matter how much someone claims that they care and my issues (health and otherwise) don’t matter, it matters. It always matters.

My head is not in the clouds. As hard as it can be sometimes, I choose to live in reality. I am an impossible dreamer who lives a very non-fiction existence. Sounds paradoxical, but it is the way I am.

So I guess that’s it. That was hard to write, but I’m throwing it out into cyberspace. It is my way of processing it. Dealing with it is another matter, however, and I am making it a matter of prayer. That’s all I can do, but at the same time, it is the best thing that I can do. I am forever thankful that I know a God who loves me unconditionally in spite of my many, many flaws. I don’t understand it all, but I know the one who does. He sees the big picture, and holds the very blueprint of my life in the palm of His hand.

God help me to be strong. I can’t do this without you.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

It could all be gone in an instant...

I was driving to a meeting yesterday in the pouring rain when a car several yards in front of me hit the brakes. I did the same, but my car didn't stop. I hydroplaned those several yards and I braced myself for what I knew would be a very bad accident. But somehow, my car stopped just short of slamming into the back of theirs. Mere inches, friends. I'd say two or three. That's how close I was to another (because I've had several already) life-changing accident. There would have been air bags. There would have been ambulances. There would have been thousands in hospital bills...or worse.

But it stopped on a dime in the pouring rain after sliding several yards down the the nick of time.

Don't tell me there's no such thing as angels. I know better.

The driver in front of me turned slowly off the highway, as if they never saw me coming. As if it was all a dream. But it wasn' was all too real. A huge reminder of how fragile, unpredictable, and mortal this life is.

Embrace it, for it could all be gone in an instant.

Thank you Heavenly Father for saving my life...once again.

~Psalm 91:11