Synesthesia, shingles and art: a strange trifecta of synthesis, beauty and pain.

This is a blog post I started in March but never completed. Oh how I can remember the agony of those long, miserable days and nights.

I never finished this post but feel compelled to share what I wrote weeks ago so that if you or someone you know comes down with the shingles, you will have a bit of insight as to the intensity of the pain. Thanks for reading.

As I type this, I am on day six of suffering with the shingles.

Not many people in my life know about this sudden onset of pain and itching that’s befallen me. Heck, I didn’t even have a clue what was going on with my health until last night.

That’s when the stabbing, burning pain under my lesion drove me to tears and forced me to check Google for my symptoms. The best way to describe the pain is this: it felt like my muscles were being torn apart and my rib bones being broken, over and over and over again.

At first, when I started feeling itchy, I thought this was simply a case of ant bites, or spider bites, or something else that could cause such a rash.

Then the weekend came and with it appeared the sharp, biting, burning pain. Nerve pain. Deep, ripping, bone-crushing nerve pain.

Oh. My. Goodness. And, last night was the absolute pits.

Normally I have a very high threshold for pain. When I had my wisdom teeth and one molar cut out of my head years ago, I didn’t need a pain pill. In fact, I didn’t feel much of anything.

This, however, tops any pain I’ve ever experienced.

After discovering that I had shingles, I got up out of bed last night, took some ibuprofen, got back in bed, and after midnight finally fell asleep.

When I awoke this morning, I realized that I’ve just got to manage getting through one day at a time and let this virus run its course.

 

Where does art come to play in this?

Well, since this past rainy and dreary Sunday I’ve begun painting again. Sensing an urge in my soul to get crazy with the colors and let myself express the color/number combination of my synesthesia, I took up the brushes and started experimenting with color and texture.

Painting has opened up a well of inspiration in my heart and, at the same time, has helped me to deal with having the shingles. The act of creating has taken my attention and diverted it away from the pain I’ve been feeling. Creativity has allowed me to tap something deep within and reconnect with a passion I’d long since forgotten.

On Saturday, I went to a local craft store and purchased some gloss fluid medium and some cheap canvas. I’d bought some modeling paste a week prior and had yet to experiment with them. So, Sunday afternoon I gathered my supplies and decided to try out both mediums on a small 5×7 canvas.

 

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When you’re “too much” for some people

This is going to be a bit of a stream-of-consciousness post, but something I need to get down on paper. (Or would that be “down on computer?”)

I’ve had something on my mind a lot lately. It is the fact that I am “too much” for some people.

Do you ever feel that way? Do you know what I’m even talking about?

Sometimes, in certain situations, it becomes glaringly obvious that I do not fit in. Well, make that more than sometimes. It’s true. I’m not mainstream nor do I want to be.

Couple my not-fitting-in with a fiery passion for what makes my soul sing and you’ve got a psychedelic peacock flashing her glittery feathers at the world.

The-eternal-trance-for-web

(Photo credit: louisdyer.com)

Not everyone likes that.

For a long time, this bothered me. In the 80s, I was me. Big hair, goth music and heavy black eyeliner defined who I was on the inside. I reveled in the 80s. The fashion and the makeup of the times spoke to my soul.

It was the first time in my young adult life that I felt real.

Later in life I felt like I needed to fit in, so throughout the 90s I did everything I could to conceal my inner sparkle. The job I held at the time required a certain look, you know, business suits and panty hose. No fun can ever be had wearing that kind of outfit.

When we were allowed to have casual Friday, I started wearing blue lipstick to the office.

Imagine walking into the Commissioner’s office of a State agency and encountering a secretary in blue lipstick. Yeah, that didn’t last very long…

Fast forward to now.

When I turned 50 a few years ago, something inside of me flipped. I had recently dropped a significant amount of weight and was about two sizes away from where I was in my 20s. This sparked a real change in my attitude about myself. I was entering the second half (or last third, who really knows) of my life…and I was smaller and feeling like a new person…so guess what?

I decided it was time to let myself shine.

Something about hitting 50 made me realize that I am okay just the way I am, right now, especially since I took the initiative to change my lifestyle and make self-care a priority.

What you see is what you get.

Though I had already been inching toward full self-expression, it took turning 50 to make me see that life is short and I have got to be, do, see, and experience everything right now. No one is guaranteed a tomorrow…and this becomes glaringly obvious once you hit the mid-century mark.

This particular morning I woke up thinking about how I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. This used to bother me tremendously, but now I don’t care.

So what if someone thinks my long, black hair is too much for a woman my age? I like it. I’m going to keep it, thank you.

So what if I decide to wear dark green lipstick out on the town and someone smirks at me? I don’t care. I like the lipstick and it looks good on me.

So what if society tells me I should be demure, cut my hair, wear pink, and do my best to fit in with what’s expected? I have a few choice words I could say here, but to keep this family friendly I’d like to say to those people: “Buzz off, mainstream drones, and buzz your opinions while you’re at it.”

Being too much for some people is something I’m learning to accept about myself. Day by day, it gets easier to embrace my eccentricities. After all, I’m an artist, a writer, a sometime ukulele player, and the publisher of a zine. I’m not, by nature, someone who chooses to shrink into the wallpaper at a function.

And, I treat my face like the canvas it is. You never know what I’m going to look like when we meet. That’s the beauty and power of makeup, and God alone knows how much I have in my possession.

Lipstick is a weapon, and I have an arsenal.

When you’re five feet nine inches tall, curvy, have hair that cascades down your back, and have an unusual face, you can’t fade. I tried years ago. It doesn’t work.

I’m fierce and I’m frightening, and I am okay with it. If someone doesn’t like me, they can keep walking. I don’t need anyone’s approval.

So, today and every day I wake up and decide just how I want to present myself to the world. And each day, I find great joy in being me and pushing the envelope just a little bit more.

While I don’t wear blue lipstick to work, I’m not afraid of purple.

And so it goes.

My hope for those reading this, those who feel the critical eye of the world upon them, is that you, too, will begin to feel freer to express who and what you are regardless of what society thinks.

We are living in a very good time, in one sense. We live in a world that is becoming more and more open to things that were once considered taboo, weird and unacceptable.

Because of this, take a moment to evaluate where you are in your life. Are you happy with the way you express yourself? Do you long for a chance to cut your hair, wear an entirely different wardrobe or take up the artistic endeavor that your heart has desired for years?

What’s stopping you? Do it. No matter what it is, do it. Do it now. Plan it out and go for it.

As you know, we aren’t promised tomorrow. That said, we can promise ourselves that no matter what may happen tomorrow, or even the next moment, we can be the authentic, colorful and fearless selves that we were born to be.

Who knows? If more of us did this very thing what kind of changes would we see in the world around us? Let’s work together to bring much needed color and love into the world.

Let’s show others that it’s our birthright to be unique. Let’s encourage each other to be our fully authentic selves.

Claim your birthright now, and let that freak flag fly.

 

 

 

The Books Are Here!

Copies of my first little book of poetry arrived today and I am so excited.

It is cool to see these poems put together in book form.

Flash Boom Bang is available now at Amazon.

Some of these poems came to me in the 1980’s and never left me.

Others are freshly written.

All show a side of me not often seen by the world.

My hope is that this little book of poems inspires the reader to create their own works and share them with the world.

Life is art. The world needs art.

Make your art and allow yourself to shine.

The Joy of Contentment

Lately, I’ve been feeling a sense of contentment like no other.

Have you felt this way before?

The feeling that all is well, life is good, there is no lack, all needs are met, and the world is a happy place?

It’s a good feeling, a fleeting feeling, but a feeling we should all embrace.

This feeling doesn’t happen for me very often, but so far in 2018 I’ve found myself living with the joy of pure contentment.

Have I been to thrift stores since the first of the year?

Yes.

Have I had luck finding really great stuff?

Yes.

(Oh those pewter Enzo wingtip brogues!)

Sigh.

Does the drive to treasure hunt consume my thoughts lately?

No.

And that’s okay.

I’ve discovered that it’s good to take a break from thrifting to enjoy the things I’ve already found and collected.

It’s good to not want anything more than what I already own.

In fact, this winter I’ve worn many of the items I found in thrift stores last year. Scarves, tops, shoes, bags…so many treasures line the walls of my closet.

I am content, and I am grateful.

Take a moment to reflect on those things you have in your life right now, both material and not.

I bet you’ll discover a treasure trove of your own.

The second issue of intentional pompadour…coming soon!

Are you familiar with my zine, intentional pompadour?

If not, click here to check out my side gig as publisher of the newest and coolest Southern culture zine in the land.

If you live in the Southeastern United States and would like to see your art, words, photography, and/or music featured in this zine, contact me at betseyvenom@yahoo.com and we’ll get you in a future issue.

Go here for submission information, and always remember to stay intentional!

 

Books…at the thrift store?

Yes, and plenty of them!

Are you an avid reader who enjoys finding and reading obscure books? Books that were written years ago and quickly forgotten?

If so, then thrift stores are for you!

old books

Nearly every thrift store I’ve visited across the country has a book section. Some are large, others small, but all are crammed with tons of titles. There are paperback novels, huge hardcover textbooks and everything in between.

Next time you’re thinking about book shopping, why not locate and visit your local thrifts? You might be surprised at what you find.

I personally collect Signet Classics paperbacks. Nearly every time I’ve had the itch to read a classic novel, I have gone to the thrift store first and found a perfect copy of the title I wanted to read. Instead of shelling out $10 or more at a big box bookstore, I have spent anywhere from $0.25 to $2.00 for the book.

So, go visit your thrift stores. And while you’re at it, take a look around at all the other treasures waiting to be discovered. Who knows what you might find?

A new jacket? New dishes for your kitchen? A funky vintage lamp? A nearly-new pair of shoes?

You never know, so keep your eyes open and make a treasure hunt out of your visit.

Happy reading and happy hunting!

FLASH BANG BOOM – live at Amazon!

FLASH BANG BOOM is live and up at Amazon! I am so excited to see this collection of poems up and out in the world.

The purpose of publishing this digital chapbook is to inspire others to write their own poems…to explore their inner worlds and create word pictures that speak to their souls.

My wish is that these poems of mine will touch the lives of those who read them and that the words I’ve written will encourage others to go after their dreams. Go here to get your copy now. Only $0.99 for Kindle.

FLASH BANG BOOM COVER KINDLE