Saturday, February 18, 2012

Pain Versus Creativity

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(Photo taken by me on the way to my Dad's house.  I've always called these 
"God Lights" because when I see them, I think it's God's way of saying, "I'm here".)

As you've probably noticed, I share a lot of personal stuff on my blog.   (No, really?) Some people like these sorts of posts, and some prefer the ones sharing pretty things I've found online, while some enjoy the jewelry photos, whenever I remember to put those online.  I've got an eclectic blog, which suits me perfectly.

One reason I write as I do is because words have always been a safe haven for me; first by escaping into books, and then by putting words to paper, and now, the computer screen.  

The difference between paper and screen is huge -- it's inviting someone to read my diary instead of hiding it under the mattress and giving up complete control over who sees it and reads it.   I decided a long time ago I was OK with that because if any of my posts are meaningful to even just one person, it's worth it.  It also makes my heart feel better shooting words out into space, freeing my spirit a bit. 

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(Zack's cars, which he often carefully lines up to fill an entire room.)

For the past three years, I've felt like I'm getting nowhere fast.  Can't get into gear.  Have a hitch in my get-along.  I've been sapped of creativity and drained of energy.  And all of this has made me angry, sad, frustrated, depressed, back to sad, more angry, and now -- accepting.

I've written a number of times about feeling inferior to others, etc, etc, ad nauseum,  but I finally think I've figured out the root of all those feelings.  It's normal to find and know your place in the hierarchy of things -- I mean, not everyone can be an Einstein or a Mozart or a Dickens.  I've been grousing for a long time about feelings of inadequacy, but was still getting nowhere fast in overcoming or even understanding those feelings.  But now I think I know what's been going on with my battle against perceived shortcomings.

I think the heart of the matter is physical pain.

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(Photo taken by me.  It looks soothing, but at the same time, it strangely translates how I feel about pain ... the never-ending stream of it, and trying to turn it from a fierce flow of anger to a soothing stream of soul-clearing peace.)

All my life I've battled migraines.  I remember having my first one at six years old, going to the nurse's office in Kindergarten to be helped onto a cot in a dark room.  But they really hit me with a vengeance about three years ago, and a double diagnosis of psuedotumor cerebri (presenting as bad headaches in the eyes) and atypical migraines, neither of which was affected by pain medication, rendered me useless.  I felt like crap, to put it plainly, yet no one who saw me would know I was in debilitating pain because it was invisible.  Invisible pain made me feel like an invisible person -- hiding out in a dark room, being deprived of all the things I love to do. 

This past month, my migraines disappeared but irony of ironies, my stomach started hurting.  I now know it's a faulty gall bladder valve, but the pain is at times excruciating and I still have to fight the Battle of Insurance Company Regulations, taking this test and then that test before they'll let a doctor just take the darned thing out.

(At least I have insurance, however faulty it may be.  I do recognize this, having lived without it before.)

Yesterday, after getting a shot of Lidocaine between my ribs to stop muscle spasms caused by my body tensing up in the sight of pain, I had the sudden realization that my angst of the past few years has really been my anger and frustration at being sick, being in pain, and feeling helpless about doing anything about it.  It isn't necessarily that I lack creativity -- how can someone be creative when they can hardly see or sit up straight?  And it isn't so much about a lot of the things I've blamed as my road blocks.  

It's been about trying to cope with pain.

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(A tree choked by ivy near my house.  Beauty in the midst of slow destruction.)

I feel like this tree now.  My physical body may often be wracked by pain that no one sees, but as with virtually everything, there's beauty to be found everywhere.  Instead of allowing my quality of life to head south, I'm going to do my best to find happiness in the smallest of accomplishments.   

I'm going to find solace in knowing that I AM doing the best I can, and in order for things to get better, I really do have to be gentler on myself.

So.  Sounds easy, but it's not, and this post serves as a reminder to me that rarely is an entire lifetime perfect, but moments certainly can be.  It may be a long time between moments, to be sure, but that will have to be OK.  I will have to make peace with the pain in order to find peace in my total life.

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("Peace" bead by Diane Hawkey in a necklace I made.)

All of this brings me back to why I write about such personal things.  I do talk to friends and my husband about my feelings, but I also know there are people out there battling much worse things than I am who might want to know how someone else feels about similar things.  Like I said, if this post means anything or helps just one person, that's awesome.  I love it when people email me with links to inspiring blog posts, or share with me their similar situations.  The huge world of the Internet becomes so small when it can shift to a one-on-one email conversation.  

Know you're not alone.  Don't be afraid to share your story.  Don't be afraid to hide your story.  Either way, the point is to make your soul more peaceful in whatever way you feel comfortable, and to be gentle with yourself.  Don't turn your anger and frustration at your pain on yourself.  

"Instead of complaining the rose bush has thorns, 
instead be happy the thorn bush has roses." ~~ Proverb

Time to pick some roses.


Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and wrote the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She is the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party.


  1. Hi Lori, I found your site via mutual friend that shared beads w you. Just wanted to say that I understand your comments of today. I've had chronic pain frm fibromyalgia for 6 yrs. Yes, insurance companies now OWN the healthcare world & it is exhausting dealing w them to get what you need. Especially when your already working on your last neuron from enduring the symptoms from the pain. Learning to manage the pain prob gets easier w time. I had migraines too. Found an excellent neurologist in the Houston Med Cntr and now I'm down to 2/yr versus 6 or more per month! And, I'm now back in college (at the young age of 52)! It does take time to get the body under control and learn new tricks to manage the health issues! Hope this helps! My friend Emanda sent beads for one of the exchanges- she can reach me if you would like to know more about some of the things I've learned to cope w the pain/illness issues. CSG

  2. Beautiful photos! Thank you for a wonderful reminder to find some good in everything.

    I'm hoping your doctors can figure out the source of the pain, and take care of it.

  3. My grandmother had migraines while going through menopause. The Dr. would come to the house and knock her out with drugs. I have several friends that battle migraines too so you have my sympathy and best wishes. I have chronic arthritis pain and a pinched nerve in my lower back and I know what you mean about having to just go on with life even though you are in pain.

  4. Lori, Finding the beauty in yourself and in the here/now sounds like just the Rx you need. As I read your post I wondered ... when one has lived with chronic or reoccurring pain does that create another issue, one that crops in without realization...that even when you are not in pain there is the worry for when the pain will return? I pray that you can find the peace you seek and that your creativity/stamina will come back to you in full bloom.

  5. Damn pain! Damn Blogger!

    Lori - it's virtually impossible to think about creativity when you are in pain - speaks the girl who had a spinal fusion two years ago and is still working on conquering the pain and residual affects. And, I consider myself lucky! Your migranes are much worse than that and I too felt like chucking it all in and selling my equipment.

    At times I feel too old and hurt to give it another go and then I find a "Lori" who is unflinching in her honesty and giving of her time and talent. Then I say to myself - If she can work through all that pain Sharon you need to get over yourself and get moving.

    Yes Lori - It does help. Sometimes you have no idea just how much.

  6. Hope you resolve your gall bladder problem soon. Thank you for sharing, offering a prayer for your health.

  7. Dear Girl!!
    Chronic pain is exhausting and energy sapping !! You are a high energy person as is obvious from the huge projects that you take on and run so beautifully despite all of the work and endless hours of negotiations and patience.
    You DO need to be gentler with yourself, perhaps cut down on the number of outside projects you take on and concentrate on the ones that really fill your creative well and soul!!! Put aside those that drain you, if you can.

    Get the gall bladder out ASAP!!! the good news is that it is your gall bladder and it can come out fairly easily, it is not C of any kind and things will get better along those lines. The migraines- sigh.... will continue to be there?????
    I am dealing with chronic back apin and have finaly gotten a diagnosis after about 20 years of going to dr after Dr and ahve=ing them tell me that there is nothing wrong according to this test or that MRI. then someone who looked at my skeletal structure as a whole and heard my story and saw me as a whole person diagnoses rotational scoliosis. Never heard of it!!!!!! Finaly an answer- I cried for about an hour- teaers of relieve, of knowing that I was not developing MS, I am not imagining this pain that causes my hips to give way when i am walking or me to stumble and fall for no reason. Now I know and I can do something about it- pilates to strengthen my core, and yoga Hurrah~!!
    Have you thought about yoga for your migraines or just for the rest of you, the part of you that is going to take care of Lori and put her first for a change?????
    I hope that you can get the Gall bladder gone soon and I will be checking in regularly to make sure that you are taking very good care of the very creative Lori that we all love and admire!!!!! Big Hugs!

  8. Lori thank you for sharing this post. I found myself full angst and in pain and feeling like I was alone. Alone in my pain and no one could tell me what it was - I felt crazy. I was recently diagnosed with Chiari Malformation I - thank God. Thank God, because I now know what is wrong with me and that there is hope. I can soon get back to doing what I enjoy, but most importantly I can feel like myself once again. The pain, fatigue and everything that comes with this disease has been hard to deal with, however when I read post such as yours, they show me that many of us are connected - pain and all. Lets continue to be inspirations for each other and form our own cheering pain squad - how bout that cause pain can't get me down - with Gods help of course. Take care.


  9. Anonymous2:09 AM

    Dear Lori,
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. I would like to point out a way for you that might help you with your pain and generally with your health. I do believe that Eastern medicine and generally the Eastern way of life has a positive effect on our health as a whole. I can give you an example: More than 35 years ago my mum had a severe accident with her left arm getting caught between rollers in the steel-mill where she was working at the time. She sustained very complicated fractures and had problems using that arm for all her life. A couple of years ago she started learning Qi Gong and soon felt that she could move and use her arm increasingly better. She has now pretty normal use of her arm, including lifting things which used to be impossible or at least very painful. She has also lost her hay fever... All this wasn't even her intention when starting Qi Gong. She just wanted to do some excercise and would never look back now... Maybe there is something out there that can help you with your health problems...
    I wish you all the best


  10. Glad to hear that you have come to this realisation - and hoping you will ease up on the expectations you have on yourself. You are a creator of beauty - be it in your jewelry or be it in your life or in your words. I know how difficult it can be to just get from day to day, because of pain - I have had migraines since childhood myself. Be gentle with yourself, Lori. You deserve it.

  11. Wow, what a post! I can't imagine what a migraine must feel, as I gladly have none. But I know the lack of creativity due to many reasons: worries, pain, being tired. But it always came back. So I wish you the best there is for your further road.

    I LOVE the pic of Zack's cars. Looks like a serious traffic jam.

  12. Hang on in there Lori. Pain is such hard work. It can drain everything, including creativity. Know that there are people all around the world that are willing you on and wishing respite for you. Love all your blog posts. Sending some hugs from across the pond to you x

  13. Wow! For some reason I woke up early, enable to sleep. Got a cuppa joe and pulled my laptop to my lap. Yours was the second site I came to while 'surfin' and did it ever speak to me! Invisible pain is difficult to deal with in a social setting as well as insurance. And invisible pain comes in so many guises. The older I get though I see that my friends are beginning to understand. Thank you for an insightful post.
    P.S. Eclectic is good; our thoughts and interests vary from day to day, why shouldn't our record of them?

  14. Excellent post Lori! My favorite is that we should all try to find happiness in the smallest of accomplishments. I have always been a "glass half full" kind of person but it is harder when you have pain or any big difficulty in your life.

    Thank you for this reminder and I wish you the best!

  15. Lori,

    I wish I'd read this post a year ago, when I was still suffering from a terrible shoulder injury. What you wrote about not taking our pain and frustration out on ourselves is so true! In fact, I think that kind of emotional self-flogging makes the physical pain worse -- because our muscles react to our emotions.

    Of course, what was wrong with me is totally different from what's hurting you, but one thing that really helped me was getting massages. Massage therapists have a perspective on pain that doctors don't usually have. They're miracle workers. :)

    Also, I hope you get your gallbladder issues fixed soon. My mother is just now recovering from having hers removed. You have my sympathy!

  16. Oh Lori I am truly sorry that you have to suffer such debilaring pain. I am impressed that you are finding a way to cope with it. As I have said before you are an awesome soul. If I can help you in any way please let me be a sholder for you. Be blessed to be a blessing.

  17. Lori,

    You are truly amazing. I also suffer from migraines and other muscular and neuralogical illnesses and I totally can relate. I have a young son,a job and my jewelry business and some days it's almost impossible to get out of bed non the less do everything I need and want to do.

    It is so very easy to get down on yourself and I am glad you have come to terms with your ailments and hope, that so can I one day.

    I can relate to your battles and it may sound a bit corny but we need to have the warrior mentality that we can fight this and win!!

    My heart,empathy and prayers go out to you. you are an inspiration to us all!

    ~Maria Rosa

  18. Physical pain of any kind is sooo draining. But bravo for looking on the bright side, friend. Bravo for looking for the lesson and moving forward! And bravo for being brave enough to put yourself out there.

  19. There are two things that stand out about this post to me - dealing with invisible pain and being gentle with yourself. Like many other folks who have commented, I too have experienced things that involved pain or illness that were not obvious to the outside world. I know how it can make you feel overwhelmed not only because you're unwell and hurting but because you're possibly dealing with the judgement of others who can't physically see what you're going through. Migraines & gall bladder issues don't show to the outside world like a broken leg in a cast. Add to this perhaps being scared, going through tests & procedures, dealing with insurance companies, just getting through your day, and finding time to do what inspires you and makes you feel creative is a lot to deal with. Being gentle with yourself is so important, perhaps even more so at a time like this. It sounds as though you are on your way mentally and physically to finding answers and solutions. I wish you the absolute best. I do appreciate your honesty and willingness to share. I bet you help more than just one person with posts like this.

  20. Lori, I love that you show your raw side, I too can relate to headaches, I have had them all my life and it wasn't until I had kids did a doctor tell me they were migraines. I would just power through them feeling nauseated and crappy until I could crawl into the bliss of my bed and darkness. I didn't like taking the meds because they made me sleepy and with kids I didn't want to be unable to function. This year I decided was my year to take care of myself and I started see in a chiropractor because of my neck, I had old injuries from car accidents that I never had treated properly and not only are my headaches 95% better so is my hands and arms, I can actually sleep most nights without my braces.

    As for your gallbladder, I am shocked that your insurance is being so problematic, I had my gallbladder out 10 years ago, 6 months after my son was born and that pain was worse then the pain from my C-section. It is also dangerous to let you suffer, they are putting you at risk of having your gallbladder burst. I found the surgery easy and the recovery fine. I have been great without a gallbladder all of these years and I am 47 years young LOL


  21. Lori - That downspout photo immediately resonated with me. It's a symbol of how pain DRAINS us physically, mentally and emotionally. I truly like how you see it as something washing over. :) Hang in there. I hope your gall bladder problem is fixed quickly.

  22. That is some really hard stuff to deal with, Lori. I actually work in the medical field, specifically with billing, so if you ever need help figuring out or battling with insurances companies, I'm your girl. :)

  23. You amaze me! Even in the midst of your pain, you continue to be a light for others.

    Thank you!

  24. Migraines suck! And I can't imagine having to deal with them without having medication work.

    It is frustrating to have issues that there isn't an easy fix (or any kind of fix at all) I will keep you in my prayers.

  25. Thank you for sharing, my friend! You are an inspiration :)

  26. I think you touched more than one person with this post, there are so many people out there living with chronic pain.

    I am so glad you have had this insight, chronic pain is insidious and can really mess with your mind. Any kind of stress on your body or mind can lower ones threshold for dealing with the world around them.

    For example, if I am having a bad day and I see someone that appears more successful than me, I will put myself down for being lazy. If all is going well and I see the same person, I am happy for their success. In both of these situations I am the same person, I guess when we are having a bad day we need to give the internal critic the day off.

  27. I feel your pain.... I have migraines, but not nearly that bad, and when I get one I always tell myself I'm lucky that I don't get the awful ones, these are bad enough. Best of luck with your health issues.

  28. Hang in there Lori, you still always seem so brave and creative in each blog post I read. I enjoy your blog - and I, too, tend to write about non-bead, personal things, just as in a diary, more often than not. The visitor counter goes higher every day - so I know that at least SOME people appreciate it - just as I appreciate - and relate to yours. Sending healing energy as well as some to zap that red tape with the insurance companies. Keep us posted.

  29. Hi Lori,

    I love reading your blog when you write about the real things going on in your life, so I hope you keep those posts coming. I especially love when you share what you got/looked at at antique shops, lol. Your realness is what keeps me coming back, and your inspiration.
    I'm so sorry to hear about your pain :( I hope and will send prayers that whatever you need, be it info, the right medication, the right words or anything else come your way swiftly and directly.
    Love and light

  30. lori, i'm so glad you've found the root of your feelings of inadequecy. isn't it enlightening to finally know for sure what the problem really IS?!? now, to deal with it. to overcome those feelings. to come to peace with the pain. i'm slowly learning to come to peace with my pain. i'm going to email you a link to a blog post i just did about my depression and learning to live with it. it's been an uphill battle. i totally haven't come to peace with my chronic pain. everyday i try to fight it with meds and maybe i should just accept it, ask what it wants me to become aware of, if there is something it wants me to change or do. i seem to get so many minor injuries that make life difficult and i don't know why. what am i missing? what is my body trying to tell me? keep us up to date with this journey of discovery. it gives me hope when i read i'm not alone. much love. beth

  31. Lori, ((hugs)) I am sorry you have been going through so much pain. I have been dealing with my own for years, and there is finally light at the end of the tunnel for me. A good friend told me that once the pain was gone, I would be amazed at how much better I would feel. I sure hope that the end of your pain is right around the corner. I have felt all the same things you have felt, and it is helpful to know that we aren't alone it it. Hang in there!

  32. I love the quote on roses.. that is great..thanks for sharing it!

    i understand, I have chronic pain, and nothing is more frustrating then to have your body betray you. For it to not allow what your mind wants to do. It can be very overwhelming.

    Your not alone. I love your blog. I love reading it because I can relate to so much of you. Keep doing what you do. You have so very many fans.

    And you are perfect just as you are. I know we all fight those not good enough feelings, that is natural. You are good enough. Just as you are! I always love the quote "what you think of me is none of my business" I try to remember that when I worry about what people think, or if i'm good enough.


  33. Wow, that was awesome! Thank you for sharing. I have fibromyalgia, another one of those invisible illnesses. Your story lifted me & gave me strength to face another day.

  34. Hi sweet lady!!! Your voice needs to be heard and your story needs to be told. As someone who has lived on and off through chronic health problems, I so get this. One thing it has taught me is that I need to be kind and gentle on myself. We do what we can do and just like you said, find beauty in the thorns. Blessings!!!

  35. I really appreciate this post about pain. Everyone in my family except me has chronic migraines- me I got Diverticulitis instead- I call it the Migraine in your colon. LOL Pain comes in many forms physical being one of the most debilitating but emotional and mental pain can stop us in our tracks too. I think Pain is one of our best teachers, even though I dislike it as much as you, it has taught me so many things, to let go, to let others help me, to admit I am not all powerful or invincable, to remember how precious each moment is, to never take life for granted, to feel compassion for others, to just breath and know this too shall pass.... I have had 3 near death experiences that involved excruciating pain, but the best thing about that pain was I knew I was still alive!! I am NOT trying to minimize your experiences in any way, just sympathize and share what Pain has taught me. Are we lucky or unfortunate that this teacher really gets our attention? Sometimes it literally saves our lives.
    I love that you share personal thougts and experiences. You are a REAL person, beautiful inside and out. Here is a big hug (***) from me. I hope you get some answers and ways to cope.

  36. Hi Lori-- I know you don't know me personally, but I've been following your blog for a short while now. When I read your post, I cried, because you put my feelings into words. You gave me the courage to speak out publicly about MY pain, in my own blog post. It could not have come at a better time, since immediately after reading your post I was "laid up" for about a week and a half, from the pain.

    I have chronic pain; I have an adhesive disorder caused by endometriosis. My life was normal one day, and the next I had lost all control. I am still very young, not yet 30, and my life was turned upside down by a condition that is (in my case) untreatable.

    You inspired me to speak out. I finally finished a post about my health issues that took over three days to finish writing it. It was one of the hardest things that I ever had to write, and I know you know the feeling. If you would like to read, my blog is over at

    I look forward to reading many more of your posts, both about jewelry and your personal challenges. I understand your feelings more than I can explain in a comment box. It is my turn to tell you, that you are not alone <3

    Thank you for being an inspiration to women, and people in pain, all over the world.



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