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How to Keep Sanity When You’re Laid Up for Weeks

…or Months

You may have noticed I haven’t been updating my calendar lately.  : /

I haven’t been doing much lately. It’s far time I explain myself, for those who wonder if I fell off the planet. It wasn’t that extreme. I was in a pile-up on the Interstate a couple months back. I’m still under medical visits and physical therapy. Among my injuries are numerous back and neck traumas including ribs that had been separated from my spine, whiplash, a jammed hip and a dislocated knee. I’m hobbling quite ungracefully. Now I’m also sick with Flu B during the coronavirus pandemic and in limbo for a permanent crown after a root canal. But I’ve been a songwriting and web design enhancing machine. Now if only I could get well enough to earn some coin to afford to file copyright for all of these new tunes…well, I do have irons in the fire. And I achingly miss performing, but am having an awful time getting up onto certain stages for lack of good access (not to mention venues rightfully closing for quarantine).

At least it’s temporary, and I’m always able to keep myself busy in the meantime. Mind you, all this followed two months of another nasty flu, which I got in late summer or early fall, before I had a chance to get a flu shot. I did get better from that. And I got the shot as soon as I safely could. But it can’t cover every strain… 🙁

So…now I have time…that’s a gift. Who knows; I may post more. Also, I have a lead on a couple of website commissions I have the ability to work on in this condition…that’s a gift too, but they haven’t started yet. The thing is, this is a golden opportunity to catch up on all those things you “never have time to do”. (For those are more mobile, who love to clean – and those who don’t – this quarantine is quite possibly the best, deepest spring-cleaning opportunity we’ve ever had. Using it?)

Several times in my life I’ve been laid up and secluded from normal life: mostly years ago, when I had cancer, when I had foot and ankle surgeries, numerous times I’ve had flu, sinusitis and/or bronchitis or pneumonia; additionally: Norovirus, even shingles. My Bible, favorite music, computer, ukulele and sketchbooks don’t let me down at such times. I’m a bona fide guru of productive down time.

Sometimes we knew I was going to have a surgery sufficiently ahead of time to allow us to prepare, as with my foot and ankle surgeries, and we set up command central directly at my bedside, with as much remote control (and grabber sticks) as possible:

Be prepared! Or overly prepared!

 

Whatcha got there? Click for details.

Now, this post was at first being written addressing being nearly completely incapacitated and confined to bed, but these principles can be applied to less limiting situations, like stay-at-home orders during a pandemic. Read on.

Careful observers will see in this photo that not only do I have my (old) computer and printer but also a microwave, nuke-able salmon and rice, snacks, a sketchbook, colored pencils, a sharpener, various office supplies including a pen and paper and scissors, paper, a lap desk, language books, meds, napkins, plastic flatware, paper plates, fans for temperature control, the ubiquitous lamp and clock, speakers, cords, keyboard, rechargeable batteries and a charger, my camera, a trash can, wind-up toys to tease the kitties with…and you can’t even see the cooler and tissues and books we just put on the bed next to me during the day, or the flowers folks sent that Greg put around the room to cheer me up or the medical TENS unit or automated icer for my surgical sites the surgeon provided. It seems excessive to have a whole office and half kitchen by the bed, but it was quite necessary for the time involved, especially as we lived in a tri-level house and I couldn’t navigate the stairs to reach the kitchen let alone the office, studio or den. I didn’t even miss the TV though. There’s “never anything good on”. But I did have an arsenal of Brit-com DVDs to tickle my funny bone if need be. Nothing tragic or melodramatic allowed! And they say, laughter is the best medicine.

Of course, if you have no notice before an illness or a sudden severe injury, it’s hard to pull this off, once on the sick list. You’ll have to find a kind soul to help you. I happened to be lucky enough to have married one. 🙂

Wallowing in your misery will NOT help you get better faster. Doing something constructive at least makes the time bearable and distracts you from the pain. I went off the hard painkillers to common store Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen within 5 days – sometimes 2 – on any surgery I’ve had, because I knew people fighting addiction to them. I don’t care for pain any more than the next person, but pain is useful and built into you for a reason: it warns you when you’re about to hurt something by trying too much too soon, and you can’t tell if you’re feeling better if you’re drugged into oblivion! Doctors always ask you what pain level you’re at; how can you give an accurate answer to that while on painkillers? I also think it’s good to build your pain tolerance, because you never know when you’ll need some. You’re free to disagree but I’ve amazed people with my ability to withstand intense discomfort. (It’s the frustration, not the pain, that gets me; it’s a mental battle, and that’s why I attack it this way.) We’re only getting older (it beats the alternative)…we are guaranteed to face more challenges, yet still must think, function, and forge on!!

Hobbies and side hustles via the Internet are fantastic ways to keep your attitude up when your body is down. I’ve used times like that to study foreign languages, read through the Bible, write or learn new songs, design outfits, do some good old-fashioned foundational drawing practice (as opposed to studio painting), study how to build and improve websites, find new recipes, tour the world on Google Maps, do brain-training puzzles, catch up on news and business trends, clean out my email inboxes, and do small approved exercises that can help wherever needs improvement at the time. Sometimes I research whatever ailment or injury is vexing me to be in the know and have some sense of proactive control (or at least what not to do). Many times I’ll post videos on my Vimeo channel since I have time to edit and export (slow), or write in a blog on one of my sites–if I don’t have a client or two needing attention on their sites. Rarely I tweet…I can clearly write a novel of a blog post about being sick (usefully at least, but who wants graphic tweets about being sick?) There’s no limit to what you can busy yourself with. Sometimes I plan my next painting(s) or series. I’m also verrrry slowly working on a couple of books. …Often I cuddle a kitty or two. For example, our are Peekaboo and Yeti:

 

(Pictures reposted by permission of YetiTheCat.com–since it’s MY site.) Got that, cats? MINE.  : P

(Images from my 1st-ever, aka “practice” website while learning how to design websites. Odd experimentation as a writing/photo editing exercise too. But silly and fun.)

Some folks will devour reading material; others will crochet; others will try their hand at poetry or felting or jewelry making; some will call old friends; some will tweak their abilities at macro-lens photography; heaven help them, some will get sucked into toxic social media…some will just watch TV. I never have a TV in the bedroom, but I have never regretted getting a laptop instead of a desktop. Mine’s on its third life (hard drive) and it’s worth its weight in gold to my mental productivity and self-education. For a change, my husband streamed a series or two from cable while he was recently sick, when he wasn’t (wisely) sleeping to aid his recuperation (most of the time; they said it was flu but we still suspect strep throat because of his symptoms and the fact that sometimes cultures give false negatives – we just learned that). Personally I don’t find shows or video games to be a good use of time from which I can derive later benefit, so I make stuff or study. It makes me feel better. And I’ve been taking supplements and have really improved my immune system the last few months…I even avoided that dreaded Flu B my husband fought for over 2 weeks. (Ha ha, it came back around to me a couple months later). He’s all better now. (Update: after 5 weeks/2 rounds of ineffective antibiotics, I’m finally feeling almost well! Apparently a virus all along.)

If you need rest, by all means, rest. One of the things many of us wish we had more of is sleep!!

Being bedridden or limited in activity is a real downer for a nature-hiking enthusiast (oh it’s winter anyway), but there are plenty of ways to keep your sanity in the interim, and you may reclaim or discover pastimes that will stick with you long after your recovery, because you’ve deepened your knowledge and expanded your horizons.

Science supports that keeping one’s mind nimble and learning new things is incredibly beneficial to the body, and vice versa. I have certain immune and arthritic issues that in some ways negate that claim, but I’m (ask anyone) not normal. Still, weight training and stretching are so helpful for my arthritis (plucking ukulele completely eradicated it from my hands – free lessons here), and getting out and active does help my immunity when I can get there. Part of my immunity issue is vitamin D deficiency, because after so many radiation treatments my oncologist told me that I’m not supposed to be in the sun…ever, for the rest of my life…and the protection required is nearly prohibitive, especially in hot weather. Conversely, my mom is an octogenarian and is very physically active for her age (or for twenty years younger for that matter) and is still sharp mentally and curious to learn more, always. Many studies show that physical and mental training actually support and complement each other. Don’t take my word for it. Look it up!

So if you’re normally sporty (or even if you’re not) – and down for the count, don’t cheat yourself by whining or wasting away while in convalescence. You can shorten your recovery time both literally and perceptively by being proactive in your physical therapy (or other doctor’s orders – I follow mine for best results…I hope), and by keeping your mind occupied along with whatever else in your body safely still works. (That doesn’t mean eat the place out of house and home, though; you may not be able to work it off just yet). But DO SOMETHING! Because…

You can still do great things!!!

Do well. Get well. Be well. Stay well.

♥ – Eilee

 

 

 

 

 

All content on this site © 2013-2020/present L. Eilee S. George; all rights reserved.

A Sampler of Colorado Beauty

When I was a teen, we went to Colorado for summer vacation, and I fell in love – with the area. We drove up the Pike’s Peak Highway, and stopped along the way to experience the quaking aspens. The breeze shimmered through them like so many chimes, and they leaned and swayed with it like a dance. I didn’t even know yet how sublime they were in autumn: the way the sun illuminated whole groves full of aspens with golden leaves and sparkling white trunks, the light bouncing and multiplying until the entire grove glowed as a single entity.

Today, Colorado is my home. A couple weekends back, my hubby and I trekked up in the mountains on another of our many adventures, and I shot this; they sound almost like a rain stick – please enjoy:

Back to when I was younger, once I decided to accept the invitation of one of the many art schools who had wooed me, there was only one backdrop I desired: those beautiful Rocky Mountains. Every weekend I would voyage into uncharted territory–sans cell phone or GPS–get willingly lost, and found myself enough times to draw a map in my head. I began collecting cozy destination havens and hidden gems with towering ponderosas, cascading waterfalls and carpets of pine needles. One key spot became very dear to me; I showed it to my parents when they visited. Many years later I shared it with my sweetheart, and a few years after that we said our vows there. We visit regularly like giddy newlyweds, although we wed over a decade ago. I’ve photographed and filmed it; I’ve drawn it; I’ve even painted it; here’s a twilight tour of it:

The mountains are a place of refuge, of reconnecting with nature, of awareness of God’s creation; a place to at least feel you are closer to God, in a preview slice of heaven. My hubby and I go out there frequently to reset and reassess our priorities, to adjust our perspectives. A couple of months back, we were on a back road to a camping area and pulled over to enjoy a babbling stream, cooing to us with musical phrases how relaxation is there for anyone who seeks it. Lazy fish circled in the crystal clear water; a sky blue dragonfly traced a figure-eight circuit over a network of tiny waterfalls that bubbled and warbled, as the breeze caressed the trees overhead and a few songbirds harmonized. Welcome to the Rockies; this is their music:

Everyone needs a place to recharge and regroup; nature does that for people. Get away from people, where you can hear your thoughts with no intrusions. Listen to the sounds of the outdoors; it’s a gift and a natural longing within the human creature to connect to our environment and to draw strength from it, for we are part of the Earth. For some, that haven is the beach; for some, it’s the slopes; and for some, it’s the open prairie, or some good rock outcroppings to climb, or even the swamps. For my husband and me, it’s mountain forests with a stream. Find your own oasis, and rejuvenate and thrive.

 – Eilee 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All content this site © 2013 – 2020/present L. Eilee S. George, All Rights Reserved

Studio Days

I have spent the majority of my life in an art studio of one description or another. Lately I’ve entered the music studio stage of my life, and it welcomed me with open arms, like I was coming home. One of my mentors calls it the peace that surpasses understanding, and I must say, doors have been opening for me that I never expected.

Recently I was asked by a buddy, Jim, to sing backups on his album. I was so honored. We had met over a year ago at one of my regular events and regularly admire each other’s work, so of course I agreed.

I was a little nervous before going, having only recorded in my own home recording booth thus far – but it was a very positive experience. The sound engineer Brian was very welcoming and down to earth. I loved watching the workflow in general; as I observed, I had good instincts and practices in my own recording and editing, and even my choice in equipment.

When it was my turn in the booth, I took to the environment like a duck to water. I was decisive as to whether it was a good or bad take or if a certain phrase needed tweaking. As at home, I knew listening through the headphones gave me much more detailed sound so I could really hear and give feedback to both songwriter Jim and engineer Brian, to cooperatively refine the tracks. I easily articulated what needed doing; asked what they thought; we found solutions together.

As a natural harmonizer, I hear harmonies all over the instrumentation in a piece. I know I have choices and I know I don’t have to stick to one part; I can go between parts or sing in unison or drop out in different areas of a song to leave the spotlight on the main vocals, in order to interpret the intensity of the lyrics in each part or to help the song to build and to resolve. As I listened to Jim’s songs, I honed in on the story being told and made some suggestions, as he humbly gave me a wide latitude of artistic license. He heard many and we discussed options, and he liked my instincts. On one song, I asked, “Can you give me a separate track in addition to the one I just did, so I can experiment? Do we have time?” I got their respective blessings and did what I was thinking of, not even being able to hear my other harmony track. When Brian played back all the tracks together, we learned that I harmonized in perfect time and relationship to my other harmony. They were both reacting, “How did you do that?” and I said, “I can still hear the other one in my head; I just thought this area might like a little more roundness for emphasis.” They thought it was genius concept and execution (thanks to already having familiarized myself with the songs ahead of time, I even laid down a couple tracks in a single take with almost no editing needed) – and even though it was unplanned, it was a keeper for the song, and we did the same sort of thing on the next song because he was so happy with the results. Jim’s praises and trusting my instincts were very validating!

After the last session, I stuck around briefly, talking recording process and equipment with Brian, who was very gracious and generous with his knowledge and his feedback with where I had already gotten on my own. He was so encouraging and it inspired me, because he has a degree in this field and many years of experience. I couldn’t wait to get back to recording my own work at home, armed with bolstered confidence.

I have to say that in the information age, almost any knowledge you want is available if you are willing to search for it, and it’s helped me to do everything from learning web design to repairing several engine issues in my truck to learning languages, and now…sound engineering and recording, as well as music business. But machines and books can never replace that human experience and exchange of ideas; the open, spontaneous, sharing communications of humans are key for all growth and creation. One doesn’t create in a bubble; we have to get it out there! And I will, but I’m taking the necessary time and effort in order to do it right.

I have the blessing of many wonderful musicians in my life, a driving passion and hungry mind that God gave me, and more than one family and growing number of fans who cheer me on. May you each find your niche and support system as well.

 – Eilee

 

 

 

All content on this site © 2013-present L. Eilee S. George, All Rights Reserved.

And We’re Live….

Well, it has been a fantastic adventure designing this new site, just as it was to have done the old one. I must say I have gotten no less than stellar customer service from my hosting provider; I could not have pulled this site off as fast as I did (well less than a week with lots of long breaks) without the assistance of many of their dedicated employees, who never once made me feel like I asked a “stupid” question (although I’m quite sure I did). Thank you GoDaddy! (Disclaimer: I get no compensation for saying this; I didn’t even tell them I was going to say this; it’s just an honest opinion. I just happen to believe in giving kudos in a world where too many folks only complain, that’s all.)

I had studied xhtml and CSS somewhat myself, but knowing code is a little different than knowing how it all works and goes live – it’s probably really easy for some, but when you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s all very mysterious. Really I just needed a little kick into foreign territory and I adapted quickly after all my fear and whining subsided. It’s good to know that both hemispheres of my brain are still working.

My “old” site (I had designed it a long time ago but only went live with it earlier this year) was designed in the now-defunct FrontPage. Had I known it would be a pain to edit and maintain, I might have used something else to begin with – but it was a good first web-building experience nonetheless. It was sort of like coursework for me…since I never took a single class in this stuff – just bought a giant book on codes and dove in. Now I’ve learned so much more about WordPress.

Even back then, I thought that I might be able to design sites for others…now that I’m working in WordPress, I know I can. I can keep it simple, and can maintain it for clients as well, if they get (or tell me) the content and images that they want on it. I’m a photographer and typographer, and I can do a wide variety of computer graphics and generated every background, animated GIF, and other type of image on both of the “eilee” sites from scratch. I’m good at organizing information and writing intelligent, articulate and grammatically competent copy. I am learning more about SEO every week, and I’m working on additional site aspects for the future.

I already have three other sites lined up to build after the festival (see previous post). Not bad.

 

 

 

 

All content on this site © 2013-2018/present L. Eilee S. George; all rights reserved.

 

Art Festival News

I recently joined the legions of artists who show at art festivals. I had put it off because of the up-front expense involved, but was encouraged by artist friends that it would be fun and also a great way to meet a lot of great people, and to get some exposure and broaden my horizons. They were right on all accounts.

My next show is right here in town! I will be showing at the Downtown Denver Arts Festival on Memorial Day Weekend: May 24, 25, and 26 (Friday – Sunday) at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Some 160 artists will be showing from 4-8pm on Friday, 11-8pm Saturday, and 11-5pm Sunday.

You can see information on the festival at:

http://www.downtowndenverartsfestival.com

NOTE: the above link now shows more current information than when I participated, but you can read about what the festival is up to now. With their newest (new) location, it’s too sunny for me to endure after all my radiation treatments. Continuing back to the post…

My work specifically is represented under 2013 Artists / 2D under “L. Eilee George”, and on the YouTube Video at the top of the same page at about 1:21 – the sample work is entitled “Catreedral”. After decades of painting, I’ve only very recently started to actually market my work. This is exciting!

I have viewed the other participants’ work, and I must say I am in very talented company. There is original art in all sizes and types for every budget, and a great bunch of people in a beautiful venue. If you’re in the area, please come join us – and enjoy the lovely spring weather, the art, the community, and the other great events going on downtown this weekend!

See you there!

Downtown Denver Arts Festival

15th Annual Downtown Denver Arts Festival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All content on this site © 2013-2020/present L. Eilee S. George; all rights reserved.

 

Introduction to the Elements & Principles of Design

Hi there – I’m Eilee George, and this is the first in a sub-series of lessons in my Art Blog, on the Elements and Principles of Design. This short lesson is an introduction and brief overview. Once lessons begin in earnest, I will focus first on the Elements.

WebBackground03sThere is a language in art; it is technical and subjective at the same time, as is the nature of art itself. In fact, there are many texts and resources that can’t even agree on a consistent list of exactly what all of the Elements and Principles of Design are – although there are many similarities, there is fluctuation, depending on which source is consulted. I will try to encompass all of the classic elements and principles in my upcoming articles, focusing on them in more detail.

Elements of Design are basically the visual tools that we use to create a composition. These can include line, shape, form, hue, value, intensity, texture or pattern, space, proportion, and scale. You can create a piece using nothing but line, or with shapes. If you modulate the shapes to make them appear three-dimensional, you are in effect creating form, and you are probably incorporating different values to achieve the illusion of light and dark that describes that form, be it smoothly or via texture. You can create textures with lines and/or shapes. If your piece is in color, you’re using hue, and can use different intensities of the hues there to render things accurately, or to create mood or even to create a sense of space, which can also be achieved through the placement and scale of your shapes.

As you can see, you can use these tools in a lot of combinations, and not just in those I mentioned above. How you use them is where the Principles of Design come in. These are more conceptual tools you use to organize and manipulate the Elements. The Principles include balance, emphasis, dominance, unity, harmony, variety, contrast, rhythm, repetition, pattern, and movement. As you can already see, there is a little overlap between some of these terms, and they can be used in different combinations, too. It can be very powerful to plan a work around even one or two of these principles; it gives the work a razor focus, an edge, and a personality that stands out to the eye.

I will present lessons on most of these elements and principles, combining some that are closely related. I strongly believe these to be essential, useful learning for anyone who wants to become a better artist. Art isn’t a free-for-all; it has a structure, and one must learn the rules before one can break them with any success. I understand that the subject matter may at first sound a little dry for an eager beginner, but these quick exercises can awaken you not only to the possibilities in your own art, but to seeing their existence and use in the world around you – a truly global language.

This was Lesson #1 on the Elements and Principles of Design. Here are links to the next few lessons, in order since I sometimes refer to and build upon previous lessons:

#2 – LINE: The Most Basic Element

#3 – Elements of Design: SHAPE in Simple SPACE

#4 – Elements of Design: FORM, TEXTURE and PATTERN

#5 – Elements of Design: HUE, VALUE and INTENSITY

Or, to see all of them en masse (note they are in reverse chronological order, so read the bottom one first, etc.), try the category Elements and Principles of Design (or use these links here in order)

For a wider choice of even more lessons and topics, visit the Blog Intro.

Be sure to check back occasionally for more lessons on Elements and Principles of Design & more.

If you have any questions or need clarification concerning any of these design concepts, do feel free to contact me using the Contact Form. Be sure to put the words “Lesson Question” in the Subject line (but the quotation marks aren’t necessary). I run several sites as well as my fine arts production projects, and now occasional music gigs too, so I will get back to you as quickly as I can! Thanks!

– Eilee

 

 

 

All content on this site © 2013-2020/present L. Eilee S. George; all rights reserved.