Businesses, schools and public places across the country continue to reopen, and for many of us, it’s refreshing to reconnect with the world after more than a year of social distancing. But it’s also important to recognize the lessons we’ve learned from COVID – things like our need for rest and the healing power of creative self-expression.
As I prepare for my upcoming conference presentation Visual / Virtual / Viral: Communicating Disease and Disability Experience Through Art in the Digital Age, I’ve stumbled upon some fantastic opportunities to explore art and its connection to our health and the healing process. Many of these resources are accessible from the comfort of home, making them perfect for those who are still housebound or looking for fun, educational staycation activities this summer. Check them out below!
Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, Washington State University
The Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice
July is Disability Pride Month! To celebrate, I'll be sharing work by some of my favorite artists and advocates this month.
In April, I presented a poster project titled Visual / Virtual / Viral: Communicating Disease and Disability Experience Through Art in the Digital Age at the University of Findlay's Symposium for Scholarship and Creativity. My interactive poster won the Academic Excellence Poster Prize and was accepted into the Midwest Popular Culture Association's annual conference, where I'll be presenting additional research in October.
In this presentation, I explore the work of artists like Elizabeth Jameson, who reclaims her own medical data by creating colorful portraits from her MRI scans. Other artists, like Emma Jones, have launched movements that encourage the participation of people with chronic illnesses around the world. These movements continue to grow online and off, with craftsmen like Evan Hebenstreit merging the traditional art of woodcarving with an international awareness campaign.
Explore more works by these talented artists by clicking on the images below. And keep an eye out for additional featured artists this month!
Copy of Visual Virtual Viral by Maggie Morehart
I recently stumbled across Emilie Wapnick’s Tedx Talk Why Some of Us Don’t Have One True Calling, and in twelve short minutes, my entire outlook on life changed. Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but it really forced me to reflect on my choices, habits and interests in a new way. It also introduced me to a word I’d never heard before and one that I identified with immediately: multipotentialite.
According to Emilie, a multipotentialite is someone with many interests and creative pursuits.
Just having a name for a defining element of my personality gave me a tangible sense of relief, a bit like the feeling you get when you finally receive a diagnosis after being sick for months or years. Naturally, I wanted to know more about this “diagnosis,” so I visited Emilie’s website, ordered her book (and a few other related titles) on Amazon and dove headfirst down a YouTube rabbit hole of multipotentiality. I consequently realized that I was exhibiting classic symptoms of multipotentiality in my search for more information on multipotentiality, the irony of which was not lost on me.
As I begin to think about the many ways my multipod (short-hand for multipotentialite) personality has manifested in my life, one of my first observations is the way I tend to thrive with multiple part-time jobs. The times in my life when I’ve felt the happiest and most fulfilled in my work have been when I’m not working a single, full-time gig but several wildly different ones at once. As they say, variety is the spice of life. And it can also be the spice of your work life! Coincidentally, flexible schedules, shorter shifts and the ability to work in various different environments act as coping mechanisms that help me to manage multiple chronic illnesses too. (Because what kind of multipod would I be if I didn’t also have multiple chronic illnesses?)
As I continued to reflect, so many things in both my work and personal life began to make sense – like my long-time obsession with George Washington Carver (perhaps the greatest multipotentialite of all time), the siren call of Hobby Lobby, my interest in duathlon (why choose when you can run and bike?) or all the headaches I caused my freshman Career Exploration instructor in college.
As incompatible as these two identities may seem – how can you focus on so many different things when just managing your illness can seem like a full-time job? – the more I reflect on this newfound label, the more benefits I see to being a multipod with chronic illness. Juggling all these diverse interests over the years has certainly allowed me to practice some of the skills needed to juggle symptoms, medications and doctors. It allowed me to pivot in my career when my demanding full-time leadership role took its toll on my health. And it’s allowing me to make connections between seemingly unrelated topics like chronic illness and art, health and literacy and communication and disability.
Many of the downsides to being a chronically ill multipod, like feeling flakey or pushing past your physical limits, are accompanied by tremendous upsides. It’s certainly frustrating when your body can’t keep up with your wide range of interests and pursuits, but if one passion turns out to be too physically demanding, there are a dozen others to fall back on. While other folks struggled with boredom during last year’s quarantine, I finally made some progress on the many projects I’d been anxiously waiting to dive into.
After 33 years as a multipod, I finally have a word for the unique and sometimes chaotic way my brain works. My fellow spoonies will understand how empowering something as simple as a name can be.
Are you a multipotentialite with chronic illness or disability? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment or contact me here.
Christmas is almost here, and if you’re anything like the rest of us, you probably have a few gifts left to wrap. Fortunately, I’ve discovered a few handy hacks that make wrapping quick, easy and painless. Plus, they’ll have everyone on your list admiring your crafty, eco-friendly handiwork!
It doesn't look like the work-from-home trend will be coming to an end anytime soon. If you're lucky, you already had a home office before the pandemic hit. Or, like me, you had a spare room that became a home office. But even if you have a designated workspace, it's important to get up and move around every once in a while. A lap desk is a game-changer that will allow you to work from just about anywhere - including the couch, the patio or even your bed. It also happens to be an easy weekend DIY project. Check out the instructions below to see how I made this simple desk.
Did you try this project? Tell me in the comments!