Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Inside You There Are Worlds

Today a guest blog by Therese Doherty

Through cyberspace I came across the work and writing by Therese Doherty. Our thoughts and experiences and views of the world: the world of illness, creativity, nature and writing are following in a similar path. Although worlds apart geographically. South East Ireland for me and the Blue Mountains north West of Sydney for Therese. 
Enjoy these wonderful wise words.

Inside You There Are Worlds 

The flight of the imagination. The inner landscapes which have no limit. The seasons of life.

These things are liberating, wonder-inducing, life-enhancing.

It took me a long time to make these discoveries, however. Living with CFS from a young age disturbed my development, such that I have been embarrassingly slow to learn many things. Illness clouded my mind and made me withdraw from life—a necessity, perhaps, until I was ready to re-emerge.

But, what I have found is that it is never too late to begin again. At any time you can start to rewrite your life story, and change the details, so that you come back out into the light, the heroine or hero of your own tale, rather than remaining in the shadows.

The most powerful way to rewrite your life story is, literally, to write it. Ask yourself: Who were you before you got sick? Who did you become afterwards, willingly or otherwise? Who would you prefer to be now? Write it down, draw pictures, record your voice—make a document that is part-memory, part-dream.

I wrote my life story, and it changed me. It helped me to make sense of many things, and it was as though I grew up, put away bad habits and negative beliefs, and got closer to who I am meant to be.  I began to understand myself better, which has made me kinder and gentler with myself. This is not a cure, by any means, but it is a necessary step on the way to healing.

Writing can be therapeutic. You can rant and rave as much as you like, and because it is private, no one will ever know. But at least your angers and frustrations and negativities are out on the page or computer screen, instead of festering inside you. This is step one.

Step two is to take things further, to turn negative thoughts around. This requires believing in the power of words. So, if you find yourself writing (or even thinking) about being weak or hopeless, or any of the other thoughts and feelings that can come to us when we are not feeling well, then start to reverse them. You are not weak, you are strong. You are not hopeless, you are full of possibility. Write them in the present tense: ‘I am strong’ (rather than ‘I will be strong’). Try it. You might be surprised just how much effect writing, or saying, such things can have on how you feel.

Step three is just to keep going. Keep writing. It will help. Just give it time. If you keep up with it long enough you may find you get to the point where stories emerge, or poems; at the very least, you will come across solutions to problems, or wise insights that bring you to a better understanding of yourself and the world. This is when you will learn, as I did, that there are worlds inside you.

I mean this. I really do.

Scientists now say that our bodies, like everything else on earth, contain atoms from the beginning of time and the origins of our universe. The elements that form our physical makeup are the same ones that constitute the earth as a living body—seawater and volcanic ash, circulating air and the spark of life that is fire—and they rank among the most powerful agents for healing … (Kat Duff, The Alchemy of Illness, 1993, p. 25)

Our bodies and minds—which are not separate entities, but intertwined—contain their own landscapes, ecologies, seasons and wild creatures—and their own wisdom, often unbeknownst to us. We are as old as the universe. We are part tree, part mountain, part cloud, part bird, part star—and all of these elemental parts can help to heal us.

To discover this is truly liberating. For when I am not well, and unable to spend as much time outside as I would like, to connect with the more-than-human world, I can at least journey inwards to connect with the places and beings within. My inner worlds are nothing less than an extension of the outer world. That we are made of the same stuff as the rest of the universe, those same ancient atoms, should make the connection obvious. We are all seperate threads woven into the universe’s tapestry, connected to everything else, and by recognising this it is possible to tap into new sources of inspiration, creativity and wisdom. It is all right inside us.

We can learn to fly on the wings of the imagination. We can go exploring. We can learn to better understand our own inner seasons and rhythms, and then make the most of them in the outer world.

All of this can come from writing, from the power and magic of words. And so it is never too late to begin. Find a notebook, put some loose paper in a folder, or open a new document on your computer. Label the top of the page with today’s date, and write.

Keep writing.

Just remember: Everything you need is already inside you.

Therese Doherty

links and further reading

Monday, January 30, 2017

Making writing possible despite illness/disability

It truly breaks my heart that ME/CFS can be so relentless that even a simple action of writing can be so severely curtailed because of the inability to hold a pen. Or that there is no point in using voice recognition due to the inability to find words when speaking.

Morning all,

Yesterday I queried how I can write this blog and not compromise my health. See here. It brought up some communications with other people living with ME/CFS. 

 "I would LOVE to write, but if I write by hand, my hand gets tired and sore very quick. Sitting at the laptop my eyes tire after 10 minutes and my brain gets frazzled which isn't very helpful if you want to put your thoughts into words that are more or less interesting or enjoyable to read." U.H.

Some suggestions, from myself and others which might be of use to others dealing with ME/CFS or other illnesses/disabilities

  • I personally write with a fountain pen. The ink flows easily over the page and therefor not requiring much pressure and strength.
  • Using a smart phone that has a rather large screen, and use a plastic pen to tick the letters on a virtual keyboard popping up on the screen. This is by far the easiest way for me to write as the movement is very small and the base of my hand can remain in contact with the table.
  • Position the laptop on a cushioned tray while reclining in bed. My arms are supported on pillows, so again, it's wrist movement for the most part.
  • I use a decent stylus with a metal not a rubber head so typing with the little keyboard on an iPad mini screen is easy & requires wrist movement only & the hand is relaxed.
  • For laptop-computer writing there is  Dragon Speech Recognition Software. It is a software which learns how you speak, and types what you say. It follows instructions too, like 'delete' or 'next paragraph', or underline, etc. It can also tread out what you have written.
  • The headphone set that came with Dragon I found too heavy for my head. I ended up with severe neck pain. After researching alternatives I purchased this small X-Tag microphone which can be attached to my shirt. It also is not necessary to sit in front of the computer. However, as the transcribing is not always that accurate it might be better to see what you are writing...
  • There are a variety of writing pens available for people with arthritis, which might be suitable for other too. See here, or here , or search in google. From as simple an aid as a rubber piece to put around the base of the pen to have to grip less tightly, to more elaborate designed pens.
  • SIRI is a voice recognition software installed on ipPhone and iPads. (activate it under settings) I use this often to write an email, or dictate a thought or story. It is remarkably accurate. (I just googled if there is an android alternative and this came up: Robin) I can lie dow while 'writing'.
  • One of my main 'tools' is to set my timer and not write for more thatn 20 minutes on the computer. Others suggested this too. Take a break. Come back later in the day to continue writing. Not easy to step away... but hugely beneficial.

Writing is hugely important to me, and to many, many others. Writing helped me, and still helps me to understand my changed world, and to be in contact with the world.

... the reason my last book 'Into the Light' turned into a book with very short thoughts and reflections was because I could not write the longer essays I had in mind...

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Handwriting or computer writing, or a balance between the two

Morning thoughts about writing by hand, using voice recognition or the computer keyboard, and the effects on my wellbeing.
It is all about balance.

dairy page of ME/CFS Artist and Writer Corina Duyn
the feel of the pen gliding over the page

I have not picked up my pen to write for weeks.
I have in stead written my blog every day. I love it. But I do miss the feel of the pen gliding over the page. The side of my right hand touching the cool page. The way my head bends sideways a little to the left. My left hand holding the page softly into place. The ease of my body in this action cannot be replicated by using a keyboard, having to sit upright looking in front of me instead of down. Even the use of voice recognition software on my computer - and thus limiting having to use a computer keyboard – is just not the same.
It requires concentration, which is not required in the same way by using pen and paper.

I can imagine – I know – that even the words that come from my pen are different from those coming through my fingers.
There is a different intensity to it.
The computer writing might be more controlled, as in not totally stream of consciousness writing.
It has a different purpose perhaps.

Also one cannot play with words – not create the big, crooked, large, small, bold, angry, sad, happy words in a visual way.

Writing them express the intensity and intention of the words. Typing them limits this to a large degree.

It is all about balance again.
It always is.

Balance between my desire to write.
To write from my heart. But also the desire to share these thoughts – my experiences, my views, my creative ideas, my life- with others.
I so love that too.

It probably means reframing my day again, to include my handwriting. After morning meditation and before the computer time.

Balance – all about balance!

dairy page of ME/CFS Artist and Writer Corina Duyn
clarity and resolutions appear on the page
My diary writing can be - will be - the starting point for my computer writing.
My "worry" was that if I were to write on paper first the rawness of my thoughts have already been used up – the Blogs would be more "polished" – maybe this is not the case?

Let's play, play, play, with that this week.

Blog writing has taken a hold of my brain. When I wake up at about 3 AM (menopause hot flush time) I think about my next blog post. I have so many ideas! I have a whole book worth of ideas I like to write about and share.

All in good time. All in good time.

Just make notes of the ideas and let them rest on the sheet of paper. Don't try to hold them in my head!
There is no more room.
My brain's filing cabinet is full. My brain is wired. The filing cabinet is overflowing and keeping me awake even during rest and sleep.
Adrenaline – most likely.
A dangerous place to be. Too long living on adrenaline results in a crash……
So be ahead of it.

Be more mindful and go back to my 20 minute rule for computer time.

Maybe, just maybe, writing by hand first and speak my writing onto computer, via iPad (?) Might be a much easier way, and ultimately healthier way for me to progress in my day, in my life, in my well-being.
I do love to write! And share.
All good. Be well.

Post note:

I dictated this scribble onto my iPad, sitting in comfort and only took about three minutes. Siri, the voice recognition software is actually more accurate than the Dragon software on my computer.
Also the small corrections that do need to be made (by typing) are easy, as my clever iPad suggests possibly replacement words.
The correcting took another few minutes.
I figured out that I can copy my text straight onto my blog. I saved it and am now finishing it on computer.

My actual computer time - which I find very different from using my iPad- has been very much curtailed today!

Lesson learned! 😉

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Gluten free fruit, nut and seed bread

As promised last week, here my Gluten Free fruit, nut and seed bread, which I bake at the same time as the Rye bread 
photo of freshly baked Gluten Free fruit, nut and seed bread
Gluten Free fruit, nut and seed bread 

Bowl with dry flours, dried fruit, nut and seed for bread by Corina Duyn
The colourful mix of my 'bread-to-be'

Mix these dry ingredients in a large bowl:
2 cups gluten free white flour 
1 cup oatflakes
1 cup buckwheat flour (or spelt if tolerated) 

1 cup ot more (in total) of dried fruits, nuts and seeds of your choice.
 * I used raisins, walnut pieces, almond pieces, almond flakes, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and      sesame seeds.

1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon of nori bake which is a powdered seaweed

Mix the following in a measuring jug:
1 egg, beaten
250 ml water
250 ml soyamilk 
1 tablespoon of plain yogurt, or good squeeze of lemon juice

Stir and add to dry ingredients, gently mixing it all together:

* Because the gluten free flour absorbs a lot of liquid this should be very wet dough! Almost pancake batter consistency.

Put in a greased bread tin.
If I have a bit of dough left, I fill these tiny baking tins, to make some mini breads, nice little presents, or great for kid's lunch boxes.

Place in Pre-heated oven: Gas 7, 220 C, 425 F.
About 45 minutes.

Cool on wire rack and ENJOY!

* It tastes the best when still a little warm! If it is not going to be eaten in a day or two, I would suggest to cut it in slizes and freeze individually wrapped. I freezes well. Warm defrosted slizes in the microwave for few seconds, or under the grill for a bit, and it will be as fresh as if just out of the oven!

fruit bread and mini breads

Links to other recipe:

Friday, January 27, 2017

Creativity and me. 2: Egg - the capability of developing into a new individual

EGG: spheroidal reproductive body enclosed in a protective layer,  capable of developing into a new individual

quote from Hatched re-hatched

As I wrote yesterday, Eggs were my theme during the first number of years of illness.

About a year into the illness I woke up one morning and made a drawing of an egg.
I can asure you, l was not in the habit of drawing. And certainly not in the habit of drawing eggs... first thing in the morning.
 a drawing of a cracked egg. The broken piece of shell held by a hand reaching out from the inside. by ME/CFS artist Corina Duyn
First Egg. © Corina Duyn 1999
There must have been some notepad beside my bed. Most likely because I had such a bad memory (ME/CFS brain) that I had to write everything down. Every question I might need to ask my home help, or something I might like to eat, or need. Anything. No thought stayed long enough in my brain to make it to the rightful person who could help me.

Anyway. I found myself with a drawing of a cracked egg. The broken piece of shell held by a hand reaching out from the inside.

I had not the foggiest idea why I made this.

So, I decided to look in the dictionary. 
EGG: spheroidal reproductive body enclosed in a protective layer,  
capable of developing into a new individual.

Now THAT I could relate to.
I was stuck in an egg. I needed the protective layer as if anyone sneezed at the end of the street, I would end up in hospital. The protective layer was also my enclosed life. I spend most of my time in bed, or on the couch. I needed, and as given, protection from kind home helps, friends and family. My home and care were my protective layer.
But what I related to most of all was the capable of developing into a new individual.

My life, my existence, was so stripped back to it's absolute minimum that I had the feeling I was starting life all over again. And with that, I had capability to developing into a new individual. A challenge. A possiblity.

Every day I would start afresh again.

Every day I tried to see beyond the fear, the pain, the wish to let me sink into the mattress into oblivion and not have a new day start. But when a new day presented itself to me, I would remind myself that I was given a chance to develop into this, as yet unknown - even to myself, individual.
I presevered.
And grew into what I have become today.
A long journey of eggs, becoming the bird, finding my ground, and now looking to re-emerge to dance in nature.

A footnote for my friends recently diagnosed with ME/CFS 
drawing of egg lying on its side, feet sticking out on right side (bottom of egg). Off Balance by ME/CFS artist Corina Duyn
Off Balance- drawing by Corina Duyn 1999

There were many days where I was completely off balance. 
Like the hardship experienced by friends recently diagnosed with ME/CFS. 
You are in my thoughts 
I am holding you gently.
Stay in your Egg for a little while.
Rest. Rest. Rest. 
Be minded.
Be cared for.
And grow into a beautiful bird.


links and further reading:

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Creativity and me. Chapter one: illness and the touchy subject of creativity

Creative Egg ... A Touchy Subject

Making drawings about not wanting to be creative.

'Opa', Artist Doll by Corina Duyn 1997
'Opa', Artist Doll by Corina Duyn 1997

Many have asked me about my creativity: the background to it all, if I studied art and how it became a tool to explore life with illness. Over the next few weeks, or however long it takes, I will share with you some of the creative moments in my life, which have brought me to where I am today. I doubt that they will be in chronological order... my brain doesn't work like that. 
The thought that came to me this morning was about the Creative Egg, A Touchy Subject.

Before becoming ill in 1998, I was a busy Doll Artist. I supplied shops with small figurative sculptures (see some here). My company was called Fantasy Folk. My work made its way to several countries. I worked on corporate and private commissions, had solo exhibitions, visited trade and other craft fairs. I was busy!
I worked in my studio during the day, as well as running a household, you know, the stuff we all have to do. At night I sit by the fire and do the hand sewing. 

When I first became ill I thought, fair enough, I have been busy, I need some time out. And tried to accept that life had brought me to this Full Stop.  However, during the early weeks or months I did put clay on the table, or set up my sewing machine. But every day My Body won before I could even get started. 
I wrote letters to the people and galleries and shops who were expecting my work and told them I needed a little time off and will get back to them when ready to work again. 
That gave a sense of relief.
I could now focus on getting better.

I didn't get better.
I got more, and more ill.

Later in 1998, and early 1999, I started to blame my Art practice- but work I absolutely LOVED - for the reason I had become ill. 
So, any reference made to creativity became a very touchy subject. "When I get better I'd rather work at a butchers (my worst nightmare) than EVER make a living out of being creative again" were my words ...

image of Creative Egg, a touchy subject . Egg with spikes and a tap to collect the creative juices cought in a bow © Corina Duyn, pencil drawing 1999
Creative Egg, a touchy subject
© Corina Duyn, pencil drawing 1999
But my hands made drawings, initially of eggs ...
Egg were my symbol of new life.

And this drawing of an egg with spikes, as in not safe to touch, but with a tap to collect the creative juices for another day, became the turning point. 
Not because I wanted to be creative again, or even accept my creative being. But simply because a dear friend Mary Lincoln, was brave enough to bring to my attention that

 I was making drawings 
about not wanting to be creative...

Point taken.
Case Closed.

Links and further reading:
  • Hatched -a creative journey through ME is now available as digital download for €3.99 
  • A gallery of my Fantasy Folk Artist Dolls and early work, of which many appear in Hatched, please see HERE
  • My book and art shop
  • My very last dolls made before becoming ill were for Waterford Crystal

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Dentist Chair and me

Yesterday I had to go to the dentist.  A small piece of one of my back teeth had broken off the day before.  "Wear and tear" the dentist called it.
I didn't realize that I hadn't been to the dentist for almost 6 years. I thought it was about two...

Anyway, although I was offered an anaesthetic to fix my tooth, I decided against it. I know the side-effects of having an anaesthetic while dealing with ME/CFS. I rather endure a few seconds of pain than the possibility of a week(s) of relapses.

To be honest the treatment of building up my tooth again, with some drilling and lots of 'poking' was more sense of 'discomfort' in stead of intense pain. I know what pain can be like. This came on the scale of four out of ten. ME/CFS (Fibromyalgia) can be eight out of the 10.
As my teeth needed cleaning too after an absence of dentist visits for 6 years, I thought I might as well get that over with too.

During this ordeal, I concentrated on my breathing, as I do in meditation. At one point I found myself looking down at myself, and the dentist poking in my mouth, as if it wasn't really happening to me.  Peculiar, but comfortable in a way. And kind of funny too.
This worked until a painful spot was hit, and one of my legs would jump up without my control. The peculiarities of one's body...

Overall though it felt that it was not my teeth that were enduring the fibration of tools, but my brain.
It was as if my brain was being scraped, poked and polished, by an enthusiastic party of little man with powerful tools digging away at my brain.
With the unfortunate result that I was barely able to get off the dentist chair.
That I had to 'slump' onto the couch in the waiting room (where the next patient watched me ...  I explained to him that I was not feeling like this because of treatment, but because of me!). 
That I was feeling so unwell, that I had to leave my mobility scooter outside (miss independence)  and be brought home by the assistant by car.  Thank you for caring for me!!
That I spend pretty much the rest of the day on the couch.
That I still have a pounding headache and was up in the middle of the night because of it.

** The bright side is that I have a full set of clean teeth again, no bits missing! **

sculpture by Corina Duyn, of small figure sleeping in a pod.
resting!  'Aerial' © Corina Duyn 2014
Talk to you tomorrow, hopefully with a clear head again.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Movement is life

... if only I might move as the wind moves, sing along as the trees sing, bend and quiver as the flowers do, and feel the sap of life stirring swiftly and strongly through me!’

Aleanor Mordaunt

black and white photo of Corina Duyn and Frans Hogevorst dancing in a school party, aged 4. Movement is life
Me and Frans Hogevorst dancing during celebrations
in first year of school. Aged 4 '

Dancing has been one of my desires. All of my life.  It still is. This year I will dance! Hopefully using my body, definitely through my artwork.

As a little girl I passed by a ballet studio on my way to primary school. I so much wanted to be a dancer. During those childhood years there was a Saturday night variety show on TV. My favourite part was the group of eight dancers. I wanted to grow up as being one of them. I didn't. And even when I could decide for myself to attend dance classes, I never did. The closest I came to dancing was attending jazz-gymnastics in the 70's, and of course at the Saturday night disco! 

I possibly have been restricting movement in my body for years. Much longer than from the onset of illness. Maybe I had became unsure of trusting my body - of being who I meant to be and grew into someone others wanted me to be.
During the first few years of illness I became severely restricted in my movements. Every single action: walking, eating, brushing my teeth, having a shower, turning around in bed was at times so painful that I moved as little as possible. I did get out of bed every day and worked some routine in my day – but looking back I restricted movement to a bare minimum. The words "movement is life", uttered by a dietitian/homeopath who supported me during those early years, still rings in my ears. Movement is life. Now I am very slowly re-learning, re-imagining, and trusting, who I am. A dancer.  I am ready to dance, and ready for change.

Subtle movements are dance too

Through reading books about healing and wellness, listening to my body, observing nature and exploring art, I now come to the conviction that the breath can be seen as the subtlest form of dance. This way, we can all dance, no matter what our physical state may be. Even when I was more or less bedbound, or in constant pain, the core of my body was dancing. “Let the body be free and open as it’s rocked and cradled by the breath- still, yet continually moving,” as Vidyamala Burch suggests in Living well with pain and illness. “Motion is natural to the body and its systems. Even the bone cells are in a constant state of movement as they replenish themselves. 

So, inside I am dancing. The realization of the importance of the breath has been with me for a long time, but as for dance, I looked outside of myself.

photo of play of light on Annaghmakerrig Lake, by Artist and Writer Corina Duyn
Annaghmakerrig Lake
Dance is everywhere

Observing nature, I witness the dance of leaves and flower petals in my garden. The birds flying from tree to feeder. A goldfinch swinging gently with the breeze on top of the teasel.
Resting by Annamakerrig Lake during my residency in 2013, I watched water-striders dancing on the surface. The intertwining circles they created on the water were of a beautiful choreography. What about the autumnal leaves swirling on the road, or a group of starlings in the sky, shifting direction at the same time? Or the gentle bee hovering, dancing above a flower in search of nectar.

One of the beauties of living with this illness is that I have time to observe the minutest detail in nature. Of course I am not alone in this.
Kathleen Madge wrote in 1947 in The World of Living Green: “almost every plant has its own dance, continually moving, both in leaf, shoot, and flower – a dance so slow that we hurrying human being do not perceive it. There is a rhythmic dance of the flowers as they open in the morning and close at dusk…"
Aleanor Mordaunt wrote this delightful passage in The garden of Contentment one hundred years before I read it. Oh beautiful, beautiful life! beautiful wind and clouds and trees! they make a Pantheon of me, and I prayed them to take me to themselves and make me one of their wild, sweet fraternity, to teach me their secrets and joys, and their almost sweet sorrows; if only I might move as the wind moves, sing along as the trees sing, bend and quiver as the flowers do, and feel the sap of life stirring swiftly and strongly through me!’

The dance in art

Now. 2017. I am on a mission to dance. 
I am relearning my body's movements and possibilities.
I have continued with my walking practice, and every week I go 'one-tree-further'. I concentrate on my movements during this now almost ten minute exploration. I am observing the dance of nature. I  am filming some of it too. And I am dancing with words here on my blog. 
My art is definately going into the direction of movement too. The plan is to have two little aniamted puppets dance through my garden. (... more about that some other day.)
If I don't fully succeed to really dance myself (as in the true sense of the word), I will dance through my art.

Links for further reading:

Monday, January 23, 2017

Dear Stranger by Anastasia Palmer

Let the sun be my smile
The rain be my tears
The storm be my anger
The wind be my voice
So let me be
Anastasia Palmer- Dear Stranger

In 2004 I was invited to give a talk at the Healing Arts Trust Lectures Series at Waterford Regional  Hospital. As I was not sure on what to do, I opted for a screening of the Fit to Fly  documentary created by David Begley, which documents the way I used art in the early years of ME.

There were quite a few people there and after the screening we had a question and answer session. Anastasia Palmer, then about 16 years old and ill with ME, was there with her mother Margaret. We chatted for quite a while after the event. I have stayed in touch with Anastasia ever since and have followed her amazing creative and healing journey.

At some point we considered publishing a book together. One side was mine. Turn it over and it shows Anastasia's.
I am so glad this did not happen as we would not have seen the incredibly beautiful letter press printed book Dear Stranger.

I am SO proud to have one of the first copies in my life. I remember when it arrived, I could feel the energy, the tears, the joy, the wonder and years that gone into this book.

The other beauty is that these books were to be given free to libraries, so everyone could have access to this amazing book, filled with so much wisdom and beautiful woodcut prints. Wisdom far beyond her years, as the words in Dear Stranger were written when Anastasia was in her teens. She wrote letters to a Stranger - to all of us. The words are striking. The emotions raw. It oozes with wisdom...
Dear Stranger Letterpress book by Anastasia Palmer
Dear Stranger Letterpress book by Anastasia Palmer
Dear Stranger Letterpress book by Anastasia Palmer
Dear Stranger Letterpress book by Anastasia Palmer
Dear Stranger is now also available as paperback from Amazon
About the book: words by Anastasia from her website:
"Dear Stranger is a collection of letters that I wrote from age 15-18 while ill with a chronic illness called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E). I have hand printed 230 copies of Dear Stranger through the craft of letterpress printing, hand-setting every letter, rolling each page through the printing press and carving every picture in wood. As these books are limited they are being passed around from person to person as a gift and some can be found in libraries..

A few quotes from the book:

ME: I read through the list of symptoms of M.E., it made me cry so much, I feel like someone forced themselves inside my body and poisoned my blood with all of these pains. I was shaking reading it, my God do each of them hurt when added together, sometimes it’s all at once and other times it’s a large combinations. Even to just take one of the symptoms like memory or concentration – it is difficult, I forget a moment that has just passed, I cannot listen to someone long enough to understand what they are really talking about and it’s not likely I will remember later. The amount of strain I put on my ears to actually listen to someone, and it does hurt, physically first and then emotionally because I want to listen and understand.

Pain: I am in so much pain, you think that by now I would be so used to it that it would not bother me so much, but it does. And when I see myself in the mirror I am so saddened there is these young almost baby like face, but so tired and pale and stressed, filled with paying and an age that doesn't belong to youth. My God truly, what do I have left?

Dreams: I am starting to see that illness comes to us because of our story so it might also want to leave us because of our story. I will find out how to use my mind and then I will find out how to live my dreams.

Gift: I feel that illness has been a big gift in my life. … The more I understand the more I see the beauty of the path but I am on.
I ache about so many things and cry for hours about how hard it all is, but what is the wealth of my experience? A lot! My tears come from a special place and are connected to something far greater than I have ever cried about before… By being ill I have been able to stand outside of the world, meet my own world and now I am gaining strength so that I can go into the world again.

I would highly recommend reading this book. Teenagers and Adults alike... Dear Stranger is also available as paperback from Amazon