Today is a special day - it's the Art of Awareness blog hop, organised by Lori Anderson and Heather Millican. I expect most of you are familiar with both of these wonderful ladies - Lori of the infamous Bead Soup Blog Parties and Heather is the bead artist behind Swoondimples, some of my absolute favourite art beads to work with. More importantly, they are two of the sweetest people that I have the good fortune to know, and I'm so glad that the art bead world has allowed me to get to know both of them and call them my friends!
This hop was definitely a blog hop with a twist. Everyone who signed up got to choose and purchase a very special bean bead from Heather, in the colour and with wording of their choice. Because this is the Art of Awareness blog hop though, each colour had certain significance, and would have a special ribbon stamp on the back.
I've never made any awareness jewellery before - I don't think it's quite such a trend over here in the UK, in fact the only awareness colour I knew off the top of my head was pink for breast cancer awareness. But what some of you may not know is that my wife has MS, having being diagnosed back in 2010. She's very well with it the majority of the time, and although she has certain ongoing symptoms from previous attacks, for the most part she's - we've - been very fortunate. Other than the old having MS in the first place. That's still quite a bummer, it must be said!
The MS awareness colour is orange, and as you can see...
....orange is what I went for. We have been through quite a lot recently - talking and accepting Helen's MS as part of our lives (and if you are the partner of someone with a chronic illness then believe me, I know how much of that specific journey is yours too!), getting a balance between self-care and not allowing our lives to be entirely dominated and determined by the MS. Not living in fear - nor living in denial. I won't say that those things aren't part of our lives still, but we are getting better, day by day.
I asked Heather for the words Be Here Now. I think for those reasons I described above. I have more tendencies towards living fearfully and Helen has more tendencies towards living in denial, but we both have found that we need to stop, take a breath, and be in the moment.
Yes, Helen has MS. Yes, it is unfair and can be a big challenge to live with it as a not exactly welcome presence within our little family. Yes, MS could have terrible potential possibilities for our future. But these are not certain by any means. Nothing is set in stone.
And whatever the future holds, that fact is that right now, Helen is well. Right now, that is our reality, and that is something to hold on to. To focus on. To fully embrace.
Neither daily panicking about the future, nor constantly trying to be superhuman to prove that MS isn't defining us is a good way to live. All we can do is stop, breath, and be here now.
If you want to read about my actual design process, check out my post over on Art Bead Scene!
Thanks Lori and Heather for organising this great event. Quite a personal one for me! Now take a minute if you can to check out what some of the others created: