Category Archives: Education

The Internet – Helpful or Overwhelming?

When I was in school we often had to do reports on one thing or another. Book reports were easy, you only needed the book. Others were more involved, requiring visits to the library, encyclopedias and other books on the given topic. One year I had to do a report on a state, I chose North Carolina. I remember having to call and request from the chamber of something or another and get information sent to me so that I could get the information needed for my report. It was a big deal, and once I received the information I remember pouring through looking for the things that were required for my report.

I’ve often thought how much easier it would be today. Today you just hop on your computer, type in a few keywords and poof! you have your report information. Since I started doing the around the world blog, I am finding that this is not really the case. It really is not all that easy because when you type in your keywords there is no telling how many pages are going to come up that are irrelevant to what you are looking for. In fact you receive so much more information, some of it false, than you could find in two or three local libraries. But still somewhere in all the links what you need does eventually show itself.

So I have decided that what I think is this, the internet is overwhelmingly helpful. It has what we need, we just have to learn to weed out the false and irrelevant and have a lot of patience. Not much different from my library days.

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Coping with Pain

 

Well, let’s just start with what I think, pain is a pain in the butt!

I have fibromyalgia, a wonderfully mysterious  disorder (serious sarcasm to be read here), that allows its host to enjoy widespread pain. This pain is so wonderful (sarcasm is the order of the day), that it will not leave your side for any pain medicine. It is just that loyal of a friend!

Okay, while what I just said was true, let’s drop the sarcasm for some reality.

 

Obviously I have fibromyalgia. However, I don’t want to talk about how much pain I have or how much energy I don’t have. What I really want to share is how I cope. I have 4 main coping skills that I use to get from one day to next and to remain really quite, very, incredibly? happy. Which ever of those is the biggest adjective, that is the one I am glad to say that I am…absolutely no sarcasm meant here.

My first and foremost coping mechanism is my faith. I have a very good knowledge of the Bible and I use it to build me up. I have a strong relationship with God and I use that to comfort me. Obviously whoever is reading this may or may not share my religion, I am one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. My point is that faith and knowledge of our Creator can be a real comfort and does help me to cope. (If your curious about my faith)

 

 

 

My second coping tool is smiling. As often as I can as much as I can I smile. It releases wonderful chemicals that actually do have an effect on the pain. No, it won’t make it go away but it will help. So if you can do it, smile!  Also connected with this is laughter. Just as important, it releases the same chemicals in your brain. So find something to laugh about. A favorite, , animal videos on youtube, friends with positive attitudes.

 

 

That leads to number three. Don’t let yourself be isolated. Granted there are times that we have pain that is too much to have to deal with people at the same time, but if it is just a mild or even medium pain day then socialize! My friends give me things to think about other than my pain. Distraction can, in my experience, work as a pain reliever too.

Number four, do what you can do, do what you like to do. Today is a good example of that for me. My pain isn’t too bad, I have a fair amount of energy. So today I will do whatever that allows me to do. Don’t waste a good day thinking that it will make the next day better. It might, but it might not. When you have chronic pain you can’t wait around for it to suddenly, permanently go away. Make the most of your good days. Have fun with them. Accomplish something, even something small. And the second half of that is do what you like. Make it a point to do things you enjoy. Today I am writing to all of you. I am a very creative person so I may work on origami or a painting or something along those lines. I enjoy that so I do that. It gives me things, fun things, to look back on when the pain is so bad I have to be in bed or on the couch.

 

(Note: This does not include when you have been ordered by doctor to stay in bed. If medically running around doing errands, cleaning house, going for walks, etc. is bad for you it is bad for you. This is simply about chronic pain with no other health risks involved. Also please keep in mind I am not a health professional, just someone who lives with pain.) 

Well that about covers it. My four best coping tools for pain. They may at first seem impossible. Or maybe they seem ridiculous, but they have worked for me now for over seven years. And I do consider myself to be an incredibly happy person. I hope that it helps someone out there.

Art Appreciation

I just finished watching a video at Khan University that discussed art and context. As an artist myself I generally am trying to accomplish one or more of a few things.

copyright 2011 Kendall Stewart

First is to accurately portray some object while at the same time catching the mood of the object in a way a photograph might not.

Copyright 2012 Kendall Stewart

In some instances I am simply trying to create something that brings beauty to the fore.

Copyright 1996 Kendall Stewart

Sometimes my paintings are absolute accidents, but once an accident starts to please me I try to build onto it and again draw out the beauty that is visible, at least to me.

When it comes to appreciating art I am always happy to share with people how my art came to be, what I think of a piece, what I was trying to do, etc. However the thing that I want from those who look at my art is to first and foremost determine how the piece makes them feel. The examples that were discussed in the video were Monet’s Cliff Walk at Pourville and Malevich’s White on White. In Monet’s piece it is easy to look at the piece and come to personal conclusions about what the painting represents, how it makes you feel personally, what you like or dislike about the painting. In the instance of Malevich’s painting it is much more difficult to come to those conclusions by just looking at it. Though you may easily decide if you like the piece, getting a feeling from it may be more difficult. So this is an instance where after looking at it, making some initial personal judgments, it is nice to get the history of the painting and the artist’s view on what it was they wanted to accomplish. Something that I would originally of viewed as, “Well I could do that!”, now offers more to think about. So here’s what I think:  while I still stand by the belief that foremost in appreciating art is how the work makes the viewer feel, it is obvious that we can grow in our estimation of a piece by learning what the artist felt and thought and experienced at the time of their work.

Khan Academy on the Diane Rehm Show

I was on the way home from the doctor’s office today and caught most of the second half of The Diane Rehm Show on NPR and I am so glad I did! As her guest she had Salman Khan who is the man behind The Khan Academy. I had never heard of it until today but by the time I got home I couldn’t wait to get home and visit it. Basically the Academy, found at khanacademy.org, is a free educational site crammed pack full of short lectures in a variety of subjects. There seems to be no limit to the people who may find this site of use. Subjects of learning include math, computer science, history, art history, finance and economics and they hope to continue to expand. So I visited the site and decided I would watch one video just to get an idea and share it here. I watched a short video, in this case more of a slide show with voice overs discussing why look at art. After watching the video I found questions submitted by people who had viewed the “lecture” followed by room to comment yourself. Also you can ask a question for discussion if you chose. In just a few minutes, probably less than 15, I had an opportunity to think about and join in on a discussion of the value of art.  I loved it! Next I want to work on my math skills…and science…ooh and more art…and history! If you’d like to listen to the interview of the founder, which I found fascinating, you can find it here: http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2012-10-03/salman-khan-one-world-schoolhouse-education-reimagined . Anyhow, that’s what I think for today!