As of today, we are officially one week away from the 2nd Annual Diabetes Art Day! If you missed what Diabetes Art Day is, you’ve more recently joined the DOC, or you just need a little reminder, Diabetes Art Day is a web-based initiative for the DOC and their families to make art that says something about diabetes to post online.
There are multiple purposes for participating:
While this is an online event in that the artwork is shared online, this is as much about making art as it is sharing it. I encourage you to make something special just for Diabetes Art Day during the next few days. Making art is a powerful experience. Whatever you make now is a telling footprint of who you are and where you’re at in this moment, so if possible, don’t deny yourself that experience. That being said, if you don’t have time between now and Diabetes Art Day to make something, don’t feel like you can’t be involved. If you have something older you can share, please use it to participate because it’s still a unique reflection of your experience with diabetes.
In addition to whatever benefits you can experience from your own art-making experience, Diabetes Art Day can also be a family activity if you involve the significant people in your life: kids, parents, spouses, siblings, anyone who is a primary participant in diabetes care in your home. Diabetes is usually experienced as something negative within the family because it’s intrusive, it interrupts, it costs money, and it takes time. These are the reasons we get tired, frustrated, sad, fearful, and angry. These are the reasons many people experience anxiety, depression, and burnout at some point. Having a positive experience around diabetes can be very valuable. It’s not going to erase all the negative stuff, but it might offset the negative just a little bit, and in this marathon of a disease, a little break like that counts for something.
You might be surprised at how you feel about your own art-making experience, how you feel when you share it and receive feedback from others, and how you feel when you see others’ work and give them feedback. It’s hard to describe what that experience is like because it’s so visceral, but its power is great. It’s an indescribable thing that will make you glad you participated.
We are all diabetes advocates in some way. Some people advocate for everyone with diabetes, some advocate for the person they love with diabetes, some advocate for themselves. Some advocate purposefully, some advocate out of necessity, some advocate without even realizing that’s what they’re doing. By making and sharing art on Diabetes Art Day, you will be advocating for the diabetes community by participating in this community event, and a community event’s impact is as great as the amount of participation. By sharing your art on Facebook, Twitter, other social media sites, and on the Diabetes Art Day website, you will be taking part in an effort to raise awareness about diabetes, showing people beyond the DOC what living with this disease is like.
Diabetes Art Day is above all else, meant to be fun. If you say you can’t draw, aren’t good at art, or dismiss your art-making skills as no better than a little kid’s, then you have everything you need to participate in Diabetes Art Day. Children make art as a way of playing and communicating. Children love to experiment with new materials and new art-making processes, with no concern about whether or not they’ll be good at it. The beauty for them is in the experience. Have fun, let go of your expectations, let go of fear, and allow intuition and curiosity to guide your art-making process.
There’s something to said for going with the flow, being kind to yourself, not beating yourself up over perceived mistakes, – things that seem especially challenging when it comes to diabetes care. People with diabetes are an awfully self-critical bunch, getting mad at themselves for eating certain things, having BG’s that are out-of-range, not exercising enough. Use Diabetes Art Day to practice self-forgiveness. Don’t worry about perceived mistakes when making art because it’s only a mistake to you when you label it as such. Make a conscious effort to silence your inner critic, accept what comes from your art-making process, and then try to apply same acceptance to your diabetes care.
Between now and September 1st, I hope to offer a few more posts with inspiration and ideas. Diabetes Art Day 2010 was a wonderful success, and I’m looking forward to seeing it grow this year. For more information about Diabetes Art Day, please visit the website: www.diabetesartday.com.