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Living With the Chronically Ill

Updated on June 16, 2014

I Am an Artist, I Am a Caretaker and I Do the Work!

Living with the chronically ill is a tough one. You can imagine it, or maybe you don't even have to, maybe you live it. Within this lens are different thoughts about art, emotions, ways of survival for your own self and the calling of an art goddess. I am not saying I "am" a goddess, only that I feel the potential calling me.

Thus I tell you my story (only in part) and my way of dealing with "stuff".

I think it is important to note that art is not the only way to survive taking care of someone you most likely love, but it is my way. I have been an artist since I was 3 years old, sitting in the back seat of my parents car, as they traveled like gypsies across America. It was in that back seat that I found my best ally in life, and that was my friendship with art.

When you care for someone you love who is sick, you can lose yourself. I do and I have, but I always feel rescued by the creative energy that captured me as a child. To survive you have to take your calling, whatever it is, seriously. It is not a hobby if it is a calling, it is a shelter and an obligation.

YOU matter! I matter! Consider your own existence and the importance of YOU. This is a "note to self" as well, as I need to continually remind myself of these things.

Sooo.. I came across this book that has helped me a LOT! Let me tell you some about it and how it has affected me.

What causes us to plug in? After reading a book by Steven Pressfield, titled "The War of Art", I am convinced that his message to artists is the one a lot of them run from. It is the message to set time aside to do the art they were called to do. I know I do from time to time yet my attention to it can be sporadic.

Pressfield speaks of "resistance" as being the enemy within and the demon that blocks the road to success. Success mind you is subjective.

I now consider him to be my mentor, whether he likes it or not, but I am sure he would not mind. After all he wrote the book. He of course might never know that I have singled him out in this way, but I know that despite all, his teachings will rise to the occasion.

"The War of Art" has several follow up books. I list them below. I also keep them nearby me, always. I keep one in my purse, 2 on my computer desk and one on my nightstand. I am obsessed with finding my own worth; my place in the art world; creativity. I feel the way to find those things is as simple as the writer suggests it is. It is all based on one simple thing and that is to "do the work". Just do it.

Resistance is a sneaky lover that you do not want in your bed and yet it is relentless. Be aware of that battle arising every second of the day. It will never go away, so don't expect a rest from its temptations. Despite it all though, if you love art in "any" form, be it writing, painting, sculpting or how you set the table for dinner, know that you must apply yourself, not waiting on inspiration. That is a myth. The idea that you cannot create because you don't feel inspired is that crazy "resistance" telling you lies. Just do the work. 9-5 or all night long for you night owls, just like any other job.

In many ways I think the battle between happiness and sadness can be cured, for the most part anyway. I am "somewhat" convinced that when an artist does not "do the work", depression and sadness become their constant companion.

Below I share the back and forth of those emotions, the ups, downs, and yet the idea that often sadness brings out great artistic concepts. Lets face it, funny, happy paintings are "cute", but maybe they don't make great art. Ohh don't get upset cause I wrote that if you do "cute" art. It has its place of course, and is acknowledged by many as possessing genuine stature, just like more serious forms of art. I am only suggesting that the Mona Lisa is not famous for being "cute".

Last thought, reflection is not a bad thing, it is not the enemy. We are.

The image is of my relief "The Missing Swan" 12x12x2 mixed media on canvas by Kathy Ostman-Magnusen. Below you will see a work in progress of another piece in this same series.

"The War of Art" - by Steven Pressfield

It's a battleground out there kids! And who or what are we up against? "Resistance" and our very own selves. This is the book that I speak of in my introduction above. I have read this book 3 times now and know that I will again. It is that profound to me. While the message may "seem" to be redundant at times, hold on, continue on, FEEL what the author is trying to share with you. IF YOU do? Wow, what changes are ahead for YOU.

Music - turn on the music...

I need music. It is my help, my muse and companion to doing art. I have to be careful of it though because sometimes I decide on music that makes me sad. I think sadness kept within certain boundaries is a necessary evil to doing art sometimes though, so in all of this I want to accept that part of me that has always connected with that emotion.


I NEED MUSIC.. it is my muse.

Other Books by Steven Pressfield

Once you read "The War of Art" you will want to get his other books on the same subject. Ready to dig in and "do the work?" YES!!

Do the Work
Do the Work
One of 3 more you should get if you embraced "The War of Art"
The Warrior Ethos
The Warrior Ethos
Another one that is a must if you are and artist

"All Things Considered" detail, 12x12x3 mixed medium by Kathy Ostman-Magnusen

"All Things Considered" detail, 12x12x3 mixed medium by Kathy Ostman-Magnusen
"All Things Considered" detail, 12x12x3 mixed medium by Kathy Ostman-Magnusen

Are YOU an Artist?

Ever since I was a little girl of about 3 years old, drawing in the back seat of my parents car, as they traveled the countryside, I knew, I just knew I was an artist. My parents were gypsies of their time, like a lot of people during that era, who drove from state to state to see if the rainbows might be stronger at some new destination. So we drove, and drove and drove. They would settle down from time to time but I was left to my own devices in the back seat of the car most often.

When I was in high school I read a book about Zelda Fitzgerald. I decided then that the Fitzgerald's, F. Scott and Zelda were just like my parents except without the money or parties.. LOL! My mother in particular, relating to Zelda's emotional problems. She was born with a melancholy she told me once and it was that piercing state that led her to turmoil. My father was/is a stanch man, set in his ways about the man being the head of the household and never truly accepting a woman's worth. I am positive he would find that statement of mine appalling though.. which also seems pretty darn funny to me. The two elements equaled the menagerie of quarrels and turbulence that resembled the life I read about. The stories seemed the same. It was the artist's way I think. Artists don't always know their own calling or don't follow though and the gifts of creativity are left to the wayside. My parents were/are both very intelligent, well read, artistic people who could have written or painted something brilliant. They decorated their homes with abandon, made mosaics, painted. My mother wrote poetry and beginnings of things. They kept the spark of creativity alive in our household but never pursued the dream of it going anywhere or truly defining themselves as a painter or sculptor or writer. I do though because I have accepted the call and I know it within my being.

All of this leads to me and my calling. I am an artist. It took me a long time to say that when people asked me. I honored the title too much and didn't feel I was talented enough to say that out loud. That little girl in the back seat of my parents car beacons me though, reminding me that drawing is the basis of me breathing and the root of who I am. I am an artist.

Being an artist one must be a self starter. You must be your greatest fan and supporter. I cheer me! Despite the gift of knowing who you are from a child does not guarantee anything though. Like my parents, you can have the gift but decide to dabble in it only and then one day there you are, watching TV with few years left to your life. It is that stark and it can be that sad.

YOU have to decide, is it a hobby or is it your calling.

ODi Something BEAUTIFUL!

Find the beauty, it IS there.. I promise. I send that promise to YOU as well as me. Fight the good fight and "do the work" that YOU were born to do.

Here is a dear presentation called, "Something Beautiful" from her "Maslow's Songbook" album

What Do YOU Think?

OK so what is YOUR process? How much do YOU apply yourself to your art.. whatever it may be.

by the way.. the pic is a "work in progress" of one of my reliefs. Smile.


Do YOU believe in a strict schedule to do art? (image is one of my paintings fyi)

See results

The Seat of the Soul ~another profound book

I found this book to be so profound. Not in the same was as I did "The War of Art", it meant different things to me. It rescued parts of my soul. Yes I need to go back and read it again!

The Seat of the Soul
The Seat of the Soul
I need to read this book again. When I read it the first time I thought of it constantly as it blessed me so. Gary Zukov can be difficult to understand and/or follow at times, which is no doubt why he wrote subsequent books explaining this one. It is soo elegant and eloquent though and if you want to be blessed beyond what you know at this moment? Read this lovely book. I have it here at my desk now.

I am unique & so are YOU

Someone very close to me told me years ago that she was born with a melancholy and maybe that is part of what my being is about. In any case I want to be careful to be kind to me on this subject because I am my own first critic and I don't want to defame every single intricacy that makes up my being. Where to draw the line has to come into my understanding in my attempt to find happiness in being who I am. I am unique and I am grateful.. a poem I wrote once, is important.

Wear it like a crown...

Is the little girl her inner child? I have watched this video many times and I think so. So what does that mean to you? Do YOU embrace your inner child? Or is she wrapped up in the arms of resistance?

Words and their Meanings

Relevant Words to this Lens


The refusal to accept or comply with something; the attempt to prevent something by action or argument


Activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.

A task or tasks to be undertaken; something a person or thing has to do.


An act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy.

Human sacrifice was practiced by many ancient cultures. People would be ritually killed in a manner that was supposed to please or appease a god or spirit. While not widely known, human sacrifices for religious reasons still exist today in a number of nations.


An even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady. A condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.

Libra (my sign)

Astrology the seventh sign of the zodiac, which the sun enters at the northern autumnal equinox. Astronomy: A small constellation (the Scales or Balance), said to represent the balance that is the symbol of justice. It contains no bright stars.


An intense feeling of deep affection. Love is also a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection; and "the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another"


Lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure.


A musical instrument...


Today, like every other day, we wake up empty & frightened. Don't open the door to the study & begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.

Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. ~Rumi


The Author Speaks!

Yay.. here are a bunch of UTubes of Steven Pressfield sharing. So darn cool!

A favorite quote...


Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing & rightdoing, there is a field. I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language, even the phrase "each other" doesn't make any sense.

Rumi - 13th century



Why is it important for YOU to care for yourself as someone close to you is in so much pain? You know that answer I am sure. You cannot possibly help anyone if you disappear. You will become bitter and angry. You probably are anyway.. right? The guilt can be overwhelming for that. Take time out for YOU... PLEASE.

Sley~ Lyrics for the UTube

First "Pretty Face"

taken from we sink - morr music mm107 - 2011

I see my pretty face in his old eyes

I listen to our blood run side by side

I throw my hands to you and run away

Its so cold so dangerous that I can't stay

I run away from you

Into your dream and who the one

That I was in when you took me

That I could never meet my friends again

I thought I touched them but I can't feel Im in your dream

They want to take me but I will hide from them

Tonight I take your life and throw it far away

I'll use my pretty face to find my way to him

I run away from you

Into your dream and who the one

That I was in when you took me

That I could never meet my friends again

Will you be my friend in my dream

Just take that pretty face Ive shown me

Will we ever have that baby

Just take that pretty face Ive shown me

Are you my friend

Will you be my friend in my dream

Just take that pretty face Ive shown me


Other Music on the Lens

The music of Rebekka Karijord

I have a lot of Rebekka Karijord's music. I play it while I sculpt or paint. I find great inspiration in her videos as well.


Were you here? Do you have an opinion or a thought? Let me know what YOU think OK? AND.. have a happy today!


Steven Pressfield's blog .. sign up for his newsletter! A few sites about him as well as some of my websites and info.

Please leave your comment and let me know you were here. Do YOU "have a set schedule for doing your art?"

So what do YOU think?

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    • profile image

      blestman lm 

      8 years ago

      Wow, what a RICh lens -- and so personal. Thank your for sharing this. I've met so many caretakers who are NOT taking care of themselves. Your art has depth and sensitivity. I understand it is difficult to live with someone who is chronically ill yet you seem to have found a way to live gracefully.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image


      8 years ago from New York

      Living with someone in chronic pain, suffering from Parkinson disease, PTSD, and insomnia (just to name a few) from Agent Orange is not an easy feat. I met many others living in Mesa, AZ suffering from exposure to Agent Orange and the devastating effects. Little help from the VA. A few are now collecting 100% disability, after 40 years, while others are still suffering without any monetary compensation, yet still in pain and still unable to work.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      8 years ago from Canada

      It is indeed difficult to live with someone who has a chronic illness. I have one and when my health is scary I can feel the insecurity and fear in my husband. He holds me more, hugs more often, and constantly stays near me. I hate when I frighten him like that.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      First, thank you for sharing the innermost faces and places of your heart and art, Kathy. As to scheduling my time for my art, in my case the passion is poetry, no I do not. I agree that I probably should. I also agree with the relationship you draw between emotion and the creative process, in that I have often said that it is through crisis my best works are written. I worry about that sometimes, though, for I wonder... might one create chaos in order to birth the artistic expression?

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Yes, you are important....let me say that again a little louder....YOU ARE IMPORTANT, a precious gift that keeps giving so many facets of loveliness!!! May others receive of your grace....loved on FB and G+.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thank you for your lens, I enjoyed reading it.

    • kathysart profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @Charlino99: Thank you for such a thoughtful response!! Sooo appreciated!!

    • Charlino99 profile image

      Tonie Cook 

      8 years ago from USA

      I have a set schedule: Every day I read the reflection in my morning cup of coffee. I take a picture of it, and post it on Art & Coffee on FB. You have inspired me to set aside time to do more.


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