Hello Friend! My name is Andi. :)
As I sit here, attempting to introduce myself, I'm tempted to tell you about my chronic illness. I'm tempted to allow the reality of my health to define who I am. But the truth is that God has uniquely created me to be more. My illness does not define me, and that is a freeing reality!
On an ideal day, you might find me sipping on a cup of joe with a friend. Maybe we would be in the car heading out on a road trip or sitting on a blanket by a lake, watching the sunset. Either way, you can be sure that some deep chats, laughter, and maybe some singing would take place. I value deep relationships and growing in the love and authenticity we were created to experience with one another. I love spending time with friends, family, and meeting new people. I believe everyone has a unique story and purpose and I enjoy seeing that unfold in the lives of those around me! No matter what I am doing, art often becomes a part. Whether I'm decorating a cake for a family birthday party, doodling on class notes, or painting on a canvas, I love creating!
As I mentioned, I do have a chronic illness. Though this certainly does not define who I am, it has deeply shaped the person I am becoming. To be completely honest, this part of my story is really hard for me to put into words as I'm not yet on the other side of this traumatic experience. When I was 22, I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease and it has completely flipped my life upside-down. Rather than starting my first full-time job, I have spent more time in bed than not, and have been to more doctor appointments than I can count. Before Lyme Disease, I was BUSY - 6 hours of sleep, a packed schedule, and 3 cups of coffee for fuel in between. :) When Lyme Disease turned that 6 hours of sleep into 10 (on nights I am able to sleep), 3 cups of coffee into 0, and a busy schedule into a very clear one, my view on life began to change. Though I have to deal with constant fatigue and pain, I now notice and enjoy the beauty of simple things in life that I had totally missed before. I've started to see the beauty in the colorful blossoms on trees, savor the taste of my food, and appreciate the ability to go for a walk - all things that I had often blown right by before. Getting to go out for coffee with a friend has become a special occasion. I am learning that no matter how mundane or painful life is, there is always something beautiful if I have the eyes to see it.
So, can I be honest with you? Even as these words leave my fingertips, I hesitate. But, not because I don't believe them. Rather, because I know that for those of you who are really hurting right now - finding any amount of joy or beauty may feel nearly impossible. I so fear that these words will feel shallow to you in the midst of your pain, where everything feels so dark. So I want you to know that I'm right there with you. And I'm here to tell you that there's hope in this beauty that I speak of. There's hope in each small moment appreciated. There's hope in the slow (and I mean slooooow) growth. For me, fighting to see beauty has looked like enjoying a sunrise after yet another unrefreshing night of sleep, appreciating the kindness of a nurse or receptionist at an appointment, or finding a new recipe that fits within my dietary restrictions. Big or small, finding joy in the little things is good for my soul!
Art has provided a way for me to better engage in and see the beauty of life. There's something about the stroke of a paint brush that helps me to both express and enjoy a moment more fully. Sometimes when I can't find words to communicate the pain I'm experiencing, whether physical or emotional, art can. That expression can happen through the colors and images I'm using, or even the way I'm painting - freely or intensely. Ultimately it's less about the final piece and more about the process. A tangible expression to the intangible experience of pain. Other times, art is just a way to have fun and enjoy the moment by creating something pretty from the colors in front of me!
So, friend, I want you to know that whether life is great, mundane, boring or painful, you are welcome here. Maybe you've lost a loved one. Maybe you're dealing with a mental or physical illness. Maybe there's financial stress. Whatever your season, I want you to know that you matter and your story matters!
I want to invite you to grow with me in slowing down and choosing to embrace all of life; the hard, the beautiful, even the mundane. I want to create space for us to just be. To unwind, relax, have fun, and express freely!
I'm glad you're here and I can't wait to meet you! Let's create something beautiful together! Contact me here!