A little bit about yours truly…

     I found a great therapy in clay upon my discharge from the military in 2011. My initial love of making functional pottery (coffee mugs and bowls) transitioned into an immense passion for sculpting. With my hands in clay bringing my imagination to life in 3D, nothing else matters; not the pain, the emotional turmoil, the frustration… none of it. It all goes away, and I am at peace. I’m currently working on a series of sculptures that center around jobs animals had during various historical conflicts – “Animals of War”.  You can see the different sculptures I’ve made in this series by visiting the GALLERY.  

Woman artist wearing brightly colored clothing sitting in a room.

Once I realized just HOW therapeutic and Cathartic the Simple Act of Creating Can Be, I have made sharing this revelation a large part of my artistic practice.  I donate my time and lead/teach an art tile class at the Travis Mills Foundation – a place for severely wounded Veterans and their families to enjoy a week of pampering without having to worry about accessibility.  When the opportunity presents itself, I happily explain the benefits of how much the simple act of creating can help ANYONE overcome and cope with adversity in their own lives. This has become a large part of my arts accessibility and creativity in health work that MALI helped jumpstart.

In the summer of 2019, I started experimenting with creating using polymer clay.  Stoneware clay was becoming increasingly difficult on my hands for whatever reason.  I’m sculpting smaller with the polymer clay which has its own set of challenges, but I am enjoying the immediacy of not having to wait for the clay to dry before I can fire it and then of course the firing time. I am accepting and welcoming of my new “title” as a mixed/multi media artist – as I AM creating in a wide variety of media.  

In August 2019, I made the decisions to both go back to school for graphic design and maybe try to find a part time job to get me out of the house more.  I made the realization that I was missing the social aspects of the dreaded J-O-B. As luck would have it, I secured both. I am currently attending Southern New Hampshire University in pursuit of a bachelors of arts in media arts and 3D animation. I am also working as a graphic designer at a local copy and print shop in Belfast, Maine.  Between the two of these things happening, I’ve realized that I REALLY enjoy graphic design as a creative outlet. It is something I can do when I can’t get to the clay.

UPDATE – I DID find that job I was looking for in 2019; I was hired by County Copy to be their graphic designer. In June 2020, after the Covid-19 Pandemic hit, I ended up buying the shop to save it from closing. Needless to say, I had a whirlwind 18 months and had to close the shop in December 2021 due to my health. My Myasthenia Gravis decided to no longer play nice. In April 2022 my husband and I moved to a small town in northwestern Wisconsin where I am focusing on a better balance of pursuing activities that give my day to day purpose while listening to my body and improving my health.

Young adult woman wearing glasses in a wedding dress, young adult male with goatee, and a young child wearing glasses. (Shawna, Justin, and Caden at their wedding in August 2013)

In summer of 2017, after YEARS of not knowing why my legs were so weak that I needed a variety of mobility aids, I finally received a working diagnosis of Myasthenia Gravis – a neuromuscular autoimmune disease. There is no cure, but lifestyle changes and treatments can provide a livable life. In August 2019, I saw a new neurologist who specializes in myasthenia gravis.  My quality of life has been infinitely better as a result!  My medication regimen has been changed and I had a thymectomy surgery in September to remove the thymus gland.  You can hear more about that in the podcast I have with my husband – In Sickness and Nevermind.

In addition to MG, I work around/through a seizure disorder, cervical dystonia, peripheral neuropathy, a hypermobility disorder, degenerative disc disease, and PTSD.

Every day I continue to push forward. Putting one foot in front of the other (or pushing the wheels in my wheelchair), I am always looking for that silver lining and the upside to any/every situation. The eternal optimist – that’s me!