Walking in Their Shoes: Andrea

Walking in Their Shoes - Andrea

As a writer, I’m constantly asking my fictional characters about their motives, backstories, hopes, dreams, and fears. Over the years, I’ve become more empathetic to the choices we make in our own lives. In the segment, Walking in Their Shoes, I’ll talk with real people in an effort to learn about their personal journeys. I’m sure I’ll find inspiration through their stories.

Today, I visit with Andrea. As a twenty-four-year-old artist, she works with many mediums. Not only is Andrea my daughter, she designed the cover art for my romance novel, The Garden Collection.

Christina: Hi sweetie, I mean, Andrea. Thanks for joining me today. When were you first interested in art?

Andrea: While I was in middle school, my grandma got me interested. She painted ceramic figurines, and I’d help her. Later, she gave me a bunch of acrylic paints and canvases, so I could paint at home.

Christina: Who has been the biggest influence on your love of art?

Andrea: During class, my middle school art teacher, Ms. Patterson, was sketching a landscape of a creek under a bridge. She asked me to help with the shading of the bridge’s bricks. It changed how I viewed art … to appreciate the details.

Christina: What types of artwork have you worked with? Which is your favorite?

Andrea: I’ve worked with acrylic, watercolor, and pencil on paper, canvas, shoes, wooden blocks, and logs. I’ve painted a motorcycle helmet and designed tattoos. I enjoy all types. However, on lazy days, I prefer pencil and paper … less cleanup.

Christina: What kinds of things bring you the most pleasure now?

Andrea: I love naps. In art though, I’ve found pencil drawings easiest and more laid back. My earlier work was primarily landscapes. Now, I like doing portraits.

Christina: Do you feel differently about yourself now from how you felt when you were younger? How?

Andrea: When I was younger, I didn’t like details so my work was impressionistic. Now, I work on finer detailed work with less shading … more positive space; less negative. I think I’ve progressed. My art’s more realistic.

Christina: What’s the best compliment you ever received?

Andrea: In high school at a local art show, a couple wanted to buy my Fred Astaire painting. (I love dancing.) Instead of a paint brush, I had used Q-tips with oil-based paint on a plastic canvas. It was the first time someone loved my art outside my family.

Christina: I have your artwork on our walls; and I cherish every piece. Do you prefer to keep art as a hobby or would you like to pursue it full-time?

Andrea: I like to design my own creations so there’s less pressure as a hobby.

Christina: What are you working on now?

Andrea: I’m going in a quirky direction with an apocalyptic series of settings from around town. I’ve also had offers to design tattoos which are fun.

Christina: As a proud mom, I suggest checking out Andrea’s artwork. She definitely has the artistic talent in the family. (Let’s just say she got it from my side of the family.)

Art with Andrea on Facebook

 

Walking in Their Shoes: Patricia

Will, Maggie, PatrickAs a writer, I’m constantly asking my fictional characters about their motives, backstories, hopes, dreams, and fears. Over the years, I’ve become more empathetic to the choices we make in our own lives.

In the segment, Walking in Their Shoes, I’ll talk with real people in an effort to learn about their personal journeys. I’m sure I’ll find inspiration through their stories.

This week, I talk with Patricia. This working mom of Will (23), Maggie (11), and Patrick (6) is going back to college for a degree in accounting. She, her husband, and their youngest children live on the family farm. She’s one of the most selfless people I know.

Christina: So how do you balance it all?

Patricia: Well, I don’t think about it. I run on autopilot some days and do what I gotta do. My phone calendar is linked with my husband’s, so that helps. I schedule meals, homework, and school with as much detail as possible. Then, we review the schedule weekly adjusting for those issues that come up out of the blue.

Christina: Your youngest son, Patrick, was born with heart and liver problems. You found out soon after that he has Down Syndrome. How has your family adjusted to his needs?

Patricia: At the time, we didn’t know what Down Syndrome meant until we went to genetic counseling. Getting help early for him with physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy was vital. He’s a regular kid with cognitive issues. He doesn’t talk much, but he understands, so communication is important. We’ve learned sign language that he’s become adept at. He also has an iPad with assisted speech technology that talks for him. Our church and school system are supportive as well, and we attend seminars through the Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan.

Christina: What’s the toughest aspect within your family?

Patricia: I’d say balancing a special needs child with the others. Patrick takes up more of our time and attention. We don’t want Will and Maggie to feel left out.

Christina: How have you changed since Patrick was born?

Patricia: I have more patience now. For as much as I plan, I also have to go with the flow. Messes and dirty clothes don’t bother me. They’re a part of life. I embrace those moments of jumping in the mud puddles with the kids. It’s more fun than trying to prevent it.

Christina: What’s a guilty pleasure you do just for you?

Patricia: I just started going to the gym, I enjoy hanging out with my friends, and I drink a glass of wine in the evening.

Christina: What would you like people to know about raising a special needs child?

Patricia: Although I have family support, I’ve gotten a wide range of response from other people. For example, at a child’s party, the kids may ask why Patrick doesn’t talk. After my brief explanation, they nod then continue to play with him. I wish more adults would stop asking, “What’s wrong with him?” Nothing! Nothing is wrong with him! I’d rather they say something more on the line of “I notice he acts differently …” or “I notice he doesn’t talk …” I appreciate when someone is inquisitive and wants to learn.

Christina: Thanks, Patricia, for joining me today. To learn more about Down Syndrome, check out these sources:

Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan

National Down Syndrome Society