I’m an artist living in South London with my husband and two children. I’m having an exhibition in December at the Copper Beach Café at JAGs Sports Club in North Dulwich.
The private view and fundraiser for my show Swimming in the Slow Lane is 6.30-8.30 on Thursday 5th December. There will be a discount for all works on that night. Speakers, including me, will be talking about the importance of exercise, diet and the pleasures of swimming. I will be donating 10% of the profits I make from the exhibition to two charities, Overcoming MS and the Mental Health Foundation where I work four days a week as, Programmes Manager for Empowerment & Later Life. On the 5th there will also be a raffle for a framed print to raise money for the two organisations. The show runs until the end of January.
I was diagnosed with the recurring and remitting type of MS eight years ago. It was a huge shock, but I was helped by a family friend who has MS telling me that MS was nothing to be afraid of.
In 2017 my symptoms became more severe, when I tried to run my left leg felt like it was made of concrete. It was through Liz Bentley’s book of poems, Mind Full of Mad Verse that I first heard of the OMS programme. My husband did some research and with some trepidation I started the diet in May 2017. With regards the OMS programme overall, I was fortunate to have already been practicing Zen meditation. In addition, I work in mental health and trying to best manage my own mental health underpins the work I do in the sector.
My health has improved my left side is still weaker than my right, but my leg no longer feels like concrete. I no longer find myself so overwhelmed by exhaustion that I find myself lying down on the floor to rest in the middle of hanging up the washing and I now know that pizzas taste fantastic without cheese. Keeping to the diet is not currently an issue for me. There are losses though. Spontaneity particularly. Eating out was a pleasure that’s less straightforward now. Sometimes I do catch myself wishing I could just eat without thinking about it.
On the positive side, my family eats very differently now. I’m certainly healthy and thinner for the diet. My exercise of choice is swimming, hence my exhibition, Swimming in the Slow Lane. I swim for health, exercise and because I enjoy it. I always feel better for a swim. I’m not fast but this Autumn have swum 2000 metres in one stretch. I find the experience of my morning swims inspiring.
I’ve been an artist for over 30 years. At a stage in my life when my artistic practice is pushed for time, making digital drawings after swimming has been a way to sustain my artwork. Each swim is different. The digital prints are my memories of the people and goings on in the slow lane.
Being on the OMS programme has provided me with a way to be more in control of my life, to change lanes when life is challenging, to improve my quality of life and to feel hopeful for the future.