Hey Paul Evolves

8:34 AM

What up 2013? A little premature? I’m in a forward thinking mode. I tend to drift off and think about where I want this business to go. Mostly just when I’m standing in long lines, eating dinner, sitting in lectures, watching a movie, or when I should be paying attention to the road. You get the picture. I find that I make a conscious effort to remember to separate my two careers: Medical Social Work and embroidery. I would like to get away from pushing aside either of my loves, for eight hour periods at a time. I'm noticing so many ways that these two passions intersect.

An Early Attempt at Embroidery

Anatomy: This is my favorite stitching subject. Assume that I was a straight A student in Anatomy? Former member of the Science Club? Please. My undergrad is in Criminal Justice. 4 years ago, I found myself switching from my role as a Foster Care Case Manager to an HIV Case Manager. I had previously interned at a psychiatric hospital but had no other experience with the medical field. Over the course of a typical work week, I spend endless hours sitting in exam rooms with clients while waiting for the doctors. Each room is equipped with an anatomical chart. Staring at these charts for months, I started to become intrigued with the art behind the education. I happened to be picking up embroidery at the same time that I was starting to become intrigued by anatomy art.

Co-Infection: Hep C & HIV Cells
Tactile Therapy & Health Literacy: I was approached by a follower on Etsy, who is part of the visually impaired community. He suggested that I consider making tactile educational tools. I have a background in working with children who are diagnosed with Autism, sensory deprivation, and developmental disabilities. Thanks to this suggestion, I am now in contact with several education institutions to discuss next steps for expanding on my workbook prototype. In my role as a Medical Case Manager, I educate young children on their HIV status. I’m currently working on an interactive stitched chart for teaching concepts such as immune response, viral replication, adherence, and transmission. 

Stitchings of An Institutionalized Woman
Narrative Therapy: Embroidery is a form of self-care for me.  An alternate story can be formed on the textile, using designs or text. Long before I learned to stitch, I took a road trip to the Glore Psychiatric Museum. Having a background in mental health, I found it to be both a disturbing and fascinating visit. The image of an embroidery piece, stitched by a resident who was schizophrenic, has stuck in my mind since that day. It’s an amazing narration of her thought process at the time, whether or not a well organized or intact process.

My First Freelance Project, Ink Magazine, KC
Networking, Resources and Referrals: I have met some really great people since starting Hey Paul Studios. I’ve began to connect with a variety of people in the local arts community, nationally, and even internationally thanks to social media. Social work is all about networking with others, learning about the resources that are out there, and knowing how to make referrals to help people fill a need. Those who are a part of the arts also survive by way of networking, sharing resources, and referring their contacts to opportunities. There is a lot of joy that comes from making a new connection and being introduced to a new opportunity. It’s just as awesome to pass that along to the next person. I would not be where I am now without help from friends that I have made along the way. 

Finished Product/Finished Job: When you work in the people business, the job is never done. There is rarely an easy fix and new needs always arise. Being ready to respond and provide support as needed is the heart and soul of the field. I know so many Social Workers who are also artists. I have a theory that they get an unconscious fulfillment that comes from completing an art piece. To know that the task is fully completed. The to do list can be fully cleared. 

Beer Friday: I’ve always been in the non-profit world. I only recently realized that Beer Friday exists at some jobs in the private sector. Hilarious. I now get these too, after 5pm, with my stitching gig.

My Stitched Map of La Isla De Ometempe, Nicaragua
Student Loans: Embroidery sales are now helping to pay for my pricy Masters of Social Work degree that I will forever be indebted to. Perhaps it even helps me to put a little bit of extra money away for future student loan payments, just in case I ever wanted to skip the country for a year or so and just exist on say...an island located in Central America. Hypothetically speaking, of course. 

There are my thoughts. More forward thinking and less debate about how I can manage to balance my two great loves. Maybe embroidery will be developed into the most powerful therapy tool to date. Until then, I'll keep on stitching. 

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  1. Great explanation of how your world fits together. I too work with kids on the Autism spectrum. Funny how many creative types do. You are doing a great job balancing it all. My hat goes off to you. And yes - I love that social media world wide interaction too.

  2. Shelly, how awesome. We have a lot in common! We will have to chat about your work more! It's still an area of interest for me, even though I work in a different area now.


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