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Mark of hope?

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_ Mark of hope_Soula Mantalvanos QGW Lettered print exchangeQueenscliff Gallery & Workshop (QG&W) organised the Lettered print exchange.

A Print Exchange is when artists submit works to a set theme and they exchange each other’s work, each artist keeping a complete portfolio.

An exhibition is held and only a few of the editions are for sale.

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I made a gallery

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Soula & Theo Mantalvanos at QG&W

True! Theo and I made a huge life move as many of you have read.

Our transition began over a year ago when we escaped to Tasmania to figure out how to manage life with chronic pain.

It was the best thing we did even though terrifying at the time.

In just over a year, we have spent four months in Tasmania, returned to our dear Collingwood, sold our warehouse sanctuary, removed ourselves from our main business (as it was impossible for me to do the previous design work), planned a new lifestyle, and began a new venture with the utmost faith and backing of some very dear arty friends and some special few design clients.

Again, terrifying.

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Appearances can be Deceiving

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Frida, …a woman who used fashion to channel her physical difficulties into a courageous statement of identity, strength and beauty. Exhibition by ISHIUCHI MIYAKO

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Intermission, my solo exhibition in Hobart

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It’s my PN anniversary, eight years (if I don’t subtract the 4.5 years it took me to find out it was in fact PN)! Obviously time brings on reflection which in turn invites the ‘melancholies’ (yes, I did just make up a word). But I have significant reason to bury the ‘melancholies’ this year with…

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Permission granted and now it’s back to reality!

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Boxing Day Self Portrait For Theo

Permission granted and now it’s back to reality!
Or is it possible I never really left my reality? As if anyone can leave chronic pain behind and really have time off! I’m going to post my brain’s two conflicting versions:
1. Crap thinking out-of-the-way first version..

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Signing off for 2014 under an Olsen sun at MONA

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Soula At Mona John Olsen Painitng

Or should I say, looking forward to 2015?

Looking forward is more my tune but the changeover of another year, especially with chronic pain, calls me to reflect and to ponder my future.

It’s been three gorgeous months in nurturing Tasmania where I’ve eased my work load, upped my fine art a little, and squished obligations to almost zilch (bliss!). The year will end and sadly I haven’t been able to incorporate driving into my abilities, nor a consistent and regular exercise routine, and Theo is still carrying much of our daily living load… but…

…as I keep stating, finding life balance with chronic pain is really very difficult and I believe ‘we’ are doing very well, yes it takes the two of us, Theo and I.

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Robert J. Echenberg, MD

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Dr Echenberg http://www.instituteforwomeninpain.comI don’t think I need to write an introduction for Dr Echenberg or Bridge for Pelvic Pain. The only explanation I feel I need to give is that I was drawn (pardon the pun!) to Dr Echenberg’s fabulous ‘patient expressions‘ web page on his site: www.instituteforwomeninpain.com and had to send him an email.

I landed on The Echenberg Institute website after participating in the Pain Pathways facebook chat. From there I was also contacted by Carin Willis, the Founder and ED of Bridge for Pelvic Pain who also took the time to send me a very touching email expressing her appreciation for The Hurting Strings and requesting that we connect and stay in touch. Carin was also kind enough to send this review:

Soula’s video about her literal fall into chronic pelvic pain (pudendal neuralgia) is one of the most profound short-films about chronic pain and its affects on the patient and their families and care-givers I have seen to date.  I highly encourage anyone dealing with chronic pelvic pain to watch Soula’s video “The Hurting Strings” and to share Soula’s message of patient advocacy, having a good support system, and to focus on the possibility of hope that shimmers through very dark days.

Considering Dr Echenberg is the Founding Board Member of Bridge for Pelvic Pain and a member of the International Pelvic Pain Society and has “seen people from over 25 states in the US and from at least 5-6 other countries”, I’d say many are aware of his work and dedication in the area of chronic pain. Instead of writing more of Dr Echenberg’s achievements, I’d rather paste part of his wonderful, empathetic reply that arrived in my inbox. It gives me immense hope and reassurance for anyone with chronic pelvic pain, and provided me with great appreciation for my advocacy efforts.

I know you will be inspired to read more about Dr Echenberg’s work and feel the hope that I did when I received both his and Carin’s email.

…upon opening my messages just now your site, your book, your story… so much more light here in Pennsylvania even though it is almost midnight.

One of my main missions is to spread awareness and hope about the science and art of dealing with chronic pain and push hard for earlier diagnosis and integrative and effective therapeutic approaches in order to “prevent” the spiraling down of tens of millions of women and men just here alone in the US – the supposed bastion of medical technology.  The training of health care practitioners everywhere in lower genital tract pain is almost nil.  Several of my “projects” and involvements you can find at www.bridgeforpelvicpain.org  which is a new non-profit out of Colorado whose mission is to raise world-wide awareness as a grass-roots organization to engender hope and education at all levels – and another active project is at www.paindownthere.com where a few of us have produced a soon to be released 2 DVD set designed for young women to learn properly about their bodies and give up to date information about ‘connecting the dots”

Thanks again for finding our site and offering your inspiring work.

Sincerely,

Dr. Bob Echenberg
Member:  International Pelvic Pain Society
Co-Author: “Secret Suffering: How Women’s Sexual and Pelvic Pain Affects Their Relationships
www.instituteforwomeninpain.org

Dr Echenberg http://www.instituteforwomeninpain.comOffice phone:  610-868-0104
paindownthere.com/
www.facebook.com/Paindownthere
twitter.com/painfulsex
instagram.com/paindownthere

Bridge for Pelvic PainCarin E. Willis
Founder & Executive Director, Bridge for Pelvic Pain
Skype/Phone number: 719.445.7040
www.bridgeforpelvicpain.org
Facebook: Bridge for Pelvic Pain
Twitter: pelvicpainB4PP

Semi Finalist for the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize 2014

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Very chuffed to be selected as a semi finalist regardless of the outcome. The portrait was flown up to Sydney for a second round of judging. She didn’t make the final cut of 30 finalists but I feel so content that Ms Soula is going to great lengths to create awareness for invisible pain.

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Cathartic collage, my self portraits for sale

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Collage has been a little more therapeutic for me than my usual art forms. I think it must have been finding a technique that I could manage and one that didn’t add to the fatigue and pain. Cutting small pieces of paper and glueing, drawing, attaching was just so light and easy. The painting of small pieces of paper and the careful ripping and tearing was like rocking. So gentle, so calming and at the same time feeling like I was handling my pain, expressing it and getting it out of my body and onto the art piece.


Contact me if you want to purchase my artwork, these are the original pieces, no printouts will be sold. Paypal or Direct deposit available. Will post safely and securely free within Australia (plus postage outside of Australia).

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Texan Physiotherapist, Sara Sauder interviews me about PN

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Excerpt from Sullivan Physical Therapy‘s Sara Sauder. Read the full interview on her blogspot.

Sara Sauder's BlogspotSoula Mantalvanos is an Australian artist living with pudendal neuralgia.  She runs a website  and a blog that chronicles her life since developing pelvic pain.  These mediums are helping people around the world learn more about pudendal neuralgia (PN) and how to find the much deserved medical care they need.  Soula has created a book titled Art & Chronic Pain – A Self Portrait which portrays her pain experience in the most beautiful and honest way.  Most recently she gave a talk to 180 pain specialists at Australia’s 2014 Alliance for Improving the Management of Pain.  She is an open person.  Soula was willing to answer my questions and I am thankful for this as she is very eloquent in shedding light into what it is like to live with a pain that no one else can see.

Please know that this is Soula’s story.  Your story is just that – your story.  If you have pelvic pain, I want you to appreciate that each narrative and each journey is unique.  Gather what you can from listening to others that know what you are going through, learn from what they have to say and use that to take one more step forward.

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This chronic pain advocate could do with a little help to maintain her site. Your $3 per year makes a huge difference and shows me you appreciate what I do. Subscribe to keep reading Soula's personal posts

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What is Pudendal Neuralgia (PN)?

Most simply put PN is Carpal Tunnel in the pelvis/buttocks. Compression of the Pudendal Nerve occurs after trauma to the pelvis and is aggrevated with pressure. The pain is often described as a toothache like pain, with spasms, sensations of tingling, numbness, or burning. It can be very debilitating.

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