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Archive for September, 2013

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The connections we make shape our hearts.

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Because sometimes there are pages in your journal you don’t like. This was a Journal Fodder prompt to document your day and so I literally made something out of all the stuff from that day. It became more like a smashbook page only not as nice because I was feeling ill and it came out in my playing around.

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If this was in my normal journal then I probably wouldn’t have shared it however, it being in the Moleskine and art of the Journal Fodder work through, which I agreed to myself I would share my progress on bad bits and all, here it is. It did, however, lead me to my word for October which I’ll be sharing next week. This post is about accepting the bad as well as the good in your journal, after all whether I like the page or not I made it for a reason!

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Despite all that’s been going on I have still been working through the Journal Fodder prompts though I have become lax about blogging about them. So here comes an uber post to get things caught up.

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First up we were thinking about being more present and mindful, something that is wonderfully beneficial to do but very difficult to remember, particularly when you are a worrier.

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I had randomly glued in an old to do list sheet from my filofax ages ago to this page so it inspired me to use a list structure for remembering to BE MORE PRESENT.

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Playing around with this page was calming and a real exercise in being present, as a result I found myself doodling in the corner and creating something I liked as a logo idea for my business.

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Following on from that the topic turned to what we say to ourselves, whether we berate or encourage. Now I try to talk the happy talk to myself but as someone who struggles with depression this is easier said than done. More often than not the gremlin in my brain takes over and pushes fear, doubt and hatred into my mind for myself.

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I created a window on this page into the next one which worked out quite nicely for several reasons. The first being that when I’m trying to deal with myself it often feels like I am trapped inside and looking outside, the second being that the next page became a page about playing like a child again (which is amazingly therapeutic when you have mental illness as it lets you retreat into a safe place) and third because from that safe place over the page we can see into the workings of my mind. They are not separate things you see, they are connected and the window in the page connects them.

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So the play page became one of colouring, hand prints and me allowing myself to be a princess once in a while. It was a lot of fun to do and helped me to get out some negativity, which is always a good thing.

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You see, my art journals are never meant to be pretty. Occassionally I create things in them that I like but I’m not the kind of person that works in them to show them off or display the pages or create something fantastically beautiful to share. I knew people in Uni whose sketchbooks I was incredibly jealous of as each page was a beautiful work of art in itself. Mine were never like that and I realised that for me my sketchbooks/art journals were for getting stuff out so I could get on with life and creating without all the rubbish being on my mind. They are a way for me to work through all the crap in my life and usually that involves me taking all the mess and throwing it on the pages to get it out and make some sense of it.

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Interestingly the last three pages became double spreads despite the fact I had moved myself onto singles for the Journal Fodder exercises on the whole. This one is about bringing the magic of love and being there for someone, just being there with no expectations, to lend them support, an ear to listen and a hug. Around the me part on the right I later added the people that are there for me, no matter what, like magic.

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Over the course of this week my mood has been getting progressively worse. I could feel it about half way through that I had a downer coming my way, I knew my depression would flair up and this time it has surfaced in a crisis of self faith.

I had been working so hard making and listing, trying to find a couple of places to settle for selling my work all the while getting confused and disheartened by what I found. The issue was only impacted when I started doing the number one negative thing a creative person can do and that is compare themselves and their work to others.

I stopped loving my work and started telling myself that it is childish and garish compared to others. The more I did this the more frustrated I became and instead of loving my unique individuality I had to fight the urge to destroy everything I had been working on.

I should really have taken a break when this happened but I ploughed through, making myself feel worse and worse. It was when I woke up this morning still feeling this way that I decided enough was enough.

Anyone who has dealt with depression will know it is an ongoing battle. I found myself playing around with ideas this afternoon but not feeling happy and content with what I was doing so I turned to my journal. It helped. It’s a place where there’s no pressure to perform or create something that I need to try to sell.

That’s when I realised I had been too focused on making things to sell. It sounds silly really because of course I’m going to be focused on that when I need to make a living out of my art work but I was letting it take over and as a result it sapped all the enjoyment and passion I had. I had started trying to fit myself into a mould of what I felt I should be making rather than what I wanted to make and felt called to create. I lost faith in myself and my own guidance, my abilities and what I want.

To myself I say this… I’m sorry.

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The next order of Journal Fodder business was a journal excursion. Unfortunately the day I had planned to do this I was, for one reason or another, unable to I took the first opportunity following that. It happened to be after I had taken my little man in for his first morning at school and it was surprisingly emotional for me.

I found myself fighting tears on the way to the coffee shop and once there my mood just came pouring out of me and into the page. In that regard it was probably the best day to do it. Had I gone home to do the page I probably wouldn’t have been as honest about how I was feeling or even done it in the first place.

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I suppose the blue areas are really just visual representations of my mood, including a very brief bit of writing about why I felt that way. I’ve since had the time (I did the page over a week ago) to take a step back and look at what I created now that the mood and root issues surrounding it are not a concern anymore. I see the pink as the love I feel for my little man despite my sadness at how fast he is growing up while the butterfly seems to me to represent his growth, transition and spreading his wings.

None of this was planned, my pages never are, but I find it amazing to step back once they are done and see what insights my intuitive journalling bring me.

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When I sit and need to think

I make myself a lovely drink.

I rest and see just how I feel

Before I tackle my thought meal.

Following on from my last Journal Fodder page ‘sanctuary’ the adjoining one became a celebration of my comfy spot on the sofa. It has always been my seat, my place to nap, where I relax and think, stitch and knit. I’ve experienced joy there and cried there, I even gave birth to my son there.

When people come round they instinctively know that it’s my seat…I suppose the table of odds and ends helps to give it away too…but there’s something else too that marks it as mine, something that I can’t quite place.

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Like Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory I am very attached to my spot, not only does it seem to have molded around my butt given the amount of time over the years I have sat there but it also seems to hold a bit of me in it’s energy. I feel safe there, safe to feel whatever it is I’m feeling and safe to let that feeling out.

It deserves it’s own page in my life journal, in fact I hadn’t realised just how important it was to me until this page was born.

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003When I hear the word sanctuary my initial thought is a somewhat dramatic, someone flinging themselves through the doors of an old church and hurling themselves down the aisle shouting for sanctuary; a place of safety and help where they can escape, for a while at least, their pursuers.

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While I was creating this page I didn’t like it, something felt disjointed about it right up until the end when it was finished and I realised that in fact I did like it. The page had a random polling card folded in half on it to create a pull out part which was ideal really given the topic as I could use the inside of it for the sanctuary part’. I had intended on adding more things to this part however in the end it really needed very little.

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I have numerous sanctuaries both within and without, the most important one really being inside myself as it is the one that is always there for me. Other than that though coffee plays an important role whether it be at home or at my favourite coffee shop where I try to go a couple of times a week, on my own, to just sit, think and create in some way.

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Around the fold out and on the top of it I wanted a natural look and feel, green and brown playing their parts and pretty paper flowers layering up to cover all the journalling I did on the subject. I also really like how the word sanctuary looks rough and almost like it has been written in lipstick thanks to the texture beneath the letters and the oil pastels  used to write it.

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I think that without at least one sanctuary of our own it is easy to get lost and overwhelmed by life. We all need the space to be able to relax, think, plan and just be without pressure and without filling our mind with unnecessary distractions or feeling the stress of the jobs and responsibilities that we have chasing us day in, day out.

What and where are your sanctuarys? And when do you utilise them?

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