Hi, Sweet Taters! I have some stuffages to share. :)
FIRSTLY: Art + Woo Woo
I host a free group over here for those of us who are not opposed to mixing our art with a bit of woo woo. It is a Moon Journaling group with a focus on the New Moon, and for this month's offering, I'm including a full length lesson in creating this painting:
This lesson was originally created for Moonshine 2014, but it is perfect for this auspicious moon, so I'm releasing it for free. If you're not already a member in my NING network, come on over!
If you are a member, just click here and join the group and you're in. Voila!
Manfingy's dad came through surgery and is in recovery. We are so grateful that he is okay! MF is flying to India on Wednesday and he will be there for three weeks. Though we don't live together, he is still the person I see the most throughout the week, so it's going to suck balls to be without him. I'll probably art my face off in an attempt to keep myself from going batcrackers. :) Art solves pretty much everything, don't you think?
I started taking my meds before bed and while it breaks my sleep a little bit, it is better for me than crashing at 2 p.m. just as my day is ramping up. I already feel a little more energetic, a little less lead-limbed, which is so, so good after months of feeling like lifting my painting arm took enormous effort. I'm feeling really super optimistic.
And that's it for now
Just a quickie because I've got stuff to do today. I just really wanted to keep you abreast of things since I know some of you worry. xo
One of the more frustrating things about being an art journal teacher is that, unlike when I'm in student mode, I can't just faff around for hours and hours with a spread until it meets my standards. I have to get it done. In my private practice, there are no rules and no time limits, but when it comes to teaching, I have deadlines. I have people waiting for the thing to be finished and uploaded.
This 'need for done', however, is also one of the most rewarding things about being an art journal teacher. Let me explain!
Before I began teaching, I suffered from a really bad case of perfectionism. It was so bad, in fact, that I rarely actually finished anything because if it wasn't perfect, I wasn't happy, and we all know that perfect is impossible. Perfect is one of those sledgehammers we use to bludgeon ourselves with. It is a thief of play and joy and fun.
Learning how to not just live with 'done' but celebrate 'done' has been a huge boon.
Here's what celebrating 'done' looks like in my world.
I did this spread this week for BOD
You will notice that the word "Boundaries" is totally misspelled. As I was recording this lesson, I had a moment when I was pretty sure I wasn't going to spell it right (I'm nothing without spell-check), but I pushed on because - say it with me - I had to get it done, and done is better than perfect!
Despite the oopsie, I love this spread. There are little tiny areas of soul-delighting goodness in it like this one:
That little birdie makes me ridiculously happy, as does the tiny little indications of wood grain. For scale, that birdie is about the size of the tip of my pinky finger. Teensy tiny. And absolutely delightful.
I could bludgeon myself over the fact that I spelled 'boundaries' wrong, or I can delight in having gotten in done.
Guess which one I'm choosing?
Done is better than perfect because done is DONE. Done makes room for the next thing. Which means that instead of spending days and weeks obsessing over getting something JUST SO, I get to have the experience of ticking many DONE things off my list. Each done thing results in a mini celebration! Perfect things just feel like overbearing things hanging over my head waiting to some day finally be perfect.
I'm always going to choose done. Always.
Today, I went looking for the origins of the quote "Done is better than perfect" because I don't like having unattributed quotes in my arsenal of quotes. I haven't yet tracked it down, but in my search, I found this awesome article and this new quote:
Done is the engine of more.
Do you feel that? Does that not just ring all your bells?
Done leaves room for the next thing. It creates space for more. It is full of possibilities.
If I could offer a creative person any advice, it would be this:
Break up with perfect. Make sweet love to done.
In Other News
Since last we typed, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety of the variety that can be helped with meds. I've been resisting meds for many, many years. I am a suck it up, buttercup kind of girl. I am a 'journaling fixes everything' fan. I have spent a very long time handling depression and anxiety holistically with walks and therapy and attempts at self-care. I wanted to be PERFECT at handling it. I wanted to be brave and strong and walk tall. I would never tell a diabetic not to take insulin, but I told myself all the time that taking medication for depression would be a failure somehow. Every time a doctor recommends anti-depressants, I balk. I don't want to be altered.
My doctor said something to me, though, that totally brought me on board:
"What if depression is altering you? What if, with the anti-depressants, you get to be who you actually are and feel like yourself again? What if you didn't have to try so hard to feel better all the time? What if you could thrive instead of merely getting through it?"
So, I started a course of Wellbutrin XL, and we'll see how it goes. Right now, obviously, I'm transitioning onto a drug that messes with my brain chemistry so I feel pretty much like ass, but I was feeling pretty much like ass BEFORE I started the meds, so I'm not going to complain. It will pass. I will even out, and what I'm hoping is that I will find things like eating before noon less of a battle and more of a thing I just do. I will find leaving the house less of a trial fraught with anxiety and more of a pleasure. I will find work less of an escape (because oh, yes. I use it as an escape) and more of a balanced and joyful part of my life.
I'll keep you posted.
But P.S. - Please don't comment on my choice to be medicated unless you are commenting in support of my choice. I am not interested in hearing your horror stories about being on meds or friends on meds or Big Pharma or how toxic meds are. I am a grown up and I made a grown up decision. Please respect that.
Manfingy's dad is in hospital in India awaiting bypass surgery (late tonight/early tomorrow morning). Your thoughts and good wishes and reiki and prayers would not go astray. xo
Trigger alert for mentions of sexual violence against children/child abuse.
Self-care is a thing I have to really work to engage in.
When I first started hearing that term bandied about on the Internets, I was agog, because, dudes. The self-care gurus were talking about spa days and mani/pedi dates and glamour photo shoots and buying that handbag you've always wanted.
Me? I just wanted to like myself enough to feed myself breakfast.
Radical self-care, for me, looked like showering consistently. It looked like feeding myself *before* my blood sugar tanked. It looked like giving myself a few hours off a week instead of driving myself into the ground. It looked like *not* letting myself run out of the medication I need to breathe.
I genuinely did not know how to care for myself properly, and it took about a year in therapy before I started doing the very basic first goal I'd set for myself: eating something before noon.
I find the self-care climate uncomfortable for that reason. I find it difficult to talk about self-care because I secretly think most people are just fine around the issue of showering, feeding themselves, making and keeping medical appointments. I feel like a bit of a freak because when I *do* make and keep medical appointments in a timely fashion (before I run out of meds/when I actually have a medical concern), I feel deserving of a medal AND a gold star AND a tiara.
It's been a struggle.
My 'self-care deficit' is a direct consequence of childhood abuse. It's a hot button issue within my body. Exploring it means dredging up a swamp full of old pain. There is shit under there that I don't want to deal with, but without the willingness (and courage) to deal with it, I will never break the old patterns of self-neglect and abuse. For example, showering triggered a lot of terror in me because a lot of the sexual abuse I suffered happened at bath time. The bathroom was a chamber of horrors. Tiny bathrooms were especially terrifying. Larger ones were better, but even after knowing why I had difficulty with the showering/bathing part of self care, bathrooms still leave me feeling like I'm in danger. I have licked this issue - I shower regularly. It's no longer a problem. But I still don't feel perfectly at ease in a bathroom, even when I appear to be enjoying a long, scented soak in a hot tub.
I'm mostly pleased with my progress.
Showing up for myself on the page on a regular basis (journaling, art journaling, blogging) means that I am more present. Showing up on my therapist's couch once a week means I have a partner in accountability and self-empathy. I can't get away with sticking my head in the sand when it comes to caring for myself anymore. On the other hand, I also can't depend on anyone else to nudge me to eat/shower/make an appointment with the doctor when I'm sick/almost out of meds. I can ask for support with things like getting me TO the appointment, but I am on my own when it comes to most of the things that I find challenging.
Eating breakfast at all.
Eating lunch before dinner.
Signing out of 'work mode' and into 'life mode'.
Making space for art that's just for me.
Dressing myself in a way that makes me feel good instead of hiding behind over-sized layers.
Dressing in colour instead of choosing to camouflage my bright, shiny in black.
Leaving the house for pleasure and not just to keep necessary appointments.
Staying present rather than escaping into hours of mindless Netflix watching/Internet surfing.
Today, I'm off to see my doctor.
I'm having a follow up after a mammogram & bone density test, and I'll be getting my asthma meds refilled. I left it right down to the wire this time. I ran out last night. I'm sucking on the last, glorious dregs of Ventolin this morning. But! I did make the appointment and I also enlisted a friend to help me get there.
It's an ongoing struggle.
I don't know that self-care will ever come naturally to me. It feels sometimes like I have to disentangle myself from a trap made up of old tape every single day. I have to do a lot of self-talk to get myself to do the things I know are good for me consistently. I fear that I will always be this sucky at self-care.
But I'm trying...
And you can help. I think what I need to know today is that I'm not alone. I know it's hard to talk about it, and I know that asking for this kind of vulnerability from you is a LOT to ask, but if you struggle with self-care - the basics, not the mani/pedi spa day stuff, then could you let me know? Let's bust the shame associated with the struggles we face with self-care. I see you. You see me. It's easier to talk about it once we know we're not alone.
I love you long time. :)
I just want to take a moment to thank you all so, so much for your amazing comments on my last post. You rock my life, and I appreciate you.
Sometimes you just need to dump your purse out on the table and show your friends all the weird shit you're carrying around in there. This is my version of that. Some of it is pretty negative, so if you'd rather skip it, please do. I'm putting it after some pretty pictures of my art<-----BECAUSE BOUNDARIES.
1) One of my adult kids told me to never speak to them again a few weeks ago because I did something they consider unforgivable. *EYE ROLL* I saw this kid on the street yesterday, and respecting their boundaries, I just walked on by. They immediately turned it into a victim-hood story in which I WALKED BY THEM WITHOUT SAYING ANYTHING. Well, you asked me to, and also, why would I stop to talk to someone who called me ALL THE NAMES and wished ALL THE HORRIBLE THINGS WOULD HAPPEN TO ME. I am incredibly annoyed with this situation and having trouble shaking it. It is totally messing with me. Mama's, feel free to share your horror stories about adult kids who push your buttons in the comments because commiseration is awesome, and I could use a little mama love.
2) I am loving a business class I'm taking, but I also feel defensive about it because people I like and respect have complained about the affiliate marketing that happens around this class every year around this time. I have no desire or intention to cram this class down anyone's throat, and yet, I feel like being in the class means I will be associated with THAT PERSON WHO CRAMS THE CLASS down everyone's throat. It's triggering some uncomfortable questions in me, like, is all the complaining about this really about people not wanting to be sold to? Because I send out sales letters all the time and no one complains that I'm cramming my e-courses down their throats. Is this because people want the OHH SHINY but can't afford it/justify the expense? Is this a sour grapes thing? Is this a case of incredibly powerful, successful woman meets Tall Poppy Syndrome? Or are the graduates of this class really that annoying in their annual affiliate marketing blitz? I've heard people say that this class sells to pain points. My pain points didn't feel pushed when I hit the 'buy now' button. I felt like "I am doing everything by the seat of my pants, and this looks like it might help me get some structure happening!" I felt like "This might help me take this thing I love doing to the next level!" I didn't feel like "I want to be one of the cool kids so I'm going to whip out my credit card and pay to belong to an exclusive club!" <----I really don't see that in any of the marketing for this class, so I'm not sure where the pain point and exclusive club stuff is coming from. And THAT makes me fear that maybe I'm just really duped and gullible and stupid and WORSE, maybe OTHER people think I'm really duped and gullible and stupid. Like, are people looking at me like I've drunk the Kool-Aid and whispering behind my back about how much I'm going to change because I'm taking this class? OMGDOOM.
Anyway, this defensiveness has made me want to be quiet about all the awesomeness I'm learning in this class and that's annoying the shit out of me. It's really ridiculous and I wish I could just stop thinking about what other people think about decisions I feel good about.
3) Someone messaged me out of the blue yesterday to dump all over me about how they feel about something that happened a few years ago between people we know. This is a peripheral person, in the sense that she and I are not close, though we are sort of related via my kids. They were triggered and having feelings and decided that Facebook Messenger was a great place to dive into a conversation about it despite the fact that she and I were never close, and have no real relationship beyond being connected on Facebook. After not hearing from her at all in few years, I was met with HELLO, LONG TIME NO SEE *VOMIT ALL THE TRIGGERY AWFUL THINGS INTO YOUR INBOX* HOW DO YOU THINK I SHOULD DEAL WITH THIS? Well, for starters, maybe HAVE SOME BOUNDARIES. For real! Because I was just sitting here enjoying the sunshine and all this shit that you are dredging up from years ago could not have been further from my mind, but THANKS FOR RUINING MY DAY.
4) I'm having this really weird relationship with blogging that is annoying me to no end. I believe in writing from an authentic and vulnerable place about shit that is actually happening - the good, the bad, and the ugly - but because I'm also in business, I have this stupid insecurity about alienating my 'market'. Like, seriously. I can't believe those words are even a part of my vocabulary. I want to gouge them out of my brain and throw them away forever. Because, this is what my heart of hearts believes: my 'market' are just people like me who have good, bad, and ugly shit and they are not going to feel alienated by my sharing mine. It's one thing if I'm taking up time and space in a classroom setting to dump out my purse and examine the contents, but this is my BLOG. I really should feel free to use it in any way that serves me, and yet, there has been this dance of resistance for about two years now because I have some really ugly ugly and some really bad bad and it feels inauthentic not to talk about it, but scary and vulnerable to talk about it - rock, hard place, etc. ARGH. I'm working on it though, and that is why we are currently examining the contents of my purse together, you and I, and have I mentioned that you are just so lovely for sitting here with me while we sort through the used Kleenex and the expired prescriptions and the lipstick I will never, ever wear because, yes, I paid $28 bucks for it, but coral is just NOT my colour?
5) Aside from other people's shit, I am wonderful. I am loving watching Spring unfold outside my patio windows. I am finding a beautiful balance between being social and being hermity. All my needs are met and I have a little extra so I can help feed a family in the North AND help restock the food bank in Arctic Bay. Food insecurity is a thing in the Canadian North and I'm just so grateful that I can do something about it, however tiny, with the fruits of my labour. I'm developing as an artist. I'm starting to really think of myself as an artist. I feel fully confident in myself as a teacher. My therapist is back after being off for weeks and weeks with a broken leg. My dog, who was dogknapped in front of my house last week, was returned to me within 24 hours. Life is good, other people's shit aside.
If I lived in a cave and didn't have to deal with OPS, I'd be blissed out.
And you? How are you? How are your boundaries? Are they mushy? Are you feeling other people's shit encroaching upon your life? Are you needing to put up your hand and say NOT MY PACK, NOT MY WOLVES to some people who are howling in your ear? It can feel like we're all supposed to let the stuff that's stinking up our otherwise lovely lives impact us because that's what nice, kind, compassionate people do, but I don't buy it. I'm ineffectual when I'm dealing with other people's shit. I need to let them deal with their shit on their own. I have enough of my own shit to deal with, and having dumped my purse out onto the table so we can see just how big the pile of OTHER PEOPLE'S SHIT is I am feeling much more capable of doing that now.
Thanks for listening. And hey! You can totally have that lipstick! It will look FANTASTIC on you!
I'm over starting every post with "The One In Which..."
It was fun for a while but it started feeling a bit limiting. It was a trick I used to get myself blogging again after feeling like blogging was too much work, and it helped A LOT but I don't need it anymore. Besides, "The One In Which I Talk About Artsy Restlessness" isn't exactly rolling off the tongue today.
I posted a vlog two weeks ago in which I talked about impostor syndrome. I had all these feelings about not being good enough to do what I do. So many teachers put up images of absolutely perfectly beautiful work. It's like everything springs out of them fully formed and absolutely gorgeous.
Most of my peers in the on line journaling/mixed media art world were artists before they started teaching. That is not the case with me. I was a writer before I started art journaling, and art journaling was something I took on so I could unblock myself as a writer. I didn't ever dream (or even imagine) that I would teach art journaling. I didn't ever even want to be a visual artist.
I came to art as a rank beginner in 2009 and dove into teaching because, essentially, someone dared me to. It was accidental - or maybe serendipitous - and it was entirely unexpected.
This means that I STILL spend a lot of time feeling like what I want to create and what I'm capable of creating are just not jiving right now. I *do* feel good about how I have progressed over the years. I do see great progress in my skills. I do feel proud of how much I have learned and how I've integrated all I've learned into my own personal art practice. I feel really good about the content I create in terms of how well it facilitates ART as PRACTICE. I am very proud of the writing I do in the classes I teach - especially Book Of Days. I like my classes and if I weren't teaching them, I'd want to take them.
But I am also painfully aware of how much better I think everyone else is at the ART part of what I do.
Yes, expressive, and yes, done, but HOT MESS!
I have a few personal mantras that get me through those periods of time when I feel like I'm utterly deluded and should just pack it all in. One of them is "Enthusiasm counts" by which I mean that my enthusiasm for my chosen art form (art journaling) counts as a valuable contribution to the arena. Another is "Done is better than perfect". I pull this one out especially in reference to the weekly spreads I create for Book Of Days because sometimes I create a hot mess, and I have to cut myself some slack. Weekly spreads are easy if you're not ALSO editing, filming, creating screen shots, writing accompanying 'step-by-step' instructions, and formulating musings to go with the post. The fact is, sometimes I create something I'm not fond of, but I have to get it up there, so I have learned to live with these problem children that spring from my creative loins.
I think it's good for me. It's an antidote to perfectionism to throw up work I'm not crazy about and say WHATEVER ELSE HAPPENED THIS WEEK, I MADE SOMETHING! TA DA!
But the whole "It's about practice, not product" line is starting to getting old. I'm getting restless. I want to feel as good about the art part as I do about the self-inquiry part, the practice part, the encouraging part.
I want to love my art.
This week, I've been asking myself a lot of questions about symbols and meaning. I'm building a library of things I find beautiful and meaningful on Pinterest. I think of it as seeding the mud. The mud is my subconscious, from whence all art comes. The seeds are images, symbols, palettes - inspiration.
Right now I'm collecting things and I'm working up the nerve to start doing sketches of things - working out how to get these symbols into my own paintings in a way that pleases me.
This seems a bit counterintuitive to me at the moment because there's a voice in my head saying JUST PAINT - but I *also* know that a part of my restlessness comes from feeling like I'm in an art rut. I use the same images over and over again - mostly faces. Occasionally a tree. Bird stamps. I need to have a better stocked library of personal imagery to work with before I can "JUST PAINT' because otherwise, I'm just painting the same old thing over and over and THAT is BORING ME TO DEATH! *lol*
Two days ago, I was all about birds and especially women with birds. Today it was 'fish' which led to 'Koi'. It feels like I'm learning my own internal language, and that's helping the restlessness a lot. It's also helping me to feel like I'm *doing* something to close the gap between what I want to create and what I'm capable of creating.
When you want a thing, it is extremely important to begin moving in the direction of that thing. Otherwise, I find myself getting bogged down in impostor syndrome and stinkin' thinkin' and other poisons. I can't really call myself an impostor when I'm actively moving towards having a greater personal library of symbols to work with, can I? I mean, I'm doing the work.
That makes me a real artist.
If you're doing the work, you're a real artist, too.
I'm an apprentice artist, for sure. I'm a beginner artist. I'm a baby artist. But that doesn't mean I'm *not* an artist. It means I *am* an artist.
An artist in progress.
I can live with that. :)