Journal52 + A Very Boring Ten Things

I. I’ve been frustrated by the pandemic. Coming out of the fog of too much wine for so long means I am coming into awareness of the feelings that lurked beneath that fog, and one of them is frustration. I’ve got stuff I want to do, and *waves at all of this* is standing in my way.

II. This would be less frustrating if I were in control of it, but I’m not. I did all the things – isolated, masked up, double vaxxed, looking for a booster (they are pretty hard to book at the moment for obvious reasons), and yet here we are back in lockdown in Ontario. I am hoping Omicron is going to lead us to herd immunity and this will soon be over-ish. We’ll still have to live with COVID but it will be endemic and less threatening. This is the hope. *Fingers Crossed*

Bring it on and so it is. 

III. I’m grateful for my work because there is always something to draw me out of the ennui and existential angst that this life of “rinse and repeat” is bringing on. As long as I can bring whatever it is I’m experiencing in the moment into my creative practice, I feel like I can deal with it. It may not necessarily solve anything to express it but at least it means it isn’t taking up quite so much room in my body and mind.

IV. I do feel, though, like my world has shrunk. The usual experiences that fill me up (fests, mostly, and live music) have been lacking for me since late 2019. That’s a long time to go without soul food. Those kinds of experiences add something to the well I draw from as a journal artist, and I’ve had to depend solely on my very tiny world – mostly on my inner life – to fill that well. It’s made my creative practice a little less inspired. I’m not going to lie. So, I’ve marched my butt into the classes I have stored on my hard drive so I can add new experiences, techniques, imagery, etc. even though I’m pretty much stuck in the house.

I started Life Book 2022 this past week. Here’s where I’m at with that so far:

Week One – Soul Glow warm up with Tamara Laporte

Week One – Shine Your Light with Tamara Laporte – This one isn’t quite finished yet. I’m going to do a few things to it today, I think.

V. I’m reading again as well, though, and I’m not talking about audiobooks, either. They’re a perfectly valid way to read, and I leaned hard on them over the last few years as a way to lull myself to sleep, but lately I’ve been *so bored* of the “rinse repeat” I mentioned above that I’ve added some titles to my Kindle library and I’m reading throughout the day. “Cat Magic” by Whitley Striber is my current distraction. It’s a book I read way back in the 90’s that I absolutely loved. It’s been fun revisiting it. I don’t know where I’ll go after that’s done with but I have a few titles queued up. I’ll keep you posted.

VI. I’ve been knitting, too. Still working on that shawl I cast on the day I quit drinking and it’s coming along beautifully. It’s going to be the perfect reading shawl once I’m done with it. It’s on big enough needles (size 6) that it doesn’t bug my eyes and I’m just doing a straight purl row one knit row two to keep it easy to work on while I’m watching something mindless on the telly. This and a lot of organic kombuchu (ginger flavoured – mmmmmmmmm) and dark chocolate have been saving my bacon.

VII. SO BORED THOUGH OMG I’M READY FOR THE NEXT ADVENTURE.

VIII. Speaking of which, I have another level one pottery class scheduled for four weeks beginning Jan 18th, but I don’t know what’s going to happen with that given the current surge. SEE WHAT I MEAN BY FRUSTRATING? I have the feeling I’m going to come out of this thing with a serious case of wanderlust and the will to do something about it. Like get my passport. And maybe a car.

FREEEEEEEDOM!

IX. Argh. *lol*

X. Okay, I’m done rambling. I’ve got Journal52 up for you. Click here to grab the file on Dropbox. We’re talking creativity this week.

GRAB THE FILE ON DROPBOX

 

Thrive

How It Started (Day One) & How It’s Going (Day 37)

Hello, lovely ones! It’s been a little minute since last we typed, but I didn’t want the first Monday of 2022 to go by without a love letter from me to you, so grab a bevvie and settle in. I’ve got some things to tell you.

First of all, today marks 38 days since I decided that I wasn’t loving the way wine made me feel anymore. For the last 38 days, I have chosen sparkling water or tea instead of that ever-present glass of boxed Chardonnay. I did have a glass of champagne on New Year’s, but it was what we call a planned “blip” in my alcohol-free support community. I cut it with grapefruit Perrier, enjoyed that one glass, and did not have another.

Changing my relationship with alcohol has been the singular most precious gift I’ve ever given to myself. I mean, just look at those faces above. Day One – I was desperately depressed and anxious, and all too aware that I had tipped over from a pleasurable glass of wine now and then to a soul-sucking habit. Day 37 was New Year’s Day – the first New Year’s in about a decade that wasn’t spent with a pounding headache and a queasy belly. I taught that day, clear-eyed and fully present. I was in full possession of my will and my senses.

That little voice in my head that told me I was nothing without my wine – that my creativity would dry up, that I’d be bored all the time, that I needed it to get me through – has been proven a liar, because none of those things are true. My creativity is flowing. When I get bored (the danger zone for me for sure) I have activities I’ve chosen to replace the ones that drain me and do nothing to contribute to my general sense of aliveness in the world. The only thing I need to get me through is my *attention* and self-love and the toolbox of skills I’ve developed over many years of self-work and therapy.

In fact, I’ve discovered that a lot of my depression and anxiety, which I was using alcohol to medicate, was directly related to how much I was drinking.

As in I am no longer depressed or anxious.

Miraculous.

I have all this energy now that I didn’t have before. My sleep patterns have changed dramatically. I’m in bed by 11 at the latest and I sleep through the night. New ideas fly at me from all directions and my ability to implement them has increased exponentially. There is nothing I’m phoning in. I’m excited. I’m optimistic. I’m alive in the world and I like it like that.

***

I spent the years from 2014 (when my marriage ended) until now gazing at the world through the fish-eyed lens of tear-stained eyes (Thank you Roger Waters for that line) because I legitimately did not know that what I thought was medicinal was actually poisonous. I didn’t know that what I was doing was keeping me stuck in protracted grief. I didn’t know that drinking was a gatekeeper, barring the way to optimism, hope, and change for the better.

But now I know.

And so, this is the way.

***

I don’t know if I’ll stay alcohol-free forever or if I’ll find my way to moderation. Some people can do that. Some can’t. I don’t know which I am at this moment in time, and I’m not in a place where I’m ready to experiment with that. That one glass of champagne on New Year’s was my way of saying “I am in control here” and it was a good experience, but I didn’t want to extend that experiment beyond that one glass on that one day. Perhaps in time, I’ll be one of those humans who can have a glass of wine with dinner or raise a toast on her birthday without descending into the hell that is daily drinking from noon and until midnight, but that time is not now. Now is the time to discover who I am unaltered, unfettered.

So far, I like who that is.

***

I am feeling all kinds of positive things about 2022. I survived 2020 and 2021, but just barely. As I pause here on the threshold that is the first Monday in a brand new year of days and weeks and months, I feel optimistic, hopeful, and energized. I feel ready to take my life to the next level wherein I am not merely getting through it.

I’m aiming higher.

I aim to thrive.

Thanks for listening.

xo
Effy

P.S Throughout the course of 2022, I will be releasing new Journal52 art cards + musings. Here is the first! 

RIGHT-CLICK TO SAVE AS

 

 

 

Self-Possession & Other Musings

This is x-posted from my newsletter.

If you’ve known me for any length of time at all, you know that my primary purpose, the #1 thing that drives me is self-possession. Whatever I’m doing, that’s the goal. I want to be my own authority. I want to know myself so intimately that everything I do is in alignment with my values.

Well, I lost myself there for a couple of years. A love affair and subsequent breakup, my son’s mental illness, which moved me to upend my life and move in with him only to turn around and upend my life and move out again six months later (we’re good now, though – we love GG! We just don’t love the illness that, without medication, makes him a bit of a bear to deal with, eh?), relocating to a new city in the middle of this damned panini, bone crushing loneliness, layer after layer of grief, intense trauma work in therapy….

…it should come as no surprise that wine o’clock started coming earlier and earlier in the day. I *know* I’m not alone.

Needless to say, I have been anything but “self-possessed”.

Twelve days ago at the stroke of midnight, I quietly and determinedly dumped all the alcohol in my home and rolled myself up in the blanket fort with the furbabes to have a nice long cry over my loss of control over my rate of consumption of alcohol. When I woke up the next morning, I signed up for an alcohol free challenge (gamefying things works for me), got my butt into a sober support group, and installed a sobriety tracker on my phone. I connected with a couple of people in my support group so we could “buddy up” and I’ve been alcohol free since.

Best. Decision. Ever.

This was me on Day Eight. LOOK AT MY EYES! Seriously.

The first three days were gnarly, let me tell you. Insomnia, tremors, difficulty regulating my temperature. My skin felt like it was going to crawl right off of my body. I was dizzy and wobbly and whoa. Slowly but surely, though, things improved. I started to sleep better. I woke up *without* anxiety and depression. My *vision* improved (did not know that was a thing, but it is a thing!). The tremors stopped. My digestion improved. My appetite came roaring back with voracious cravings for avocados and pan roasted tomatoes and sautéed greens and allllll the cheeeeeeese and olives and hummus and CUCUMBERS omg CUCUMBERS.

I stopped ordering in food because the crap I’d been eating wasn’t what my body wanted. I dusted off my chef’s knife and started cooking again. The dogs, who had been picking up on my frenetic alcohol fueled anxiety and acting out calmed right down and returned to their usual sweet, chilled out selves.

Seriously – I have never been able to get a decent picture of Salem unless she was sleeping because she *could not stay still*.

Look at this. LOOK!

Soooooo Mellllloooooow! *Happy Sigh*

Why am I telling you this?

I guess I want to you to know. I want you to know that while I’ve been plodding along over here through *waves at all of this*, life got to me. All the tools I had in my tool box – art journaling, spiritual practice, self-inquiry, therapy – lost their power in my life because I was soaking my brainmeats in cheap boxed chardonnay – and if that can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. If you’re in your own struggle with whatever, I want you to know that you *can claw yourself back from it*, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Help is out there and recovery is possible. A quick Google search will yield results – some free, some not free.

Here are the resources I’m leaning on:

One Year No Beer Alcohol Free Challenge – Daily videos and emails, gorgeous support group. Varying timed challenges (28 days, 90 days, 265 days – I signed up for the year because I am dead serious).

Alcohol Explained by William Porter – This was life changing for me because it perfectly explained what alcohol was doing to my brain and why it was so easy to fall prey to it, and so hard to let it go. Available on Kindle, too!

I Am Sober – an app that tracks money saved, calories saved (I didn’t care about this, but some might), hours saved (because you’re not really focused and functional when you’re low key buzzed all day). It prompts you to make a daily pledge and then do a nightly review. Very supportive. Available on both Android and IOS.

For those who prefer a more traditional route (AA), check out In The Rooms for 24/7 meetings and support. AA is not for me for reasons I won’t go into here, but it works for a lot of humans, so if it resonates, dooooo eeeeeet!

Okay, that’s enough of that.

My focus from here on out will be all of things that move me in the direction of my prayers – the art as magics, the self-inquiry, the vigilance against anything that knocks me off course, connection with other humans, pottery (which keeps me grounded), ritual and structure and good habits (like walking the dogs and that vitamin packed smoothie every morning and fizzy water with lemon and checking in with my alcohol free buddies). I may occasionally mention where I’m at on this journey, but one of the things I’ve learned over the last 11 days is that focusing on what I *do* want (to be clear-eyed and minded and energized and ALIVE IN THE WORLD) rather than on what I *don’t* want is the way through this thing.

In other words, this will not become a “sobriety newsletter”. I have a million other things to write about and focus on.
LIKE ALL OF THESE GOODIES!

First of all, I’ve got a special weekend workshop upcoming in which I will be decorating a new Sweet Trash Journal for use in 2022. This retreat will include a bunch of demos of how I use the journal! It’s being offered as a special price until December 13th! Get the details here:

Ten hours of live video instruction + replays + forever access for $27 until December 13th, at which point the price will go up to $45! I hope to see you in there. 

ONE BAD ASS ART JOURNAL is now open for registration. EARLY BIRD PRICING IS $69. I’m really excited about this year since I wasn’t feeling very bad ass through 2021, but I’m definitely going into 2022 with my BAD ASS FULL PRESENT. Here are the details. 

FREEBIES FREEBIES!!

We have a full moon + info session on December 18th (Full Moon Actual) at 1 p.m. EST. Here is the link This gathering will include an hour long info session right off the top, and then we will move into a Full Moon Painting Party. Everyone who attends will get a coupon code for Moonshine 2022 AND a chance to win a spot.

There will be a replay offered to all attendees. If you can’t attend, but you want a replay, please hit reply to this email and I’ll send you one. 

We have a Solstice Releasingi Ceremony on December 22nd, 2021 at 1 p.m. EST. Here is the link. This gathering is open to the public, so feel free to tell your friends!

And FINALLY!

Book Of Days 2022 is filling up with beautiful faces and I hope you’ll join me for a gorgeous year of creativity presented to you by me and my deep diving, soul stirring, amazing guest artists!

Class is on sale for $99 (no coupon required) until December 31st at which point it will go up to $120 (still a fraction of what it’s worth!)

Sending you all my love,

xo
Effy

The Universe And Cucumbers And Me

I. The universe cracks me up.

II. I was on Zoom with my beloved Tam the other day and we were talking about how we both keep forgetting that the trick to getting our guides, spirits, and holy helpers to – yanno – help is to actually *ask them* for help. We were *cracking up* over this because we both really suck at the whole “OH HEY COULD I GET SOME HELP HERE” thing both in the realm of delegating to those in our lives who could help and in also with regards to help that might be available in the spiritual realms.

III. Which is weird because I teach a year-long class (coupon code covenup) in how to engage with The Powers – however you might define them – in the development of a creative spiritual practice that includes raising energy toward the attainment of your desires.

And, look, I *do* the work, but I usually ask for help with things like “Make me stronger/wiser/more useful” rather than “OH HEY COULD I GET SOME HELP WITH MY C-PTSD? COULD I GET A BREAK FROM THE TRAUMAS THAT KEEP PILING UP? COULD I GET SOME PROTECTION AGAINST *WAVES AT ALL THE THINGS*? COULD I HAVE MY DENTIST/DOCTOR/FILLINGOUTFORMS PHOBIA REMOVED?”

IV. So, anyway. A few days ago I was craving cucumber sammiches. Delicious thinly sliced, lightly salted organic English cukes with fluffy dill infused whipped cream cheese on soft tiny triangles of bread with the crusts cut off, served on a beautiful plate. So I put in a grocery order for everything I needed in order to fulfill this craving, because I am badass at self-care.

V. The grocery delivery arrived, and guess what? No cucumbers. All the rest, but no cucumbers. And of course, I was too busy dealing with a dog who has regressed to peeing on my bed because she has separation anxiety now that I’m leaving the house more often + an intense trauma response to a couple of things that happened, one right after the other, plus the vestiges of a wicked case of vertigo so I didn’t bother tracking the order so I could make substitutions if requested. To be honest, though, the shopper didn’t even try. They just refunded me for the cukes.

All I wanted was a fucking cucumber sammich, which in that moment represented *something going right for once*.

VI. I want to preface what I’m about to say with this so that you do not worry unduly: I truly am going to be okay, but I have not been in a great headspace for a while now, and I am super reactive to even the least little thing.

So. The missing cucumbers? They made me cry. And *pray*.

Yes, you heard me right. I cried. And prayed.

It sounded a little like this:

“UNIVERSE FOR FUCK SAKE COULD I GET SOME GODDAMNED CUCUMBERS? HOW HARD IS IT TO PROVIDE CUCUMBERS! IT IS NOT A LOT TO ASK! SERIOUSLY! WTF?”

I was *frustrated* It’s been quite a decade, okay? Give me a break.

VII. So, anyway.

Last night while I was cleaning out my fridge (garbage day in these parts, so the fridge got cleaned – how adulty! GOLD STAR!) and I noticed the soft bread and the container of whipped cream cheese and I said “I’MMA ORDER SOME G_D CUCUMBERS RIGHT NOW. UNIVERSE? ARE YOU LISTENING? BRING ME CUCUMBERS!”

I believe I even raised my fist to the heavens. I was not fucking around.

VIII. This is what was delivered this afternoon:

A pile of English cucumbers numbering six

IX. I am amused.

X. In other news, Book Of Days 2022 opened for registration today.

I hope to see you in there.

And on that note, I’m going to go make myself a G_D CUCUMBER SAMMICH!

xo
Effy

P.S. If you love my writing, please share it on your socials? I appreciate you. xo

 

Stay

I. I sent out a newsletter today – more like a love letter – in which I extolled the virtues of puttering and shared my newfound love of putting gold stars on the back cover of my journal when I complete tasks. You can read it here if you want. I’ll wait.

Within mere moments, I started getting emails from my lovely subscribers thanking me for sharing & reporting that they are going to go buy some gold stars because they love this idea. Some shared some sadness over how little appreciation or acknowledgement they grew up getting. Some shared that they are currently struggling and that this idea sounds motivating.

My heart!

II. I know it doesn’t look like much, but this little page of gold stars represents every moment that I overcame executive dysfunction, depression, anxiety, trauma, the consequences of narcissistic abuse syndrome…

These little stars are victories that range from making a difficult phone call to filling out a crucial form to doing my dishes to ordering dog food to feeding myself before noon to launching an e-course to scribbling the realness that is in my journal.

Victories.

III. The thing I really want to share with you, though, is that after I finished writing that little blurb about puttering and how it helps me and gold stars and how they help me, I had a moment of hesitation. I thought to myself “No one cares about this stuff. You aren’t doing yourself any favours by sharing this. People are going to think you’re silly/childish/unwell. You are taking up too much space in other people’s inboxes. NO ONE CARES EFFY. WHY SHOULD THEY?”

And my finger hovered over the edit button for longer than I’d like to admit before I shrugged, gave myself a little internal hug, and hit send. I put another gold star in my journal right away. Because, victory.

IV. I also got some feedback yesterday about this paragraph from this blog post:

I was talking to a peer last night about how hard it is to be an entrepreneur and feel like you have to be positive all the time and “keep up appearances” in order to succeed. It’s such bullshit. So alienating. Life is a mixed bag of delight and despair and I’m too tired to lie.

I heard from more than a few people that they resonate with this and they are as tired as I am of living in a world where we all have to be shiny happy people all the time.

I am not a shiny happy person all the time. My choice is to stop sharing when I’m less than shiny, fake shininess so I feel comfortable being in the world, or being honest about the world as it is for me and share anyway and let those that want me, stay and those that don’t, leave.

I choose the latter.

V. I woke up this morning to find this awesome writing on my timeline. Andrea and I share a lot of the same concerns about online marketing and entrepreneurship, justice, and cultural misappropriation, so I always listen when she speaks. This blog post on spiritual bypassing was just what the doctor ordered.

VI. What if we just showed up in our realness? The thing we are taught to fear is that everyone will leave us. No one will buy our stuff. We will end up homeless. We will be labeled negative nellies or worse. But I’ve been doing this for over ten years now in a variety of venues, and while I do not have the quantity others may have to show it, I have the quality. People who just want me to shut up and talk about paint don’t stick around for long, but those that appreciate feeling like their own realness is welcomed, do.

And I live for that, even if it sometimes makes me wonder if I’d be a millionaire by now if I just shut my fucking mouth about how hard things are sometimes.

Being real? A million dollars?

I’d rather be real.

VII. Speaking of real, this is what one corner of the studio looks like right now.

And this is what one corner of my living room looks like right now:

And this is my life. Some of it is a mess. Some of it is sanctuary. All of it is useful and all of it matters. 

VIII. I know I’m not alone in this, but I was not allowed to have needs when I was a child. If I needed attention (as all children do) I was attention-seeking. If I needed comfort, I was needy. If I was sad, I was dramatic. If I was angry, I was defiant. Having feelings was very dangerous and often resulted in abuse, but I never learned the knack of not having feelings. I don’t know why. I know a lot of people raised in the situation I was raised hardened. I didn’t harden. I got better boundaries – especially over the last few years of intense therapy, but I didn’t harden. I stayed open. I stayed sensitive. I stayed emotional. I *stayed with myself*.

Through betrayal, abandonment, rejection, apathy, I stayed with myself.

As as I stayed with myself I noticed who stayed alongside me. And I noticed who didn’t. And (eventually) I stopped chasing the ones who didn’t. I turned to face the ones who stayed and they are my chosen family and I know they’ve got me and I’ve got them. In their eyes I am not “too much” of anything. I am just the right amount of everything. A lot, yes. But never too much.

IX. If someone decides that you are “too much”, let them go find someone lesser because they are *not enough* for you. 

X. I want you to stay with yourself. Come sit by me. Let’s stay with one another.