Every week in 2017, you will receive a new prompt card from Effy Wild. Designed to jump start your next art journal spread, these cards are printable for your future use as well, so you can expect to collect 52 cards by the end of the year!
Each card comes with a word, definition, synonyms, art prompt, and ‘oracle prompt’. You can copy/paste this information for your own records, and use it & the card in meditation, or in written or art journaling as you see fit!
I have a pretty good relationship with failure *intellectually* by which I mean that failing = trying and if you’re trying you’re winning. But when faced with personal failures, I can be completely self-eviscerating. Like, this week.
This week, I poured my last pour. Things happened (that are now resolved) that really took it out of me. I had to chase someone down and ask that they respect my intellectual property. I have stored grief from last year’s adventures in dealing with my son’s mental illness coming up (fiercely). I have come to recognize that sometimes when I think I’m offering grace, what I’m really offering is appeasement – the soft underbelly, the bared throat – as if to say “Please don’t fucking hurt me. Here. I forgive you.”
I am also experiencing the wild ride that is peri-menopause, and all that comes with *that* joyful rite of passage. Like, seriously. I’m watching The Blacklist. I start to cry because of a passing look of tenderness on a character’s face. I legitimately *cannot stop crying*. And so I yell at myself. “GO HOME, EFFY. You’re HORMONAL.”
Cue startled dog and hysterical giggles that, again, I cannot stop.
Burn out is a real thing, y’all, and I’m having it because I am a bootstrapper. I have been a bootstrapper my whole life. I was indoctrinated to bootstrap the fuck out everything. When I feel overwhelmed, I do not pause to take a breath. I pull up my socks and I get ‘er done. And this is *bad* for me. It isn’t a virtue. And it’s no one else’s fault that I do this. No one else is asking me to straighten up and fly right or push myself until I am a living embodiment of The Goddess Never Not Broken. Some of this is a feminist issue, and has to do with time, emotional labour, being a mom without a partner, being a creative whose work can be lifted from her without so much as a ‘please, may I’ or a link back. Some of this is childhood conditioning. There was literally *no one* who gave a crap if I was in pain or overwhelmed in childhood. No one. I was shunned for having feelings, called all manner of names, punished…and we are talking about a childhood in which I was brutalized, so yes, I had feels. Lots of very complicated feels. Feels that a capable, caring parent would have made space for.
Some of it is due to a history of choosing relationships with people who can’t handle feelings, who have *hit* me for having them, who have abandoned me or held me at extreme arm’s length for having them, or who could only be counted on to show up for feelings that don’t trigger them. (So, like, almost never.)
It’s a lot. I am carrying a lot.
And in the midst of all of this, I have designed a life that keeps me too busy to be with myself for any length of time.
So, burn out.
And, in the overwhelm, and the necessary reassessment, the F word. Failure.
Except that *I haven’t failed*.
This is not what failure looks like.
I haven’t. I spent 95 days creating a series of 70 videos for #MiniMoleyDaily. I showed up even when I didn’t feel like it in order to test my own limits. At first, it was joyful and I absolutely loved doing it. Then, it started to come something I *had* to do because I had set myself up. What was supposed to be a personal project, a thing I wanted to do *for myself* became a thing I did ‘out loud’ in the way that I do things, with a Facebook group and a blog category and playlists on YouTube that *no one else asked for or expected me to do*.
I am my own worst tyrant. This is a true thing.
Yesterday was ‘Goddess of Never Not Broken” day in my world. I could not stop crying. I felt spent in a bone weary way that I wasn’t sure I could come back from. I wanted to run away from home. I wanted to fake my own death. (Not really, but sort of. A clean slate sure felt like a good place to start). A friend pinged to ask if I was okay, and i just kind of moaned something unintelligible about needing casserole people. You know. The people who will show up when they see you dropping all the balls with a casserole, a box of wine, and a shoulder to cry on.
She is coming to see me on Friday. She promised me a casserole. I love her. <3 But I needed casserole *yesterday*. You see what I’m saying? Yesterday, in my state of never not broken, I needed casserole.
This is not a pity party. This is the life I’ve designed for myself – a life in which I am rigidly scheduled up the wazoo. A life in which there is no room or time for being never not broken. A life in which I am too guarded, too bootstrappy to call up a friend and say “I need a fucking casserole”.
I have failed to create a meatspace tribe that I can count on. I did that. And that’s got to change.
Meanwhile, a meatspace friend *did* read my omgdoom post on Facebook, and did show up with a country drive and red velvet cake, and another invited me out to a thing tomorrow night so I can do something spiritual, creative, fun, and *outside of the house* as a supplement to the usual box of wine + Netflix style of self-care that is my default position.
I don’t have casserole people because I’ve never asked anyone for casserole.
So, no. Not a pity party. Just an acknowledgement that I bootstrap until I’m broken and I have no where to turn because I haven’t yet learned how to *ask for what I need*.
And I haven’t yet identified who among my people are casserole people.
#MiniMoleyDaily is a beautiful project, and I intend to continue on with it, but I’m shifting gears now, and reclaiming it as a personal project. The Facebook group will remain, and I will be popping in there on FB live once in a while to play with my people in a ‘so not obligated to do this but I’m here for shits and giggles’ way. I have a playlist for you that consists of 70 videos created in the first three months of 2017 that amounts to HOURS AND HOURS of viewing pleasure + inspiration. I will archive that on the page I created for that purpose, and I will continue to upload pictures of my mini *as I am inspired*.
I need more space for the never not broken moments. I need more space for all the things I could be doing to prevent the never not broken moments.
This is not a failure. It’s a necessary tweak. It is a holy no.
The ‘#MiniMoleyMonday’ RSS feed will be discontinued. I will leave Monday’s, Tuesday’s and Thursday’s on my blog free for personal musings. Journal52 will be tweaked (more on that tomorrow) in order to prevent its unauthorized use (personal use *only*, people. That means do not copy paste share my stuff in your own spaces – especially not without a link back!). It will still post every Wednesday as usual. Same with Friday Five.
That being said, Journal52 for the next *two weeks* will be word prompts only, since I need to edit my art cards to include a watermark, and that will take time. Unmarked cards will be available as a collection for a fee, and that will also take me time to set up.
Boundaries. Because good fences make good neighbours.
I’m a pantser, by which I mean that most of what I do is ‘by the seat of my pants’. I’m learning as I go. That means I will fail in a rather public way, sometimes spectacularly and with gusto.
I hope you glean some insight from witnessing that, and if not insight, then at least a little self-empathy for the ways you, too, are never not broken on the bedroom floor at midnight clutching a cell phone and a tissue begging someone to please bring casserole.
I have a couple of projects on the go (free!) that I am totally loving right now, and since I’ve got a few minutes before I have to fling myself headlong into my day of coffee & art, I thought I’d pop in and tell you about them.
The first is Journal52, which is continuing again this year. Last year, Sarah Trumpp and I provided two prompts per week, which was overwhelming but super fun. This year, Sarah is taking time off from Journal52 to focus on her Etsy & Patreon – both of which are well worth a look! I took over the weekly posts, and will be doing one prompt a week based on a collection of 52 art cards I created last year. A new card will be released each week with a write up on the card, including a key word, synonyms, an art prompt, and a pondering on the key word intended to nudge you in the direction of self-inquiry. There’s a way to sign up to get email notifications of the new posts, and you’ll find that little sign up form in the right hand side bar.
There is some SUPER GORGEOUS work happening in the Facebook Group, which you can find here. It’s totally free, though tips are welcome, and the group is full of kindness and gentle witnessing despite its ginormous size (we’re almost at 11 000 at this point).
This project started with the accidental purchase of a ‘too small’ daily planner from Moleskine. When the tiny planner arrived (it’s 3.5 x 5.5), I was bummed, because I’d intended to purchase the ‘large’ size. As I unwrapped it, though, I thought “OH HEY! TINY DAILY PAINTINGS!”, and #MiniMoleyDaily was born.
This is not a ‘challenge’. There are no prompts, and no rules except that you work small (smaller than 4 x 6). The intention is to simply share what we’re doing in our tiny little journals.
This project has been so satisfying. I’ve kept up (which is miraculous), and I’ve even filmed every spread for my YouTube channel. I sat down last night and watched the playlist from start to finish, and you know? It’s pretty squeeworthy. And I’m really excited about what this baby book will look like at the end of this year when I’ve successfully filled it with tiny works of journal art.
There is no website for this project, but we do have a Facebook Group. The energy in the group is honest, kind, and supportive, because that’s how we roll in my world. I’ve been really heartened to see people putting their real lives down on the page on a regular basis. It feels subversive, delicious, and revolutionary to give ourselves this kind of space and time to be with ourselves. You’re most welcome to join in the fray, and if you want some inspiration, subscribe to my YouTube Channel, where I’m uploading new videos multiple times a week. Click here for the #minimoleydaily playlist.
Here are a few spreads I’ve created so far.
In Other News
It’s been a really beautiful week in my little bubble of art, coffee, furbaby, and little else. I work. I listen to Spotify. I have friends over. I leave the house as infrequently as possible (because WINTER! And PANTS!). It is a bit weird to be straddling contentment and outrage. The world outside is in no way mirroring the world inside, and it is causing a bit of cognitive dissonance. How can I be so g-d happy when the world is falling apart around me? I dunno, but I’ll take it, especially considering the total suckage of the years previous.
I’m awake. I’m seeing what’s going on. It moves me. I do what I can, and then I tip toe quietly away and back into sanctuary. It’s the best I can do.
BOD is rocking my socks off.
The first month in BOD has seen a total explosion of art and communing. The group of artists who’ve come together this year are throwing themselves into creating satisfying art journal practices that are tailored to their specific needs & desires. I am loving the art they are creating, the journals they are binding, the conversations we are having. It feels like a haven, which is really a theme that’s emerging. I’m creating spaces that feel so cosy, so safe, and I have no idea how I’m doing it. It’s just *happening*.
On my mind this morning, as I watched lesson two in A Year of Painting with Alena Hennessy – the atmosphere that is best suited for learning (as opposed to atmospheres that are best suited to the creation of sycophants & ‘fans’) is one in which students are encouraged to *emulate*. If you are a teacher, and you don’t encourage your students to copy, but rather, demonstrate your techniques and then insist that people create work that is wildly divergent from your own OR ELSE, then you’re not teaching. You’re creating a kind of artistic paralysis in which the student *yearns* to become as skilled as you are, but can’t because you’ve hobbled them with your rules about ‘no copying’.
I saw this a lot in my early days as a student, and I ran like my hair was on fire from those kinds of teachers.
Teachers will encourage you to copy and emulate until your own voice emerges. We don’t come fully formed to the page with a pre-existing visual lexicon. We come, like babies do, with the *potential for language*, but no language of our own. We begin by babbling the sounds that our parents make. Then we learn that those babbles have meaning. And in time, we speak the common tongue that is spoken around us. We copy, we integrate, we emulate. We may not adopt all of their linguistic idiosyncrasies, but we will adopt a *lot* of them, and in time, we will find our own idiosyncrasies emerging. These differences between the way our parents use language and the way we use language grows over time, but at the base, at the root of our ability to communicate lies our common tongue.
Technique + supplies and how we use them is to art what ‘common tongue’ is to language. None of us start out knowing how to talk OR paint. None of us start out knowing how to use rhetoric OR a gelli plate. We learn, and we learn by copying, at first without understanding the *meaning* behind what we are doing, but in time, as understanding meaning grows in us (as is inevitable), we will begin to put our own spin on things.
This is how your voice will emerge. Babble with paint, marker, pen, pencil. Babble. Don’t worry so much about meaning. Play with shape, colour, composition. Add, bit by bit, to your own lexicon. Steal shamelessly, as do *all* artists. Take what excites you. Flesh it out or pare it down. Play.
If you come across an artist teacher who spends their time talking about how people are stealing from her (and I’m not talking about someone who *literally* puts their name to someone else’s work or copies stroke for stroke and doesn’t give credit – I’m talking about someone who, say, uses that river rock stencil in the same way I do because *I taught you to* or someone who is playing with the fancy arrows I’ve been doing lately), RUN AWAY. They are aren’t teachers. They are looking to be admired and validated. They are not looking to support your emerging. They are there to prop themselves up, to be propped up by you. They want you to gaze longingly upon the work they are creating before your eyes, but they don’t want you to LEARN because if they did, they would encourage you to copy, at first stroke by stroke, like all the masters did, and then, as your voice begins to emerge, they will feel *honoured* by the pieces of themselves they see in your work.
Artist, Effy Wild, riffing off of Erin Faith Allen’s first month of lessons in “Metamorph”.
Artist, Effy Wild, emulating Klimt.
To *real* teachers, student work is like a grandbaby. It’s the most beautiful thing we’ve ever seen. We are *proud* to have had a hand in its creation. We love it. We want to feed it chocolate and give it all the really noisy toys. To a teacher, there is nothing more beautiful than watching a student take what we give them and *make something with it*.
Here’s a video that Elizabeth Kaplan reminded me of today in a comment on my “thank you” post to Alena Hennessy for being the kind of teacher who encourages emulation as a part of our journey. It is extremely valuable to any artist of any sort to realize that we are all doing the same things over and over again. There is nothing new under the sun. What makes our art our own is how we put the stolen pieces together in a way that is unique to us.
Go forth and steal like an artist.
Have a beautiful Sunday!
Please check out my on line classes where I will do my utmost to encourage & foster your own emerging.
Join me in Boot Camp for a free SIX WEEK workshop in bookbinding and mixed media art journaling. Class includes alumni pricing for Book Of Days 2017.
The end of 2016 was overwhelming for me. In November of 2016, I went off Prozac after realizing that it was making me very, very ill. I had too many projects with deadlines on the go and a raging case of anxiety stood in the way of my completing anything in a timely fashion. I had disappointing interactions with some of the people in my life that put a spotlight on what needs weren’t being met. I ended a few relationships. I sat, stewing in the reality that I’d rendered myself a lone wolf right before the holidays.
And then I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and got on with it.
I finished the things that needed finishing. I started the things that needed starting. I spent Christmas eve with my son & Christmas day with my ex, my ex-mother-in-law, and my son. I made dinner for my ex & my son. I Skyped with all my other far-flung babes.
New Year’s was spent on the couch with my ex*, watching OA.
And the year proceeded to delight me.
My mood shifted out from underneath the Prozac fog. My work became my primary source of joy (and how many of us can say that?). I received invitations to participate in things that really thrilled me. I made art. I made changes that meant more of my needs for self-care were being met.
I cooked beautiful meals for myself (and my kid). I had my daughter down from Ottawa and my best friend up from New York. I got a wicked fabulous undercut (thank you Sarah!). I started the #MiniMoleyDaily project (click here for the Facebook Group). I loaded up Journal52 with the first month’s worth of prompts so I wouldn’t be stressed out every Friday morning like I was for all of 2016. I bought The Wild Unknown Tarot and fell in love with it. I treated myself to a good set of knives and a new cutting board. I watched This Is Us in three tear-soaked binges. Switched from true crime audio books to fiction (Kushiel’s Dart first, and now I’m on to The Witching Hour by Anne Rice). Did my annual re-watching of Battlestar Galactica (which I watch while arting because I practically have it memorized!). I rarely left the house (delicious). I paid my kid to house elf for me on a regular basis (win/win) so I could skip things like doing the dishes and taking out the garbage and recycling and trudging up and down three flights of stairs with the laundry.
I bought a blue tooth speaker that lights up and flashes beautiful colours. I bought a cool mist humidifier to take care of the chronic cough I get from radiant heat. I set up an altar to Brighid in the corner of the living room. I burned candles and nag champa every day of the week. I taught two live classes on YouTube for my Book Of Days peeps <—–click that link for a steep discount. I discovered the joys of Jane Davenport’s Mermaid Markers.
I went through my collection of pens. Five hours later, I had them all in labeled bins.
I began without a lot of fanfare for the passing year. I began with a gentle push in the direction of ‘what’s next’ without making a lot of fuss over what I was leaving behind. I tip toed in. I whispered my wishes to the new year.
I’m saying ‘no’ more. I’m saying ‘yes’ to things that excite or delight me.
I lost my will to blog at the end of 2016. Even my newsletter got neglected (even though the list is everything, or so they say). I managed to continue to support myself despite those failings. It was *right* and *good* to mostly stay quiet, because I needed the time to wrap my head around what had happened – the election, the disconnections, the relationships that turned out not to be what I’d hoped. I needed to look after myself – not necessarily ‘radically’, but close. Fiercely. I needed fierce self-care. I needed to guard my solitude with all my might. I needed to pick my battles and expend my energy where it was most worthwhile. I needed to shift my attention away from the things that terrified me towards the things that were within my power to impact. I can’t do anything about the election, but I can continue to create and facilitate safe spaces for my peeps. i can’t do anything about realizing I’m not cut out for being a part of a ‘dating pod’, as fun as it was except accept that about myself and move on into more peaceful (lonelier, but far less fraught with other people’s drama) pastures. I can’t do anything about loving who I love, besides simply loving them.
There’s so much peace in all this, and not ‘peace’ the way I used to mean peace (a kind of egg-shell walking breath held limbo between disasters). Peace *this way*. This waking up without anxiety. This love of my own company. This in-my-own-skinness. This choosing things carefully. This self-possession. This ‘this is my life now, and I love it.”
And here we are. The year is only 20 days old but it already feels like a much different time and place. I feel like a much different person. Looser. More likely to break into song at the slightest provocation. Easy laughter. Simple pleasures.
I just wanted to touch base. I just wanted to feel what it might be like to poke my head up out of my hidey hole and say hello. I’ve been very active on Facebook because that’s where my tribe lives, but I wanted to pull the duster off the blog, shake it out, and open the windows.
Hi! Hi hi hi! I’m here. <3 I’m alive. I missed you, and I hope you missed me, too.
*We’re not calling him my ex anymore, by the way. He’s my friend. I’m his. He’s family. “Ex” doesn’t cover the relationship this has become. I call him Crow. Or my friend. He is still the love of my life, but I have pulled in all the longing (with varying degrees of success depending on the day) and transmuted it into something gentler. Less demanding. I’m mostly content to see him once a week. Cook a meal. Watch a thing. Let him go his own way.