Every week, I pick a prompt from my monthly workbook (created for BOD, but freely offered in The Wilderhood), and I write on it. I call this ‘Journal Your Heart Out’.
This week’s prompt, should you choose to engage it is:
“If you could change anything about your life right now, what would it be?”
Letting go of things is extremely easy for me. I declutter like a maniac a few times a year. If I’m not using or enjoying something, I get rid of it. I let my people ‘go shopping’ in my studio regularly, because I often buy things to try, but return to my old faithfuls. I don’t keep clothes that don’t fit. I don’t have a ‘but I might need it later’ attitude. The only things I hoard are books – shelves full of them – some that have travelled with me for twenty years now. That being said, they are actually out and on shelves and even organized, and I genuinely *want* every book I have, so I don’t consider that ‘clutter’
Letting go of other kinds, on the other hand…
Letting go of old tape – the stories in my head about who I am or what’s bound to happen.
Letting go of behaviours – ways of being in the world that no longer serve me, like the fawning trauma response, or the expectation that I be on the ball at all times, or the refusal to ask for what I need for fear of abandonment, or the difficulty I have in setting or maintaining boundaries.
Letting go of habits that drain my life force – one two many glasses of wine in the evening, too much mindless consumption of media (scrolling Facebook, bingeing Netflix), being super sedentary, procrastinating (read: being too overwhelmed or too terrified to do the things that I need to do), prioritizing other people.
Letting go of the way I talk to myself about myself – that harsh inner voice that isn’t very kind to me about the very human things I struggle with, like addiction to nicotine, or extreme resistance to paperwork, doctors, dentists, even writing newsletters. The extremely harsh way I say things like “What the fuck is wrong with you” to myself when I’m struggling. “Why is this still an issue? Why aren’t you over this yet?” Oy.
If I could change anything about my life right now, it would be the way I talk to myself. That’s the one very urgent issue that’s arisen, the thing that keeps coming into my conscious awareness. I’ve started catching myself talking to myself this way. I’ve even identified who this ‘voice’ belongs to (because it ain’t me). My therapist and I are going to be digging into this over the weeks and months to come, and while I am really *resentful* that I have to do this work (because if I’d been well treated, I wouldn’t *have* to do this work!), I am eager to get on with it.
I want to say to myself “Oh, hey, darling human. The struggle is real.” Instead of “What the fuck is wrong with you?” I want to say to myself “I see you there, grappling, you warrior you” instead of “This isn’t that hard, for fuck sakes. Get on with it!” I want to say to myself “If it didn’t matter, it wouldn’t hurt” instead of “Why the fuck aren’t you over this yet?”
Every month, I release the Book Of Days workbook for free to members in The Wilderhood Facebook Group, and once a week, I feature one of the prompts you’ll find within it either here on the blog or over on Patreon with my own response. Sometimes, I save the more personal reflections for Patreon. I’ll always let you know when I’ve done that. To get the workbook, join us in The Wilderhood.
This week’s prompt, should you choose to engage it, is:
How embodied am I feeling? What tension am I holding?
I’ve had an out of town visitor since last Tuesday, and so my studio time has been very limited. I’ve always been aware of the connection between my ability to ‘stay in my body’ (as opposed to out of it and in a dissociative state) and my creative practice for a long time now, but it’s been really clear to me this past week just how integral it’s become. If I neglect my practice, even for joyful reasons, I can lose myself a little bit – or a lot – depending on what’s going on.
There’s a lot going on right now. The visit brings a lot of memories with it – memories of a time when I was very young, living in extreme poverty, doing a lot of emotional labour, and lacking in any kind of support. It’s brought up things I have yet to properly grieve, because proper grieving couldn’t happen in the circumstances I found myself in. It also brings the joy of reunion, of an apple who did not fall far from this particular tree, and the sheer delight of realizing that some bonds can’t be broken by time or distance.
So, I’ve been all over the place, but I’ve also been lovingly nudged back to presence over and over again throughout.
I spent the first part of yesterday here in the studio, working on a painting of a turtle because I drew it from The Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Oracle. It was a glorious few hours of solitude and checking in with my overwhelmed nervous system.
“Ancient soul. Grounded. Trusting. At home in the self.”
Unfortunately, just as I finished up the painting, I got news of a death in my extended family, which sent me reeling back out of alignment. I spent the rest of yesterday trying to get back to the present moment, here, in my life, in my own lane. It took a while, but I managed.
Cryptic is all I can manage without being indiscreet, so that’s all I’ve got on that.
As for tension – it’s in my shoulders and down through my ‘wings’, as I like to call my shoulder blades. It’s in my solar plexus, too, where I feel braced for a blow, but I’m breathing into these spaces with gentle reminders…
…here, now. This life. Yours. You have a family. Be with *your* family.
Let him take care of his own.
In other news, I got my septum pierced in a frenzy of ‘Life’s too short to put off doing the things you want to do” yesterday, and I will have pictures for you once I am healed up and don’t look as tired as I presently feel.
P.S. The turtle picture above is going live as a lesson in Book Of Days on September 1st along with this gorgeous creation by Micki Wilde.
Every Monday, I pop in here ( and over on Patreon with the more intimate bits) to share a prompt and my response to it. These prompts come directly out of the monthly workbook for Book Of Days. There are enough prompts in each workbook to get you through a month of daily journal keeping, and they are ripe for both written and art journaling. You can get these workbooks as part of your Book Of Days experience, or as a bonus as a member of my on line artist’s community, called The Wilderhood. See you there!
This week’s prompt, should you choose to engage it is:
What do I want to bring in from outside? More light? More colour?
Outside. I haven’t been seeing a lot of it lately, to be honest. I am asthmatic and also allergic to the world, so ‘outside’ is kind of my nemesis unless I’m at a festival, where I spend the few days before loading up on Reactine so I don’t suffer too much over the course of the four or five days of being where trees have sex. It’s also hot as Hades out there, so my comfy apartment, where the AC is running full bore, and I don’t have to wear pants, is my preferred base of operations.
But ‘outside’ doesn’t have to mean ‘out of doors’. It can mean ‘outside of my own skin’, so that’s how I’m going to interpret it for today’s little writing session. I think this calls for a list.
I. More poems.
I am scheming up an e-course wherein we work with our own internal landscape through writing to mine our own personal poems, which we can then use in our art journals. This is taking a lot of brainstorming, and a lot of note taking, and a lot of poem reading so I can wrap my head around the fundamentals of poetry writing. I don’t have a formal education in the field, but I have been writing poems for as long as I can remember. I want to make poem writing accessible to everyone (because it is!), so while I’m plotting, I want to be eating, drinking, and sleeping poems. I want to be drenched in them. I want to read them silently, and then again out loud. This kind of input is good for my creativity, I think, because it gets me thinking and feeling outside of my own experience, which makes me curious, and creates a sense of wonder.
If you know me at all, you know that I have unashamedly labeled myself a ‘hedonist’, which is a word that’s not often used in a positive light. I’ve reclaimed it, much like I’ve reclaimed ‘witch’. I am an ethical hedonist. I seek pleasure, and believe in pleasure seeking as a worthwhile pursuit. I believe it’s a part of my work in the world to indulge in and also offer as much pleasure as I can (in all it’s glorious forms) in order to increase the ‘collective pool of pleasure’. I also enjoy encouraging others to do the same, especially in Moonshine, where we grapple with whatever we’ve been taught about pleasure, and remove the blocks we have around it.
But, my life has been very caught up in the practicalities of ordinary reality, and frankly, not very pleasurable at the moment. I am in the trenches with trauma therapy. I’ve been setting and holding new boundaries. And I’ve been side-eyeing my ‘go to’ pleasures to discern whether or not they *are actually* worthwhile pursuits. Swilling Chardonnay all night while bingeing on True Crime, for example, is a ‘pleasure’ I’m ready to nip in the bud. What would I replace it with? What would actually feel like real, honest to Goddess, soul nourishing pleasure? I’m working on figuring that out.
III. More Support.
I been thinking a lot about my issues with ‘needing’ people. I don’t do the whole ‘asking for help’ thing very well. There are a couple of people who’ve kind of ‘trained me’ in trust with them over things like “Oh, hey! Can you help me with this practical thing I need to do?” Think – pick up mail, go to the pharmacy (which is a very long Uber ride, or I’d do it myself), run my laundry up and down the stairs, or my garbage down to the bin (I have wonky vision and creaky knees, and the three long flights of stairs are narrow and rickety and scare the bejeezus out of me). I’ve learned how to pay for some of the help that I need rather than flagellating myself with the ‘you should do it yourself’ whip. So, support with the practicalities, I’m learning to ask for and receive relatively easily.
It’s the emotional stuff I struggle with a bit. Seeming ‘needy’ is very, very unsafe for me, so I grapple with that whole “I need someone” thing. I want to get better at it. When someone says to me, when I’m in the middle of a crisis, “Can I help?”, I want to say “Yes, you can.” Easily. Readily. “Yes, you can. You can sit with me, or call me, or make soothing noises at me. You can make me some soup so I can give space to my emotional state without having to navigate the whole feeding myself while tears are streaming down my face. You can check in with me to make sure I’m not white knuckling things along. You can show up.”
I think I’m getting there. I’m saying things like “I need you to love me a little bit louder today”, and “I need you to honour your word” and “I need to be tended to in the midst of *waves at all of this* in a quiet, gentle way that helps me get through it in one piece” and “Can we Skype? I’m struggling with something and I need your eyes on my face while I unravel it.”
There are actual outside things I’d like to bring in, too. The smell of sunshine on my skin after a long meander. Wood smoke in my hair and clothes after a night around a fire. Leaves and twigs and things picked up during a trail hike. The sound of waves gently lapping at a shoreline. A soul-belly full of the sights and sounds of nature…
…but the three things I’ve explored above feel rather more urgent and important right now, so that’s where my focus is.
And you? What outside things do you want more of? Be literal or figurative. Outside your windows or outside your skin.
I spent the better part of my weekend diving into Series One and Two in Fresh Paint with Flora & Lynx, and I am ON FIRE. I don’t think I’ve ever painted so much in a weekend *in my life*.
CLICK THROUGH THE THUMBS TO SEE THE GORGEOUSNESS FULL SIZED.
I’ve been a fan of working with Flora’s classes for a long time time. I’ve done Bloom True & Creative Revolution a few times a piece, and I always come out of these classes with new skills, new mediums or combinations of new mediums, and more inspiration than I know what to do with.
This week’s prompt, should you choose to engage it, is:
“What ‘first fruits’ are ripening as a result of my creative practice?”
From my ‘medidoodle’ practice, which is essentially just making doodles on my iPad when I need to rest my brain.
I’ve been working with creativity as a practice now for a very long time. Before art journaling, there was poetry & creative non-fiction. Reams and reams of words strung
together with the sole purpose of getting whatever was inside of me OUTSIDE of me so I could examine it, be with it, acknowledge it. In the years since, I’ve found myself integrating writing back into my practice, finally, though I didn’t know that this would happen. After a couple of years of being a blocked creative, I felt lucky to have *any* mode of creative expression, let alone two.
This year has seen me really embrace both as integral to one another, and as I’ve created space for both, I’ve found that they feed one another. Sometimes my art journaling practice will send me flying towards the keyboard to bang out the insights that are arising while I paint. Sometimes, I’ll be typing up my ‘ten things’, which has become a regular part of my daily life now, and I will want to wrap it up so I can take some piece of what I’ve written into the realm of visual language.
I’m really excited about this, since the writing has been flowing more and more since the beginning of the year, and I’ve been able to flesh out and expand on the work I do – both personal & professional – as a result. It’s also resulting in some pretty exponential healing.
Something else that I’ve noticed is a deeper relationship with my own ‘parts’. Those of you who work with me in Moonshine and other of my offerings know that I take ‘parts work’ pretty seriously. I’m of the opinion that we contain multitudes, and a part of my own healing work is to learn to love all of my parts. All of them. Even the parts I don’t particularly like. Even the parts that are as yet unknown to me.
All this creative practice means my parts have lots of opportunity to show up with what they know. When they do that, I can come into awareness more quickly than I might otherwise. For example, right now, I have a love besotted teenager fully on board, but she’s tempered by an Aunt Frances type character that is full of sage advice. The two of them are a bit of a pain in my ass right now, because they have a set of completely opposing needs – Aunt Frances wants me to ‘need a man like a fish needs a bicycle’, and my love besotted teenager just wants to throw herself at the feet of all things romantic and live there forever – but because I am in ‘contact’ with them through art and writing, I’m able to work with them instead of letting them work me. When I catch that besotted teenager doing nothing but orbiting (and waiting on) the romantic side of life, I can call on Aunt Frances to make a list and help me slay it so that I’m living *here, now* instead of some possible future some day. Sometimes that looks like filming a lesson or making a plan for a future workshop. Sometimes it looks like cleaning out a closet. The besotted teenager pouts, but she gets over it, and even gets into the spirt of things. Especially if I’m flinging paint, or working on a new chapter in that novel I keep meaning to write.
Creative practice is always going to be a massive part of my life, because I’ve seen how powerful it is. The things I’ve learned from surrendering to visual arts *despite not being a natural artist* have been indispensable. Like – you can always fix it, whatever ‘it’ is. There’s always gesso. You can always paint over it. There is always going to be an ugly phase. You’re not done ‘till you’re done. You can trust the process. Just sit with it and let it tell you what it wants. You are never finished skills building. You can learn to represent just about anything you want to represent if you give yourself some time to practice. Practice makes progress. The process matters way more than the end result. And if it matters, you make time.
These lessons gleaned from creative practice have informed my life. I’ve integrated them so that whatever is going on, I know I can fix it. I know I can shift it, change it. I trust that the ugly phase is not a forever phase. There is always the next thing. Practice makes progress in all things, not just art or writing. The journey of a lifetime begins with a single word, a single stroke, a single choice, and all things proceed from that one act of bravery toward the attainment of my desires.