This past week I let myself combine my two lessons from Effy Wild's BOD 2014 and Moonshine into one art journal spread, and it felt so good to give myself permission to just do it my way and not worry that one was supposed to be a spread and one was supposed to be a painting. This is what following my intuition is supposed to be about, I think--finding the things that are right for me, the things that click and feel right.

Here's the combo spread.  I'm very happy with how it turned out, which I feel is vindication for choosing to do things this way!

Wolf Moon 1

I also took a small step in self care that has made an unexpected and huge difference in my days.  I changed my coffee mug.  Seriously!  That one little thing has brought me so much joy!  I switched from a bright pink travle mug which was okay but nothing special and didn't feel great to a beautiful, hand thrown and glazed mug from Table Mountain Pottery on Etsy.

Pottery Mug

That photo is untouched--the colors really do glow like that.  And even when it's cloudy out they still gleam just a little bit under my office lights.  Looking at this mug, handling it, drinking from it--these are sensual pleasures that make my work days better.  Sometimes it really is the little things...

So what little things have you done that have made a big difference for you?  What little things do you think you'd like to try out?

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It's funny, every year as Thanksgiving and the winter holidays approach, I start feeling the pull to be healthier, eat better, get some exercise.  Maybe because I realize somewhere deep down that it's really easy this time of year to get caught up in the busyness and let self-care slip away.  And I know, even when I don't act on it, that caring for myself is the starting point to living my dream creative life.

River Stones

What does it mean to really take care of yourself? It can mean many things and take many different forms. It won’t be the same for everyone. To find out how you might need to be taking better care of yourself, take a look at your life as it is. Where do you find yourself saying things like, “I wish I had time for X” or “I can’t seem to get things done,” or “I wanted to do such-and-such project, but I couldn’t find my materials, and by the time I gathered enough of them, I was too tired to make art.” Are there things you keep putting off, things you really want to be doing? Are you doing too many things every day that you really don’t want to be doing? These are signs that your self-care needs a boost.

Self-care might mean giving yourself time and space to follow your dreams. This often means we have to cut out some things in our lives, though, so be prepared. Even if they are things you want to toss out, there can be some stress and sadness and discomfort over the changes.

Self-care also means getting things done when they need to be done so you don’t stress yourself out with the pressure of waiting tasks hanging over your head. Stress and pressure crush creative dreams. Think about what “stress” and “pressure” mean, and you’ll know this is true—stress and pressure in the tectonic plates of the earth cause earthquakes!

Self-care means finding shortcuts to give yourself the time and space you need without compromising other things you need such as your health or the happiness of your family and friends. It can mean knowing when to just lie down and enjoy the sunshine or put your feet up and just rest. It is finding people and places and books and objects that help you achieve a sense of peace and pleasure.

So after reading this, maybe you’ve decided you want to make some changes and start taking care of yourself differently, more deeply. Good! As you get started, keep this in mind—don’t try to change everything at once. Learning to deeply care for yourself and nurture your Muse takes time. You cannot change every ingrained habit at once—the final result will be stressful rather than pleasant and will feel like a chore rather than feeling like a long, warm hug.

What are some concrete things you can do to start caring deeply for yourself and your Muse? I don’t have all the answers. I don’t even have many answers yet; I’m just starting out (re-starting) on this self-care journey myself. But I do have a few ideas.

One of my guiding words lately is "thrive." It's something we all need to focus on. Thriving. Taking real care of ourselves, not just the bare minimums. To help myself thrive, I'm starting out by focusing on eating, because one of the most important ways we can take care of ourselves physically and emotionally is by feeding ourselves good, nourishing, pleasing food (yes, pleasing--food should be a pleasure, but more on that another time). Of course, we don't want to spend hours every day cooking. So how do we thrive while still leaving time and energy and space for our creative pursuits?

I believe the issue of self-care and creativity is one I need to revisit often.  I'm going to use this reworking of an old newsletter article I wrote as a jumping-off point to start giving regular attention to--ME!  I believe that taking care of our physical selves (and this includes our environments) is a necessity because our physical selves directly effect our emotional, spiritual, and creative selves.

My first step on this path: starting a journal to talk to myself about self-care, how I'm feeling, how this is affecting my world, what I think I would like my self-care to look like.

What about you?  Would you like to join me in examining our physical sides?  What would you like to start with?

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On Friday I had the good luck to discover Julie Gibbons and her Found Inspirations journaling technique.  (You can get a free download of the PDF at her site.)

New Food Resolution
A quick collage I made for my one New Year's resolution--to try a new restaurant every month. I'm using the back to keep a list of the places we try.

It all started with a tweet: "Practice collage magic for emotional healing."  With a link to this post:  A creative practice for everyone, including ‘non-artists’.  I have been craving a regular practice in my life and have not found an easy way to make it happen.  This sang to me as soon as I read it.  I knew it was something I could fit in.

I've spent the weekend cutting out words and images from magazines I had stashed away--this all by itself was soothing and meditative.  Then I sifted through my clippings, picked out a pre-printed journaling card, and created the collage above.  So much pleasure and mind clearing from something so simple!

I can see a lot of directions to go in with this practice.  I think most often I will just pick the words and images that call to me and make my collage that way.  But sometimes I will go into it with a focus like I did today when I wanted to have a food theme.  And sometimes I might try something like picking a quote and building a collage around that.  Lots of ways to do this, and none of them need to take hours.  I can't wait to do more!

Let me know if any of you are doing this, too.  I'd love to share images and insights.  See you next time with more collages!

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Today I did something that brightened my day left me feeling pretty cheerful and interested in life at the end of a rather strange Monday.  I made a new Twitter list.  It took around 15 minutes to go through my "following" list and add people to my new list (it's called Creative Dailies), but it has made a definite impact on my morale.  This was absolutely a delicious bite of soul food.

Image used under Creative Commons from zigazou76
Image used under Creative Commons from zigazou76

Here's the background on this:  I work in a two person office, and my coworker is really nice but we have no interests in common except for a love of animals.  I feel really isolated during my workdays, so I spend a lot of time roaming Facebook while I'm working (yes, the job is mindless enough that this works out just fine).  But over the past couple of months I noticed that I was in a lot better mood when I wasn't on Facebook very much.  I realized that too much time on Facebook leaves me feeling horrible--angry, frustrated, fed up with people, depressed.  I have a few too many friends who love to post snarky "us against them" political garbage and a lot of other stuff that I know doesn't make sense or is flat out wrong.  But I also know that trying to have a discussion about this sort of thing on Facebook is ridiculous.

Over the past weekend I did some journaling about ways I could connect with people online during my workday and come away from it feeling uplifted, happy, energized.  I knew I didn't want to just stay away from my online friends, but I knew I had to change how I was interacting with them.  I couldn't stand feeling so angry and upset almost every afternoon.

I made a list of places I could hang out--a few Ning sites I belong to and some blogs I really like seemed like good starting places, but often the conversations there happen very slowly, not all on the same day.  Then I remembered that I'm connected to all sorts of awesome creative people on Twitter.  So why not make a list of the coolest, most fun, inspirational, thoughtful people I follow?

Today is the first day of trying this list, and I have been on Facebook a little, but not nearly as much.  And I'm feeling pretty good today.  I've also gotten to see a whole bunch of cool photos people shared on Twitter, and I'm finding it a lot easier to keep track of specific individuals throughout the day.  It's too early to fully proclaim this a success, but I think it might just work out.

So how do you stay connected with people while staying away from all of the negative garbage that gets spewed around the internet so much?  I'd love to hear about other ways to connect with people without getting overwhelmed with the bad stuff.

 

 

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