I had a few different topics rolling around in my head for today's post. Then I opened Jon Acuff's Friday newsletter, and this sentence flung itself into my brain. I almost never read newsletters when they hit my inbox, so this was kind of an odd situation. I decided it must mean something, me reading it on the day I got it, and this sentence getting stuck in my head. And so here we are.
Feelings are an odd thing for me. I used to fight mine a lot. I used to try to never cry and not show too many of them. In my family, I was known for never crying at funerals. And at the same time I was actually incredibly emotional. I just saved the tears and the expression of it all for when I was alone or with a couple of close friends. It was like this all through high school and college and beyond.
I've been practicing more at expressing my feelings, examining them and doing what needs doing with them in a timely manner rather than burying them. And I've realized that my struggles with trying to control my emotions, keep them in check and invisible, has lead me to let them rule me and make all my decisions for me.
I've had that understanding but not quite these words for it until today when this phrase came along and lit everything up for me. Emotions are important. They need to be listened to, acknowledged, worked with. But letting them make the decisions in how I talk to myself and my actions--that doesn't need to be the way things go.
This is something I know, of course. I've known it for a long time. It's so much harder to practice than it seems like it should be. So this reminder today, when I've been having a lot of hard days, is good and needed.
I don't have a wrap-up. This is just a thing that swirled back into my attention today in a way that made it a little clearer and more solid, and now I am thinking of ways to work with it to help me move toward the life I want to be living. It's good stuff, but it's still open-ended. Like life is. Like so many things are.
I was just telling my partner that I want a spot in the backyard to go and hangout. In the past I had toyed with the idea of a she-shed, but right now the space just won't work. We're going to be putting an enclosed patio on the back of our bedroom, but right now the front yard is the focus. Then a friend got this super cute tent that has colorful pennants and swirly things on it, and I want one! Or something like that. For my backyard. So he came up with a few ideas for me, and I got pretty excited.
And then I stopped dead in my tracks. I don't tend to go sit outside. I never really have, unless I'm at an outdoor party or something like that. I shouldn't put any time and effort and money into fixing up a spot in the backyard. I just want to be that person who sits outside to read and listen to music. I've never actually been that person. What if I set everything up and don't use the space?
But then I realized that if you want to be a certain kind of person, you don't have to wait to do the things that sort of person does until you've made the proper inner shift or whatever. You become a certain type of person by doing the things that sort of person does. I
Writers write. Artists create. Backyard sitters go sit outside. So I'm going to set up a space for myself and see what happens. I might just be a person who enjoys sitting outside! And I'm going to think of what other people I want to be, and I'm going to start walking the walk. That's how you get there, after all.
I'm behind on a bunch of things I wanted to get done this week (going back to work flattened me, and I hate that!). But today I really needed to play with some paint. So I caught up a little bit with my Wanderlust lessons. Played with alcohol inks mixed with my paints on the gel plate. Got one print I especially liked, but the edges didn't lift so the actual print area wasn't big enough for what I wanted to do. So I made another one (and a couple more because gel printing!) and got this, and I'm pretty satisfied with this. And feeling better after having some play time.
The takeaway--sometimes, even if you have a lot to do, you have to step back and get in some creative play time to lighten up and give yourself a boost so you can get on with all the other stuff.
Today I ran across the idea of justifying why we do what we do in a several different places. In a Facebook group I'm in. In a newsletter I get. On Twitter.
One of these places (I already forgot--how does that happen so fast?!) shared this quote from Stephen King: "I have spent a good many years sinceâ€•too many, I thinkâ€•being ashamed about what I write. I think I was forty before I realized that almost every writer of fiction or poetry who has ever published a line has been accused by someone of wasting his or her God-given talent. If you write (or paint or dance or sculpt or sing, I suppose), someone will try to make you feel lousy about it, thatâ€™s all."
The newsletter was from a writer who's been writing for decades, and she asked us why we write. And her question, plus the quote above, reminded me of when I was younger and people would ask me why I was writing in my notebook. A lot of people also asked me why I was reading. One manager at the bank I worked in during my college summers would regularly remark, "Still reading those books!" with a laugh and a shake of her head like she thought I would grow out of reading for fun. She also sometimes asked about why I was always writing in my notebook during breaks.
Honestly, I never understood these questions. My family and the people around me always thought I was weird, but secretly I thought there was something wrong with them. Because how could they not understand how important it is to have stories and art?! How could they not see that we can see other worlds and other lives and so many more things than we could possibly experience in one lifetime otherwise just by reading and writing stories? (I will admit, though, that I did often fall prey to uncertainty about my role in making any of this art.)
There's a quote I can't find right now about why the world needs artists. We do. We need those glimpses of the beauty and the possible that they bring us. And we, as artists, need to keep bringing that to the world.
This is another rambling post. I don't have my thoughts about this organized and sorted, but I wanted to put it out there because it's on my mind today. I hope it makes some sense, and I hope it reminds you that we need to keep creating. The world needs our art.
Today is going to be a bit of a ramble, just some things I'm thinking about. I love notebooks. If you have been around my blog or any of my other online spaces for a while, you already know this.
I keep trying to find The Notebook. I keep trying to convince myself that I should pick one and go with it. But I just finished up this composition book where I do writing practice, and the Happy Planner I thought I would use as my writing practice book and catch-all notebook didn't do it for me. So I'm on to another composition book for writing practice (still need to decorate the cover!). And I've been beating myself up about having too many notebooks.
But yesterday I asked myself, "Is it really too much? Do I really have too many?" Do I use them all? Off and on. I've been using the Happy Planner (the latest in my slew of disc-bound notebooks) for my everyday book, my catch-all. So great. That one has a purpose and gets used a lot. But I love a composition book for writing practice, and I use it. So still good. I also love Moleskine cahiers. I use them for on-the-go writing practice sometimes, for notes for classes when I'm taking longer classes with lots of notes. I don't use them as much anymore, but I still use them.
I do have a hardbound faux Moleskine that I was going to try bullet journaling in, but I can't quite seem to get the hang of that, at least not yet.
There are a lot of notebooks around her. But some of them are older and used to get used. Some of them are in use now. There aren't actually that many that aren't being used. And you know what? I love them! That right there means they belong. They make me happy. I'd love to get them all into one place. One shelf maybe, with filled books on one side and empty books waiting to be filled on the other. So I could see what I have. But right now I'm going to stop insisting that I pick one kind and stick with it. That's NEVER going to make me happy.
So, lots of notebooks it is! Check that off the list, stop worrying about it, and move on to what kind of stickers I need for the covers!
I have a three day weekend starting now. I'm not even working every day right now, but those words "three day weekend" put a bounce in my step and a lightness in my heart. Why? What does this mean?
It's a freedom. And openness. Space that's ready to be filled with endless possibilities. There's so much energy in knowing you have this space and time to fill how you want. I want to feel like this more.
I don't have any answers right now. Just questions. How can I feel more of this three day weekend energy on ordinary days? How can I cultivate that enthusiasm and excitement and feeling of open space and open-ended possibility more often?
New paths start with the right questions. I hope I'll be back here, sooner rather than later, with some answers or at least some things to try.
I'm not too into watercolors, at least not with the techniques like sprinkling salt, tapping wet paint off the brush, sprinkling alcohol. It feels fussy, and the paint never goes where I want. Plus, I'm not super comfortable with sketching. This lesson had me dragging my feet a lot. But yesterday I finally sat down and did it (finished the writing and words today, though). And I liked it! I like that galaxy look and how it blends into the lighter blue area I put into the top left. I even liked sprinkling the gold and silver paint!
I could have (maybe should have) made this a little easier by doing it on separate paper rather than right in my journal, but my supplies are really disorganized right now so that felt kind of hard. But I probably would have been less resistant if I had done it in a way that felt temporary, that felt like I could just throw it out if I didn't like it.
So what's the message here? Do the thing. Try it! Experiment! Find a way that makes it feel easier, or at least less hard or scary. But do the thing. Cool stuff happens when we just do the thing.
I don't always have the best relationship with my body. I spent my whole life from age ten into my forties trying to make it into the "right" shape and size. Then I spent a lot of time trying to break that diet, cult of thinness mentality. Then old injuries caused new injuries, and a medication caused tendon damage in my hip, and so chronic pain came along.
When our bodies are hurting or not working quite right, or when we have those bad body images foisted on us by society, it's easy to spend as much time as we can living in our heads. But one thing I'm learning more and more--especially now because I've started some new physical therapy stuff for the various injuries--is that our bodies are ourselves, and they need our love and attention.
I think our creative work can flow better, can come out better, when we spend some time doing good things for our bodies. What good things? That depends on the body, of course. Just like with other experts, it's important to not just listen to and jump in on whatever the fitness gurus say. Here too we have to find what's right for us.
I know that when I'm giving my body attention, I can find things that feel better (maybe not completely get rid of the pains, but make them better which is good). And I feel like this attention to my body helps me when I'm trying new things in my art--I can feel the difference in ways to hold a pen or brush, how much pressure is light versus heavy. The physical transfers itself into my creative work.
Giving attention to my body also helps me have more energy because I know when to rest and when to stop doing something that's putting too much strain on me. It touches on all parts of my life, including my creativity.
Our bodies are part of our creative journey. We should decorate them, care for them, love them, and give them all the good things so they can carry us along our path.
I have a lot of reasons why I create. But one biggie is the glorious riot of colors. Who can resist this? Who can look at this and not want to grab them up and make something?! New supplies and the video tutorials that go with them are constant sources of inspiration (and shopping). Sometimes, though, I get inspired by grabbing the supplies I have and pairing them up into new color combinations or by combining supplies I haven't used together before.
That's it for today. I'm rummaging through my supplies, working on how I want to organize them to make them easiest to access, so I thought I'd share how doing that always makes me extra excited to create things.
I'm sluggish today. My allergies are trying to murder me, and I can't seem to get anything going. So here's a list of things I'm thinking about, in no particular order.
I need a different storage solution for my water soluble mark makers. I don't like having the art crayons in plastic tubes in with the watercolor crayons that are paper wrapped. And definitely I don't want the watercolor pencils mixed in there. So, something different needs to happen.
I want to take pictures. In high school and college I took photography classes and did a lot of shooting. I want to do it again, but I'm not entirely sure what to take pictures of. I think I might be overthinking it.
I absolutely love my art cart, and it doesn't fit in the space I have for it in my studio, and that's just not going to do. I need a new plan. Meanwhile it can stay next to the dining table where I've been doing all my art for the past year.
I have been aware for a while that part of why I don't go sit at my desk or art table to do things is that I am physically uncomfortable. Not really sure what to do with that. I've tried different chairs, but no luck so far. I am hoping the new physical therapy exercises I've found, along with the PT ball I got for them, will help with my hip and leg, and then maybe I will be more inclined to sit in my spaces and work. Meanwhile, I want to figure out all the other things that will make the space appealing to sit in so I can break my habit of sitting on the couch constantly. I don't get much of anything done here beyond writing blogs and newsletters and browsing the internet. And I want to do more.
I'm doing this 365 mile challenge (walk 365 miles in a year), and I'm afraid I'm not going to make the goal. I'm very slow and don't have the stamina to do more than a mile at a time. And now I injured my knee (recovering though!), so I've had to dial back a bit. By now, according to my plan at the beginning of the year, I should be walking 1.5 miles 5 times a week. Now I have to rework that plan, but I think I also need to rework how I'm thinking about this and start celebrating the walking I am doing and the progress I'm making. Because two years ago I could walk half a mile on a good day, and I had to use a cane. So this is really progress.
I kind of want to get a couple of friends together and form a writing critique and support group to give myself a push to get back to writing stories again.
I think I need to make myself a separate list of the things I need to get done over the next few days and get on them, because I've been procrastinating so now I'm behind, and I feel like I don't know where to start. When in doubt, start with a list.
That's about it. I mean, I could go on, but I'd just be babbling. I'll be back tomorrow, possibly with less babbling (but possibly not, so don't get too excited!).