art is the soul made visible

art is the soul made visible

Friday, January 29, 2016

Life Overhaul in 2016

I'm giving up coffee. And a whole bunch of other shit. And I'm sharing my big plans for the year.

I'm drinking my coffee this morning and noticing the date. Just a couple more mornings of caffeinated bliss left. Unfortunately I ran out of my usual coffee and am drinking the last of some old coffee from the back of the cupboard and it is kinda funky and unsatisfying. I might not wait til Feb 1st and make this my last cup. Anyway...

The past year and a half or so was very stressful (internally and circumstantially). It was a very rough stretch there for me. Like the level of stress that I KNOW took a couple years off my life span. Fortunately things started to ease up toward the end of 2015. I started to feel empowered to tackle some of the things in my life which I had been too stressed to deal with, which helped that shift that was already happening really take hold. At the end of last year I posted a video and shared that I had some ideas/plans for 2016 and that I would share about it later. So, now is later.

I'm not really a "New Year's Resolution" person. If something needs changing in my life I don't wait for a special occasion, but this year the readiness to make some changes just happened to coincide with the changing of the year. There are a number of things I want to work on this year. Too many things to tackle at once, so I'm dedicating a month to each change. For example, I am working on sleep this month. I have the whole month to focus on sleep before adding in the next thing. I think that this approach will afford the greatest possibility of success as I won't be too overwhelmed. Here's what I'm working on this year:

1. Sleep. This is the first thing I'm tackling as I really can't do anything else while severely sleep deprived. While I may not be able to totally resolve the medical condition of insomnia with home remedies, I KNOW that I CAN make an impact. I'm keeping a sleep diary to track my sleep habits and the hours I'm getting. This alone is having a little bit of an impact. I'm aiming to get to sleep earlier and just generally practice good sleep hygeine but finding it much harder than expected. That is okay...I'm not aiming for perfection, just improvement. And...I don't have a deadline, it takes as long as it takes to make these improvements.

2. Dietary Changes. In February I will continue to work on my sleep hygeine and I will start working on diet. Again, I'm not aiming for perfection-just improvement. I plan to cut out coffee/caffeine, sugar, and wine. Basically all the enjoyable stuff right? ha! While those things are enjoyable...they aren't doing me any favors. Cutting caffeine will have an impact on my anxiety and sleep (at least I hope). Sugar is has no redeeming nutritional features and the occasional glass of wine triggers my autoimmune overheating symptom. So, these are all good things for me to cut out. The coffee and wine will be easy. The sugar will not be as easy. It's my kryptonite. But...I've done it in the past more than once and I know I can do it again.

I've not yet determined the order of the rest of the changes. I'll decide as I go based on what makes most sense at the time.

3. Stress Level. I want to focus on bringing my stress/anxiety level down. I will spend more time daily practicing relaxation. Right now I relax with art-which is AWESOME, but...I think I also need a little time of non-doing type of relaxation every day. I also want to get back into some sort of daily mindfulness or meditation practice. I will decide what fits best in my life when it comes time to focus on this, but it could be doing a mindful meal every day or doing a free online MBSR class I found awhile back.

4. Saying No. I've already been working on this, but it is something that still needs attention. I am a helper by nature. If someone needs something or needs help my knee jerk reaction is "I can help you!". That's a lovely quality, but I'm just not in a position (being chronically ill) to give to others without it depleting me. So, I want to get into the habit of saying "no" to pretty much EVERYTHING. I need to change my knee jerk reaction from signing myself on as helper to making "let me get back to you on that" my mantra, so that I can give myself the time to really consider if I can do something for someone else without it depleting me. This will be a hard one as it's such a long standing habit and saying "no" is really kind of stressful for me. But, I know it will have a good payoff for my health and well being, so it's worth it.

5. Unplug. Facebook is my big time sucker. While there is a lot of positive benefit for me there (art groups, friends, etc) is also stressful feeling I've wasted time and not being present in my life by being "plugged in". I plan to limit my Facebook time to 30 minutes daily. I am considering removing the app from my phone, but it's the most time saving way to upload pics. So, I might set a boundary around the app that I only use it to upload photos. Making FB less convenient will definitely help to reduce time spent there.  

6. Physical Activity. This one will be REALLY hard as my physical abilities change daily (and even hour to hour, minute to minute). I've tried in the past (since getting ill) and found that exercise increases my pain level. I gave it a solid shot...3 months is enough time to learn whether the benefits outweigh the extra pain. They did not. Also with my abilities being so's impossible to get into a routine. So, I'm going to focus on very tiny changes. Even if I just rolled my shoulders and other joints every day or did the tiniest amount of stretching...that would be an improvement. So, I'm going to focus on making a habit of doing some tiny movement every day (or every day I am able). This probably would not count as "exercise" to anyone else, but...I'm not "anyone else".

7. Less Medication. This is a really exciting one for me. This one won't get a special month of focus. I'm already working on it. I'm at a point in my treatment that it's time to re-evaluate my treatment plan. Now that my condition is better managed it's time to see if I can discontinue or reduce some medications. The reality is that I might try reducing or discontinuing some only to find that-yup, they are totally necessary. That's okay. At least I will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I'm on the right treatment plan. And I can always revisit the idea of reducing/discontinuing again in the future. I've been able to discontinue two of my daily medications already. Yay!! I'm hoping to discontinue a third (which would mean adding back in one of the ones I've already discontinued...but I'd be swapping a med with more side effects for one with less side effects, so I'm cool with that). Taking less medication will mean I will need to take more time to rest in bed and will need to rely more on things like my TENS unit (when's not always an option I can use) to help with pain management, so this is not a decision I take lightly. But...I think the benefits make it worth trying.  

So...those are my big plans for this year. There are a couple things I'm leaving off this list as they are too personal to share, but this is most of it. It's a lot. But I have a whole year to work on it. Well, really I have my whole life to work on it, there is no real deadline. Even though some of these things will be really hard-it's worth trying. Even if I don't make these aspirations realities...even if I make only a little progress-it's a win. Feeling very positive and empowered and ready to make some changes to improve my health and well being.

As usual...I don't want unsolicited advice. All decisions have been carefully considered based on information that no-one but me has access to. In other words, you are not qualified to give me matter how qualified you think you are-you really are *not* qualified to tell me how to live. Besides-you should be so busy tending to your own life that you don't have time to judge how anyone else is living! And don't worry, I've consulted with my doctor(s) where appropriate. Of course I talk to my doctor about medical you think I'm an idiot? Wait! Don't answer that! haha!! xo

Sunday, January 3, 2016

52 Weeks, 52 Hand Carved Stamps

I recently came across a blog post in which the author shared her plan to carve 52 stamps in a year.  You can see the post by clicking HERE. Well, I thought this was a fabulous idea!  I LOVE the idea that by this time next year I could have 52 hand carved stamps to use in my art projects.  So...Here is my first stamp-a citrus slice.  Depending on what color ink I use it could be a lime, a lemon, or an orange.  I'm happy with how it turned out! I've been carving stamps for years now, but only every once in a blue moon-so I don't have a huge collection.  Excited to start my next stamp and build up my collection!!  Care to join me?  Would you like to carve 52 stamps too?  Or maybe you'd like to create something else over the next 52 weeks...?  Feel free to share in the comments.  xo

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

30 Days of Getting Shit Done Revisited

Awhile back I had decided to spend 30 days tackling the various tasks I was procrastinating on doing-I called it “30 Days of Getting Shit Done”.  I didn’t get very far in the 30 days before quitting.  As I sit here with an overwhelming amount of tasks that (still) need to get done -I’m willing to give it another go.  If you have a long list of “to-do’s” as well, then keep reading and consider joining me.

First, let me “out” myself as a very skilled procrastinator.  For me procrastination is part of a stressful, overwhelming pattern.  The pattern goes like this… anxiety over performing a task(s) (or sometimes just being generally anxious) leads to>>> procrastination which leads to>>>the task(s) becomes more unmanageable which means>>>I become even more overwhelmed and anxious about the task(s) which means>>> my general level of anxiety and overwhelm build and spill over into other areas of my life which means >>> life begins to feel very unmanageable and I get stuck in a state of avoidance.  Action is the only antidote to this pattern.  Action is what “30 Days of Getting Shit Done” is about.

So, I made the decision to do this 30 days in the middle of November.  The skilled procrastinator voice in my head said, “You should definitely start this on the 1st day of a month, not the middle.  And you should definitely start on a Monday rather than a Wednesday”.  Tempting, but I know that “NOW!” is the ONLY time to deal with procrastination.  Besides, I want some relief from this stressed, overwhelmed feeling NOW-not on the first of next month.

I will share  how I am doing this 30 days, but feel free to do your 30 days however you wish.

***Instructions for 30 Days of Getting Shit Done***

1.  Make a list of all the tasks that need done that are weighing you down.

  What is weighing you down?  What are you avoiding doing?  Tasks left undone can take up a lot of mental energy and create stress.  Make a list of what needs done for you to free up that mental energy.  For me this is going to be a lot of cleaning and organizing type stuff, but there will also be things like phone calls on my list.  I will be making an exhaustive list, but I am reminding myself that I do NOT need to get all of it done in this 30 days.  Making a thorough list will allow me to see exactly how much needs done and help me to prioritize. I can see where I am at the end of the 30 days and do another 30 days if I want/need to.

2.  Break down tasks into manageable chunks.

I am feeling overwhelmed, so giving myself big overwhelming tasks to do isn’t going to move me into action.  So, I have decided to break tasks down into actions that will take about 15 minutes to do.  For example, I have “clean/organize bathroom closet” on my list.  So, under the task of  the bathroom closet I will have listed “1st shelf”, “2nd shelf”, “3rd shelf”, and “4th shelf”.  Each shelf should take about 15 minutes.  I can manage 15 minutes, but the idea of doing the whole closet in one sitting is overwhelming.  The idea is to  keep the tasks manageable and realistically do-able.

3.  Do one task from the list each day, for the next 30 days.

I can manage 15 minutes of task-tackling each day.  15 minutes is a small amount of time, but over a month it adds up.  If my math is correct that equals 7.5 hours of work done by the end of  the 30 days.  That’s a lot of  time!!  If I were to do that 7.5 hours of work in one (or even over two or three) sittings it would be very hard on me.  Time and energy are limited resources-especially with this autoimmune disease.  I simply can’t do the superwoman thing like I used to.  I used to be very good about staying on top of what needed done, but now I often struggle to take care of the basic tasks of living.   But…I think if I am organized and systematic I can get a lot done in these bite sized chunks of time.


So…what do you think?  Care to join me?  Today my task will be to write my list.  Good luck everybody! xo

Monday, August 10, 2015

Happy Birthday to Me and a Gift for You

(Coloring contest is now closed!)
Hello friends!  Today is my birthday-WooHoo!  I made it to 41 years! Sometimes that feels like a HUGE accomplishment.  Life can be very, very challenging at times.  I have had depression in varying degrees as long as I can remember.  There were many times when I did not think I'd make it this far-and frankly didn't want to. So, for me, 41 years is a big deal!!  I am happy with my life and myself.  I look back on my 41 years and see a lot of learning and growth, and that's kinda what life is all about I think.  I am proud of the person I am and the way I choose to live and be. It might not look like a very impressive life from the outside, but from where I'm's a pretty amazing life. Anyway-I'm looking forward to a quiet day today.  I want to make art and spend the day reflecting on and appreciating the 41 years I've got under my belt. And hopefully take a nap as my good friend "Insomnia" made a visit. But first I have this for you...

I finished my coloring page-yay!  In case you missed it, I am creating a coloring book and have a coloring contest going on.  You can get the details  and your free printable coloring page HERE.  And see the second "kid prize" (which is ridiculously cute) that I am offering HERE.  And I made a printable PDF of my finished mixed media page/painting for you HERE.  Print it out and hang it on your fridge, cut it up into pieces and make a collage, shrink it down and make it into a postcard...use it however you like (just personal use only please).

 How I created my page...
I initially planned to use some regular 'ol crayola crayons and color my page like I did when I was a little kid.  (By the way...I have some fun tips for coloring with crayons and  that I plan to share another time).  When I sat down with my crayons I changed my mind.  I felt pulled to make my page into a painting.  I wanted to challenge myself to take this simple coloring page and get a little more creative with it.  I printed my page onto some lightweight watercolor paper that was not heavily textured (just some cheapie stuff from the Michael's kids art section).  I started with watercolors, adding color to everything but the hand shape (which I painted with gold acrylic paint).  I then deepened some areas of color with colored pencils (I am madly in love with Prismacolor Premier pencils!!)   Initially I thought I would use the circle shapes for written journaling, but ended up simply adding  an "Om" symbol near the bottom of my painting. I added marks around the border with gold and silver markers and outlined some of the shapes with gel pens.  I named it "Hope Grows".   I really love how my painting turned out!!   I hope you enjoy it too whether you print it out or not.  xo

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Facebook Update

Okay, back on FB for now.  I had to prove my identity, which I find ridiculous and infuriating.  I told them so (not that they care).  Anyway, just wanted everyone to know that I'm back on FB.  I will keep the G+ group open in case I have further problems with FB, but don't plan to use it much.  Busy working on painting my sculpture today, so I'd better get back to it!  I hope everyone else is having a great day too!! xo

Thursday, August 6, 2015

UPDATE: Facbook problems (again) and Coloring Page Sneak Peek

Hello friends!  Again I am having problems with FB.  I won't go into it (again) because it's kind of exhausting, so I'll just say that I am no longer on FB.  Unfortunately I recently started a group there that would (in part) serve as a place for readers to share photos, etc.  For example, I was asking everyone to share their colored pages for the coloring contest there.  And now, I have no way to access it.  So, I  created a G+ page for us to share pics, etc. you can find it HERE.  And the event page for the coloring contest is HERE If you haven't read my post about the coloring contest yet you can find it HERE and an update on the post where I offer another prize (a very cute prize I might add) can be found HERE.  Until I find a good place for you guys to share pics... is a sneak peek of my own coloring page.   I will share more about my process when my page is complete.  See you on G+!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Mindfulness Art Journal and a Product Review

Hi guys!  I'm going on  virtually no sleep, so forgive any bad grammar and misspellings.  Anyway....recently my artist friend Amber was kind enough to gift me a set of her groovy printables (yay!)   She did it just 'cuz she's a sweetie.  I had the idea to make something with them and then write a blog post about it.  So...I did not get compensated for this review-the product was a gift because we are friends and the creator had no idea I would choose to review it like this.

I decided to make a quick art journal.  I think making the book and decorating all the pages...whole project was maybe 2 hours.  All my art journaling friends will appreciate how super mega FAST that is!  Before I get started on telling you about the book.  Amber's Etsy shop where she sells her original art, etc can be found HERE and her shop at Scrapbookgraphics (this is where you can buy the kit I am using) is HERE.  Specifically I am using the  Namaste Printable Art Collage Sheet Background and Namaste Printable Mini Art Journal Kit.  You can get both kits for a total of under $6.  So, yeah...just go ahead and get 'em.  You can print them out as many times as you like, so it's a great deal!!

I made my book by using her backgrounds for my pages.  I took two of her background pages which I had printed out and put them together with right sides facing out.  Then I stitched around the edges with my sewing machine.   I left some of the threads hanging long because I like the look.  I repeated until I had all pages ready to bind.  To bind my book I simply used my sewing machine to stitch right down the center of my stack of pages.  I folded in half along the stitch line and then got busy decorating my pages.  Oh...and I used two lengths of ribbon to close the stiched to the front cover and one to the back. Now I'll add a little bit of description to each of the pics.

The pic below is the front cover.  All images are Amber's but the scraps of papers under the girl and under the words.

This spread features a photocopy of a girl from one of my other art journals. I added a spot for journaling on the upper right of the right side.  The "life is unpredictable" card is a project life card.  I decorated it with scraps of pretty paper from Amber's kit.

This page features plenty of my own art.  The eye is a stamp that I carved myself, the OM is a stencil I made and the flower is a stencil I made as well.  I stenciled the flower in black and then doodled over it with paint pens.  And...another Project Life card which has a photocopy of some of my art underneath. I tried to leave some room on most of the pages to do further artwork and written journaling.

This page has some of my favorite elements from her kit.  The scalloped painted edge on the left and the scribbly rainbow come with the kit.  I then added some of her words to a Project Life card along with a photocopy of some of my art.  Lots of room to add to this page, which I love.

This might be my favorite page(s) in the book.  The girl is a photocopy of a work I recently did.  The triangle on her forehead is from the kit as well as the words.  The left page has  a large Project Life card as a fold out "page".  I added a copy of one of my artworks to it.

 I went very simple with the last spread.  I wanted LOTS of room to do art and writing here.  Just a Project Life card and some words from the kit.

Finally...the most important remind of breathe  I used another stencil I made myself and one of my favorite techniques of doodling over my stenciled image.

I hope you like the project and please do check out Amber's shops if you feel moved to do so.  xo