Most of my artwork “comes” to me. It begins with the tiniest thought. Such a whisper on the wind is creativity. I can best relate the feeling by this allegory. Once, I stood on top of a bench in the Swiss Alps, above the town of Interlaken. As I looked down at the darling houses that speckled the snow covered hills, I noticed a cloud swiftly gliding up the side of the mountain towards me. I smiled, playfully, as the cloud drifted right up, over, around and through me. It was the most miraculous feeling. It took my breath away. The little droplets of moisture in the cloud kissing my face as it flowed. I have nothing but the fleeting memory of such a beautiful moment. However, I will never forget its sweetest touch.
For me, this is how being a “maker” works. It starts like fluffy white clouds floating towards you.You start to feel a childlike glee at the possibility heading in your direction. You think on it, let it land and float around you. Swallowing up in the moment. When the heady rush is gone, you get to work. When the product is complete, you stand back in awe of what has been made, through your hands. Not for or because of you. For you my friend are but a vessel taking whispers of creation in to your heart and then hoping to make something of them.
Sometimes, my work comes from sources that are not my own at all. The gossamer wings of hopeful creation lands on another, who may feel they lack the ability (practice or knowhow) to be the creator of the whisper. This is where my newest watercolor painting originates. With another, bringing an idea and asking, please make this for me. I am always awed and grateful to have someone believe in me enough to be the hands for their creative seed. It is a gift to my sensitivities. For it is through creating, that I find the kindly light of peace in a tousled mind.
So today, I present to you the digital image created for Natalie Murdock. It’s design is of her mind and spirit. She was inspired by a moving speech given about mothers in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints October Women’s Conference. Elder Eyring had quoted the beloved Prophet President Nielson, by stating how mothers are makers. I want to share this art with the world. You may purchase yours here.
Though the original will never be anyone’s other than it’s vessel. It’s message is beautiful, unique and touching. It relays how so many of us feel about our own mothers. We are masterpieces of their internal and spiritual design. This whole process has been a gift from the Highest Power of Creation.
I truly treasure the ability to feel at a depth and breath that I believe is a gift from God. I know that this process I speak of, is directly connected to all the wonderment He offers. It is almost otherworldly to work within His light. I believe all creation is of Him. To Him goes the truest credit.
I have been chewing. Not the watermelon-hubba-bubba-best-bubbles-in-the-whole-world kind of chewing. Deep think chewing. I call it chewing when profound thoughts float by like a feather dancing with the wind. A feather, not a bubble. Bubbles pop and leave you wanting more. A feather however, floats in the air then rests there where it lands, or you pluck it out of the sky and admire it. In all it's beauty it makes you ponder upon the bird it came from or how it came to be.
I have been chewing. Millions of tiny thoughts. At this moment I am trying to pin them down for you to create some artistic eloquence that will cause you to chew too.
I teach middle school. Every day, I drive "Little Red"(my chevy spark) to school. I only live two blocks away. I love driving Red, even if it is two blocks. Silly I know. (Silly is one of my best qualities). The other day I was walking into the school from the back door and realized I didn't have my keys. I had left them in my classroom. This meant that I would have to walk, all the way to the front of the building and then back down the hall to my room. “Oh well,” I thought, “I needed a walk anyway.” (This is my Pollyanna Perspective. I will write about that another day. You should go watch the movie if you haven't seen it. “Pollyanna” by Disney.)
Well, my school has sidewalks for days. Not just one sidewalk and you can only take that path, but sidewalks that can take you to the front of the building on several differing routes depending on which path you choose. I always walk on the sidewalk. I always take the same route, keeping to the sidewalk, being sure not to walk on the grass. I wouldn’t want to wear a path in the perfectly manicured laws. (Lawns for days!)
Most days, I would say I am a rule follower. Don’t get me wrong, there is an inner rebel living and breathing in me that has on many occasions pushed an envelope too far with dark results to follow. I guess that is why I follow rules loyally now. I know what lies ahead if I don’t. Consequences and tears, that I have no say in, come into my life. The outcome ultimately resulting in excruciating sorrow, loss, apologies, repentance and the plaguing of past pain long into the future. Ya, I think I will pass.
However, on this day, I was late getting back to my room from my break. As I took my first step out on to the grass, I thought to myself, “Sometimes, you have to walk on the grass.”
There it is. The thought that started my chewing and has continued for, going on a week and a half. I am an absolute Christian. Through and through. No doubt about it. This thought can carry gospel undertones and discussion, comparisons etc. It can also resound within our inner most wonderings.
For me, on this day in November, “Gratitude” month, I need to say this: “Sometimes, walking on the grass is okay.” It doesn’t make me evil. It won’t ruin the lovely lawn. It won’t even get me in trouble with the principal. It may however, get me to my room on time, with wet shoes mind you, but on time, still the same. On time to teach, smile, love and play with a class full of students who needed me. (The load of the young people today is absolutely staggering. They do need us. They need us to show up. Truly.)
There are seasons in our lives, where we have to take a different road than we are used to. It may even be one that not everyone agrees you should take. No one can foresee where that path will lead. How you will grow spiritually because you chose that way. No one can predict how it will shape who you are to become. How it will make you better than you once were. Not a soul could tell you how the heartbreak of that path will make you stronger and more empathetic towards others. In my life, this is the case. Today, I am grateful for the times I chose to make my own trail. Each step I have taken has led me to this day. This girl. Each hill, fork or compass check has created the woman who loves, lives and creates, with every single breath, in the fullest way possible.
Friends, please walk on the grass. Of course, not all the time. But, when you need a fresh perspective or a new view. When you feel strongly that it is the direction meant for you, because it speaks to you. Take that road less traveled by. Robert Frost was right you know. It will make all the difference.
That is my topic.
I haven't written in a while.
I will explain.
There are a couple or three reasons.
First, life happens. I have had a very busy spell. You know, those times when you are just getting by, and then you start to let things slide that don't seem too terribly important. Things that will be okay, if "I just set these here for a while. Don't worry. I will be back," I whisper reassuring words to that portion of my life as I walk away. Weeks later... it's a sad story right? Especially for a creative. (Which we all are by the way.)
Second, I have been hit by low spell after low spell. The definition of a low spell for me is a period of time when I feel nothing. Down. Dark. In fierce need of solitude. I swear someone keeps leaving the door to Azkaban open and the dementors keep attacking my heart and brain out of nowhere. It's really starting to tick-me-off. I keep thinking, "No one wants to hear you ramble about how crappy you feel all the time." So, I don't write.
Enough! I'm writing now. Down or not. Truth is, always up and cheery isn't real. I said I was gonna be real. Then, I took it back. I am sorry. I recommit to living my true-self and sharing that with you despite my chemical brain imbalance and its daily forecast. (Yes, there really is a daily forecast. Today it was cloudy in the a.m. and cleared out by 4 p.m. Beware the new moon.)
I know it's been said a lot, but I have been deep thinking it lately. You know how life on Facebook or Instagram is generally a lie. We all post our positively perfect moments and portray them as our "actual" lives. I'm guilty.
But, I mean, who wants to see a photo of me lying on my pillow trying to give myself the pep-talk of the century just to get out of bed and function. Are we being real? I was reminded today that it is important to show our truest selves. Be vulnerable. Open. Genuine is my favorite word. Just be. Be who you are, because who you are, may be just what someone else needs to see, hear about or can relate to.
Life is shit sometimes friends. Heck, sometimes? More like most times are just plain crap. (I am sorry for my language. You are going to have to forgive my "farm words" occasionally. I promised I would be me. My gram told me once, they are just farm words. Let's be honest, sometimes you just need to yell those farm words at the top of your lungs. Yes, it can really make you feel better. I'd provide research for that, but I have already spent too much time on this squirrel moment.)
My point? I'm not perfect. I'm tired of pretending to be. Aren't you? Why can't we all just silence the voices outside our heads that eventually become the truths we tell ourselves. If you're having a bad friggin' week, I wanna know about it. I want to see that frizzy hair you couldn't tame. I want you to share that failed recipe. I want to see your tired, worn out face just as you are. You're beautiful without it. No lie. No makeup, especially no lipstick, put that hat on your head and JUST BE. I want to see that version of you. I think she and I could be friends. That girl I can relate to. I dedicate the days to come to sharing the crap. The crap is interesting, raw and real. Sometimes stinkier than necessary, but it's truth. I need more real. Don't you.
Here is my right now face. Just me in my blanket, no make-up, no filter, or facade, should-of-been-in-bed an hour ago face. This is me.
Reminding you, to JUST BE.
MAKE TIME FOR YOU
Finding my way in a world where "sensitivity" isn't always seen as a positive trait has had its challenges. At times it has been lumped together with my depression. It's been named as the source of the blue moods I battle. I know different now. But, as a teenager I could not distinguish the difference, nor did I have the tools to cope with either taxing inner trait.
Lucky for me, I had loving parents, who were aware of their inability to deal with and help me. They did their best to lead me to professionals that could help me gain important coping tools for depression. Intime, I realized the two ARE separate, they do feed each other, but require alternate prescriptions. I do not have the luxury of letting myself go. I can't just quit the meds because my moods are regulated and I am feeling great these days. Nor, can I neglect my inner introvert, who has a sensory (sensitivity) overload at least once a day. Over the past 30 years, I have discovered that finding time for myself, alone, in the silence, is critical to properly caring for my spirit. The part of me, that makes me tick. Sensitivity is my greatest strength and most challenging weakness.
FIND A SPACE
What do I do then for the tender hearted part of me? For me it's finding some time to escape to the fresh mountain air (or the salty sea, but that for another time). I live 20 minutes from Aspen trees and ponderosa pines. For real. Mountains or outdoors are the best medicines for clearing my mind and tending to my sensitive soul. That and a hammock with a war blanket.
YOU DONT HAVE TO BE A PRO
I don't really believe that I'm a professional artist. No way do I rank up there with Monet and Van Gogh (my heroes). I heard in the past year that selling your art qualifies you as a professional. Up until that point, I just thought of my art as a way to release my tensions. They made me happy. So, the way I see it, I am no better at doodling than your average student sitting in class. It is my strong opinion that given the right tools and time for practice, we are all artists. We were all creatives, without fear of judgement, when we were toddlers. We just forget with the weight of time told responsibilities. I can Also say with a surety that one valuable thing I have learned, tools do matter.
TAKE THE RIGHT TOOLS
I wish someone would have shared their secret tool of mass creation with me when I started. I would buy the cheapest tools I could find. Cheaper is never better. Unfortunately. If you really want to get the most out of alone moments you will need 1 bag full of colored pencils from Prisma because they blend. Did you know colored pencils can blend? I didn't until about 3 years ago! No lie! You don't really need more than the basic 12 - 24. You can also find them on Amazon.
You will need art pens by Sakura called Micron pens. I prefer size 3 or 5. They do not bleed through the page and are waterproof if you choose to apply watercolor to your page. (On occasion, during me time, water just finds it way from my face to the page so these pens come in handy).
Please do not neglect the value of a dot journals from Michaels crafts either. I choose Michaels for my journals because the price is right, the size is perfect for any bag, and they have colors to choose from. (They are also perfect for decorating with your favorite vinyl stickers too.) Wow! I am not normally that kind of blogger, but I believe in sharing secrets for the benefit of others, and these are mine. There are studies that show having an attitude of gratitude and journaling are GREAT for your mental health. Don’t be afraid to try it.
TAKE THE TIME YOU NEED
If you can't get away for a couple of hours, because realistically how close are we really to the mountains or the ocean, find a time-out spot. There have been periods in my life where I needed seclusion on a daily basis. I remember as a young mother, I would hide in my walk-in closet, sit on the floor and just breath. That moment of stillness was enough to quiet my mind and the minute to minute demands of motherhood. I remember my 3 year old calling my name through the house until he knocked on the closet door and asked, "Mommy?" To which I replied, "Mommy is having a time-out." This totally made sense to his 3 year old mind.
Even now I have been known to take a minute at the end of my work day, lay on my bed and catch up with the world via social media. That 5-15 minutes helps me to sweep away the busy noises of my classroom, before I begin fulfilling my home duties.
The importance of finding ways to unplug for your mental health is crucial. It is one of the top 10 ten tools to care for yourself, according to Mental Health America. They call this taking care of your spirit. I can testify to the value of a good time-out. I am twice the woman I am and can be when I create space for me amidst all the madness. Afterall, I'm important too. I urge you, make time for you friends. You will never regret it!
I've included links today to make your search for tools, and articles for reference easier. You can fact check me so that you know I am not just making this all up. I don't have the degree. Just the experiences to share.
Every day is an adventure! Am I right?
I guess it all depends on your attitude. The last few weeks have felt like I am coasting down a hill. You know that "look mom no hands" kind of feeling.
It's fall, my favorite season. I have made a new friend. I have a grandbaby living with me for a while. My job as a school teacher brings me purpose and joy. My home is warm and inviting. My new town seems to like me so far. Everything it seems is status quo. So...Is this the adventure part?
I would venture to say, No. I feel like adventure is when the road gets bumpy. Think of it. This road trip is going smoothly and then out of nowhere the roadway changes. Immediately, we become irritated at the uneven, thumping pathway. We hold the steering wheel a little tighter. We are trying to control which way the car goes, when really we have no control at all. If we can get through this rocky bit we know we will enjoy our destination. Right? Sometimes. Often times we have no idea where this road is going to take us and what is on the other side of this mountain in front of us. It's the getting through that is the crummy part. It's also the part we learn to trust the trail. We grow and get a little tougher through the process. We find the potholes, and learn where to ride the ruts up top.
This is where I tell you that you really need to breath and remember to "Enjoy the Ride." I have been reminded of this quote by my new friend. I had all but forgotten it. We were having a discussion about not letting our anxieties (ruts) rule us. It was afteward that I remembered that I even had a piece of artwork representing this development in our pathway. For my friend and I, we are discovering new locations and special spots in our friendship. We are learning to trust the pathway. We are braving the new terrain. I am grateful for new friends, and old favorites. Friendship is really a wonderful thing. It's hard for me to open myself up and expand my circle. I am comfortable with my people. Why do I need anymore? But, I do. When I see that my higher power has brought someone new into my life worth keeping, you can be sure, I make a friend for life. People who are genuine, real, who love me despite my warts, forgive me of my struggle to keep my eyebrows plucked, support me in good days and bad, and give the best hugs in the world, those are my people. Who are your people?
We really do need friends to travel with in this life. They make the road trip sweeter, and worthy of joy. They are true North. When your road gets rough, ponder on the people who love you. The people who need you. The people who want you around for-ev-er, and keep in mind even bumpy roads get worn down after a while. When you travel again, to this soon-to-be new favorite destination, the drive will be much nicer. The memory of the trip before and the people you were with will be pleasant. Friends, it's time. Sit back, and do your best to enjoy the ride!
Love and hugs to my people! Thank you for your constant support and love. You're my favorite.
It's funny. Today is National Mental Health Awareness, and I almost typed that in my title. Then, without batting an eye, changed the title to "Self-Care Means Self-Aware" at the last minute. Why? I think because growing up in my 80's kind of world the word "MENTAL" anything carried with it completely and totally negative nuances. I realize daily that I still carry some of that with me now. Being "mental" meant you were crazy, and boy did I feel that way at times. Believe it or not, I have even been called "mental" by mean individuals in my life. I can promise you that it was not meant in a funny- ha-ha kind of way, rather it was intended in a you're-flat-out-nuts connotation.
Growing up with depression in a time when we still weren't giving "real talk" in society, was actually really difficult. I know for myself, I battled every day from the age of 17 to just to take my daily medications. I remember being diagnosed as Bipolar at one point, and being hospitalized. I felt insane, abnormal, completely crackers. I remember being angry a lot of the time because I couldn't be "normal." What in the Helen Keller is normal any way? And who gets to decide what normal is anyway? Is there a committee? Where do they meet? I have a few things to say to them!
But, really friends, I am constantly in awe of the awareness of the world now. Today. 2019. It's like we have our eyes wide open. All those mean things we called each other as kids, that were actually really traumatizing, they are officially not okay to say anymore. I like that. Now I know some may say we are turning our children into pansies in this generation. Being to soft and such. And I can see the prior generations point of view. I get putting on your boots and going to work, even if you don't feel like it. I do. To some extent I completely agree with it to. Nothing that you can't "work" out, right? If we are being "real" though, there truly are things you can't just "work" through or out. Sometimes you have to go through it, the storm, the battle, the best way you know how. The best way you know how isn't always the same for everyone.
When it's darkest in my mind, battling looks like me in my pajamas, for the second day in a row, with the lights off in my room, barely breathing. Darkness of the mind is like a black hole with no end in sight! It's sucks the joy, light and life right out of you. By the way, did you know it's genetic! (More to come on that topic later). It can't and doesn't always go away with "work." Don't get me wrong, I am not saying we should all just give up normality and sit around eating dark chocolate and ice cream in our pj's with the lights out everyday. What I am suggesting is that when you can't fight, when it's just to heavy, and you need to focus on just breathing in or out, do that. Just that. You have my permission.
Being Self-Aware is Self-Care. Do what you need to do. Tell them I said so.
Now, I am going to go change my title back to Mental Awareness. Or should I? What do you think? Let's all end the stigma.
In commemoration of the solidarity of this day, I am attaching a free coloring page. All you need to do is download the file. P.S. Only love not viruses included.
Be you. Be amazing.
Blessings abound in my life. I am paying attention. I am awake. I have a strong sence of gratitude in my hear. These blessings have morphed into a creation of me. I believe I have been evolving into this creation of myself, I guess you could say, all my life. However, it has been crystalizing a bit more rapidly here in the last 2-3 years. It really is incredible how time passing, wisdom gained through a myriad of new trails, and the professionals you are lead to, all join together to create an authentic self. My true person, the real me.
My sister is one of my strongest, silent supporters. She has always encouraged me to believe in myself and my dreams. Her quiet example of blazing your own trail to becoming has always inspired me. A few years back, she had me create this graphic for her. Authentic. I used watercolor as my medium and made it into a digital image. I also created vinyl stickers, which she promptly purchased. I didn't really value this power word at the time. It didn't really hold meaning for me. It did for her, and I loved how it turned out. (It is interesting how your art is always better when you have purpose or meaning behind it. I love my sister, and that love shows out in this original artwork.) For me, the meaning of this word has only touched my frontal lobe in the last 24 hours.
Today as I sit here, creating my very first blog post and splaying myself out for the whole world to see, it occurs to me how important it is to hold true to my real person. To be my authentic self. As I reflect on this, I am reminded of a new friend I have made in the past few weeks. She is teaching me that it okay to say it how I mean it. I am learning to be more open and honest with my good days and my bad. These lessons couldn't have come at a more prolific time in my life. I am grateful each day for the gift that my higher powers hand is in my life. I know I have been lead to these remembrances, and people for this purpose, at this time. Maybe, these lessons aren't just for me. Perhaps they are meant for you too.
Oh, I know all the things I am "supposed" to say and do to be popular out in the realm of cyberness. I see what the world expects outside my door. But, I know me. I know I am not great at these things. Mostly because they are fake. Being a true introvert makes me awkward and nerdy, and I think that is okay. I guess you could say, I am still evolving. You are too. So, instead of another blog that tells you what you want to hear, see, do, be and then expects you to respond appropriately, I am giving you permission to just be yourself. Be free. Be authentic. Let's all just be real. In the words of my favorite poet, Robert Frost - "Yet, I, I chose the road less traveled by." And I, Jodilyn, I think it really will make all the difference.