The older I get, the more essential my art becomes in my self-care. Making personal art goes light years beyond a day at the spa for true mind/body/spirit. We are multifaceted beings and each of our facets need attention to shine brightly. The most magical and nurturing way to get to know each facet within us is communicating with Your Inner Art.
Times spent uncovering your authentic personal style through creating personal art is magical. I find that the most magical project for self care is an altered book.
My blog will be focused on creative self care especially in altered books and art journals. This is the space I use when I want to get clear with myself about anything. I will share the prompts and issues I am diving into so you can understand the process. Personal art is magical and more accessible than society has made us believe. The truth is you do have your own personal creative style and it is as unique and beautiful as you are. The beauty of an altered book is that you can close the cover and not show anyone until you realize that you are an artist.
On April 1st I will release an hour long video class and printed directions for making your own altered book. It will be free for the month of April then it will become a paid online class.
Starting this Thursday April 1st you can find my altered book class/printed directions on my website home page! I will be posting more how to’s on my Istagram CathyJLawson or my Facebook page Creative Goddess Cathy
The first facet of Goddess to sink into is Rest & Recharge. What does this mean to you personally? How do you rest? Do you feel guilty resting? Take a few deep breaths and turn your attention inward. Picture yourself when you are at home alone. There’s no one to cater to right now except yourself. What do you do? Where are your thoughts? Are you comfortable taking lavish care of yourself?
The journal you pick as your visual journal does make a difference in how you relate to it. Using an expensive journal will bring a desire to make sure it’s pretty and consequentially it will be left on a shelf. Having compassion with your creative expressions is key to using a journal. Our society places more value in superficial beauty so we are programmed to make beautiful things. A visual journal does not have the focus of being pretty all the time. It is a snap shot of who we are in that moment. A Goddess knows she is all things and honors who she is at any point in time.
Getting a cheap composition notebook is a perfect start for a visual journal. It isn’t something you can “mess up”. Your journal isn’t something you can mess up because it’s a place for you to be authentic.
Use images by drawing or collage. Symbols with the way we connect with our inner wisdom. We can connect to an image and get deep understanding even without words.
Hand writing out your thoughts is a meditative practice. The repetitive hand motions help to sooth anxiety as you write and your thoughts become more focused. We need an outlet to get the shit in our heads and nervous system out and journaling is one of the best ways to do that. Your container is your journal for your conversation with your inner wisdom through Your Inner Art.
Journaling does not mean writing pages and pages for hours at a time. Let go of your expectations. Consistent time in your journal will help to process your thoughts. You don’t have to complete a whole page in one sitting. Pick one thing to journal about and take a few minutes here and there to write your thoughts. Doodle while you think and add single words that hold meaning to you. Glue a couple pictures on a page while your watching tv.
Think SIMPLE and have it handy when you need it.
If you’ve read Part 1 then you know journaling is a great start to sorting out all the feelings inside you as you try to shift your ability to cope with being yanked from what you knew as your life circumstances. I keep several things in mind when I am facing a traumatic change in my life:
1) The emotions & feelings will pass as I process the situation
2) There are 3 ways to create your narrative about the situation. I am to blame, “they” are to blame, and using only actions as the facts.
3) I am careful to use compassionate self talk so the guilt & shame don’t become too much.
4) What lesson can I learn from this? Everything in this life can be used as a learning tool to get to know yourself better.
I have made pages and pages in my journals, art journals, and altered books that have helped me discover what situations trigger the way down deep emotional responses, where they originated, and how I want to feel now. I try to stick with 5 of my “Core Desired Feelings”. I learned this from Daniele LaPorte and her book Desire Map. I found it an amazing tool in my own life. It’s how I make goals – “how do I feel and how do I want to feel?”
As you start exploring the situation from different angles, you will be able to start untying the emotional tethers that have you reliving the event over and over. The pain recedes as you move away from the situation and time does help in adjusting to any new normal in your life now. That’s why I remind myself I won’t feel like crap forever and that helps me quite a bit. I will admit I take pleasure in imagining different ways the situation could’ve happened or how other’s will also be suffering. I do limit the darker fantasies, but we are all human and I don’t deny myself some mental aspects of getting even. As soon as you can, don’t have any contact with the people or situation. This helps if you don’t have to reenter where the hurt took place.
If you have any difficulty getting past anything, go to a counselor! I’ve gone to several and they always have helped with knowing I’m normal. It is really good to have someone you can talk to without any judgement.
I usually find myself switching between, it’s my fault or it’s “their” fault. These are two more journaling ideas for you. Explore why you think you could have been the reason for the change and really look at it. Are some responses/feelings repeating themselves? Look at it objectively to see if some of your responses are just in your head. We humans are great at seeing the world through our perception which may not be entirely truth. Now write about why it was someone/somethings fault. The catch with trying to “see” through an other’s eyes is that we can’t. We will never be able to truly understand how other’s see a situation because we have not lived their life. That seems like an obvious statement, but I will try to understand someone’s thinking and there isn’t any way I can do that accurately.
The biggest obstacle for me is not being able to understand where other people are coming from or the”why” behind their actions. I am finally starting to understand this and I work to be ok with not knowing.
With the situation that just happened to me, I looked at just the actions that took place & not the reasoning behind them. This helps to take emotions out of the equation and get the “facts”. This helps you get an observers perspective and that may help to take the blame out.
As I journal, I doodle to clear my thoughts or to really think things through before I write them down. Coloring is useful to calm you down too.
To help you out, here’s a mini art journal for you to print and use. Do some coloring, doodles, and journaling.
Part 3 will be taking action with each of our energetic system chakras.
One way to see life is as though we are living out our story on the pages of a invisible book. Sometimes we are able to write our life the way we want it and plan the transitions into the next chapter. Then there are times when the pages we have written get ripped out and we are in a place we never saw coming.
When we are able to tie up a chapter like a nice neat package, we are emotionally ready to move on. If we are traumatically ejected from a situation, our emotions are left raw and dangling in the wind. Here is some ways I have processed all the pages that have been ripped from my book of life.
This lesson has hit me full in the gut at the beginning of 2019. I am finding that facing my thoughts and feelings are helping me to learn more about myself and heal my parts that are bruised. It helps to see our experiences as teachable moments designed to get down deep into our psyche so we can love ourselves though the crap. My mantra is: This is a lesson I signed up for before I came to this lifetime. I am going to have a talk with my higher self so I can find out why I signed up for so many Master level classes!
With this experience, I did things differently, I went after the lesson I was learning and did everything I could to support my mind/body/spirit in clearing, learning, and moving on. My first obstacle was shock and the physical symptoms that hit me. When you experience any trauma, your first responsibility is treating yourself with compassion. I played a big part in my upheaval but I was more gentle with myself than in the past. Treat yourself as you would a treasured friend. Listen with love to your self talk, reasons, and fears.
I call my anxiety my “big Whirl” because it feels like my guts are in a tornado. To help dissipate all this energy – get active! Start with a grounding ritual/activity like visualizing your energy going into the earth and receiving the calming energy back from the earth. Walking or any other exercise. It won’t go away until you are more removed emotionally from the situation, but it’s good to move so it doesn’t get stuck inside you. This isn’t a one time & done thing – you’ll have a lot of emotions and energy to move through you so keep moving. Dancing with loud music is one of my favorites.
After you recognize this feeling of anxiety inside you, get your journal out. No excuses with this! Start writing all about this situation. It doesn’t need to be anything but a stream of consciousness page. Just like chewing is a step in our digestive process, writing is a way to digest our experiences, thoughts, and beliefs. As you write, things become clear and more focused. It also helps to just get the words out of your head and onto paper. It’s like emptying the trash basket on your computer.
Go back over your writing, highlighting words and phrases that are repeated. These tend to be the real issues inside you that need to be healed. Look at your narrative: is it blaming yourself or others too much? If you feel like a victim there’s a chance you may not have the perspective it takes to understand the lesson as it pertains to you. Listing the facts of the situation will help with a more balanced understanding.
As you are journaling and being compassionate with yourself, you may still feel icky. The physical ramifications of an unsettled situation are real. Make sure you are eating well and trying to rest. Trauma is trauma and it does require time and compassion.
This is just the start of the process so on the next blog, I will discuss how to look at the situation through the lens of your Chakra system and how everything relates. If you aren’t familiar with the Chakras, do some research and journal about them.
One of my go to mental strategies for coping with a chronic physical condition is crafting my mental happy place. The most important self-care tip I can give you is: doing your best to remain as positive as you can. This doesn’t mean faking it every day, this means doing the best you can on good days but also taking the time to acknowledge the emotional strain of the bad days. Focusing on all the things you love and what brings you joy is creating your mental happy place.
I had good, bad, and really bad days throughout treatment. On the really bad days, I took the day to really feel sorry for myself and sit with the grief. I acknowledged the shit I was going through so that I was able to feel the emotions and let them flow out of me. Of course, they didn’t all go away but the practice of being real with myself helped the negativity flow instead of getting stuck inside me. If I were to ignore the negative, it would stay in my body as stress. Stress causes the cortisol levels in my body to rise which creates more pain. If I just focused on the negative then that’s where I would stay.
The lotus flower I made had writing on the petals of the positive wisdom I would gain from this experience. I aimed really high with the positive perspective so even if I didn’t reach it, I would still gain insights into the lesson I was learning about myself.
Start by listing things that make you happy. This can be a written list or a collage of all your favorite things.
What brings joy to you?
What makes you feel nurtured and loved?
What food and drinks make you feel warm and cozy?
What helps to calm your inner child?
What kind of environment helps to heal your soul? (gardens, oceans, museums, woods, etc)
Create this on paper or in your journal, then create it in your mind. Work on every little detail you can think of and build your happy place mentally. Even thinking about what brings calm into your soul can actually bring calm to your soul.
Create the garden you want to walk through, or the dream house next to river. Sit on the porch by the ocean looking out on the dunes. Meditate in the mountains of Tibet and build the shrine you want to look at.
Your perception and mental state is huge in your healing process. It is huge in your life – period. Your perception and focus will lead you in your life and now is the time for honest self-care and changing your mental attitude may be a part of that.
I still remember that evening I went in for an MRI to investigate weird nerve pain and was walked over to the emergency room for further testing. The minute the radiologist said, “We found something and called in the neurosurgeon” I knew that I had cancer.
After many tests and more scans, I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma with a tumor in a vertebra. I learned quickly that you get ushered into the fast pace environment of tests, appointments, needles, and treatment. I felt like I didn’t even have a chance to take a breath before I was making some pretty big decisions.
The cancer world felt like a whirlwind around me. Everything was happening so fast that I couldn’t process it.
That’s when I turned to my art. I have used art to relax and perk me up my whole life. I didn’t realize just how important my personal art journal would become on this path. I also had the synchronicity of returning to college for art therapy and was half way through my degree.
My self care through my art and learning about the therapeutic aspects of expressive art helped to keep me in a positive mindset through my treatment and stem cell transplant.
I’m going back to those days to share with you different projects, art journal pages, and altered book pages that really helped me to express my experience so you can develop your own personal art practice with a visual journal.
The reason art is so important for self expression is for you to get your feelings out. I did not want to keep the extreme emotions I had inside so that they festered. This is a scary experience but if you can face those fears and emotions they will loose their tight grip.
This journey is not easy at all but with art and a journal you will be able to face it with more clarity and more positivity.
If you’d like to follow me on my Facebook page, Your Inner Art where I post my personal art and give encouragement come on over!
I have published the “Creatively Through Cancer Workbook” on Amazon if you’d like an easy way to get started. I also have a Face Book Group, Get Creative with Cathy to accompany the workbook with discussions and help with your projects.
I had a “touch” of stomach flu or something last week and being nauseous reminded me of my chemo treatments and stem cell transplant. I found that getting my mind on something else was the key to “forgetting” I was sick. The BEST way I know how to get my mind on something interesting is to get creative!
Here’s a page from my personal art/visual journal and it shows my doodling with a purpose. Doodling or painting in a journal really does help to relax your body and takes your mind off your physical body. As you play on the page, think about what you need to feel nurtured and cared for. After you’re done playing with colors, you can journal about what you need.
This exercise in creative play helps keep you more positive and focused on what care you need so the feeling of helplessness isn’t in the forefront of your day.
While you are getting treatment for cancer, pouring out your emotions onto your journal page is especially essential so you can focus on what you need for self care. While I was receiving my treatment, I did so much just so I felt nurtured while there was a war going on inside my body.
If you don’t have enough strength for playing in your journal (sometimes you won’t), looking at beautiful images does help as well. Nature magazines or Pintrest are a great resource for beauty of all kinds.
If you want even more creative help for those times during treatment, you can order my workbook through Amazon. You use the pages in the workbook to play in. There are directions for doodles, doodling with color, collage, meditation, and self care tips are just some of the chapters in the book. You will need scissors, a glue stick, pen, and something to color with to use with the workbook. It is easy to follow the directions and has already helped people to process this experience. Creative expression is a great life long tool for moving through this life.
Personal Art is stuff you make for yourself, be it an altered book, art journal, a quilt, a knitted sweater, collaging a treasure box, or anything else. You are making yourself a gift and you can practice compassion throughout the process.
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You can follow me on FaceBook by liking my Your Inner Art page.
Join my community of personal art makers and join in the conversation, projects, and posts in my FaceBook group Get Creative with Cathy. Ask to join and get creative!
If I had a dime each time someone has told me, “I’m not creative” I would be a billionaire!! When I hear this it sounds like a challenge to me. I would love to help everyone who says they aren’t creative, see that they are. It is my greatest joy to lead a group of women with a project and see the light bulbs go on in their head that triggers a huge smile.
The experience I have had for teaching various creative classes is that EVERYONE can create. We can all make our personal art using any tools/supplies. We were created and we have the ability to re-create in our DNA. It’s in us – period!
The ability to take that step into making personal art starts in your thoughts. When the word art or creative comes up, usually a painting done by a master pops into someone’s head. We have been taught/programmed to think that a painting or sculpture done by Michelangelo is the reference for our creative projects.
This is “fine” art. I painted this in one of my college painting classes. I worked very hard, long hours making it look like a realistic scene. This was technique driven, hard, frustrating, and sometimes just not fun to do. Fine art is: technique and striving for perfection so it can be sold in the public.
This is what someone might consider to be the only form of creativity. Practicing fine art is definitely not for everyone and supporting yourself making art is another level that most people will not find themselves doing.
This is an example of “personal” art. I made this collage to express the different faces/side of my personality. I wanted to explore different sides of me so I found faces that told the story of my inner world. Personal art is for: reflection, expression, relaxation, and the process of experimenting. It is used to tell a personal story and is usually not for public sale.
This blog will be focusing on how to use different art supplies in your visual journal. Each month I will explain how to use a new supply and challenge you to use it on a page in a way that will encourage self reflection, self care, and self love.
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