This past week my daughter has been feeling a bit down on herself and I wanted to try and help her. Because I have been having so much fun with my own doodling and art journaling, I thought we could do something creative together. The end result was a morning spent collaging.
I collected some old magazines, glue and scissors and we were ready to get going!
I wanted the activity to really calm her, so I also played some relaxing music and had her choose the fragrance to put in the oil burner. She chose sandalwood, which smells wonderful. (But I now know gives me hay fever. I was sneezing the whole time!)
I don’t know who enjoyed it more: me or her! We engaged in some girl-talk and I think I got a more clear idea of what was bothering her. Her collage was mostly about things she saw that was beautiful to her: lots of flowers; and lots of yummy deliciousness: cakes, pies, strawberries, and ribs – her favourite! Mine is a definite mirror of where my mind is lately: colourful, crafty and nature.
Collage is a great activity for exploring feelings because it feels less threatening than other art activities like painting and drawing. My daughter tends to be a little perfectionistic and I didn’t want her to focus on not drawing ‘good enough’. I just wanted her to have a little fun and get us talking without being too serious.
I think collaging is a great way to engage with yourself or your child, it surely helped us work through some rough feelings.
What techniques do you use to work through some feelings after having a rough week?
I have been looking online for a little help on my art journalling. I always love to do a lot of research on a new project/interest and this Art Journalling is no different. I also have to be mindful to not let in stay in the research stage, because I can easily get stuck there and never go over and take some action!
But this little free course Give Your Dream Wings by Andrea Schroeder from CreativeDreamIncubator is really doing some magic for me.
She also wrote a wonderful post about working with energy containers for magic … read more here. Amazing stuff!
So today I went to an energy healing session. I have never been to one before and didn’t know what to expect. What I found was a kind ear and a steady hand who touched my heart. Sometimes just talking openly with someone you trust is exactly what you need. I had never met this healer before but felt comfortable with her immediately. As we talked, I grew more relaxed and opened up about things that are bothering me at the moment. I have been on a path of self-loathing these past few weeks, and I know it will lead nowhere good – really fast.
I have been on this road before and I am recognising the signs. I isolate, pull back, talk less, eat more junk food and drink less water. I am obviously trying to protect myself and that in itself is not a bad thing. It is when all this aloneness gets out of balance that I can really feel it. I have even been isolating myself from the only good friend or two that I have. I know it is not a good practice, but when I feel so overwhelmed like I have been lately, it is exactly the thing I do. I creep back into my shell of protection and it takes a really great person to get me out of it again. And since I don’t have any of those in my life at the moment, I realised it is up to myself.
So I went where any tech-savvy, self-helper goes first…Pinterest.
I enter my latest ‘craving’ and hit enter. There is usually a lot of good ideas and when I finally tear myself away from the screen after a few minutes (ok, hours!), I have a lot of plans and inspiration to get me going. It is not to say that I actually do get to the action part, but at least I feel a lot more inspired.
What I realised again today is that my soul needs some creativity. So I have decided I am going to set aside a session of time aside each day to do something creative. Lately I have been leaning toward painting. A couple of years ago I felt the tug toward painting but I didn’t have the time to invest in it. Earlier this year I got the chance to create two paintings for a tender process. The work didn’t pan out, but it made me realise how much I enjoy the process. I really felt in the zone while I was busy and time flew by. Isn’t that how you know you are enjoying yourself?
The connection between art and healing is getting much more attention these days. A growing body of research shows that a variety of creative activities can positively impact your emotions, attitudes and beliefs, and can contribute to greater health and wellness. I just have to look at the shelves at my local bookstore that is filled with coloring books for adults to know the following statements and definitely true:
“Art can distract you from thoughts of illness”
“Art decreases negative emotions and increases positive ones”
“Being creative can reduce depression”
“Reduces stress and anxiety; increases in positive emotions”
“Reduces negative emotions”
“Improves flow and spontaneity”
We are all looking for ways to reduce our levels of stress and get a bit of our childhood carefree feelings back. So starting from tomorrow I will tackle a little art journal project, and if I feel it is ok to share here, I will. I have a smidgen of perfectionism problems so it might be really hard for me to share any of my creations just yet. At the moment I am just glad I committed to something.
I am happy I took the time for myself this morning. That I did something for me.
What little steps are you taking every day to help fill your cup?
Every year I start of with the idea of following a theme. This year was no different. The theme I picked was Mindfulness. I called it “2015 Mindfulness”. Because, you see, I have picked mindfulness as my theme for the last three years and I wasn’t particularly successful at managing the practice at all. Hence the repeat action.
Practice makes perfect!
Or I should actually say: Practice makes progress. Has anyone else noticed that the saying has changed over the last few years? I think it is a great idea. I am making progress. And putting that endless amount of pressure on a person to be perfect is just unrealistic. Luckily this is something I have observed about myself long ago: trying to be perfect. Perfectionism follows me around like a little shadow and it creeps up every now and again as a silly reminder that I take myself too seriously and I need to calm down.
Be less anxious. Just do something.
It doesn’t have to be 100%.
It can just be.
Trying to be perfect is something I have dragged with me since childhood. I posed a question in a support group the other day, and asked for advice about something that was bothering me at the time. And out of all the answers the clear intention came out, that I should look to my past for the origin of this current issue. Because what I was dealing with at the moment was just symptoms of a much deeper challenge.
I have forever felt that I am not good enough, or that what I do is not good enough. I have had better times in my life where I have felt good enough as a person, but I guess lately the spiral has been turning back to the feeling of inadequacy. At least I know now that the spiral will turn again and take me to a better, higher place of understanding and acceptance of myself.
For now, I am off to go listen to some more Power Affirmations on YouTube. I found a good one by David McGraw here.
What do you do when you struggle with perfectionism?
Driving helps me to think and may be the key to reducing my stress levels, increase my creativity and possibly even make me more happy. The drive to my daughters’ school is just 15 minutes and even in that small amount of time – my creative juices kick in. The drive acts as a kind of intermission to my morning of studying and the afternoon’s activities that still lie ahead, and I get to practice a little mindfulness.
“Research indicates that the regular practice of mindfulness demonstrates efficacy in treating anxiety and a variety of other psychological conditions.”
As my body focuses on the task, my mind starts to reflect on things more clearly. I suddenly remember things I forgot to do, and I realise that clutter is not only a physical thing, but definitely something that happens in the mind as well. So I use this time to do a bit of mental-organising. Because I can’t write anything down while driving, I have started to use the voice recorder on my phone to record short to-do lists for myself. Until I can get back home and can sit down in front of my computer again to start acting on those ideas.
Here are 3 things that driving has helped me do:
Lessen anxiety. I practice breathing exercises while I drive, or listen to a short guided meditation.
Get my groove on. I have made myself a playlist of inspirational songs that I sing out loud whenever I feel a bit blue and need a good laugh. My singing really is that bad. Not even the shower gets an earful.
Get writing done. Well, actually this is me talking out loud to a recorder, but you get the idea. Focused thoughts, less distractions. I really get things done!
Is there anything you do while driving that helps you? Add you ideas in the comments below.
A while back I was contacted by a freelance writer to do an article about my dad. (*update: It’s finally out in Your Family (June 2013) magazine.) The photograph accompanying the article was taken in July 2012. My daughter and I visited my parents and brother and I decided that we needed some professional family photographs taken.
My dad passed away on November 7, 2012. After being diagnosed with a type of Leukemia in December 2011, he spent a great deal of time in hospital undergoing chemotherapy. Unfortunately his body just wasn’t strong enough to cope with the negative effects of the chemo. He was always such a strong man, and probably one of the only people on this planet who ever understood me and completely had my back. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss him dearly.
Aren’t Fridays supposed to be relaxing? I suppose not, it’s the last day of the week and everyone is looking forward to the weekend, making plans and rushing to get everything ready. I have invited a few friends over for a BBQ on Saturday, and one of them is a friend from my ‘previous life’. It was very heart breaking for me see my friends struggle to deal with my divorce. People feel they have to pick sides, and most people find that too difficult to do, so they just ignore both of you. In my case, just one friend cared enough to support me; he didn’t pick sides and tried to see both of us separately. We have remained friends, for which I am very thankful. He is a reminder of that previous life, that it actually happened and that there were good memories too.
Now I have some new friends that are ‘mine’, I have ‘shared’ friends with my fiancée and I have a few ‘old’ ones. Sometimes it’s hard to feel yourself when everyone around you is a new friend. In the beginning of my new relationship its was difficult to relax at a BBQ, I found it hard to be myself when all I thought was ‘these people don’t KNOW me’. They all had shared stories and I felt like the newcomer, the intruder. Such high-school nonsense and this in my mid-thirties! I realised I shouldn’t be too hard on myself, it will take time and I need to nurture these relationships so that they can grow into something more. Well, they did grow and I am very excited to actually have friends now.
See, in my marriage I never felt like I was allowed to have friends. New people were always criticized and I eventually stopped trying to meet and make new friends. We moved around a lot so this was very isolating.
And then you get friendships that just work. You will not speak for a year, but when you do its like you spoke only yesterday! No issues, no hard feelings, just mutual understanding that no matter what, you will always be there for each other.
I am very fortunate to have one of those friends. We met when we were just 13 and even though there have been gaps of years that we lost contact, we picked it up again a few years ago, and we are as close as ever. She’s the one person I can share my deepest feelings with and she just gets me. She is also the only person that will be completely honest with me, without being hurtful. She rocks!
I will be going on a short holiday next week and we are flying up to see my parents. I haven’t seen my dad since January, he has been ill and you can read all about it here. I will also be visiting this friend of mine, her twin boys are turning 2 in July and I haven’t seen them since they were just babies.
Our lives have evolved and grown and so has our friendship, I think it’s really important to make time for these special relationships in our lives because they can be your safety net when things go wrong.
A line from an article really resonated with me. “I can look after myself, knowing that by healing my own hurts I won’t be passing them on to anyone else.”
It’s exactly the way I feel about raising my daughter. It’s important for me to help her through life’s difficult moments and try to be there for her when she grows up. Sometimes I feel that there was a bigger plan in store for me after the breakup of my marriage. Everything I went through made me a better person, so that I can be a better mother and role model for her.
It really was a life-changing event for me and has changed the way I think about life and how to handle things. If only I had know these things when I was younger! But alas, wisdom comes with age. I just wish that I can part some of my wisdom onto her and that she will be willing to listen to me when she is a teenager!
June 2008. The month my life changed forever. My worst nightmare came true. My husband announced that he wanted some time to think about our marriage. He walked out the front door and came back a few days later, a complete stranger.
I couldn’t understand how my partner of 10 years, the father of my dear 13-month-old daughter could change overnight. Who was this person?
Months later I would wonder if it was me who had changed? I definitely know now that becoming a mother had made me a stronger person. Taking care of a helpless infant had changed me in so many ways I could never have dreamed of. I realised that if I can be a mother – I can do anything. It was with this attitude that I managed to survive.
I was left with only two months rent on our home, no job, no income whatsoever, and no idea of what to do next. I was reeling from the shock. Looking into my daughters’ eyes and knowing that she needed me was the only thing that kept me going, helping me get up in the morning and trying everything in my power to get my life back on track. If it wasn’t for her, I don’t know what I would’ve done. I was devastated. There was no ‘normal’ life to get back to. Every hope and dream that I have ever had was gone. Just gone. I felt empty and betrayed and lost. But she kept me grounded. Every time I would feel myself slipping, I would remind myself that she is there and that she needs me. I couldn’t indulge in self-pity or too many “Why, oh, why me?” pity-parties. There simply wasn’t time and room for it.
Our divorce took months to settle and at the end, I was the one standing in court. I remember leaving the building that day thinking that on your wedding day, your entire family is there, and everyone surrounds you with their love. But when you get divorced, you are all alone in front of a room full of strangers, telling a judge why your marriage ended. It seemed so cold and sterile. Just another day of business on the divorce roll for them. Later, sitting in my car I wondered: “So, this is the first day of the rest of my life? Yay.” Not.
It took a good 2 years for me to get back on my feet emotionally. To reconnect with myself and find the person I really was. The person that got lost in my marriage, and who I didn’t realise was missing until it was almost too late. The real me.
Who knew that such a devastating life-changing event could be the best thing that has happened to me, besides my dear daughter? I smile when I look back at it now. It turned out to be the start of my BETTER life! It has made me even stronger and more determined to lead a more fulfilled life. It also left me thinking: “If I can survive THAT, I can do anything!”