Listening to your “self”

I often write “Notes to Self” down in my planner/journal instead of Tasks, or To Do’s, or Intentions. There’s something about the phrase that resonates with me. Notes. To. Self.

I’ve often started a bit of brainstorming, or mind spilling, or morning pages. with the thought of future me looking back and either wondering how brilliant and productive I was, or how silly and unproductive I was. But those things aren’t necessarily bad things, or good things, they just are. Sometimes I have a brilliant idea, but that doesn’t mean I’m productive. And sometimes I am silly and quite productive. When I listen to my inner voice, my “self,” or as some people like to say, the “higher self,” or your intuition, I find that I can be brilliant, productive, and silly. I can play and have fun, be creative, and quite productive, which is brilliant if you ask me.

I’ve been researching ways that I can use my ADHD to my advantage, as well as ways I can bring more clarity, mindfulness, focus, and productivity into my creative practice. The days of procrastinating, or avoiding–the whole flight or freeze dilemma when it comes to ADHD, stress, and anxiety is one that I know all too well.

On Monday, we lost power for four or five, maybe even six hours. I was in the middle of saving a coffee chat video for Patreon in iMovie when the power went out. The next morning when I rebooted my iMac it was acting wonky. iMovie did not work and kept giving me errors. The little bouncing colorful ball was going crazy, so I clicked “restart,” thinking maybe… to no avail, that did not work, it just made things worse as there was an update waiting for my beautiful link to the creative content and creative world–my iMac. It froze while updating. I researched the issue and found that there are times when updates take HOURS, so I managed to film a short video Tuesday evening with my iPad Air, a one take wonder, and posted it to let my Patrons know what was going on. It brought me back to my start on YouTube when I had no idea of what editing a video was much less how to do it. Note to self: find videos on Skillshare or YouTube and learn how to use iMovie on the iPad. Of all the things that could wrong during this Mercury Retrograde, and all the planets aligning in Aquarius (7 planets I think), my iMac losing its shit was not what I expected.

By Wednesday Morning, after I’d done all the things I could do, within reason, to help “unfreeze” my iMac, which I call Apple, like that star named her child, (and my Windows computer is named Windy), I found myself researching local computer repair shops. I looked at reviews, called my husband (Mr. Rockstar), to find out which one he recommended. I called. Took it in. And now I’ve found out that Apple needs a new hard drive. And by the way, the battery light in Mr. Rockstar’s car keeps coming on and going off.. yes, there’s corrosion on a post, which he needs to clean and we’re hoping that fixes it, but if not then we’ll be buying yet another vehicle battery. We just got one for my car last month, and then turned around and bought ourselves a new to us 4Runner. In our defense, my car is 21 years old and a convertible, she’s glorious but needs a bit of work. So it’s been one thing after another, after another…

And yet, as I sit here typing this post on Windy, who needs some maintenance and an upgrade himself, I am thankful that I have the ole’ boy, he’s like a Timex. But that’s not what this post is about…

I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep Windy once I moved my creative studio out of the house and into the barn studio. The tower is huge, it’s one of those gaming one’s with the fancy blue lights and the fans, and stuff. It’s slow as molasses now, it wasn’t in its hayday, but now–well, let’s just say my thought was that I’d get it worked on and upgraded tax time, and it would be the computer I use for writing, as well as Mr. Rockstar’s. He’s not on the computer much. He has a smart phone and a tablet, all Samsung products, but he’d have it for when he needed it. Note to self: Make sure to get Windy to the shop when you get the iMac fixed.

When you have ADHD, it’s recommended that when you’re using your planner, which is highly recommended, to write down you main focus areas/priorities–the areas you need to focus on first, instead of a “to do” list. And it is also suggested that you keep a “parking lot” list. A parking lot is a “productivity technique for effectively dealing with distracting but important non-agenda items that arise during the course of your day/week/month/quarter. Those non-agenda items always seem to find their way into the brain, so it’s important to honor and recognize their existence, but without interrupting the focus and goals.. The “parking lot” involves recording these incidental issues down on paper, that way you will remember them and can address them later on–this way they don’t interrupt the flow of your focus.

A Parking Lot list, is a different way of having a Notes to Self list. I like Notes to Self better, but that’s just me. One of the things I’ve found, as an avid stationery enthusiast, I often need a notebook to jot down those Notes to Self–the “non-agenda items are in my brain one minute and out the next, if I don’t write them down. And then later on, sometimes after I’ve forgotten what I thought was an incidental thing, it turns out it was actually an important thing, but I forgot to write it down, and that’s why it was in that loop, playing over and over in my brain, and I kept ignoring it, for fear of interrupting my flow, or someone’s conversation. Now, I write that shit down.

Many of us keep journals, use planners, in a variety of ways. Some of us use multiple journals, and planners. Some of us have a bit of a hybrid system. Some use one notebook (to rule them all) where they journal, create, plan. Other’s use one planner and one journal. I’ve been letting my selection of planners and journals grow organically this year, especially after the year we had in 2020. This year hasn’t been much different so far, lots of chaos, uncertainty, and confusion, intermingled with once in a lifetime astrological stuff going on (Jupiter and Saturn, etc). My word of the year for this year is “Cultivate,” and this month I’ve been cultivating some kind of routine, which was working well enough, on and off, but has been shot to hell the past few days. I’ve also been trying to cultivate a better than decent practice of Self-Care. As I’ve been working on cultivating a creative practice that works for me, finding a routine that works for me, one that includes self-care, I’ve found that some of what I’ve been using has been working, and some of the things have not been working. So I’m taking the time to reflect on the what’s and why’s, not just my what or my why, but overall.

So I’m changing a few things up. What? Again? Yes! It’s my prerogative, to do what I wanna do… (okay, how many of you hear Bobby Brown singing in your head now? Sorry, not sorry.) It really is my prerogative to do what I need to do to make things work for me, or to enjoy doing what I’m doing. Part of all of the journaling and planning is for creativity, part is for organization, part is a stress and anxiety reducer, and part is just because it’s enjoyable, so if it’s not enjoyable, not working, and it’s stressing me out–I’m not going to keep doing it. It’s as simple as that. It doesn’t matter what trends are out there. What this group is using, or this person is using, or how aesthetically pleasing it might be, if it doesn’t work for me it doesn’t work. If it doesn’t bring me joy then I’m not going to stick with it. Note to Self: Get rid of the socks with holes in the toes, they’re annoying. Oh, and while you’re at it, toss those bras that the wire is coming out of, those are annoying as hell.

I’ve been keeping a journal of some kind since I was about seven years old, that’s about forty-six years. I’ve journaled and planned in composition notebooks, agendas, binders, spiral bound notebooks, fancy leather bound notebooks and planners… and for me, it’s all about 1. the paper and 2. the size. Sometimes, when I’m stressed out and overwhelmed I use the smaller sized notebooks/planners, other times when I’m feeling really creative and have a lot I want to do I use something like an A5. And sometimes it’s something in between, like a B6, but my overall way of journaling and planning, at least the core system, is pretty much the same. I change things, improve things, let go of what isn’t working, but what I’ve found is that if the journal or planner doesn’t make me feel at home in the pages, I will not stick with it. So I’m off to work on my sketchbook. I have a few things I’d like to experiment with for some doodles I’m creating for my Patrons, and for my new YouTube Membership launch for March 1st. Lots of good stuff happening, and since Apple will be back the end of next week all new and improved, I want to be ready for all the stuff I’ve got going on.

Hope you have a great one! And remember… Do your own thing. “To thine own self be true.”

Creative Flow, Self Care, and Listening to my Inner Creative Voice

You ever feel like your creativity has gone on strike? I have. For a while things were a mess. My creativity was coming in waves, and some times I was peaking, and other times I was crashing. Speaking of crashing, after burning the candle at both ends, for way too long, especially last year, I finally took some time for me, for self care, and had a bit of a stay-cation, and then a bit of a vacation. I needed it.

The stay-cation and vacation were in January. Now it’s February, the month of love. For me, February is also the month of Self-Love/Self-Care. Since last year, which was the year from hell for many of us, I’ve been slowly but surely finding my creative flow. It has been a lot of trial and error, but I’ve tried to keep an open mind and let things grow organically, while at the same time trying to manage my creative life (the work parts). It’s not easy, and it’s definitely a work in progress, but I’m getting there. And here’s how that process has been unfolding…

Towards the end of last year, my mom and son finally decided to move in with us. To make a long story short, my mom’s house is falling apart, literally. It had become dangerous for her to live there. Once they moved in, we became overrun with their boxes, crates, bags. We have a small house. It’s around 1100sqft, which meant we had to move things from the guest room, I had to get my studio packed up–but where to put it. We decided to convert a barn shed into a barn studio. (Videos are here.) We then became inundated with tools, barn supplies, and barn and house DIY projects. The barn studio and house weren’t the only things were/are working on, but they were top priorities. The barn studio was such a big project, and a creative one, it took up a tremendous amount of my headspace, and creativity and energy, but it helped me get back some of my creative flow. (I’ll do a post on the barn studio soon.) It also has taken a lot longer than anticipated.

Once I was officially in the barn study, I started trying to cultivate a routine. It was hard. I was burning the candle at both ends trying to unpack, organize, and setup things in the barn studio, as well as create videos, while at the same time moving my stuff out of the closet in the guest bedroom into our master bedroom’s closet, which happens to be half the size of the other two bedroom closets (David and I are sharing said small closet.) It was rough for all of us for a while, but we got through it. We’re still working on both the barn studio and the house, but we’ve come a long way.

Cultivating my creative practice really has been a great deal of trial and error. Lots of happy little accidents that really helped me practice mindfulness and positivity, not to mention it really improved my DIY skills. Between my creative projects, like the barn studio conversion, and my planning system, and journaling, I have learned a lot about how my creativity ebbs and flows, as well as what inspires me. Really inspires me. Pinterest and YouTube were huge helps for the barn conversion.

I’ve also learned what has and hasn’t worked for me. Self-doubt, fear, comparison, and FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) have been triggers that have influenced me in negative ways, and yet I learned so very much from going through those things that I feel grateful. And it’s not like I’ve exorcised them, I still go through bouts of self-doubt at times, still hear that little nagging negative voice of comparison, still feel FOMO here and there–but I’ve learned to write those things down in my journal so I can figure out the root cause. Sometimes I’m able to turn the negative self talk into a positive.

After I’ve written down the negative speak or the self-doubts, like “this spread is horrible,” or “this video makes no sense,” or “what are you even doing on YouTube, much less Patreon?,” or the “oh, but if I had that Folio, or that notebook, or that fountain pen, or that palette…I bet my journal pages would be prettier, or my video would be better, or my art would be….” No! I take the time to journal about my feelings and thoughts on whatever it is that’s got me in the trenches, whether it’s self-doubt, comparison, or FOMO or whatever else. Half the time, whatever it is that I see that I think I might want because someone else is using it, it’s more about how they’re using it that I am attracted to, not the item itself. Other times, it’s the item itself and then I look around my stash to see if I already have something similar. And half the time I’m in a bit of imposter syndrome, or the negative self talk it’s really more of a case of anxiety, overwhelm, or just plain ole’ self doubt rearing its ugly head.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret trying some things, some of the things work, and those things that didn’t work–I learned more about what doesn’t work, as well as what does work, and why it works for me. However, the more I’ve let things grow organically, especially with my journaling and planning, the more I find myself feeling creative, inspired, free–and the more my creative flow actually flows. That has to do with being flexible. The more flexible I am, the more I leave the door open to creativity, the more things flow authentically. The more my planning system works for me. The more my journal pages flow.

Part of my self-care is making art. Creating art, in some way, is a tool that helps me destress. It lessens my anxiety. Helps me think, heal, grieve, and listen to my inner voice. There’s something really soothing about getting into the zone when I’m creating art, whether it’s watercoloring, drawing, or doodling. Taking time to create art, or to just doodle, is important. It’s also a safe place. There’s no judgment. It’s like tending a garden. Some days I need to spend more time on the planning, other days I need to spend more time on the art, and other days I need to just relax and enjoy the sunshine. I’ve learned to listen to my inner creative voice, the voice that says, “you really need to slow down, maybe take an hour and read or doodle.” Sometimes when the inner creative voice is telling me I need to slow down, be mindful, even when the creativity feels a little off, I’ll take a walk or read, and I feel refreshed, and then the ideas flow again, the creativity flows again, and I run with it.

I started the Listening Path: The Creative Art of Attention, by Julia Cameron the author of The Artist’s Way, on February 1st. It’s a 6 week self guided program. So far it’s been great. Here is the introduction video I did about it. I’ve decided to do videos and posts about it. I just started, it’s only day 8, the first week was the intro, which was last week, so my next post will be all about it, but I thought y’all might be interested. I would love to post on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. I think I’ll make Saturday’s the updates on the Listening Path. However, the Intro and Week 1 will be this week during the week, since I’m a little behind on here.

Today’s Daily Soul Vitamin, from the book The Awe-Manac: A Daily Dose of Wonder, is “Helped are those who create anything at all, for they shall relive the thrill of their own conception and realize a partnership in the creation of the Universe that keeps them responsible and cheerful.” ~Alice Walker

Have a great day!

Burgess

Creative Life During a Pandemic

From the middle of March until about two weeks ago my anxiety and stress levels were crazy high thanks to COVID-19…the Pandemic—there’s nothing like a Pandemic to really make you question your life, your life goals, your creativity and your creative life, as well as your purpose. Not that I need a Pandemic to make me questions things, but when all of your squirrels are screaming “Pandemic” it’s hard to think much less focus on your creativity. SO while many of the people who were forced to stay at home were feeling immense creative urges, I wasn’t feeling off kilter—I work from home so it felt like it should have been no big deal.

Oh, but it was a BIG deal. There’s a difference between wanting to be home and being forced to be at home. Not to mention the fact that so many people were on the Web that it made uploading my videos take longer. It also overwhelmed YouTube, which was having issues—going Live on YT became problematic the end of March and the beginning of April. It’s not an issue anymore, but for a few weeks it was a major issue. I create videos for Patreon, but I’ve found that I really enjoy going Live on YouTube.

A few weeks ago, I finally got my shit together enough to get back on YouTube on a (mostly) consistent basis. Whew! It felt good to be back. I’d felt my creativity coming back slowly but surely thanks to being on Patreon and my Patrons, who are so supportive that they make me feel like I have something important to offer others—inspiration and motivation. There are a lot of great artist’s and writer’s out there. Numerous people who create videos about journaling and planning. Many of whom create absolutely wonderful videos about those topics. But the one thing you don’t see a whole lot of are pictures that aren’t curated, videos that aren’t majorly curated. I am not a “curated” kind of person.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with an aesthetically pleasing video and/or picture. I watch a lot of people who curate their videos on YouTube. I also follow a lot of people on Instagram who curate their images. I’m not saying that I don’t clean off part of my desk or craft table so that my videos look decent. Or that I don’t try to take a halfway decent photo when I do post to IG. But I prefer to capture the creative chaos that often ensues when I am creative, or to capture the outright mess on my desk, or the process—which is often times messy. Do I get watercolor all over me sometimes? I sure do. Do I sometimes get paint on my pretty white desk? Yes, and there have been times when I’ve had to get up from my desk and go to the kitchen to get the cleaner so I can clean my desk in the middle of a creative session. Gotta love when that happens.

Earlier today I went live on YouTube to show how to add “art” to your journal pages if you’re not someone who feels comfortable drawing, or you’re a beginner when it comes to drawing or doodling. I also tried out a new art supply—M. Graham Gouache, which is fantastic by the way. I love watercolor, but gouache is fun to experiment with (for now), and I’m hoping that the more I play with gouache the better I’ll get at it. It’s similar to watercolor but different.

Here is the link to my video: Journal Doodles with Me

Despite how much I’ve wanted to get back to blogging, I’ve been remiss. No, that’s the wrong word… I love blogging, but I guess I felt blocked, or maybe I’d been away from it for such a long while that it was easier to procrastinate than it was to just sit down and write a damn blog post. So I finally said “just do it.” So here I am, just doing it! Hope you’ve enjoyed it. Thank you, especially if you’ve made it this far.

Creative Journaling

As a Content Creator I need to create, almost everyday, something that will inspire others. And if I’m not creating something, then I feel like I’m not accomplishing anything, or that I didn’t accomplish anything important. Creative is at it’s core problem solving, identifying patterns, and using information in new and unique ways. We’re creative all the time, we just don’t often realize we’re being creative. But being a “Creative” usually means that we’re intentionally creative. We take things a step further.

Most of the people I know are creative, and many of them would tell you that creativity takes practice, and patience. However, practicing creativity can be difficult. Sometimes, we’re expected to be creative and yet we are given very little time to actually practice. This is where having a journal just for creativity comes in especially handy. Since I’ve been keeping a record of my thoughts, ideas, experiences, especially in regard to my creativity, I have found that I am more likely to apply my creative skills to my daily tasks, I’m also more creative in general, and I am able to take notice of patterns in regards to my creativity–I tend to be more creative in the evenings or at night, for example. And I’ve also found that the more I interact with my creativity in my journal the more motivated I am to be creative.

Journaling

Journals are a great place to write down, work through, and expand upon your ideas and questions. I write ideas for videos, projects, books, and household DIY projects, as well as things I might want to try, things I need to practice, products I want to try out, classes I want to take, books I want to read, and anything else that comes to mind–like how to re-organize my craft and art supplies. One of the best reasons I’ve found for using a creative journal is that it helps me to hone, develop and refine not only my art and writing skills, but my critical and creative thinking skills as well. I’m much more organized, focused, and productive now because of journaling.

However, creativity doesn’t always come naturally. Sometimes, especially some days, it takes a lot of practice to maintain my creative momentum. Whether you’re a writer, a blogger, an artist, a crafter, a scrapbooker, planner, or any other kind of creative, there is always a new technique to learn and or a skill to practice. Writing your ideas down (a brain dump or a mind spill), mind-mapping your thoughts, and/or practicing your drawing techniques all help you continue to develop essential skills (and believe me, I need all the help I can get). Skills like refining ideas, organizing and/or expressing your thoughts, which have been part of my goals lately, and much more.

Creative Journal

If you’re anything like me, and you tend to be a perfectionist when it comes to your creativity, especially since much of my creativity is on some form or other of social media, then perfectionism could be holding you back. When you tend to focus on the result, rather than the process that inner critic we often call self doubt, kills creativity. A creative journal can help you silence your self-doubt. In my Creative Journal I try to make sure that the feeling have is that I’m drawing or writing for myself, even though I might be using my ideas and doodles for my work, but I’m less likely to be caught up in the perfectionism if I keep the feeling of this is just for myself. If I can focus on the process when I’m working in my creative journal instead of the result then I’m much more creative and the perfectionism and self-doubt don’t bother me (as much).

Since there aren’t any rules when it comes to journaling, especially creative journaling, there’s no wrong way to journal, so whatever you write, or draw, or plan, or create in your journal is “all good.” It’s a safe space where your creativity can progress without having to worry about your work being judged or ridiculed. If you haven’t picked up a journal and been a bit creative today, then now is the time to do it. In the next post we’ll talk about supplies… what kind of journals are out there, pens, etc… but for now all you really need to be creative in your journal is a journal and a pen or pencil. Have fun creating.

Finding Water: Intro and Week 1

Finding Water: Julia Cameron’s Third in the Artist Way series

A few years ago I attempted to work through this book but didn’t make it through it. As I attempt to make the journey through it this time I’m finding it quite a different experience.

***Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.***

Week 1-Uncovering a sense of Optimism: Being a beginner, focusing on the positive

Julia Cameron said: It took courage to allow myself to pursue something that I loved. I had to allow myself the luxury of learning. I had to focus on process and not on finished product. Resign competition. Stop comparing myself to my idols. When taking lessons, I have noticed how often my “good” lesson come on days when I had the most resistance, When I felt myself to be the most rusty. I have learned good writing/creating and good moods do not necessarily go together. On some of my worst days, the best work emerges. How true this is for me.

The Diving Rod portion: Don’t rob ourselves of the opportunity to be a beginner, Being a beginner is very rewarding. It brings both excitement and self-respect. Write down a deferred dream….

I’m living my dream, but I do have dreams that I’ve deferred. Dreams like having an actual studio. Creating my own journal classes. Making enough money at my “creative content business” to be financially independent. Writing a book about Creativity, Creative Journaling… and actually publishing it, as well as finishing my fiction novel and publishing. Getting back into blogging on a regular basis and doing well with it. Getting fit and healthy, which is something I’m currently working on. Some of what I’ve deferred as been because of self doubt, fear, and or procrastination (usually stemming from that self doubt/fear. But I’m working on pursuing my goals and dreams and working on an action plan for some of what I really want and need in life.

Encouragement portion: All artists need co-conspirators to cheer them on in their endeavors. Stay the distance. Don’t quit. How do people do that? How did they keep their optimism and their courage intact? We all need help sometimes. No man is an island… we need support, and we need to stay open to allowing others to help us.

Cameron wrote: “You’re lucky you’ve got other projects,” Bruce told us. His hint was spoken as a true artist. He was reminding us that the joy had to lie in the process and not in the product. Doing the work was the best cure for the difficulty of doing the work…shared the minute we were back at the piano in creative waters our anxiety eased.”

One of the things that really resonated with me was the premise that when we’re actively working, though Cameron said “busy,” we get better. And the more creative I am, the more productive I am, the better I feel, the more creative I feel. As long as I don’t over do it, and don’t allow myself to over work, and then get overwhelmed, I find myself feeling much better and I want to work, am creative.

Divining Rod portion: Make a list of people you can go to for encouragement. These people are your “believing mirrors.” For me, there are a few close family members I can rely on, and a few inside of my core circle or tribe that are my believing mirrors. I owe it to myself to keep in regular contact with them. and to be believing mirrors to them as well.

Focusing portion: As an artist, I must take the time to see. My artist’s eye must be schooled in the particular. It is not healthy for me as an artist to be tuned to the inner movies, always watching the “What if, if only I had’s” as they unspool on the inner screen. (“what if I keep my ranch in New Mexico?” “If only I still had my horses.”) The “What if” and “if only” are poison for an artist. They throw us into the past, which is not good. They dull our lens on the passing world. And it is the passing world that inspiration lies in wait for us. For an artist to be vital, for the work to hold up, there must be primacy given to the here and now. Cameron also shares that she knows this and must work to practice it. If I live in the “then” instead of the “now,” the art dries up.

Cameron also said, “I must work to husband my own optimism. I must cling to the small and positive: walking the dogs, putting words on the page, taking time at the keys of the piano. I must not entertain the large and overwhelming. For me that is romancing trouble. this is so true.Learn to live each day carefully. I must write, I must walk, I must pray. I must content myself with small amounts of progress. Above all, I must not binge on drama and despair. My sanity requires daily maintenance.”

Divining Rod portion: “I can choose to focus on the negative or the positive. I find that when I focus on the positive I feel much happier with myself and what I’m doing, I have a better attitude, and I tend to like and enjoy what I’m doing much better. Cameron, and others, talk about “training our eyes on something” and if we literally can learn to do that we can train ourselves to focus on the positive, the beauty, gratitude, the areas of our lives that bring us inspiration, as well as provide and reward us with even more creativity, grace, beauty, and energize us. “

Make a list of five beautiful things you have spotted and write them down nightly as a new practice. I find that when I do this it rises to moment of pure gratitude too.

  • the way my husband believes in me and supports me, even though he works extremely long hours yet still takes the time to help me and remind me to take care of myself
  • the way the singing of the birds in our yard fills me to the brim with joy
  • the way the birds and squirrels play and feed in the yard, and I’m able to watch them from our kitchen window
  • the way the breeze touches me when I’m outdoors and fills me the energy of life.
  • the way my daughter encourages me even when she’s going through her own stuff

Grounding portion: “I strive for a sense of optimism, a feeling that as small as I am, what I am doing still matters in the scheme of things. Optimism is partially the happy accident of psycho dynamics and partially a trained response. Some people seem to be born optimists. The rest of us need to work at it a little. One way to work it is to find and talk to a friend that has some spiritual vitamins stored up to share. Some one with farseeing perspective. “You just need to keep the faith while things unfold.” or become revealed to you. Unfortunately, Spirit is vague about timing. Soon it will happen…What “soon” means to me is to keep on trying.” Don’t quit right before the miracle. Show up bit the bullet and focus.” Cameron also says, “I cannot give up just because the going is tough right now. “Soon” there will be more interest. I must be ready to receive that interest by having kept the faith myself. This means I must buck the tide of discouragement.”

She also states: “Important stuff I find for myself–I walk for Guidance. One thing that I didn’t anticipate when I was younger is how often the going gets rough. As an older artist, I tend to work on larger projects, projects that require years rather than months or weeks to germinate and come to fruition. There is not instant feedback loop. Nothing that says to me often and loudly, “You are doing fine.” In order to have that sense of reassurance, I need to work at the spiritual practice-morning pages, artists dates, and walks. And I must listen also to my friends. Piggyback on their faith when my own faith wears thin. Fatigue can make it hard to have faith. Too much busyness can make it had to have faith. Too much or too little solitude can impact faith. For that matter, so can ab out of hunger or overwork, anything carried to an extreme. Faith thrives on routine. Faith keeps on keeping on. A friend of Cameron’s said, ‘I had to do something with my creative energy or it was going to turn in on me. Doing something productive regardless of the outcome is an act of faith. The doing of a small something when a large something is too much for us is perhaps especially and act of faith. Faith means going forward by whatever means we can.”‘

Cameron said, “Just do the next right thing.’

Divining Rod portion: What actions keep you grounded? The smallest and gentlest acts keep us grounded. As we husband our lives with care and attention, we are rewarded with feelings of peace and accomplishment. List five homely actions that are grounding for you. Execute one of them.

  • washing dishes
  • walking in our yard
  • sitting at the picnic table in the mornings with my cup of coffee and writing morning pages
  • talking to my husband
  • spending time with family

Possibilities: Cameron talks about her two dogs, straining at their leashes, and they, too, are bundled in coats. How she admires the early flowers, Tiger Lily plunges in pursuit of a robin. And laughs and tells herself she is a perfect artist’s dog, always chasing something that is just out of reach- a possibility. She says, “I must work a little at a time, always laboring to bring into form something just beyond my reach. I am like Tiger Lily, leaping after that elusive bird. One day, I will catch it. At the least, I will certainly try. As artists, we must learn to try. We must learn to act affirmatively. Wherever creativity is afoot, so is a blossoming. All creative acts are acts of initiative. We start with nothing- “the verdant void” -and impregnate it with our own creative spark. Art is born, but not without labor on our part. In order to make art, we must be willing to labor. We must be willing to reach inside and draw forth what we find their. On an inner plane, we are all connected to a larger whole. This is what is meant by inspiration, this connections to something greater than ourselves. But it begins with where w are and what we are. it begins with possibility.Entertaining the possible is the province of art. It is the possible that sets the creative engine humming.
“it is possible,” the artist thinks, “that I can write a play.”
“it is possible, I can make a sculpture.”
“it is possible I can make a film.”
Out of the notion, “I can” comes the next thought: I think I will.” The impulse is playful. Like the crocus that pushes into spring willy-nilly, the artist also pushes forward into growth.

Divining Rod portion: Very often we are our own wet blanket. We do not allow ourselves to see and to seize our opportunities. list ten phrases…”I could try_____” fill in the blank with what ever comes to mind. Write very rapidly and do not concern yourself with the practicality of your responses.

I could try:

  • Creating creative journaling classes… and easy quick one, like for Skillshare
  • Vlogging my daily walks
  • Purging the clothes I’ve held onto that I know I really need to get rid of
  • Finishing the projects I’ve started, the one’s I am really interested in, and letting go of the projects that just don’t resonate
  • Quasi scripting my coffee chat videos so I stay focused
  • Taking an in person art class
  • Taking a photography class
  • Taking a writing class
  • Creating an outline for my Creative Journaling book

Years ago when I first tried to work through the 12 week self guided course of Finding Water, I found that it was too similar to The Artist Way, but I’d just finished that book and I should have waited a while longer before starting Finding Water. This time around I find the book much more interesting.

I learned so much from The Artist Way, and since I’m really working hard to get out of the limbo, sort of auto pilot state I’ve been in for the past 2 years, I thought working through Finding Water would be a good way to do that. I’m not pressuring myself to rush through the the course. If some weeks it takes me 2 weeks to work through what is supposed to be for one week, I’m hoping to really get back into the swing of things, but since I’ve been ordered by my doctor to take it easy for a week (my rotator cuff is acting up again and I had to go get a steroid shot and they prescribed steroids and pain medication) so walking for the next few days is limited to just walking around the yard, but I can at least get outside and walk a bit. I’m feeling inspired, more open-minded, more creative, and better overall since I started working through Finding Water. I hope you’ll join me… you can do it at your liesure or work through as suggested by Cameron. I know people who have chosen to work on the 12 week program in 12 months instead.

Rediscovering my love for Planning

For the longest time the only things I used for planning were: a letter or legal sized notepad, a monthly pocket calendar (the one you pick up from Dollar Tree or your local drug store for about $1, though I do remember the kids from the elementary school selling some every year), and a monthly wall calendar. That’s it. I kept up with my To Do’s on the pad of paper–I would date it at the top and then list my to-do’s, starting with the biggest priority things. I would put a check mark by it when I started it and then make the check mark and X when I was finished with it. I wrote all my bills, appointments, events, birthday’s, etc on both calendars. The wall calendar was so that I didn’t have to go digging through my purse to find my pocket calendar to know when certain bills were due, or when I needed to send out a birthday card, etc. This was before cell phones, Facebook, and app’s like Google Calendar. My system worked for decades.

Then when I was in my mid to late twenties (so 1990’s) I saw a coworker using this leather binder that she said was called a Franklin Covey. She said I could get something similar at Office Depot or Staples if I wanted to try it. So I did, but the rings… I am not, and never have been, fond of ring bound, spiral bound… but I tried it. After about a month I went back to my legal pad and pocket calendar. I’d kept the wall calendar because each month I got to laugh at a new Garfield or Snoopy or Ziggy cartoon, and all my children’t school stuff like holidays and teacher workdays, along with Doctor appointments, and our household bills were listed on that calendar–it was how I kept up with everything, and the to-do list was how I managed to remember what I’d done and completed versus what I’d started but hadn’t finished…

Fast forward a couple of decades and once again I was tempted by a ring bound planner, only this one was called a Filofax. Somewhere on my Youtube Channel there is a video about that Filofax… Needless to say, I still was not a fan of rings or spiral bound, but I did give it a good try. I also tried the Fauxbonichi, then the Hobonichi, the Bullet Journal, the Omni Journal, as well as a few other things like the Master Planner, Wordsmith Planner, the 90x Goal Planner, and the Creative Minds Journal…just to name a few. Recently, I’ve been using the Creative Minds Journal as a sidekick to my Bullet Journal, and the Hobonichi as my Personal Planner. I think I might have found my grove.

I just sent out my Newsletter for April, and I have to say that what I’ve recently been doing is really working well for me. The Bullet Journal is and isn’t a planner. It’s technically a Journal in which you can do all kinds of things in, from planning to sketching to journaling to taking notes, etc. After reading Ryder Carroll’s book about the Bullet Journal, I realized that I was focusing too much on things other people were doing in their bullet journals instead of what I really needed in mine. And that’s the great thing about the Bullet Journal System–you can make it your own. I did a blog post about the system here.

**Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission,which helps me purchase items to review, at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.**

I’ve realized learned a great deal since that blog post:

  1. I don’t have to have a habit tracker unless I actually need one. There are other ways to track habits. Some habits do not need to be tracked. If a habit tracker works for you, great. But if it doesn’t, then it is okay not to include a habit tracker.
  2. I love art and adding touches of art to the pages of my bullet journal brings me joy. Some days though, I just don’t have the time and I need more function, less pretty, and that’s okay. And some days the function is really messy… and that’s okay too!
  3. I mess up and have to fix mistakes. Correction tape, white Posca Markers, and white Signo Uni-ball pens are my best friends.
  4. I do NOT like cream paper. I prefer white paper, and so far for journals that don’t have Tomoe River paper my preference is the Archer & Olive notebooks, or the Scribbles that Matter notebooks. But my next Bullet Journal will be either a Taroko Design Breeze or a half year Stalogy notebook. I love those notebooks–not only is the paper white or nearly white, but it holds up to almost everything you put on the pages–from watercolor to fountain pens. Yes, you do have to let the ink dry, and yes the watercolor does wrinkle the paper slightly, but I like the crinkle the paper makes… it’s a lovely sound when you’re turning the pages.
  5. Though I have seen many people using their Hobonichi’s to Bullet Journal, no matter how hard I’ve tried it just doesn’t really work for me. The Hobonichi is set up perfectly as a planner, plus there is more than adequate room on the daily pages to do a bit of planning and a bit of journaling, though if your handwriting is larger like mine, the grid is a bit small. And if you write a lot like I do, then that one page per day might not be enough for your journaling, documenting your day, art, etc. This is where the Bullet Journal comes in, at least for me, which is why I use them in conjunction with each other. That might be too much for some, not enough for others, but it works well for me. (And using the Creative Minds Journal, even though the pages are cream, for my “content creation plannng/projects” is working well enough, but I don’t think I’ll buy another of the journals… I’ll just use my bullet journal once I’ve either grown tired of the cream paper or fill the journal. And I’ll have an extra watercolor palette for my grandson Viktor to use.)

Figuring out what works and what doesn’t work isn’t always easy, but some of the best advice I’ve heard in regard to planning is this: if your system works then it doesn’t matter what planner you use. I’ve been honing my system. In a way, I’m now using a much fancier version of the system I used many, many moons ago when I was writing my to-do’s down on a pad of paper, and using a pocket calendar as my “everyday carry,” and my wall calendar in my kitchen as my planning hub. As we close up April over this next week, I’ve already found a weekly layout for my Bullet Journal, thanks to Eclectic Scribbles, and I’ve finally found my way through using my Hobonichi and my Bullet Journal system together, which I talked about in one of my videos in the Newsletter I just sent out.

Not my image: found in Pinterest!

On a side note, when I first started figuring out what I was going to do for May, I asked my Patrons what theme they’d like to see… I offered a few suggestions, most of which I’d already done before, but I wanted something different. And one of them said I could do a Garden theme… and the more I thought about it the more I realized that would be perfect. Do my own thing with the Garden theme, of course, but I could have fun with it. I love drawing and watercoloring so the idea of drawing garden tools, veggies, herbs, fruit… a garden gnome or three… definitely appealed to me. Thus, May’s spread in both my Bullet Journal and Hobonichi have a garden theme. If you’d like to see May’s spread now sign up for my Patreon page. Or you can wait for Friday when I’ll have the shorter, more time-lapsed version up on my Youtube Channel.

Hope you have a great week!

Thanks,

Burgess

My Creative Journey

It was a dark and stormy time…

Mr. Rockstar (David) was driving “over the road,” and I had to have surgery (a hysterectomy), which meant I was bed ridden for a bit. While bed ridden I really got into my “fauxbonichi.” It wasn’t just the journaling, it was creating the pages–combining art and words, documenting my life on the pages of my journal. I hadn’t created art in almost three decades, but I was having fun and being creative so I was happy. I wanted to get better. I wanted to find my groove again (I loved to draw and paint all throughout elementary, middle, and high school). So I worked on prompts, watched videos (a whole lot of journal with me videos, mostly Hobonichi and Fauxbonichi videos back then).

The more I worked on my pages, trying different things the more joy I felt. The less anxious I felt. After getting over my initial fear of “what if I don’t do it right?” or “what if it’s awful?” or “what if I suck at this?” and then there was fear of the blank page–what do I put on the page? But after more and more journaling, practicing my artistic skills and techniques I got over the bulk of those fears. I found adding art to my journal pages to be fun, relaxing, and interesting. I learned a lot and am still learning a lot.

Though it is fun, and I absolutely love documenting my life with art and words, I’m still a bit overwhelmed at times by the sheer volume of different means and mediums, and the ways that people use them. There people who simply use pen and ink, some add watercolor to their pen and ink, while others use watercolor and gouache, along with colored pencils, and there are those who use acrylics. Not to mention other things you can use on your pages like ephemera, pictures, collage, colored pencils, markers, crayons, stamps, and/or stains. I’ve tried a few different mediums, but I always find myself primarily using pen, ink, watercolor, pictures, everyday ephemera, colored pencils, and/or markers.

I’ve also tried various styles, from more realistic to more illustrated, a bit of a comic or clipart style, to a combination of styles. I love to just sketch things, but I’d say my favorite is when I can capture the essence of what I’m sketching no matter which style I use. I realize that my journal pages and sketchbook pages are not masterpieces, they are not likely to ever be displayed in a gallery, but they’re mine. Not only did I put a bit of love into the pages but I also had fun and was able to capture a bit of my life onto each page.

I’ve learned so much on this journey of combining art and words to my journal pages, but the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. In the beginning I compared my pages to the pages of others–big mistake, but once I started looking at how far I’d come with my own technique it made me realize it’s really more about the moment. Some days my pages are so good they make me take a second look at them to make sure they’re my own. Other days I feel like I’m having a bit of a Mercury Retrograde with my art. On those days I can’t seem to draw a straight line, much less illustrate my day. So those are days I make it more fun and childlike, more whimsical. Other days I simply splash on some watercolor and add ephemera, pictures, and journaling and call it a day.

One of my favorite things about a blank page in a journal or sketchbook is that there are all these possibilities. You never know what kind of page you’ll find in my journals or sketchbooks. Some days I document the book I’m currently reading, other days a bit of a self portrait and a quote. What I create on my pages really depends on my mood, the events of the day, and what materials (like photos or ephemera) I have on hand.

Whenever I do something creative I feel like 1. I’ve accomplished something even if the outcome isn’t brilliant, 2. I’ve had fun, even if the outcome isn’t what I’d hoped it would be, and 3. just doing it, just being creative brings me joy and relieves my anxiety, stress, and helps me reign in my focus (always a good thing when you have anxiety, depression, and ADHD).

I try really hard not to criticize my work, or anyone else’s. Some days our work might look like a flour sifter, other days it might look more like a cup of hot cocoa–but beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder so either way–flour sifter or cup of cocoa I’m happy. How about you?

Decluttering my Brain with my Bullet Journal and the Bullet Journal Method

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The Bullet Journal Method Book by Ryder Carroll, has changed how I look at not only my planning method, which is what I thought a bullet journal was–but nope, it’s a journal, but it has also changed how I look at my journaling. It feels more like a hybrid between a journal, common place journal, and an agenda, but we’ll talk about that later. For now, I want to concentrate on how much it’s actually helped me declutter my life, including my planning, and journals. 

I’ve been practicing a form of bullet journaling on and off for a couple of years now. It has been an important tool for organization and productivity for me, as well as an outlet for a busy mind, but until I read Carroll’s book I was more busy than productive, overwhelmed, and no matter what I tried things just didn’t work–I would be productive for a bit, less overwhelmed and stressed out, but before long I’d end up frustrated because the bullet journal system didn’t seem to work as well for me as it did for so many others. Then I started reading the book The Bullet Journal Method.

If you’re not familiar with the bullet journal here’s a quote from the book written by the founder of the Bullet Journal system, Ryder Carroll:

Whether you’re an experienced Bullet Journalist or a newcomer, The Bullet Journal Method is for anyone struggling to find their place in a digital age. It will help you get organized by providing simple tools and techniques that can inject clarity, direction, and focus into your days. (p. 11)

And if you’re still not sure, check out his website and video here.


**Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission,which helps me purchase items to review, at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.**

First, let me just say I’m a creative person at heart. I am a content creator: I create videos on Youtube and on Patreon; I am a writer, an artist, a DIYer, but I’ve always thought of myself as a journaler, not a planner. I plan to make my life easier, to help me get and stay organized and productive, so when the bullet journal seemed to be more about pretty spreads, fancy to-do lists and trackers, and/or a hell of a lot of work to keep it neat and organized (for some, not all) I all but gave up. I tried going back to the system again and again, in various ways… and then I had this big A-HA moment when reading the book.

The start of today’s page…

Bullet Journaling is so much more than just pretty spreads, fancy to-do lists and trackers. It takes mindfulness, adds a plan, and takes mindfulness and a strategy to maximize your time, energy, and potential, and can help you cut out the extra and allows you to focus on the important tasks, the steps to complete projects, and reach your goals.

The Bullet Journal consists of 5 parts: Index, Future Log, Monthly Log, Daily Log, and Collections. The Index assists you in locating things in your notebook–like a map. The Future Log is a brief glance at the coming months and things that you need to keep note of in the future. The Monthly Log is a timeline of the month and a list of tasks, and is the “bird’s eye view” of things. The Daily Log is the workhorse of the system–it is “designed to capture your daily tasks, events, and/or notes. Collections are considered to be the building blocks that allow you to dig deeper into things, whether it is a specific project, planning a trip, or even researching a topic of interest.

The day to day activities and events are chronicled with a simple bullet point or other key symbols that help keep things simple, and helps remove distractions and allows you to focus on the things that are most relevant. You can keep your pages as simple and minimal as your want, or decorate and be as creative as you want. The bullet journal method is simple and flexible, and he recommends using the simple backbone of the method for about 3 months before modifying it–however, if you look up “bullet journal” in Google, Pinterest, Instagram, Youtube… you’ll find pages that are really simple in design to pages that are extremely creative and artistic. Don’t be scared… There are hacks a plenty if you’d like to add art without actually drawing, and great resources if you’d rather keep your pages simple and minimalistic.

I’m going to be upfront… I’m not great at some of the aspects of the system. Like rapid logging. I’m learning it, and I’m getting better at it, but I’m a wordy, rambly, chatty person (unless I’m in a crowd) so rapid logging is not second nature to me because for it to really work efficiently you need to break things down to the bare necessities (did anyone hear the Jungle Book song, the one from the Disney movie for kids, in their head just then? well, I did).  So I’m working on the “bare necessities” and what that means to me. And that’s the whole thing with any kind of journal or planner system… that you work things out for yourself–what works for you. …”I mean the bare necessities, forget about your worries and your strife… mother nature’s recipes that bring the bare necessities of life…where ever I wonder or where ever I roam…the bare necessities of life will come to you…” 

Okay, okay…enough with the bare necessities, but since I’ve been made to “rest and get well” lately because of the sinus infection, bronchitis, and pneumonia that I had to get at the same time… I have been able to rest at ease lately because…well, I’ve had to because I’m sick, and my husband has put his Taurus foot down and won’t budge about how much I can do… but it’s actually given me some real time for reflection. And that reflection time has come in handy. I’ve spent a lot of time reading, or I should say re-reading various sections of the book so I can get better at things like rapid logging.

I feel like I’m almost on Pause, but that’s not been a bad thing, at least not recently because having slowed down has actually made me re-think my priorities, how I do things, the time I waste, how I could really work smarter not harder, but it’s more than that… If the majority of my journaling, planning, art, etc is more about what I’m doing as a content creator  then I’m missing out… I’ve taken more time the past few months to do things in my journal, planner, etc for myself, without filming… and it’s helped, but I realized while on this “Pause” that part of the issue for me isn’t about that at all, it’s actually the opposite now… I have so many ideas, so many things I want to do, but not enough me or time to do them all. I definitely don’t have enough time to do them, film doing them, edit said videos, write random blog posts (hoping that I can get back into the habit of writing a post or two a week at least), and still live a life outside of content creation.

So I slowed my over active brain down by doing a brain spill. I spilled all those thoughts, ideas, questions, doubts, and a-ha moments I’ve been having lately… Then I started dividing them up into categories: Priority: yes or no. Can do: yes or no. Will actually do: yes or no. Requires buying things: Yes or no. And then I broke what was left down into sub-categories like How long will it take? A week? Month? Quarter? Year? And that left me with what things are actually important to me, the priority things; what things I will do but also can be done; and how long a project might take. Immediately after putting pen to paper and spilling all those words onto the page I felt better.

The next thing I realized is that no matter how well Ryder Carroll has explained the Bullet Journal System and how it can be individualized,  there are people like me who are creative and need or want to be a bit creative with it, thus the pretty, fancy bullet journals. I’ve simplified mine… to little bits of art here and there, but it’s much more functional now. And I’ve been modifying how I do things in my Hobonichi, the journal/planner that is Grand Central Station…I have stopped limiting myself. Stopped thinking in terms of “I should do this here…and this there…” I’ve decided to truly follow my intuition and that means sticking with my creative journey, which encompasses art, journals, writing, and the bullet journal system.

So here’s what I’ve taken away from the Bullet Journal Method in a nut shell. 
Ryder calls it a  “mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system” and that is definitely what it feels like now that I understand the system more. It feels a bit like having an extra part in my brain to help me deal with my life, and all that my life entails–including the creative bits. And I can include as much or as little creative bits as I want to. Eventually, I am going to merge the creative journal and the bullet journal together. I can feel it coming. But for now I’m going to stick to being a bit creative here and there in my bullet journal. Work in it this way for the next 3 months like he suggests.
The whole Rapid logging thing is really about capturing key words, abbreviating…short hand really. When I think of rapid logging I think of “short hand.” Old school I know but that’s what I think of. So rapid logging is really highlighting the important bits… or capturing the important bits with key words and short hand like abbreviations, symbols, underlining, bold, etc… 

And if you really think about what you’re doing, what you’ve done, what you still need to do (what you’ve migrated and why you’ve migrated it)… is it important? Vital? Necessary? Why does it matter? And as you “check in” or reflect on things, the mental inventory, that’s when it clicks… instead of working on auto pilot I’m actually being intentional and mindful of how I use my time and energy, of what is and isn’t working, what I’m doing… Ryder Carroll designed the Bullet Journal to “House whatever your thoughts look like,” which included his notes, schedule, sketches, etc… and to be FLEXIBLE. As I delve more and more into the bullet journal, or the “mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system, ” I find myself understanding much more about the how’s, why’s, what’s, and when’s of my own system and what works for me. 

If you’d like to find out more about my journey with the bullet journal check out my video on Youtube:

Art is for Anyone | Art is for All

In Thomas Merton’s book “No Man is an Island,” he said, “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” That quote is one that really resonates with me–art is a form of mediation, therapy, creativity, and fun for me. It’s a time to relax. To let go. To create. To play. And I do often find myself in the “zone.” That zone where you’re present in the moment and you are so focused on the “creating” or the “doing,” that you pay little attention, if any at all, to anything else. 


**Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.**

Not the noise that was in your head before you started… that voice of “I can’t draw…paint…I’m not any good at this…” or the noise of cars passing by outside or the children next door in their yard yelling at each other (mostly it’s the oldest boy yelling at his younger siblings, mostly his younger sister–par for the course with siblings sometimes). Or the people across the street revving the engine on the vehicle they’re fixing or the planes from the Air Force Base.  Sometimes I listen to a podcast, a book on Audible, or a YT video while I create, other times I just listen to instrumental music and/or RainyMoods, though lately I haven’t needed to listen to RainyMood because it’s been raining here on and off for weeks. 

Yet there have been times when I have not been successful at shutting out that naysayer voice. The voice that wants to whisper in my ear that I have no idea of what I’m doing, that I am not any good, that I’m not an ARTIST and I shouldn’t be doing any of this–I’m a fake, a lousy piece of shit fake and I need to just stop and get real with myself. It hasn’t happened in a long while but it used to happen a lot. Especially in the beginning. 

 

Back in November or December of 2014 I fell down the rabbit hole of what some call Hobonichi or Fauxbonichi style journaling, or what others just call documenting your life in a journal. I fell in love with it. I was hooked. But I didn’t have much in the way of supplies. My wonderful daughter, who is an artist, gave me some supplies, like Prismacolor pencils and Prismacolor watercolor pencils and it wasn’t long before I was adding little drawings that I’d color in or watercolor (learning how to use the watercolor pencils was trial and error) on my journal pages. In February of 2015, I had surgery (a hysterectomy) and was bed/couch bound at first, which meant cradling the laptop in my lap to write was uncomfortable, but putting the journal on a pillow in my lap was not–and I delved into journal and art prompts, along with documenting my day in my journal. 

I wanted to make my journals more than just personal reflections of my thoughts and feelings, vent sessions, or bit of notes, ideas… I wanted some of my journals to be keepsakes.  I kept at it. With help from fellow #fauxbonichi journalers I learned how to incorporate art, pictures, words, quotes, prompts…onto my journal pages. I didn’t want to stop there though so I started looking around social media for other ways to document your life in your journals. I learned about an Omni Journal from Rhomany of Rhomany’s Realm, and MissVickyB. I learned about world of Hobonichi’s, as well as Sketch Journals or Artist’s Journals or “Real Life Journals” from artists like
Gwen Diehn, Cathy Johnson, Danny Gregory , Liz Steele, and Gina Rossi Armfield. But it didn’t stop with books or sketchbooks. I found my way down the rabbit hole of paper…

Paper like Tomoe River paper, Mixed Media paper, watercolor paper… I fell in love with the Standard and then the Crossfield by Nanami Paper (it was part of their SevenSeas line), and then I found Taroko Design Shop on Etsy and fell in LOVE with the Enigma, which has notebooks with 68gsm artist Tomoe River paper. Then I found Brie from Documented Journey and she started creating B6 sized notebooks for sale in her Etsy shop with either mixed media paper, Tomoe River paper, or a mixture of the two. And I fell in love. 

But up until this past year, what never really fell in love with was my own art. Sure there were times when I thought I’d done well. When I actually liked something I’d done. When I felt like I deserved a pat on the back. But I wasn’t consistently producing work that I felt that way about. When things really started to change for me was when I finally finished a journal from start to finish (it had been after a bit of rut because my dad had been diagnosed with cancer (stage 4) and my husband was diagnosed with Crohns Disease (July 2017). My dad died on the fifth of October 2017, just a few months after the final diagnosis, my mom was admitted to ICU the very same day… needless to say I was all over the place (between healing and grieving my dad’s death, trying to make sure my mom didn’t also die from Sepsis (she’s better now), and taking care of things, trying to be a rock and a shoulder…well, let’s just say that after all of that I did not remotely feel creative). 

But when you’re a content creator you have to create. And the thing is– I love creating. I love Art. Words. Journaling. I love being creative–but I did not feel remotely like creating. I knew I had to do something, so I reached out to Brie and asked her to make me a customized notebook. That notebook and one she sent me as a prototype with Tomoe River paper in it saved my creativity–saved me in a way. Creativity is how I release stress, it’s how I reduce my anxiety, how I help keep depression at bay (in a way… there is not cure for it, but it does help me tremendously). I needed to be creative for myself, not just because I was a content creator. I still need to be creative for myself, not just for content. 

The thing about being creative is that whether you’re a beginner or an old hand at it, there are going to be times when you get in a rut. If you can get back to what people often call the beginner mindset, the “let’s have fun and play” attitude the blank page doesn’t look so daunting. What you’re creating isn’t about what anyone else thinks, it’s about how you felt when you were creating. It’s about the process not the result. When I stopped thinking about the result and started concentrating on the process. When I started enjoying the journey I was on creatively and stopped thinking about my ultimate destination… I unlocked something inside of myself and I started seeing not only my journals differently, art differently, but the world differently. 

Now, I’m not a professional. Nor do I consider myself to be an Artist, but I am an artist. I am a creative person. I Create, therefore I AM…In a way that’s very true, except I’d have to say it’s more the other way around… I AM, therefore I CREATE.  

Art is for anyone… it might not be for everyone, just as music or crocheting or writing or any other creative pursuit isn’t for everyone, but anyone can create art. It doesn’t matter whether you haven’t drawn anything but a few squiggles since elementary school, you can draw if you want to… the only way to get better at something is to practice. Below is the video that actually accompanies this long post… In the video I talk more about how Art is for Anyone or #artisforall. I think I’m going to start a new series on YT and call it Art if for All #artisforall. I’ve been thinking about posting those videos on Friday, which is supposed to be my Fun Day, or FRIYAY videos. 😀 The videos will be somehow related to how art is for anyone… from beginner art supplies, to my favorite art supplies, to how to stay creative, to how I create pages, sketches, what I am learning, have learned or want to learn… my goals in regard to my art, journals… 

Accompanying Video about Art is for All

If you’ve made it this far, thank you so very much. Make sure to leave me a comment and let me know what you think about #artisforall.

A Heartfelt Thank you to my Patrons on Patreon, as well as Kateri Ewing for her “Art is for Everyone” series on YT, and for all who have inspired me, helped keep me sane when my creativity was waxing and waning this past year, and for you… all of you! 

Getting my Groove Back

Be Authentic

Me, artwork by Brie Hatton

For the past few months, well really for a little over a year now, I’ve been finding my way through my new normal. When things change we often feel a bit out of sorts. I felt out of sorts in a variety of ways, but I tried to hold to being authentic. Being authentic isn’t always easy, especially when you’re grieving (people want to make you feel better, and you want to feel better, but grief ebbs and flows–and let’s face it,  after a while you get tired of being asked how you’re doing? and others sometimes feel awkward when your grief is brought up). To be an authentic person means honesty, openness, integrity. It’s being genuine, “authentic.” When you’re authentic, people find it refreshing to be around you, to get to know you, to interact with you. 

So why is being authentic sometimes hard? For the past few years, I’ve been honing my skills and techniques when it comes to journaling: art, handwriting, drawing, composition. And yet it often feels like the insurgence of messages from social media just keep telling me that unless my pages from social media don’t look aesthetically pleasing, which means damn near perfect, then the pages aren’t likely to be seen by many of my peers. However, the messages about being “authentic,” “progress not perfection,” “just be yourself” or “be true to yourself,” or “do it your way” are front and center. Seems like a bit of a contradiction to me. 

Visit to my Mom’s

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Don’t get me wrong,  phrases like “be authentic” or “progress not perfection” are positive and encouraging statements, even if they can seem a bit cliche,  are usually well-intended, but it’s not always easy to just be yourself, which is being authentic; or to let go of the anxiety you feel over your less than perfect but authentic watercolor of Thanksgiving when you’re constantly being bombarded by pictures, posts, videos, etc. that are damn near perfect. So you think to yourself… Hmm, maybe they photoshopped theirs–I sure wish I knew how to use Photoshop. Or maybe they took a class–maybe I should take a class. Or maybe they’ve been practicing for years–maybe I need to practice more. All three of those might be true, or just one of them might be true, yet it doesn’t matter, what matters is how you feel when you’re looking at those pictures–if you’re comparing yourself to others then you’re doing yourself an injustice.

Thanksgiving 2018

Creativity

Creativity is such a personal thing, from what and/or how we choose to be creative, to the mediums we use, to the execution, and the process. And yet, for those of us who are creative, especially those of us who are content creators, it is difficult to not feel at least a bit of anxiety, stress over uploading our images, posts, and/or videos on social media when every time you turn around someone is telling you that in order for you to succeed, to grow, to be well liked, and/or to be well received you need to curate your pictures, posts, videos. Or you need this background, or these supplies, or this camera, this type of cover photos, or this kind of thumbnail, or this kind of title or tags… the list is endless. 

New FitBit Blaze

All of those “things” that we supposedly need to be creative, to keep a journal or a sketchbook or planner, to make a video, to have a Youtube channel or a website/blog or an Instagram account… they are just that–things. Things that may or may not work really well for some. Things that some like and others don’t. In an age where there are more and more people choosing to live a more minimalist life, or who are striving to go deeper instead of wider (check “Depth Year’), I don’t get it. Well, maybe I don’t get why it took me so long to get that “less is sometimes more.” 

Flow

My Dad used to tell us that “there’s no such thing as can’t,” and for the longest time I reminded myself of that whenever I felt stuck, when I couldn’t figure out how to do something, or when I felt scared that I wasn’t smart enough or good enough or enough in general. But when my Dad died of cancer last year (October 2017) and my Mom was put into ICU and I was fighting to save her, fighting to keep her fighting, I learned what real strength is. What courage really means. My mom was in the hospital for 10 days and 9 nights. Her organs were shutting down when I signed her into the ER, and when they wheeled her into the ICU my Dad was still in one of the rooms because I had to leave my (grown) children with their grandfather so he wouldn’t be alone when he drew his last breath (after the respirator was pulled) so I could admit my mom into the hospital. It’s a year later and I’m finally starting to get my groove back. 

Homemade Banana Nut Bread

I’m finally starting to get back into the flow. My New Normal, as I like to call it. But it wasn’t until the past few months that I finally started to feel remotely normal. That I felt the kind of depth of creativity that I felt before going through such a traumatic experience–my creative well is a bit different now.  Now that I finally feel like my “authentic” self, there are a few things that I’ve noticed –even though I knew these things were out there, that I knew were an issue, I hadn’t let myself dwell on any of it too much–I had other things on my mind that were far more important; things like getting my creative groove back, like finding my way through grief and healing, like figuring out what my new normal was/is. 

I’m not a Pro at content creation, especially on Youtube, but I do know what I like when watching Youtube videos. I’m definitely not an Instagram guru–hell, some months I’m doing good if I post a few pictures, let alone one a day or even one a week. Nor am a I much of a Twitterer, or very good about Pinterest, but I’m starting to get a wee bit better at some things. However, the thing that has often held me back is that I rarely curate my photos, or my videos for that matter. The real question is why I haven’t gone the route of curating my photos, or making my videos, my YT channel, more curated. 

One of my curated efforts…

Progress not Perfection

Do I have to curate? No. My desk is often messy when I’m in the middle of creating. And as much as I wish I kept things really clean and clutter free, often my supplies are scattered all over my craft table and desk. Even when I’ve taken a bit of time to curate a photo there is still usually at least a wee bit of mess. Instead of a jar of fresh, clean water, or a clutter free area, I’ve simply moved a few things around so that you can clearly see what I want seen, and the rest is… well it’s how I roll. I love what I do. 

I love being creative. I love art, writing, journals, pens, watercolor, tomoe river paper, traveler’s notebooks, leather, markers, fountain pens, color… the list could go on, but the thing I love the most is any chance I have to be creative. I would love to be able to be creative with photos, to learn how to use Photoshop, to be able to create my own logo, to use said logo on my videos, my cover photo for YT, FB, etc… but the one thing I’m not real sure about, even when I do endeavor to learn how to use Photoshop, is to completely curate my photos. I want others out there, like me, to know that’s it’s okay not to be perfect. It’s okay to be messy when you create. It’s okay for your art not to be perfect. We’re human beings not robots, our creativity is priceless, perfect or not. The more we practice the better we get, but it’s the process of being creative that is important. It’s the journey not the destination (another cliche, I know). 

So I’ll continue to post pictures that aren’t perfect. Videos that aren’t perfect. I’ll continue to create art that isn’t perfect. I’ll continue to be myself and to be true to myself. And hopefully, that will help someone else who has struggled to be creative. I’ll continue to share some of what I  create even when many of my creations are no where near perfection. It’s truly not about perfection, it’s about the process, the progress–that’s what creativity and authenticity are to me.