Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Painting as a Getaway and Stress Reliever

My summer off is coming to an end and to be honest it's been a bit stressful and anxiety-ridden due to my health.  I'm not going to complain or go into big detail right now because I need a break from that.  I do want to share what I've been doing to try to ease my worries and some struggles running through my busy mind.

First of all, I wasn't painting every day and it really makes a difference.  So a few days ago I reminded myself that even just "messing around" in my sketchbook, not with the intent to make a finished, polished piece, would be a little therapy that would do me good.  It bugs me that I KNOW painting helps me but I still sometimes just don't do it.  Hello....just do it, right?

(Polka climbing rose from my garden)

Aside from painting and just playing in my art journal, I also KNOW going outside even for 10 minutes can give me a new perspective.  I have some beautiful flowers growing all around me and some shade (which I need) so I can enjoy the things I planted but still stay out of the sun that tends to give me a hard time.  Sad to say, I actually sometimes have to force myself to get out there, pick a few flowers or sit in the shade and read a good book...why?  If I enjoy it and it restores me, why?  

(Zinnias planted from seed this spring)

Do you have any things you try when anxiety or worry get the best of you?  I'd love to hear new ideas if you have them.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Sweet Summertime

Working in a school has definitely had its ups and downs for me...I quit teaching because it got to be too exhausting because of having lupus.  So now just working part-time in the school library still gives me summers off - that's one of the major positives of working in education.  I truly thank God every day in the summer for having the opportunity to be home with Bella and to relax and try to restore my heath.  

Having a chronic illness has taught me that such simple things make the days so sweet.   I'm also learning that things I create with my own hands, things not perfect are also so sweet.  I do love documenting those sweet moments with my camera phone, especially instagram. I know some people say you're missing out on life if you're constantly behind a camera, but I wouldn't say I'm constantly behind a camera - I just sometimes feel such beauty that I can't let it pass me by without snapping a forever picture of it.

The simplicity of fresh-grown mint in a sweet jelly jar, next to a shell perched on the wooden window of my sunroom.

Clouds...I don't even need to say more...I'm a daydreamer and noticing the sky shows me how beautiful life is even when it can be rough as well...

Taking time to just "be" and relishing the shade after a refreshing swim, being barefoot, drinking fresh water with a slice of lemon...

Years ago, I probably wouldn't even take a picture with my feet in it...you know long toes, bunions, but I am now so grateful that I still have these toes, these feet that have both had surgery and are full of scars because they are still getting me places, still letting me walk on the green grass that I so love.

Whether you work all day in the summer, work from home, maybe even create art and life from home, what do you find sweet about summertime? I'd love to hear and be inspired by some of what makes you sigh with happiness at this time of year.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Some New and Needed Changes on the Horizon

Change is in the air.  The leaves are turning vibrant shades of orange, yellow and red.  They are starting to dance down to the ground.  Fall has officially arrived.  I do love this time of year.  The sky is such an amazing shade of blue; clouds are bright white.  It's like an amazing painting.

Not only is the season changing, but I have to start changing a few things myself.  A recent bone density test showed me that I'm already having thinning of my femur bone.  I'm only 41--this is not news I want to hear.  The doctor told me that thinning in the spine is normal, not this.  She immediately wanted to put me on Boniva, but I have heard pretty grim things about those types of "bone building" medications.  I contacted my regular doctor and she told me to trust my gut and not start this medication.  She feels we can work on this through diet and exercise, so a new chapter of my life begins.  One of really consciously exercising and eating specific bone-building foods.  I'll be honest, I'm not in love with exercising.  I do enjoy yoga, but other than that I'd rather sit and paint or read.  BUT, I don't want weak bones at the age of 41, so I have to make these changes.  Hopefully the natural changes will be good enough so I won't need the medications that have yucky side effects.

My plan is to write about these new changes here to hold myself accountable.  I have a few friends who I know will encourage me along this new journey as well.  Thank you!

The first item on my agenda is to walk as much as possible.  I started yesterday and took another long walk this morning.  Since I had foot surgery in June and was off my right foot for about 9 weeks, I feel pretty out of shape, but I'm assuming it can only get better with daily practice, right?  Aside from the walking, I plan to lift my arm weights, not sure if I should do them daily or take a break in between each day--that I will find out from the doctor.  Also, yoga stretches, which make me feel so great, I will do EVERY day.  There's no reason not to--I can do them right in my living room and they feel great, so I have no excuses not to do this.

So, here's the start of my new changes...exercising is a top priority for me starting yesterday!  So, if you have any tips on staying motivated to get my body moving daily, please share them here.  Like I said, I don't LOVE exercising, so I may need lots of help from those of you who do fit it in your daily life.

Next up, changing my way of eating...this may be even harder than daily exercising.  I love my food. Stay tuned for some new healthy food additions to my days.  I hear sardines with bones are supposed to be good bone food...good Lord.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Journal Pages - Just What I Needed to Hear

I never intended to like creating in an art journal.  I shied away from it because I thought it would be a waste of paint.  Why would I put my heart and soul and maybe even collage precious papers into a book that only I would see?  Well, I now love working in my art journal and I think of those former thoughts almost every time I pull it out to create.  When I started Mindy Lacefield's True Free Spirit e-course, she suggested we buy an art journal for one of our monthly projects.  I did and I'm hooked.  Like those who have come before me and art journal like crazy, I agree that it holds many purposes. 

1.   It's a place to mull over something bothering me.  I usually paint over any things I've written about stuff that's really bringing me down.  But just getting it down in the first place is a bit of help, even if I paint right over it.

2.  I can practice something new that I've been meaning to paint, maybe a new style of birdie that I just don't want to put to canvas yet.  Or this little fawn that I've been aching to paint.

3.  My main love of doing this is creating pieces that give me encouragement.  When I need some lifting up, I paint a message that I need to hear right at that particular moment.  I may not hear it from anyone else, so I've decided my art journal is the place where I can be encouraging to myself.  I've realized that I won't always hear what I need to hear from those I love.

Sometimes I've shared some of my encouraging journal pages online and they've spoken to others who've actually bought prints of them.  This is an added perk - taking something really just meant for my creative exploring time and also inspiring and hopefully uplifting others too!

Do you have any messages you either tell yourself daily or maybe even paint or write down that seem to help you when you need a boost?  

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Summer Highlights - It's Almost Over

Summer's not quite over yet, but when you work in a school like I do, when I head back to work, summer's pretty much over.  Since it was a different sort of summer for me, having foot surgery, I'm going to recap my "highlights" and things I've realized before I head back to a new school year.

Gosh it's even hard to say highlights because I honestly had a lot of "low" periods.  I couldn't drive for eight weeks, walk on my foot for eight weeks or get my foot wet for eight weeks.  I tried to stay positive during this pretty long time but it got hard.  Really hard especially the first three weeks.

My twelve year old daughter helped when I needed it but very often with scowl on her face.  I tried to be understanding because she's only twelve and wants summer to be fun, but she had to be her momma's helper A LOT.  My hubby works A LOT so loneliness did set in at times I'll be honest.  It was weeks before I felt good enough to paint because I typically only felt good with my foot elevated and that's not so easy to do sitting at a desk painting.  Here are a few pieces I created while I was healing...

I'm also a big reader, but I found myself getting restless doing that for sooooo many hours a day.  I really learned how hard it is to have your freedoms and self-sufficiency taken away.  I realized how much I took for granted like carrying a glass of water to the living room from the kitchen--not so easy to do while using crutches.  I truly feel so much gratitude for the little things like standing in a shower, vacuuming or getting in the car and just running to the store when I need to.

I needed the help of friends, family, neighbors and coworkers to be my drivers every single week. These people were awesome and selfless!  Aside from my neighbors, they all lived 25 - 45 minutes away and came to help around my house, bring me cookies, dinners, iced mochas, magazines and take me to my weekly doctor appointment check-ups.

A few days I was full of self-pity, for the pain my foot was in and for the frustration I felt for all the things I couldn't do.  Well, a few of my friends sort of whipped me back into shape reminding me that I am in charge of my attitude.  This was one of my big lessons during my recovery.  Thank you to those girls who helped me realize I can be happy if I want to...it's up to no one else but ME!

A special highlight that helped keep me smiling was visits with my sweet niece and going to her first birthday party. She brought joy to me even in moments that weren't so joyful.  Even when I was in the pre-op room I thought how great it would be to have sweet babies in there with the patients prior to surgery, to keep our mind off the upcoming procedure.  I think it's a great idea because they are so sweet and joyful.

I'm hoping to start the new school year with a new foot that feels better than it did last year and a new gratitude for things that often seem so basic.  I also hope I can carry that lesson over, that lesson that I am responsible for my outlook and my mood!  Did you learn any new lessons this summer like I did? I hope you have some great summer memories and the new season brings even better things!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Working on Lately...Will I Ever Finish?

Since I had foot surgery two weeks ago I've been mostly "painting" on my ipad, but just recently since I don't need my foot propped so much, I've adding lots of finishing touches to a few different paintings.

Two of them I finally finished yesterday--a sweet giraffe and a chubby elephant.  The elephant painting is titled "She's Happy" but I still need a title for the giraffe--any ideas?

But there are still quite a few I just can't seem to finish or declare that they are finished.  I wonder how many other artists out there just can't feel a piece is "ready for the world."  Is this the perfectionist in me (I don't think I'm a perfectionist) or is it worry that it's just not good enough?  The "just not good enough" is something I'm really trying to work on...as well as finishing some paintings.

Since I love love love the water, a few new pieces are of boats sailing on water.  If I had my way, we'd live on the coast somewhere, or at least on the lake that is two minutes from our house.  One of our dreams that I hope will come true someday.  Maybe painting water will bring me closer to that dream?  Do you believe in creative visualization?  Do you have a vision board with things you hope to bring into your life?  Well, on my old one from last year, there are many pictures of the calm, soothing water.  Hopefully someday these dreams that I paint will manifest and bring us a water view right from our back porch in the form of a lake or the ocean!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Grateful Today

Today is really simple:  I'm really grateful that since my early morning pain meds I've only taken two Tylenol all day! That's a great sign - I feel much better not taking strong pain pills overall...I'm thinking it's a promising healing sign. Yay!

I'm also thankful for sweet photo updates from my niece Cora's first summer up at the cabin. Isn't she sweet? She can cheer me up any day.

I'm typing this on my ipad and have no idea yet how to center pictures or change fonts, but I'm really focused on sharing what I'm thankful for each day as I recovery from my surgery.
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