Things I Love

Things I Love: Week Two

BULLET JOURNAL Two weeks ago, I was feeling INCREDIBLY stressed out heading into my third revision of the novel I’m working on. I was constantly asking myself where the day had gone, and consistently felt like I had done nothing all day. Time just seemed to get away from me, and I couldn’t figure out why. So, I sat down on a Sunday and spent the entire day refreshing my bullet journal. I had previously had a lot of success tracking habits and to dos in it, but I had allowed someone else’s opinion about it to usurp my own needs and had stopped using it. But, I had reached a critical point where I could choose to continue to wing it every day and let this person’s critical voice silence my own, or I could choose to do what I knew would help me get more organized. I decided what I needed was more important than what they thought.

I created a page with my editing/revising schedule for the novel as well as some tracking pages for other daily projects I was working on. On my daily page, I added circles for each 8oz water I drank, a time tracker, a mood tracker, and a space for a daily tarot/oracle card where I could put a brief description of what resonated with me from the message so I could look for patterns. Then I listed all my to dos. One column for daily items and one column for things that needed to get done but not necessarily that day. I also added a vitamin/medication/food log, and moved my gratitude/proud/preferences list that I’ve been writing out every night for 268 days now. For that list, I write three things I’m grateful for, three things about myself I’m proud of, and three preferences I would like to manifest in my life such as how I would like the next day to go, something I might want for someone else, a physical item I would like to bring into my life, or a resolution to an issue going on in my life (a practice from Mary Shores that I modified slightly).

Because of the changes I’ve made, my life has turned around dramatically in less than two weeks. I know exactly where my time goes now. I have a list of what I’ve accomplished each day. I remember what needs to be done because it’s all right there in front of me instead of whirling around in my head. Restarting the bullet journal is one of the best things I have done for myself this year, and BONUS: it silenced that critical voice of the person who kept telling me tracking everything was stupid and obsessive. BOOM!

MIRACLE MORNING I used to do the Miracle Morning routine, and it was so beneficial for my mental health and my daily productivity. I would get up somewhere between 4:00 AM and 5:00 AM and fit in ten to fifteen minutes on each of the following: meditation, affirmations, visualization, exercise, reading, and writing. It really filled me up. Well, the person who didn’t care for my bullet journal tracking also didn’t care for my early morning routine, so I had stopped that, too. (Side Note: that person is no longer in my life!)

When I was feeling so stressed out that Sunday, and trying to figure out how to get my life back in order, I remembered that a Facebook friend of mine had been posting in the Miracle Morning group, and it really inspired me to start practicing again. So, I made a plan, got my resources together, and started the next day, and I have been doing it ever since. AND, I absolutely LOVE it!

Here’s my practice:

NOT PULLING THE WEEDS – I usually spend a lot of time planting a small garden in my backyard. I’ve been really busy with the novel, but I’ve also been very frustrated by neighbors allowing their dogs to poop in my garden and tear it up and never clean up after them or even attempt to redirect them away from my garden. There has also been a groundhog each year that sneaks down and eats many of the plants destroying them, so it’s been a real struggle maintaining a garden even though it’s important to me. I’ve often thought there is a message in my experience with this garden and the fact that my boundaries keep being crossed no matter what I try to do to protect them. This year, I just let the garden go. I was tired of doing all that work only to watch it get destroyed. I had plans to pull out what I thought were weeds, and at least keeping the area clear. But, I got distracted with the novel revisions, and have not had the chance to get out to do it, and it’s a good thing I didn’t because it is now filled with beautiful flowers! Somehow, seeds I had planted three years ago, that I had completely forgotten about, just decided to bloom all over the garden. And I love it! It’s so beautiful. I love opening the blinds to my back door and looking at all of them standing tall among the weeds I didn’t pull. They bring me so much joy.

EFFY WILDAnother really good decision I made this year was to join Effy Wild’s Moonshine 2019 course. I loved the class so much, I joined her Effy 365 which includes all of her class offerings this year. I love her authenticity so much. I love that she does not sugarcoat anything. I also love that I can see so much of myself in her, and that makes me feel less alone, less alien, especially since she is so confident in who she is. She gives me hope that one day I will be able to just be me as I am without the constant need to intuit others needs and transform into who they need me to be. The reason I am loving on her so hard this week is because I was having a really bad day the other day, and I found solace and healing in one of her Wilderhood FB videos, and the rest of my day shifted into a wonderful, productive day. I love that I have access to the healing space and energy that she holds so that I can seek solace, and grow, and evolve at the pace I need.

ONE SMALL STEP CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE As part of my Miracle Morning routine, I started reading this book that I had bought over a year ago and hadn’t had time to read. I love it so much. I am someone who has always believed that I had to make huge life changes all at once in order to see any results. I am also a person who has felt like a failure for most of my life because I’ve been unable to implement those changes long-term. I love the Kaizen Method author Robert Maurer discusses in this book. It is the idea that even teeny tiny steps can add up to big changes. For example, he suggested starting out an exercise routine by just doing something like standing or walking in place for one minute. Then you can add a minute the next week and the next week, and the next week. Doing this helps you bypass your fears and beliefs that keep you from moving forward. Basically, if you do something small enough, it will not trigger your fight or flight response, and eventually your brain will be conditioned that what you are doing is normal and will no longer trigger a fear response. I love this idea so much, I can’t wait to start implementing it into my life.

Art, art journal, journaling, writing

A Different Way to Journal

As the novel writing, revising, and editing has taken my over my life, I’ve had to rethink the way I use my time. One way that used to help me be more efficient was incorporating the Miracle Morning routine and a bullet journal into my daily life. Unfortunately, I stopped using the routine and bullet journal because I allowed someone else’s opinion about using them usurp my own needs. However, something I have been working on lately is listening to my inner voice until I can hear it louder than any of the other voices/opinions vying for attention in my head. This  led me back to restarting my Miracle Morning routine and tracking in my bullet journal last week, and it has helped me immeasurably in managing  my time and my stress. It’s helped me so much that it’s left me wondering why I ever let someone else’s opinion convince me to stop.

Part of the Miracle Morning routine is “Scribing” (journaling). I decided it would be cool to write all my thoughts for the week on the same page. Each morning, I chose a different colored pen, and wrote over my thoughts from the days before. The first photo is the result. I love looking at it. It’s mesmerizing. I find it fascinating to see a visual representation of my thoughts, but also a visual representation of the chaos that’s been running around in my head.

Then I decided it would be cool to create a piece of art over top of the writing. So,  I covered the writing with white acrylic paint and then chose Ady Almanza’s Abstract Dreams technique to create art out of my thoughts (second photo). I loved it so much, I have decided to incorporate this art over journaling process each week.

Things I Love

Things I Love: Week One

I have a wide range of interests and things that I love, so I thought I would start posting each week about what I’m loving at the moment. (Please note: These do not include affiliate links these are just the things that are bringing joy to my life this week.)

Patreon – I love supporting other artists and authors each month, and I especially love the special treats I receive as a patron. Here are some wonderful artists/writers you can check out: Lucy Chen, Cristin Chambers, Sarah Trumpp (Wonderstrumpet), Effy Wild, and Gwenda Bond.

Yo Soy Candle – These are by far my favorite candles. This company is a one-woman-owned, small business, and the candles are made from earth conscious materials. My favorite part besides the luscious scents? You can reuse the jars to store items (even art supplies!) and have encouraging “I AM” statements throughout your home. My favorite right now is the new coffee bean scent and the equally inspiring jar of “I AM” matches. Check out Leslie’sMother’s Day gift sets and her subscription club.

The Aqua Notebook – This is the newest poetry collection from one of my favorite authors, Tasha Cotter. I love the way this collection is structured by specific moments in time, and how the language of each poem denotes the passing of time in subtle but beautiful ways.

Here are a few of my favorite lines so far (shared with permission from the author):

  • “…she wrote extensively; in her diaries, sorting her soul away; from the experience of living.”
  • “The past branches off, ends in green; bud – as if that end was what was meant to happen all along.”
  • “I do my job and get rinsed free; of feeling. The messiness that is in me; still hides underneath. Sitting at my desk; I know something’s missing.”
  • “We sat there, in silence, sensing; a disaster, both not wanting to admit it; and give the moment that kind of power.”
  • “And when I tell others I don’t; care, there’s a part of me; that breaks off from the whole; damaged.”
  • “There is fury to this love, a good madness; in the strong will of a woman.”

A Discovery of Witches – the book and the show – I binge-watched the new show on Sundance Now and loved it. The book had been on my reading list for quite some time, and I loved the show so much, I decided to buy it. I’m about 100 pages in, and I love the book as much as I love the show. The descriptions are incredible, and I really like to have the images of the characters and place in my mind as I read.

Sketchbook Revival – I took part in this last year, and it was incredible. I learned that a creative practice can be made up of just about anything, and that it didn’t have to result in a pristine, finished product. I love learning all the different ways to bring more creativity into my life through these sessions. Though I’ve been very busy with novel revisions, I’ve been dipping into the sessions to free up my mind and bring some joy into my day. Sketchbook Revival is the creative genius of artist Karen Abend and is free and still going on for the next few days. You can sign up here.

I hope you liked these suggestions. I’m looking forward to sharing more things that I love with you each week.

And now for a novel update. Right now, I’m working through a third revision of the novel, and my goal is to have it completed by the end of next week. Then, I will be sending it off to the beta readers. Yikes!

writing

Round Two is Done!

Writing a novel is hard. It is one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. Through this process, I have learned that it is so much easier to talk and dream about writing a novel than it is to actually write one. I’ve also got a newfound respect for those who have written a novel.

I just finished the second draft of the novel I wrote at the end of last year. I wrote the first draft in six weeks and it was 88,825 words. The second draft has taken me nearly four months to complete. It is 80,242 words, but I cut out 44,312 words from the first draft. So, in this second revision, I rewrote half the novel. And it has been really, really difficult. The writing itself has been hard, but the coming up against myself again and again has been especially harsh.

There was a moment earlier this week, when I thought I was just going to quit. I only had one chapter left, and I just could not write anymore. There is something deeply emotional happening in me. This novel is more than just a novel. I don’t quite know how to language it yet, but I have come up against some very persistent internal demons throughout this process. They are loud, obnoxious, and yell horrible things at me constantly even in my sleep. The past two days, instead of writing, I made art to try to shut them up, but they persisted. Today, I woke up, I made art, and they finally were quiet enough for me to finish the last chapter.

I know round three is coming, but for this moment, I am celebrating making it through round two and surviving. This writing, it is hard, it is brutal, but I have made it through yet another round, and I am still standing.

Image by ktphotography from Pixabay

Art, writing

Lessons Art Taught Me About Writing

I’ve always had a warped sense of how things should be. It is the thing that most often brings me down. I had this dream of writing the perfect first draft of a novel, no revision necessary. Yes, you can laugh, it is quite funny. But, I had developed a bad habit in college of sitting down at the last minute and writing papers (even if it took all night), and it had worked really well for me. I trained myself to self edit as I wrote, and after many, many, many years in college, it became a natural way for me to write. It wasn’t that I didn’t do revisions, but I wrote/edited/revised all at the same time, and all in one sitting. This did not carry over well to novel writing. It was impossible for me to sit down and write a novel in one sitting, and so I got stuck, and then I quit writing altogether.

Enter art.

Unfortunately, my bad habit of trying to create in one sitting has carried over to my art practice. I sometimes spend upwards of eight hours working on a piece. I forget to eat. I forget to drink. I forget everything but creating. I am working on changing that, but it seems to be something that is hardwired in my brain. Even when I try to walk away, my mind is buzzing with ideas about it, and I end up going back to it. Despite this bad-habit carryover, I have learned a very important lesson from the process of creating art. What art taught me, what creating art has helped me to see, is that my art can look like total shit, and I can think there is no hope for it, but then I add another layer, and maybe another layer, and maybe just one more layer, and then something beautiful emerges. I cannot tell you how many times I have looked at a piece of art when I am done and wonder how in the hell, me, who started out with zero artistic talent, could create something so beautiful out of nothing.

It took me a while to believe this could be applied to my writing, too. With my writing, I had always believed I needed to have everything perfectly planned out first. But with my art, I have learned that it is okay to jump right in, throw a bunch of shit at the page, and see what comes out. This has helped me to let go of “perfect first draft” syndrome. And now that I am nearing the end of the second draft of my first novel, I am getting excited about starting on the third draft. This kind of thinking would never have been possible without my experience creating art.

Image by Alexandr Ivanov from Pixabay

Art, writing

Good News, Art, and Updates

It has been a while since I’ve posted, but it’s because I have been really busy writing and revising. Yay! I had initially created this site to chronicle my journey into visual art hoping it would eventually bring me back to my first love: creative writing. I am happy to report that spending eight months focusing on visual art led me right back to the novel I had been dreaming of writing since 2011.

In October of last year, an artist I follow mentioned a live FB event with author coach Sage Adderley-Knox. While sitting in my car waiting for my son to get out of school, I watched Sage discuss her six-week program for writing a first draft. I decided to take the leap, and I’m so glad I did. For the first two weeks of the program, I was still completely blocked and just could not write. Then during one of our live meetups on FB, she said, “You are not writing this book for other people, you are writing this book for yourself. You must write something you are proud of. You cannot do that if you are writing for someone else.” Something about that clicked for me. I had been trying to figure out how to write the novel based on what I thought other people might want to read with a thousand different opinions screaming in my head. When I started to focus on the story I wanted to tell and how I wanted to tell it, the novel just poured out of me and onto the page. Six weeks later, on December 24, 2018, I had completed an 88,825 word first draft. I decided to continue working with Sage one-one-one, and I am nearly finished with the first revision of the novel I had dreamed of writing for seven years! And…I finally came up with a title that I love! What a miracle!

So, what else have I been up to? I’ve been making lots of art, too. I’ve been participating in Effy Wild‘s amazing art classes. In addition, I’ve been using an incredibly healing technique in my art journal called Cosmic Smash Booking created by Catt Z, and have been learning so much about some very freeing abstract painting techniques from Ady Almanza’s Abstract Dreams course. If you head over to my Instagram page, you can see more photos of what I’ve been creating over the past four months.

I am learning that I cannot just write or just make visual art. If I try to do too much of one without the other, I get really cranky. So, I am working on finding a balance between writing and making art. I hope that you will stay with me for the next part of my journey as I chronicle the art-making and novel-revising, and figure out what is next for me on this wild and wacky adventure.

Ever After 2018

Back to Art

I have been diligently working on my novel, but it is not as satisfying as I thought it would be. The art just keeps calling to me. I feel like a kid who has to eat all their vegetables before they get to eat dessert. I don’t think that’s the way it’s supposed to be. I’ve been flirting with the idea of giving up on writing the novel for now, and returning to building my skills as an artist. I have more research I need to do for the novel, and I think it might be best to put the writing aside, and do the research while returning to art.

In keeping with that plan, I started back with the #EverAfter2018 course this week, with Ady Almanza’s class. It was so much fun, and not so much fun, and I learned so much. Instead of trying to do it all at once, like I usually do, I took my time, doing one step each day. Sometimes I had to make myself stop because I really wanted to keep going and not stop until I was finished, but I know it is important for me to break that habit now.

Another thing I realized, is that I am gaining confidence. Her hair in the painting did not turn out well, and normally I would have just started all over again or quit. This time, though, I set it aside for a while, and then came back to it. When I came back, I had an idea of what I could do to fix it. I decided to paint over the hair and the areas that were not working for me with black acrylic paint, and then added the highlights to the hair again. I really like the results the second time around, and I like that I came up with a solution to fix the painting that worked.

For this painting, I used Bombay Inks, acrylic paints, oil pastels, acrylic pen, and gloss glazing liquid.

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