I worked on this art journal spread two autumns ago. I used up a bunch of collage scraps that I'd saved for years, not knowing what to do with, and added acrylics, crayons, wax pastels, and texture paste (try this recipe to make your own!).
These pages are somehow unsettling to me; maybe it's the oversaturation, the business, or the rawness. Regardless, it causes me to pause and seek out what, exactly, it is that I don't like -- and prompts me to turn the page and try again.
My experiments in art do not have to result in perfection. In fact, they rarely do. We as a society, as a world, are obsessed with success, and failure is often a threat. Not so in my art journal. Here, I can play and seek out and explore and find comfort in the tension and disharmony of my mistakes. Here, I can accept them for what they are.
I thank them for the wisdom they've given me. And I turn the page.
I'm going to jump right in with a list, which is in no particular order.
1. It snowed. A lot. I have felt like a hibernating bear for the last few days, cozied up in my little home-cave. For four days, I have surrendered to the elements and released real-world expectations, errands, and sense of time. It's been lovely and restorative.
2. I have still not yet chosen a word of the year. Do you follow this practice? For about seven years, I have carefully selected a word -- a mantra -- at the start of each New Year for guidance and focus. (See 2012, 2013, and 2014.) Last year, I chose cultivate, and it impacted me in positive ways I had not expected. This year, I am looking for something that will push me to both dig deeper into myself and to stretch beyond myself. If you have suggestions, I'm all ears!
3. I have not written in a while. Well, let me clarify: I have not written for myself in a while. Last May, I began a new job as a grantwriter, the essence of which is to persuade foundations and organizations to contribute financial support to a worthy cause.
4. Being an adult is wonderful. I was thinking recently about how grateful I am to have, finally, my independence. Being a teenager is hard. Feeling like you don't belong, longing more than anything to fit in, battling inner turmoil and external drama and parental oversight is hard. It's lonely being a teenager. It was for me, anyway. And being an adult.. I treasure that I alone am the master of my fate, and the captain of my soul. (Financial security, however, would be icing on the cake.)
5. World events of late have me heartbroken and furious and not a little terrified of what the next decade will bring. I'd love to share my thoughts -- if only I could find a way to articulate them.
6. Though I haven't yet read Gretchen Rubin's new book Better Than Before, I have been thinking quite a bit about habits. As I get older, I find myself unconsciously lulled into routines that are comforting but provide no inspiration, exhilaration, or challenges. I want to change this.
7. Perhaps on a related note, I keep thinking, "Oh, I'll blog more when I finish redesigning the website." or "But I don't have a fully formed thought to share yet." I need to keep reminding myself to start, and the path will unroll before me. This is true with art, with exercising, with pursuing a dream, with home projects, with trying a new skill, and so on. Just. Start. Take the first step.
Thanks for bearing with me, loves. Hope to see you soon.
How many times over the past few years have I written about returning here, fully present, and picking up where I left off in 2010? My Peacetree started, when it comes down to it, as love letters to myself. Years ago, I was in an unhappy place, unsure of my worth and value and role in the world. Uncertain of my future. And this blog was a part of my healing -- an outlet to explore, express, and examine myself and my life. Art and art journaling, and connecting with other artists, helped me to find my voice and build my self confidence. But here's the thing: I've changed.
I have come so far -- SO far -- since then. I can't tell you how proud I am for fighting through every battle hurled my way, fighting for myself. It was so difficult. But I did it. And along the way, I learned so much about myself. I learned that I am worthy of love. That I am whole, though imperfect; that I am more than capable of any number of things; that I am smart and discerning and deeply empathetic. That I am a fighter and that I have a voice.
And so I feel a disconnect from where this blog began and where I am now. I feel far more assertive and opinionated (whereas, years ago, I was incredibly intimidated by conflicting viewpoints). In addition to practicing self expression, I am deeply passionate about speaking up for those whose voices are trampled by those of the loudest -- especially children and those who are treated as "lesser than".
Darlings, the direction of this blog is going to change somewhat to reflect who I am what inspires me. For example, I came across two eye-opening articles this morning about women's rights (here and here) and was compelled to start writing. These sorts of topics are what moves me at the moment, and I'm going to follow where my heart is tugging me.
We'll see where it leads. After all, in my life there are always more goals than follow-through! I do have some art journaling projects tucked in my back pocket, but giving myself the room to grow, explore, and find what compels me is so important to my own journey.
Hi there, sweet souls.
I am, slowly, making my way back to this space.
I have been mentally preparing to re-enter the blogging world, to take the passing thoughts that bounce and flit around my mind like shy mythical creatures and transform them into something coherent for others. It's a strange task, once one has fallen out of the habit of solidifying internal thought.
Again, I realize that I harbor some apprehension about tending, watering, and pruning My Peacetree -- apprehension about living up to my own expectations of what it has been and what I want it to be. So right here and now, I promise myself to take this journey in my own time, in my own way, however that happens to look right now. People change, blogs change, and for anything thing to become great, we must start at the beginning (again). And that's ok.
So here I am and here this new not-really-first post is, unperfected, and finished.
See you soon.
I am still here.
I am still here, working hard, growing professionally and personally, building my life.
I am a nanny of three young boys, who fill my days to the brim seven days a week. I am an intern at a beautiful, creative, passionate organization that fights for children's rights to an art-filled education.
I am happy.
And oh, I am so tired!
I love this space.. And I love you. And I miss both of you.
And when my days are less full, when I have a few moments to spare, I will visit this space with joy and excitement and share all that I have been doing, all that I have done, how I have grown, and where life has taken me.
In the meantime, follow me on Instagram or Twitter.
Way back when I first began blogging, I found and shared a questionnaire called "15 Questions to Discover Your Personal Mission". The survey pushes you to define what you love to do, what – and who – inspires you, and in which areas you are most naturally gifted; the idea is to condense these answers and reveal what would be most fulfilling to you in your career or personal life. I first answered the questions in a post called Soul Searching in 2009.
I have come back to this survey a few times, and it has always been helpful. Answering the questions again 5 years later shows me how much I have changed, grown into myself, and lets me see how I am healing from the scars of emotional abuse. I am sharing it again to assist in developing my blog focus, but also to get back in touch with myself and let go of those things that I still assume are part of my identity, even though they have long ago disappeared. I also may discover new things that have changed how I define myself.
I will be breaking this up into three posts – the original single post just kept growing and growing! Comments have been disabled, but if you like this or want to share your own answers, you can write me here or contact me on Twitter or Facebook!
Discovering You, Part One | Questions 1-5
1. What makes you smile? (Activities, people, events, hobbies, projects, etc.)
Animals. Children. Terrible anti-jokes. Spring. Creative flow. Beautiful stories about compassion. Those who struggle, fighting their way to higher places. Being inspired. Thunderstorms. The ocean. New Year's. Working on a craft project. Experiencing others' joy and excitement, especially kids'. Investing in clothes & housewares that feel like me. Fireflies. Beautiful art. Spoken word poetry. Sunlight. Nature. Rainy days. Trees. Seeing little ordinary things that no one else notices – like an ant crawling in the grass, or a heart-shaped piece of confetti forgotten on the sidewalk. Being barefoot.
2. What are your favorite things to do in the past? What about now?
Piano. Crafting. Being in nature. Art journaling. Observing wildlife. Journaling. Nurturing animals, dolls, or children. Writing. Learning about art.
Traveling. Spending time with animals & nature. Decorating. Crafting. Visiting my dearest friends. Reading self-help stuff. Working on design. Window shopping. Collecting ideas. Having deep discussions. Being anonymous in a city. Spending quiet time alone. Spending a day at the beach. Observing wildlife. Driving. Talking to people of different backgrounds and experiences. Improving my Self, one moment at a time. Doing anonymous, random acts of kindness. Thrifting.
3. What activities make you lose track of time?
Reading a great book. Any creative flow. Being busy with things that are interesting and somewhat challenging. Web/blog design. Seeing a good play. Listening to Prairie Home Companion. Window shopping. Browsing Pinterest. Learning something new.
4. What makes you feel great about yourself?
Doing my hair and makeup. Getting enough sleep. Finishing something – usually art or an article – that I'm proud of. Making another person feel valued, loved, and worthy. Having time to myself. Going to a new place. Getting all the dishes washed. Connecting with animals. Having beach hair. Being affirmed by others. Running, and meeting my goals. Having things in order. Wearing clothes that fit, are beautiful, and make me feel amazing. Spending times with kids. Being barefoot outside all day. That first kiss after 6+ months apart. Feeling productive.
5. Who inspires you most? (Anyone you know or do not know. Family, friends, authors, artists, leaders, etc.) Which qualities inspire you, in each person?
> Kate Winslet as Clementine - who possesses a carefree, I-am-who-I-am, take-it->or-leave-it attitude.---
> Nicole of Life Less BS - who is an I'll-give-you-a-kick-in-the-butt-because-I-know-you-can-do-it cheerleader.
> Morgan M & Amanda G - who both radiate sunshine, positivity, confidence, and love.
> Natty Mutrux - who is funny, quirky, and amazingly artistic.
> J.L. - a girl I taught who is creative, wonder-filled, funny, sensitive, active, and comfortable in her own skin.
To be continued; stay tuned!
Part of the process of aligning your Self with your blog is looking at the journey your blog has taken. Taking a close look at where you have been – examining your favorite posts, most productive stretches of time, and most popular subjects – correlates directly to where your blog is now, and can help you solidify your vision of where you want it to go.
I want to share with you some of the important indicators I've found while looking at patterns from the past five years of blogging.
WHERE I WAS (2009-2010):
- Reader: Quiet, fragile, tender, vulnerable. Seeking safe place to be accepted.
- Content: Art journaling journey (discovery, process, technique). Love letters. Observations of the seasons, nature, and world. - Examples: one, two, three
- Frequency: 3x/week
- Keywords: Art. Gentleness. Self-discovery.
WHERE I AM (2011-present)
- Reader: Die-hard! ;)
- Content: Life updates. Art journaling (finished pages). - Examples: one, two
- Frequency: 1-2x /month (see graph below).
- Keywords: Inconsistency. Unfocused. Disjointed.
WHERE I WANT TO BE:
- Reader: Resilient, courageous & compassionate woman in search of ___.*
- Content: TBD*
- Frequency: 2x/week.
- Keywords: TBD*
* These answers are developing as I travel this road of rediscovery.
The above graph shows how my pattern of posting has decreased over the past five years. This is not something new to me, but seeing it visually is quite illuminating. 2010 was my most productive, artfully successful year – and it's very obvious in the huge spike in posts. This was when my interests and blog focus aligned, making it easy to compose and publish posts that were interesting and pride-worthy.
My goal is to once again find that beautiful balance, one that inspires me to share often, my writing heart-felt and my focus bigger than my Self. Looking at blog stats is part of that; rediscovering who I am and what drives me is another. I'll be writing about that soon!
How do you make sure your blog and your Self align? Tell me here!