Floss your heart

She went through the door“The best way out is always through.”

~ Robert Frost

[and my friend Rozy]

Recently, my husband, who keeps the website looking beautiful, asked me to update some copy by answering the question, “Why do you journal?” The first thing that came to mind was: “It saved my life.”

In his TED talk, Why We All Need To Practice Emotional First Aid, Guy Winch discusses the need to take care of our mental and emotional house with the same level of care that we extend to our physical bodies.  What a liberating reminder to pay attention – to give loving, respectful care to our hearts and minds.

As I listened to the talk, I relalized, “I do this!”  Mainly because after many years of poor emotional patterns that included denial, shame and negative self-talk, I ended up in an emotional health crisis.  Something had to give.  I found myself in a state of depression and anxiety that required not only deep healing, but a huge emotional lifestyle change.

A gentle, truth-speaking guide was key at the beginning, but I owned the true shift for myself in my daily journaling practice.

Altered book journal Jan - Mar 2015

Altered book “Classic Art” journal Jan – Mar 2015

Journal pages were the main catalyst for telling myself the truth and keeping my emotional accounts clear.  In the pages I was able to recognize emotions and sift through them to figure out what was true and what wasn’t.

I began to see what to keep and what to let go of.  It was there I learned that some emotions were simply messengers and others required action or conversation and oftentimes pointed to need for change.  Not only do I tend to my soul with my journal, I engage in what Guy Winch calls, “emotional hygiene”.

20 Jan the word TRANSITION keeps coming up, so I'm sitting with it. In this season, it is connected to EXPANSION and dreams and birthing new things. So that's where I'm putting my eyes and heart. I like to know exactly what's coming my way. I don't. All I know to do is paint & write daily in order to listen carefully. #atpeace #seekingjoy #chasingdesire #50dragons

20 Jan the word TRANSITION keeps coming up, so I’m sitting with it. In this season, it is connected to EXPANSION and dreams and birthing new things. So that’s where I’m putting my eyes and heart. I like to know exactly what’s coming my way. I don’t. All I know to do is paint & write daily in order to listen carefully. #atpeace #seekingjoy #chasingdesire #50dragons

In the pages of a journal, we can give our souls preventative care by extending recognition, grace and mindfulness to our hearts and minds.

14 March 2015 Home after a day filled with BE in your life workshop. Spending some time in my own practice. Gathering text and collage elements as I listen and chart new territory. New journal. New season. #openheart #50dragons #wildthymejournals

14 March 2015 Home after a day filled with BE in your life workshop. Spending some time in my own practice. Gathering text and collage elements as I listen and chart new territory. New journal. New season. #openheart #50dragons #wildthymejournals

No doubt there are some who are more comfortable tending to their bodies than tending to their souls.  A skinned knee or sore shoulder is often easier to identify than loneliness or grief.  In my workshops, the focus is on creating a container for soul work.  It can look to the outside viewer like it’s simply about an artistic experience, but it is so much more.  In the pages of a journal, we can create vessels to hold our stories and experiences – from tea tags and tickets to the true contents of our hearts and minds.  I’m going to take a few posts to marry some journal pages with this fantastic article by Guy Winch and show some practical ways to weave soul care into a journal.  I hope you”ll join me and floss your heart and mind.

BE in your life!

Betsy

By |2016-10-19T14:20:30-04:00March 28th, 2015|Journals|2 Comments

I am not a brick wall and other confessions from a chameleon

Lizard

Adapt yourself to the things among which your lot has been cast and love sincerely the fellow creatures with whom destiny has ordained that you shall live.

~ Marcus Aurelius

I am a chameleon.

I am adaptable.  Sometimes so much so, that I begin to believe that I am the persona put in place, in order to adapt to the construct that I’m in.

For peace.

Or affirmation.

Or because no one seems to be leading.

I was watching a little chameleon in the garden the other day.  He was so tiny that he was perched on a zinnia.  He was chartreuse and that’s why I saw him against the fuchsia backdrop. I moved too quickly and he scurried away.  I followed his movements over to the brick wall where he finally settled.  As did I.  I settled in too, and watched him turn from bright green to light green to brown.

I felt like I was watching myself.  I become who I need to become.   My greatness is that I can tell what the construct needs…and then I become that.  I am great at modifying myself.  I disappear my true self and become what I perceive I need to become for that moment, in that space.

And it struck me.  He’s still a chameleon. 

[Actually, here in Georgia, a Carolina anole.]  He’s not a brick wall or a leaf or a concrete sidewalk.  He is himself, a Carolina anole living in my garden; basking in the sun; eating insects and changing color when necessary.

And teaching me lessons about holding on to my self in the midst of changing constructs and roles.

Untitled

Always a lizard, never a wall.

By |2016-10-19T14:20:31-04:00November 15th, 2013|Journals, Lessons from the garden|2 Comments

Mandala Monday: Mandalas for conversation & processing.

Mandala9Jan2012

“The crucial variable in the process of turning knowledge into value is creativity.”
John Kao

Last week was a big week for processing.  {And that sentence is just too small to contain the shift and movement that I know are coming!}  It’s actually been a HUGE week for processing.  Which means lots of time in the pages and a couple of long conversations with my long-time, heart friend, Candi.  These mandalas were drawn while she and I were having epic phone conversations.  {One of those times was literally in the middle of the night, when we realized that we were both awake.  Thank you twitter.}

I often draw during conversation or when I’m taking notes.   The rhythm of drawing mandalas soothes my bouncing brain and keeps me present.  Of course if something strikes me, I write it down, thus these mandalas are surrounded by lists of books to read, wisdom and insights from dear friends and the thoughts and dreams that ultimately emerge in the entire process.

Mandala 5Jan2012 {acrylic, paper scraps, Pilot Precise V5 extra fine, Derwent watersoluble Graphitone & metallics}

Today’s list – January Books:

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron {re-visiting w a friend.  Still full of wisdom and movement.}

The Mandala Workbook by Susan Fincher {I think I’ll just keep cycling through these exercises.  Beautiful & deep}

The book of Ephesians by St. Paul {Oh, I love to study…}

A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor {The Bluestocking Babes are reading short stories}

By |2016-10-19T14:20:33-04:00January 9th, 2012|Journals, Mandala Monday|4 Comments

Mandala Monday: A mandala for starting

Mandala for starting

“Winning starts with beginning.” Robert Schuller

Starting a new journal is simultaneously exciting and intimidating.  All those blank pages…

Not ever knowing how to start, I usually skipped the first few pages of a new journal, until I read a wonderful post by Stephanie Smith over at Rhodia Drive about her practice of adding a mandala at the front of each journal that she begins.  The idea of blessing a book with intention resonated with me.    It was such an epiphany.  Mandalas are beautiful & contemplative and after drawing/painting them for years, flow easily from my finger tips.

I recently finished both a morning pages painting journal and a my-story-all-in-one-place book.  So, this morning, found me with a new Morning Pages book full of nothing but white pages.  I painted a mandala on the inside cover, entering the book with intentions of honesty & consistency.  Here’s to showing up to the pages.

Good Morning

{Derwent inktense pencils, watercolor, India ink w brush, acrylic, Tattered Angels glimmer mist}

By |2016-10-19T14:20:33-04:00September 12th, 2011|Art is Life is Art, Mandala Monday|3 Comments

Art is Life is Art: July – Bird

red bird 490x180

“Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

Pablo Picasso

When I shared this watercolor WIP with some creative friends, one asked about my process.    These days getting to art is nothing “pancy” as my sweet little Goddaughter would say.  In my world, getting to art is all about carrying a book and catching ideas, then guarding the time to execute said ideas.

Before I share the details of my process,  I have to tell you that my 5 year old niece, Ruby,  is one of my artist heroes.  She makes incredible amounts of sparkly art, full of color and movement, from her window-walled corner table.

IMG_3434

She helped me decorate my travel journal when I stopped at her house on the way to London.  {Note the blue squares and gold chocolate wrappers that she glued in the book for me.}

IMG_3510

And this past holiday season, she spent some time down in the studio with me playing and creating.

Scanned Image 112290000
It was a delight to watch her work.  She wasn’t worried about how to use materials properly or whether or not there would be more supplies.  She just joyfully made stuff – all kinds of stuff.  She literally hugged her work before during and after its creation.  Even now months later her energy and inspiration still linger in the room as some of her work hangs there and I talk often about her wide open approach.

So, when in the ongoing collaboration with Meghan Arias, we landed on the word BIRD as July’s word, I entered a sequence of thoughts & events that went something like this:

  1. July’s word is Bird… wonder what I’ll post.
  2. I call my kids, “birds”
  3. I call ALL kids, “birds”
  4. When I called niece Ruby a bird, she said, “I’m not a bird; I’m a guurl.”
  5. That Ruby… I love her.
  6. Sentences for poem burst forth into brain.
  7. Run to journal asap and to write words down.
  8. Keep the poem on ice for weeks waiting to paint the perfect watercolor bird.
  9. Kick self into a reality check and just get idea captured.
  10. Put bird with on poem in journal.

My ideal end project is a series of small watercolor paintings that have corresponding poems.  I currently have bits and pieces of poems and sketches for a Morning Bird, a Song Bird, a Wren and an Elusive Bird.  But for now I have a poem and working sketch of a chubby Red Bird.

Red Bird

Ruby eats crayons for breakfast 
and DANCES on a whim.

Inspired

She reads stories at night 
knowing that she will write her own some day.

She WAVES banners that say 
ARTIST. Dancer. Rubythinker. THE BEST.

She makes declarations that change the world.

She tapes her pictures on the wall; people stop to look and fall in.

She paints flower forests and castles.

Scanned Image 112290001

Her crown is always shiny 
and when she hugs her life and sings her ruby songs

People find their own voices.

Red Bird

By |2016-10-19T14:20:34-04:00August 17th, 2011|Art is Life is Art|10 Comments

Art is Life is Art: June – Rest

Rest.

It’s been the order of the day for the past few weeks…

Rest.

When Meghan shared June’s word for our collaboration, I was surprised, but not really.  The word Rest, was already all over the pages of my journal.  I think that the spontaneous writing of the word was a prayer of sorts – a longing bubbling to the surface of my knowing.

Rest

Rest was June’s word and now August is here.  My blogging sabbatical is officially over.  The sabbatical that was originally going to be a week until it stretched into two weeks and then, became two months.

Rest.

I confess, that after pretty consistently showing up with words and images for the past 5 years, I needed a bit of an artistic nap.

I used to ignore my body and my needs.

Push through.  Be tough.  Git ‘er done.

I was tired often and hurt a lot.  Both inside and out.  So now, I pay attention.  I believe that concrete sensations like hunger, thirst, aches and pains show the way.  As we listen to the subtle {and sometimes not-so-subtle} internal messages that come to us via our body, the next steps emerge.

Exhaustion and anxiety often lead to revelations & minute course corrections.

Slow down or take a turn.

Adjust your pace or give way.

Move quickly or turn around.

Walk away or press in.

If we can’t tell from facts and figures, often our bodies will get our attention and put us back on the path.  Of course now I have a huge queue of photos and posts and prompts and projects to share.  Plus, some slight adjustments and new things.

All in good time.

blue nest

One of the many blank pages created during June & July’s season of rest.

{gesso, packing label, tissue paper, origami paper, water color crayon, ink, acrylic}

p.s.  July’s word = BIRD   August’s word = TBA

By |2016-10-19T14:20:34-04:00August 2nd, 2011|Art is Life is Art, Journals|4 Comments

Art is life is art: April – SURRENDER

The word for April is SURRENDER.

After a discussion about the creative process, my friend, Meghan Arias and I decided to embrace a bit of structure in the form of a monthly prompt.  It’s pretty simple.  We choose a word; we respond.  {You are welcome to join us by linking to your response in the comment section.}

I’ve been contemplating the idea of SURRENDER for weeks now.  I looked at dictionary definitions and I wrote words.

Sur-ren-der

[suh-ren-der] to give oneself up, as into the power of another; submit or yield. {In case you were wondering.}

At first, the main image in my mind’s eye was a white flag.  I imagined climbing out of a foxhole and walking across a field with my hands up.  But I never could decide who the “enemy” was and what I was giving up.  Besides, that image is dripping with negative connotation and wasn’t really a match for the excitement I felt in taking up this collaboration.  Eventually, after much journaling and thinking out in the garden, I landed on the image of a flowing stream.  This is what I painted.

Surrender

I realized that for me, getting in the flow of a current is a more accurate picture.  The surrender that was on my heart, was not a losing-a-battle surrender, but a yielding.  An acceptance of where and who I am. I wanted to capture the sensation of flowing water and the movement of thought that we face, as we make decisions and move through life.

Surrender {detail}

I love that some of the close up shots look like waterfalls.

Surrender {detail}

And others capture the organic quality of movement and flow.

Surrender {detail}

Somewhere in my musings, I realized that for me, TRUST and SURRENDER are intimately connected.  I find it extremely difficult to surrender to a situation where I don’t trust.  {Either the people or the circumstance}  As I began to paint from the preliminary Sharpie marker sketch in my journal, I decided that the painting needed a boat.   Not a big boat or even something with a paddle, but a paper boat.  One being swept away by the current.  Not a terrifying, out-of-control, sweeping away, but a choice-to-be-in-the-flow-of-life.  Like a child lovingly releasing a favorite paper boat.

Surrender {detail}

The initial under-painting was dark.  Too dark.  Probably born out of my searching {and the difference between acrylic and marker}  But silver paint, like reflections on the water, lightened things up and gave the cohesiveness that  I was looking for.   The silver, like SURRENDER, unified the swirling thoughts on the bank and the moving water with the little paper boat called Trust.

Trust is a paper boat

“You must trust and believe in people or life becomes impossible.”

Anton Chekov

EDIT:  Yay!  Meghan just posted her response.  It’s a different take.   A lovely, heartfelt different take.

Go listen.

By |2016-10-19T14:20:36-04:00April 30th, 2011|Art is Life is Art|12 Comments

Art is Life is Art: Show up for today

The following is part of a response to a discussion at the wild thyme creative facebook page

“…much of my current artistic work is in the capture of little moments. While I paint large scale and create mixed-media pieces on a regular basis, my daily practice involves what I call Art-in-the-Crevices. It’s the sketches and songs that happen because I carry my journal EVERYWHERE. It’s the partial poem I pen while I’m waiting and the photos from my phone.  Too often we get caught up in our expectations of the perfect environment and miss the beauty and truth all around us in the little moments. Honestly, it’s those little bits and pieces that keep me sane and present in my “real life”. Ultimately it’s the small captures that inform and birth the larger work.”

The little moments are where I’m living these days.  Concerning wild thyme creative,  I am both processing my archive and making plans for the future.  {This very much mirrors what is going on in my personal life too…}  I’m simultaneously reading old blog entries full of my emotions and thoughts from the past and  planning & dreaming for the future.  All necessary and exciting, but sometimes, I find it a challenge to just show up for today – to experience what it’s like to be in my skin, here and now.

I used to take these little “life bytes” for granted – now I give myself credit for capturing them and count it as my art.  My daily prayer is that I simply show up for what’s in my world today.  Here’s a tiny list {surprise!} of things I do to Stay Present:

* Write down {or draw or paint} exactly what I’m feeling at least once a day.

this is how I have felt for days...

* Go out in the garden barefoot.

I think it’s super important to feel the ground under your feet, where you are. I go out and tune into the following:

~ what I see around my feet

~ what I feel under my feet

~ what I hear around me

{I generally stay and breathe and observe until I can feel my breath all the way down to my toes…}

* Take a photo & notes based on your observations. {I write things down because I like to remember, but the point is to tune in.}

LEE_9785-1

This photo says:

* It is cold & wet.  But I am not afraid of inclement weather or events.

* There are weeds in the garden & I need a pedi.  It’s time to slow down and tend to self & home.

* The birds are singing.  I have a voice.

* The ground is solid.  I have a place to stand.

I am petite.  But I am not small.

Things are a little messy.  Discovery & expression are found in messy.

Drips and Mistakes you don't scare me anymore

Awaken

“Magic happens just by being present in your body.” Baron Baptiste

By |2016-10-19T14:20:37-04:00March 28th, 2011|Art is Life is Art, Journals|4 Comments

Behind the pages: What is the difference between Flee & Retreat?

Flee & Retreat

What is the difference between FLEE & Retreat?

{a page from the Pilgrim’s Progress Journal}

I know it’s been quiet here at wild thyme creative.  No, nothing wrong.  It is simply the quiet of dormancy and processing.  To be honest with you, I didn’t realize that I’d gone silent until a dear friend asked if I was okay.

I have not fled.

My windows are wide open.

open window

{When I want to run away or depression hounds me, the curtains are closed.}

No, this is a retreat.  An intentional pull back.  This quietude is simply part of a cycle.  A part of the reset that has to come after a huge influx of information.  The last few months have been incredibly rich with change and depth, matching the cycles in my garden.  There is huge growth happening under the surface; I can feel it about to burst and I’m preparing for it.

For the something coming.

There is needed change and a returning to old passions

There are insightful conversations and honest assessments

And there is no fear…

What is the difference between Flee and Retreat?

Flee is what you do when you run for your life from a predator.  When, for safety, you have to get away from something – by running as quickly as your adrenaline-laced muscles will take you.  A retreat, however, has intention and is to preserve life and find peace.  You can walk when you retreat…and breathe.

cherry blossoms

This current season of retreat is a lovely quiet with the soft sounds of birds singing, typing rhythms and pens scratching paper.  There are sketches and words.  Plans and confirmations.  There are new things coming, but they’re not here yet.  For now, I am immersed in peace & contemplation.  Visions and dreams are coming to fruition even as I bump into my awkward imperfections.  Imperfections that are perfect for the Lenten season with its invitation to enter into the wilderness with Christ.

I am learning to trust The Quiet – this season that doesn’t have much product, but is connecting me deeply to my true heart.

Speaking of returning… I’m back to lists.

I am not:

jumping through hoops

staying busy just to move

dwelling long on expectations or outside opinions

I am:

occasionally picking up my “real” camera

daily documenting with my phone camera {@wildthyme on instagram}

making honest pages

walking often

visiting the garden

listening to birds through open windows

writing daily

planting seeds

breathing all the way to the bottom

leaving my hands open

By |2016-10-19T14:20:37-04:00March 23rd, 2011|Behind the Pages, Journals|8 Comments

Behind the pages: NaNoJouMo 5-8

“The sooner I fall behind, the more time I have to catch up.” Anonymous

Have been journaling with the NaNoJouMo prompt every day this month, but I’m still catching up on photographing and posting pages.  Partly because we’ve had painters and plumbers and extra projects going on here at the house getting ready for the Christmas Journal Workshop.  Despite the fact that I’ve been feeling the stress of deadlines and extras, I’m excited.  We’ve put together some really great give-aways for the attendees and the studio is looking great!

I’ll share more in the next couple of days, {seriously excited about what’s coming for Christmas!} but in the meantime, here are some pages.

Day 5:  EQUANIMITY

EQUANIMITY {NaNoJouMo 6}

{watercolor, Pitt pen, Staz-on black ink & butterfly rub ons}

Added definition and text to an existing mandala page.  The color on the page started with blue, but the orange made sense.  Text reads as follows:

“e-qua-nim-i-ty

[ee-kwuh-nim-i-tee]  noun. 1. mental or emotional STABILITY or composure especially under tension or strain; CALMNESS; EQUILIBRIUM.

I don’t think I possess this quality… Rands does.  I usually crumble with an almost audible IMPLOSION.  I wish I responded to life with equanimity… I don’t.   But I also believe that my “SENSITIVITY”  is part of my art and how I do life.  It’s WHO I AM WHEN I TUNE IN.  Actually, Life makes me SIZZLE.”

Life makes me sizzle

Day 6:  ESOTERIC


ESOTERIC {NaNoJouMo 6}

oh hey scary thoughts... page detail

Earl Grey tea tags

ESOTERIC mandala detail

{index card, masking tape, tea tags, Crayola crayon, watercolor, 6B pencil}

Hit some deep {and private} thoughts in my journaling, so I taped them up…  Text reads:

“Oh hey DEEP & SCARY thoughts.  Sometimes you creep up on me.  I want to keep you, but I think I’ll use some tape.”

Day 7: MOMENT

MOMENT {NaNoJouMo 7}

MOMENT detail

MOMENT detail

{gesso, watercolor, gel transfer, ink, Tattered Angel Glimmer Mist in Graphite w paper towel press for texture, tissue paper and scrap Excel doc as underlayers, acrylic scraped w credit card}

Day 8: VIRTUE

VIRTUE {NaNoJouMo 8}

{masking tape, Pitt pen, security envelope scrap, gesso, gel transfer}

By |2016-10-19T14:20:38-04:00November 16th, 2010|Journals|0 Comments

Behind the Pages: NaNoJouMo 1&2

in-cep-tion n. The beginning of something, such as an undertaking

checklist

{watercolor, ink, stapled NaNoJouMo checklist from Daisy Yellow, Micron pen .30mm}

LOOK

{watercolor, gel transfer, date stamp, Micron pen .30mm}

CHOICE {NaNoJouMo 2}

{watercolor, iPhone photo on copy paper, well-earned I’m a Georgia Voter sticker, Micron pen .30mm}

“To live is to choose.  But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for; where you want to go and why you want to get there.”

Kofi Annan, 7th secretary-general of the United Nations, 2001 Nobel Peace Prize

By |2016-10-19T14:20:38-04:00November 3rd, 2010|Behind the Pages, Journals|4 Comments