I have been doing a lot of traditional journaling lately and have almost filled another spiral bound journal from Barnes & Noble. When I write poetry I usually use a pencil with a lined pad on a clipboard so that I can get comfortable, erase and cross out, and rearrange words. The poem on this scan of a page from my written journal was done in ink straight through with only a little correction tape in a few spots. It is a love poem for someone I think the world of, so it is too personal to share here. It is a nontraditional sonnet which is a format that I really like - 14 lines, it doesn’t rhyme, and it is not in iambic pentameter (a rhythm established in the groups of syllables) It was very special to have a poem spill out of my heart onto a page like that. I almost couldn’t write the thoughts down fast enough as they just tumbled out so quickly. That is how it has been in my written journal the past few weeks - the words just flow.
Words and books have always fascinated me. My father used to take us to the library on Saturday mornings and when I had children of my own I also took them to the library frequently. I have always loved being surrounded by books and was so happy when my son gave me these Ikea bookcases last year. I have a few books on my Kindle too but I prefer the feel of a book in my hands, and art books especially seem much better in book format.
What am I reading right now you might wonder?
Here is what is out on the coffee table:
The Poems of Hafez, translations by Reza Ordoubadian
Rumi Poems, pocket edition, selected and edited by Peter Washington
Journalkeeping by Carl J. Koch (library book)
Walking in This World by Julia Cameron (library book)
The Artist’s Way, A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron
Inner Excavation by Liz Lamoreux
Art Journaling magazine by Somerset Studio
Pages magazine by Cloth Paper Scissors
(I submitted artwork to CPS for Pages in August)
SAQA Journal by Studio Art Quilt Associates
(I submitted artwork to SAQA for a book in August)
Marketer, the Journal of the Society for Marketing Professional Services (brought home from work)
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What do all these selfies mean anyway? I am somewhat self conscious about myself and my appearance at times but I am certainly not self absorbed. I am a very introspective person and spend a lot of time looking inward and seeking answers to the eternal questions: who am I, what am I doing here, where have I been, where am I going, and where am I at this very moment in time?
My Book of Days art journal spread this week does not follow the class lesson but I prefer to use an art class as a jumping off point. This spread exuberantly shows what I am all about, who I am, and where I see myself in relation to the world. In a way, that makes this a defining statement about feeling empowered in my own life. If I chose to let my past hold me back, I would not be able to feel these wonderful feelings that have grown inside of me. It is the challenges of life that have made me become the person who I am today and I honor the lessons of my past while letting go and moving forward in life.
I created a planner page with my wish list for week 29. I could have made a list of things that i want for myself but that did not resonate with me. Instead I listed the intangibles that are basic to humanity. These are things that have no easy solution but they are important to hope and pray for, to add to the collective consciousness of all people on our planet Earth.
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On the way in to work one morning this week I spotted an incredible pair of spider webs on the split rail fence at the corner of the building. I got in almost an hour early that day because I had a lot to do, so the early morning sun backlit the top spider web and created a stunning visual effect. I often notice the little things that others would walk past and not see and that is part of who I am. People have differing opinions on spiders and some are afraid of them but I think they bring good luck and are industrious creatures.
This weekend I did not get a lot of artwork done as there were a lot of things I needed to do around the house that I had been neglecting. I don’t get down on myself for not accomplishing everything that I have in mind. My list of what I’d like to do is long and I need to choose what things need the most attention and let go of the rest. There will always be another day!
I spent some time working in my documented life planner and would like to share the pages with you. This is a year long project with weekly prompts that is run by the five inspiring women of Art to the 5th. There is a Facebook group and a Flickr group where people share their artwork and it’s awesome. No two journal pages are the same. You start with a purchased weekly calendar book and then add art to the pages using the weekly prompts. There were about 800 people in the FB group when I signed up in mid-December and now there are over 8,000 group members. News about the group has spread by word of mouth in the online mixed media art community. I am perennially behind but there are no time limits on when you need to complete pages.
For week 26 we were to choose either a bible verse or a line from a favorite book. I have a favorite Bible verse that immediately came to mind so here is my page. I am Catholic so this is from my Dad’s Cardinal Spellman (NYC) Catholic Bible that I have now and this may differ from other translations.
Week 27 was to add a crossword puzzle, suduko or word search to your page. I used to do pieced puzzles when I was growing up but I never was much of a one for word puzzles, hence this page. My aunt in New Hampshire who is 95 and sharp as a tack loves doing Sudoku puzzles.
Week 28 was to add an Instagram or other tiny photo to the page. I had a photo left over from my art journaling last week that was too small, so I used that here. I must confess I did not like selfies at first but I have become a big fan of selfies and take them whenever I can now
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Today I stayed home and had an art journaling day. It is peaceful to be alone with your thoughts and work in your art journals while listening to music alternating with periods of silence and an occasional trip to the kitchen. My art journals fill a bookshelf now and I keep adding to the growing collection of expressive artwork. They are a chronicle of where I’ve been and how I’ve felt about life’s passing, capturing little moments of time. When I work in my art journals I reach the place inside me where there are no words, only feelings. This is where I remove uncertainty and clarify what I am really feeling and who I am. I also come to terms with things that are troubling me, both here and in my traditional written journals, and can reframe my past in a more positive light.
A new Book of Days Art Journaling class with Effy Wild started on Monday. The theme this session is sovereignty, meaning to take control of your own destiny and life. You can’t control the things that happen to you but you can control your reaction to life events and how you deal with them. Having a positive attitude can get you through the most difficult passages in a healthy way. I can’t tell you how much art journaling has helped me to heal and grow over the past 4 years. When I come to the page, I may have an idea of how I want to interpret a theme or prompt, but I never know exactly what I am going to do or how it is going to turn out. It is both enlightening and cathartic to work through your feelings in your art journal. The act of art journaling is considered to be a practice, much like meditation or yoga. Art heals.
This spread speaks for itself: home is where the heart is. I had been uprooted when I came to live in this place and it took some time for it to feel like home. When I first moved in here I hung a small Celtic cross on the opening that separated the living and dining areas and had Father John come over and bless the house. That made me feel better. Over time I added little touches that made it feel more welcoming and I gradually imbued my spirit here. Of course the special people in my life make me feel at home wherever I am. Home is my sanctuary and my safe place, where I can be myself and be at peace.
I also added a sixth layer to one of my canvases today. It has been at least a month since I have touched it and when I walked by the art room today something made me want to add more brush strokes to this canvas. It was one of three started in a Bloom True painting class with Flora Bowley this winter where I discovered that I really love painting on canvas. This is very freeing and brings you to a special place in a spiritual and metaphysical sense.
I am thankful for my creativity and for the freedom to be myself. Every day brings wonder and joy. A long while ago my Sufi friend Mary Pat showed me her path at a time when I had not given much thought to the path I was following in life. She lives at Gobind Sadan in India now and wrote the book Every Day Miracles in the House of God about her experiences there, available as a free PDF. Since then I have been on a long journey, trying to shed what others have told me was true in order to find my own truth and my real self. At this point in time I have come to a better understanding of the things that she taught me during the times we shared before she moved half way across the world.
My favorite song is Pilgrim by Enya with the refrain “Pilgrim it’s a long way to find out who you are…” That song rings so true for me. It’s all about living an authentic life, about being true to yourself especially in the face of adversity, and never losing sight of the reason you are here on this earth. We are all here for a reason and everything happens for a reason, even if we don’t understand it at the time. Enlightenment comes to those who seek it.
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