While preparing celery to cut into sticks for an afternoon snack one day, I chopped off the end of the bunch with a satisfying slice of the knife. The rounded bottom piece with its protruding curved ends rested on the cutting board.
Preparing to toss it in the compost bin, I looked at the cut end and thought it was perfect for dipping into paint and stamping in my art journal.
So I did just that!
I painted shades of silver, green, pink, and purple on the cut end of the celery and stamped it on the pages. Then I closed the pages together and pressed. When I opened them, I had these pages that mirror each other.
I am not sure if this is finished, yet. For now I am enjoying the colors and shapes and knowing that I was inspired to create while fixing a snack for my kids in the kitchen.
I love the way these pages in my art journal capture what was going on during March when I created them. They moved me into April with confident excitement.
I was preparing to register my business name and get my business license. I was excited about creating something new that involved connection. The chairs around the fire pit capture that feeling.
My firstborn had invited her siblings for the weekend, so we met halfway and exchanged cars. That is where the feeling of freedom and the wine and cheese and charcuterie come into play. And also the knight.
Overall, these pages remind me of steps taken, one at a time, that continue to move me forward. Where are you experiencing movement and growth these days? What small step can you take today to look back on and say, I did it!
This week found me wrestling my light and shadow sides. As a girl, it was ok to have a light side. That was the good, acceptable, pleasing part of me. But woah be it when the shadow emerged. That part was dark and dangerous and unacceptable.
I learned early to shove the shadow parts of me down, careful not to let them escape. I learned to bear up and suffer the consequences when the real me was seen. Then I could reset and be bright and acceptable, again . . . until . . .
Wave after wave crested and crashed. Not able to hold both . . . and . . . , not understanding that this is why Jesus came, I felt shame around my feelings and their inappropriate expression. There was not language for all I held inside, nor was there safety to look at any of it.
Texting with a heart friend this week affirmed the confusion over parts of my story, as a realization dawned in me surrounding my relationship to the shadow. While the shadow side was unacceptable, it is also what saved me, hence the bind. In some ways it protected me. How do I bless that?
My friend spoke of a redeemed version of the shadow. Shadows offer shade and reprieve. Maybe redemption brings with it less shadow, more shade, she offered. It felt true and an image began to form in my mind.
First a sketch, then a rummage through the art supplies, and finally some paint in the art journal led to this week’s creation. While I didn’t plan for it to have a death, burial, and resurrection theme, one is undeniably present.
The image on the left is how it feels when the shadow is released. I am turned from the light towards the darkness and feel ungrounded. There is no containment. On the right I am settled in the shade of a tree. Though there is still darkness, light is breaking through and rest is found. I am grounded and contained, and there is beauty in the shadows. I am surrounded by growth.
As I sat with the image more, I felt the self on the left calling out in the darkness. That is the yellow line cutting through the shadow. She does not know that new life and resurrection is coming, but the one on the right remembers and is there. She holds both the beauty and broken. The light and dark. She holds hope.
The day I created this, I received a package in the mail. Opening it revealed an unconventional resurrection story, which I will hold until Sunday, the day we celebrate that He is risen, indeed and came to make all things new, including our shadow stories.
I have sat with this question for awhile now. Endings have left me wondering. People ask.
What’s next for you?
Next is tricky. Doing what’s next means different things in different seasons. I have been in a season where next has meant doing the next load of laundry, driving the next car pickup, having the next conversation.
I am still there in many ways.
Next has been nudging me. Speaking up. My mind was swirling with this when I opened my art journal recently and began arranging images to process my feelings about next.
These pages helped me to sort out and ground.
There is something coming. Next is on the horizon. I am eager to share what it is in the near future. Stay tuned!
This year I planned to art journal something weekly and write on the blog three times weekly. When I looked back over my goals and saw that intention, I realized that, unlike art journaling, the writing part was not happening.
I find that creating pages in my art journal helps to clarify what is going on inside, sometimes more than written words. These pages from the first week in March are no exception. I realized I was carrying a lot of fear over the next steps to take, which, in turn, was holding me back and keeping me bound.
These pages brought clarity. I love the way they came together and how they remind me to just keep writing and moving forward.
One of my goals this year is to art journal something weekly. I did not think I was doing well with this until I looked back over these pages. I discovered that I created something each week this month.
I share them here to encourage you to do something, even if it does not seem like much. I feel at a standstill these days (maybe you will notice that in some of my work), but looking back I see movement that pushes me forward.
As February comes to a close and March steps up, I look forward to what is coming my way. I am not sure that that is, exactly, but that is part of the fun! What are you looking forward to, Dear Reader? Do share!
It came to me while unpacking my Christmas ornaments this year. I pulled a mini Starbucks mug ornament with the word Flourish from the box. It was still in its packaging. I remembered buying it on sale after Christmas last year and saving it for this year.
The ornament never made it out of its cardboard casing or onto the tree. Instead it stood on a shelf in my room inviting me to ponder the word Flourish and what it might mean for me in the new year.
Looking it up, the next step in the process, began to solidify my choice.
to grow luxuriantly, to achieve success, to be in a state of activity or production, to reach a height of development or influence, to make bold and sweeping gestures, an ornamental stroke in writing or printing, a decorative or finishing detail
All of these meanings, and more that were listed, felt true about what I long for in the new year.
Still pondering, I came across an online quiz related to figuring out your word of the year and decided to take it. The result was courage.
I always need that, and in this case, I think finding the courage to flourish is where I landed.
Here is my process in making this year’s art journal page along with the final result. I will keep it displayed to remind me of this year’s intentions.
All day I watched as I Voted posts filled my social media feeds. Friends shared selfies with circle or oval stickers pressed to their clothing. One picture showed Mom, Dad, Son, Daughter with stickers on their noses.
I planned to walk to my polling place and vote, but that did not happen. Morning rain cleared as I headed to the grocery store for much-needed provisions. Returning home I had less than an hour before another commitment that would continue past 7pm when the polls closed.
My daughter graciously unloaded and put away groceries as I drove to vote solo, a change from this year. I did not need any literature and quickly checked in, removing my ID from my wallet. Yearly pleasantries were exchanged with my favorite poll worker, as the man checking me in waited patiently then asked me to state my address.
I took the paper ballot and sat at a table behind a cardboard privacy shield. Looking over the ballot, I inhaled deeply. Voting always reminds me of how not right everything is. I colored the ovals of my choices and walked to the scanner, which was sporadically spitting ballots back for retrys.
It’s been doing that all day.
Waiting for my ballot to scan I noticed that the exit poll worker’s hands were conspicuously empty, and that no one was getting a sticker.
Wait! Are there no stickers?
We’re all out. Someone left to go get more.
Inside my head I heard, Noooo! I really want a sticker! Tears stung my eyes, cluing me to the fact that I was experiencing feelings that were probably not about the sticker. I refrained from repeating the other words springing to mind.
I feel disenfranchised!
That would have been making light of a serious scenario, comparing myself to someone who was actually deprived of the right to vote. Though, in hindsight it feels a completely appropriate initial response, because these days if you vote and don’t get a sticker or post a selfie on social media, did you really vote?
Outside the polling place, I told one of the workers who held an armload of sample ballots, They were out of stickers! How can I prove that I actually voted?
She felt my pain and mentioned that people had been taking selfies in front of the signs.
Which I did.
Returning home, I expressed disappointment to my daughter who offered comfort in the form of suggesting I create an I Voted sign out of M&Ms. Which I did.
I left to fulfill my evening obligation. My husband voted, and daughter accompanied.
They brought me a sticker, which I made into a page in my Art Journal.
I am thankful for thoughtfulness, the ability to vote, laughter, M&Ms, a fun daughter, a conscientious husband, for scraps of paper and cardboard tissue boxes with designs on them and glue.
I am also thankful for a space to share my stories and for people who care to read them.
The wedding is over. There is much to process. It was a beautiful, perfect weekend. I do not use that phrase lightly. Those who know me understand this. Nothing is ever perfect, but this event came mighty close.
The time was amazing. The weather was kind. The leaves were glorious.
The morning after returning home I sat in my favorite spot, looking out the window at my favorite tree. Its branches were mostly bare. Only a few leaves were left clinging to the ends of its limbs.
It inspired this art journal page and poem.
I am glad I took time to look at the leaves While their glorious color was still on the trees
Before they began the descent to the ground To be raked up and piled up and blown all around.
I know it’s the season, they never can stay
They all end up down at the end of the day
They don’t wait for me to have things all lined up To sit with the perfect drink in my cup
They fall when they’re ready, when their time is here Seasons and cycles, year after year
And I get to watch and see what they do From green to orange to brilliantly blue
The scene out the window, it changes each day As more sky appears and the leaves go away
So I’m glad I took time to look at the leaves While their glorious color was still on the trees.