My September Sabbatical Journal
Dear friends and fellow colour enthusiasts!
A few days ago I wrote to you all sharing that I decided that for the month of September I will not be painting a single Mandala Stone!
But don’t worry- there WILL be a September Mandala Stone shop update AND of course I will resume painting them again in October.
You can read about it in detail here.
These first few days have been FULL of insight, possibilities, creativity, and challenges and I thought it would be fun to keep a day by day journal sharing what I’ve been discovering!
So you can check back here every so often as I continually update my days…
Today we celebrated Adam’s Grandma Leah’s 93rd birthday. On the ferry to town instead of browsing the internet I used this hour to paint a page in my journal! I was inspired by a seal that swan below us on Lopez Island last week and wanted to visually record the memory. It felt so good to return to the beloved pages of my journal and use my time creatively.
We had lunch followed by an AMAZING homemade carrot cake- which was accidentally topped with those magic candles that keep relighting! We were in hysterics as we all tried to blow them out! Grandma had never seen these before and her reaction was priceless.
After returning home I began a scrap-booking practice I had over 10 years ago. I put on Leonard Cohen, cut up magazines, and created some sweet little poetry. I greatly enjoyed this activity that was once such a big part of my creative life! I did some writing and then….. I made a rookie mistake….
….I went on social media right before bed… I am trying to cut down on my phone /internet intake and am getting better at not going on my phone as soon as I woke up but I forgot that I really shouldn’t go on it right before sleep either. Anyhow, I saw something that triggered one of my biggest insecurities and I became quite restless. When I eventually got to sleep I then had a nightmare that I woke up thrashing out from- not fun! Lesson- no social media before bed!
Today was a challenging day. I woke up feeling the “hangover” of a bad sleep, my nightmare and the insecurities I was faced with. My energy was really low and I knew that I needed to take it easy! I read in bed, ate melon with a friend, and Adam and I did so decluttering of the house. It was super tiring to do this but I felt my soul clearing as we let go of things we no longer needed, organised, and dusted off the shelves. I then ticked off a goal of mine- to arrange my dresses in rainbow order- it was a small gesture, but the results are so uplifting!
All throughout the day I was haunted by “the guilties” of not being productive. I had to keep reminding myself that I was doing what I needed to take care of myself- which is most important.
I woke up feeling MUCH better today! However I with the thought “what am I going to do with my day!?” Usually I always know- paint mandala stones! So with that removed from the equation I felt the vastness - availability - and possibility of my time. It was both liberating and scary! Mandala Stones are a [lace of safety and comfort for me- which is good BUT I know that I also need to branch out and leave time for other things.
It was a beautiful day outside so Adam and I wanted to make the most of it. After doing some computer work, packing and shipping orders we went on an adventure. We visited our favourite little beach where we had a picnic and sipped tea. We had an ocean dip- it was FREEZING!- but it was greatly refreshing and revitalising. On our way home we picked blackberries with baking in mind! It was really lovely to have that special time together and reconnect.
Right before bed I had a “creativity floodgate” open. This happens every so often when I have a big exciting idea and usually always happens right before I go to sleep. My imagination goes wild and I literally can’t sleep! It’s been awhile since I’ve had one of these creativity floodgates and I believe that by slowing down I opened up the space for the idea to come through. I won’t say anything about it right now- it’s still too early- but I’m dreaming of revealing it in spring (March/April)
This morning I got straight to work on some business things. I didn’t go on social media- so that was good. It wasn’t ideal to start the day on the computer, but I felt better for getting tasks ticked off my list first thing.
I then finished a mandala I had started last night- it is part of a new series- mandalas inspired by flower bouquets I buy from local farmers.
This afternoon Adam and I did craft together! We collected some driftwood yesterday that we wanted to paint and make a mobile for our garden. We have just fenced off a portion of our yard so we can start our first garden in 6 years! The deer are incredibly destructive here so it is great to finally have an area to grow things without worrying!
Tonight was book club with some girlfriends. We have all been so busy this summer so it was nourishing to tuck in and talk and share our hearts while eating chocolate and drinking tea. I had really been missing companionship, and had been feeling quite lonely and disconnected from my community, so it was a very healing night.
I came home to the smell of baking- Adam had baked a pie with the blackberries we picked yesterday! What a treasure he is!
For breakfast I had tea with a warm slice of Adam’s blackberry pie! I am a big advocate of dessert for breakfast! haha! We finished off the mobile we started yesterday. We are in love with the result- it is so happy and colourful! I can’t put into words how special it was for Adam and I to create art together. We haven’t done something like this in a long long time. It was precious.
I now sit here writing this journal and I am witness to some challenging thoughts and feelings that are bubbling up. As I record these wonderful few days, I fear that my life comes across as “perfect”. My life is definitely filled with many wonderful things- but I am human! I have my challenges too! I am well aware of how blessed I am to live my dream of being a full time artist. Here’s the thing- it really is FULL TIME! When your “job” is doing what you love it can be hard to do anything else. And of course there are all the administrative things that go with it. Ultimately it is my choice that I continue to make. This month I am dedicating to exploring my boundaries of what that looks like. I don’t want to work all the time. These last few years I have driven myself into burn out several times. After finishing my book, my life energy was the lowest its ever been. Never again. I’ve been consciously making changes to balance all aspects of my life. So I just wanted to share that- I am grateful for my life - the choices I continue to make - the boundaries - the self care - and yes the challenges… these challenges that are helping me grow and return to what is truly important. I really hope to get better at communicating these challenges- in a constructive and inspiring way.
One word to describe my day- FRAZZLE! Oh my! I have been having so much fun this week, that I let some things slip… We are going camping for a few days and I hadn’t starting packing or preparing the house for our Lilu-sitter. I won’t be bringing my computer so I had to do a lot of computer work to get ahead for next week. I also had a bunch of orders to package (thank you!!) and then 2 visits to the Post Office! We also did some shopping, lunch with friends, and some time photographing mandala stones,
All day I just felt like I did not have enough time. I started to shame myself for not being more organised…. which got me in a spiral of feeling more overwhelmed. I had a little rest mid afternoon to recharge- and that worked wonders!
By 8pm, I had done the majority of my chores and tasks and I declared “enough! I need to be creative now!”. It was a deep thirst I needed to quench- to balance out the day. So I turned to my journal…
Last night I saw a photo my friend Lindsay shared of herself practicing slack line balancing. She has been wanting to develop new hobbies and skills and I am so proud of her! The photo she shared instantly sparked an idea for a painting. As I sat down to paint it tonight, I realised that all day I had been yearning to sit down to create this! I think this was part of my restlessness- there was art wanting to come through!
We left our little island to head for a camping adventure with friends. We caught 3 ferries today and drove 4 hours inbetween. Phew! It was a lot! To break up the drive we stopped in at a farmers market. It was a wonderful place to stretch our legs and browse the bountiful stalls. There was so much colour- that I did some “colour collecting” which is a great creative exercise to do when you don’t have much time! I loved the autumnal tones I found everywhere- signs of the season to come!
We arrived at our campsite on Cortes Island just in time to set up camp! As we sat by our campfire I reflected on the 1st week of my experiment. Although I didn’t paint Mandala Stones, I had been just as busy! I think I felt I needed to make the most of the “free time” I had.
Today was a busy day of exploring Cortes Island. After breakfast we checked out the local free store (just like a thrift/op shop but everything was FREE!) and I scored some fantastic magazines that will be perfect for my collaging.
In the afternoon we went to the lake to do some stand up paddle boarding. There was a chill in the air and I didn’t feel much like possibly getting wet so I opted out. I used this opportunity to do some painting. BUT I realised I had forgotten my paintbrushes! This island is pretty small and resources limited so I was ecstatic to find some in a gift shop! Conundrum solved, I had a blissful hour painting while listening to my friends play. I’ve been enjoying my little travel journal so much that I was quite surprised when I felt a little feeling in my heart telling me to “paint bigger”. I think the time has come to leave the safety of these pages and hit up a big canvas again! Hopefully I’ll have time next week!
In the middle of a busy morning I found a quick two minutes to create a piece of nature heart art. I had spotted a bunch of red berries on the ground and took the opportunity to use them to leave a little love note. I made this in a car park so that people passing by would notice it. It was a quick but effective creative expression.
The clouds had cleared so Adam and I did some stand up paddle boarding. I sat on the front as Adam paddled us in the bay. The water was so clear and we could see right through to the ocean floor. With islands and mountains surrounding us, people out sailing, and the lovely sun, we spent the loveliest hour on the ocean. It was the perfect way to relax! I also got some inspiration for a page in my journal.
Today was another long travel day- so busy in fact I don’t have any images/photos to share with you. I was super tired (why is camping so tiring!?) so I just rested. It was a good reminder that sometimes one just needs to rest!
Today was a busy day doing errands. Living on an island with limited resources means when we go to our city of Victoria, we have to do it all in one go! We did carve out some time to walk the beach and collect stones! In about 1.5 hours, between the two of us we found around 20 round stones. I’m so grateful we had this little window of time, beach combing, chatting and enjoying the seashore. I find it very healing being by the ocean’s edge.
I was rather irritable today because its been awhile since I’ve had some good creativity time. I usually find after 3 days of no painting I get cranky! I think it is good that I had time away, connected with friends and family, but really knew it was my limit to go home and reconnect with my creativity.
Home again home again! and on a day that felt like the first day of autumn! It rained hard so it was the perfect cozy day! We spent the most part of the day unpacking from camping and settling back in home- lots of Lilu cuddles!
I then turned to my journal to paint a page that I was inspired to paint a few days ago. Again, I realised that if I have inspiration to create something- I can get quite irritated if I don’t find the time to create it! After completing this piece I felt a huge sense of relief- like I had been on edge until it was finished! It’s not an ideal quality about myself- because life doesn’t always allow the time and space to create when inspiration strikes. It’s something I’ll keep note of and nurture.
This morning I saw my first autumnal tree and to be honest I was shocked! We don’t usually see the trees turning until late September. I was overcome with feelings of not being ready to say goodbye for summer and yet looking forward to cozy weather.
Today the rains came too and so I took advantage of it, got cozy and painted in my journal. My friend and neighbour Joanne posted this quote by Oscar Wilde “And all at once summer collapsed into fall” and thought it PERFECTLY suited our change of season- so I painted it as well as a little autumn leaf pattern inspired by the colours of the tree I saw today.
It felt good to express my feelings constructively and creatively!
I had a bad dream last night and so it set a somber and icky mood over the beginning of my way. I then got 2 lots of bad news from people I love and my heart just ached from them. Then a hammer was dropped on my foot… ugh!
By mid afternoon after doing a bunch of computer catch up, I was feeling really restless. I knew I needed to be creative to ground myself… but what? I wished that I could paint a mandala stone. That is my grounding comfort zone, a familiar safe place. But I really didn’t want to break my challenge- I had to ride this wave! I also realized that tomorrow will mark the half way point of my stone sabbatical September. To be honest I panicked- time was going too fast- I hadn’t done much of the plans I had….
I had to really pep- talk myself and be kind. I had to remind myself that I had been away for a week and in a few days would be away for another week- that the reality is- I am not going to complete my list of creative wishes. And that is ok! Because it always was meant to be a list to draw from- not complete.
I felt I wasn’t ready for this challenge to be over- that I wanted more time and space. I think when I do get back to painting stones, that I will do scheduled times so that I make sure that I don’t let it be all that I do. Or if not schedule- set reminders/goals for myself to allow for other creativity.
Deep in all these thoughts I turned to a fun old favourite exercise- collageing! I feel that when I create a collage- especially with words- I end up creating something that I wanted or needed to hear- just like you see below…
After I completed this exercise a huge wave of inspiration came over me, a next step in my September that you can read about in tomorrows entry…
In my list of goals I wrote “take part in an instagram challenge”. Today started the #squareathon challenge hosted by Melissa Doty. The them is “flower child” with each day having a different musical prompt from the 60s/70s. Only rule- the piece created has to be square (my favourite!)
I had initially planned to start this challenge way early. Yesterday when inspiration struck- it flowed in big time! I decided to have a colour theme of blues, red, orange and yellow (mega retro) and to leave part of my piece unpainted to create a bold/retro look. I poured some ideas into my sketch book and completed today’s song- “Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys.
Funny story- I actually started this piece last night. I was SO happy creating that by 1230pm, I paused and thought “I’m tiiiiired but really want to continue… should I push on and continue?” As soon as I finished this thought the power went out- I kid you not! As I woke this morning I was SO excited to get up and finish it and I LOVE what I created! I realised that had I started this challenge earlier (or pushed myself before I was ready) that I would not have had this beautiful experience and path of inspiration. I have to trust in the timing of things more!
After spending the morning packaging orders (thank you!) and visiting the post office I spent most of the day on the computer, working on the details/emails/images to share for “1 year Kickstarter anniversary” tomorrow. I had forgotten how long it takes to do these things!
After a busy morning making videos, by the afternoon I was very glad to go for my pre-arranged massage! Always try to take time for some self care!
Tonight I had my friend Lauren over where we did some painting together! Lauren wants to explore painting more (and with my encouragement bought an old book to use for her paint book!). Tonight I introduced her to the magic of acrylics- and she loved them! We sat in my studio together, sipping tea, listening to music while we created side by side. It was a really special to share this practice and I am definitely planning for more in the future!