Meet my Feet, Day 5

My journal pages are filled with scribbles, scrawls, doodles, smushes of paint and free writing as evidenced here:

Smushed paint, “found image”

Smushed paint, doodles with marker, free thought writing

This is what I wrote.  Looked at the picture I doodled and wrote spontaneously.

We create life trails and no not, not know

where they lead nor what we encounter on the way

as we make our way to an unknown end.

We leave a line for others to follow.  

The trail of our life

Clear paths or littered with debris.

Need to catch up? Here’s what happened to me:

In pain, Need Sympathy

Food for the HEEL

 

Meet My Foot Feat, day 4

It’s only DAY 3 of my “convalescence” and the thought of spending most of my time sitting with my foot up for 3 WEEKS is __________.  Fill in the blank and it’s probably close to the mark.

So far I’ve worked on CATNIPblog posts, worked on Peggy & my Happiness project, started reading a new book and watched far too much TV.  My “rear-end” is already beginning to hurt as much as my foot.

I have more time on my hands (and feet) than ever yet have less focus than ever.  Looking for something creative to add to my sit-down-activities I decided to finish pages (upon pages) I started years ago in my many journals.  

judy’s journal, collage, acrylic, marking pens

Today I picked a page that required no thought, just schmearing a bit of paint with my finger and doodling with marking pens.  I have no clue why I wrote the fishy-poem I remember from childhood on the page.

Fishy fishy in a brook

Papa catch ’em with a hook

Mama fry ’em in a pan

Baby eat ’em like a man

Need to catch up? Here’s what happened to me:

In pain, Need Sympathy

Food for the HEEL

 

 

 

 

Stealth Sketching

I knew about people who do travel sketch books – instead of taking photos they sketch.  I knew about plein air painters who set up their easels and paint nature.  I didn’t know about the groups of artists who take to the streets all over the world and sketch.

They call themselves Urban Sketchers.  The supplies need to be portable and compact – small sketchbooks, pencil, pen and watercolor seem to be the main tools of the trade.  People and buildings are the main focus. 

You have to be fast and just capture the essence of what you see.  People move, get up, leave.   Sometimes I draw the arm of one person on the body of the other, furiously freeze a tiny moment in time hoping people don’t get up, come over and demand I stop staring at them.  Then I “clean up” the mini sketches – erase lines, add a splash of color.  

At the POP (Painting on the Patio) gathering yesterday I couldn’t get inspired to paint so I pulled out my mini sketchbook and “cleaned up” some of my sketches:  

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Can’t call myself an Urban Sketcher cuz I don’t sit on street corners or stand by light poles.  I sketch people while I wait for doctors’ appointments, get my computer fixed or tires rotated.  

Since I live in the suburbs it seems a bit pretentious to call my self a suburban sketcher.  Stealth Sketcher is much more like it.

 

The HeART of Spirituality – Journey from Dark to Light

The theme for July is “Journey”.  Held a special 4 hour – yes, count ’em FOUR hours of creative energy – workshop yesterday.  The participants focused on a painful experience, what strengths they developed as a result of the pain and how God’s love or “the universe’s grace” touched them.  

People could share as much or as little as they chose.  It was a wonderful group of women.  (All you men, where are you?!!!!)

Take a look at a sample of wonderful paintings and mini-journals the participants created yesterday!

To see all the paintings and journal pages click HERE!

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Process painting, Journey from Dark to Light

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“Everything in life ministers to our development. Our lesson is to study and learn… Tests are either stumbling blocks or stepping stones, just as we make them.” Abdu’l-Baha, The Baha’i World Faith

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Mini journal – 2- page spread

Adding insult to injury

I woke this morning feeling like a truck hit me, threw me onto the train tracks where I was run over by a locomotive.

AND lo and behold . . .

. . .  today is National Fibromyalgia Day.  I’m in no mood to celebrate but the Fibro-Fiends that dwell inside me are having a ball!

I’m too tired to write an entirely new post to post on this post so I’ll just post part of a post of a post that I posted sometime ago.  . . . .

Judy's Journal, Mixed Media, Collage

judy’s journal, collage

“I look normalI act normal (relatively normal).  However, I feel exhausted much of the time, my body aches from head to toe and my brain sometimes has trouble remembering or concentrating.  Please don’t tell me to exercise more, eat better, try acupuncture or go to a new doctor.  After 20 years I’ve tried just about everything there is to try that I can afford, swallow or legally do.”

“I don’t even care anymore what you call itFibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, malingering . . . it’s just tiring being tired much of the time.  I push through it otherwise I’d have no life.  But the price for pushing can be days of crashing so I pick and choose my commitments.”

There’s a free on-line Fibromyalgia Summit.  If you’re interested in hearing the presentations click here: http://www.healthrising.org/blog/2016/05/11/three-days-may-fibromyalgia-summit-almost/

________________________________

Confidential:  Send me your prayers because tomorrow I’m leaving for an Unitarian Woman’s Retreat where I’m facilitating 2 workshops.  (I am not planning on taking my Fibro-Fiends with me.  Please don’t tell anyone because if the Fiends get wind I want to leave them home they will be angry . . . very angrrrrrrrrry . . .)

FYI – MY HeART of Spirituality

I’m posting my HeART of Spirituality workshops, spiritual art journal pages, tutorials etc. on a separate blog.  http://judywesterfield.wordpress.com,

The HeART of Spirituality,

It’s under JUDYwesterfieldas opposed to JUDITHWesterfield.  (It probably should be reversed since judy is definitely not as serious as Judith).  

As always, it’s been a steeeeeeep learning curve trying to figure out a new blog template (which I might change)  but it helps keep me occupied so I don’t have to focus on cleaning, thinking, washing, aches and pains or yard work.

Here’s my latest journal page for those of you who don’t want to subscribe to yet another blog and/or click on the above links.

Journal page, mixed media, Proverbs 11:16

Journal page, mixed media, Proverbs 11:16

My husband looked at it and asked who I wanted to strangle!  I just smiled knowingly . . .

https://judywesterfield.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/my-heart-proverb-1116/

Proverbially Curious

Don’t remember how I found Susan Wojtkowski’s blog I only remember the title of her blog irreversibly moi made me laugh, her love of rescue dogs made me smile and her online classes kept calling to me.

So I signed up for Art Journaling Through Proverbs.  The price made me happy and the novelty of journaling inspired by proverbs (with which I’m not very familiar) made me interested.

My first journal page

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Proverbs 31: 20-22. Journal page, collage, paint & pastel

I’ll share what we do and the Proverb we are focusing on.  So stay tuned for some more of my heART!

P.S. There’s still time to join the online class.  Here’s Susan’s description:

“Our first class/group course of 2016 is a journey through the Book of Proverbs!  If you enjoy art journaling (or would like to start) and want to spend time in the Bible this year, this group is a great way to go.  We will enjoy artsy fellowship in a private, fun and comfortable Facebook group while learning new art journaling techniques and discussing how to apply Proverbs in our daily lives.  Read on below for more details about this great group class that kicks off on February 1st!”

 

Sneek a Peek into my Journal

Visual journaling is more fun for me than written –  I rarely reread my written entries but can look at the visual pages and know instantly what was happening, what I wanted to express (and things I wasn’t consciously aware of expressing!).

I also rarely reread what I write on the blog but the last post on gratitude stuck in my mind.  So here’s my gratitude page AND the process I used . . . in REVERSE ORDER!

Step 3

Added squiggly lines and pastels

This is the finished page – I lost interest in the left side!
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Sept 3: Added squiggly lines and pastels

Step 2

Smeared gesso (white paint works too) over the magazine images to blur them

Finished page - I lost interest in the left side! Paint, collage, pastel

Step 2:  Smeared gesso (white) over top of pictures

Step 1

  • I don’t like working on a white page so I spread paint on the blank page. Cut out about 20 pictures
  • Focused on my “gratitude” and picked pictures that caught my attention.
  • Pasted them down.  Didn’t matter they got wrinkled – just adds texture!
pasted magazine pictures

Step 1: pasted magazine pictures onto page that I smeared with paint.

Can you figure out what the focus of my gratitude was?

Sneek a Peek How to – my own coloring book page

One blank piece of paper

One black marking pen

Colored crayons: 2 pinks and 1 orange 

One TV

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Doodled with black marker while I watched TV

Colored in my doodle

Took a nap

Summer of Color

Summer of Color – 2 pinks + 1 orange

Sketchy Sneek a Peek – Summer of Color

Always on the lookout for things to divert me from mundane living I stumbled on Summer of Color – A weekly challenge that gives you a color palette to use.  Any medium goes: sewing, jewelry, quilting, art journaling, digital art . . .  even NAIL ART!  

Since my nails are broken and split I resorted to my recent scribble-a-face “kick”. (the first color palette of the Summer is . . . . 1 Blue + 1 Blue + 1 Green)

colored pencil

judy’s sketchbook, colored pencil

Sneek a Peek – I wrote a Pie Man pome

A weird collage I did in my journal led me to the Pie Man. 

judy's journal collage

judy’s journal collage

Pie Dream

The pie man delivers

in the dark of night

To your brain he goes straight

when it’s quiet and late

not to give you a fright

He’s a curious sight

Wearing pie on his head,

very berry red

a flaky vest on his chest

 he‘s a living taste test

His eyes are wacky

lips are smacky

from too much snacky

of tasty pie

a slightly weird guy

Pie Man After his midnight snack

Pie Man, After his midnight snack

But you’ll think him quite swell

because he’ll never tell

how much you eat

in your dreamy treat

Strawberry, apple or cherry pie

give them all a try

Pecan if you like a crunchy start

Key lime or lemon for sweet ‘n tart

So when you go to bed

No need for dread

chocolate, banana, coconut cream

each taste a luscious dreamy dream

Eat all you crave in your reveries

Pie man guarantees

no calories

 

Sneek a Peek, Scribbling Rubens

judy’s lesson:  Use others who are more accomplished, wiser, creative as inspiration not aspiration.

Combining Carla’s Spark assignment on sketching great masters, Lynn’s on doing portraits and Shari B-P’s suggestion to do more gestural drawings (I always, ahem, do as I’m told) I used Peter Paul Rubens Portrait of Susanna Lunden as a starting point.

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After scribbling Mrs Lunden I shut my art book (alas, I don’t have the original as a reference) and took liberties  – I figured neither Peter Paul nor Susanna are around to mount a Twitter protest . . . or sue me.

Peter Paul Rubens

Peter Paul Rubens, Portrait of Susanna Lundens

Sneek Peek into my journal – Loosely Sparking

Sometimes wanting to be “perfect” stops me from finishing projects.  I’m now too tired to strive for perfection.   I figure it’s time to experiment and remove expectation to get my “spark” back.

I’m comfortable abstractly sloshing paint color around but “drawing” is another matter.  Put a pencil or pen in my hand and I tighten both my grip and expectation.

With that in mind, I purposely held the pencil very loosely and literally scribbled “areas” rather than try to draw perfect lines.  I didn’t bother trying to copy anything, look at any references, decide where the light was coming from or have a plan.  I just scribbled.   I like the looseness of the drawing and taking away expectation of being precise was enjoyable.

Maybe this is a good lesson to apply to other areas of my life . . .

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judy’s journal – Scribbled and scratched in the face with pencil and pastel chalk

Sneek a peek into my journal

I’m either incredibly ego-centric or beginning to emerge from my creative black hole because this is the first Spark assignment (self-portraits) that has “sparked” me.  I’m also feeling a bit better – not great, but better – so my eyes are clearer, although a bit “chalky”, in this picture than my last self-portrait. 
It’s interesting (at least to me) that I’ve had a migraine-type headache behind one eye and I see it in both pictures.  Of course, it could also mean I’m delusional and seeing things that aren’t there. 
I smeared this journal page (literally) with acrylic paint.   A figure emerged who I “helped out” with pastel chalk.  It’s instant gratification since it only takes a few minutes and little thinking. 
I prefer doing “spontaneous quickies” (don’t read more into that!) since I don’t have the focus and energy to do anything that takes much thought or time – not that I ever did.
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judy’s journal page – Acrylic & chalk pastel

Being tired is exhausting

I look normal, I act normal (relatively normal)However, I feel exhausted much of the time, my body aches from head to toe and my brain sometimes has trouble remembering or concentrating.  Please don’t tell me to exercise more, eat better, try acupuncture or go to a new doctor.  After 20 years I’ve tried just about everything there is to try that I can afford, swallow or legally do.

I don’t even care anymore what you call it: Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, malingering . . . it’s just tiring being tired much of the time.  I push through it otherwise I’d have no life.  But the price for pushing can be days of crashing so I pick and choose my commitments.

Judy's Journal, Mixed Media, Collage

judy’s Journal, Collage

No one knows what causes it or how to make it better.  Looking back, I think I’ve had it my whole life.  But I’m lucky because it didn’t become full-blown until I was an adult.  For teens and young adults it’s really hard. Read this article by teens and 10 things they want the public to know.   Teens who live with chronic illness and the 10 things they want you to know.

I’ve blogged about it before:

The Mask of Invisibility and me

Fibromyalgia, Dx: Hysterical Middle-Aged Woman’s Syndrome

I prefer not to talk about it, write about it, dwell on it.  It is what it is and I’m blessed that it’s not life threatening.  But today is World Awareness Day for neuro-immune illnesses of ME/Chronic Fatigue (CFS), Fibromyalgia (FM), Lyme disease, and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). It’s an opportunity to raise public awareness of these conditions that impact millions all over the world.

It’s a good bet that you or someone you know has one of these invisible conditions . . . if you didn’t before, you do now.

Sneek a Peek into my Journal – Stripping for fun (not profit)

Year of the SPARK  lesson:  Reverse painting on clear packing tape.  I didn’t like my results so I cut it up in strips.  What you see is the reverse order of the process.

3.  Cut-up strips on black paper

Thrown Around

Thrown Around

2.  Cut up strips, a variation

Cut up

Cut up

1. Painted-packing-tape, torn magazines and chalk

Pasted down

Cut-up, pasted down packing strips, torn magazine and chalk

Beyond the A to Z Challenge, well beyond . . . Eternity

Recently two very close and dear friends died. They were both younger than me – by at least 10 years.  I was hit by painful sadness and simultaneously comforted by a belief:

Several years ago I was depressed.  Life was the color of dirty grey.  I was in a fibromyalgia flare and feeling helpless.  I wasn’t suicidal, just weary, really weary, of pushing through the pain and exhaustion. Half jokingly I wrote to my Baha’i friend and mentor something to the effect:  “I’m ready to leave this earthly plane. Beam me up into eternity”

He wrote back four words which rocked me to my core:  “You are in eternity.”

Judy's journal page, mixed media
Looking Beyond, a judy-journal page, mixed media

You see, I had always assumed life here on earth as a human was separate from the “eternal realm”.  I thought that after I died I would then be in eternity.  It was a paradigm shift for me.  It is strangely comforting to know we are all already in eternity – you, me, my friends.

Believing knowing

we are in eternity

life is never short

 

Sneak a Peek into My Journal – Looking for a spark

It’s been a rough several months.  I suspect that in order to flee all the snow in the Eastern United States my “Fibro-Fiend” needed a bit of sunshine so dropped in for a visit.  It’s been sunny and warm here and she just won’t leave.  

She’s a demanding house-guest and almost all my energy is spent focusing on her needs.   She doesn’t have a very good sense of humor either and I have to find ways to amuse myself.  I’ve not had the energy to participate in Year of the Spark so I revisited some old, EASY Carla Sonheim exercises looking for some spark.

Click here – Irritated Birds – to see how I made the birdies.

Put a beak on it!

Put a beak on it!

Blob Critters  (they don’t have names yet)

  • Made a blob of color using water-color
  • Found critters in the blobs
  • Drew a bit

Blob critters

Blob critters

That’s all folks.  Gotta go feed Fibro-Fiend. 

 

What do YOU prefer?

When I was young (just a few years ago . . . ) I thought it wasn’t a poem unless it rhymed.    Shakespeare, Pound, Chaucer were agonizing for me to read in college, much less understand.  I’ve grown to appreciate poetry and how it paints pictures, feelings, sentiments, hopes & dreams with words . . .  much like visual journals.

Collage by Val

Journal: Collage by Val D.

It’s haiku prompt day today but as a favor to all my friends who don’t like haiku . . .  Joyce . . .  READ THIS!

POSSIBILITIES by Wislawa Szymborska

I prefer movies.

I prefer cats.

I prefer the oaks along the Warta.

I prefer Dickens to Dostoyevsky.

I prefer myself liking people

to myself loving mankind.

I prefer keeping a needle and thread on hand, just in case.

I prefer the color green.

I prefer not to maintain

that reason is to blame for everything.

I prefer exceptions.

I prefer to leave early.

I prefer talking to doctors about something else.

I prefer the old fine-lined illustrations.

I prefer the absurdity of writing poems

to the absurdity of not writing poems.

I prefer, where love’s concerned, nonspecific anniversaries

that can be celebrated every day.

I prefer moralists

who promise me nothing.

I prefer cunning kindness to the over-trustful kind.

I prefer the earth in civvies.

I prefer conquered to conquering countries.

I prefer having some reservations.

I prefer the hell of chaos to the hell of order.

I prefer Grimms’ fairy tales to the newspapers’ front pages.

I prefer leaves without flowers to flowers without leaves.

I prefer dogs with uncropped tails.

I prefer light eyes, since mine are dark.

I prefer desk drawers.

I prefer many things that I haven’t mentioned here

to many things I’ve also left unsaid.

I prefer zeroes on the loose

to those lined up behind a cipher.

I prefer the time of insects to the time of stars.

I prefer to knock on wood.

I prefer not to ask how much longer and when.

I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility

that existence has its own reason for being.

“Polish poet and translator Wislawa Szymborska (July 2, 1923–February 1, 2012). In 1996, Szymborska was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature “for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality.” Upon announcing the prize, the Nobel commission noted her reputation as “the Mozart of poetry” but added that there is also “something of the fury of Beethoven in her creative work.”

Frankly Freddie – Eat, Pee and Play

My Human-being  always had very thoughtful clients (the others fired her when they figured out she doesn’t do well with people who aren’t nice).

Margo, who is very nice and extremely wise, hand-made this retirement present for my Human-being.

You’ll see why Margo is so wise when you read what she put on the back cover.

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Front Cover 

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Back Cover
Back Cover

I make my human-being read it everyday and take her own advice.  

You should read it too, particularly about how to handle stress.

Frankly yours,

Freddie Parker Westerfield, CDT RET

Canine Dog Therapist, Retired

Freddie Parker Westerfield, CDT RET

Freddie Parker Westerfield, CDT RET

 

Sneek a peek into my PRIVATE journal

“Make your own recovery the first priority in your life.” (Robin Norwood).

That was the journal class free-writing (stream of consciousness – no thought to spelling punctuation or even if it makes sense) prompt this week.

Here’s what I wrote (but you must promise not to tell anyone because it’s my private journal):

Recover from what recover from life recover from love recover from being me recover from being covered by life what covers can smother what covers can warm what covers can hide what covers can protect so recovering from what I’m not sure it’s more about just living life and learning not recovering from anything that just about covers it.

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Don’t ask why I pasted that particular picture on the page – I just did.  It felt right.   But . . .  now . . . that I consciously think about my unconscious choice  . . .  perhaps that picture is about how it feels to struggle to recover when there is nothing truly to recover from . . .  not sure . . . what do you think?

P.S. Feel free to use the prompt for your own free-writing . . . it’s free.

 

Sneek-a-Peek into my PRIVATE Journal

Not feeling very inspired cuz Fibromyalgia has been competing for my attention  but here’s a sample of what I’ve journaled for the journaling class:

Fishy Fishy

Fishy Fishy 19th Century Nursery Rhyme, not by me

Fishy Fishy in a brook

Papa catch ’em with a hook

Mama fry ’em in a pan

Baby eat ’em like a man

(You can read MY version Fishy Fishy Walk on Land – here)

*     *     *

Journal Prompt:  “You’re never too old to set another goal or dream another dream.” C.S. Lewis

Dolly at rest

Dolly at rest

I cut out Dolly (and some other images) days ago and stuck her in the journal book.  Unconsciously she wove her way into my journal free-writing during MaryAnn Easley’s journal class so I pasted her (Dolly, not MaryAnn) on the page.  I think she’s comfortable there even though I cut away the chair she was sitting in.

My unedited brain-dump – read at your own risk

You may know it as stream-of-consciousness, non-stop writing, free writing – all the same names for what amounts to writing with no thought to spelling punctuation, whether it makes sense or not. Just write. I call it brain-dump. 

It’s a writing technique used for warm-up, breaking into writer’s block or uncovering unconscious process. In the journal class today we were given the prompt “We do not write in order to be understood, we write in order to understand” (C.Day Lewis).

I typed out my journal page (I hope you appreciate the lengths I go to for you my readers!) to show you an unedited glimpse into what a sample of free-writing looks like. 

But first!!! here’s the ditty that came out of my free-write:

My tiny trains of thought

chugging uphill

Hopefully if I run out of steam

I will stay on track

I think I can I think I can I think I can.

The flower is from the napkin I had for cookie refreshments in class

Actual journal page. (The flower is from the napkin I had for cookie refreshments)

“Who on earth really understands us we are understood by others only in reference to how the other perceives their own world thru their own lens which always clouded just like the mist that clouds the sky this morning I’m obscured obscured and I obscure how I see what I see through a clouded lens of my feelings and perceiving the cloud it’s hard to know what is real and what not obscured vision filter it thru a mist as if I see with the brightness I don’t know my reference my experience no one can ever know They think they know I think I know yet my senses are bound up in my brain scattering thoughts confused thinking between the past and present in the obscurity of the future I meant to write obscurity of the present, interesting slip of the pen in the scattering of thinking on paper no one knows what this means I don’t know what this means how am I suppose to know how am I suppose to understand what can’t be understood it’s safe to say no matter what I write no one will understand NOT EVEN ME how can we pretend to know much less pretend to understand always curious wanting to understand wanting to know it’s as if a long train pulled by a locomotive is coming can’t see the end if I’m at the beginning can’t see the beginning if I’m at the end and in the middle of it all are cars filled with the unknown going up a hill like the Little Engine that Could try to reach the top of the knowing to see other to the other side where it’s just a glide, just a downhill run where the brakes need to be applied not the foot on the throttle if a train has a throttle I think I can I think I can I think I can”.

Sneek a Peek inside my PRIVATE Journal

I’m never sure if I just have trouble following “rules”, have attention deficit disorder, or get easily bored.  I’ve decided it’s all three . . . and I’m not joking.

I decided to embrace “my tendencies” for the journal writing class.  Instead of just journal WRITING I’m combining it with doodling, collage, free writing (aka stream of consciousness) and what ever else might amuse me.

FURTHERMORE!

  • I do not like starting on blank white pages so I smeared paint on the pages.
  • I do not like doing anything in sequence.  I am just writing, doodling, collaging at random throughout the journal

Old Journal already covered with acrylic paint

Cover of old journal I’m using – already covered with acrylic paint

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A free-write with one-line doodles

Prompt "FIVE"

Prompt “FIVE”

In class – randomly pick a word cut out from newspaper.  Free associate a list of words  (The last word written might have significance).  I free associated all over the page and lost track of the last word (which, as you know, is rare for me as I like to get in the last word).

Maybe it unconsciously prompted this next collage?

FIVE Fingers

FIVE Fingers

I might use this collage as a writing prompt to see what my unconscious is saying  . . .  or not

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It’s suggested to journal 3 pages every day.  Instead of 3 pages I did 3 sections: Free writing, things-to-do-list and one-line bird doodles

P.S. Since this is my PRIVATE journal don’t tell anyone else.

“Each day comes bearing it’s own gift. Untie the ribbons.” (BAH)

imagesThat was the writing prompt today in the journal class.  I don’t like to be reminded I should be happy, grateful . . .  I blame it on college – being surrounded by barefoot “flower children”, wearing tie-dye,  flowers stuck in flowing hair, singing about love (not to mention “practicing” it) while I was working 30 hours a week to pay for my education.  Did I mention I went to The University of California at Berkeley . . . ?

Berkeley was a foreign country across the world from the Arizona high school I had attended: Girls were allowed to wear pants to school one day a year – rodeo day; The only drug I knew about was aspirin; Acid was hydrochloric; If you went barefoot the bottom of your feet would be seared from the 124 degree summer heat and; “Love” was “necking” at the drive-in theatre. (It was aptly called “necking” as all the action took place from the neck up). 

I was out of my element in college.  I watched, listened, standing on the outside looking in and had no clue I was observing a cultural phenomena.  All my time and energy went to financial and academic survival.

Decades later hearing positive sayings, aphorisms, slogans my brain reels itself emotionally back to college when I was in survival mode – working, studying, envious of those who untied their ribbons and freely, spontaneously savored the gifts of each day of their lives.

Today I drive a VW Beetle with a peace sign on the side . . . go figure

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No BUTS about it . . . unless it’s my own

What scares me the most (currently) is that no longer having a day job I’ll start self-medicating on daytime T.V., sugar and carbs.  But I already self-medicate on sugar and carbs so adding TV into the Rx isn’t far-fetched. 

So today, I resolutely turn off the morning talk show and attend a journal writing class.  I know, I know, I hear you saying – “BUT JUDY! YOU’VE FACILITATED JOURNALING WORKSHOPS FOR DECADES”.  (Ok, you didn’t say it, I did)  

However, I CAN hear you saying: “BUT JUDY!  YOU’VE NEVER TAUGHT WRITING, YOU DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING .  BUT JUDY! YOU NEED OUTSIDE STRUCTURE.  BUT JUDY! GET OFF YOUR BUTT”.   You, my dear readers, are tough on me . . .

canstock4937248 It’s  a good-sized group of people about my own age – has to be roughly my own age because at 9:30 a.m. anyone younger is at work or jet skiing.  Lots of women and 2 men.  The teacher, Maryann Easley,  is a published author, colorful, personable, well prepared and articulate.  So far so good.  

The exercise for this first class – pick a saying and do a quick-write.  We are instructed to each take the piece of paper from the top as the box passes around.  I’m an unruly student and pick from the middle of the pile:

“Breathe

in the moment

now

and be

in the present 

more”

Eww, don’t like this one.  That’ll teach me for not following the rules.  I write: 

I’m always in the moment

impossible not to be

it’s my brain that gets confused

thinks it’s in the past

or wishes for the future.

Bad brain! Will you never learn?
but when you're dead
the present is all I'll know.

Breathe, breath, pneuma

". . .  Now she's really got something to be scared about . . . "

Bob the Blogfish sez:

“. . .  Now she’s really got something to be scared about . . . “

Are the Rumors True that I’m Retiring?

I’ve bitten the bullet (while I still have my teeth) and am taking the leap (while I still can leap) into the next phase of my life (which is getting shorter by the day)!  

judy's journal

judy’s journal

My office lease is up this February 2015 and coincides with my (gulp) 70th birthday.  

I have wrestled with whether to sign a new lease, rent space from another clinician, buy a van to set up a Therapist-on-the-Go practice (kidding), move to the South of France (sorta kidding) or fade into memory . . .  I will close my office along with my 69th year (no kidding).

Being a psychotherapist has been one of the most gratifying things I’ve done in my life. I’ve been blessed to have had thousands (yup, count ’em thousands) of people profoundly touch my life.  Therapy is a two-way street.  I’ve learned and grown along with my clients.  Their pain, hopes, struggles and faith have helped inform my choices, strengthen my faith and deepen my belief in human courage, resiliency  and ability to learn & change.

It is almost inconceivable to me that I will be 70 years old and have been “practicing” psychotherapy for 30 years.  It is hard to admit that in the last several years I have less physical energy and resiliency.  But it’s true.  (I like to blame my declining energy on fibromyalgia more than aging  because fibromyalgia should be good for SOMETHING).

As I take the leap I will try not to lose my grip on the cord of these words that I do my darndest to tether me in my life:

  • “Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity.  (THIS is a hard one!!)
  • Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face.
  • Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge.
  • Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech.  (GOTTA WORK on this – my speech isn’t always guarded as my friends can attest)
  • Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. 
  • Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression.
  • Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts.
  • Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive.
  • Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring.
  • Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility.”  (A TALL ORDER for us humans – one “leap” at a time).

(The Baha’i World Faith, Baha’u’llah)

I’ll keep you “posted” (on this blog) where I land.  

Say a prayer that I land on my feet and not my head . . .

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 Post: I Have 17 Years and 4 Months to Live 

“Ode” to Sugar

Refined sugar is my drug of choice.   Lately I’ve been on a binge.   When my energy is flagging sugar is my go-to drug.  It’s also my choice when I’m bored . . .in pain . . . when I’m sad, happy . . . when it’s raining . . . snowing (anywhere in the world) . . . cloudy, clear, night or day . . .  

O’ lovely sugar

sweetest seductress ever

you never grow stale

*

O’  sugar of mine

as pure as the falling snow

cooling my senses

*

O’ sugar my love

with pangs in my head &  heart

you are a goner

I’ve not been feeling very well lately and no longer know which comes first – sugar or my symptoms.  Ultimately it makes no matter for I know that sugar is not good for me.  For the next month I’m going to ATTEMPT to keep refined sugar and it’s “carrier” white flour at least 10 feet from my lips.  (I was going to say mouth but I need those extra inches for safety.)

judy's journal, collage

judy’s journal, collage

I’ve tried abstaining from eating refined sugar before . . . . wish me strength of character and will (luck isn’t going to cut it). 

P.S.  Rosemary Lee, Seeking Equilibrium, is joining me.  Anyone else?  

Add your name in the comments box.  I dare you!

Year of the Fairy Tale – More 12 Dancing Princesses

Wanna see some incredible interpretations of the 12 Dancing Princesses?!  

Ya gotta click here: Carla Sonheim

judy journal, collage & "stuff"

judy’s journal, collage & “stuff”

Hooked on Haiku – No BONES about it

My bones are creaking

past sinking, future winking

ain’t it glorious!

judy journal page, mixed media

judy journal page, mixed media

Haiku Horizons - prompt BONE

Haiku Horizons – prompt BONES

Sneak a Peak into my Journal

There once was  little weird fellow

who looked like he was quite mellow

but his teeth were sharp

always hitting the mark

drawing blood that was lemon yellow

A judy-journal page
A judy-journal page
"There she goes . . .again"
Blob the Blobfish: “There she goes . . .again”

When hungry he will quietly swallow..

Know, his belching won’t be shallow..

He’ll get himself well fed

What he eats is pretty red

Then why would his blood be yellow?

By Ramesh Sood

A Little More Than Ordinary

Incredibly Creative Artists

A 5-hour workshop was needed to make A BIG Book.  Started with a gimormous sheet of paper that magically folded into an 8-page creative journal book.

Finally got the pictures uploaded from my “smart phone” to the computer.  If my phone was so smart it would have done it itself.  Ya gotta scroll all the way down to see the INCREDIBLY CREATIVE ARTISTS.

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Giraffes

Judy's Jiraffe

Judy’s Jiraffe

Giraff-aku

Giraffe life lesson:

Very easy to succeed

Just stick your neck out

“Giraffes are the tallest land animals. A giraffe could look into a second-story window without even having to stand on its tiptoes! A giraffe’s 6-foot-long neck weighs about 600 pounds. The legs of a giraffe are also 6 feet long. The back legs look shorter than the front legs, but they are about the same length.”

“There is only one species of giraffe. The recognized subspecies include reticulated, Nubian, Uganda or Baringo, Masai, Angolan, and southern. The different kinds can be recognized by their spots and also by where they live in Africa. Masai giraffes, from Kenya, have spots that look like oak leaves. Other kinds have a square-shaped pattern that looks like the giraffe is covered by a net. Some zoologists think that the giraffe’s pattern is for camouflage.”

“Both male and female giraffes have two distinct, hair-covered horns called ossicones. Male giraffes use their horns to playfully fight with one another.”

sandiegozoo

Thanks to you,

Daru

For inspiring this post

the most

Pride

judy's journal

judy’s journal

Five-Parts Pride

Too proud to admit

loneliness; just me, my soul

neither here nor there.

* * *

Too proud to complain.

How to relinquish the pain

I am and am not

* * *

Humility bared

ere I go before the fall

haughty spirit stilled

* * *

What was, now is 

 pile of dead bones

and my soul

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall”. Proverbs 16:18

Deepest depths

laughter and pain

 all I am

Haiku-Heightsprompt, Pain

Haiku-Heights
prompt, PRIDE

Invisible Illness and The White Flag of Surrender

Judy’s Journal, Collage

I don’t know how you felt when you saw my post The Heart of the Battle  the day before yesterday.  A few commented that my haiku in the post expressed extreme sadnes.  I looked again and believe it’s a tired resignation  –  this is just how it is living with invisible conditions.

 

Haiku Heights
prompt, free

With resignation
freedom comes tip-toeing in
hushed breath of being

You see, invisible dis-ease and conditions have a layer to them that visible illness and conditions don’t.  I can’t SEE anything wrong with me and I  begin to believe that maybe everything is all right.  Perhaps I’m imagining the symptoms, exaggerating the symptoms.  Perhaps I am even causing the symptoms.

How I look and how I feel are not congruent.

About 10 years before I was symptomatic a woman

Judy’s Journal, Collage & Mixed Media

was referred to me in her late 50’s – I was in my early 40’s.  She comes to the first session with all her medical records.  Without exaggeration, it’s a foot thick.  She’s seen doctor after doctor, been to renowned medical centers, had evaluations by teams of doctors at teaching universities, undergone test after test after test and no one can find evidence there’s one thing wrong.  Referrals to psychiatrists pile up.

She was desperate for help. Her panic that no one believed her was palpable.  I’m not sure I believed her either.  How could anyone have so many things wrong with them, from headaches to gastrointestinal, from heart palpitations to joint pain and have every  test be negative.  She looked fine.  I too was unable to help her.

I’m now in my late 60’s.  I have clients today who are extremely disabled by their invisible conditions.  They too are desperate  for help, for relief.  I sometimes catch myself minimizing their pain or disability.  They look good, are smart, funny, intuitive. How they look and how they feel are not congruent.  Just like me.

My white flag of surrender?  There is nothing I can do, nothing I can say.  So I sit, listen and believe them with my heart, if not with my eyes.

Who Could Ask For Anything More!

Love - Rhythm!

I Got Rhythm Haiku

Sing and dance your love
with the joy of grateful hearts
Celebrate life’s tune
 
Swaying to life’s beat
Lifting voices to the sky
Melody of  prayer
 

Here’s my latest LOVE-Page for the Book of Days. Not sure if it’s finished but I’m done! 

For whatever the reason when I was working on the journal page this song kept running through my mind.  It sounded wonderful because My Mind always sings in tune.

This video can’t be “embedded” so you’ll have to use your rhythm and click this link to hear Gene Kelly and the children sing and dance.  It’ll make you smile! Well worth the click!   http://youtu.be/LvglHa_P9BA

Here are the words for those of you who don’t want to hear the wonderfully joyous rendition of:

 I Got Rhythm by George Gershwin

Days can be sunny
With never a sigh,
Don’t need what money
Can buy.
Birds in the tree sing
Their dayful of song.
Why shouldn’t we sing
Along?
I’m chipper all the day,
Happy with my lot.
How did I get that way?
Look at what I’ve got.

I got rhythm,
I got music,
I got my man —
Who could ask for anything more?
I got daisies
In green pastures,
I got my man —
Who could ask for anything more?
I got daisies
In green pastures,
I got my man —
Who could ask for anything more?

Old man trouble,
I don’t mind him —
You won’t find him
‘Round my door

I got starlight,
I got sweet dreams,
I got my man —
Who could ask for anything more —
Who could ask for anything more?!

Old man trouble,
I don’t mind him
You won’t find him Polly
‘Round my door Oh…
I got rhythm,
I got music,
I got my man —
Who could ask for anything more? Oh…
I got daisies
In green pastures
I got my man —
Who could ask for anything more?
Who could ask for anything more?!
Who could ask for anything more?!

P.S.  I may not respond to everyone’s comment every time as I’m trying to figure out how to better “pace” myself.  (My tempo was much too fast last year.)  Please know that I read EVERY SINGLE ONE!  (As a matter of fact they can’t get posted unless I read and approve.)  

Please don’t stop.  I LOVE YOUR COMMENTS and

almost 1/2 of all this blog’s subscribers subscribe to the comments.

Journal Page, Book of Days – Love #1

The human heart beats 100,000 times a day, propelling six quarts of blood through 60,000 miles (97,000 kilometers) of vessels—20 times the distance across the U.S. from coast to coast. The blood flows briskly, surging out of a ten-ounce (0.3 kilograms) heart so forcefully that large arteries, when severed, can send a jet of blood several feet into the air.  (Wikipedia)

I used a copy of  the picture I posted for my pacemaker surgery as a starting point for my first journal page on Love.  At the time I wasn’t sure why. After I finished the journal page this is what came to me in

haiku:

Coming straight from God
a mechanical heart beat
radiating love

Love #1 Journal Page

https://judithwesterfield.wordpress.com/2010/07/19/pacemaker-surgery/

NOW THIS RESEARCH IS FASCINATING!

It’s not always easy to follow your heart. But for human babies and their mothers, following each other’s hearts may be as simple as sharing a smile. A new study shows that 3-month-old infants and their mothers can synchronize their heartbeats to mere milliseconds.

Researchers sat 40 pairs of mothers and infants face-to-face, equipped with sticky skin electrodes on either side of their hearts. Beat for beat, mother-and-child hearts thumped together almost instantly

as they shared loving looks or contented coos.

This cardiac coupling worked only for moms with their own babies, and only when the duos synchronized smiles and other cheerful social behaviors, researchers report in this month’s issue of Infant Behavior and Development.

When humans mirror each other’s facial expressions, they may switch on specific areas in the brain that tell the heart when to thump, the researchers suspect. 

Recycling Resolves Resolutions

It’s a problem for me to come up with resolutions every year.  I lead a pretty good life, I re-cycle paper products & plastic.  I exercise fairly regularly.  I’m kind to most people and all animals.

2012 I’m resolving to bring more creativity into my daily life.  SO!  I registered for Journal Art & Memory Keeping with Effy Wild to create a visual journal page daily.  NO FEE, NO pressure. I am not holding myself to HAVING to do it every day.

First step: You are to pick one word to focus on as the “theme” for the daily pages.  I’ve picked LOVE.  

Second step: Find an old book or journal and create the cover.

 I decided to re-cycle an old partially used journal for this project.  That way I didn’t have to take time to create a journal cover.  Although the picture didn’t photo very well you can see it’s generic enough for love.

Re-cycled Journal Cover

I did pretty good at keeping my 2011 New Year’s Resolutions.  It’s good to look back and feel a sense of accomplishment.

2011 I resolved to:

  1. Loose weight. I lost weight several times.
  2. Take better care of myself. I got my hair cut regularly and took showers.
  3. Stay on top of my billing and expense accounts.  I got on top of the first 7 months last month and my expense records are neatly thrown in a box and maybe other places.
  4. Eat healthier. Everytime I ate candy or cookies or ice cream I’ve washed it down with nuts (protein)
  5. Keep my desk organized. I’ve organized it several times a month (well, maybe every other month . . . or so
  6. Make How -To -Videos for this blog. I’ve thought about them A LOT.
  7. Re-cycle and cut down on waste.  I put ALL paper & plastic into the re-cycle bin, composted, and turned off the water when I brushed my teeth.

All in all 2011 was a pretty good year for resolutions, wouldn’t you say?

I think I will keep these same 7 resolutions all over again for 2012.

Maybe instead of “love” I should pick “re-cycle”?


Sketchbook Challenge: Bag Book Bag Lady

MIss Vida Video Presents

Here’s an EASY, fun way to start out your Bag Book (See Tutorial, How to Make a Bag Book

https://judithwesterfield.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/sketchbook-challenge-making-my-bag-book/ )

And as long as I was challenging you to do something creative and different I thought I’d better put my money where my mouth is or at least a mouth where the Book Bag is . . . you’ll see . . .

My first video! Herrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre goes! (Tell me what you think.  Unless what you think isn’t what I want to hear, then don’t tell me)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hhdk-crubzk

Living with God, Aliens and Pain

I was asked to give the keynote address for the 2009 Fibromyalgia Awareness Day at Cal State Fullerton.  I’ve given it many times since.  Here’s an abbreviated version:

I became symptomatic in 1996 when Fibromyalgia was considered a Hysterical Middle Aged Woman’s SYNDROME.  By the time I was diagnosed I met that criteria.  Doctor after doctor with a wink and a knowing pat on my shoulder (at least that was what I perceived) let me know nothing was PHYSICALLY wrong with me.
I decided I was inhabited by Aliens who were using me as a Southern California time-share.  It gave me comfort to find the cause.
Years passed, the Aliens stayed and the pain turned into depression, into exhaustion, into despair.  My body betrayed me, my mind fogged, the medical community  abandoned me,  family & friends were powerless. 
I was both sustained and drained by my psychotherapy practice.
Raised as a non-practicing Jew, whose father and mother were professed agnostics. I now had no faith – in my body, mind or a God. I had nothing to hold onto for comfort much less hope.
I didn’t matter.  Now THAT’S a depressing thought which I suspected was part of the Alien’s plot to render me completely helpless & hopeless in order to take over my time-share real estate.
I didn’t matter.  There was no purpose to my life.  I started making pictures: Ugly pictures, scribbling pictures, angry pictures.  I would paint and paste, scribble and scrawl without any conscious thought. 
Weeks later, months later, in some cases years later I would put words and meanings to my unconscious expression.  That body of work  turned out to be a visual document of my journey with the aliens.
I realized I had been mourning.  Grieving my loss of identity, a loss of purpose. I mourned for that energetic person: The one who worked a 60 hour week and went to school for two Master’s degrees; who jogged 10 miles in 100 degree heat; who saw 8 clients in a row and remembered the details of their lives a year later…

She was dead. I was angry. Now I had to check my appointment book to remind me of my clients’ names. I could work only for 3 hours before I had to take a nap.  Walking around the grocery store was exhausting.  I didn’t want to talk to anyone.  Holding the phone to my ear hurt my arms. Walking burned my feet. I didn’t make commitments other than work because I never knew how I would feel.

Life as I knew it was gone.  What was I?  Who was I?  Why was I here?  If there was a purpose to my having fibromyalgia it could only be an alien plot.

Without any pre-determined intent I drew a picture of my fibromyalgia:  Three eyes, three-tongues and spontaneously titled it “The Soul Slayer

Until that moment I had been focused on my body and mind, never my soul.   Since I’d been searching for the cause and a cure for my fibro for over a decade it was natural to now start searching for my soul.
Where does one look for a soul?  I went to synagogues and churches .  Found wonderful people but no soul – at least not mine.  I read about the world’s religions and searched SOUL on the internet.  I was sure that everyone else had a soul and it was only time that they discovered mine was missing.
Accidentally (maybe not?) I was introduced to a spiritual mentor, no more no less.  He was Baha’i, a faith I was familiar with but about which I knew only some basics.  He asked me to examine my life, my choices, my beliefs.  I had long known from a psychological perspective about my choices and beliefs but now that my mind and body had betrayed me it all rang hollow.
He told me to repeat out loud “Say, all are created by God” and “Thy Name is my healing.” each, 95 times every day. (95 is a sacred number to the Baha’is.)  There was nothing to lose.  Unlike everything else I had tried as a “cure” this Rx didn’t cost me a penny and had no side effects (or so I thought).   
I needed a time and place where my fogged brain would remember to repeat each of these sentences 95 times out loud.
So I started walking and repeating “Say, all are created by God” and “Thy name is my healing.” 95 times.  It took my mind off the pain in my legs & hips and burning feet as I walked.  I started talking to God.
beginnings of Faith – My Servant of God explained to me that ALL souls recognize each other in passing.  I smiled at everyone I passed wherever I went, secretly delighted their souls knew my soul, even if I didn’t.
Exercising, smiling, talking to God!  
I’m not sure I’ve mastered listening to God but suddenly at the ripe old age of 66 I discovered faith. 
Walking, talking and smiling may not be the cure for fibromyalgia but they are damn good medicine (God, forgive me for swearing  – it’s the only way I can underscore my point)  and faith that the Aliens can’t destroy me.  I’m much more than just a convenient timeshare.
My soul  knows.  I can live with that.

“Know thou that the soul of man is exalted above,  and is independent of all infirmities of body or mind. That a sick person showeth signs of weakness is due to the hindrances that interpose themselves between his soul and his body, for the soul itself remaineth unaffected by any bodily ailments.”

“Consider the light of the lamp. Though an external object may interfere with its radiance, the light itself continueth to shine with undiminished power. In like manner, every malady afflicting the body of man is an impediment that preventeth the soul from manifesting its inherent might and power. When it leaveth the body, however, it will evince such ascendancy, and reveal such influence as no force on earth can equal. Every pure, every refined and sanctified soul will be endowed with tremendous power, and shall rejoice with exceeding gladness.”

Tutorial, Processing Your Creative Journal Pages

Spontaneous Journaling
1. Find a photo of yourself at your CURRENT age.  (you can photo-copy the face)
2.From a magazine cut out the body of someone you would like to look like
3.  Paste your head/face on the body, pasting both in your journal.
NOW . . .
  • Focus your attention on your portrait picture.
  • Imagine that the portrait is communicating intuitively with you and she’s telling you something about herself
  • Imagine your portrait is dictating and you are writing down what it dictates:
  • Complete each statement below as quickly as possible
  • Do not think or judge, just write.
  • Do NOT edit, even if it makes no sense to you.
(This is what I spontaneously wrote  (in italics) when I looked at my picture)

I want you to know that I look terrible as a blond!
  • I think others will stare at me and not approve
  • I feel like having fun
  • I look like I don’t care what others think
  • I am happy that I don’t care what others think
  • I am sad I don’t have the guts to dress this way more often
  • I am fearful I am too old to ever dress this way
  • I am mad I was so conservative in my youth
  • I want                       to buy a wig and go incognito and listen to what people say about me
  • I look a bit foolish
  • I like to be myself
  • My secret is I shop in stores for teenagers wishing I was young enough to wear the crazy clothes

Processing
How do the statements reflect your current attitudes, situations, desires, life, hopes, fears etc.?
I’m a psychotherapist and I am not suppose to look or act crazy — at least not in public.  As my closest friends know I can be a bit, how should I say, whimisical. . . ., creative . . .  I love things that are a little out of the mainstream.  And I ADORE color.  The more colorful the better.   There is a big part of me that would just like to cut loose and wear anything I wanted.  My picture is telling me that not wanting to look foolish and people not approving is still a big enough part that it actually wins out most of the time
I think I need to talk to her more about my wardrobe.
 

 

Birth(day) of My Unconscious

My birthday is almost here.   Perhaps because I’m still sniffing, snorting, coughing, moaning & groaning from this cold that’s settled into my bronchial tubes, perhaps because of my fibro,  perhaps because every birthday reminds me of how short a time we spend on this planet I’m a bit down. Didn’t know it . . . until . . .

Since spending most of my days as a psychotherapist focusing on other people’s feelings, feelings, especially my own, are the last thing I want to pay attention to when I’m not working.  But since I’ve been facilitating Therapeutic Process Journaling Workshops I’ve stepped up my own creative journaling.

I keep telling my participants that their unconscious KNOWS what’s happening. Whether you intend it or not, unconscious messages come out in the journal pages.

As I was doing the cover of  a $1.00 notebook the picture of hands on a magazine cover seemed to be the right size and I liked the colors against the black and white notebook.  At least that’s what my conscious mind was focused on:  size & color.

When the cover was done it struck me that I wanted a helping hand.

I wasn’t feeling good physically or emotionally.  I also had been spending all my time at the office or alone with my computer – even neglecting Max and his walks.   I needed to reach out to family, friends.  And Max would add – take leash in hand and take him on walks! The cover left no room for doubt.

All that for $1.00 and glue!  Happy Birthday Judy.