Planning Out Loud: W/B 19 March 2018

Hello! Welcome to this weekly Plan With Me video in which I get this week all decorated and set-up and my appointments, events and tasks planned out in my bullet journal Thanks for watching! xxx

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Crafting Out Loud: Etsy News

It’s been a hard few days. I’ve had to deal with lots of school-related stress involving the kids, and despite doing all my wellness stuff, I’ve hit a brick wall and am utterly exhausted. As a consequence, I’ve not done much in the way of artwork this week – I’ve not done much of anything. Just been resting and doing only what I’ve felt like doing. There are lots of jobs to catch up on now, but it’s the weekend so we can all chill out a bit. Sat down this afternoon, to do some painting but didn’t know what to paint. Played about with my watercolours for a bit then this happened. Seems apt. Anyhoo, I’ve popped it in my Etsy shop if anyone’s interested. Step this way …

“You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot keep spring from coming.” Pablo Neruda

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Recovering Out Loud: Wellness Toolkit Update

Hello! In this video I give you a tour of the latest version of my Wellness Toolkit and use it to inspire a future-spread in my artful journal. My Wellness Tool Kit has been really important in my recovery from severe depression. I hope you find something helpful in it too. Thanks for watching! xxx

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Mama Makes: ‘Dream Big Little One’ Bookmarks

Hello! Welcome to this video, in which I make a bookmark using Spectrum Noir Aqua Tint Inks, Isopropyl Alcohol, Prima Metallic Accents and stamps from the new Mama Makes set: Woodland Friends. Thanks for watching! xxx

Woodland Friends Stamp Set is available from Mama Makes.

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The A – Z of Artful Journaling: F is for Future-Spreads

When I decorate my artful journal spreads, I like to do a bunch at a time, so that I have a few days’ worth of pages prepped. That way, I can write on spirit-lifting pages whenever I need to. Recently, I’ve also started prepping future-spreads. By ‘future-spreads’ I mean pages that are readied much further ahead in my journal – on pages I won’t reach for weeks, even months.

The reason I’ve done this, is that I thought it would be helpful – to my recovery from mental illness and for my wellness in general – to have ready-made prompts, dotted throughout my journal, reminding me about things that are important to me and my wellbeing. So far, I’ve done a future-spread for things that bring me hope (above) and one for things for which I’m grateful (below).

I also plan to make some future-spreads on the following themes:

  • People I love
  • Places I like
  • Songs I enjoy
  • Favourite foods
  • Soothing scents
  • Best things about this day/week/month/year

As well as these, I’m going to dot some inspirational quotes around too, many of which I picked up on Recovery College courses.

Now that I think about it, what I’m actually doing is integrating my journal with my Wellness Tool Kit: a book in which I wrote down lots of recovery prompts – you can watch my YouTube video about it here. I haven’t felt the need to refer to my WTK much lately, partly because I’ve internalised so much of what’s in there, but I do think it’s important to keep overtly reminding myself of these things, so I don’t forget what’s good for me!

How about you? Do you ever do future-spreads? How do you remind yourself of the things that keep you well?

Thanks for reading! See you soon. x

Artful Journaling Blog Post Master List

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Mental Health Monday: Holding the Hope – Part Two

In last week’s Mental Health Monday post, I began sharing some of the lessons I’ve learned about hope and its role in recovery, and I said that this week, I’d write about the cycles of hope and hopelessness. So, here goes …

Both hope and hopelessness can be viewed as cycles, or maybe spirals would be a better illustration. Hope can help us spiral upward, whereas hopelessness is a downward spiral.

Let’s look at hope first: when we have a sense of hope, we believe that change is possible, and this leads us to take responsibility for setting goals and for asking for support when we need it. As a consequence, we learn that we have a measure of control over our lives; we develop a sense of agency and feel empowered. Hope becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy – positive change occurs, which in turn gives us an even greater sense of hope. We spiral upward.

Now, let’s look at hopelessness: when we lose hope, we believe that things are hopeless, that change isn’t possible. As a consequence, we abdicate responsibility and learn to be helpless. Hopelessness becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy – nothing changes, or maybe things actually get worse. Our negative beliefs about ourselves and about our situations are reinforced and we become more hopeless. We spiral downward.

I know that before my admission to hospital, I was stuck in a downward spiral of hopelessness. I’d been hopeful when I’d first gone to my doctor, but that hope had been eroded by repeated set-backs. I wouldn’t say that I’d totally abdicated responsibility for my life, but I knew I’d reached the end of my own resources and needed serious help. Looking back, I realise that asking for that ‘serious help’ and agreeing to hospital admission was an act of hope. I guess that’s were I first started the long, slow spiral back up. Getting my medication right was a big part of the beginning of my recovery, as was knowing that I was in a safe place while the doctors tinkered with it, but another big part was the attitude of the health care support workers there. They were all convinced I’d get better and helped me to feel that I had some degree of control over my life, even in a mental hospital, even if it was only choosing what I wanted to eat, or whether to go to workshops or not, or what day to do my laundry. It was tiny things like these that kept me afloat, kept me moving. And then once I came out of hospital, my community support worker was relentlessly positive about my future, even when I hit a couple of bumps in the road. There was also the Recovery College – a whole organisation built on the premise of hope, that recovery is possible and probable – which gave me the knowledge and language I needed to take back full responsibility for my life. And through it all were my friends and family, holding the hope for me when I couldn’t hold it for myself.

So what’s to stop me flipping back into the downward spiral of hopelessness the next time I hit a bump in the road? Well, I think the knowledge and experience I’ve gained over the last year has definitely made me stronger and more resilient. I know from first hand experience that it’s possible to return from rock-bottom, and from where I am now, I can look down into the darkness that once engulfed me and not be afraid. I might slip a bit once in a while, but I’m now equipped with improved skills and much better climbing gear than before. Plus I’ve come to recognise that I’m in a team of fellow climbers who are all willing to offer each other a leg-up when we need one.

Sorry if that climbing metaphor sounds a bit vague, neat or even twee! Next week, I’ll pick it apart a bit and talk in more concrete terms about how it manifests in my day-to-day life. See you then?

Thanks for reading! xxx

You can read more of my Mental Health Monday posts here.

(Image Source: Pixabay)

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The Little Paper Tree: Balloon Birthday Cards

Hello! And welcome to another card-making tutorial from me, Natalie. I thoroughly enjoyed making these birthday cards because I got to play with my two favourite mediums: watercolour and embossing powders. I really like this stamp set from Avery Elle too; it’s so versatile – you can create fun birthday cards for both the young and the young-at-heart! A lot of people seem to be intimidated by watercolour as it has a reputation for being hard to master, but it’s not at all. It can definitely be unpredictable, but once you accept that, you can have a lot of fun just letting it do its thing …

To read the rest of the tutorial, please visit The Little Paper Tree’s blog.

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Planning Out Loud: W/B 12 March 2018

Hello! Welcome to my third weekly Plan With Me video in which I get this week all set-up and my appointments, events and tasks planned out in my bullet journal Thanks for watching! xxx

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Mama Makes: ‘Here for You Always’ Card

Hello! This is my first tutorial as part of Loti’s Mama Makes Design Time. I’m really happy to be part of the team and to be sharing this card with you, which I made using a sentiment stamp from the ‘Sending Hugs’ stamp set.

You will need:

  • 5” x 7” white card blank
  • 4.5” x 6.5” dark puple cardstock
  • 4” x 6” light purple cardstock
  • 2.5” x 4.5” white cardstock
  • Sewing machine with white thread or a white gel pen …

To read the rest, please visit the Mama Makes Blog.

Thanks for reading! xxx

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Mindfulness: A New Notebook

I’m writing this post on Friday, rather than yesterday because I wasn’t sure what to write about for this week’s Mindfulness, Meditation, Prayer and Planning post. Normally, ideas jump out at me, but not this week, not until today.

This afternoon, my husband returned from a week-long business trip. He always buys us little gifts when he’s away – sometimes is stroopwafels from Amsterdam, but this time it was pocky sticks (for the kids) and a beautiful, beautiful traveler’s notebook (for me) from Japan. To say I’m over the moon is an understatement.

For those not in the know, a traveler’s notebook (aka TN) is a simple leather cover strung with elastic bands which hold several notebooks (aka inserts) in place. The idea is that it keeps everything together and protects the contents from wear and tear while your out and about. I’ve had an A5 TN for about a year. For a while I kept my bullet journal (a Leuchtturm1917), a sketchbook and my Wellness Toolkit in it, but now I keep my bullet journal separate and use my A5 TN for storing sketchbooks and paper samples, so I’ve always got something to hand for drawing or painting on. It’s a neat, simple but addictive system. If YouTube is anything to go by, it’s very easy to get sucked down this particular rabbit hole – you can buy TNs in all sorts of sizes and colours, with and without stitching, with and without pockets, with and without pen-loops. The list goes on.

So what’s this got to do with mindfulness? Well, once upon a time, when I used to write a lot of fiction, I carried a little notebook around with me in which I jotted down my observations with the intention of using them in my writing. I’d see a leaf being swept along by the breeze, and I’d make a note of how it seemed to skip across the pavement like a child on its way to the park. I’d see a punnet of strawberries on a market stall and write a quick line about how they sparkled like jewels in a treasure chest. I’d hear a magpie chattering in a tree and note down how it sounded like machine-gun fire. I’ve not written fiction for quite some time, but recently I’ve felt the words calling me again, and now that I’ve got this passport-size notebook (which was created for the express purpose of being carried about) I’ve got something in which to jot down all those out-and-about observations again. And you can’t observe if you’re not paying attention, and paying attention is the very essence of mindfulness.

Not only will this notebook remind me to be mindful, it will give me somewhere to record the observations of my mindful moments.

And suddenly you know: it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings. (Meister Eckhart)

How about you? Have you got somewhere special to jot down your obserations?

Thanks for reading! Catch you soon. xxx

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