Crafting Out Loud: Gratitude Journal Spread

Hello! In today’s video I create a gratitude spread in my Artful Journal using lots of different media, most of which are available from The Little Paper Tree – there’s a supply list with links in the video description on YouTube. Thanks for watching!

The official bit: This video is not sponsored. I was not paid to promote these products or The Little Paper Tree. I chose these items myself and bought them with my own money although, as a member of their design team, I did receive a 25% discount on my order.

Writing Out Loud: Incowrimo 2018

It’s almost the end of February, which means it’s almost the end of International Correspondence Writing Month. I signed up to do InCoWriMo on the spur of the moment – which is pretty much how I sign up to every challenge – and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to complete it, but I have … and a day early to boot. I’ve actually written and delivered 35 items of correspondence. Most have been to recipients in the UK. Some are winging their way across the world as I type. Most have been to people I’ve never met. Some have been to family and friends. Most have been letters. Some have been postcards, and a few have been little thank you notes left for the staff in cafes. All of them have been handmade and handwritten by me.

I’ve had a blast making, writing and sending everything. I started off not quite knowing what to write about, but I decided to just share the kinds of things I write about here and to share some of the quotes that I’ve found helpful over the course of my recovery from mental illness. I wanted to spark a little joy and hope in people’s lives if I could. As I said above, I didn’t know most of the people to whom I was writing – I got the names and addresses from the sign-up sheet in the Boho Berry Tribe Facebook Group – but I figured everyone can do with more joy and hope in their lives, so that would be a good place to start. I’ve had a few replies, which have been the icing on the cake. I shall reply to those replies in March. I’ve missed writing letters – I haven’t had a pen pal since I was a teenager 30 years ago – so I want to make it a habit and write one letter a week from now on. I think that’s doable, and I’m really looking forward to getting to know my new letter-writing chums a bit better.

There were a couple of extra-special letter that I wrote this month. These were to people who, unknown to them, have had a massive impact on my recovery. It’s through the things they’ve shared online that I’ve, in part, been able to discover wellness, resilience and purpose, particularly through artful journaling and bullet journaling. I figured it was about time I said a proper ‘thank you’ to them and gave them the encouragement they deserve.

All things being equal, I’ll definitely be doing InCoWriMo again next year. How about you? Do you write letters? What kinds of things do you write about in yours?

Thanks for reading! Catch you soon. xxx

Mental Health Monday: Regaining Control

It’s just over a year ago now that I was discharged from hospital, having spent nearly six weeks being treated for severe depression, and it’s almost a year ago that I attended my first Recovery College course: Regaining Control – It’s Up to Me. I remember feeling like a zombie as I walked into the room and found an empty seat at the table, wary of the other people already there – my life was still a foggy haze, and I had no real idea how to get out of it – but by the end of the two-and-a-half hour session, I had a sense that I could regain control of my life and start moving in a vaguely forward direction.

My recovery has been a long, gradual and mostly gentle process. It started in hospital, where, for the most part, I felt my views were listened to and my wishes, respected. The psychologists were particularly empowering as they took the time to chat to me about all that was on offer in hospital, and left the decision about what to go to, completely up to me. Since leaving hospital,  I’ve continued to be encouraged and supported by health care professionals (especially my Community Support Worker) and friends and family alike, and as a result, and as I’ve learned more and more about mental health, mental illness and recovery, I’ve moved from being in the passenger seat to being in the driving seat of my recovery. I guess I’m one of the mental health care system’s success stories!

The ‘Regaining Control – It’s Up to Me’ course was a great one to start my Recovery College journey on. We explored how taking personal responsibility can contribute to not only recovery, but also to staying well. We looked at how it can be the first step toward achieving personal freedom and regaining control of our lives. For me, the severe depression and anxiety I was experiencing before I was admitted into hospital was triggered (in part) by a lack of control in a certain area of my life, and, as the illness took hold, everything in my life, and especially in my mind and body, felt as if it were spinning out of control. It seemed to me that I was trapped in a never-ending downward spiral of fear. Fear bred more fear bred more fear bred more fear …

I couldn’t have started my recovery without my admission to hospital – I needed to be somewhere safe while the doctors figured out how best to help me – but once I was out of hospital and had started attending Recovery College courses, I started taking back control of my life, started making decisions for myself, started doing things again that I’d had to stop doing before. The fear didn’t go away completely (It still hasn’t, if I’m honest.) but I feel I have a form of control over my life, not a tight control – that was part of the problem before – but a kind of light control as if I’m holding it in the palm of my hand rather than clutching it in a death grip!

One of the quotes from the Regaining Control course that’s stuck with me is:

Accept personal responsibility; achieve personal freedom.

I love that. I’ve realised that although the medical profession can facilitate my recovery, it’s up to me to implement the changes I need to make. I have to accept responsibility and do what needs to be done. Putting this into practice by keeping up with my wellness habits, is one way I’ve taken personal responsibility and am achieving personal freedom. The things I do everyday are helping to keep me well and are making me more resilient. I am not dependent on others for my recovery. I am in control of my actions – no one else can live my life for me.

Another quote that’s stuck with me is:

Responsibility is the ability to choose your response.

I can choose how I respond to challenges and triggers now. I don’t have to react or over-react; I can respond appropriately. That sounds simple, but simple does not mean easy. Responding appropriately is something I’m going to have to work on for a long time to come, but I am choosing to work on it – that’s me taking personal responsibility and choosing freedom over fear.

As well as the concepts of responsibility and control, we explored things that we should take responsibility for and things that we shouldn’t take responsibility for – but I’ll save that for another post as this one is getting long!

To finish, I’ll leave you with a few more quotes from this course, as they do a great job of summing up the journey I’m on.

The price of control of one’s life is personal responsibility.

You are the expert on yourself. You are best placed to know what you want and need.

You will get more out of life and your recovery if you take personal responsibility for your wellness.

Your life is going to happen anyway … wouldn’t you rather have the major say in it?

Thanks for reading! Wishing you every blessing. xxx

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

(Image source: Pixabay)

The Little Paper Tree: Gratitude Journal Spread

Hello there! I am so happy to be back with another tutorial for you all. This time, I’ve used some of the goodies available at The Little Paper Tree to create a gratitude spread in my journal. Over the last year, I’ve come to really appreciate the benefits of recording the things I’m grateful for, and, to help me with that, I’ve started dotting gratitude spreads through my journal, so that when I reach those pages, I’ve got somewhere lovely to write about all the blessings in my life. If you’d like to try recreating this spread, you’ll find all the supplies linked below. My journal is an A5 68gsm Tomoe River Paper notebook, but you can use whatever you have. Just make sure it doesn’t turn to mush when it gets wet!

Visit The Little Paper Tree to read the rest …

The A – Z of Artful Journaling: M is for Masking

Masking is a great way of adding texture and shape to your journaling pages. Masking is simply to covering an area with something to prevent paint or ink colouring that area. Here are a few ways I use masking in my artful journaling. Click on the images for a closer look.

 

 

 

Spray paint or ink through a stencil, remove the stencil and then dry it with a hairdryer or heat tool.

 

 

Use craft punches to punch out shapes from card, place the shapes on your journal page and spray with paint or ink. To prevent smudging and smearing, it’s a good idea to use tweezers to pick up the masks afterward.

 

You can use art masking fluid in your journal. (Test it on a sacrificial page first to make sure it’s not going to ruin your paper.) Masking fluid often comes in pots, bottles and pens. Each one has its pros. With pens and bottles, you can draw and write freehand or using a stencil. With the pots you can dip in paint brushes (Not your best ones!) or even toothbrushes. You can then paint or splatter onto the page.

 

 

 

 

Once the masking fluid is dry, you can paint over it with watercolour or other water-based media. And once the paint is dry, you can remove the masking fluid with an eraser or just by gently rubbing your finger over it.

 

 

 

 

For a really crisp edge, you can use tape as a mask – masking tape and washi tape are the best, as they are designed to peel off without damaging the paper. This method is ideal for applying ink as you can simply smooth it over the tape as if it wasn’t there. You can also cut or tear bits of card or paper into any shape and place them on the paper before spraying with paint or ink. Again, use tweezers to pick up the mask.

 

 

 

 

Wood-chip shapes make excellent masks. Obviously, the darker the spray you use, the lighter the un-sprayed area will appear.

 

 

 

 

Peel-off stickers also make great masks and work especially well with ink applicators. Again, test this method to make sure it won’t tear your paper.

 

 

 

 

You can make a mask out of all sorts of things. Take a look through your recycling bin and rummage through old food packaging. I used a piece of cardboard from a packet of lasagna once!

 

 

 

 

So, how about you? What do you use as masks when you journal? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading! Bye for now. xxx

Artful Journaling Blog Post Master List

Mama Makes: Friendship Card Tutorial

Hello there, and welcome to my first card tutorial post as a member of the Mama Makes Design Team. To create this card, I used two stamps from the Mama Makes Forever Friendship Stamp Set, which is available from their shop for £9.99.

If you’d like to recreate this card you will need.

  • the Forever Friendship Stamps Set
  • a Black ink pad (I used Stazon)
  • a Stamping platform or acrylic block
  • a black permanent marker
  • a 5 x 5 inch kraft card blank
  • a 3.5 x 4.5 inch piece of white card
  • a small piece of white card
  • a slightly larger piece of black card
  • acorner punch
  • a paper trimmer or scissors
  • stencil (mine had a snakeskin pattern)
  • Distress Inks in Victorian Velvet and Picked Raspberry
  • Ink applicators
  • a water mister
  • Paper towel
  • Washi tape
  • Double-sided tape, glue or tape runner
  • Nuvo Drops

To begin, I used Stazon black ink to stamp my sentiment and image onto the piece of small white card. Once the ink had dried, I used my corner punch to round the corners. Using my tape runner, I mounted this onto the slightly larger piece of black card, which I cut to size using my trimmer. Finally, I rounded the corners with my punch.

For the background, I taped the larger piece of white card down on  a clipboard and then taped my stencil over the top. With my ink applicator, I applied Victorian Velvet distress ink through the stencil varying the intensity of the colour to create interest. After removing the stencil, I added a layer of Picked Raspberry around the middle area. To ‘distress’ the ink, I misted on some water and left it a moment before mopping it up and leaving the card to dry. You can use a heat tool or hair dryer to reduce the drying time.

Next, I lined up three strips of washi tape across the card about a third of the way up. I chose this tape because it went well with the distress inks I’d used. I attached the sentiment piece to the front of the card using foam squares so that it stood out and added dimension. After taping the whole piece to the front of the card, I decided it didn’t quite pop enough, so I ran a permanent black marker pen around the outside to create a border. To finish the whole thing off, I applied dots of Nuvo Drops in a swoosh around the sentiment piece. This added some glitter and shine and a little extra dimension.

So there you have it! Do pop along to the Mama Makes Store and have a look at their stamps. They’re lovely. I can’t wait to make some more cards with mine!

Thanks for reading! Bye for now. x

The official bit:

I received the Forever Friendship stamp set for free, as I am a member of the Mama Makes Design Team.

Planning Out Loud: Half-Term Holiday Habits

My current wellness tracker is looking a bit patchy. For the first half of the month, I wasn’t doing very well with not eating any junk, but I’m okay with that – what’s done is done. I wasn’t eating loads of junk anyway, just the occasional packet of crisps or ice cream. I do need to rein myself in though, so I’ve given up junk (crisps, cake, chocolate, ice cream, popcorn, biscuits etc) for Lent. I use Lent as a time to prepare for Easter, so giving up junk is not just about healthy eating, it’s about reorienting myself toward God and taking care of the body that he gave me. For this very same reason, I’m going to do better with exercise too, but it’s tricky at the moment as my back is very painful when I stand or walk for more than a few minutes. I know that the first step to increasing my exercise level must be to go back and see the doctor – it’s one of my goals this month.

The other area where my tracker is looking a bit patchy is in the Headspace and Pray as You Go app rows. There have been a few days already this month when I’ve just forgotten to do them, and I’ve only remembered when I’ve got into bed. Usually, Monday to Friday during term-time – I never forget to meditate and pray using these apps. It’s part of my routine. I get the kids up, fed, washed, brushed, dressed and on their way to school and then I spend half an hour or so in prayer and meditation. It’s the weekends and school holidays that are when I forget. I’m out of routine, and the house is full of people, so it’s hard to find a quite spot where I’ll be undisturbed. I know it’s not a big deal if I miss one every now and then – after all, I am far more mindful than I used to be, and I speak to God far more often during the day – but it’s easy to fall out of the habit of spending focused time just listening for that still, small voice of calm. I really don’t want that to happen.

So, what to do about it? Well, this morning, I was woken up by my alarm at 7.30am, and after a few minutes of waking up properly, I decided to have my Headspace and Pray as You Go time before getting out of bed. It wasn’t just a box-checking exercise; it was so that I started my day right, and didn’t just launch myself into it without a second thought. This was a much better way to begin the day – I’ll do it again tomorrow, but what about future weekends and holidays?

Towards the end of each month, I sit down with my planner and look forward at the coming month to see if there are any events or issues that may cause me stress or anxiety. I then write them in my Hazard Plan and jot down ideas for how I can manage my stress levels. I’ve realised that I could add things that may simply derail my routines too. As well as having a Term-Time Routine, I need to formulate a Weekend Routine. I could also do with having a School Holiday Routine, so that when I write my monthly Hazard Plans and see that I have a school holiday coming up, I can refer to my School Holiday Routine collection, so that I don’t forget to do what I need to do to maintain my wellness. Now, I just need to figure out what routines will work best and when …

How about you? How do you handle change of routines when it comes to wellness habits?

Thanks for reading! See you soon. x