#BohoBerryChallenge Day 17: Unfinished Business

As I’ve said before, I’ve kept my goals small this year – pretty much everything has been about my gradual recovery from mental illness – but I do feel there are some loose ends:

  • My weight has crept up and up since I left hospital in February, so I need to do something about that – after Christmas!
  • I still have a bad back, which makes standing and walking for any length of time incredibly painful, so I need to go back to the doctor about that.
  • I really want to make a success of my Etsy shop, so I need to do some research and have a proper think about how to do that.

Finally, I want to write to a few of the people who have been involved in my care over the last year, to thank them for their support and to let them know how well I’m doing. To do that, though, would feel like saying, ‘I’m back to normal,’ but I know that’s not the case, and it’s not even what I’m aiming for, so I need to figure out exactly how I feel and how I want to express it.

(Image Credit: Pixabay)

#BohoBerryChallenge Day 16: Bad Habits Broken

As well as helping me to form good habits, bullet journaling and habit tracking have helped me identify problem areas in my life and helped me to think of ways to address them. For example: I find it difficult to do my morning meditation and prayer when everyone is home on the weekend or during school holidays. This has led me to figure out ways of working them into my day at such times. Also, using habit tracking, I’ve identified my true junk food weaknesses: chocolate, crisps and ice cream. This has helped me plan a way of addressing them – more on that in the New Year. Regularly writing down all the things I’m grateful for each day has also helped me to think more positively and realistically and has given me a more joyful approach to life.

Habit tracking isn’t just about ticking boxes; it’s about being mindful of what I do and how I approach life, and it’s helping me change the things I need to change to be more mentally and physically healthy. As they say: measurement drives behaviour …

The A – Z of Artful Journaling: The Idea

Toward the end of last year, when I was very ill, journaling became detrimental to what little health I had left. I spent hours ruminating and writing down all my thoughts and feelings, and it made my depression and anxiety worse not better.

It was when I was admitted to hospital in January that I stopped journaling, and I didn’t start again until September, when I was feeling a lot better and had some really positive topics to journal about: recovery, wellness and creativity.

Back in the Spring, April or May I think it was, I discovered arting and crafting tutorials on Youtube and started binge watching them, and gradually I began trying out the things I was seeing. I’ve always been creative and able to paint and draw, so I picked up the techniques pretty quickly and soon started creating on a daily basis. Long story short … I now make and sell handmade greetings cards, and I’ve also been getting into art journaling and, what I like to call, artful journaling. Art Journaling appears to be about making mixed media spreads in fairly hefty books, often adding a simple motivational quote. Artful journaling is a bit different; it’s more about writing as you would in a diary while also artfully decorating the pages, either before or after writing. Of course, there is some crossover between the two, but I’m definitely drawn more to the artful journaling end of the spectrum. If you want to know what I mean, you can take a look at some of the recent videos on my YouTube channel, or check out Ali Brown – she has inspired me more than anyone. James Burke is also a must watch.

Anyhoo … in the New Year, I’m planning on shifting the focus of this blog from recovering from mental illness to maintaining wellness through creativity, mindfulness, prayerful meditation and good planning, so I’m currently putting together a list of topics to blog about – artful journaling is going to be one of them and will probably be a big focus for a while. I’m going to talk about how it’s helped me find joy in journaling again, how it’s helping me be mindful of my thoughts and feelings and of all the good things in my life, and how it’s given me freedom in my art and writing once more. I’ll also be publishing some ‘how to’ posts and making my own video tutorials for YouTube.

If this is something you’re interested in, do let me know, and if there’s anything in particular you’d like me to blog about, then just give me a shout, and I’ll see what I can do.

Thanks for reading! x

Artful Journaling Blog Post Master List

#BohoBerryChallenge Day 15: Good Habits Formed

This year, I’ve learned that just wanting to change is not enough; you actually have to make a change. It’s obvious now I think about it.

Bullet Journaling and using habit trackers have been invaluable in making changes and getting into good habits. It’s helped me switch from an all-or-nothing approach to life to a one-day-at-a-time approach. There’s no falling off a wagon, because there’s no wagon to fall off. There’s just the day-by-day things that contribute to my wellness, things such as daily prayer and meditation, taking mindful moments throughout the day, leaving the house on a regular basis, getting up around the same time each day, and going to bed around the same time each day, daily creativity , drinking enough fluid, taking my medication. I’ve been doing these things every day for months and months now, and I’ve never felt more well. They’ve become good habits that have now stuck. I won’t stop tracking them though because I don’t want to slip out of them.

#BohoBerryChallenge Day 14: Smart Decisions

The smartest decision I made this year was agreeing to be admitted to a mental health unit as an inpatient. (Although, in hindsight, I have the feeling that had I not agreed I might have been sectioned under the mental health act.) In hospital, I received the help I needed. They established me on medication that helped rather than hindered; they made me feel safe; they fed me and nourished me; they gave me space and time to start healing; and they started me down the path of developing healthy thinking habits. Finally, they got me to a place where I felt safe enough to go home, and they handed me over to the community team who supported through the next stage of my recovery.

Another smart decision I made this year, was becoming a student at my local NHS Recovery College. This is a brilliant initiative that helps service users take responsibility for their recovery by teaching them about mental health, mental illness and recovery and by allowing them to explore the three strands of recovery: hope, agency and opportunity. I have learned so much about myself at these courses and now feel so much more resilient and equipped to deal with whatever life throws at me.

(Image Credit: Pixabay)

#BohoBerryChallenge Day 13: Break-Through Moment

I don’t think I’ve had one break-through moment this year. Rather, my recovery is coming about via a series of small success … maybe steps-forward would be a better way of saying it. There have been a few setbacks along the way, but the cumulative effect of all those steps forward is greater than the cumulative effect of the setbacks. If there was any turning point for me, it was back in January when I begged my husband to get me some help because I knew I would cross a line without it. I guess my recovery really began after that, when I was admitted to hospital and finally getting the care and support I needed.

(Image Credit: Pixabay)

#BohoBerryChallenge Day 12: New Skills Learned

2017 has been a year of rediscovering, honing and learning new arting and crafting skills. I’ve always drawn and dabbled and I learned how to paint with watercolour a couple of years ago, but this year, I’ve tried lots of different media and methods: acrylics, gelatos, inks, stamping, dip pens, stenciling, fancy colouring pencils, hand lettering, neocolours, brush pens … the list goes on. One of my favourite things has been learning how to draw faces: realistic and whimsical. In the new year, I’ll be going to our local art centre to take my first ever life drawing class. I’ve always wanted to be able to draw people properly, mainly because I’ve wanted to illustrate my own stories. Maybe now, I’m developing the skills to do so.

#BohoBerryChallenge Day 11: Progress Toward Goals

I’ve been weary of setting myself big goals this year. My main aim has been to continue with my recovery from mental illness. One of the ways I’ve gone about this has been to use a habit tracker in my bullet journal to help me regularly do the things that I know will contribute to my wellness. Things like: getting up at the same time every day, going to bed by 11pm, taking my medication, doing a 10 minute Headspace meditation and praying using the Pray as You Go app, drinking enough water, going outside for a walk, being creative. I’m going to carry on with this in 2018, but I feel ready to set myself some bigger goals – not too big though!

#BohoBerryChallenge Day 10: Money Well Spent

I don’t usually spend a lot of money on myself. I don’t buy clothes very often, only when what I have no longer fits or is falling apart. I don’t wear makeup or perfume. I don’t smoke or drink. (Although, I have to admit: I am partial to Costa Coffee.) I do have Amazon Prime and Amazon Music accounts, but the whole family uses those, and I hardly ever buy fiction books; I use my local library.

This year, though, I have spent rather a lot on arts and crafts supplies, but it’s been money very well spent. When writing and journaling was painful and unhelpful, the supplies I’ve bought allowed me to explore my illness and recovery through drawing and painting. The bright colours and bold patterns have brought me joy and happiness. Sharing my work on Instagram and Facebook has opened the door to a wonderfully supportive and caring online community. Making and selling greetings cards has given me a new sense of hope, purpose and utility. Actually, thinking about it, the money I’ve made on card sales, I’ve then spent on art supplies, so it’s just about paying for itself. Bonus!

“Hopeful people surround themselves with people, colour, sounds and work that nourish them.” Anon.