Monthly Archives: June 2016

Waste Not, Want Not

As I’m done with Moleskine sketchbooks, I started hunting for an alternative and I found a couple of books in my house. I have no idea what one of them is, so I tested the paper by just layering¬†random watercolour washes in various strengths.

I quite liked the paper, but then I had wasted a page. So I decided to do today’s portrait over the top of my random colours.

Actually, I kind of like it ūüôā

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It’s Not Always in Our Control

I used to¬†love Moleskine watercolour sketchbooks, but I think I’m going to have to give up on them. This last one that I bought is, quite simply, rubbish.

The colours just sit on top of the paper and never seem to dry. So, even if you walk away and then come back and do something else for half an hour, the colours still bleed into each other and lose all their vibrancy.

It’s annoying, because when you find the perfect sketchbook, you¬†think you have it all sorted.

But, just as in every other facet of life, nothing stays the same, everything changes. The key is to be flexible and find a new way forward.

I’m almost at the end of this book so, with some sadness, I just ordered a¬†different brand.

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Emerging

I have been getting some lovely comments recently. Thank you.¬†It’s somehow comforting to think¬†there are others out there who are experiencing similar feelings to mine.

It helps, I think, to know that our particular problems are not unique. That we’re not alone, however much it might sometimes seem that way.

And it helps me to think that my explorations might be making a difference to someone else in some small way.

This past week has been a real blessing. I feel something has shifted. And it’s shifted because I did two things I don’t normally do:

  1. I questioned my beliefs.
  2. In a specific situation that has been causing me stress, I expressed my feelings honestly but without blame.

When I questioned my beliefs, I saw that things look very different if viewed from another angle. And I saw that my repetition of negative thoughts was a form of self-harm.

When I expressed myself honestly, the other person responded with understanding and kindness. And when that happened, I saw that I was loved.

Constantly thinking negative thoughts and failing to express my needs was a downward spiral – the more I did it, the further I sank.

And it turns out that the opposite is true. If you think positive thoughts and express yourself honestly and calmly, you start to move upwards Рlike swimming up from the bottom of a very deep lake.

It has only been one week and I am sure I will struggle again. But if I do, I plan to re-read these last few posts and hold on tight to what I have learned.

I hope you can do the same xxx

This is my first selfie done entirely without lines. It’s flawed in many ways, but I think it expresses the fluidity of my feelings just now, as I let go of the longstanding perceptions that have¬†not served me well.

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The Halfway Mark

I have been drawing/painting myself every day for 178 days. That’s exactly halfway through the year.

I’m not sure I thought I would get this far.

I don’t just mean that I didn’t expect to¬†manage 178 selfies (although I didn’t think I would). But I also didn’t think I would manage to start finding my way out of the depression and anxiety that was weighing me down at the start of the year.

I knew I didn’t want to take medication. Not that I think there is anything wrong with medication – I just knew it wasn’t right for me. Because I knew that, if I could unravel the causes of my unhappiness, I could start to sort myself out. And I knew that, for me, pills would just be a way of hiding from the things I needed to deal with.

I’m not done with my journey. I feel sure things will get harder again. But I do feel I have made major progress and my load feels lighter as a result. I’m kinder to myself than I was in January. I understand myself more than I did in January. And I like myself more than I did in January.

I couldn’t have said this even a month ago, but I can say it now: I’m excited to see where I am by the time we get to December.

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This is 178 in a 365-day series of self portraits. If you’re a glutton for punishment, you can see the others here.

The Stories We Tell

I had a drink with my closest friend on Friday night.

Judith¬†is the happiest person I know. I don’t mean she’s bouncy and perky¬†in an annoying way. She’s just deeply, firmly, contented. And she radiates that contentment in a way that always makes you feel better for just being with her.

She told me that, a few days earlier, she had experienced an¬†epiphany . She realized that the reason she is so happy is that she doesn’t want anything that she doesn’t already have.

She has kids who have turned out OK, a husband she loves, good friends, and a nice house.

None of it is perfect, she was quick to say. Her kids aren’t top of their class, her husband is grumpy sometimes and doesn’t do enough around¬†the house, and her home is nothing fancy. But she is content with it all anyway¬†and that, she believes, is the key.

I think she’s right.

My lovely therapist Mandy is making me aware of the stories I tell myself, and – more important – she’s making me understand how those stories affect everything about my life.

Take Judith¬†as an example. She¬†just rolls her eyes at her husband’s laziness around the house and his grumpy temperament, focuses on the things she does love about him, and gets on with being happy.

But what if she couldn’t just let it go? What if she interpreted his grumpiness and his laziness as a reflection of how much he loved her? And what if she told herself that it was her fault (if only she was better, prettier, funnier, or sexier, he would act differently)?

If she did that, she’d start to feel sad. And the sadness would feed itself – because each time he was grumpy, she would take it personally and then she would tell herself it was her fault because she wasn’t better, prettier etc. etc.¬†So my happy friend would become sad. And yet the circumstances of her life wouldn’t be any different than they are now. She would just be telling herself a different story.

My situation is nothing like Judith’s. My problems are different problems. But the model is the same: we are the stories we tell ourselves.

Having realized this, I’m trying to figure out how to tell myself a different story. The one I’ve been telling is so deeply ingrained that I think this may take some time.

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What Have We Done?

World markets crashing. Pound plummeting. Scotland planning to leave. Recession on the way.

All just to protest against the elites?

Sadly, they won’t be the ones to pay the price. They never are.

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