Snail Mail Ideas: Watercolor Card

Watercolor Ideas for Snail Mail Cards

Friendly snail mail is such a delight to receive. A lot of times it seems like snail mail is endless bills, ads, and catalogs, but when I get a card from a friend, or a handwritten letter, or small package, it just brightens my day. When I was a child, my sister invented a family mailbox system and we loved making mail for each other and checking our little boxes throughout the day to see if anything had arrived!! I still get that thrill when I check my informed delivery at the USPS website and see some special mail is waiting for me.

Some people call these special deliveries “happy mail” and I love that name for them. I have started sending out some happy mail to family members and friends and am excited to see where my correspondences may lead.

For my snail mail of the week, I made a watercolor card using this tutorial I found on youtube. I am just beginning with watercoloring and need a lot of practice. But what better way to practice than making a picture for a supportive friend!! If you feel like the picture you paint is no good, send it to your best friend or someone who loves you unconditionally. They will be happy to hear from you, not mind a couple mistakes, and would like a chance to encourage you in your art practice!!

Keeping in touch with our contacts is more important than ever in these years of social distancing, and creating and sending a hand made card is a way to be creative and social!! I know I want to catch up with my friends and family and am taking the opportunity to start a weekly snail mail practice. I am not usually very good at getting cards in the mail. Often I will write letters and forget to send them. Being organized enough to have the person’s address, a card and envelope, and a stamp, plus remembering to take it to the mailbox takes several steps of executive functioning and I am sometimes short on attention. But I am getting in the habit. I am starting slow and starting small.

When is the last time you got something special in the mail? Or sent someone else something special? Do you need some happy mail to brighten your day? Let me know in the comments!!!

The Wisdom of Children

I’m going to Kentucky

I’m going to the fair

to see a senorita

with flowers in her hair

shake it, shake it, baby

shake it if you can

and if you cannot shake it,

just do the best you can

My niece beast is one of the happiest people I know. At the wise old age of 7, she has gotten more joy and adventure out of life than some people I know who are ten times her age. She taught me the lyrics to this silly song before going on a recent trip. Her flight was going over Kentucky, and she had the idea that as she soared over the state she would celebrate by singing it.

It has occurred to me that my little beasty and her song have mastered some sort of cosmic secret on how to live a happy life. If you can’t shake it, just do the best you can! How many times in life have you felt unready, unable, or not suitable for a task and wanted to quit? How many times have you wanted to give up and say to hell with it and scuttle a dream because it wasn’t working out? I know my answer to these questions is a small infinity. But how would my life be different if I would have just did the best I could, say a wish and a prayer, and call it a day? I know I wouldn’t have waited so long to start many projects. I could be enjoying the fruits of my labor by now, instead of still laboring away!!!!!!

So from now on, I am just going to do the best I can. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It only has to be my best, or your best. So what if you can’t do a perfect job at something? Start now and do the best with what you have. Do something that is authentic and true to only you. No one else on earth has had the life experiences that you have had, the mix of knowledge and skills, and successes and failures and heartbreaks and big breakthrough triumphs or crippling defeats that you have had and that all makes you unique. It gives you a special style of expressing yourself. Let your special style guide you and keep trying until you find someone who appreciates it. Just do the best that only you can do, while you still have time to do it!!!

Using Art to Heal My Eating Disorder, Anxiety, and Depression

There is real power in art making and being creative. In using your creative faculties you can get in touch with your intuition and your gut and find a respite away from the everyday demands of life, a respite where you are free to be your true self. Art can be used to explore your innermost feelings and your brokenness and anger, your joy, grief, successes and failures. Art Therapy has been used to help people heal from emotional illnesses and traumas and can be a powerful tool for growth and recovery.

So, I have decided I am going to try to use art to heal from my eating disorder, anxiety, and depression from a life of accumulate trauma and illness. I hope I can find some peace and learn to soothe myself through creating things. I hope to find a tribe to join me in healing through art.

My life is out of control and I fear if I don’t right my course soon I will be on a collision course with disaster. My binge eating is out of control. I don’t eat at regular times during the day so my body never knows when to expect food or when to get hungry. My chronic pain level is through the roof. The only thing that helps the pain is to do light exercise, but the exercise hurts so bad that it is very hard to do. My depression and anxiety is taking over my life, after having to say goodbye to my cat of 17 years and my post traumatic stress is contributing to my ill health and bad feelings.

With an eating disorder, you can’t just start a diet. That is too triggering and only sends me back into the binge/repent/repeat cycle. I am going to try intuitive eating and getting in touch with my inner self and trying to heal it with art therapy and creativity. I have found that it really helps me to have a lot of protein in the morning with whole grains and that gives me a good start to my day. I am thinking of meal prepping some sweet and sour chicken with brown rice and veggies for breakfast. I know it is not a typical breakfast but I need a lot of protein right when I wake up. My body is starving for nutrients, like protein. And vitamins. I just discovered I don’t get enough vitamin D. Since I have started supplementing it I don’t have nearly as many aches and pains.

I have cleared off a space at my art table and am going to start creating things to start healing myself. Using my creativity pleases my conception of god and is a way to relax. I will be starting tomorrow with some Valentine’s themed gelli printing. I am just going to ease into creating at first, nothing too scary. Just to enjoy my supplies and to play. I think that will be nice.

I hope to post an Art Therapy update at the beginning of every week. So stick with me and see if it helps me and if it can help you, or anyone you know who could benefit from art therapy.

Thrift Store Finds 1/13/2020

I haven’t been shopping in a long time at a brick and mortar store. I am starting to be more and more reclusive, and shopping is often too peopley for my enjoyment. But I decided to go to the thrift store and found some interesting things there.

A milk pitcher from the 1940’s

I found this cute milk pitcher for $3.50. It had a marking on the bottom from Sadler and said it was made in England. I looked up the model number and discovered it was from sometime in the 1940’s. I thought it was a great find and loved the delicate rose pattern. I plan to use it to store paintbrushes in.

some thrifted paper goods

I found these paper goods too. I found two packs of the pink and white stationery for $1.99 each. There were 10 cards and envelopes, made of high quality paper, with an original price tag of $11.99. The Rice Paper silk Effect Napkins looked like leftovers from Christmas with a holly berry pattern, and were only $1.00. I’m sure they are vintage, at least. Then I found a pack of Field Notes, brand new, in the wrapping, for $2.00 and these are usually around twelve bucks. I love paper goods and am a collector of notebooks, paper, and anything that might be used to make crafts with, so I was quite pleased with these little treasures. I also found a case of scrapbook embellishments and a wooden dulcimer for $5.99. I gave the dulcimer to my mom since she admired it. I am thinking about making a monthly pilgrimage to the thrift store to see what I can find. I am looking for ice cream makers and a bread machine that is like new in the box. I saw a bread machine but it looked a bit banged up and didn’t come with instructions so I passed on it.

What treasures have you found lately? Sometimes an hour spent wandering the aisles is good for the soul. Have you engaged in any retail therapy lately?

The Journal Cure

Dear soul, 

I am feeling out of touch with you. We have grown apart and I am beginning to miss the way you would make my heart pump its ruby gush a bit faster when I would see a bird land on a bush branch outside my window. I miss the way you would see a certain slant of light from a cloud-clothed sky and be illuminated with joy. I miss you and want some time to catch up and linger long with you and see how you are really doing. 

Meet me tonight. I am going to be in bed writing in my journal. Don’t wear anything. Meet me naked to bare your inner-most essence. Bring all the troubles and worries you have been hanging out with these days. I want to know them. Bring your joys and victories too, so we can celebrate together. 

I love you and can’t wait to see you tonight.

Auntie Beast

My dear beasties, as you can read, I have been feeling out of touch with myself. I am overwhelmed with a feeling of a fried soul slathered sick with malaise on a whole wheat bun. I have not been writing in my journal. I have not been keeping my gratitude list. I have been having bad dreams. These are all signs that something is going on in me that needs attention.

So what can I do, or what can you do when you feel like this?  I really have no answers, but to try to find the way to the light, I am going to start writing in my journal. I will be offering some journal prompts to help you get going, and to help myself find the way out of the dark.

Journal Prompt: What are you currently doing to take care of yourself, and how is it working? What are you doing great at, and what could you do differently or need to add or subtract to help you feel at ease? 

#CarveDecember is Here!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  Festivus is right around the corner. But my favorite December tradition is #CarveDecember on Instagram. Invented and hosted by artist Julie Fei-Fan Balzer at Balzer Designs, #CarveDecember is a month-long carve along where rubber eraser hackers and linocut artists alike share in the joy of carving stamps.  I plan to participate this year to the extent that I can afford speedy carve, which is my favorite material for carving stamps. I am hoping to produce some holiday tea towels to pass out to my relatives for Christmas.

I experimented today with a repeating pattern stamp to make a peace flower. I stamped them into a circle shape to resemble a globe to make a peace on earth card. Not the greatest piece of art but I’m sure I will find a use for this card. This was an improvisational stamp that I didn’t pre-plan or draw a picture of to carve. I think that if I do some planning I have better results. I am still a very crude carver and hope that the #carvedecember carve along will help me to become more skilled. I am excited for what the month may bring and look forward to seeing what I and the other participants come up with!

Creativity As A Healthy Escape

When life is less than perfect, I want to turn to old tried-and-true vices and addictions. I want to spend money I don’t have, binge eat, or use alcohol to calm and distract me. But then I end up not having enough money, or being so sick I swear I’ll never eat or drink too much again. There are real consequences when we turn to dark comforts to help us through a rough patch.

So it is healthier for me to indulge myself in creative pursuits. Doing creative hobbies helps to distract myself from the problems of everyday life. As long as you responsibly manage your creative endeavors and are not say, spending a week’s worth of grocery money on yarn (guilty!) or spending time you should be working to knit (guilty!), or using it to evade social interaction with your family or friends, there is nothing harmful about having something fun to do. It is purely beneficial.

Being creative helps me to use my mind in novel and engaging ways to solve problems.  That enhances my mental health by giving me new ways to think and  when I practice better problem solving I get used to it as a way of looking at life and have that skill with me when life gets stressful and I need it the most, like when I am having a depressive episode. Having a plethora of versatile coping skills prepares me for the bad days when I have a hard time remembering how to pull myself out of the pit of despair.

I would recommend a creative hobby to anyone who wants to enhance their life with fun and relaxation. It is like a vacation for the mind. You might surprise yourself to see what you can come up with. I know I sometimes do. If you are wondering what you might try for creative hobbies, here is a list from onelittlehappything.com.

DIY Cereal Box Notebooks

    Besides being a crazy cat lady, I’m also a bit of a hoarder. I like to save things that might be useful in the future. My mandate includes not only stuff, but occasionally some recyclable trash. One of the things I like to save are cereal boxes. A good, clean, undented cereal box is basically like a free sheet of lightweight chipboard with printing on one side.

One of the things I like to do with cereal boxes is make these notebooks.

They are made with a cereal box, a sheet of decorative paper, the writing paper, some embroidery floss, and a button. The tools I use to make them are an awl, a bookbinders needle, or any wide eyed needle, and an exacto knife or similar cutting tool and an adhesive tape runner.

I cut the cereal box, and paper to size. The decorative and cereal box material should be about a 1/4 inch bigger than the inside paper. You make the cover by cutting out a piece from the cereal box and covering it with the decorative paper. The cover will not close perfectly, so that is why you use the button closure. I then poke five holes with an awl through the signature and cover all at once. Then I stitch the button on the cover and leave a tail for closure. I use the pamphlet stitch to secure the notebook together. It is a nice notebook to keep for grocery lists, and I can even imagine using them as refills for a traveler’s journal.

I estimate by the time I bought the fancy decorative paper and used the adhesive, thread and button that this cost around $1.25 to make. I am thinking of acquiring more cereal boxes and making enough of these notebooks to take to the farmer’s market next year!

Postcards From The Edge: Notes on some days of hurting

It is raining and my crutches suck into mud and form a seal and I have to jerk to get them stuck out of the soft mud, and meanwhile my mother, still recovering from pneumonia, holds the umbrella over my head, my non-coughing, non-wheezing, non-deserving head while rain stains her coat soaking wet this cold April day and I am begging you god have some mercy on us poor stupid bastards down here on your wet green breast of earth.

Since last Thursday my foot has throbbed off an on like the light of a skanky motel where people go to do cruel and nasty things with strangers they don’t care about because secretly they hate themselves, a neon ache glaring in swollen, pulsing, red pricks of despair and it hurts to touch, to move, dear god help me get back into this house so I can rest my body which is shaking from moving its heavy weight through the world.

My mother, an angel in all of this, pouring out her last drip of oil to light the lamp of me and keep me going, while she grows darker and god how can I stop it all so she don’t snuff out? Of course the medicine is no help, and I am delirious with pain and  praying for baby Jesus to make this ridiculous hurt go away.

At times like this, it helps to find any bit of grace, and I have many: the mother who would do anything for me, a comfortable bed to ache in, friends who love me, food in my belly, and on and on. In these times of pain I am relying on gratitude to help me through the day.

What about you dear readers? Are you counting your blessings even when it is dark?

When Life Gives You Lemons Aid: Spiff It Up

Time for another installment of how to handle the sour lemons we must suck along our journey! I’ve got just the thing to sweeten up a bad day.

When we are hurting, especially at the bottom of a deep depression, it is easy to neglect ourselves. Sometimes our routine hygiene might suffer. Or maybe we don’t have time, or maybe we just don’t see the point in getting fancied up. But I encourage you, on your next bad day, take the time and spend the energy to outfit yourself in something snazzy. Wear your favorite underpinnings and that skirt or suit you save for being seen in. Fix your hair, plaster on some make up, and wear something sparkly. You can opt to make “rawwwr” sounds at yourself in the mirror or not. It might seem superficial, but somehow, looking your best on the outside cues the universe in to the fact you are ready to live your best life on the inside too. It telegraphs to the world that you are well-healed for a new day of intrigue and adventure. I picked this little tip up in a day therapy program and it has served me well over the years. I hope it helps you too.

Now slap on some lipstick and go bravely forth! If you try this tip, you could report in the comments how it worked for you!