Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Being present

I found this gift tag in my stash. It's circular, so of course I was drawn to it :) and it found its way on to this page.

It made me think about the word present. A present can be another name for a gift. But it can also mean at this time or in this place.

We can be a gift to someone by being in this time and this place; by being fully present with them. When we are seen and heard - and recognise it - it can be a great gift. It shows us that we are loved, cared for, respected.

So let's be that for others.

Let's be present, giving of our time to really listen, to encourage, to be alongside.

Let's be a gift to someone today.

Sunday, 27 November 2016


Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent, the first day of the church's (liturgical) year. Although 'advent' means 'arrival', this is really a season of waiting. The arrival doesn't actually happen until Christmas.

I find that Advent is a contemplative season, like Lent. It is a time for slowing down and thinking about what the season is all about. At a time when the world is speeding up and rushing headlong into a bustling season of presents and parties, I like to slow down and wait with expectation.

This has really been a year of waiting for me. My word for the year has been 'continue', but that has turned out to be very similar to 'wait'. Continuing has been about carrying on; about doing what I have already been doing and not pursuing new stuff. I have taken a couple of opportunities that have come my way, but I haven't looked for them.

And the waiting has been productive. I can see an increased complexity in my journal pages that wasn't there a year ago. I had a big chunk of the year where there weren't many words - if any - but they're starting to come back. Sometimes you have to push on through.

Sometimes you have to wait.

So Advent is about waiting... but with expectation.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Eschewing busy-ness

There are seasons in life that are busy, whether we like it or not. I've just come through a busy month. Busy for me, anyway. Now, I know some people thrive on events, parties, spending time with others.

I'm not one of them.

I know this from experience. I am strongly introverted and contemplative. Yes, I like to spend time with friends, but in small groups. Approaching 50, I have learned some things about myself and what I need to do for self-care, and one of those things is to eschew busy-ness where I can. One event a week is enough for me. I know how to pace myself and generally do it well, but this last month just happened to have more in it than I would have liked. It has taken a week to recover, and I am glad to be back in my journal, pottering in my studio, and having some solitude.

Do you love the hustle and bustle of the holiday season? Or do you know that you need to find breathing space?

I shall be sharing this on Paint Party Friday. Check out all the wonderful work that's been created this week.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Taking a breath

It's been a busy month for me: an exhibition, a holiday, a Christmas Fair. Now I'm taking a very necessary breath before heading on into Christmas. The Christmas Fair especially took a lot of energy and kept me away from my journal for a while.

This is not a good thing!

But now it's done, and I'm able to play again. I'm able to take a breath, find a pool of calm, and gather my resources for the busy-ness of the festive season.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Face practice

A bit of face practice in my journal.
The flowers are a hand-carved stamp.

Check out all the fun at Paint Party Friday!

Tuesday, 15 November 2016


Spots, stripes, and other camouflage - how far will you go to blend in?

We all want to be accepted, loved, known, seen. But do we change ourselves for that to happen? Do we put on masks or camouflage ourselves to fit in? Do we deny parts of ourselves or play them down so that others will accept us?

Thankfully, I have found that as I have aged, I have become more comfortable with myself; learned who I am and to celebrate it. Now in my 40s, I feel good in my own skin (most of time!) and am happy to say no to things that I need to say no to, to embrace who I am, and not to feel that I have to be a certain way to fit in. 

I am loved, and I find peace and security in that love. 

Sunday, 13 November 2016

No matter what you do...

It's sad but true: sometimes, no matter what you do, you're wrong!
You can't please everyone all the time.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Returned in spades

About 23 years ago, I quite distinctly heard God tell me to stop painting. At the time I was using oil paints on slate roof tiles. I hadn't been painting for very long, knew nothing about it, but I was having fun. It was a wrench to give it up, but in obedience I did.

I had always been creative - knitting, crochet, sewing, embroidery, tatting, batik - so there were still things that I could do. I found that during the next 15 years or so, I added more strings to my bow. I made cards, started rubber-stamping, bookbinding, marbling, and a host of other things that I tried out and decided weren't for me. Then I came across art-journalling. It involved using paint, but when I started, I didn't feel any pushback from God. It felt right to continue to explore, so I did. I learned about stencils and monoprints, made my own stamps and journals. I grew in skill and confidence, and I learned how to listen, pray, pour out my heart, and make my art journalling a spiritual exercise.

A couple of weeks ago one of the passages for the day was Luke 18:15-30. Towards the end of the passage Jesus says that there is no-one who has left something for the sake of the Kingdom of God who will not receive it back in more abundance. It suddenly struck me that this was exactly what had happened for me. I gave up a single branch of creativity, only to have it returned in spades with a brand new focus. If I had not been obedient in the beginning, I would never be where I am today.

Have you ever had to give something up, only to be blessed further down the road with its return?

Don't forget to check out all the fun at Paint Party Friday. 

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

You can't make people hear you

Even when you think you have been as plain as plain can be, you can't make people hear you. There have been occasions when I have told someone something in a clear and unequivocal manner - and more than once - but somehow they just haven't heard me. It seems that if it's not what they want to hear, then they don't hear it.

Now, I'm not saying that I never misunderstand anyone or that I am always crystal clear in what I say. No-one can do that all the time. But I do try to listen and clarify where I can. If someone says they can't do something or be somewhere, I take that on board, even if it makes me sad. But occasionally it seems as if I'm talking to someone who has their fingers in their ears and is la-la-la-ing. They don't want to hear, and so they act as if you have said exactly what suits them.

It's sad, but sometimes it happens.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

What impinges?

When I started this page, I found myself decorating the edges, but not the middle. At first I started to think about focus, that the eyes were led to the middle as if the pattern was blinkers on a horse.

But then I started to look at it the other way round - that the view should be broad, but the pattern was impinging. This led me to think about what I allow to encroach and cloud my vision. What do I need to blinkers against?

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Be still

When life gets busy, it's even more important to take the time to be still.

Life has been pretty hectic here, and it isn't likely to stop before Christmas except for maybe a few days to breathe between the pre-Christmas fair and the celebration itself. I know that I am easily overwhelmed, so making sure I get some quiet time each morning is so important to me.

Do you revel in busy-ness, or crave some quiet time?

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Inktober round-up

October is over, and so Inktober is too. I made it all the way through, and here are the last sketches. I've had fun sketching a wide range of subjects directly with ink - no pencil safety net! I feel I've become bolder with my marks and more ready to just jump right in.

The sketch above is of Olivia, a pig from a series of stories for children.

a spray bottle that was hanging around on my desk.

Male face

gripping hand

and a cake to celebrate the end of Inktober 2016 :)