I haven’t had as much time this year to engage in the Sketchbook Revival funness, but I have selected a few sessions to try out. Two in particular lead to crazy fun shenanigans.
Create Like a Kid Again! with Charlie O’Shield. I loved his playful spirit so much and got such a kick out of his exercise. Take the first noun you think of and then the first compound noun you think of. In my case my noun was fish and Charlie gave the compound noun handshake. The exercise was to replace either hand or shake with your new noun and then draw it. I decided to do handfish and this was my result:
DAY 9 SESSION 1 – Este MacLeod 123…Let’s Draw Cats. I was so enamored with the idea of this session and the examples people were posting in the Facebook group. My first attempts were less than exciting, but I kept trying.
Eventually I just tried to turn the numbers into doodles…something my brain could wrap itself around.
But then my husband has a brighter idea! Last night he challenged me to do something completely different, but something that set my brain on fire. He challenged me to make one of my doodles out of only letters. 5 minutes later I presented him with the doodle on the bottom right.
Then he suggested I remove those letters from the alphabet and only use the remaining letters. That yielded me the bottom left. I did not expect him to then say I needed to create one with only the remaining letters…and that yielded…
This was a ridiculously fun challenge! I hope you’ll give it a try. You could try with all lower case letters, numbers, or even the punctuation marks found on a keyboard. My husband was not getting off the hook that easily. I challenged him to make fish out of the numbers and he did great!
When I first started kicking around the idea of starting a blog on creativity, my long term goal was to host some sort of creativity retreat where I would help people tap back into the creative energy they had lost. This was going to be the focus of my retirement energy. I figured I would write about creativity and I would continue to explore as many creative outlets and avenues as I could…sharing those journeys with all of you. Then I started thinking a lot about doing a podcast and talking to creatives– partially for my own benefit, but also to share with all of you. Many ideas have come in and out of my head since I started The Oodlearium, but the idea of a creativity camp of some sort has never left my mind.
Back in December, my friend Karen was over to Elf in our kitchen while I was baking Christmas cookies. We baked and talked for hours about life and goals and dreams and passions. She heard very clearly the ache in my heart over not knowing how to bridge the gap between now and retirement when I would have more time to devote to my ideas. She threw out the idea of finding a space and just throwing a one day event together. She even volunteered to do a session on vision boards. I jotted down some notes and told her I would give it some serious thought.
During Christmas break, I was out & about one day doing some photography and I stopped by Tyler Creek Forest Preserve in Elgin. I didn’t get the shot I was hoping for, but I discovered this stunning permanent shelter. It was a beautiful brick structure– large enough to fit 50-75 people, close to a flush toilet and ample parking. A quick google search showed that it could be rented for a whopping $50 for the day. I had found the home for this “someday” event. I was so excited about the shelter that I started asking anyone I could think of if they would be willing to be a presenter for this idea of an event. Every single person said yes and before I knew it, I had this awesome lineup of presenters.
These incredible creatives have put together awesome ideas for fun sessions that will tickle your creative funny bones. They cover everything from painting to doodling to photography to vision boards and a charcuterie board lunch session. I could not have asked for a better group of friends to share this day with you all.
Someday, I hope that Oodle in the Park will morph into a huge multi-day event with presenters from all over the world. For now, it is a small group of really enthusiastic creatives who want to share their love with their art with you. The cost of the day is $50, which covers the cost of your supplies for the day. You will not need to bring anything with you except whatever camera (DSLR or phone) for Kelly Hubert’s session. You will create an individual charcuterie board during our lunch time session and eat/snack on it after you’ve snagged some photos to share with friends & family! Snacks and water will be provided throughout the day. If this sounds like something you would love to attend, please sign up here: Oodle in the Park Registration.
This year, Tom and I decided that we were going to focus on making our own Christmas memories and infusing our home with the joy of the season. That is how the 12 Days of Hot Chocolate came to be. While we have always been somewhat snobbish about our hot chocolate consumption (ie no Swiss Miss and hot water allowed in this household), we have never searched for a recipe that takes our hot chocolate to the next level.
Our basic hot cocoa recipe (2 servings)
2 cups milk of choice
2 TBSP dark chocolate cocoa powder
2 TBSP sugar
Splash of vanilla
Heat milk in the microwave and stir in the rest of the ingredients. Serve with your favorite toppings.
I turned to Pinterest to find twelve recipes for us to try. The teacher in me and the engineer in Tom of course had to make a rubric to score the recipes. We went back and forth on a lot of different ideas, but in the end opted to keep it nice and simple with a 3 candy cane rating system:
1 candy cane – we did not even finish the mug and won’t ever make it again.
2 candy canes- we finished it, but probably won’t make it again
3 candy canes- absolutely loved it and will add it to our personal cookbook
I printed off the 12 recipes and made my shopping list. We were ready to get started!
I don’t want to disappoint you this early in the post, but full disclosure- we ended up not trying all twelve recipes. Very early on we discovered what we like, love and hate about hot chocolate. We used the recipes to explore different flavors, but in the end we didn’t need all twelve recipes to figure that out. I will include links to all twelve at the very end in case you want to do your own experiment.
All things being equal:
There are a few elements that we kept standard throughout the recipes, despite what the recipe actually called for.
70% cocoa Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips
Dark cocoa powder from Costco
Silk Unsweetened Almond Milk or Organic Skim Cow’s milk
Anywhere that called for heavy cream or half-half, we used Silk non-dairy half-half.
I am obsessed with all things chocolate and peanut butter, so I started our adventure with the only peanut butter and chocolate recipe. I was sure this would be my favorite before we even started. I mixed everything up and poured the concoction into the His and Hers penguin mugs we would be using for the challenge. I took a huge sip and let out a howl of excitement. Man was that yummy. Tom was less impressed. My initial impression was that I would drink it every day for the rest of my life. Tom thought he might finish it, but he is not a lover of chocolate and peanut butter like I am. Within a few minutes though we both felt like someone had stuck a straw into a jar of Skippy. To my shock and chagrin— neither of us finished our mugs! I don’t know if it would be better with higher quality peanut butter. I only had creamy Skippy on hand from my holiday baking as Tom prefers the chunky Crazy Richard’s peanut butter for everyday use. Perhaps more milk to thin it out or even less PB, but overall this one was a big bust!
Not much I love more this time of year than peppermint. Next up was a peppermint hot chocolate recipe that was sure to win our hearts— except for the fact that I cannot read. I made the recipe and we both agreed it was tasty, but it seemed really sweet. When I looked at the recipe, I discovered that instead of putting ¼ tsp of sugar, I poured in a heap ¼ cup. Oops! I made it again later that week with a more appropriate amount of sugar and we both really liked it. We started thinning out the recipes a bit with this one, because we prefer to drink our hot chocolate rather than chew it. This one was a WINNER!
Our third recipe was one that we were holding on to share with some friends when they popped by for a holiday visit. The Colonial Hot Chocolate recipe had a unique flavor palette and we knew our foodie friends would enjoy doing this taste test with us. This recipe involved me hunting down a few ingredients I had never used before (star anise & ground cardamom), but overall it was an incredibly easy recipe to make. Given the incredibly unique combination of flavors and how easy it was to make, we all agreed this was one of the best hot chocolates we had ever had. This is a solid dessert hot chocolate, but could also serve as a lovely regular recipe if thinned out a bit.
After the peanut butter hot chocolate recipe, I was a bit gun shy to try the Nutella Hot Chocolate. I could not have been more wrong! It was awesome— just nutty enough to be unique and the perfect balance of yummo chocolate flavor.
After a few recipes that were next level with flavors and add-ons, we decided to step back and try a basic recipe that could potentially be our go-to hot cocoa recipe. This one was a sure fire winner— with one change. Tom and I agreed that we much prefer to drink our hot chocolate rather than almost chew it— so I added in an extra cup of milk to the recipe. Yummo!
Next up was going to be a Mexican Hot Chocolate, but neither of us were excited about the idea of something spicy. Instead, I opted for a recipe for a cinnamon hot cocoa that I was hoping would be similar to the cinnamon crunch latte I had at Panera last week. We were both busy with projects and it was the perfect time to throw in a cup of holiday cheer. Tom proclaimed this was his absolute favorite recipe and I was very close to agreeing. Steeping a whole stick of cinnamon in milk for ten minutes produced a beautifully delicious hot chocolate. With some fresh whipped cream on top, this one was AMAZING! I actually made this again the very next day,
We gave one last recipe a try before declaring the challenge complete. The Parisian Hot Chocolate recipe was elegant and grand, but it was WAY TOO MUCH of everything for us to enjoy. Even with me thinning out the recipe, neither of us finished the mug. We agreed that we know the basics of what makes a great cup of hot chocolate in conjunction with how we like ours prepared so that we can now mix and match a bit from the recipes we tried out.
Here is a list of all the recipes in case you want to do your own comparison:
I’m running my third half-marathon on Sunday, November 7th. I am training my butt off right now and it is really hard— especially with the start of the new school year and all the chaos/mental exhaustion that entails. But I really want to do it— and not just do it, I want to beat my previous PR (personal record). So I show up four times a week and I train my tail off. I run grueling intervals on the track every Thursday night. I drag my exhausted body out of bed early on Saturday morning to do my long runs. On Mondays and Wednesday nights I enjoy what is supposed to be an easy run with some crazy mixed in. I show up day after day— no matter how tired I am, no matter how crappy my day was, no matter how many steps I already got in, no matter how badly I want to curl up on the couch with a bag of chocolate chips. Running this half-marathon is a priority for me and short of an injury nothing will stop me from reaching my goal of a sub 3:00 finish time this fall. Most people say they could never do what I am doing. I tell them that they are absolutely wrong. What they mean is that they don’t want to do it. If they want to, there is really nothing that can stop them from doing it. I am 100% evidence of that fact. I am NOT a born runner. I don’t look like an athlete…and I really like food…and not the fueling kind. But I really want to do this and I am showing up to do it.
The same intention has to be there for your creativity. So many people tell me that they are not creative. Most people mean that they are not artistic, but I don’t even really believe that either. Every single person on this planet is a problem solver of some sort. Whether it is figuring out how to level up in a video game or how to get six kids out the door in the morning and to three different schools or some other conundrum— we are all problem solvers. How we solve those problems manifests itself in a variety of ways. In Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert she talks about how creative energy is floating through the universe looking for a viable host. When it finds someone who is open to its idea “inspiration strikes.” While you are waiting, you put the work in. If you are a writer, you pick up that pen or click on those keys daily. If you paint, you pick up the brushes every day and you put yourself out there. You let the world know that you are open and ready for ideas. You read blogs. You read inspirational books on creativity. You follow incredible talent on social media. You take yourself on artists’ dates. You write your morning pages. You show up for your creativity and you make it a priority. That hard work WILL BE rewarded! And by rewarded I am not talking about selling a canvas for 50,000$ (congratulations, Callen Schaub!) or getting your first book deal (or 100th!). You will have shown up for yourself and you will be able to answer Elizabeth Gilbert’s question: “Do you have the courage to bring forth the wonderful treasures that are hidden within you?” with an emphatic HELL YES!
I hope that you will show up and make exploring your creativity a priority. It will enrich your life in ways you may never have imagined.
This week despite incredible exhaustion: I wrote two new Oodle Stories, I continued my book study of Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, I listened to a myriad of podcasts about creativity, I painted my final fan blade and I did some watercolor blob sketching.
How did you show up for your creativity this week?
The 25th anniversary revision of The Artists’ way by Julia Cameron has almost five thousand 4.5 star reviews on Amazon and a 3.9 rating on Goodreads with 100,000+ votes. People like this book and many people swear that it has changed their life forever. I definitely do not fall into that camp. I have my issues with the book’s religious preachy tone, but there are two aspects of it that I love: Morning Pages and Artist Dates.
The Morning Pages do not let you hide from the things in your brain (at least if you are taking the exercise at all seriously). Cameron points out that people often fall out of this practice when things are going well because they don’t feel the need to get anything off their chest. When they are feeling bad, they don’t want to face whatever is haunting them. Over the past five weeks of working my way through the book, I have 100% fallen into this camp. The past two weeks have been full of incredible highs and lows. During the highs, I felt I didn’t have anything I needed to write about. During the lows, well those were better locked away inside my brain. The resulting complete meltdown was evidence enough that I should stick to the daily practice to help me maintain an even keel. I started the Morning Pages thinking they were supposed to help with my creativity—not my mental health. What I did not realize was that by calming my heart and mind that I WAS helping my creative mojo. I have put my journal back on top of my desk and it has resumed its place on my daily agenda.
I did a lot of research on date ideas during the first week so that I could make sure I didn’t have an excuse to not go on one. My list has around 30 different ideas on it and ranges from trips to art stores to watching documentaries and people watching in the park. I specifically did not want to have my dates focused on spending money, but rather being inspired. My five dates have been VERY different, but have done exactly what they were intended to do—inspire me to delve deeper into my creative pursuits.
I do not quit or sew— despite having a nice sewing machine. I walked in with no notion of buying anything, but just to see what creative chord it might strike. I left inspired to tackle a simple project for my niece’s birthday made of materials I had sitting at home. What was most amazing to me about this project was that I had to adjust it to work with the supplies I had. I could have returned to the store, but I didn’t want to. Could I make it work.? Holy moly, I created a super cute stuffed owl that I can’t wait to send to my niece for her birthday.
I LOVE tea and have a ridiculous collection of leaves because I am incapable of passing up on something that will make a lovely pitcher of iced tea on a hot summer afternoon. I arrived after a short walk around downtown Batavia on a gloriously sunny day. The owner was excited to geek out on her offerings— and I was more than prepared to take it all in. There is nothing more inspiring than seeing someone get over the top excited about something— even tea leaves! Her storefront has a beautiful patio that is shaded by a gigantic tree. I took my canister of tea and found a spot to take in all the textures and shapes on the patio with my sketchbook.
I am pretty diligent about only doing solo dates, but I really thought my husband could benefit from a trip, too. The last time I was at our local Habitat for Humanity Restore, someone mentioned the Woodstock store was better. It was a bit of a drive, but it was worth the trip. The store was better organized and it had more selection. While I try hard to not treat my dates as permission to go on a shopping spree, I found an awesome set of ceramic light shades and a few tiles for a whopping total of $5.40. Our trip home brought us along the Fox River, where we discovered an awesome little pub called Rosie O’Hares. We had an amazing lunch straight out of their smoker. From there we headed to Great Spirit Hardwood in Dundee, where we picked out hardwood for the frame Tom is going to build for our Foodie Map. We literally just need the frame and this culinary adventure can begin!
Despite oppressive heat and humidity, I needed to get out of the house. This is how I ended up at the Elgin Farmers Market, which has really turned into a lovely little market. I completely violated my shopping spree rule, but I was so inspired by the hustle and energy of these local vendors that I wanted to do whatever I could to support their ventures. I returned home with coffee beans, tea leaves, Belgian truffles, Nutella filled cookies, three jars of BBQ sauce and a huge smile on my face. My adventures led to a beautiful home cooked meal with one of the sauces. This event was capped off by learning that someone had purchased one of the bricks I had painted for the Follow the Imago Brick Road campaign.
After the Sketchbook Revival, I signed up for any site that promised to keep my creative mojo flowing. Carla Sondheim was on that list. I try to keep up with the inspirational emails, but most weeks they get a quick glance and then are deleted. Something made me do a double take and keep reading about an upcoming on-line class called Imaginary Animals. The price was right for a 3.5 hour class and I was free. Within the first fifteen minutes I knew that this investment in my creativity was going to be worth every single penny. By the end of the afternoon, I was overflowing with ideas and inspiration to continue my learning.
Over the next few weeks, I am going to invest time into figuring out r how I will continue my dates once I return to school. That will be my biggest challenge going forward. I have definitely experienced the creative rewards of this practice. It will be a priority without a doubt!
I have a card on my shelf right behind me here in The Oodlearium that says Begin Anywhere (John Cage). And that my friends is exactly what I am doing today. I have wanted to do a weekly or even daily creative challenge to help people revive their creative mojo or perhaps even to tap into one they didn’t know they had. Alas life (and a pandemic) happened and here I am a year later and a year wiser. For the last year I have been scouring Pinterest for ideas on challenges (for myself and for others) and I fell into the “pin it and then do nothing with it” black pit of creative sadness.
That ends today! I went through all of my pins and I created a table of 36 activities that will serve as a creative challenge buffet for myself and hopefully for you. These ideas are supposed to serve as inspiration– as a springboard for you to do whatever gets your creative juices flowing. Yes, some of the ideas are super silly and perhaps even a bit childish. Isn’t a “bit of silly” just what most of us need these days? Don’t like writing? Then don’t do those…or perhaps do something that is a bit out of your comfort zone to shake things up a bit. Don’t have watercolors? Then try out those ideas with markers. Many of the activities have a hyperlink to a website with further explanation and examples. Others are self-explanatory. The activities that say “Be inspired by…” are invitations for you to forge your own path with minimal guidance.
I’m going to play along, too. I will post my adventures (and mis-adventures) with hashtag #creativitygrowshere. I hope you’ll join me on this journey!
Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainty. Erich Fremm
I am NOT good at letting things go, but when it comes to creating a pour painting or an alcohol ink tile, I have to let go of any notion that I am controlling the outcome. Yes, I select the colors, but after that it’s all magic and nothing is guaranteed— that is where the fun comes in to play!
What have I been working on?
I finished up my 17th year of teaching on June 8th and it has honestly taken me a few weeks to recover from what was the hardest year of my teaching career (which is why I have not done an update in a few weeks). I taught a dear friend how to pour paint (she loved it so much she offered to host my first-ever Mobile Oodlearium next month!). Last week I was in Phoenix visiting family and I did a painting session with my aunt. She went all in when I first told her about my new found obsession. She bought a basic kit, but then started playing around with mixing her own paints with Flotrol and even used a mini torch to get cells in her pours. She was very exploratory. I showed her how I normally pour and then she did one of her own on a 12×12 ceramic tile, which turned out awesome. Finally, I introduced her to 3D pouring on a plastic mask from Michaels, which turned out AWESOME!
I designed and ordered my Oodlearium business cards, so that I can hand them out when I am out and about rambling on about my happy place.
As always, you can follow my 52 Frames journey here to see my entry for the weekly photography prompts.
In the kitchen
My best friend and her husband were over this past weekend for patio time, so I decided to try out a recipe I found for baked vegan glazed chocolate donuts. To say these were stupid good and easy to make would be the understatement of the decade. I opted to use the applesauce option rather than track down vegan butter, so I was able to make them with ingredients I already had in the pantry. They were so good that I might have eaten a few too many and subsequently made a second batch! And they got the stamp of approval from our vegan donut lovers!
We continued our exploration of grinding our own meat for burgers. I went out to Ream’s Meat Market and was excited when the butcher gave me a custom mix of meat to grind. We had one pound each of brisket, short ribs and angus chuck. The resulting burgers were excellent, but we agreed we didn’t notice a huge difference from the home ground angus chuck we normally make.
Our creative explorations in the kitchen led us to a crazy idea for a collaborative project. We ordered a map that we are going to use to track our culinary explorations from around the world. If we made a food from a certain area at home that will be one colored pin. If we ate the food at a restaurant that will be another color. And if we ate the food in that place, we’ll have yet another color pin. We are going to design and build a custom frame for the map and it will hang as a conversation piece in our dining room when it is done. Stay tuned for updates!
The Creative Mindset
After all the stress and anxiety of this past school year, I decided one of my focuses this summer would be on getting out into nature as often as possible. I have started back up with my yin yoga practice and I am doing it in our backyard early in the morning. It’s awesome to get my zen on with the chirping of birds in the background and the sun rising. I love this video, but also spend a lot of time exploring Yoga with Adriene.
Something else I have been working on is doing art anywhere. A dear friend gave me an adorable little cloth zippered pouch with some art supplies. I keep it filled with my doodling pens, a mini sketch book and some note cards. I used these tools extensively while I was out of town. If I was killing time while my niece was taking a nap or while waiting to meet someone for lunch, I would quickly whip out my pouch and doodle for a few minutes—finding inspiration wherever I was. This is how I came up with my design for my Oodlearium business cards!
The Artist’s Way
I am decades late to The Artist’s Way party, but I finally decided to hop on the train and check out the book from the library. It was quickly clear that this book could be profoundly important to my creativity, so I splurged and bought the actual book. I reached out to a group of creatives to see how they have used the book and I connected with another photographer on the other side of the globe in Australia. We have decided to go through the book together and keep each other accountable to the process. I have been diligent about completing the morning pages, which act like a morning brain dump on paper. They have helped me to get a handle on my monkey brain for sure— at least I know what’s bugging me! This week I will take myself on my first artist date— location TBD. The goal is to have a weekly dose of creative explorations that fill your creative mojo cup— you can’t tap into an empty well. Exciting for sure! The first chapter talked about the people who have not supported my creative endeavors. I have been SO lucky that my friends and family have always supported and encouraged my exploits. For this I am so grateful!!!
When I signed up for Karen Abend’s Sketchbook Revival I was immediately blown away by the amount of content that is offered completely for free. There were two sessions every day for fourteen days. The sessions ranged from 25-60 minutes and they were incredibly inspirational. I knew that I would not be able to participate in all of the sessions, but the ones I did do were amazing and have left their mark on my creative practice. I am so excited to incorporate what I have learned into future projects. I have already purchased my first set of watercolors. I have used what I learned in the one-liner class to create whimsical birthday cards for our nephews and I have so many ideas for the creativity boot camp I hope to host one day!
Check out Karen Abend’s site here. She is the mastermind behind this amazing workshop.
Here is a list of the artists who were a part of the workshops. Check them out for sure!
A Vessel of Voices: Handmade Journals for Capturing Creative Conversations with Kiala Givehand I have been interested in bookbinding for a while and I was so excited to create my own sketchbook. I didn’t use it much for the Revival because it seemed too small, but I did use it to take notes and I will use it to doodle in.
You’re A Hoot! with Tamara Laporte. We sketched out an owl and then painted it with watercolors and added fun doodles to it. My first attempt was an abysmal failure. The drawing was fine, but using kindergarten watercolors was challenging. I have since gone out and purchased a nice starter set of Winston and Newton watercolors, so I will be trying that one out again.
Quick Character Design with Alexandra Gabor was awesome. We took five seconds to draw a random set of connected lines, colored them in and then turned them into little characters. This was so much fun! She also teaches a class on the app Procreate where she digitizes her doodles and then creates a whole scene. It looks amazing and something that would be the perfect compliment to my Oodle Doodles.
Meditative Paint: Holes with Amy Marcle was incredibly therapeutic. We literally drew circles with watercolors for twenty minutes or so. While we were painting she talked us through how to be mindful of what we were doing— how the brush felt against the paper, how we were breathing and so much more. Immediately after doing this session, I was so relaxed and took the most amazing and revitalizing nap. I will definitely incorporate this exercise into my regular practice.
Creating Interesting Clothing for Characters with Noopur Thakur was challenging. I definitely struggled with the practice because I was using my Tombow markers instead of the painting colored pencils she recommended. It was an interesting exercise though to think about creating fabrics for the clothes on my characters. Will play around with this more in the future.
The final session was One-liner Drawings with Carla Sonheim where we were given a prompt and had to draw whatever she said without lifting our pens from the paper. This was an awesome exercise and so freeing! I drew a cat, elephant, flowers and a toilet. After we did the one-liners we chose one of them to redraw and refine. I was very excited to try out my cat. I created two versions— one that was a watercolor (I love my simple little W&N set) and then one that was a collage (I finally found something to do with a whole mess of old photograph prints I had!) She has some extensive classes on her site that I am definitely interested in.
I really cannot say enough wonderful things about this workshop. The amount of content is mind boggling. The fact that it is free is just insanely generous. The community that participates in this event is incredible. Everyday there was a ton of activity on the Facebook group where people shared ideas, their work and answered the unending questions by newbs like myself. I cannot wait to sign up again next year!
When the pandemic started, I entered survival mode. I did what I could to just allow myself to put one foot in front of the next. Sometimes that meant cooking elaborate dinners for us. Sometimes that meant baking delicious brownies and eating half the pan in one sitting. Sometimes it meant killing a 10-mile training run in ridiculous temperatures. Sometimes it meant breaking down into a blubbering mess. As the months have worn on the latter has been more frequent and it has been exhausting. Tom and I have talked and talked and talked about what I could do to help me find my center and until the last week or so nothing was helping. Being here in The Oodlearium is truly the only time I feel complete joy and peace, but even lately that has been hard.
Why does any of this even matter and why am I talking about this on a blog about creativity? Stress and depression/anxiety are some of the greatest blockers to creativity. I know that I am not the only one who has felt overwhelmed and this past year has amplified all of those feelings. I often describe my life as juggling 100 plates of fire and then every once in a while someone pours gasoline on it and everything comes crashing down around me. That is not the way I want to go through life.
During our last post-breakdown chat, Tom was emphatic that I needed to practice daily self-care. That buzzword has always bothered me, because I associate it with yuppy soccer moms who want to justify getting their nails done in the middle of a pandemic. But, I understood his sentiment. I needed to take time for ME to make sure I am good every single day.
We brainstormed a long list (have I mentioned how obsessed I am with lists?) of ways that I could take care of myself. I wanted to create a buffet of options so that I could pick and choose depending on my mood. I wrote each idea on a notecode and clipped them together with a binder clip. They sit next to my journal in the middle of The Oodle Surface where I see them every single day. Each day when I have practiced my self-care, I jot the date and anything noteworthy on the back of the appropriate card. It has been tremendously helpful and has kept me focused on taking care of myself.
Here are some of the activities on my cards:
I LOVE Yoga with Adrienne. She has a video for every situation, but she is also incredibly loving and supportive. I just did her Yoga for Healing video (only 10 minutes) and I felt like a new person.
This Yin Yoga Foundations video is excellent. It is 45 minutes, but it definitely calms my mind and my body.
I try counting my breaths and staying focused on my breath.
I have also started using my hour glass to work on staying focused.
Take an online art class.
I recently purchased a five month subscription to CreativeBug for $5.
There are TONS of classes on YouTube. Consider creating a library that you can go to when you want to watch something later.
Have a stack of thank you cards ready (you can get them super cheap from the Dollar Store) and then you can just write it out quickly.
Do a pour painting.
If you are a regular reader of my This Week in The Oodlearium, you know that I am obsessed with pour painting.
If you need a lesson in letting go, pour painting is a great way to do it.
Take a nap.
Most people go through their lives extremely sleep deprived.
Don’t fight it. Your body is telling you that you need rest.
Get out in nature.
Fresh air ALWAYS helps.
My husband set up a patio shelter last summer to block the harsh afternoon sun. It made such a difference and we spent so much more time outside than normal.
Index card art.
This idea goes hand in hand with mindful doodling.
Grab a stack of notecards and a pen and fill the card with a pattern. Go back and color it, if you fancy. Base the doodle around an inspirational quote or even a power word such as strength.
My husband and I are reading Seth Godin’s newest book The Practice.
We have both been profoundly moved and inspired by his message.
This book has kept both of us out of the ER multiple times. Daily self-massage can help release the tension that builds up during our chaotic and stressful lives.
Consider investing in a Theragun. We are not a gadget gadget family, but the $199 investment we made in our Theragun last summer has been life changing. As a runner, it has helped with recovery after long training runs, but it helps just loosen up sore muscles from life.
Download a printable copy of my cards here. (This link will force you to make a copy of the document and save to your Google Drive. From there, you can open it in Google Slides and print it out with six or nine slides / page onto card stock.)
Until next time, Oodle on and make sure you are taking care of YOU.
Many of my Oodle Doodle stories are based on journal prompts from a book I bought for school when I started teaching called The Daily Spark. I loved the idea of turning the stories on their heads and telling them from the characters point of view. I went through the book and jotted down a list of almost one hundred prompts and each time I want to write a story, I pick a prompt and let it go wherever it goes.
When I saw the prompt, “What’s in a name?” I knew immediately that I had to base the story on my Grandma. 10 years ago this week, my Grandma broke a promise she made to me when I was a little kid…and that she reiterated many times when I was an adult— that she was going to live forever. Even after she had a massive heart attack at the age of 86 and only had 10% of her heart functioning, she maintained that she was not going anywhere. She was not deluded, she just lived her life on her terms.
As I sit here in The Oodlearium, I am surrounded by so many wonderful memories of her, but there is a whole in my heart that will never be filled. This story was just one little tribute to her. There is really nothing I could say or do to truly capture the impact she made on my life or how very much she was loved by every single person who met her. She was strong, brave and beautiful.
I haven’t had as much time this year to engage in the Sketchbook Revival funness, but I have selected a few sessions to try out. Two in particular lead to crazy fun shenanigans. Create Like a Kid Again! with Charlie O’Shield. I loved his playful spirit so much and got such a kick out of […]
When I first started kicking around the idea of starting a blog on creativity, my long term goal was to host some sort of creativity retreat where I would help people tap back into the creative energy they had lost. This was going to be the focus of my retirement energy. I figured I would […]
Last summer I finally ordered and started reading Julia Cameron’s iconic book Artist’s Way. While much of the book did not resonate with me (I am 100% in the minority here and totally ok with that), one aspect that did stick with me was her emphasis on the importance of artist dates. I have a […]
4x Warrior In December of 2017, I was finishing up my book, The Many Faces of Elgin. I had spent two solid years hardly touching my camera except to photograph the people featured in the stories I was writing. I had completely lost my photographic mojo. I randomly stumbled upon a mention of a weekly […]
This year, Tom and I decided that we were going to focus on making our own Christmas memories and infusing our home with the joy of the season. That is how the 12 Days of Hot Chocolate came to be. While we have always been somewhat snobbish about our hot chocolate consumption (ie no Swiss […]
The Foodie Map had been hanging for a few weeks and we still had not tried a new recipe when Tom mentioned that we should have some friends over for breakfast. That was just the inspiration I needed to try and find a breakfast recipe that would be perfect for our first pin. Off to […]
Earlier this year, Tom and I were sitting on the “raft” in the family room when he tossed out the idea for a Food Map. His idea was similar to the map we have upstairs where we track our travels around the world, but this one would track our foodie adventures. If I could find […]
I’m running my third half-marathon on Sunday, November 7th. I am training my butt off right now and it is really hard— especially with the start of the new school year and all the chaos/mental exhaustion that entails. But I really want to do it— and not just do it, I want to beat my […]
It has been a rough week here in the oodle universe. My summer break is rapidly drawing to a close and while I have had a full summer, I am far from feeling ready to start my 18th year of teaching. Yesterday I did what I do most Saturdays—rolled out of bed and met my […]
The 25th anniversary revision of The Artists’ way by Julia Cameron has almost five thousand 4.5 star reviews on Amazon and a 3.9 rating on Goodreads with 100,000+ votes. People like this book and many people swear that it has changed their life forever. I definitely do not fall into that camp. I have my […]