The last month or so has been a bit of a dry season for me, and I have been in need of some doodling therapy.
I love Johanna Basford’s coloring books and tutorials, and she’s a lovely person to watch for inspiration. A simple flower wreath seemed like a great way to lighten up a page and the current funk in my brain. Check out Johanna’s site here. You can even get a free coloring book download if you sign up for her emails (which are wonderful).
I try to show an art or writing related WIP when I share these, but this week, my biggest WIP is me. I try to be transparent about my mental health struggles so that other people may feel safer to share their own problems or at least know they aren’t alone, so this week the WIP is me.
Right now, after months of social distancing, it’s hard not to feel alone. The constant changes in our work and school environments, the stress of dealing with the threat of a mysterious illness, the ever growing cacophony of political posts and angry people on social media… It’s all taking a toll on me, and I know I’m not the only one. The tragic loss of someone I’ve counted as a friend several weeks ago reminded me that I need to take my mental health seriously as the potential life-threatening disease depression can be.
This summer I already made myself a list of things I knew my counselor would tell me to do, and I’ve been trying to do them daily. Last week, I added a diet element to it that’s shown a lot of potential in the few limited clinical trials that have been done. This week, I sat down and wrote out care plans for daily preventive care, acute symptom care (when I start feeling mental and physical symptoms of stress, depression, or anxiety), and rescue care (when it’s all a bit too much, and I need immediate relief).
After several months of intentionally doing my “preventive protocol,” I can definitely say it’s helping me stay on more equal mental footing. The addition of the diet angle and the mental safety net of having plans written out with behavioral triggers to put them into action has been a huge and quick improvement, enough so that I’m committing to sticking with the diet plan for the foreseeable future.
Sometimes, the WIP is me.
And that’s a good thing. I am a valuable creation of God, and I am worthy of taking care of myself. Depression brain wants to tell us that we have no value, no worth, nothing to offer. That’s just not true.
You are valuable, you are loved, and you are worthy of being your own WIP, too. What do you need to start doing today to grow and feel better?
I like to process what I read when I study the Bible several different ways when I have time to really dig in. I try to read a commentary to see new angles, I take notes, and then I write and draw something that expresses what I learned and need to apply.
Today’s WIP is my doodle-notes page from Colossians 3. The text of what I wrote is below the picture.
I stand here every day in front of this closet and consider all the things I have to wear. I examine the clothes and think about how they will fit my mood or my activity or the way my body feels today. But really, I make a choice every day about what I put on and what I take off and what never even makes it to my closet for consideration in the first place. I must choose mercy and love and humility and kindness.
I must take off anger and greed and envy like dirty clothes and leave them in the heap of things that no longer suit this new creation of Christ, bathed anew in morning mercies.
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us together in perfect harmony.
Salaam Green, maybe more than anyone I know, recognizes that we are all works in progress, and she uses her gifts to help others heal and grow. I first found Salaam’s writing work in a Facebook group for writers, the See Jane Write Network. I instantly fell in love with her storytelling and the images her words spun up in my head.
As a writer who loves to encourage people to be creative and use that creativity to grow, I dearly love Salaam’s work of using journaling to heal. She founded the Literary Healing Arts Foundation as a way to help people write their healing into reality. Please check out her web site for the Literary Healing Arts Foundation. You’ll find her blog and a page with prompts as well as a way to submit writing for healing feedback.
I’m on the last leg of editing my book, and it will be ready for proof printing in less than a week if I can keep my act together! It didn’t feel real until I printed the paperback cover art. Now I’m getting excited to see this be more than a giant Word document printout.
This week’s WIP is crochet. This will end up being a scarf with an oversize cable down the middle. Those weird ladder looking spaces will actually be crochet chained up the middle when it’s done, so it won’t be so wide and strange.
If you’re wondering how the shawl from a few weeks ago turned out, I didn’t love it as a window scarf. I put the chair shawl on the window like a valance and the new shawl on the chair. I’m always cold, so I end up wrapped up most morning and evening when I write.
*Bonus shawl detail: adding buttons is the greatest new thing I learned. I put two on each end of the new shawl. I can button the ends to make loose sleeves and keep it on my arms but loose on my body. Or I can wrap my core and button it together at one shoulder without the awkwardness of trying to keep it wrapped when I move. Yay for buttons!
This week’s art project is more of a community health project, and certainly not something I would have guessed a few months ago that I’d be taking on. I’m sewing cotton fabric masks, right now for people working in healthcare facilities and my essential coworkers. I’m sure at some point very soon, I’ll be painting more again, but right now, this is more important. I’ve definitely learned some new tricks on efficient production, and I feel like I’ll have that honed in even more by the weekend. This may not be art to most people, but sewing is creating, and I’ve certainly learned some new-to-me creative techniques this week.
I have taught art at our church’s Rec Camp for the last several years, and I’m always looking for new techniques to make sure I don’t do the same things every year. This year involved not a single drop of paint, but we did a lot of gluing.
This blanket took approximately 6 years to finish. It’s not anything fancy or large, but it languished in craft purgatory for several years. And now it’s finished!
I have a ridiculously hard time finishing projects. Sometimes it’s just that life changed, so my free time available for something changed, which is mostly what happened to this blanket. I also have crafting ADHD and tend to start something and get super excited and invested in it and then run off to another exciting technique before I’ve finished the other projects.
One of my goals is now to finish all the open projects before I start a lot of new ones. I’d like to say I’m a reformed crafter and haven’t bought more supplies while I work through the old ones, but I’d be lying. I have improved on my habits, though, so I’ve been buying less and finishing more.
I guess I am as much a WIP as the million bits of yarn and sewing and painting supplies scattered in my craft room (I mean dining room…).
I started this lovely lady months ago, but I let fear and business get in the way of finishing this one for a long time. Have you ever been afraid to mess up, so you just didn’t do anything? I think we’ve all been trapped by that at some point. What are you working on? I’d love to see what you’re up to!