An Exercise in Art and Journaling

As a solution to some journaling writer’s block, I’ve been hand-lettering inspirational quotes in my journal.

I’ve been having a hard time journaling lately. I feel like it’s going nowhere and not helping me process anything. And I just get grumpy and frustrated and feel stuck.

Last week, I did some lettering for a wine and cheese mixer at work. And I really enjoyed myself!

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I’ve been drawing inspiration from Lisa Congdon’s blog and her past project “365 days of hand lettering” as well as Pinterest.

It’s soothing, relaxing, comforting and inspirational for me. I’ve been writing one quote a day, usually in more than one style of lettering. It’s been a delightful practice, spending time and energy putting words onto paper, cementing them into my mind. Here are a few snapshots from my journal this past week:

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I know! They are phone pictures of my journal! It’s silly and it’s by no means art, but it’s very, very therapeutic.

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I’m looking forward to playing around with this exercise some more!

A Well-Made Bed

A well-made bed should always include a doggie. Always. Morris Chestnut cannot resist a freshly made bed. He LOVES to lie down on a freshly washed fitted sheet and camp out until we’ve finished making the bed around him. Very helpful, little dog.

Here he is last week:

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Here he is two weeks before that (and before a much needed haircut):2015-01-25

It’s his thing. His weird, weird, adorable puppy dog thing.

Ladies!

I’m crushing hard and totally inspired by a lot of ladies in the limelight recently. If you don’t know anything about the ladies below, do yourself a favor and use your Google machine to learn how badass these babes are!

  • Angela Merkel (politician with a PhD)
  • Kerry Washington (actress whose personal life is no one’s business but her own)
  • Emma Thompson (feminist, actress, intellectual)
  • Tina Fey (bossypants)
  • Amy Poehler (Yes, Please!)
  • Julia Child (shoutout to my fellow tall lady!)

There are so many more women out there, but I’m really digging reading up on and following these gals, for now.

Why I Go To Therapy

I go to therapy because it’s something I very much need. I am not gifted at being kind to myself. I have high expectations and push myself very hard. In that way, I am really really good at keeping myself depressed. I am the number one critic of Heidi. I either beat myself up or find excuses for every perceived flaw or mistake. I need my weekly therapy so that at least for 50 minutes each week, under professional supervision, I am kind to myself. Some weeks, that is the only 50 minutes that I am nice to Heidi. Even as I write this I’m thinking “that’s terrible! I should be nice to myself more often. Ugh, I’m so bad at being a person!” I kid you not. As I write about being mean to myself, I’m being mean to myself about being mean to myself. It’s a terrible habit and a vicious cycle that I’m trying real hard to break.

Going to therapy keeps me accountable and keeps me working toward my mental and emotional goals, the main one right now being self-care. I don’t think it’s for everyone, but I do think it helps me to have the weekly check-in, the professional guidance, and above all else, the kindness toward myself.

 

Working Toward Self-Care

One of the things I’m working on right now is being nicer to myself and engaging in self-care. Being able to Recognize some of the obstacles between myself and practicing self-care is huge progress. Currently, I’m staring down that hurdle I like to call ” perceived expectations” or “inherited guilt.” Mainly, I’m trying to allow the home to be equal responsibility between myself an my husband, instead of mentally beating myself up for the way my apartment looks right now. Every dirty dish and piece of laundry is a symbol of my shame. But, just because I’m a lady doesn’t mean I have to be the primary homemaker and caretaker. Jim readily supports this type of thinking. It’s my own perception that if I get “help” from him, I will not be living up to my potential. I know that’s bullshit! And, here’s where it gets complicated, it’s the fact that I even let that bullshit be in my brain that makes me feel terrible about myself.

SILLINESS. COUNTERPRODUCTIVE SILLINESS!

I’m trying to remind myself every chance I get that, yes, past Heidi did allow that stuff to get in my brain. But she may have been a child at the time and is not here now, so getting angry at present-in-the-moment Heidi helps no one. It helps none of the Heidis anywhere, at any time.

So what does help? Kindness. Deep breaths. Telling myself that it’s not about how the crap got in there, it’s about fighting the crap here and now. Sometimes that looks like a hot bath. Sometimes it’s a healthy dinner. Often, it’s an early bedtime with puppy snuggles. But whatever it is, it’s important that I ask myself “what can I do RIGHT NOW to make this better?” Finding effective self-care solutions can be a process of trial and error, just as much of life is. I’m trying to accept that in order to progress, there will be errors. There have been errors. Fact. Truth. No amount of being hard on myself will change that. So I may as well accept it and try to be happy. And boy does it take a lot of try, these days. But that’s ok – I’ve got a lot of willingness to try.

Being Honest

Being honest with myself is one of the hardest things in the world. Admitting every “flaw,” every “failure” and being truly honest about where I’m at emotionally, mentally and physically is the tallest order I can imagine. This is in part because I’m not quite sure what my definitions of flaws and failures are. I am sure there are inherited and assumed definitions of those things floating around inside my brain, sneakily giving me bad feelings about the things I do or don’t do. So then I have to identify first that I have some bad feelings. Then I have to figure out what they are about. Then I have to figure out if they are relevant or just those old expectations hanging on. That’s very, very hard for me, not because the process of determining relevance is difficult, but because accepting that I may have allowed myself to experience irrelevant feelings of guilt, shame, obligation and the like seems like a flaw in and of itself and therefore makes me feel guilt and shame.

I KNOW.

You’d think I’d be thrilled that I can dump those irrelevant, inherited feelings in the trash and get on with my self-evaluation. Instead, I perceive experiencing irrelevant feelings of guilt, shame, obligation and the like as a flaw in and of itself. The irony is not lost on me. The cycle is vicious.

SIGH.

So, currently, I’m trying to be kind to myself. To accept that the world is full of cultural, societal, religious, political and many more types of expectations and norms. Of course it’s hard for me to tune them out and hone in on what matters to me! And I’ve formed habits around the expectations of others, I’ve allowed the expectations of others to become my own and to define my habits. And you know what? I did that when I was kid. We all did! Why am I ashamed over what was really me just trying to be a good kid? I don’t know, but I’m trying to let go of shame. I’m trying to let go of guilt. I’m trying to untie these anchors that are attached to me, but gosh darn it if I don’t sit down and have a good cry over the fact that I tied these knots in the first place. Moving forward, instead of being mad and having an angry cry, I’m going to try to show some compassion. Relax my standards. Breathe. Move forward without judging the past. Having a ton of compassion for the little girl who wanted to be good, and having compassion for the adult me that inherited her flawed ways of thinking. There’s nothing to feel bad about. There’s just some important work toward self-honesty and self-care to be done.

And so, like many others out there, I’ll do the work.