Monday mood

©Angela Porter

Another day on lock-down, and I started the day by colouring a Strathmore Bristol Board tile with Distress Inks, then drawing. You can see the result above, sorry for the poor photo.

The random generated tangle pattern for today is ‘BB‘, and it’s the wavy set of blocks across the middle of the design. The rest of the design is made up from some of my favourite patterns and motifs, as well as a few dangle designs.

The overall design doesn’t feel as if it flows. That may be a reflection of my emotional state, which is a mixture of anxiety, fear, being overwhelmed and exhausted.

So, self-care is in order. So that’s doing things that won’t frustrate me, or that won’t having me feel that whatever I do is rubbish.

Sunday tangling

Sunday Tangling ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

This morning, I was in the mood to do a bit of tangling/zentangling. I used a random tangle pattern generator to choose the main pattern for my design and it threw ‘Purk’ at me.

Yesterday, I spent some time creating some backgrounds digitally. So, I decided to use one of those and to tangle digitally too. This is the result.

It took me a lot longer to finish than if I’d drawn with pen on paper. Mainly because I spent time adding shading and highlights to the image. That let me play around with different kinds of layers and brush effects yet again. Bit by bit I’m learning how I can make them work for me.

I need a break from this for a while. But I can see how I need to add more shadow/depth to the background patterns.

So, Angela, how’re you doing today?

I’ve suddenly come over all tired. My sleep is all over the place. Despite me feeling content, there’s still a deep seated anxiety about the pandemic and how life is at the moment. That anxiety is draining me emotionally. I feel emotionally out of sorts today, even though I can still feel that contented touchstone inside me.

I’m surprised I settled to do some drawing this morning. Yesterday, I had trouble settling to anything to the point I was going to throw out my yarn stash. Whatever I’ve tried in terms of knitting or crochet has just frustrated the heck out of me rather than settled me down.

I found myself swearing at my phone yesterday as it pinged with alerts. I’ve now put my phone on silent. I will check in on messages etc in a short while, but they are going to be silenced until I am no longer getting so angry I’m swearing and shouting at the phone. I’ve never done that before and it’s a sign of how much on edge I am, even though I feel content.

Yesterday and today I’ve not known what to do with myself. I’ve not felt that way for a long while for such an extended period of time. There was a time when I’d be like this for days or months. I’ve not often felt this way in the past year or two as my healing from cPTSD has really kicked in.

Still, I will be kind to myself about this as these are unusual times; unfamiliar with increased fear, anxiety and uncertainty. The last day or two my usual coping strategies haven’t helped me to distance myself from the overwhelming pervasiveness of constant news and articles, posts and memes about the Covid-19 pandemic.

It’s not just a break from my phone I need; it’s a break from the news and views too. A retreat from the world and everything is needed. For a while at least.

Floral Mandala

Floral Mandala ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

The art

I’ve finally finished this mandala. I like the design and patterns, but I wish I’d not used the yellowy greens and teals. There’s no much I can do now, however, as I collapsed all the layers as I went. Something to try to remember not to do in future. I also need to try an even more limited palette, maybe monochrome in my next mandala.

Digital art created using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro along with a Microsoft Surface Slim Pen and a Microsoft Surface Studio.

So, how are you doing today Angela?

I’m doing just fine today. I slept fairly well last night and the sun is shining once more today. I have windows open upstairs to let some cooler, fresher air into the home (of course everyone’s more than six feet away from the, apart from birds and the odd cat who wanders onto my windowsills at the back of the house).

It’s lovely to feel both the warmth of the radiant infrared light from the sun and coolness of the gentle air flow on my skin. Definitely one of life’s little pleasures!

Creating art is also another pleasure, which I have done this morning with my mandala. Something else that lifts my heart. And while I was finishing this mandala, I was listening to ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ audiobook on Audible. Again, something that I really enjoy – listening to a story.

My first mug of tea has been had and it was a satisfyingly comforting experience, as always. I had some dried cranberries in my delivery yesterday, so I had a sprinkling of them in my morning porridge, along with some golden sultanas. The cranberries glowed like jewels in the porridge, which was lovely to see.

I’m not quite sure what I’ll do after I’ve finished my social media posting today. I could do with another mug of tea. Maybe I’ll draw or colour some more paper to draw on. I have crocheting, cross-stitching and knitting to do. And of course there’s plenty of books I’ve yet to read, or listen to. And I’ve got a few seasons of Criminal Minds left to watch too!

As long as I’m purposefully busy, often creatively, I can keep the anxiety and fear of Covid19 at bay. As soon as I start thinking about the pandemic, the uncertainty of the present time, and of the future, anxiety and fear starts to well up again. Healthy distractions are needed to cope with the overwhelming nature of it all.

I am trying to notice all the little things in each day I take for granted – both those that I can still do, and the things that are missing from my life at the moment, such as walking in the park or countryside, day trips and cake runs, popping to the shop, going out for a meal, attending meetings with like-minded souls, being able to just go out for a drive, visiting the museum or churches and abbeys…

I know that each day we go through this pandemic we are one day closer to it’s end. Life will return to some normalcy, but I think it will also be changed in many ways too, hopefully for the better.

Entangled Drawing

©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

This morning, I used the random tangle pattern generator and it came up with ‘Tripoli’. This is a tangle pattern I’ve had trouble with so often in the past. For some reason I find it awkward to draw the triangular motifs that make up this pattern in a way that I find pleasing. I almost clicked the button to generate another tangle pattern. Instead, I chose to work with Tripoli and this is the result.

I used one of the tiles I’d coloured with Distress Inks at the weekend, along with Unipin Uniball pens. No pencil ‘string’ or guidelines. I also chose to use a variation of the classic Tripoli pattern (see it on Tangle Patterns or here).

It was an enjoyable and relaxing process to draw this 5½” x 5½” tile.

I’ve been ‘zentangling’ long before Zentangle was a thing. I love pattern. I love stylised motifs. I draw inspiration from architecture, nature, Prehistoric art, pottery, Celtic and La Tene, illuminated manuscripts, and more.

I’ve always been fascinated with deconstructing patterns in order to replicate them in my own way.

Well being check in…

Today I’m tired. I look like I have a pair of black eyes. I really didn’t sleep well last night, again. I may well nap this afternoon; I’m finding it hard to keep my eyes open even as I write this blog.

Even though I’m tired, more than bone tired, the sunshine and warmth of the rays of light finding their way to me through the windows really lifts my spirits.

As I went to put some recycling out this morning, a neighbour’s cat came to say hello. He’s a strange kitty, likes a fuss, but not too much and only in very specific places on his body, but he’s a friendly chap. It was nice to make a fuss of him in the sunshine, his black fur soft, silky and warm from absorbing infrared light.

I had two deliveries today. One an organic fruit and veg box along with some other goodies. Some things weren’t available though, but it’ll be just fine I’m sure. The other was a box containing some tea bags – English Breakfast tea bags containing rolled leaves of tea in biodegradable mesh. And a rather nifty tin to keep them in!

Tea, twice and thrice blessed tea! Always a pleasure and always one to look forward to.

Little things to be grateful for even when limited to home for the foreseeable future.

Monday Mindfulness

It’s such a beautifully, sunshiny, glorious spring day here in the Valleys of South Wales. The sunshine, especially when I’m at home for the foreseeable future, is most welcome and lifts my spirits greatly.

It also frustrates me a little that I want to be out and about, sun on my face and wind in my hair. However, I do understand and accept the need to be at home. Understanding doesn’t remove the frustration.

I was also at a loss at how to be arty this morning. I decided to use one of the ’tiles’ I’d coloured with Distress Inks on Saturday. I also stumbled across a zentangle pattern randomiser and gave it a click.

The pattern that popped up was ‘Ravel’, and so I filled the tile with it. I used 05 and 02 Unpin pens from Uniball. When I was done, I decided I needed a bit of shimmer and shine, so I added some metallic gold dots.

I could add water to ‘bleach’ out high spots on the design. Maybe I’ll do that later.

Drawing a repeating pattern as well as drawing intuitively and deliberately is a very mindful activity for me. It helps calm my mind and emotions. It brings meditative peace and contentment to me. All art does that, but there’s something particularly satisfying about a small project that can be completed in a sensible amount of time; a project with the goals of calm and relaxation.

Warm sunshine pouring in the window beside me as I mindfully zentangle has helped me find contentment. That gentle inner smile that has been hiding behind the clouds of worry and fear has returned.

During this pandemic, this global health and societal crisis, it’s more important to find the contentment, peace and inner smile.

Mindfulness helps with acceptance of a situation as it is. Not fretting about what has been done already. Not worrying about the what ifs. It’s about being present in the here and now. It’s learning to accept that there are circumstances that are beyond our control, and working with the things we can control – our reactions to them and the way we think and feel. To not become the slave to fear, panic, alarm, to recognise they are rational emotions to feel. Still, it’s how we act upon them that’s important. 

It’s also important to recognise that the pandemic will come to an end at some point in time in the future. This will have changed us all, probably society too, hopefully for the better.

So, what can we do in the meantime?

Well, we’re not in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world yet, nor are we likely to be. Farmers will continue to farm. Food and essentials will still be produced. Delivery drivers will deliver. Food shops will be open.

There will be a lag in stocks of some things being restocked as it takes time for the producers to produce more to fill the gaps created by the panic buyers and hoarders. And of course, once the panic has subsided and people stop panicking, those gaps will be filled a lot quicker.

There will be plenty for all, so long as people stop panic buying and hoarding, particularly here in the UK.

Even if society is put into a lock-down, which seems likely here in the UK, then we’ll still be allowed to go out and shop for essentials.

Mind you, for the more vulnerable members of society that means that we’ll have to shop online and have our groceries delivered, or have volunteers, friends, family to help out. I’m expecting a letter soon to tell me that the advice is I stay indoors for twelve weeks – not leaving home to even get some shopping.

So, practice social isolation. It really does make a difference, even if you don’t think it does.

Social distancing and isolation really will slow down the spread of the virus. Then the NHS can cope with the number of people who need hospital care. This way, people won’t needlessly die because the medical care they need just isn’t available as the system is totally overwhelmed.

For each of us that stays home, avoids social contact, we put a break in the chain of how the disease is transmitted. The more gaps in the chain, the slower the virus can spread through society.

Be brave, be a break in the chain. Help to slow down the spread of the virus. 

Help to spread the cases out over time so that the NHS can cope so that all who contract the disease have the best chance of survival.

In this way, each and every one of us can be a hero to help protect those that need protecting.

Each and every one of us.

Zentangle tile

Zentangle tile ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

I really needed to do something creative today to sooth my mind, emotions and soul.

I tried digital art and I just couldn’t settle to it, so I thought a spot of traditional pen and paper drawing in an entangled or zentangle style might just fit the bill.

So, I cut some Claire Fontaine mixed media paper into 4″ x 4″ ’tiles’ and used some Uniball Unipin and Sakura Pigma Micron pens to draw the lineart.

I worked intuitively, not really thinking about what I was doing, just trying to lose myself in the flow so I could find my inner contentment and some peace.

I did scan my drawing in and digitally added a background and shading to the drawing, which really helps to lift it and bring it to life. If you’d like to see the black and white version, then pay a visit to my Instagram account – @angela_porter_illustrator.

Instagram is really irking me at the moment. I can no longer upload images or videos from my PC, only from my phone. I really loathe using the silly little keyboard on a phone to add the blurb that needs to go with the image. I may either reduce my posting to Instagram, or give up on Instagram completely.

Anyway, drawing in this style is something I’ve done for a long time. The familiarity of the process, patterns and motifs is a comfort to my troubled emotions and mind. It has helped to settle me down somewhat, though I’m still exhausted after a poor night’s sleep.

Quote about therapy

Artwork © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

Trigger Warning – the following words contain some references to my past mental and emotional ill health.

I’ve begun to realise that I am as recovered from CPTSD as I’m going to be for now. So, yesterday, I made the decision, after lots of thought, that it was time to leave a month or so until my next session. The longest I’ve been without therapy is three weeks. This time it will be five weeks. It’s a test for me to see if I am as resilient as I think I am. Still, there’s also that little bit of a safety net that if I have issues I know, I’ll have a therapy session to sort out what to do next.

I know that in the future, as life experiences trigger some CPTSD reaction in me, I may need some more EMDR sessions to help me resolve the issues. Leaving therapy, for now, is necessary, but not without the possibility of returning as I need to.

How did I know I’d reached that point? Well, I recovered well from my hiccough, emotionally and mentally, over Christmas and New Year. Surprising well, actually. Even my therapist said that!

Nothing new has come up that needs to be processed it seems. I’ve had the feeling I’ve been groping around for issues to work on in therapy for a long while. Maybe I was ready a while ago but wasn’t quite prepared to leave that safety net of that one person who has always been there to listen, question me and help me to understand and heal myself. I feel I am ready to cut loose now, but suddenly, but gradually.

The soft inner smile, feeling of contentment and ease is present most days. I also have a feeling of what I can only describe as hope and optimism.
These feelings are my touchstones, the way I want to feel most of my days of the remainder of my life.

It still saddens me that it’s taken me until I’m 56 years old to discover them, to heal enough of the traumas of the past to allow them to be fully present nearly every day. I lived my life believing the way I thought and felt was ‘normal’ and that everyone was like this.

It took an emotional and mental breakdown to get me to accept that I was in a severe amount of emotional and mental pain and to seek the help I needed to heal that pain. EMDR has been that help, that therapy has allowed me to heal those wounds.

Sometimes things happen, and my emotions can overshadow the contentment and smile. However, I can still feel those touchstones, reminders that the emotional storm will pass and the smile will shine out once again. This emotional weather has happened a few times since I first discovered my touchstones, but the weather has always passed. Sometimes with the help of therapy, but more often by itself, given self-soothing, self-care and self-reflection.

I am so grateful to have had such a skilled therapist. Still, it’s now time for me to find new ways to engage with like-minded people, not in huge groups, as that would really cause problems for my introverted nature.

I’ve been having EMDR therapy for nearly five and a half years. It seems a long time, yet it’s not that long, really. A lot of commitment and work has been needed, but I’m reaping the rewards of my efforts.

The quote epitomises the way I feel about therapy now. In my darkest days, when I started EMDR. Linda, my therapist, has been that one person who has consistently been there to accompany me on this journey of healing and recovery from CPTSD. She has helped me discover that part of me that wants to experience life my own way, that part which is content, gently smiling, resilient, optimistic, more accepting of myself, kinder to myself, and much more I can’t yet put into words.

I’m not perfect; no one is. However, I’m as emotionally and mentally well as I’m going to be without living life. Only the ups and downs of life will reveal triggers for the remaining CPTSD. Some may never be revealed and not be an issue. Others I may be able to deal with myself, some I may need help from EMDR to process them and heal that still wounded part of myself.

It’s actually quite exciting. All I need to do is to transform that feeling of excitement and optimism into action such as a couple of nights away by myself and finding groups to join where there are like-minded people to begin with.