Mandala

© Angela Porter 2019 - Artwyrd.com
© Angela Porter 2019 – Artwyrd.com

I love the combination of teals and coppery tones so I chose to use them as part of the colour scheme in this mandala. A simple black outline mandala with no crazily intricate detailed patterns included. I’m not so sure about the purple-ish I used for the ‘crystals’ in the other most rings of the mandala though.

Drawn and coloured in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro using a Microsoft Surface Pen on the screen of a Microsoft Surface Studio very, very late last night and into the wee small hours of this morning.

Today is likely to be another self-care day. I thought I was in a place where I could do loving kindness meditations again this morning. I’m not. So much emotional distress and even physical pain during the part of the meditation that involves bringing loving kindness to myself. I have no problem sending loving kindness to another being I feel love for. I have no problem sending it out to all of the Earth. Still, the nasty messages of the inner critic are fodder for EMDR. And it’s such a lovely sunny, late winter day here in the Welsh Valleys.

Art and my healing journey

 

 

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A page of floral sketches from my sketchbook.

This is a little bit of a different blog post from me.

As I’ve mentioned before, I experience CPTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder), which presents itself in many ways, including anxiety, depression, and a low self-esteem.

I’ve had lots of counselling over the past eight years or so, and for the last two and a half years I’ve had a lovely therapist who specialises in EMDR therapy.  It’s taken a long while for me to get to the point where I believe that such a gentle kind of therapy works, and works for me.  It’s still a slow process…but progress is being made.  A major change in employment nearly a year ago seriously helped with that.

Last week, my counsellor suggested I read a book called ‘Tapping In’ by Laurel Parnell.  In the book, Laurel Parnell describes how the process of bilateral stimulation by means of tapping the knees or outer thighs can be used to reinforce a safe place, helpful guardians and other tools to help during both therapy and everyday life.  My own therapist has successfully used it to reduce anxiety during a dental appointment as well as aiding in sleep.

She suggested I read the book and we do some work on the resources I need before continuing with EMDR as the last few sessions have left me rather upset, fragile, and, unsually for me, unable to find my ‘safe place’ at the end of a session, so that I can leave the fragile and upset state behind.

So,  yesterday we worked on my safe place, with me coming up with a new one and ‘tapping in’ the contentment, peace and safety I feel when I imagine myself there. The bilateral stimulation from alternating taps to the outer knees, helps to reinforce the feeling of the place, and actually helps to intensify it.

I have no problem imagining places I can go to in my imagination; I’ve used guided meditations over the years for various purposes.  When it comes to me coming up with my own imaginary places, it never ceases to surprise me what these places are like!

The other thing that was suggested after I’d verbally described my place, was to spend time over the week drawing/painting/creating images of this place, as well as practicing the process of tapping in my safe place and using it to help me manage my current high anxiety levels.  (My anxiety intensified greatly yesterday, not as a result of counselling, but by the decision to hold a ‘snap general election’ and my worries about what is happening in this country, in the world, which then gets transferred to worrying about finances as I’m now self-employed, and so on and the constant chatter of anxiety winds itself up if I’m not careful).

Me being me, I get to it almost straight away…starting with these mandalas

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Mandalas based on the feelings I get when I’m in my ‘safe place’.

Carl Jung used mandalas to represent/express the current state of the self:

“My mandalas were cryptograms concerning the state of the self which was presented to me anew each day…I guarded them like precious pearls….It became increasingly plain to me that the mandala is the center. It is the exponent of all paths. It is the path to the center, to individuation. ” – Carl Jung

So, I started with some abstract, intuitive mandalas to try to express the feelings I have when I think of my safe place, when I remember the feelings I have when I’m there.

Next, I wanted to draw some kind of representation of a view from one of the windows of my place.  And this is what I came up with, though the view changes all the time!

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Yes, I know water isn’t yellow, but in my inner world it can be!  It also shimmers with gold and has lots of shining gold and blue ‘dots’ in it.  Lots of happy creatures and colours there, all entertaining me … diverting my attention away from my anxiety.

Yes, I use art to help me manage my mental health.  When anxious, doing art helps me become less so; when depressed, art lifts my mood.  I’m sure the inner critic chatters away even when I’m ‘arting’, but the art takes my attention so the critic’s voice can be ignored.

Oh, before I drew anything, I took time to write a clear description of my safe place, as words are how I build up mind images.

I’m looking forward to ‘tapping in’ help for creativity, amongst other things… I’m also looking to intuitively drawing and creating some more of the living things that I can see from my safe place – all friendly and protective of course, nothing scary allowed there!  Which suits my tendency to rather whimsical, cutesy, artistic style.

So, I’ve shared a little of my ‘safe place’, but I’m keeping a lot of details to myself – no offence, but I don’t want any gate crashers there!

Growing Love

Growing Love 1 © Angela Porter 2012

4″ x 3″.  Rotring pens, watercolours, metallic gold paint and pens on Bristol Board.

Just playing really with the Bristol Board; it’s very white and very smooth and will take a bit of a colour wash.  The design is very much influenced by early Celtic art and prehistoric rock art, though the hearts have crept in unconsciously.  In fact, most of my art is created while in a meditative kind of state, the lines, shapes, textures and colours flow from my unconscious, from my inner being.  Perhaps the hearts represent the self-love starting to bloom within me, or maybe the artwork symbolises the start of love being sent out and shared.  I’m sticking with the title ‘Growing Love’ for now.

Half term almost over … boo!

I spent the first half of the half-term week getting over ‘flu.  It took until Wednesday for me to feel even slightly alive, and until Thursday for me to feel like myself.

Wednesday saw my car pass it’s MOT with ‘flying colours’ – not a single advisory note, and just one bit of work that needed to be done before the MOT.  My bill was a massive £65 – which is a bit sarcastic as that’s the lowest bill I’ve had for a car that I own for a long time.  The Smart Car drained my resources frequently, but this battered, M-reg red Corsa is proving to be the most reliable and cheapest car to run (taking into account petrol, insurance, tax and servicing/repairs!  So a happy bunny, and even more so because the new mechanic is an absolute gem – thanks to my little sister Sara for recommending him.

Thursday was a weird day as I had to be interviewed as part of an inquiry into problems with a committee I’m a member of.  I’m not involved with the problems per se, but I am one of the witnesses to what occurred; not that I remember much as it was many months ago now.  So, we wait to see what happens as a result of the inquiry.

Friday saw a new shower fitted by a nice man from SWALEC at long last, but not without problems.  The main problem was that I couldn’t remember where the water stop cock was until water had sprayed over the bathroom and dripped through the ceiling downstairs and then my memory clicked in.  Everything else then went fairly smoothly.  After this, I had time to have a quick clean up before heading to Cardiff for an interview to start training as a hypnotherapist with Chrysalis.  That was easy, and though the nerves kicked in a little because it’s an unknown thing.  The actual interview wasn’t one really, more of a ‘this is what hypnotherapy is (I already knew that, but let them tell me again), I can see you have a lot of life experience (apparently important for any therapist), and do you want to ask any questions?’  It was a pleasant 30 mins or so.  I was told I could start the course the next day or wait until the next intake in the Spring.

Well, once I’ve made my mind up, I tend to do things as straight away as is possible, so I elected to start the course the very next day…

… and that’s how I spent yesterday! 10am to 5pm learning about the course, expectations, sorting out practice groups that meet outside of the monthly day courses, getting to know one another, and then actually experiencing and then practising a progressive muscle relaxation method.

The method was familiar to me as I use one very similar when I take a group of people for guided meditations on a Friday evening.  I cheated and didn’t use their script, but used my own … but I know I’ll have to follow more precisely in the future.  My partner was well pleased with the results, so that’s all that really, really matters.

I have a feeling I will instinctively know a lot of what is being taught, but the diploma will allow me to practice as a hypnotherapist, perhaps even start up a little business, which if it becomes successful and sustainable may allow me to change my career, even if only part-time.

I also have kind of decided that after this I’d like to do a degree in either psychology or forensic psychology and then use that to lead me to completely new pastures.  I’ve often thought about becoming a counsellor, but … there’s something that tells me not yet.  However, we’ll see!

I was totally drained in the evening.  It was a busy day, especially with so many people (26 including me and the tutor – Sue Preston).

I do plan to spend some time today completing another abstract artwork, that’s once I’ve sorted out all the notes from yesterday’s course.  I also have Pommes Dauphinoise, though my version has loads of garlic in it, parsley instead of thyme and no cheese on it.  However it is cooked it is a terribly indulgent yet scrummily delicious dish.  I will just have a variety of veggies with it…I think.  Though Quorn Fish-less Fingers may be speaking to me to eat them!

Crystals and other things

The return to work … and stress…

Well, it’s just over a fortnight into the month and me being back and work and juggling everything else that goes on in my life such as taking and going to meditation classes, meetings, workshops, talks has meant that the time I have spent at home has been almost total ‘down time’.  Chilling with mugs of tea and a DVD or several is about all I’ve been able to do.  It may be a good sign that I am taking that time out and not filling my time up with busy-ness.

Stress hit a high on Friday with a confrontation with a pupil … and the fear that I may have done something wrong, that I will end up being told off for it, and yet common sense tells me that I did nothing wrong (apart from shout a little loudly). I was annoyed and angry with myself for letting my temper ooze out, though I regained control very quickly, and gained a stress-headache as a result of keeping things in.  There was no chance to let the temper out as I was on the roller-coaster of lessons yet again.  I wish I could have a ‘get out of lessons free card’ like some of the pupils, just for a few mins to gather myself back together.  I now have another set of negative automatic thoughts and reactions that now need de-programming, or perhaps that need revisiting in the light of some further insight.

Having said that, this was a lesson I had to take as soon as I got to work after a counselling session that ended just half an hour or so before the lesson.  It was an emotional session, with me trying to face up to my emotional eating, self-image, self-confidence, self-esteem and weight issues … sometimes I think I should just phone in ill.  I have leave of absence for these sessions simply because I give up my non-contact time in the week to attend them so that I have no classes to be covered.

Any suggestions for a career change for me?

I think this may be the only way out of what seems to be constant source of stress in my life, and with the way attitudes towards education have changed, both among parents and pupils and the low value placed on education and the lack of respect for teachers from parents, pupils, government and the wider society it’s not going to change, is it?  A way out, but I have no idea what else I would like to do or could do (bearing in mind I do need a certain income to pay the bills …).

Crystals

Thinking about stress, I’m always trying to find ways that work for me to relieve stress in my life and so stop me becoming totally drained and heading towards a dark place.

Meditation certainly helps no end, but that takes a fair amount of time, time I don’t have in the normal school day.  Morning and night not a problem, but during the school day … not even at lunchtime do I have time that is mine.  So, I do look at other things.  Square breathing that can be done ‘on the fly’ to regain control of some part of myself and my emotions, for instance.

Crystals may be another way of helping myself … though I’m not always convinced about such things.  I also have mixed views about the rape of our planet, our home in the Universe, for it’s precious resources that cannot be replaced, well not in our life-time at any rate.

I did have an interesting experience with a tumbled piece of sodalite that I purchased after a particularly emotionally harrowing counselling session a year and a half ago.  I was fondling it while having a make-over in the Body Shop.  There was a cracking sound and a piece of the sodalite had broken off and crumbled.  Now, I’m not strong enough to do that, there were no obvious flaws that I could see in the mineral, and it would most likely have broken into two pieces if that were the case, but to crumble into what looked like blue sand …

Crystal therapists and ‘experts’ I’ve related this tale to tell me that was a sign that some powerful healing had happened, and that such breakages are not uncommon.

The scientist in me is very sceptical about anything like this, even though I know that I did end up feeling better sooner than I thought.  There was a sudden easing of my emotional distress, whether that was due to the crystal or the make-over or just a little bit of time and space I don”t know – too many variables to say which one it was!  Or maybe it was just a combination of them all.

Sodalite

Sodalite from www.exquisiteearth.co.uk
Sodalite from http://www.exquisiteearth.co.uk

Sodalite unites logic with intuition and opens spiritual perception, bringing information from the higher mind down to the physical level.  When used in meditation, the mind can be used to understand the circumstances you find yourself in.  This stone instills a drive for truth and an urge towards idealism, making it possible to remain true to yourself and stand up for your beliefs.

Sodalite eliminates mental confusion and intellectual bondage.  It encourages rational thought, objectivity, truth and intuitive perception along with the verbalisation of feelings.  As it calms the mind it allows new information to be received.  Sodalite stimulates the release of old mental conditioning and rigid mind-sets, creating space to put new insights into practice.

Psychologically, this stone brings about emotional balance and calms panic attacks.  It can transform a defensive or oversensitive personality, releasing the core fears, phobias, guilt and control mechanisms that hold you back from being who you truly are.  It enhances self-esteem, self-acceptance and self-trust.

Sodalite aids, among other things, the throat, vocal cords and larynx and is helpful for hoarseness and digestive disorders.  From The Crystal Bible, Judy Hall.

Well, that most probably covers all I’ve mentioned in my experience of sodalite, as well as issues I’m working on.  I do remember just finding myself attracted to the sodalite in the display of crystals in the shop, which was Exquisite Earth in Merthyr Tydfil.  I also remember the owner telling me to look up the crystal in a copy of ‘The Crystal Bible’ by Judy Hall and at the time it perfectly suited the situation I found myself in, and still do.  However, I am working my way through to the other side, and I am certainly a lot, lot better than I was back then!

Art

Art has taken a bit of a back seat to life in general lately.  I am hoping to lose myself in some art in the very near future – such as as soon as I’ve finished this blog entry and got a mug of tea!  I don’t have a lot of time this afternoon as I have a talk to do tonight.

Currently reading …

My reading list is really odd at the moment :

‘I can make you thin’ by Paul McKenna

‘The Spook’s Battle’ by Joseph Delaney

‘After Death Communication’ by Emma Heathcote-James

‘The Physicists’ View of Nature, Part 2: The Quantum Revolution’ by Amit Goswani

So, you can go figure!

Interwoven

 

Interwoven 1 © Angela Porter 2010

 

Interwoven 2 © Angela Porter 2010

 

Artistic endeavours

Above are two of my latest pieces of art, both worked on black card using Uni-Ball Signo metallic gel pens and Cosmic Shimmer iridescent watercolours.

The bottom one has a chain of circles/links that was inspired by looking at a La Tene or Early Celtic Art neck torc.  The rest of the patterns/shapes just flowed around the circles.

I’ve enjoyed doing these.  They give me a chance to just relax, go within myself, create and find some peace and pleasure during days when life seems a struggle at times.  Abstract art is perfect for me in doing this.  I tend to call these things ‘doodles’, but others see them as ‘effortless pieces of art, very creative and imaginative, a sure sense of colour’.  Perhaps because it is easy for me to do I find it hard to see why others would find it ‘precious’.  But as it flows from within, it does tend to be personal, and perhaps an outer representation of my inner emotional ‘weather’.

Feeling jaded, tired with teaching

This week the emotional weather has been very changeable, though there’s been a very tired and jaded weather system lingering.

I am tired and jaded with my job.  I have found it hard to get enthused about anything this week.  I find the constant disrespectful, confrontational, aggressive and/or histrionic attitudes wearying in the extreme.  There seems to be an almost constant battle that I have to fight in order to do my job.

It’s not all gloom and doom, however.  There are bright, sunny periods, where pupils with a willingness to learn, the grace to show kindness in their speech and in attitudes to others, and those full of joy to be around me.  But they are increasingly being overshadowed, once again, by the others.

I feel so much empathy for the pupils who are stuck in classes full of their peers who dominate the groups, disrupt the lessons, and carry an atmosphere of unsettledness in so many ways with them.

I’m beginning to really understand that I am too kind, caring, gentle to work in such an environment for much longer.  My kindness and gentleness make me a target for these aggressive, disrespectful, histrionic teens.  They see me as weak, pathetic, perhaps even too controlling of the class, or trying to be.  I want all to do well, to learn, to gain something positive from my lessons, and I know I expect way too much of myself in this, or perhaps not of myself but of them.

However, is it really too much to ask to have a polite response when asking a pupil to do something such as ‘get your pens and book out please’?  Is it too much to expect that I won’t be greeted with a volley of abusive language or a strident statement that either I’m picking on them, or I have an attitude problem.

I guess I should feel lucky that it’s just words and not furniture or knives or guns that are hurled at me.

Some of you may think it’s my fault I get treated like this.  I don’t think so.  I have to be true to myself.  When I’m not, then its so obvious that things get worse.  My kind, caring, empathic nature suits me working with children with special educational needs and these children rarely give me problems and respond and appreciate my nature, generally. There’s always an odd couple who don’t respond.

My issues are with mainstream pupils who generally don’t appreciate the kind, caring, supportive, encouraging approach.  Their attitudes mean I tend to distance myself from them to protect myself, though I try to help those who want my help, so long as I’m not having de-fuse situations about to explode, deal with disruption and so on.  Sometimes I feel more like a peace-keeper come baby-sitter than a teacher.  I’m absolutely sure it was never like this when I started teaching many years ago now.

Are my particular skills, talents and gifts being made the best use of  in work?  Definitely not.

Career change needed?

All of this has added to my personal problems that I am working on; and in many ways it delays me carrying out the personal work that I need to do by overshadowing that.  My biggest problem is what on earth could I do other than teach?  The other problem is that of financial security; I have a permanent contract, so I have as secure a job as is possible in the current financial climate.  However, the biggest problem is what else could I do?

What I think are my particular strengths, such as art, writing (that maybe doesn’t come across in this blog), a quickness of mind, an innate intelligence, true empathy for others, a deeply caring and kind nature, an ability to speak well and to entrance audiences, I have no particular qualifications for, nor do I have the time nor financial resources to return to university to gain them.

It is a right pickle …

But at least I get time to lose myself in art or writing or reading or playing my flute or meditating, activities that help to bring me peace and joy, and some of which others can gain joy from too if I share them.

Memories of my father’s passing

Something else that seems to have affected my emotional weather this week was the fact that it was the anniversary of my father’s passing.  Two years ago on the 10th November, around 9:20pm, I was sat with my father during the last moments of his life on Earth.  I’d most probably spent more time with him during the 8 months he was in hospital than for the rest of my life.  In fact, I spent more time with him during this time than I did with other human beings.  It was an interesting time; he had Alzheimer’s as well as cancer and diabetes and arthritis, and just old age.

His last evening on Earth was one where he struggled to breathe, where he was in and out of consciousness, and was very agitated.  I spoke to him about things I’d done, things I planned to do, and I was very tearful as I knew he was slipping away, even if the medical staff, my mother and other members of the family thought he’d be there for months longer.  There was a smell in the room, and I just knew it was time.

I’d never seen a real dead body before, let alone been with a person coming to the end of their mortal days.  I was scared, worried if I’d be a strong enough person to stay with my father through it.  I’d always told him I’d be there with him if he wanted me to be, whether he understood me or not.  As it happened, I was strong enough.

Despite his extreme confusion thanks to the Alzheimer’s, in the last few moments of his life he knew who I was and was able to say some things that meant a lot.  He knew he was dying and about to pass away and he wasn’t scared.  I asked him if he wanted me to stay with him, he said yes.  His passing was peaceful.  After speaking it was only a few minutes before he quietly slipped away, and I observed/felt things that have since helped me on my spiritual path. In fact, I experienced many things while visiting my father that gave me and still give me cause for thought.

After he passed, the room was filled with a feeling of such love, not sadness.  The sadness was that he was so ill and suffered so much before he passed.  I didn’t feel relief, just love and a sense of peace.

For that I thank my father deeply.  I feel he granted me a great privilege to be present as his passing, so many seem to choose to pass away when their loved ones have taken leave of them, and to witness so much I can’t, as a scientist, explain yet makes sense to me as a person finding their way along a spiritual path on the Earth.  I’d like to believe that my father is on the next stage of his spiritual journey, whatever form that may take.

What has surprised me is that my mind has wandered back to that time in the past few days, and it has brought up tears with the memories.   I believe I did my grieving in the months my father was declining towards his passing, and though I had tears for a day or two afterwards I think it was more to do with emotional exhaustion.  His passing left me with a need to adjust my spiritual beliefs, to re-examine them, and I used my bereavement leave to do this.

I have wondered if these memories are what I’ve used as an ‘excuse’ to avoid facing up to issues with work …

Sixteen squares

 

My first sixteen squares for KAS
Sixteen squares.

Sixteen squares done!

These have been knitted or crocheted in either double knitting, aran or chunky yarns for Knit-A-Square.  Some are kitting in stocking stitch with moss stitch or garter stitch borders.  Others have been knitted with a textured design on them, again with the borders.  One even has a flower on it – stocking stitch and reverse stocking stitch are the contrasting stitches – a pattern adapted from “Blankets and Throws to Knit” by Debbie Abrahams.  A couple have been knitted diagonally in garter stitch.  And there’s even a couple of crocheted ‘granny squares’!  I have spent time keeping notes of what sized needles I’ve used, the number of stitches in a square, the patterns used, in a little notebook.

Crocheting is not a skill I’ve been able to come anywhere near perfecting.  I can just about manage granny squares.  Simple edgings too.  But that’s it.  Knitting is more my thing.  I must admit it was fun to knit the flower from the book as a textured pattern rather than in colours – I need to seriously practice my intarsia knitting!  I did try to make it in colours, but I got holes and uneven areas; it’s been a very long time since I did any such knitting.

I’ve found a lot of fun and joy and pleasure in knitting these little squares.  They let me practice different techniques, play with different yarns, and learn new tricks.  They’re small enough that they’re finished quite quickly and the materials/tools are easy to carry around so that knitting can be done on trains and so on; to take the blazer I’m knitting with me would need a large bag and plenty of room to accomplish job – not always available on a train, for instance, and not always sensible to take a huge bag of stuff with me anywhere.  I’m hoping that their small size will allow me to become more creative with the designs as time goes on…with the limited number of stitches to make a square it’s a challenge!

The other good thing about this for me is that the size of the project is not overwhelming for me.  I’m not making a huge number of squares of a certain size in order to create a blanket/throw/shawl.  Each square is a complete item in its own right, and will become part of something much larger.  I do have a problem with projects that overwhelm me with their enormity, such as knitting a large number of squares to make a blanket/throw, or writing a story (let alone a book), or a large and complex piece of art or jewellery or clearing the garden.  Something I need to work on turning around … and until then, I’ll work on projects that either don’t overwhelm me, or I can push myself a little bit into something bigger than I would usually do, or sneak up on ones that would ordinarily overwhelm me and surprise myself!

Once I shake this cold/flu/pharyngitis off then I’ll no doubt start to practice contemplative knitting as a way of developing mindfulness, with the aid of tips from the book “Mindful Knitting” by Tara Jon Manning.  But that is for another day.  At the moment I’m still coughing, sniffing, blowing my nose and generally feeling off-colour still.