Self Care Kitty #2

Self Care Kitty #2 © Angela Porter - Artwyrd.com
Self Care Kitty #2 © Angela Porter – Artwyrd.com

I don’t know about you, but watching a beautiful sunrise or sunset lifts my spirits somewhat. Sometimes the experience makes me cry, sometimes with the beauty of it, sometimes releasing some of the stuff going on inside of me. Either way, I find myself relaxing and breathing more easily as I watch the sun set or rise.

It’s something I don’t do often enough. Not just watch the sun rise or set, but spend time in nature. Walking where I can hear birds sing. Paddling in the surf where sea meets land. Feeling the wind in my hair.

When I need to do it most is when I’m least likely to do any of these things. People scare me. Being on my own with people around when I’m emotionally and mentally vulnerable scares me. Being on my own where there’s no people around scares me. Growing up I was always scared and anxious. I always tried to get away from family to somewhere where there was no one who could pick on me. Yet when I got somewhere I’d be so nervous and anxious and scared that I’d end up returning home and then usually hiding away in my bedroom.

If I think about going out to watch a sunset, walk along a beach, sit in nature and draw/write when I most need it to soothe my emotions and mind, the inner critic pipes up in my mother’s voice saying ‘why do you want to bother to do that? what’s the point of it?’ That voice still has power at these times, the times when I really do need to ignore it but don’t have the strength to do so.

I need to fight back. I’ve never fought back, well rarely. I have rarely had ‘no’ in my vocabulary. After over fifty years of life, that voice still has power over me, still robs me of what strength I have.

It’s on notice though – I’ve just recognised you and have worked out what you are doing and your time in my head and heart is now limited.

It’s Friday, so today is both furbaby friday and dangle day, so it’s quite fitting that I have, once again, combined a furbaby and a dangle in one design. I drew the design on Rhodia Dot Grid paper using Uniball Unipin pens and then digitally coloured it using the usual Microsoft Surface Pen and Studio along with Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

Looking at it now, I think I missed an opportunity to attach the dangle to the cat’s tail. I also didn’t add shadows, and I’m not too sure about the circles on the cat’s coat. Also, the cat looks rather ‘flat’.

‘A Dangle A Day’ is a tutorial book I wrote and illustrated to show how you too can create dangle designs and was published earlier this year.

Self care #1 Spend time with a friend

Self-care #1 ©Angela Porter 2019
Self-care #1 ©Angela Porter 2019

A cute kitty to start the day with a bit of advice for self-care.

More of something for me to work towards – reaching out to a friend when I’m having a tough time with my mental/emotional wellbeing. Still a valid bit of advice.

I’m still not quite right today, feeling emotional and fragile still. I still need to get some work done, after an errand or two this morning. I think it’s a day for lots of tea and also drawing with pen and paper so I can sit in/on bed and work.

I still don’t know how EMDR could’ve floored me this week. It all seemed so gentle and nothing much came up during the session. Lots of body stuff for sure, but no memories or insights at the time. I seem to be stuck in emotional flashbacks and all I can do is hope that it’s processing trauma as part of it all.

I know this will all pass in time. I know I’m working towards healing myself with help from Linda, my EMDR therapist. I know that there are steps backwards which are really steps forward as trauma is released and processed outside of the EMDR session.

So, today it’s errands then it’s settling down to be creative and to take care of myself. Lots of tea. Lots, and lots of tea.

The difference color makes – completed

The difference colour makes © Angela Porter 2019
The difference colour makes © Angela Porter 2019

I finally managed to finish coloring this design in yesterday. I’m quite pleased with it. I’m more pleased with the lessons I learned on using different kinds of brushes as well as the need to use higher contrasts in tones. But that is something I can practice on later along

My focus in the next fortnight has to be the book I need to finish by the end of the month. I will get it done.

I’m still feeling very, very tired emotionally and mentally today. I do intend to get at least one coloring template done today. If I can get one done an day, two on some days, I’ll have the book all done before the deadline.

One a day is more than achievable, and allows me some days for self-care, something that I realise is important on days like today. It’s going to take me a while to recover from all the therapy and anti-stigma talks of the past week. As the adrenaline and other stress chemicals leave my body, the exhaustion settles in more and more for a while.

I know I will be just fine and dandy. I just need to take it as easy as I can and take time for myself too.

I can do that.

One or two templates a day is absolutely do-able, even on days where I feel as I do today. When the template’s done, I can then take the selfcare time and not feel guilty about it.

Coloring nearly done …

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

I’ve had a quiet morning at home today and have taken the opportunity to have some self-care time, which for me means adding more colour to this design.

I’ve had three emotionally tiring days in a row; EMDR on Monday and anti-stigma talks on Tuesday and Wednesday. I also had two longish trips on Tuesday to Swansea and then Hereford in absolutely horrid weather.

I had a good sleep last night, but I still feel exhausted and I have one more anti-stigma talk to do in Cwmbran this afternoon. All done in my role as a champion for Time to Change Wales.

I could just curl up in bed and sleep again now, but the shower is calling me and I need to sort myself out for that trip to Cwmbran.

Some might say I’m doing too much. Possibly. But it’s important stuff talking about mental health in the aim of raising awareness, understanding and reducing the stigma and discrimination that exists around mental illness.

Yes, I may be exhausted afterwards. Yes, I may need self-care time for a day or so. But it’s important to do this. It’s important to me.

If I’d known more about what a healthy mind and healthy emotions are when I was younger maybe, just maybe I could’ve sought out help and it may have been easier to achieve recovery.

Maybe I would’ve been more self-aware and able to make better life choices so I didn’t add to the trauma I already carried within me. Maybe I would’ve been wiser and cared a little more about myself and not given so much of myself.

If I can help people to recognise that their mental or emotional health isn’t as it could be and to find a way to change that without fear of stigma or discrimination then I think it’s worth it.

That’s why I do it. Even when I myself am emotionally drained from it. I know I’ll recover. I know that on my way home today I’m likely to get some nice food to cook this evening, maybe even some Ben and Jerry’s Karamel Sutra, and I would like to settle down and watch some Star Wars.

I also want to get some cotton yarn. I had a book in the post at the weekend that has crochet patterns in it for what the American’s call ‘market bags’ and we in the UK call ‘shopping bags’. Crocheted, netting, pretty, reusable, personalised in terms of colour and embellishments.

I shall look forward to an evening of such self care tonight. A chance to properly stop, breathe and relax.

The difference colour makes…

The difference colour makes © Angela Porter 2019 - Artwyrd.com
The difference colour makes © Angela Porter 2019 – Artwyrd.com

This morning, I wanted to do a small drawing (the bristol board is approx. 10cm x 21cm) and try not to get overly fussy and trying to fill every space in. I used fountain pens to draw the line work, and I’m using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, a Microsoft Surface Pen and a Microsoft Surface Studio to add colour to the design.

I’ve often said it on the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group that the members work some fantastic magic in using colour to bring my drawings to life. And they do.

So, I’m working a little of my own magic here!

I don’t often colour my own art in – time constraints can limit me in this. Also, I love drawing so much and it takes me a lot less time to draw a design than it does to colour it. I can safely say I’m quite prolific when it comes to drawing, not so when it comes to colouring.

I’m also colouring this relatively small and less detailed design to fathom out the mysteries of the synthetic brush setting. I think I may be getting the hang of it and how I can make it work for me.

I actually like the less than perfect finish I’ve achieved, which has surprised me for sure. I actually really like the slightly battered feel to the orange pods in the artwork.

I’m usually obsessed with perfectly smooth colour gradients, whether achieved by digital tools or by more traditional methods of blending (whether working with traditional or digital media).

A good friend of mine (yes, you know who you are if you read this) did tell me when I bought my first Microsoft Surface a couple of years ago that it would open ways for me to create art and develop my artistic skills. It certainly has, and continues, to do that for sure.

I am aware that it’s quite a slow process where I’m concerned. Yes, I could go and watch and read tutorials on how to use the various brushes and settings.

I’ve tried that. The information given totally overwhelms me.

Being easily overwhelmed by information or sensations is something that is part of my cPTSD. If I get too overwhelmed, I tend to either walk away, end up in a panic or become fearful to face something again.

However, I do get a sense of satisfaction out of working out or discovering something for myself, when I actually need that something. Once I’ve become confident and comfortable with a particular skill, I’m then ready to discover more add more skills to my personal skill/tool box.

I never stop learning, discovering, and finding new ways to express myself creatively. I may no longer try to use a huge range of different media – my default these days is definitely digital. I don’t think there’s anything wrong in that. No doubt I will dabble with new kinds of media or creative skills from time to time (such as my toe-dipping into paper quilling; it’s not at all my kind of thing, but I had to try it to find out).

I still love drawing with pen on paper, but being able to scan that in and add colour digitally means I can make the best of both worlds. I can also keep all the little imperfections and smudges that result from drawing with pen and ink on paper, that add that more human touch to them, if I wish. Or I can draw digitally, keeping things clean and a bit more perfect. Either way works for me.

And so I finally overcome my own personal stigma concerning digital art vs traditional.

Therapy day!

It’s Monday so it’s EMDR day for me. I have no idea what the session will bring for me.

What I can say, though, is that though last week’s session was rather emotional and distressing, I seemed to recover quite quickly from it. By Wednesday I’d returned to a state of some contentment and that has mostly stayed with me since then.

I do know I have a busy week with anti-stigma talks for Time to Change Wales being given tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday, and then a double talk next Monday. As well as working on templates for the newest coloring book for Dover Publications Inc, I need to make sure I have time to look after myself and not avoid the feelings I may have after EMDR today.

I also know I have a busy week with other commitments too…

At least there’s some sunshine today, even though there are some big, puffy, grey and white clouds mostly covering the sky. There’s plenty of breaks in the clouds.

Monogram P – entangled art

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

This became yesterday’s self-care drawing. When I’m not feeling all that right my default setting is this kind of drawing. It really does help soothe my unbalanced mental and emotional health. Thank goodness that today I’m feeling a lot more myself, whatever that means. In this context I think it means more emotionally calm and kind of content and a less worrisome and fretting mind. My background anxiety levels are still a tad elevated, but not as bad as they were over the weekend and through to yesterday.

I hand lettered the monogram on an A4 sheet of Daler-Rowney Bristol Board using Uniball Unipin pens. I then just let my pens draw some new and old favourite motifs and patterns to create this abstract, entangled art.

Yes, the P is a bit off-centre, but I didn’t measure it out! I just drew it. I didn’t plan on doing the entangled drawing stuff. I was just going to spend sometime with hand lettering…just goes to show that instinctively I knew what I needed yesterday to help soothe me. I could lose myself in the flow and give my mind and emotions a bit of a break.

It took me several hours to complete, and this morning I scanned it in, added a background texture and the watermarks with digital wizardry.

My only consideration for it at the moment is whether to leave it as is (black and white), to add shading in greys, or whether to add colour. I’m also quite tempted to add some gold to the monogram, just in places. I could print it out and try that on a copy before I commit myself to altering the original.

Today I do need to settle to inking in some sketches for the next coloring book. Maybe do some more sketches as well.

Valentine’s Day 2019 – a mandala

©Angela Porter 2019

I created a really simple mandala for Valentine’s day. A day that is about love. A mandala that doesn’t have a single black line in it! That’s rather unusual for me!

Soft greens and pinks really speak to me about self-care – which is about taking care of oneself, treating yourself and speaking to yourself kindly and with compassion.

Compassion to oneself, that’s what ‘loving oneself’ is all about. Being your own best friend, speaking to yourself as you would a best friend in need.

This is one of the hardest things I have to learn as part of my cPTSD recovery.

I say learn, as it’s something I’ve never done or knew how to do, ever. Being kind to myself in words and deeds.

The inner critic is never kind, caring or patient and never ever has good advice. I think I’m a good friend to others, I try to be kind, caring and patient and if I’m asked I try to give good advice, even if that is ‘I’m sorry, I don’t know the answer to that but lets see if we can find it together’.

I’m very, very rarely, if ever, kind to myself in that way. If anything, the emotional neglect and abuse I experienced from the earliest time I can remember taught me to hate myself, that I wasn’t worth anything. It’s hard to overturn beliefs from the past, beliefs about myself fostered by the attitudes and behaviours of others towards me when I have no point of reference to when I didn’t think about myself in this way. The inertia of the past, the power of the inner critic constantly wants to drag me back to how things always have been in terms of how I think and feel about myself.

However, every single time I manage to show myself some caring, some kindness, some patience, some compassion it’s a victory over the inner critic. And each little victory is vital as it is teaching me that I can learn to be that friend to myself that I so desperately need.

So, Valentine’s day is about love, we tell others we love them, but let’s make today also a day where we show ourselves some kindness, compassion, patience and caring, for the sake of our mental and emotional wellbeing. And lets not just do that on this one day, lets make it a part of every day of our lives. Lets learn how to befriend ourselves.