I love to draw and create. Creating art is also very much part of my self-care, self-compassion routine. This drawing was very much done for self-care after a couple of very ‘people-y’ days left me emotionally and mentally drained.
So, being creative is both a way of me expressing my love of creating art, sharing that love with people, and also showing myself self-compassion and self-care.
I always hope my art will warm people’s hearts, make them smile, bring a little bit of beauty into their lives and the world.
For today’s whimsical and cute dangle design, I used one of the designs from my tutorial book “A Dangle A Day”, altered the hand lettered sentiment and changed the colour scheme.
I used just five colour schemes in the design itself – blues, yellow-orange, pinks, peachy-orange and yellow-greens. I used a blue and green from the design to create the background colour gradient.
By using the same colour gradients throughout the design it brings the design together.
I added a simple drop shadow to the whole design to give it a little dimension. I could have added drop shadows to the lettering and the flowers in the rectangular charm, but I chose to keep it quite simple today.
I think this would make a lovely note card or greetings card. I also think, perhaps with a different sentiment, make a lovely page for a BuJo, journal, diary, planner, and it would be lovely as part of the design of a scrapbook page.
How would you use a design like this?
I drew, handlettered and coloured the design digitally using my Microsoft Surface Pen on the screen of my Microsoft Surface Studio as if I was working with pens on paper. My preferred art software is Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.
So Angela, how are you today?
I’m content with that background level of anxiety. I feel motivated to work even though I’m really tired again. This time it was from a late night conversation with a friend in need. I can nap later if I need to. The tiredness is actually giving me a headache.
My Nikita Gill books of poetry arrived yesterday and I spent some time reading one, “Wild Embers” from cover to cover.
I cried at some poems as they really touched something inside me, when she describes in words things I’m only beginning to recognise within me.
With other poems it was like a light bulb came on as understanding was ignited within me.
Yet others highlighted the difference between how girls and women are viewed to boys and men, and treated differently, and brought up to believe different things about themselves.
You can tell in her writing she has survived some serious trauma; she writes not just from her heart and soul, but from experience.
I can recommend her work to anyone who has experienced abuse, trauma and who, like me, struggles to describe what is emerging from the Pandora’s box of the past as the healing progresses.
It helps to show I am not alone. It helps to show other survivors of abuse that they are not alone.
I felt alone as I had no one to turn to when I needed someone most. I withdrew within myself, isolating myself, being lonely even when surrounded by a loud, extrovert-filled family. Desperate to join in, to be part of it, but scared to be noticed as that left me open to being the one who was made fun of, blamed for anything and everything. It was horrible to be ignored too when I’d spoken; that happened often. I never learned to speak up for myself, to ask for help, to say what I needed. I suffered long in silence.
I make no apologies for speaking up now. For talking about what happened to me, not in any great detail as I don’t have that myself.
I make no apologies for trying to raise awareness about the damage that emotional neglect does, how worthless being ignored and uncared for made me feel, and has made and does make others feel. How it grinds a person down day after day after day…
I make no apologies for doing what I can to help others to not minimise the effect these things have had on them. To stop telling themselves, like I did, that I was weak, an attention seeker, a whiner, a whinger, a liar when I was in need of help or support.
Someone made me believe that was what I was as children are not born believing that of themselves.
I make no apologies for writing about these things if it helps people understand that someone made them believe these things about themselves and they can unlearn them and replace them with more positive beliefs.
A thought just came to me then. As I teacher I focused on teaching students with additional learning needs. My first focus was to build their self-esteem and self-belief, always. I was shocked at how little so many of them thought of themselves and I found that incredibly sad.
I could see that in them and I could see how I helped them believe in themselves more, one tiny step at a time.
I can see now how I knew I too felt the same way about myself but believed myself too damaged to be healed or not worth thinking better of myself.
Now, with the help of EMDR, I am changing those beliefs about myself little by little.
That inner critic is mostly silent these days, I think. I still suspect it is still creating a very quiet susurrus deep in the depths of my conscious mind. However, it’s malignant murmuration becomes louder when I’m overly tired, emotionally drained, or my anxiety is increased by some trigger.
However, I have to say it’s power over me seems to have diminished.
That’s not to say I’m healed enough yet. I still have those negative beliefs about myself – ugly, unloveable, self-loathing of myself and my body – and of course there’s the inability to feel safe a lot of the time, sometimes even in my own home.
Of course there may be other things that arise during EMDR.
However I do think I have made a lot of progress over the years. Slow and steady for sure, but progress all the same.
Anyway, back to Nikita Gill.
I can recommend her work to those who are friends, partners, family members of those who have been abused to help to understand what someone is going through.
I can recommend her work to all, for her words are thought provoking in a gentle but descriptive manner.
I think I may be lending this book to my therapist…that’s how valuable I think it is.
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.
I started drawing this one a couple of days ago using a fine nib fountain pen on paper. I’ve spent much of today finishing the drawing and I’ve just started to add colour digitally. Not sure about the colour yet though.
The words appeared intuitively, instinctively as I was drawing. Something’s obviously bubbling in my unconscious mind, most probably a result of the loving kindness meditations I’m continuing to do.
It’s always relaxing for me to draw in this way – just letting shapes and patterns flow from the nib onto the page without too much in the way of consideration or fretting about what appears. Partway through the whole drawing, or even sections, it looks like a total hot mess to me, but I push forward. To give in would be easy, to persevere takes a bit of effort. The effort is usually worth it though; my past experiences have taught me this.
I’m looking out of my window as I’m typing. I can see jackdaws swooping and wheeling in the now sunny skies. We’ve just had a wintry snow shower, which hasn’t lasted on the ground at all. The black feathery jokers are revelling in their fun and games in the air, exuberant in the dry but cool air and the sunshine. There are veritable clouds of them and I know they’ll soon return to their roosts, cloaking the winter-bare trees with their featheriness and raucous caws. I’m smiling as I watch them. I do have a big soft spot for the corvids of this world. Their antics delight me, especially the ones that zoom past the window next to my work area! They whooshed off to my left and now some are whooshing back to my right. What a lovely sight close to the end of the daylight hours!
It also brings back memories of sitting with my cat perched upon my chest, both of us looking out of the window and watching the jackdaws flying by, and in the summer dusk hours bats. His eyes would be wide and alert as his head spun back and forth, avidly watching the flying critters. I’d be equally delighted watching the antics of both the flying and cwtched up critters! So many precious times with my companion to treasure though he has been gone to pusscat heaven for nearly 9 months. I’m sure he’s still keeping an eye on things that fly , wherever his little soul, spirit is residing!
Watching the birds brings me some joy and peace too. And happy memories of my companion of sixteen years.
Today marks the 100th Anniversary of Armistice – the ending of the First World War. This took place at the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. The guns fell silent. World War I ended.
But war has not ended.
The Second World War, among many others, followed. Burma. Korea. Vietnam. Falklands. Iraq, first and second. Afghanistan. And so many, many, many other conflicts around the world that barely get a mention in the western news.
Today, we remember all those lost in conflicts/wars around the world, those who have given their lives in the service of others. Those who have selflessly given the most precious thing we have – life – so that others may live in peace and safety.
Not only do we remember the men and women from all walks of life, social backgrounds, countries and beliefs who lost their lives and were injured during conflict/war, we remember the animals who were also killed and injured during conflict as they served and supported the troops.
My grandmother’s first husband, Frank, was gassed in the trenches in WWI and eventually died back in England, nursed by his own wife. It’s said that her hair went pure white overnight when she received the news.
My father took part in WWII. He was at the D-day landings. Amongst other things he witnessed, he saw the piles and piles of bodies at a concentration camp in Poland.
People like Frank and my dad, Robert John Porter, went to war to bring an end to such atrocities, to bring peace to our societies.
IN FLANDERS FIELDS
In Flanders’ fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place: and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders’ fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe; To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high, If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders’ Fields.
Lt Col John McCrae, a Canadian Doctor who lost a friend at Ypres, was inspired by a field of poppies to write this poem in early May 1915
I knew I wanted to create a mandala that looked like a round stained glass window, but could also be used as a focus for meditation about peace, about remembrance, about the ultimate sacrifice of life in order to bring about a more peaceful world.
I wanted to create something that featured red poppies.
The poppy is not a symbol of war. It is not about glorifying war. It is not a symbol of support for war. It is not a reflection of politics or religion.
Eleven poppies to go with the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
I wanted a bright centre to the mandala as the symbol of hope for a better future. A more peaceful future. A brighter future.
I included some hearts as I thought of the words from Martin Luther King Jr:
Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.
I chose blue as a colour that represents to myself peace and calm. Green as a symbol of growth, balance, harmony, understanding.
As is so often the case with my artwork lately this was created using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, a Microsoft Surface Pen and a Microsoft Surface Studio.
I thank Frank and my dad for their sacrifice.
I thank all the others who through the ages have fought with peace and a free world as their goal.
I wish there was no need for armies and wars. I wish we could all learn to get along. I wish there would be an end to hatred and racism and bigotry. I wish we could get over the fear of the ‘different’ or the ‘other’. I wish we could all work together to find common ground and build upon that.
Idealist? Dreamer? Yes, I’m guilty of that for sure. However, if enough of us believe in this come together we could make a difference.
There Will Be Peace
There will be peace: when attitudes change; when self-interest is seen as part of common interest; when old wrongs, old scores, old mistakes are deleted from the account; when the aim becomes co-operation and mutual benefit rather than revenge or seizing maximum personal or group gain; when justice and equality before the law become the basis of government; when basic freedoms exist; when leaders – political, religious, educational – and the police and media wholeheartedly embrace the concepts of justice, equality, freedom, tolerance, and reconciliation as a basis for renewal; when parents teach their children new ways to think about people. There will be peace: when enemies become fellow human beings.
Another day, another word in the same kind of style as yesterdays. It’s fun doing these for sure! And it’s giving my hand-lettering and writing skills on a digital platform a bit of a workout.
That’s appropriate as it’s World Calligraphy Day today!
There is a difference between hand-lettering and calligraphy.
Hand lettering is about drawing the letters, which are often decorative.
Calligraphy is about writing the letters.
Both require discipline and control. However, there is a little less control over the letters formed when writing calligraphically than there is in deliberately drawing letters.
To create my word ‘love’, I first wrote the word using a digital brush. Yes, that’s right, I wrote the word! I didn’t pencil out the letters first. Then, I got to doing the colour and pattern ‘thing’.
Not sure if it counts as calligraphy, but I still think it’s a fairly pretty example of a nicely written word. I hope any calligraphers will forgive me and recognise that I’ve entered into the spirit of the day!
This morning I was going over to the morning staff briefing at school when I was stopped by one of my year 7 special needs pupils.
“You’re my science teacher,” said he.
“Yes, I am,” said I.
“My budgie died last night,” said he.
“Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that. I really am,” said I.
“You’re a scientist, can you make it live again?” he asked.
Oh my gosh, thought I, and then answered…
“I’m sorry, but no, that’s just not possible. Once something has died then it is dead and science can’t bring it back,” said I as gently and kindly as I could.
“But if I brought it in could you do that thing?” he asked while making gestures with his fingers suggesting heart massage.
“I’m sorry, but that would be way too late. That has to be done straight away. I’m so sorry he’s dead and died last night, but there is nothing I can do,” said I.
“Are you sure? You’re a scientist,” asked he.
“I’m sure, and I’m so sorry. If I could bring your budgie back to life I would. I can see how much you love it and I’m sure he loved you so much and appreciated your love. Wherever he is now he’s proud of you, I’m sure,” said I.
“I think I’ll give him a funeral tonight,” said he.
“I think that would be lovely. You can tell him how much you loved him and he’d like that. I’m just so sorry you’re so sad and there’s nothing I can do.”
“That’s ok. Thank you.” said he.
I had tears in my eyes and my heart was broken for this young chap, most probably his first bereavement.
I don’t know where his belief that I could undo nature for him has come from, and I hope I haven’t let him down too badly for his trust in me to disappear. I don’t know what I have done to gain such wonder and respect. I wonder if his view of me is of a kind of Dr Frankenstein, able to reanimate the dead, or as someone who can resurrect the dead.
I really wish I could have done something for him and his budgie, to ease the pain of a young, loving heart.
Now I’m home from school, I have let those tears fall. Tears of sadness for his sadness, the loss of something he loved very much, the memories of those I’ve lost that I’ve loved, pets and humans. Tears of sadness that I’m unable to share my beliefs about it all with him too. Tears of sadness that I have no one to turn to for physical comfort in the form of cuddles.
I’m feeling a little sorry for myself. I’m single. I have been for a very long time now. On nights like this I really wish there was someone I could turn to for a cuddle, some reassurance for myself, someone to do a little TLC for me. As it is, I’ll have to make do with cuddles from the cat when he’s finally feeling in a cuddlesome mood.
That’s the story of the day…nothing else can compare to it, and it puts other things a tad into perspective doesn’t it?