Tag Archives: spirituality

Today: Get Messy Thursdays | Serenity, Week 1

I’m so happy the latest season of the Get Messy Art Journal challenge has begun (I’m also so excited about this season’s theme: Serenity!).  I seem to lose momentum between seasons and realize how much I benefit from the community, structure and accountability of this program (learn all about it here).  I barely picked up my sketchbook at all in the past few weeks, and was tempted to crawl into bed the second I got home tonight… but it’s Thursday… and on Thursdays, we get messy.  

Why sleep when you can doodle?

Get Messy Thursdays | Serenity, Week 1

Remember when I tried out a new sketchbook and it was basically a disaster?  It took some trial and error, but I think I found the one with this Moleskine Art Plus Watercolor Album.  The paper is cold-pressed and so fun to draw and paint on.  The book itself lightweight but still substantial (12 x 8.5 inches), has a simple cover, and lays flat.  I ended up grabbing a second for a painting and sketching class I’m currently working through (Mary Ann Moss’ Sketchbookery class — highly recommend it!).

Alright.  Here’s what I worked on this week (…while watching an inappropriate number of Naked + Afraid episodes… that show kills me, but it’s kind of the opposite of serenity).  The journaling and art prompts were created by Vanessa and focused on divinity.  There was a lot to think about, and I have a feeling I’ll want to revisit this week and continue to work through this spread.  Each piece feels sort of simple, but these prompts were really personal and sort of stirring.  

Materials used: Micron (blue ink), Sakura watercolors, white gel pen, gold ink

We were encouraged to learn and share about the goddess or goddesses that we connect most with.  I was going to paint a portrait of Martha Stewart (she is my queen, after all), but I found myself completely consumed by a goddess typology quiz a fellow Get Messy member suggested.  Apparently I’m a Hestia (and as an introvert who craves time at home with my family, the proverbial shoe fits).

I don’t know what Hestia is supposed to look like (and I usually shy away from drawing faces and figures) but I love how this turned out.  Having major hair is a goddess prerequisite, right?

Materials used: Old Christmas card, glue stick, super cheap (and super crappy) glitter alphabet stickers

I can’t think about the divine and what brings me peace and serenity without sharing about my faith and religion, and the grounded-ness they give me.  I’ve been hanging on to this image of the Virgin Mary for ages and knew I wanted to include it here.  Isn’t she lovely?

Materials used: White gesso, another Proust page (sorry, homey), black Faber Castel PITT pen (I think it’s size 1.5), Sakura watercolors, Micron pen (blue), magazine clippings

This Thomas Merton quote has stuck with me for years and years and resonates with me.  Similarly, I’ve always been drawn to the ocean.  I have a feeling water will be a recurring subject for me this season.

Was Hestia a good swimmer?  I hope so.  

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Day 3 of no naps for Grace (insert wide-eyed emoji here)… life is a mysterious adventure
  • 5 art journal must haves from Alisa Burke
  • Swimming!

Which goddesses are you channeling today?

Today: Fear is not productive.

For the record, this post is supposed to be suitable for all  humans.  It isn’t supposed to be about being a mom.  Or boobs.  Or CPR.  It just starts that way, so like… bear with me.

 We took a bunch of classes in an effort to prepare for Grace’s arrival.  Infant CPR felt both helpful and necessary.  Breastfeeding Basics was, well, basically useless.  None of it made sense until I actually started breastfeeding, and at that point, I had the invaluable support of lactation consultants in the hospital.  They helped me figure that cool stuff out.  During the class itself, we watched some weird slide shows (I have never seen so many boobs in my life, nor do I expect to, ever ever again), and a movie with credits that included a thank you “to the women of Bulgaria.”  I am still not sure what to make of that.  Our instructor for Child Safety went a bit rogue, so the class was more about how weird babies can look when their born, and less about… safety.

Fortunately, the gaps left by the safety class were more than filled in when I had an appointment with a Boston Police officer to have our car seat inspected, just two days before Grace made her early arrival.  What I thought would be a two minute check of our car seat (which Nick had expertly installed) turned into 90 minutes of me learning how to actually use our car seat (little did I know how soon I be putting this new found knowledge to work), how many air bags my car has, which items in the trunk could turn into projectiles if (God forbid) I got into an accident, how to safely flee an emergency by car with an infant in tow, how to use a car seat without a base if I were to flee an emergency by taxi, and the importance of actually reading safety manuals.

Our childbirth class was cut short by a blizzard, so while we learned a bit about labor, we never learned about delivery.  Needless to say, when it came time to deliver Grace… Nick and I both had a lot of questions.  And I am certain our attending midwife and nurses had several questions about us.

Anyway, in an ongoing effort to get my life together before going back to work in just a short time (don’t get me started, I am almost out of Kleenexes), I was sorting through various info packets from the aforementioned classes, and I came across a page of notes I had taken.  In all caps, I had written,

Fear is not productive.

I remember one of the instructors mentioning that fear (and anxiety and worry) can slow down labor.  I am pretty sure I wrote this sentence down so that I could remember it if I went into labor and we were stuck in traffic.  Or in an elevator.  Like, I would look at pictures of clowns (or something equally terrifying) and the fear would persuade our baby to wait until we were safely at the hospital.

I think, at the time, I missed the point.  The instructor meant that being informed, making preparations, and feeling a sense of control would have the opposite effect.  Fear is not productive.  Being empowered is.  With seemingly so much more to worry about, to be anxious about, and to feel doubtful about these days, I needed this reminder.

Sure, in certain cases, fear probably is quite productive.  Say, if I were a cavewoman and a lion came into my cave to eat my cheese doodles, and I saw the lion, and I felt afraid… and that fear caused me to take my doodles (you can’t leave them behind, I imagine they were really hard to come by in those days) and run?  Productive.  Or that time I went skydiving with my ex-boyfriend in college (that should totally be the name of a Lifetime move: Skydiving with My Ex…. and  maybe on the way to the airfield, before she actually skydives, the main character would find out that she had been switched at birth, just to keep things realistic interesting.  Feel free to steal and pitch this idea to the network.), and I felt fear overwhelm me as I prepared to jump.  That’s productive.  People really shouldn’t jump out of planes for no reason.  Fortunately, I survived, but I did lose a contact lens during free fall.

Real, physical fear — the kind that has helped us stay alive as a species for so long — aside, the kind of fear that has us trying to predict the future, or read others’ minds, or play out all possible scenarios, is not productive.  Worrying about whether or not Grace will be happy at day care is not going to make her any more or less happy.  Getting anxious about making time to fit everything into the day is not going to fold the laundry, preside over meetings, pick out a semi-normal outfit for me to wear, and finish a workout.  That kind of fear is just not productive.  It wastes time.  It wastes energy.  And it leads to more fear.

As much as I love cop shows (which is to say, a lot), I’ve always been squeamish when it comes to the violent parts.  I like the intrigue, the plotting, and the cool police lingo, but I’ve always tended to cover my eyes during any of the real action.  I got into the habit, jokingly, of covering Clark’s eyes, too and telling him to “guard his spirit.”  This has always made Nick laugh, but I’ve caught myself saying this hippy b.s. more and more… and sort of seriously.  And most often to, well, myself.

When that unproductive fear creeps in, we’ve got to guard our spirits.  And with that, I am off to legally change my name to Soleil Moon Frye Dreamcatcher Incense Flower.

Also On Tap for Today:

Do you have any unusual fears?  What was the caveperson version of cheese doodles?

Today: Duuuude, relax.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false] Sometime around 3 or 4 o’clock on Sundays, the dread creeps in.  I love what I do in the Real World, but I almost always wish I could extend the weekend.  By a weekend or two.  This evening, however, I feel primed and ready to take on a new week, the first full one of the year.  Why?  Welp, our condo is spotless after Nick and I rolled up our proverbial sleeves and did some serious cleaning, took two trips to the storage unit, and packed up three full bags of clothes and shoes to donate.


With nary a dust bunny in sight, I was able to totally relax.  Dude.  Some of my favorite relaxation rituals are (nearly) free, take but as little or as much time as I’d like, and can be done almost anywhere.  I find completing one or two of these rituals puts me in a (slightly) less harried state as the weekend winds down.

In some particular order, I’m sure, my relaxation rituals:

1. Light a candle. Preferably one that smells so good you forget your name.  And whenever possible, place that candle next to a vase of simply arranged pink and purple roses.

Tina hosted a bloggers’ Secret Santa, and I was lucky enough to receive this Tahitian vanilla candle (along with some fabulous other goodies) from Jennifer at a Knack for Nutrition. The scent is perfect for warming up a snowy day in Boston.  Thanks, Jennifer and Tina!

2.  Go for a walk.  Or a run.  Or a Sunday drive.

Move slowly.  Notice the beauty around you (and yes, that is an exposed nipple… and no, that’s not really what I was referring to…).  This practice often reminds me of how much I have to be grateful for, not the least of which is living in this incredible city and having a place within its bounds to call home.

During our long training runs each weekend, I’ve seen– like, really noticed– more than I have in years of living in and around Boston.  I’ve spent a lot of time on the roads alone (there really isn’t anyone running at my pace, that is to say, there are no snails or tortoises on our team), but I have come to value and enjoy that solitude.  Walking, running or strolling with friends (or furballs) is good, too, though.

3.  Speaking of furballs, playing with my dog always takes my blood pressure down a notch on a Sunday evening.

It’s a fact: Pets help reduce stress.  Plus, they give you a valid excuse to lurk at the dog park, make excessive purchases from the Martha Stewart Pets line at Pet Smart, and walk around with an extra roll of poop bags in your purse.  If you don’t have a furry friend of your own, I am renting out Clark by the half hour.  Price: 1 bag of Cool Ranch Doritos.  Or, you could always volunteer at a local shelter.  I’ve heard doing good deeds also helps you relax.  Plus, you get to brag about being a humanitarian.

4. Plan ahead.

This year (all two days of it, so far), I am making a concerted effort to cut back on running around like a coo-coo clock each morning, looking for my keys, my sports bra, the lunch I never actually made, six Diet Cokes, and my lip gloss.  Packing my bag(s) the night before might be old school (specifically, middle school), but it works.

If you’re worried you might forget your bright red squid thing, heck!  Leave that by the door, too.

For me, planning ahead also means creating lists so long I make Tolstoy look like a man of few words.  Writing out tomorrow’s To Do list the night before helps me to get focused as soon as I get to my desk in the morning, and ensures that I forgot about only 60% of what I intended to accomplish.  My life is a very precise operation.

Another planning obsession?  My FitBook.  That little wonder helps me plan out both workouts and meals, and is a great tool for tracking goals and establishing incentives.  I am hoping to get better at planning meals, and the wipe-off planner Jennifer sent will surely help with that.  Do you think she read my mind?

5.  And that brings us to my next, and possibly most sacred Sunday night ritual: Reading.

And I don’t mean reading celebrity gossip, or my own blog (though I do totally do that… and laugh both at and with myself.  True Life: I am a complete loser).  Sometimes I’ll pick up whichever of the six novels I am currently reading, but nearly every evening I thumb through the books and cards above.

  • Sacred Space is sort of like a daily devotional written by the Irish Jesuits (the only person better than a Jesuit is an Irish Jesuit, I’m pretty sure).  Each books includes weekly intentions– something to think and pray about, the daily Gospel, and reflection questions.  It’s totally my jam.
  • Keel’s Simple Diary is great for keeping a daily journal, when you don’t have the time or brain power, let alone actual life excitement, to sit down and bang out a full “Dear Diary” entry.  Each page offers a few simple questions– some totally bizarre, some not– and the opportunity to record the high and low points of your day.
  • Louise Hay’s Power Thought Cards first struck me as touchy feeley mumbo jumbo, and they sort of are, and that’s pretty much totally okay.  Because I think that’s how they were intended to be.  Each of the 64 cards offers a thought, mantra or meditation.  More often than not, the card I draw leaves me feeling uplifted and empowered.  And then I have dreams about Harry Potter’s owl delivering mail to one of the trippy, quirky painted figures on the cards.  Maybe I should start reading these in the morning instead.  Just a thought.
  • Macrina Wiederkehr’s Seven Sacred Pauses draws on the Benedictine tradition of honoring “the hours.”  This little book features prayers from people of all faiths, to be considered at seven different points during the day: the night watch, the awakening hour, the blessing hour, the hour of illumination, the wisdom hour, the twilight hour, and the great silence.  So far, I’ve only barely mastered the twilight hour.  And it has nothing to do with vampire novels, by the way.  Here’s one of my favorite passages:

A soul flare is what happens when someone shines [his or her] light no matter what it is.  In a song, a smile, or a well-made soup; they send out a flare of light that inspires others to shine their own.  Soul flares make this world better. –Annie O’Shaughnessy

Most of my soul flares end up as burnt out Christmas bulbs.  You know, the ones that ruin the whole tree?  Welp, better to keep trying than give up, I suppose.  😉

6.  And last, but certainly not least, to relax on a Sunday evening, I pour myself a cup of tea.

From my new turquoise tea kettle to this ol’ tea cup I found on Etsy, few things can top this quiet moment.  Sometimes even a cup of hot water does it, like when I am feeling especially lazy minimalistic.  It’s all about the ritual, dudes and dudettes.

Also On Tap for Today:

How do you get your game face on for the week?  What are your favorite rituals?