arts & compassion: week three

. . . c r e a t i v e  p r a c t i c e . . .

         This week, we read in Karen Armstrong’s book, Twelve Steps to A Compassionate Life. What I took to heart the most were her words on self-compassion. As this is an idea that I had never thought of before, I was intrigued and began to think of ways that I could offer myself more opportunities for self-compassion. One area that came to mind was that I need to be kinder to myself. Not only with my own thoughts, but also when admitting my faults to others and the way I would describe myself to a stranger. In previous weeks, we learned that our ideas of compassion can be different as well as our actual acts of compassion. The idea that onlookers ten to avoid eye-contact with homeless individuals holding a sign for help allowed me to admit that I am guilty of avoidance in an area where there could have been an opportunity to show compassion. Sitting in church this past Sunday morning, our pastor spoke about compassion. Ironically, he held up two cardboard signs and brought up the idea that most people resist making eye-contact with those individuals holding signs that ask for help in order to avoid the natural feelings of compassion that humans have. He spoke about how we may want to help someone, but then go into a thought process that invites fear into the considered compassionate gesture and we may not always follow through with our intrinsic intentions. This week, he challenged the congregation to take ten dollars and find some way to perform a compassionate gesture. Upon closing the message, the pastor held up a cardboard sign that read, “do you see me?” Sparking my thoughts, I immediately searched my memory files of any homeless or sign- holding people I actually have made eye-contact with- not enough.

Thinking about compassion for others made me think about our ideas on love and grace. When offering either of the two, we must first offer them to ourselves to yield the best results for all involved. Perhaps this is the same for self-compassion. As we all have unique lives with our own struggles, we must walk our own paths, be kinder to ourselves, and offer a little more self-compassion. For this week’s prompt, I created a drawing of a daily occurrence in my life- talking to my mom on the phone. The drawing depicts an idea of my mom and me looking myself in the mirror with her and telling her what I see, while she is thinking something totally different. She then reminds me that my feelings about myself are allowed and a reminder to be kinder to myself, offer more grace to myself, and to look at the good that I have to offer. The compassionate gesture is my mom recognizing that I was having a difficult time, empathizing with me, and then offering helpful words to bring me back to reality. Perhaps if I could learn to be more self-compassionate, the rest of the world around me would be seen differently through my lens as well.

 Here is a photo of the pastor holding up the cardboard sign that reads, “do you see me?” img_2970

Below is the self-compassion focused drawing.

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Thanks for stopping by,

Mandy

arts & compassion : week two

. . . c r e a t i v e  p r a c t i c e . . .

For this week’s creative practice, we were asked to write a poem. The prompt included that we could interview a child and this was a no-brainer since my son is just three years old. The story behind my poem begins with me walking into the living room when my son was playing with his LEGOs. Being that he has a lot of dialogue when he plays, especially when he is alone, it’s obvious that he has a very active imagination and loves to pretend. When he noticed I was in the room, he instantly looked at me like I had caught him doing something wrong. I looked ashamed or embarrassed that I heard and saw him passionately pretending. I asked him what he was playing and if I could play too. He quickly began to try and change the focus by asking to go outside. I wondered why he was so embarrassed so I asked if my assumption was correct. He said that he, indeed, was embarrassed. I asked if he could remember that he and I pretend together when we play. He said he didn’t remember us pretending and imagining together. I also included in my questions about how he felt about sharing his playful ideas. He said he likes playing and pretending but doesn’t want anyone to see him. The poem is a summarized version of my response to his answers to the questions that I asked. Overall, I wanted to send the message to him that imagination and pretend play is important and that it shouldn’t stop just because someone is watching. I let him know that his ideas are unique and that his creative mind is wonderful. I included examples of his pretend play that I find he enjoys the most and reminded him of our fun times imagining, pretending, and playing together with each other and friends.

Note: After completing a rough draft of the poem, I decided to re-ink the ribbon in an old typewriter that my Grandmother recently gifted to me. I wanted to type the poem and keep it for my son to later read. Also included below, are a few photos of the recycling center that my son and I made together and the typewriter I used for the poem. 

Enjoy the poem below and as always, kind words and feedback are welcome.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

An Imagination Kept

I noticed that you stopped playing when I entered the room; an embarrassed look appeared upon your face.

I invite you to keep going with your ideas; take your stuffed lamb to the market or fly him to outer-space.

For work involved in pretending is so important for your brain.

Please don’t stop pretending when I step into the frame.

Remember once in the wood-shop when you asked me to build something you’d like?

It was your imagination and ideas that brought your new recycling center to life.

I love that you pretend it’s Christmas in the bath and build snowmen out of modeling soap.

I love that your army men have escaped danger with the help of a yo-yo rope.

I love that everyday after preschool we run to the car, pretending it is an Olympic race.

No matter who tags the car first, there is a big smile upon your face.

I love that under your bed is a space-shuttle and that it heads to the moon after dark.

I love that you play kitchen, pouring sand in various containers at the park.

Be proud of your playful thoughts; claim them; let them be known.

Your young, creative mind will learn no limits; Your imagination can beautifully and wonderfully continue to grow.

My darling, keep pretending. Do not stop for anyone; Even for those entering a room.

For many of us stop imagining and pretending far, far too soon.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Thanks for stopping by,

Mandy

arts & compassion: week one

. . . c r e a t i v e  p r a c t i c e . . .

Green.

This is the color represents compassion to me. After living for several years in the California desert, I witness the forgiveness of the dry lands. Being that not much green existed in 115º heat, I quickly decided to start keeping succulents. In my short time thus far delving into gardening, I did not find a plant that didn’t end up in the point of no return until I met the gracious family of succulents. Green is a color that represents growth, forgiveness, and life. Additionally, to me, the color green represents the living connection we have to others that thrives in our interactions and opportunities to exhibit compassion. Like the kindness shown in pay-it-forward gestures like paying for the guy’s car behind you in the toll line, who then pays for the car behind him. Green is the color that comes to mind when considering what it is to pass around intentions and behaviors such as kindness or compassion.

For this week’s creative practice opportunity, I decided to create something new out of something that had no life in our home. After digging out our old coffee table out of storage, I weather proofed it and put on a fresh coat of paint. Then, my son and I went to the store and purchased several succulents that would sit inside the top of the curator-style coffee table. Upon returning home, I decided since the table was already upside down from the paint drying, that I would create a hidden artwork on the under side.

With the glass top removed, my preschool-age son and I planted the succulents into the table top once the artwork was complete. All that was left was to water it. This planter table was created as a gift for my grandmother who visits quite often. She also enjoys gardens but doesn’t want the bother of catering to the needs of plants. The sunny San Diego climate is perfect for succulents, as the morning dew is enough to water them. Overall, the project took about two days to complete and will be given to my grandma over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend when she visits. This project was a lot of fun and a great experience in contemplating the meaning of the color green and what it mean for compassion.

Below is the short film that features my creative practice for the week.

Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by,

Mandy

. . . t h e j o u r n a l : w e e k s e v en . . .

 – the art of self-care-

Along the process of the development of my self-care program, I have realized that the important focus points that I’ve chosen to make part of my efforts feed into one another. Currently, I am a stay-at-home mom and full-time grad student. Throughout my days, my pre-school-aged son and I have a relatively full schedule. From one activity to the next, finding time to work in my self-care program may seem a bit of a task at times. What I’ve learned from my time in our course, The Art of Self-Care, is that making time for myself among the daily, weekly, and monthly routine is the only way to allow our packed schedule to be smooth sailing.

When I think of what elements enhance my creative practice to grow professionally and personally, I feel I am using almost every aspect of my experiences learned so far in an effort to allow for new discoveries in my art. Like a good chef, there is great learning that takes place in the basics of cooking. From there, the chef moves on to making their own recipes that they’ve tested, adapted, and modified over time. What ends up happening is that the chef is never bored and always hungry for a new challenge. As their creativity in the kitchen keeps improving, evolving, and growing, they discover that their ideas are only as limited as they allow, which is a beautiful thing. Creativity is the same for me. Since I was in my elementary years, I’ve been actively engaged in art projects. Usually, I have one going with brainstorming and collection of supplies and budding new ideas as I work on my current creative practice. Keeping my mind moving and constantly allowing my creative expressions to grow only invites the opportunities of inspiration for my future in all aspects of my life. Next to my faith, this is where I feel most free.

I introduce to you, my week seven reflection of my self-care programming in journal form:

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In conclusion of our self-care programming efforts and journal entries in our course, I decided to include some of my creative practice time for this blog post. In my black book, I drew and colored in my “world.” I chose to symbolize my faith by making it the water of my world- the wind on the seas keeps me sailing across the water to other lands (points of focus in my life). In order to sail around to do what is required in my everyday existence, I need to stand firm in my relationship with the Lord and reflect his glory in my every step. As water is a necessity for humans to survive, I’ve made my faith focused area my water in my drawing. This reveals my priority in faith that I hold. If you follow my blog, I hope you have enjoyed these weekly journal posts.

Thanks for stopping by,

Mandy

. . . t h e j o u r n a l : w e e k s i x . . .

-the art of self-care-

Greetings, y’all! Welcome to my interpretation of the week six journal prompt.

This week in our self-care efforts, we were to claim a review day and plan for possible unavoidable occurrences and make changes accordingly. For me, my reflection day is Monday. Being that I have never loved Mondays, I chose this particular day as a review to bring an opportunity for growth and reflection in my positives of the previous week. This way, I am able to bring a more positive note to my Mondays.

What a great week it has been here in sunny Southern California. My mom, aunt, uncle, cousin, and grandma are in town- all from various parts of the world (over seas and also in the U.S).

In addition to my growing self-care program, I’ve added a “weekly bubble” for thought and review. What did I do this week? How can I make execute goals more efficiently next week? And so on. This week, the bubble is pink. IMG_1185

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In the following weeks, I plan to color more bubbles with review marks and areas for improvement for the upcoming week(s). In an effort to make sure I meet my creative practice goals, I chose to make my journal an art piece itself. This way, I will be able to bring this journal into a hospital setting for patients to view and grow in their own efforts if they choose. Perhaps it will serve as an inspiration piece for patients in my future as an Artist in Residence.

Thanks for stopping by,

Mandy

. . . t h e j o u r n a l : w e e k f i v e . . .

the art of self-care:

Greetings, y’all! It is with much excitement that I welcome you to our fifth week of journal postings in our Art of Self-Care course here at the University of Florida.

We were instructed to begin populating our self-care program shell, which I have shared below: IMG_1062

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In each area of focus, there are daily, weekly, and monthly goals. Some areas have more in-depth goals than others, but each are important in various ways.

You’ll notice that I have set my program up to be an approximate time length of twelve weeks, being that the number of days in a month can vary. As time moves on, my self-care program will be adjusted accordingly, adding and taking away what simply does not work for my life currently.

Thanks for stopping by,

Mandy

. . . . t h e j o u r n a l : w e e k f o u r . . . .

::::: the art of self-care :::::

. . . and just like that, we are half way through our course this semester.

Greetings and welcome to my week four journal entry. Going along with the focus of establishing a self-care program, this is my interpretation of a shell that will house my goal oriented lay-out.

Like my art timeline, I have created this program shell straight into my black book. Being that my creation needs to show present focus and how I will keep my focus points of my self-care program, I made the pages act as a flip-style while being part of a bigger picture.

There are eight areas of focus for my program: my faith, opportunities to breathe, sweat, create, school, clean, sleep,and for fuel (my love for cooking).

I introduce to you, my self-care program shell: IMG_0982

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After this page, is the main page (shown in the first photo). Then I continued with the next page, shown below.

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You’ll notice that I left the pages blank, as I will fill them in with daily, weekly, monthly goals. As time moves on, the pages will be filled in appropriately.

Thanks for stopping by,

Mandy

. . . t h e j o u r n a l : w e e k t h r e e . . .

– the art of self-care –

Greetings, y’all!

This week, we are well on our way to finding new uses for our personal Wheels of Wellness. Before I get into my thoughts for this week’s prompt, I must share this week’s creative expression. If you keep up with my blog and have seen my previous weeks of my Wheel of Wellness, you’d see that I had a goal of trying a new form of exercise. Being that I’d taken two Pilates Barre classes before and really hadn’t enjoyed them (although I was sore for days, which means it was very effective, so maybe I was just at a too-advanced-for-me level in my previous experiences.

Moving on to the point: I created a ballet barre for my backyard in an effort to learn Barre Pilates at my own pace while my toddler plays outside. In a previous creative practice blog post, I revealed a table that I built (below). To build the ballet barre, I took the legs off of the table (because currently, I am not able to use the table).

 

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And so, for my efforts to further my self-care and work on my wood-working skills, I present my new free-standing outdoor ballet barre….

 

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Now that I showed the fun part of my week and what I call my weekly creative wellness project, let’s move forward and discuss my current adapted Wheel of Wellness.

Within the focus of this week’s assigned reading, personal researching, and class prompted discussion, we learned about the importance and science behind self-care in the workplace and in the personal lives of those in care providing professions.

Here is my interpretation of the Wheel of Wellness, from my ideas from a care provider’s personal perspective:

What you’ll notice is that exercise or what I like to call “any opportunity to be sweaty and moving,” is evident in all of my Wheels of Wellness. Being that I truly believe in wearing your body out in order to get your mind moving more, exhausting myself is something that I quite enjoy regularly. 

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If the photo doesn’t show well, here are the points on my wheel:

.Workload

.Homework load

.Commute- leaving earlier to avoid the “late” anxiety

.Finding time to breathe at work (quiet time), make time with sharing lunchtime

.eat well at lunch to avoid the 2pm crash

.prep dinner the night before after little one is in bed to make less of a struggle coming home from work, this way, I’m not thinking about what to make for dinner while I should be focusing on work.

.Allow for time to explore avenues of creative expansion at work

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An extra area, or extra wheel of wellness, that I like to include in addition to my career wheel, is my wheel of wellness for gratitude. Personally, I feel that reflecting on things I am grateful for, it brings my reality back to a solid foundation for the week by recognizing what the positives are in my current life.

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Next up is my career timeline.

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This is self explanatory.

Just a simple run-down of my goals in the coming year.

In closing, here’s some simple food for thought…

Take care of yourself first.

We can’t pour from an empty cup.

Thanks for stopping by,

Mandy

. . . . a r t t r e a t . . . .

w e e k  t w o : art treat

For our art treat this week, we were invited to recognize something we are all faced with…

– the realization of our imperfections.

Here is my interpretation of our focus, admitting the possibilities of error.

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To participate in this creative expression, draw a circle with the help of an object such as a plate or in my case, a coffee can.

Then, take a fine tip pen or marker and draw a circle within that perfect first circle.

Continue this until no additional circles can be drawn.

Notice the imperfections of the errors made in the creation.

To me, this adds the interest and beauty to the exercise.

Give it a go and see what beauty lies within admitting your errors.

Thanks for stopping by!

Mandy

. . . . t h e j o u r n a l : w e e k t w o . . . .

– the art of self care –

Upon the completion of this week’s journal prompt, I was able to see where a few items spilled over from my previous week’s wheel of wellness.

Also, I decided to do a more subdued color pallet since my brain has been immersed in color this past week. It was a welcomed break to use a more muted color spread for this week’s activity.

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Notice that from last week’s post, there was an area where I wrote about singing at the top of my lungs. A favorite that my three year old son and I sing is from the Sound of Music. The lyrics are written (from the last post), and I wanted them to be visible this week because that song is a part of our daily life- we sing it together all the time.

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This week was a solid week of being focused in the present as I was able to visit my mom and have some one on one time with her. This wheel of wellness is a clear representation of what my week consisted of.

For an area that I need to work on, I would first pick my time spent exercising. Daily life sometimes gets in the way more than I would like it to. When running or having an intense workout, I am able to think through struggles and to form new ideas about art.

Later in the week, I thought more about what I wanted to focus on. By the end of the week, I was able to invite more color back into my work and I chose to add purple. Additionally, I added in more detail what my focus was for this week.

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Thanks for stopping by!

– Mandy