watercolor playing for the 100 day project…

A couple of times in the past, I started to participate in #The100DayProject only to stop after a few days. This year, though, has been different. I began on the “official” start date of April 2 and I’m writing this on day 71… and I’m still going, doing a creative project every day for these one hundred days.

I’m not sure why it’s different for me this year. Maybe part of it is because I chose a daily project that’s something I absolutely love – playing around with watercolor paints.

And maybe another part of it (and maybe even the biggest part) is because I truly am letting myself simply play.

It doesn’t matter what the end results look like.

It doesn’t matter how much – or how little – time I spend on a single painting.

It doesn’t matter if I use many colors or only one. Or whether I use a small journal or a large journal or even no journal at all.

The point, for me, is to play with watercolors every single day.

And that’s what I’m doing.

For me, it’s relaxing. Calming. Meditative. Soothing. Happy-feeling.

For me, it helps with anxiety and stress. (So much.)

It’s part of my healing journey, it helps distract me when I’m not feeling well, and it helps me connect with joy.

That’s my why for this. And because those particular things – those things that make up my why – are so very important for my life right now, and because I let myself simply enjoy the process and play, I haven’t needed to “make” myself sit down every day to do this.

I come to the practice eagerly and joyfully. I look forward to it. And I have fun with it.

Do you let yourself simply play with a creative practice? Do you relax about it, and do it for the joy it brings?

I hope so. It helps with life, it really does.

(I share my 100-days-project posts on instagram with the hashtag #100daysofwatercolorplaying – come connect with me there!)

 

a time of few words…

It’s been a minute since I’ve written here. I keep thinking about blogging, with ideas for posts coming to me… and then those musings pass without being written, and the blog remains dusty and without new thoughts.

It’s been a time of few words.

Oh, I’ve had words, of course. Talks and texts and phone calls with friends. Captions on instagram posts and facebook updates. Brain-and-emotion-dumping in morning pages and messy-raw-art-journaling.

But writing here, as well as fiction writing, hasn’t been flowing.

Creative flow in general, however, has been happening, and I’m so grateful. Creativity helps me (hugely!) in connecting with joy. It helps me get through difficult days when physical symptoms or anxiety flare. It nourishes my soul.

I’ve been painting at the easel regularly – acrylic on canvas.

I’m participating in #the100DayProject (which began April 2) with my project of 100 Days of Watercolor Playing.

 

And faces (along with some words) have been showing up in my quick pencil sketches.

 

Sometimes one avenue of creativity slows down for a while, and another wants to come through us in a larger way.

That’s what has been happening with me lately. And I’m going with the flow.

 

living with anxiety…

When I was growing up as a shy, introverted, and mostly-nervous girl, the word anxiety wasn’t something I heard often. It wasn’t acknowledged or discussed as much as it is these days. But later on – as an adult looking back – I could see how anxiety was always part of my life, always something I struggled against, always something I tried to work around.

And always something I lived with.

During periods of time (sometimes long periods), thanks to combinations of life circumstances and anxiety-reducing-or-coping tools, the anxiety eases a little or a lot. There have been times it hasn’t been much of a struggle at all… And I can’t begin to express how grateful I am for those times.

But mostly, it is there. Mostly, my life has been spent living with anxiety – in spite of all the tools and techniques, the faith journey, the oh-so-many prayers, the coping mechanisms.

And sometimes, the anxiety roars to the surface with a vengeance. The past several years have contained a lot of that. Not constantly or unremittingly. But enough to majorly impact my life.

A couple of weeks ago, I put this on my instagram:

Today looks and feels beautiful, with blue sky and sunshine and 70-something warmth. This was book club day, and there was pizza and brownies and book-talk and general-talk and soooo much hearty laughter. It was good. So good. I’m glad I went, although I was back-and-forth about whether to go or just stay home, and my indecision continued until I actually left the house.

I almost didn’t go because of anxiety – I’ve been going to book club since early last summer, and it’s easier now than the very first time but it’s still not easy. Social anxiety is a real thing. And I almost didn’t go because of symptoms flaring from this long-slow-gradual-med-taper. But my ultimate decision was to go, to get out of the house, breathe some fresh air, feel the sunshine, and enjoy the talk and food and laughter and company of book club.

Some days I can’t go out, even if I want to. But today I could, and I did. And I’m so glad.

When I wrote “some days I can’t go out, even if I want to” I’m referring to health challenges I’ve had for a few years now. Those health issues have led to increased isolation because of not being able to get out as much – and those health issues, plus the increased isolation, have fueled the anxiety… including the social anxiety and agoraphobia-type anxiety, which, in turn, make it more difficult to go out even at times when the physical issues aren’t flaring up.

This sort of thing can become a vicious cycle. And that’s what I’ve been faced with for the last while.

If anyone tells you anxiety isn’t a real problem – or that you should simply be able to get over it, or think more positively, or pray harder (or better) – I’d say that person has never dealt with a true anxiety problem, and has never experienced life with having (or a close loved one having) an anxiety disorder.

The struggle is real.

But when I have those times of inner calm with no anxious edges…  when I can find laughter and love in spite of the struggle…  when I’m able to focus on the joy more than the fear…

I take deep breaths of gratitude.

And I hold on as long as I can.