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Monday, March 31, 2014

An Artist's Ordinary Week.

Hey, look at this fabric!!
How pret.ty!!
Where does it come from??
(I had completely forgotten about it!)
What can I use it for? It's so gorgeous that I must put it to good use!
... Ooh it's soo beautiful!!
Well, let's think about that
(leaving it out to "rest" on the living room chair).

Oh well, March, time for flowers! 
Where on earth are my pink flowery cups and teapots hidden?
Have to jot down the current temperatures in my garden journal.

Oh the joy of Spring teas in flower cups! 
(GOSH, need them for styling with fresh flowers! I see greeting cards galore). 
Where did I see those amazing pink roses, by the way?)
... ooh these dishes are soo pretty!
(staring at them while doing the washing up).
I should try agave syrup.

I have to write a blog post about this (totally unrelated subject)...
(while doing something completely diffferent) 
Let's clean the vintage suitcases I found a few days ago at the recycling centre shop! 
I bought them for my studio but... 
let's see... they look perfect here! 
(moving everything around the living room and leaving all OUT).
Now I need another one or two for the studio...

Deadline is fast approaching! One week to go! 
Just finished the previous collection and I would have the time to do all in calm... 
but what if I started something new?
Hmmm crazy thought...
I don't have the time...
... pulling at my heartstrings! Must do that!!!
Why not?
Let's go and gather some art supplies.

This is crazy.
... Oooooh I NEEED to do that!!!
Where on earth is glue?? And oh my, where did I put the vintage maps?
(instinctively grabbing acrylic bottles and already thinking of a simphony of blue greens)
I think I have to remake those frames in the living room.

Look at this pretty green!
Oh my that is a gorgeous shade of blue! 
Oh my oh my (heart beating faster)... let's add this one too!
Where are the wax pastels?
Mmm the bread in the bread maker must be ready!
(while taking the loaf out of the bread machine)
I AM ready!
Ok, paints on the palette. A little more blue...
Breathe. Open. GO.

Do I know what I'm doing?
Will the result be what I have in mind? 
Hmmm... maybe. Maybe not.
Does it matter? I need to do this NOW!

... (all kind of inexpressible thoughts and feelings)...

(While painting)
Aaah basil! 
What if I'd plant it in a larger pot to make it grow bigger?
Mmmm bruschetta in the garden on a sunny day!
Did I buy an amazingly gorgeous pot at the recycling centre?
Oh I looove mustard yellow!!

Yes I can have a break now... I need to plant the basil.
(bad weather though- rain then a brief sun spell, then rain and hail again)
... oh no.
Well, let's garden in the car boot!

Aah, zucchini! 
(while remembering and savoring those I picked everyday in my old orchard)
Where are the seeds?
(hidden under a pile of fabrics and Christmas lights still to be put away).

I'd have a slice of freshly baked bread with marmelade, please. 
And a mug of lemon tea with honey.
Wow, I could make lemon soap! And honey soap as well!
Must find the soap moulds.

Better that I go and work on my backgrounds.

What about adding navy blue?? Oh looove navy blue! 
Where's my navy blue bag by the way?
Must find the jeans skirt, too!
Awwwwww!!! A patchwork throw with jeans scraps!!!

The big log basket is way too big now! 
What I can use it for?

Off to buy milk and fruit!
(coming back with daffs from hubby and a pot of sweet peas, too).
(too many thoughts and feelings and ideas while driving to be expressed)

Well, it's time to make my own liquid soap!
Where are the soap flakes?

Better to go and take a breath of fresh air before starting to paint.
Oooh violets are out!!!!

I'd pick some to press and send to Mom and girl friends!
I need to paint more violets.
Mmmm violet... purple... I see purple now!

Let's add a splash of aqua green. 
Will lemon yellow be too much?
Well I love it! Why not?

Great job! You go girl!
Now off to edit all of those photographs. 
Ah, and better to make some pizza dough for tonight.

Have I changed the water? 
Oh that yellow!!! 
Must paint these!
I have to remake all of the pillows in the kitchen!
What about gingham red? Yellow and white dots? Green checks?
Where is the green checkered fabric I had in my previous kitchen?

and on...
and on... and on.

(All photos taken with my phone. Giving myself permission to use it all the time.
I wouldn't have been able to capture life and so many emotions/ideas with my big camera!)

... That's how the highly creative mind works! ;)

Monica xo

Monday, March 24, 2014

One Year in England.

Last year, I arrived in a snowy and frozen England these very days of late March, relocating with just two suitcases and lots of dreams (and to be honest, a few worries, too!).

I had just a few winter clothes with me, two pairs of shoes, my camera and an old Iphone, a laptop, batteries, 2 hats and scarves, a watercolor box and one paint brush, a favorite book, journals and some things very close to my heart, to keep me warm and comfy, to lay my cheeks on to, and feel safe.

No car, no printer, no art supplies, no bed pillow, nothing but the basic essentials. And most importantly, no certainties about the future. The plan was pretty much set before moving... but nothing went as planned (or even imaginable!).

I just had my heart full of hope and faith that anything is possible to those who believe. And that everything was going to be all right.

It has been quite a rollecoaster of emotions, great discoveries (both spiritual and material) and challenges... most of which very challenging, indeed. Have had lots of unplanned solo time, too. But during all of this, I've been guided to the right path... magic happening on a daily basis. The just perfect people and things showing up at the just perfect time. Not a second earlier, not a second later. Loads of heart rocks reassuring me along the way. I have had the opportunity to grow, reach for the stars, teach what I know, learn from others, and practice patience and free flight.

I now live in a very old house, have separate taps, no gas, drive on the left side of the road as if I'd always done it before, speak and hear the language of my heart and soul, own 4 pairs of wellies and wear them almost every day, go grocery shopping at the post office with a basket, and see pheasants, foxes and squirrels strolling quietly out of the windows. I feel completely in my element, and feel a very strong sense of belonging (not actually to a certain community, but to Nature and the Universe).

And when someone asks me what brought me to England, I can't help but respond the truth, even if this always leaves my interlocutor speechless- pursue my dreams and follow my star. I may not see clearly which the divine plan is, but I trust it wholeheartedly.

"Sky, be my depth;
Wind, be my width and my height;
World, my heart's span:
Loneliness, wings for my flight!"

(from Measure Me, Sky by Leonora Speyer)
Monica xo

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Journals, Journals... How I Journal, How to Journal.

 Recently, I have been asked more than once how I do journal, which is the general concept of a journal, and how to start and manage keeping a journal. So I thought I'd write a post to be of help to anyone interested in this subject.

Let's start saying a journal is not the same of a diary.
diary is a book where you write a chronicle of the facts happened on a certain day, a mere description of events.
When you journal, you turn inwards, analize facts, write down feelings. It's an istrument of growth and healing.

As I have shared before, I don't like having anyone in my energetic space, and so I keep all of my journals private. I keep journals for the purpose of being instruments of growth and so, they're far from being perfect, and of course, they're meant just for me.

One of the excuses with themselves that I notice people usually find (this has emerged several times during conversations with friends) is that they fear their journals/diaries be read by someone else, and so they refrain from doing that. They do "gratitude lists" and "journaling" analizing facts in their own mind- from my own experience of many years of keeping journals, and also from that of many others you can easily find in our online arts and crafts community, verbal lists of thoughts are not as powerful and effective as written ones. I find there's a particular energy that arises when I just sit and open my journal, grab the pencil and lay it down on paper. Thoughts flow in quite a different manner. You may even be greatly surprised from thoughts that come out of you.
What I believe, but this is just my belief and personal opinion, is that this happens because we empty our mind writing things down, allowing new thoughts, inspiration and energy to flow towards us. This cannot happen if you keep all of your thoughts in mind. You don't make room for new, and for growth.
In our home there's great respect for journals and that kind of things. I encourage you to cultivate respect and trust in your household, instead of hiding your notebooks with the crazy fear that someone reads them.

This being said, I will show you a few details of my journals I feel comfortable sharing, and some tips or ideas on how to keep them, just as a way to inspire you to maybe start one. I believe that in journaling, as in life in general, the key is to stay true to yourself as much as possible. What comes natural to you is what you manage to do effortlessly, joyfully, best, are most satisfied with, and generally is effective for the purpose you do that. On the contrary, something that you don't feel natural, is sure to add to your workload, stress, anxiety etc.

Therefore I encourage everyone to do what's their own "cup of tea".
I'm pretty certain that at this point a question will arise- how to know what is natural to me? How do I feel it?

My answer is, just follow your instinct! :) Shut the chattering mind, turn off the left side of your brain, and simply, as simple as this... start! Gather the supplies that you love just thinking of them without analyzing too much.

And most importantly, do not compare your journals to others you may have seen made by other people. Your journal must reflect your heart and soul, and not someone else's heart and soul and ideas.
Grab a plain/checkered/ruled/watercolor notebook, a ring binder, a music book, a pretty store bought notebook, an old moleskine/agenda from years ago (even used!)... anything, but start today! Anyone can start journaling at whatever age... It doesn't have to be perfect- if you let the left side of your brain interphere, you'll never start. If you let the perfectionist in you win, you'll never start and always regret or feel stressed about not having! What's best is that your journal is for your eyes only! You don't have to show it to the world and say, hey look at how pretty my pages are!

My journals are just for me, for my soul to expand, heart soak in and mind wander freely.
What's more beautiful and liberating than that?

These below are just some of the journals I've kept for many years now. Quite a few are written from cover to cover, and some are works in progress (they are different types of journals- inspiration journals, gratitude journals, daily, etc etc).
I have kept all scattered around the house (and some are currently here and there) but a few weeks ago I thought to gather the majority of them in baskets, so I can find them when needed (usually I have to go hunting! :)).

I also have a large number of sketchbooks, but those are a completely different thing, located in other few baskets in another corner of my studio.

Some of my journals.

My Eco chic journals (see here and here) are a lovely way to recycle scraps of papers I don't want to toss away.

Other journals I made, from scratch or just adding a fabric cover to old agendas.

This has been made from a book.

All those I receive from friends, handmade or store- bought, I always use as Gratitude Journals.
Once I complete one, I start another.

Some are plain Moleskines.

I add letters inside, to the Universe, myself or Santa :)

When choosing a book to use as art journal, be sure it's not too old, ads it tends to fall apart (like this of mine).

My general tips regarding journal/diary keeping are:

1. You'll find the time if you want to do that. It's vital that you feel a desire to keep a journal/diary. There are people who prefer to do all kind of different things rather than writing (wherever) or getting messy and creative on paper.

2. Do what's natural to you. It may be just writing, using a pencil (as I do), a pen, a fountain pen, a marker, colored pencils. It may be a collage, art, whatever journal, even a poetry one.

3. Start without expectations and think and go one day at a time. It's not necessary to write in there every day if you don't feel inspired. Do it at your own pace. You may be a prolific writer or fill in a notebook in years. Either things are fine- it's supposed to be relaxing and growing time, not a chore!

4. Keep your journals for yourself only, when you share them it's likely you'll feel pressure to be perfect.

5. Keep your journals in a visible spot for you to see it- you may forget about them if it's not a habit, yet.

6. Find a corner of the house/garden or wherever you feel at peace and comfortable to write (might be a coffee shop or a park, your kitchen, studio, a bench in the garden...). You may want to arrange a little table/space on a table just for it, with pens or supplies, or make a portable inspiration station where you keep your journals and can have easy access to them and bring them along with you.

7. Do it in quiet,  possibly far from noise.

8. Do what's natural to you also regarding the time of the day when writing in your journals- it may be early morning, late night, coffee break, lunch etc. It's important that you do what you feel comfortable and natural. For example, I don't like having schedules, so I go freely. I have some journals I write in each and every day, even the most difficult ones- they're my Gratitude Journal and Daily Journal, and I always write them at night in bed, because it's the best time for me to do so. Some others I use sporadically, others again I use often to jot down epiphanies, inspiring quotes, etc. and I don't have a set time of the day when doing that.

9. Do not compare your journals with the perfect ones you see on magazines and books... for sure those pages are great ones that made it to the glossy pages, but you cannot see all of the other pages or the "behind the scenes" journals from the same person. Likely, they have the messy and imperfect ones for their eyes only.

10. How to begin? If you want it (see point number 1) go and grab a pen/pencil and whatever notebook you can find around your home... and start now! Start without thinking too much, and keep it in the same way. You'll be surprised in the end at how much beauty you'll find in there after some time, even if the writing is quick and messy, there are letters, cards and post its tucked between the pages, and on and on. It's your life unfolding.

11. Last but definitely not least, nothing is fixed!! Give yourself permission to be free and change idea/method as you go. There's so much beauty and freedom and growth in that!

Monica xo

Friday, March 14, 2014

Home Sanctuary.

Because of my deeply sensitive nature, I don't like to show my home on my blog. I feel energy is depleted doing so, feel it totally draining, simply don't feel it right. That's why you very rarely find images of just small corners of my home here... only details, close ups, never the "feel" of a whole room...

Truth is, I don't like to have anyone in my energetic space, if not people I love or have chosen wisely to enter (the main reason why I had to close my public IG account). My home is just my home, my beautiful, comfortable, warm nest, my sanctuary. I don't feel gratified in sharing my taste, possessions etc as if they were undoubtful proof of my value.

I'm always so surprised at how much you can learn of a person, how much you can "hear and see" just looking at a living space, surprisingly even not in person. Blogs offer a huge practicing field for that these days, with many people showing their homes online. It's a sort of "x-ray-ability" for deeply sensitive souls, as we are able to gather informations from the outside and inside in such a positively peculiar way that it's difficult to fail. Mind you, not in judging a person (something the world should be more and more educated to totally suspend), but in feeling them, kind of seeing inside (have you ever seen those amazing x-rays of shells?). Especially when the images are accompanied by words, that becomes even more powerful and clear.

A huge step in my spiritual growth (and as a form of love for myself and my husband, too, who couldn't be happier about my decision) was when I have finally decided not to receive/entertain anyone in our nest anymore, unless they are people I feel extremely comfortable with, we love or love us both. I also have to trust that they're going to bring along positive energy to our living space.

This means basically, a very, very, very small bunch of persons- could be counted on one hand.
There's in fact no reason why we should welcome in our sanctuary acquaintances,  neighbors, "friends"or relatives who don't like my husband or myself (this sadly happened) because we're different from the way the world states you have to be, people who don't like or judge our way of living (even just because we live in quiet and do different things!) or simply express judgement for whatever reason. Have done in the past, thinking there was something wrong with me and I had to be "normal", and I've learnt the lesson well the hard way. The more I walk on my spiritual path, the more my heart bleeds for judgement, in whatever form.

What my words of the year, Welcome, invites me to bring along in my life, is self-love, self-care, self-compassion, self-nourishment and joy, for me and my DH as well. If you don't nurture yourself first and foremost, you cannot be able to bring good things into the lives of others.

Monica xo

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Happiness is...

Your heart racing while working on new images, an enamel teapot for cut flowers from a dear friend that knows you well, blues, hyacynths and muscari grown on your windowsill, your Grandfather's brushes, and his palettes you recently found in a wooden box and had never seen before (the tears of joy and chills too).

Cheery faces, cheery yellows!
Finally knowing how much you love yellow!

Love messages outside your door.

The right words coming to you when you most need them.

Being on the road again after the cold and gray winter, wandering, exploring, finding.

A more and more clear vison of what you want your life (and your home) to be.

Burnt sunsets seen from your skylights.

Painted flowers that come out so effortlessly from you.

A garden on your kitchen windowsill, a jug you've been wanting for many years finally coming to you.

Picking bunches of daffodils.

The promise of an abundance of petals and colors and fragrances.

Your heart that goes pitter- patter picking the first Spring flowers in your back garden

Little reminders to keep around your home.

"There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way".
Thich Nhat Hanh

Monica xo