family

Truths To Remember For Next Easter

If I could have, I’d have put Easter on hold this year and that feels hard to admit…

Our eldest son will be 16 this summer (oh my goodness!) and will be sitting his GCSE examinations (end of high school exams) in one month!

I’ve been helping him with his revision over the Easter holidays and it’s been challenging - juggling this task on top of an already busy schedule, felt at times, more than I could handle. Can you relate?

Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen...
— Matthew 28:5 ESV
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Ordinarily, I’d have mailed out Easter cards to friends and relatives. An Easter celebratory meal would have been planned out way ahead of time and most importantly, I’d have been setting aside extended periods of time (rather than fleeting moments where I could) for preparing my heart throughout the Lenten period.

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Instead, I was feeling guilty and pressured in the midst of pressing demands - until I went to church on Good Friday…

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As soon as I entered our church, MY priorities fell away. As I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit, I was reminded of the sacrifice He made for us and that this reality is still true today for you and I. It put everything into perspective. In that moment, I realised that it really didn’t matter whether I had all the details planned out or not…

We went to church on Easter Sunday and had a fabulous time engaging with a wonderful variety of messy crafts. We ended with communion and a rousing final hymn. Back home, there was a cobbled together meal roasting in the oven, a table lovingly set, a dessert made with the help of my 13 year old, loved ones close and most importantly the reality of the risen Christ - finally, I knew that my heart was filled with the joy and the life-giving reality of Easter!

Over to you: Is there anything you would do differently in the time leading up to Easter next year? Please share any thoughts, bible verses or resources that have been helpful to you…

Happy Easter friends!

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Let's Celebrate Love - The Art Of Contentment

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day is a wonderful chance to show people how much we care about them…

This month for my class, The Art Of Contentment and my theme of love, I thought it would be fun to create a mixed media portrait for a loved one. Once I’d completed the piece, I gave it to my Mum.

There is only one happiness in life: to love and be loved.
— George Sand, Author
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My Mum is often bed bound these days with extreme pain due to osteoporosis and I know things are really tough for her and my Dad and have been for some time. I haven’t given anything to my Mum before on Valentine’s Day but thought this year, it just felt right.

All the time whilst creating the piece and recording the lesson, I was thinking of my Mum and of other women taking my class and what they might feel called to create in the ‘name of love’. I was imagining someone painting their precious child, a grandmother, a special friend or a loving sister. The more I continued to paint and create, the more the class and my project felt infused with love.

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That’s the brilliant thing about painting and creating, you switch off from the busy, busy of the everyday and instead connect within to what’s at your core and what I would call my soul (you might say divine presence, spirit etc).

Throughout the process, my heart was filled with various memories, snippets of conversation and events. Life isn’t always rosy but there’s something really special about gifting a piece of art that you’ve created to someone else.

Reverse side of the project I made for my Mum

Reverse side of the project I made for my Mum

My hubby and I exchanged cards today. He also gave me a single red rose and some tulips - I was impressed! Our little celebration will be a few days late this year - on Saturday we’re going to see a live band and enjoy some nice food in a restaurant a little way from here - I’m looking forward to it.

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Valentine’s Day can be a lonely day for some people but I do hope that wherever you are and however you’re feeling today, I hope you feel loved for the truly special person you are…


Note: My class, The Art Of Contentment is open and available to purchase. Each month more content is added. There’s art, special guests, audio recordings from me, notable dates for each given month, books to recommend, favourite paintings from the past and throughout, ways to finding contentment in the busy of the everyday… You can see the full description here.

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Prayer and Paint Workshop Afterglow

Photo slideshow from the workshop...

Below are some photos from the Prayer and Paint workshop that I held on Saturday at Summerbridge (take a look at the new website---->) church that we are a part of.  I was thrilled that so many came and in the end we had around 20 people approx.! 

The workshop's aim was to explore the idea of using the medium of paint with prayer and reflection.  This is really close to my heart and has been so for some time now.  I really care about this aspect of my personal creative/reflective time and so wanted to offer this personally as a 'way in' for people that wouldn't necessarily paint or consider themselves 'creative'.  

I began by encouraging everyone to write out in pencil, without censoring, their worries, fears, anxieties; however small and to let them just pour out (side note: I ran out of paper).  I absolutely love this process and find it cleansing and such a relief to 'get it all out'. 

We then covered over our writing with gesso (white primer) and let that dry.  The idea being that by covering over our 'junk', we can 'start again', refresh and re-boot with Jesus' help.  We continued with another layer; this time with willow charcoal sticks.  I like to sketch out imperfect faces and encouraged others to do that or, to find their own way.  Some examples of what came out of this stage were: flowers, portraits, buildings, pattern, a wall, shapes and lots of mark making.

My piece from the workshop - a bit psychedelic, I think...

My piece from the workshop - a bit psychedelic, I think...

I really enjoyed having people of all ages present.  We had a few men, younger children, teenagers, mid-life and older adults and it felt lovely to combine this experience with them all.

Next, we got out paint and began to add colour - it was akin to bringing light, warmth and 'nourishment' to our pieces.  Again, this idea of covering over the heartache/worries and lighting everything up with technicolour - so great.

Some people covered over their charcoal layer with something new, whilst others 'coloured-in' with the paint and added lots of vibrancy to the charcoal underdrawing.  All of it was just right.

I recognised that this could be challenging for people because putting the 'logical' side of the brain to one side is foreign to so many of us and can feel counterintuitive.  However, as the workshop went on, I sensed that more people were managing to do this and to appreciate the process rather than the end result.

We then finished the workshop by eating together and enjoying our shared buffet that everyone had contributed to.  A perfect way to spend a few hours on a Saturday. 

I think in a smaller setting it would have been lovely to have had a mutual time of prayer and reflection in a way that felt right for that individual.  I also think doing this at home would be fabulous with a few additions: lighting a candle, putting on some soft music, making a pot of tea and lastly, opening up your bible. 

Prayer is the key of the morning and the bolt of the evening.
— Mahatma Gandhi

Lastly, I think this would be a beautiful practice to do as a family, with your children, your church, with a special friend, prayer partner or perhaps your spouse (maybe??? lol).  

Anyway, I hope this inspires you to give this a go and please let me know how you get on... 

You may also like...

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Collages Now Available + #MentalHealth Young People + My Progress

Updates and Some Mental Health Statistics

Yay, I'm excited to say that my first two #HeadsUp50 collages (see below) are available via my online shop and so far I'm finding the process of creating these collages really cathartic and stimulating both from an artistic point of view but also it feels really good to be able to 'give voice' to some of what is on my heart from a visual perspective. 

I've been feeling pretty good (see here for a background) and would say that so far, I'm coping well and not noticing any particular changes to my mood.  Since the topic of mental health is very much on my mind as I'm actively working on my #HeadsUp50Project I would say that there have been a couple of occasions where a memory has popped into my mind and it's floored me, making me think that under the surface there is quite a lot buried and probably needs to have the light of the day shine on it at some point.  

As I'm reading and researching more on the topic of depression and mental health, I came across the fact below (UK based research):

Suicide is the most common cause of death for boys aged between 5-19 years, and the second most common for girls of this age.
— www.youngminds.org.uk

This is a big wake up call I think for society and our young people.  This statistic shows just how much our children are struggling and that the problem is growing.  Unfortunately, the majority of young people don't seem to be able to access the support they need due to NHS cuts etc.  In addition, a new survey tells us that more than a third of young people have self-harmed and as we all know, cyberbullying seems out of control. 

Listen, I don't have the answers to this scary reality but all I can offer is a little bit of hope from what I know:

  • The obvious but love your kids.  Accept them for who they are and don't dwell on how you would like them to be.
  • Talk to them openly about your challenges, difficulties and how you were when you were their age.
  • Help them to look after themselves and mirror to them how to do this.  If you struggle with this, learn some strategies yourself.  
  • Don't be afraid to say that you don't have all the answers but that you'll be there to help them discover their way through, bit by bit.  
  • Let them know that this isn't their fault - there is so much guilt and shame with mental health.  
  • If you are struggling to cope as a parent with a child who suffering, don't forget your own needs and seek professional help if you find yourself struggling.
  • Remove devices from their rooms whenever and wherever possible.  Encourage a healthy sleep routine.
  • Encourage your children to invite their friends over and try to get to know them.
  • Keep the line of communication with your spouse/partner open and talk often.
  • Know your family's boundaries and what is and isn't acceptable behaviour for your children.  
  • Sometimes you don't have to say or do anything, just be with them.  Watch a dvd together, go for a walk, make a meal together, go out for a drive or start a hobby together.
  • Remember, we all make mistakes, don't be afraid to admit that you don't always get it right but that you're trying and that you too are learning along the way.
  • Give your child the gift of self-expression.  If you can encourage your child to let out some of their feelings through art, journaling, poetry, writing or music etc. it will be a step in the right direction and give them a really worthwhile and safe way to 'let it out'. 

So, that's it from me and I do hope you have a wonderful weekend and Mother's Day if you live in the UK.

Much love and thank you for being here...

Jane x

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Making Art Whilst Traveling + Supplies

I hope you're enjoying what's left of the summer/autumn...  

Here in the UK we have a few weeks left before our boys return to high school in September - so a bit of time yet...  I know for my friends in the USA, children have already returned to school but whatever your current situation, I hope you're well.

My family and I have had a couple weeks with my eldest son Brandon (see below), who has visited from the States.  

I’ll be the first to say that it’s not always easy creating when you’re away from home but I would encourage you to persevere because it’s wonderful to capture those special memories using paint. 
— Jane
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Above - my boys!!!  Awwwwwww.  Love it when they're together and me with them...

by the sea

Above, I used my handmade Khadi & Papers sketchbook.  It has a somewhat rough surface and so gives quite an interesting texture that I enjoy for a change from a smoother surface. 

window view

In the piece above, I decided to sketch out the windowsill where we were staying - I found the various items displayed really interesting (see the little car and snail, dish, cone and the foliage in the background from the garden?) and wanted to capture them.  I used my trusty Moleskine journal, a 0.1mm Graphik Line Marker, together with some coloured watercolour pencils.  

st abbs

The piece above is a watercolour sketch of Coldingham Bay, near where we were staying.  What a beautiful beach it was and I just had to capture it.  Do you see the beach huts?  Apparently, some of these are 100 years old.  

By the way, I used Dr Ph Martin's Bleed Proof White for the waves and surf of the sea. 

It's not always easy creating when you're away from home but I would encourage you to persevere because it's wonderful to capture those special memories and of course those everyday events like a walk around your neighbourhood or home town etc. 

Please let me know your favourite supplies to bring with you whilst you're out 'n' about... 

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Autism + Loved to the moon and back

Embracing life in all it's ups and downs, is really important because for a long, long time this often eluded me until I finally made a full and lasting recovery from long-term depression about 10 years ago...

Now when I'm faced with challenges, I draw upon my faith, art, self-compassion, my family and beauty, always beauty.  This is one of those times...  I also know that you can't 'embrace' the good times without the not so good - it's all a part of the whole story, the whole picture, right.

Open edition wall decor

 

Autism...

I'm not sure why I'm sharing this news (although I always wear my heart on my sleeve) but somewhere there might be someone who reads this who understands or might be going through the same experience.  Two days ago, we got the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (Asperger's or high functioning autism as it's more commonly known) for our ten-year old son, Joseph.  I have to say the diagnosis of autism wasn't really a shock but then again, it really is (if that makes sense?).

I feel so many emotions but the main ones have to be sadness for Joseph, relief, worry, anxiety and such responsibility.  I'm scared and somehow empowered with this knowledge at the same time.  Empowered because it explains so much and scared because what if I get it wrong and I fail him?  Joseph's first reaction was relief - it gives some name to the anguish he goes through.  I'm also grateful because so many people have never had a diagnosis and probably never will.

So, as we make sense of this news and figure out how to best help Joseph, I turn to what I know.  I turn to art, my journal, prayer and a deep knowing that it's all meant to be.  That he's my beautiful, special boy and always will be.  That's he's loved 'to the moon and back' - just as I used to say to him when he was little.

Autism diagnosis - still our boy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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