life lessons

Identity; Loss Off + Collage 8/50

Looking Back...

Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.
— Unknown
Identity headsup50project collage 8/50.jpg

I still find it astounding to think, that one day I was ‘me’ and literally the second my first baby was born, I was never the same again (or, after my second and third babies).  My 28 year-old-self would’ve been very skeptical if someone had told me this - ‘I’m only having a baby, how much can I change?’  Well, a lot, yes?   

The same can be said for all big changes in life, right?  A bereavement, marital breakup, job change or, serious illness, even a house move.  Truly though, when I became a mother, that was by far the biggest shift for me and continues to shape me day by day.  I've accepted this gift now but the loss of 'myself' was quite profound for some years - it felt like I was mourning my 'previous life' for the longest time.

I chatted about this topic here and now again today because it’s showed up in my latest collage - called (you guessed it) Identity. It features the female form holding an infant baby.  The figure is of a darker colour than the newborn because she’s holding a brand new, pristine life in her arms ie. the baby that she’s carried in her body for nine months but she’s also lived a life herself prior to baby.  She’s weary for now; she’s been changed - she’s ‘older’ somehow.

Identity - 8/50 #HeadsUp50Project

Around her are flowers - they’re part of her everyday and their beauty refreshes her and reminds her that life is the same, it’s just her experience of it that has changed.  Everything is as it should be - the sun rises and sets and the stars are held above us, as always.  She’ll never be the same but she’s also softer, more malleable and kinder somehow.  She’s felt and seen things that have made her mark both physically and spiritually and she can't and wouldn't want to go back. 

In time, she forgives herself for not being perfect - (actually, it's an ongoing process, I find).  She does the best she can and slowly a new woman emerges.  She's wiser and not as quick to think she knows what life's all about...  

 The one and only, Brene Brown writes about 'Motherhood Shame' here in a brilliant pdf relating to her book, 'I Thought It Was Just Me'.  While I'm sharing, here are some other truly inspiring and noteworthy downloads that are free via Brene's site. 

identity headsup50project collage 8-50.jpg

The Collages

As with all my previous headsup50project collages, this work is focusing on depression, my journey and the bigger 'picture' of mental health awareness and stigma.  You'll see in these collages that there is glorious imperfection, no neat edges with an accompanying deep love, appreciation and an inner knowing that I am many facets, not only a mother, a wife and daughter - I hope you feel this too when you look at this series of collages.  

Finally, this piece is available here (with 10% of the proceeds going to the charity, Mind) and others collages are on their way… Yay - 10 of 50 now completed, another 40 to go ;) 

Jane xo

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New painting - It's time to spread your wings


With only a few weeks until the school summer holidays end, it seems my mind is increasingly upon our eldest son, Joseph who will be starting high school the beginning of September.  I'm still working through my feelings on this but I think that's where the inspiration for this painting must have come from - 'It's time to spread your wings'.

New painting - It's time to spread your wings - original on boxed canvas

it's time to spread your wings

I think this focus of letting go stems from a combination of things really...  It's the smaller things like the subtle signs of the summer season on it's way out and autumn not far away.  It's the realisation that our youngest son is not as young as we sometimes would like him to be - do you know what I mean?  There's also some ill-health in the family and all of this reminds me that we really don't have much control at all - even when we think we do...

it's time to spread your wings

it's time to spread your wings

it's time to spread your wings

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.

- Alan Watts

So, this painting speaks of change but not in a negative way - we can embrace it (spread our wings) or resist it because one thing is certain, nothing stays static.  No, I don't think it means we always have to like change either but I'm trying my best to be open, curious and alert to lessons and insights that maybe it's time for me to learn.

Even in the process of creating this painting I was learning.  Learning to trust myself and the answers that I hold deep inside that only I know.  Realising that when I feel I'm losing control ie. when the painting seems to be falling apart, that another 'answer' is in the background waiting to be unearthed.  The answer might not be as I'd expected but often it's turns out to be a better fit.

I encourage you to explore your inner fears, feelings and emotions that can feel yucky or messy.  Choose paint, poetry, your journal or whatever other way feels best and then allow yourself the gift of acceptance, time and love to explore.

Jane xo




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How do you 'become whole'?

Become whole - I created this colourful mixed media piece in my journal the other day.  Starting off just involved putting paint on paper.  No plan, no agenda - I just applied the paint spreading it with my fingers - I SO love doing this!  Later the words just popped up during the process and just felt right - so I went with it. become whole art journal

become whole

'Become whole' - it sounds so trendy, appealing and easy to achieve doesn't it?

'Becoming whole' can mean lots of things to lots of people but for me it's about accepting who I am (yes, it's a life long process) and remembering that everything I need to be 'me' is already present, right inside of me.

It's also about knowing that I don't have to stay the same, that God wants infinitely more for me.  I've struggled over the years (as we all do) with various insecurities but through faith and prayer feel that a lot of those have disappeared (or at least lessened) for good.

For me, 'becoming whole' means that I...

* try to remember and believe, that I am good enough in the present moment

* know in my heart that I am loved by God (no matter what)

* can accept my flaws and forgive myself when I mess up (which happens a lot)

* can love others without needing to stifle or control those I love

* try to remember to witness the beauty of another human being

* can choose how I react to a particular situation

* am far from perfect... I will always be a 'work in progress'

* can't control the actions of others but can myself

* know that some days are better than others - (the better days are because I've remembered the above)

* need very little.  Most of the things 'I want', I actually don't need.

If you're anything like me, you may struggle with this same topic yourself?  I think we all do if we're honest.  We know that the negative voice in our head won't disappear but if we can just learn to acknowledge and then hopefully move beyond these damaging inner thoughts, it really is possible to 'become whole'.  After all, it's all God ever wants for us...

Now something to reflect upon in your journal, with paint, through prayer or over a big cup of tea?  Is there anything that is stopping you from 'becoming whole'?  What is it and how might you go about changing the situation.  Then hand the issue over (big or small) and then expect changes (in a good way).

Take care.

Jane x

PS.  I've just finished this post but just had to send you the link to a poem from the wonderful and much missed, Maya Angelou - Phenomenal Woman.  See what I'm talking about!? x

delight ecourse pic

Enrolling NOW - Available August 1st as an online ecourse to enjoy in your own time...

This self-paced ecourse is all about celebrating your life and taking ‘Delight‘ in little things – happy childhood memories, joyful times with family, inspiring moments in nature etc.

I’ll be sharing with you my favourite tips and tricks as well as the basics of ‘art‘ and ‘journalling‘, along with flower pressing, out ‘n’ about sketching from life, journal prompts, collage how to’s, some self-portraiture using our cameras and creating some whimsical and primitive styled ‘women/girls’.

Click here for more info.


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Do you believe in miracles?

Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.― C.S. Lewis

the miracle of a rose

When I was young, I believed in miracles...

I thought that life treated you as you treated it - you know, if I was 'good', then good things would happen for me.  This was true in-part until my oldest son was diagnosed with leukemia, my marriage broke-down and I was eventually diagnosed with depression after having suffered for years amidst guilt, sadness and despair.

As if things couldn't get worse, my son Brandon (who was nearly 3 at the time) returned to the USA to complete his treatment for leukemia and due to a legal technicality, I wasn't allowed to re-enter the States.  Looking back, I don't know how I managed to let him go but I think the only thing that kept me going was that his life-expectancy potentially went from 60% to 70% with him completing his treatment over there.  That was 17 years ago and Brandon did recover after his two-years of treatment, thank God.

For years, I stopped believing in miracles and I went around with a gaping open-wound that was continually raw and festering.  It seemed, there was never enough healing to make any difference.  Life. hurt. big. time.  I thought this would be the way my life would be going forward and came to the awful conclusion that life was certainly not sweet.  It was only bitter-sweet and that there were no miracles, at least not for me.

I hurt deeply.

If there was such a thing as a broken heart, then mine certainly broke.

I couldn't imagine a way forward that didn't mean pain.

A way to live my life again without heartache seemed impossible.

However, through grace, I eventually did believe in miracles once again.  Whilst I couldn't have my little boy back, I received many other miracles.

One of those miracles is doing work that I love from the bottom of my heart.  It's not to say it's come easily but as I find myself in Grassfield Hall working on a commissioned painting, I know hand on heart that miracles do come true.

miracles do come true

It's not just the 'A-list' miracles that touch my heart though, it's also the 'small letters' (referring to the quote above) that are overwhelming beautiful.  Here is a great example from ZenHabits.  We live in an abundant world and as much as Society wishes to tell us different, it's not true - miracles do exist and they're happening right now!

So, take a deep breath my Friend and close your eyes.  Call forth God (or use a different word if you prefer) and allow yourself to be 'shown' the miracles that are showing up in your life in this moment, right here, right now...

What do you feel?

What do you see?

What do you hear?

If you can answer any of the above questions, capture the answer in your journal.  Remember to give thanks, even if nothing revealed itself - something may occur to you later...

Take care.





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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



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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We do our best

I'm in the process of creating an e-course which will be launching soon (details available shortly) and was loving the momentum that this brought with it.  Then my boys were on the receiving end of a bad cold virus and everything went pear-shaped.  What to do? I've never been very good with accepting interruptions in a laid-back manner or with much grace and aplomb but I do try.  Anyway, here was the lesson before me once again.  It never changes you know - I start by ranting and raving (internally and a little externally) and then eventually getting the message that me fighting the situation isn't going to change a thing.

Just as this was going pretty well, I ended up catching the virus myself (God does have a sense of humour) and now one week later, still have painful sinuses, cough etc.  Ah well, we try our best...

 journal pic


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