Life

Possessions Don't Make You Happy & The Art Of Contentment

It’s a lie we’ve been fed far too long!

The accumulation of possessions - ‘stuff’, will never satisfy our longings for meaning in our lives…

I was trying to find a particular book this morning and as I was browsing my overflowing bookshelf, I was surprised to see several books that I’d entirely forgotten about. The thing is, all my books were purchased with what seemed, a great need and want at the time.

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The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it
— Henry David Thoreau

Likewise, on Saturday, I’d been frantically rifling through my clothes; trying to choose an outfit for a special, large family gathering - you know the feeling. I came across a few scarves, blouses etc that I can’t even remember the last time they were worn.

Of course, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t buy things but I am saying that buying to fill a void inside of ourselves will only bring about a temporary feeling of happiness - it doesn’t last - this is coming from ‘the ex kitchen appliance queen’. All too soon, the ‘feel good’ factor wears off and once again we’re stuck with the reality of our lives and who we are in this moment.

Back to emptiness…

Back to those feelings of lack, disappointment and a thirst for something more…

You can find this art lesson and others,  here .

You can find this art lesson and others, here.

Whilst creating this intuitive piece of artwork above for my class, the Art Of Contentment, I was reminded of the multiple times (often daily), when my vision of God is clouded because I’m experiencing a feeling of ‘lack’. I think that’s why I instinctively covered one eye - we literally can’t ‘see’.

A journal entry I’d scribbled down, reminded me, that ONLY God can quench our thirst. Here are the words - a prayer of sorts, that I wrote upon my painting:

Help me to look to You and only You for contentment.

Remind me daily that happiness can never be found in possessions - only though You!

Through Your love, grace, mercy and forgiveness.

You quench my thirst as nothing else can.

Thank you Jesus!

Inside the Art Of Contentment classroom, I speak about my sense of sometimes feeling ‘empty’. How we can all fall into the trap of fooling ourselves into thinking there can be a replacement for spiritual food and water. All too often, we strive to control the outcome of our lives using our own limited resources. If we do without physical food and water, we soon would perish and it’s the same if we go without the living Word and Jesus to satisfy our spiritual hunger and thirst that our souls so desperately need.

Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him/her shall never thirst...
— John 4:13-14

Reflection Question:

In what ways do you typically quench your spiritual thirst and hunger? What would it look like for you to quench your thirst through God? How might you fill your well this month?


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If you’d like to join me for a year of finding contentment in a busy world using art, inspiration from others, exploring notable calendar dates, listening to audio reflections and lots of other goodness, please click below to learn more…

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The Benefits of Art In A Care Home For the Elderly

Art For Seniors

Yesterday, I visited a local care home for the elderly with a friend and helped teach an art lesson for senior ladies with varying levels of dementia. I’ve taught several workshops in person but have never done this in a care home setting. It was such a humbling and special experience that I wanted to share it with you here… Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take photos from the session but hopefully you’ll get a sense of my experience nonetheless.

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Creative art pursuits provide older adults with multiple benefits, not the least of which is enhanced cognitive function.
— Todays Geriatric Medicine

Before the ladies arrived, my friend and I set to work and began by squeezing out splodges of acrylic paint on saucers, filling containers with water for rinsing out dirty brushes and finally, setting out coloured and ordinary drawing pencils onto the large art table.

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Some of the ladies had to be ‘bribed’ with tea by the carers because they’d entirely forgotten their last painting session and needed some gentle encouragement. Soon wheelchairs and walking frames were wheeled in and ladies were helped to their place at the large table.

A few ladies continued working on a previously started piece (some had no recollection that the piece handed to them was actually theirs), whilst others were starting new artworks with the jolly theme of Spring. An ‘example’ was prepared and some suggestions made.

One lady never spoke unless she wanted her brush cleaning and new colour added. She painted regardless of the pencilled guidelines which of course, was no problem at all. She seemed unaware (?) of what she was painting but slowly she relaxed and smiled to herself at times. She was totally wrapped up and absorbed in her painting.

When she’d finished her ‘Spring’ piece, we gave her a blank piece of paper and she drew some shapes with pencil and then painted her shapes in with random colours and strokes. I stroked her softly on the shoulder and called her by her name and asked her if she’d enjoyed her painting session and she said that she had. My eyes filled with tears as our gaze connected and when she smiled at me it made me wonder who she’d been before the dementia set in and did she know who she was anymore and still how special she was?

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Another lady was probably in her late 80’s and a little impatient to begin with. She needed some encouragement and guidance as to the particulars of what to paint. I drew a tree for her and she went ahead and filled in the general foliage shape with green paint. I suggested she paint in some cherry blossom and she did this in her own unique way and then a yellow sun was added.

Three of the ladies had been primary school teachers and one in particular chatted a little to us about her teaching days and some of the children who’d been in her charge.

All the while, we had music on in the background and one lady hummed or sang throughout our session whilst simultaneously beaming! I was captivated.

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A little bit of surprise to me was how blunt and to the point the ladies were. They seemed to have no concept of social etiquette and it reminded me of how young children are - very much of the moment. I loved their genuine spirit, honesty and lack of social awareness or embarrassment - it was so, so refreshing!

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Another lady, told us about half a dozen times that she wasn’t the artistic one in her family, like her Dad but rather her mother (said in the present tense) was the artist. Her butterflies and sense of colour were beautiful.

For another, an owl was drawn and coloured in with such care and attention - she was a little surprised to see her creation when it was held up for her - upon seeing it in all it’s glory, her face lit up.

Daffodils, sheep and rolling hills were painted in by another lady and she too chatted from time to time and was engrossed for the whole session.

I’m not an art therapist or psychologist but I do know for that hour and a half, those ladies came to life! They smiled, laughed, hummed, sang and whatever their ‘end result’, they expressed themselves in a way that felt right for them. Their hand-eye coordination was well and truly exercised, along with cognitive abilities and the ability to concentrate. They made decisions about what colour to dip into, they engaged with each other and they decided where to apply their loaded brush onto the paper and seemed to relish in it. For women who are nearer the end of their life, art seems a perfect way for them to show their true personality and exercise their autonomy and decision making in spite of the dementia. One lady remarked that it had gone so quickly...

After experiencing this yesterday, it reaffirms my belief that we are all meant to embrace our creativity at any age and no matter what ‘so called’ ability we have. We are all here to create and for the seniors in our communities it’s no different than for you and I.

Much love,

Jane x

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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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Invited Guests - The Art Of Contentment Online Class

The Art Of Contentment - Meet My Invited Guests

Today, I’m thrilled to share my guest list for my upcoming class entitled The Art Of Contentment that goes live on 1st January 2019. I have 12 amazing women who will be sharing on the topic of ‘contentment’ as creative women living in a busy world. Hear/read/see their insights for living a slower life and finding contentment from within.

You’ll be hearing from successful photographers, artists, coaches, designers and authors - how do they find contentment? I think you’re going to love this - art and soul combined!

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So, without further ado, I’m sharing my guests names and ‘job titles’ in month order, starting with January, so here we go (starting top left):

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Michelle GD - Writer and Photographer

Cristina Colli - Artist, Photographer, Writer and Teacher

Michelle Turbide - Artist and Teacher

Sam Martin - UK Artist

Kerstin Martin - Squarespace Educator

Sheila Atchley - Artist, Author and Preacher’s Wife

Sarah Raad - Coach + Business Owner of Simple Happy Life

Lisa York - SuperMum Podcast Host

Renee Mueller - Artist & Online Teacher

Michelle Fletcher of Camels & Couscous - Artist, Explorer, Curator - all things art and travel 

Gabrielle Heckenbucker - Artist

Christianne Squires - Book Coach

Here’s what to expect from the class:

Let’s enjoy 2019 together as we paint through the year with soulful portraits and enjoy contributions from guests (and myself) on their insights for living a slower life and finding contentment from within.

Art helps us to switch off from the pressures of a busy world and enables us to reconnect with ourselves, refocus our priorities and slow down.

How It Will Work:

* Each month, I'll share with you a new and extensive soulful portraiture lesson. We'll be dabbling with various supplies and styles and creating paintings using acrylic, ink, watercolour, pastels, charcoal, collage, gold leaf, perhaps some clay and of course, using basic supplies such as graphite etc.

Along side the art, look forward to being inspired by other creative women and how they find contentment in a busy world. We’ll be hearing from talented artists, photographers, designers, writers and coaches - all with busy lives but with useful tips and heartfelt reflections to help you slow down. (See my amazing guest line up below)!

Make 2019 the year that you reconnect with who you are and what's important. Give yourself this monthly gift and watch how your year blossoms as you immerse yourself in portrait painting, slowing down, finding rest and discovering an inner contentment.

Please note: If you’d like to register, please click the button below (ps. early bird offer will end on 5th December - sale price currently £95 for the entire year)

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What Does Contentment Mean For You?

Contentment

I’ve been contemplating the idea of ‘contentment’ a lot these days as I’m putting together my online class called The Art Of Contentment.

As Joshua Becker writes in his book The More Of Less, learning to feel content is a lifelong process and it doesn’t come naturally but it’s well worth trying.

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I am content; that is a blessing greater than riches; and he to whom that is given need ask no more.
— Henry Fielding
The Butterfly Effect - acrylic on paper

The Butterfly Effect - acrylic on paper

Definition of Contentment:

According to the Urban Dictionary ‘contentment’ means:

Resting in who you are, who you have, and what you have.

To have contentment is to be comfortable with the world.




Thinking of the definition of contentment above, isn’t that what we all want? To feel comfortable with the world? I say yes!

One of the ways I get to feel ‘comfortable with the world’ is to paint, as well as having a foundation built upon my faith and gratitude. From a creative point of view, I particularly like painting portraits because I find various stresses and strains of my life seem to ebb away and I’m left in this delicious place of creativity, self expression and well, contentment; unless the painting is going badly wrong. ;)

There are so many ways to create a portrait and depending upon my mood I may create a soulful portrait, an expressive portrait or a portrait with a lot of attention to detail. It varies… For when I’m feeling super overwhelmed, you can’t beat some dark and smoky charcoal to melt away your worries.

Classic Beauty - acrylic on paper

Classic Beauty - acrylic on paper

If I feel less muddled, I might want to get a little more detailed and pencil works well with this.

If I’m feeling upset (or happy), collage works. There’s something so freeing about the gathering of juicy supplies, some journal writing and a lot of items to adhere to my substrate that clear my head, heart and mind (see below).

Gently - mixed media collage

Gently - mixed media collage

Mark making (see the background of the painting below) also helps with feelings of stress and overwhelm. There’s something about making small identical marks and many of them, that feels very cathartic and relaxing; meditative in fact.

Beauty and Fortitude - acrylic on paper

Beauty and Fortitude - acrylic on paper

So, I hope I’ve given you some ways to bring a little contentment into your life. Painting really does help your soul to breathe in the midst of chaos. There’s something about painting that enables your conscious brain to ‘wait in the wings’ leaving your subconscious permission to flow and then in that timeframe a shift occurs. Try it and let me know in the comments below how you got on and your thoughts on finding contentment in a busy world.

Take care and here’s to ‘contentment’ and The Art Of Contentment.

Jane x


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PS. if you are interested in my new class, the early bird offer of £95 will only last until 5th December 2018 and then the price will increase to £150. Class available throughout 2019 and beyond. All videos will be downloadable.

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Receive my 'Heart Letters' & + enjoy optional extras: Free access to the 'Inspiration Library', 20% off online classes, Free prints, art videos + more...