Sunday, January 16, 2011

What is happening

Originally, when I enrolled in Soul Restoration, I was looking to have a bit of fun, learn some new techniques, and make some whimsical pretty art. I already had most of the supplies required, so signed up and counted down the days until the course started.

Then the official kit arrived and I groaned: "Scrapbooking?".

Now, I've got nothing but respect for scrapbookers and a lot of the art I have made borrows heavily from traditional scrapbooking techniques. But somehow I have this stereotype of what a scrapbooker is... and it isn't me.

Then I got access to the course curriculum. The biggest initial hurdle was getting access to the secure PDFs. I know copyright is a huge issue with online courses, with people sharing passwords, forwarding on materials, claiming ideas and techniques as their own. But this was the scrapbook equivalent of Fort Knox.

I started to read the initial assignments and groaned even louder. Looking deep deep within? Cataloguing the lies I had come to believe about myself? Setting boundaries? Creating space for me? Trusting my own wisdom? Honouring my choices? I was already doing all this in therapy, and stewing in my "stuff" in my spare time was not exactly my idea of fun.

Then there was the sheer scale of what was being asked. At least two assignments, a whole heap of journalling, some major major soul searching, making truth cards... and that was just week one! The support and resources were really extensive and helpful -- particularly the technique videos -- but even the number and range of those seemed quite daunting. I really did wonder how people with little to no artmaking experience were going to find the tasks, especially seeing as the art produced by the hosts and participants was so pretty and polished.

But then I started. Just a simple statement, glued onto the front of my collage book with gel medium. A couple of embellishments were added. Then I dug out a butterfly-shaped paper punch. Then I tapped out a few words on my old typewriter. Then hunted down a few more embellishments. Printed out some pictures. Cut them out. Then sploshed a bit more gel medium over everything. Typed up some more words. Rubber stamped images of butterflies and birds nests and postage stamps and whatever else on top of things. Made messes with paint and ruined pictures in the process then covered the mess with old dressmaker's patterns. Used rub-on lettering left, right, and centre. Made a special trip into the city to stock up on more stamps, stickers, stencils, ribbons, sparkly paper pockets... frankly, anything scrapbooky I could get my hands on!

And here's the thing. I'm still not sure I'm much of a scrapbooker. And I'm likely not much of a contributor to the whole Soul Restoration experience. I haven't got stuck into the forums, Q&As, or posting my work. I've got so much out of being an active online participant in the past, especially in Mondo Beyondo, which brought so many special and significant people into my life. But something tells me to keep this one close to home.

This one is for me.

And not just because I'm fast becoming a closet scrapbooker! Or because I've been spending every nap time and evening playing with glue and paper cut-outs and my typewriter and stamps and stickers and stuff that would make any eight year old's heart sing. Or because I am increasingly proud of, and delighted with, the art that I am making, even if it's not always pretty and by no means perfect. Or because, for the first time in a long time, I am prioritising art making over writing, reading, blogging, and resting. Because I definitely can't do it all in the limited time I have to myself.

I think it's because it is all so meaningful and relevant to ME. In the process of watching and learning and and writing and playing, I am seeing a space for me emerge... and grow.

And although the choice between glittery butterfly stickers and bird's nest stamps mightn't seem all that profound on the surface, I'm starting to see how this is one of the most powerful ways to bear out core claim of the curriculum: that women need space for themselves in their souls, and they need to have faith in their deepest truths. This safe little space allows me to see in a tangible way that I really can make beauty: without judgement, allowing the process to lead the way, and trusting my choices.

This evening I went up to where my husband was sitting, put my hands on his shoulders and said, "Life is good".

I am starting to see the possibility of a life filled with great beauty of my own making.


  1. I have to say that I had a very similar reaction that you had to this class. I wasn't so sure. It all seemed a little too touchy feely for me. But I have been doing some of the assignments my goodness do they just seem to help you open up and work through thoughts and "lies" as Melodie says in a different way. I think it is the connection of the art with the self help that is hitting me. I don't know what it is, but I have to agree with you, Life is good!

  2. First, your cards (canvases? pieces of artwork?) are beautiful!! The way you've put all those elements together is so lovely, and the thoughts you built the art around are thoughtful, sweet and amazing.

    Second, I love your thoughts toward the end about women needing space for themselves in their souls, and how artistic expression encourages and nurtures that. Being a more "traditional" scrapbooker, I often find myself looking back through my albums and reflecting - on how blessed I am to have all this joy in my life, on how much I've grown since certain moments, and so on. Even if my scrapbooks are stored away forever when I'm gone, they are a treasure to me now.

    Last, I sense that, through doing your projects for this class, your lines between "scrapbooking" and "not scrapbooking" are blurring...and that's such a fun thought. I used to feel like all of my crafty artistic ventures were segmented - scrapbooking, card-making, decorating holiday wreaths, etc - then I realized that it's all art. It's all creativity. The different projects inform and inspire and influence each other, whether I realize it or not. So I say embrace all the fun you're having with "traditional" scrapbooking're putting your own look and spin on everything, and that's the most important thing!!

    Have a wonderful week full of joy!! =)

  3. Those cards you have created are just beautiful!

    I wouldn't get too caught up in the label of 'scrapbooking', especially since most of the work I see is just an off-shoot of collage/mixed media work, which has a long and glorious history =-)

    Kudos to you on making the decision to keep your experience in this workshop to yourself and also for coming to the realization that YOU can bring beauty of your own making into your life =-)

    I can't wait to see what else comes out of this experience for you! =-)

  4. I love those cards you made! So fantastic. But even more that you are finding that "you" space and taking full advantage of it.