Saturday, 29 April 2017

Live in Balance: A to Z Challenge - Y is for...

You in all your glory
Today we are doing a little art once more, and it couldn't be easier. You did this a lot when you were a child. Now we are just going to do the grown up version with a twist.
Who are you?
We as individuals have many roles in our daily lives. Some because we have to, and some because we choose to. So today we are going to use a very simple drawing to say who we are.
The steps are as follows:
pencil drawing, left hand, handmade paper
  1. Use your journal directly, or a piece of art paper suitable for watercolour paint or watercolour pencils. Make sure it is trimmed so it will fit the page of your journal (if necessary).
  2. Use a pencil to draw the outline of your non-dominant hand - just as you did when you were young. I kept my fingers slightly bent to make sure they fit on my paper.
  3. Use a permanent marker or pen, to redraw the pencil lines, and add a few details if you like. I added the wrinkles over my knuckles and the half-moons in my nails where I have them. Lastly, I added my wedding ring, since I was wearing it when I did the outline.
    watercolour paint, paint brush, pencil drawing of hand on white paper
  4. Activate the paint by spraying it with a little water. Then using a soft flat brush, paint in any random way, with random colours all over your sketch. If the colours flow together, that is perfect too.
    watercolour painted hand, multicolour drawing, two pens
  5. Let it dry otherwise, it will stain the pages of your journal.
  6. I used a silver gel marker to redraw my ring, but the details were then obscured. The ink of this pen is not conducive to drawing over it again, so I left it as is.
  7. Use a permanent pen and write down all your roles as you see them. You can make a list like I did, or you can write them all over, at angles, upside-down, whatever way you feel like.
  8. Sign and date your drawing, and glue it into your journal when you're done.
    watercolour painted drawing of a hand, handwritten text over image

Our roles change with time and also as we grow older. You can easily do this again at any time you feel like it. I do this hand drawing once a year, and it is always interesting to see what has changed, and what has remained the same.
  

This is our last art entry for the A to Z Challenge in 2017. I hope you enjoyed doing something a little different for your journal entries this month.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Live in Balance: A to Z Challenge - X is for...

Crossing out...high five!
small tick mark and cross in purple square
Do you ever go back to the todo lists you make to cross out the items that you have completed? (check out www.bulletjournal.com if you need a system to help manage those pesky to-do lists)
I am guilty too for not doing that. Sure the job is done, so why bother? We should bother. Internal validation of achievement is just as important as external recognition. Of course, no one is going to give you an award for completing the ironing today (well, in my book you deserve a medal!) but tasks completed give us some a sense of happiness too. Even the mundane tasks like ironing.
Checking back; moving forward
Todo lists in our journals are seldom simple tasks or goals that we set for ourselves. Often we beat ourselves up, because it is taking longer, or it is more difficult than what we expected. But if you look back to six months or just two months' entries ago, you will see progress to now. And so what if it is taking longer? You are growing. You are moving forward. The journey you are on is not an overnight kind of success journey. It is a life long journey with yourself.
Cross out?
In journal writing, we don't delete what was written in the past. Nor so we cross out the words of history. Compare yourself today with the person you have been, and see the changes. Rejoice in the happiness that you have achieved.
Note the path that you have travelled, and keep moving forward.
Only read entries that are weeks or months old to see the changes in yourself. Long lasting changes are subtle and take more time, but they are there and you will see that in you.
If you started your journal on 1 April 2017, then delay this entry for a while. Make a note of it, and come back to it at the end of June. Keep writing and work on finding your happiness, it is a journey after all.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Live in Balance: A to Z Challenge - W is for...

Weapons and Words

hand holding sword blade, fake blood on palm
When you think about the saying 'the pen is mightier than the sword', you understand what it means. Words can hurt, and the wrong words spoken at the wrong time can cause a lot of damage to relationships. But you can also hurt yourself, even if you don't mean to.

Words in journals

Keeping a journal is a good thing. It is a place to explore your own private thoughts and dreams. But it can also be a place where you can put yourself down with negative thoughts and scathing words.

Be kind to yourself

We do have negative thoughts and feelings sometimes, but you have to be aware of these and the impact they could have if you continuously indulge in them.
Positive words and good thoughts will limit the impact. Make sure that when you feel down or depressed, that you watch the words you write in your journal. If there are many entries of that kind, it might be time to seek help to address these.
Journal writing can be therapeutic, but it cannot solve problems on behalf of a therapist or psychiatrist.

Put down the sword

fine line markers on black fabric, yellow, purple, pink, green
Make sure your entry today is focused on the positive things in your life. Consider a Gratitude or Happiness entry. If you cannot, perhaps it is time to seek the help of a professional.
Just remember that words can have a lot of power, and we need to make sure our inner dialogue is also helping us grow at all times.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Live in Balance: A to Z Challenge - V is for...

Value of invaluables
picture of a tape measure
You know as well as I that some things have no monetary value, purely because you cannot buy them. Things like friendship, love, empathy and a good steak. Okay, food is something you can buy, but the experience of enjoying a good meal is beyond the price you pay for it.
Value beyond money
We live in an increasingly materialistic world where people are more likely to judge your value based on what you own. House, car, jewellery, technology, to name but the items at the start of a long list.
But some things we own are of value to us, and not because of what they may be worth in an insurance claim. We own items that are special because they represent a tangible memory of a special person or event in our lives.
Of course, the item could be valuable like a wedding ring, but for most of us, it is the memories attached to the item that makes it irreplaceable.
Explore the value in your drawers or cupboards
image journal with pen, #atozchallenge text on side of the journal
Use your journal today to take a step or two back down memory lane. Name the item, and explore the memory attached to it. You can also stick a picture or drawing of it in your journal instead.
Why is this particular item the one that triggers your memory? What do you feel about the event or person at the time of the memory? How do you feel about them now?

Purely relying on our emotions for happiness results in a fleeting experience, but if we incorporate them into our journey, they become part of it. Build on the memories, good and bad, and take the best forward with you on your journey of happiness. 

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Live in Balance: A to Z Challenge - U is for...

A to Z Challenge Badge 2017

Unique, are you?

Have you noticed how hard people are trying to either fit in or disappear into the wallpaper? Where are the things that make people stand out from the crowds? We're not talking genetics or things that you had no say in. Nor are celebrities good examples. There are exceptions, but they are few.
No, we are talking about us, normal people—who went to school, then to study something or the other, then working, getting married, raising a family...and then the cycle starts all over again.
And it's not about saving the world either. It is about being you, the person that experiences life, not only living it.

Make your experiences unique

Since I mentioned school (I include all levels of education here), let's start there. Have you studied anything new since writing that last exam paper? Not because your boss told you to, but because you wanted to. Not because there was something to achieve, like a certificate or promotion, but because you were interested in the subject. No? Why not? Aren't you curious about the world around us? It's history or scientific advancements. It's beauty expressed in all kinds of art and music. The people and our interaction with our environment. The list is endless.
Another thing is our relationships. When was the last time you truly connected with your spouse/partner? And not only physically, but emotionally and intellectually too. How about discussing that play you saw together, or maybe want to see together? Maybe it will help to get a babysitter for a few hours so that you can spend some time together to find that connection again.
Instead of the mindless hours spent in front of the TV, take control of your life and experience it.

Experience the uniqueness of you

We all feel at some point that life is passing us by. One day you twenty-five, at the cusp of your life, and the next moment you are sixty-five, and wondering what the hell happened?
Epictetus quote
Don't wait, or delay. There will never be a good time or the right opportunity, you have to make it happen.
If you're not sure what it is you need to experience, use your journal to let your thoughts guide you. Learn something new, and think about the experience, the knowledge and the change in you. Do something new and explore the experience.
Don't delay. Start your unique journey of experiencing life and happiness by taking control of your choices today.