Letting go. Handing it all over to God.

“Father, I feel you nudging me to write another post. I hear you and obey. Soften my heart and mind and help me to allow the Holy Spirit to speak through me, giving me the words and story you most want me to tell. In Jesus name, Amen.”

It may seem strange to see my posts now beginning with a prayer. For me, with the changes in my life, it makes more sense than ever. I want God to guide me and I want Him to know that I want his guidance. Prayer is my intentional way of letting Him know.

I feel compelled to write a bit about my story.

In 2014, I was diagnosed with breast cancer but prior to that I had been intentionally living a life that was taking me farther and farther away from God and my beliefs. My rational mind gave me all kinds of reasons which gave me permission to do this. The main reason was to satisfy my desire for happiness in my life. It didn’t matter where I looked, happiness was only temporary which just kept me searching for it until my life came to a screeching halt.

My diagnosis of breast cancer had not been a huge surprise. I had lived in denial over the lump for quite a while but life intervened in such a way as to make me finally take responsibility and have it looked into.

I handled this diagnosis like I did everything in my life. I got the information from the doctors I needed. Then I researched it to death. By the time the day of my first surgery arrived, I knew all the alternative treatments. What I could afford or not afford of those treatments and even knew the type of anesthesia and pain control medicines I should or should not take. This of course all happened after I was told by my surgeon who did the biopsy that I definitely had breast cancer but the most common and treatable kind. That day I sat in his office like a zombie, hearing and yet not hearing what he had to say and what he saw as my options.

You would think this diagnosis, the surgeries and treatment would have turned me back to God. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I prayed. I was angry. I was furious that this was happening to me when I had an 11 year old daughter to take care of. But it didn’t change my direction in regards to my relationship with Him. All it did was bring my life to a screeching halt. What I had been pursuing stopped completely. I had no direction other than to just get through this.

There were problems with chemo. After my third treatment complications threatened my life, so I stopped chemo and all treatments including their recommendation for radiation treatment. They recommended these things even though they had no proof I still had cancer in my body. The surgeries I went through and the tests they did of the lymph nodes and breast tissue indicated they got everything but they have no proof because there are no instruments strong enough to detect single cells of cancer. In fact, the devices they have today only detect cancer if it has begun to cluster where there are at least millions if not billions of cells. My last treatment was two days before Christmas in 2014 and since then there has been no since of cancer. This December will be 5 years of being cancer free. Five years seems to be a milestone for determining if someone is cured or healed from their cancer diagnosis. It doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t come back. It just means according to their statistics, the chances of it returning are lowered greatly. I don’t hold much stock in statistics. I seem to defy them all in some way or another, usually for the better.

In 2015, we decided to celebrate the end of my cancer treatments and started looking for a house to buy. We found one and bought it, moved in August 2015, and from all appearances it looked like life for me and my daughter was looking up. We were better off financially than we had been renting. Had a larger place than we had when renting. And we had plans to slowly improve our new home.

Then, January 2016 arrived in an unexpected and devastating way. I was informed that my position which I held for over 30 years was being eliminated and I was being laid off. This news hit me harder, much, much harder than my cancer diagnosis. It threatened the very foundation of my ability to take care of my daughter. I am the sole income earner. I get no child support. I have no other source of income. This news came to me and completely destroyed the foundation I stood upon that helped me feel safe and secure and positive in my belief that I could care for my daughter on my own. Every future my imagination could come up with ended up with us losing our new home and being thrown out on the street to live. I was terrified.

I had 8 weeks to find a job within the company but every job I looked into, I was told I did not qualify for even if I was willing to relocate me and my daughter using my own money. I came to realize this company had no intentions of keeping me on as their employee no matter how much they told me I could look for an internal job to transfer to. I started looking externally.

It looked like everything was falling into place with a new job I applied for. I was hired to start only 2 days after my layoff date. In a matter of 6 weeks, I had an emotional breakdown in the office and was unable to perform my job. At the advice of my doctor to take three months off, I had to quit since I was still in my probationary period. Prior to the breakdown, I was their top performer.

This breakdown added another layer to my terror. I had discovered the limit of what I could endure. My doctor prescribed medication to help. After three months I started applying for other jobs. I applied for all the jobs I knew I could do which were mostly a subset of the job I had been laid off from. I received no call backs. This went on for a year and in that time I had only two interviews. I lived that whole year in terror.

In May of 2017, I looked at my prescription and discovered what was supposed to be short term, I had now been on a year. I didn’t know where that year had gone. I couldn’t really remember it other than I had submerged myself into drawing, painting, mixed media, and ink. I loved that aspect of having all day to play in my art supplies. I went to my doctor, told him I didn’t want to be on the medication anymore but asked him to provide a prescription for emergencies when I felt overwhelmed and unable to cope. He did.

Finally, in July 2017, I was hired as a cashier earning minimum wage. My financial advisor said this would be enough to eliminate the shortfalls in my retirement. But I soon learned it wouldn’t be enough because of how much time it had taken for me to find a job. I lived that whole year off of my savings from my severance package. Working part-time at minimum wage also meant I would have to continue pulling money from my savings and reducing my retirement funds.  I used the emergency prescription intermittently as I learned I could cope in my new job and then not at all when I realized I really enjoyed interacting with the customers. As a replacement I started to use GABA which was sufficient from then on when I needed something to calm my nerves, except in a few situations.

Almost a year later (April 2018, 2 years by now), I was still living in terror over my financial situation. I was still applying for jobs, hoping to find a full time job or a part-time job that would pay more but again no call backs or out of the one or two call backs I received that ended up in interviews, none ended up in any job offers.

I still could only see in my future, my daughter and I being thrown out of our house and living on the street if we couldn’t pay our bills. You might wonder why and think my imagination is extreme but it isn’t. Renting an apartment in our city isn’t any cheaper than the mortgage payment I have for our home, in fact it can be more expensive than a mortgage. Housing is in high demand in this fast growing city. Reasonable rent isn’t possible, at least not without ending up in some poverty ridden cesspool. This is the way I saw our life going and it was becoming more and more apparent that I had no control over this situation.

I lost hope.

I had no more dreams for our future other than just surviving from one day to the next.

Then on April 8, 2018, I heard very clearly that it was time to turn back to my roots but in a different way. Because, what I had relied on in my past had never worked for me. I had grown up in a Christian home, going to church each Sunday, and relying on Sunday school teachers, teen leaders, and pastors to tell me what I needed to know about God and the bible.

On April 8, 2018, I was told to pick up the bible and read it cover to cover so I could know the true God which was written about in His Word. I had nothing to lose, so I did it. I started at the beginning and started reading one chapter at a time. In time, I started to pray daily. I felt compelled to search for bible study methods which took me to bible study groups online and eventually to going to one church or another locally just to see if I would find any connection there. I haven’t really found any connection with a church yet. I have felt a connection to God during a Sunday service once or twice.

In my search to know more, I learned to turn EVERYTHING over to God. And I do mean EVERYTHING. Because my work schedule doesn’t leave very many Sundays available for me to attend church, when I pray to God I tell him, if he wants this to be part of my life, then he will need to make it happen. Which is how I usually approach everything, including my job/financial situation. If he wants me to have a new job, he will have to make it happen… and so forth.

It was interesting in regards to the job situation. I ran into some conflicting and aggravating situations with my manager at work some which caused me to take GABA. I let it go and let God take care of it. I saw her in turn have a situation happen which caused her to come to tears. This isn’t anything I wished for her, no matter how she treated me but I saw God’s justice in it. I desired another job, and so I would apply for job postings I knew I could do but always with the same result, no call back, or no job offer. All I heard was, “Stop, let it go. I’ll take care of it.” Everything pointed for me to just stop applying, to stop trying to force my way to a different job while I heard this voice saying, “if you do nothing, then you are proving you are just like all those people on welfare who just sit around, are capable of working but don’t even try. You are proving you are worthless.” It was hard to know what to do. Which one was right? I decided to trust in God (at least for a while) and see what he would do. I know that sounds terrible but that is what I decided to do. I was at the end of my rope.

I knew my trust would come slowly. I often felt like I was an awful child of God, or not truly a child of God. Did I have the right to test him like this? Was it a sin to do so?

Things happened in stages. First, I prayed, “God help me to become the person you desire for me to be.” I would pray this every day as I drove to work, and as I drove I would tell him how beautiful our world was that he had created. How amazing He is to create such a world where we can make so many things to help us to live more comfortable lives. The beauty of nature around me and how it all worked together. On and on, I would praise him.

I slowly started humming as I drove back and forth from work. Sometimes I would even hum as I worked, and sometimes it wasn’t even the music which played over the store’s sound system. I hummed what came spontaneously upon me. Sometimes words would form and I would sing them. I found myself humming and singing in the shower or as I washed dishes or did chores.

Slowly, I learned to turn EVERYTHING over to God, and to ask for his protection from the enemy which was trying to take everything away from me that God had given me throughout my life.

One day, I realized worry and fear became less and less a part of my life. I started to truly believe God would take care of us. As worry and fear became less, anxiety and panic became less and less. I realized my humming was actually a sign of happiness and also praise to God for how he had brought change to my life in such subtle ways.

I still had concerns financially and couldn’t visualize how God could change my situation unless I won the lottery, which yes, I do play, just in case he would want to provide for me through it. (it’s okay to laugh, I do, I’m grateful the lottery here does help pay for health care, education and other services needed across the province)

Then during this time of not applying for jobs, and just letting go of it all, giving it all over to God, I prayed, “God, if you want me to have another job, then you will have to provide it.” I don’t know how long it was after that prayer, but I do know it wasn’t more than a couple of weeks when, at work, in our lunch room, there was a notice stating that the pharmacy was hiring, and no experience was necessary.

Should I? Shouldn’t I? What was I supposed to do?

I prayed. “God, do you want me to apply for this job? If so, you have to give me a sign I can not doubt. You know me. I doubt everything. I see both sides of any sign. A sign can mean, yes go for it, or it could mean, no don’t go for it and I could see the same message for one sign. I need something I cannot doubt.” The very next day was my day off. I woke up around 4:30am in extreme pain. It was the pain I had experienced from my 3rd chemo treatment that made me stop taking chemo. Well, it was part of the reason. The subsequent issues I had following that pain were the main reason for stopping chemo, that being, I was unable to eat or drink anything but tiny sips of water for a week.

Back to my story… I woke in pain. I knew it was from over production of stomach acid which was what was the issue before, so I took some tums, hoping it would help. Two hours later I was still in a lot of pain. I knew a walk-in clinic would open in an half hour. I woke my daughter asked if she wanted to go with me, no, she was too tired, so I went alone. I had taken two more tums hoping in that half hour it would help more. They did a bit but not enough and I wanted to make sure my self-diagnosis was right.

To make a long story short, it was the same, I ended up with a prescription which made me go to the pharmacy. I couldn’t deny the message. I put in for the job. I, of course, ran into some opposition. My manager wasn’t happy. She probably opposed it and discouraged me as much as she could without outright telling me she wouldn’t let me transfer. In the end, I gave her a copy of the transfer paper and handed the other copy to the other person in the office who was handling the process. Everyone else was excited to learn I wanted to work in the pharmacy. But I left the office feeling like it wasn’t going to happen.

The next day, circumstances happened where I ended up having a discussion with the store manager. The discussion had nothing to do with my transfer request but at the end he told me they were going to make my transfer happen. I was ecstatic!

The day after that I was told I would transfer officially on the 19th.

I have known my whole life that when things are meant to be, they happen quickly, easily and sometimes with the speed of a locomotive. That is what happened in this case. I handed in the transfer paper on 6May and on 12May the store manager came to me and asked if I was okay transferring that day (a week ahead of schedule) because the pharmacy was in dire need of someone now. I said, “sure no problem. I would be happy to.” And it was made so that very day.

I have been in pharmacy ever since, learning to be a pharmacy assistant. I don’t make any more money right now though the possibility does exist for getting more hours. Every day I work,  I am filled with exceeding joy. I am left with no doubt that this is God’s plan for me. I am trying not to read into where this will take me.  I am learning to let go of my financial concerns and just hold tight to God’s plan for me and always look to him in ALL things. In doing so, I get a sense of comfort I have never felt before.

I can see Him working in the background on other possibilities, they give me hope. Hope I have not had in over three years. I see his handy work in this new job. Since starting it I have worked only one Sunday. I work fewer days but no less hours than I did as a cashier so, it feels like I have more time for my studies and reading.

I continue to read my bible every day. I finished Zechariah this morning which means only 1 more book and I’ll have finished the Old Testament. I have been looking forward to starting the New Testament and learning about Jesus. I can’t tell you how excited it makes me feel.

Today or tomorrow, I will complete the “It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way” bible study I mentioned in my previous post.

I started Proverbs 31 & Bible Women from Robin Sampson’s bible study and journaling class. I start lesson 3 today or tomorrow. In just the first two lessons, I am finally connecting with how I can study and journal about the Word of God. It is exciting to use my artistic skills along with my studying the Word.

30May2019 Lesson 2 Rahab

Digital journal spread for lesson 2 of Proverbs 31 & Bible Women

30May2019 Lesson 2 Rehab spread

Handmade Traveler’s Notebook insert for Lesson 2 of Proverbs 31 & Bible Women

I am still handwriting Psalms. I’m up to Psalm 103. I don’t just handwrite it. I, also, type it out in a digital journal using the NLT version and the CJB version. I learned about the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) from Tom Bradford’s Old Testament Survey class on Torahclass.com. When I read the CBJ version, I get a more positive feel from scripture than I do when I read the KJV, NIV or NLT versions. I type the NLT and CJB versions side-by-side, sort of creating my own parallel version. I like being able to compare the two versions side-by-side. I have room to add graphics so when something grabs my attention and I feel called to add something visual, I will insert graphics which helps me to connect with the scripture. Nothing too elaborate because with everything else, I don’t have the time. My plan though is to go through each book of the bible, creating my own digital version which I can then use in my deeper studies, probably using the inductive study method.

I don’t know if you caught on to what happened over the past month. I have had two major prayers answered for me:

1. a new job

2. more Sundays free for attending church, God’s way of letting me know he does want me to attend church, I just need to find one that fits

There are numerous other prayers which have been answered so indirectly, I have yet to really recognize all of the ones which have been answered. I feel God working towards transforming me into the person he desires for me to be. I also feel God working towards transforming my life into what he had always intended for it to be.

He is building my trust and faith and not demanding it be given completely or fully upon his demand. I think this is important for me, as well as, others to understand. God wants us to willingly trust him and have faith in him. He isn’t about forcing us to do what we don’t want to do. I just had to see that he will be who he says he is and do what he says he will do. This is what builds my trust and faith in him.

I also have to be willing to let go of MY expectations of what he will do. In other words, I can’t make him or demand he provide the results I want. I have to be willing to accept his choices for me. For instance, if I could only visualize myself in an administrative job and that is the only job I wanted, it doesn’t mean that is the job God wants for me. I had to let go of all job possibilities and let God choose for me. This really was the hardest thing for me to do. I don’t relinquish control easily. God knew I needed time to learn how to do this and I think too he knew I would need extreme circumstances to get me to the point where I could.

There is one thing that comes to my mind periodically, these past few weeks. As I was reading the last two chapters in “It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way”, it came to mind again. Sometimes, we are so focused upon ourselves that when things happen we perceive them as a personal affront to ourselves. That God, or the enemy is doing this personally to us. If we step back, we may discover what is happening is a side effect of something someone else, someone who is close to us, needs to learn.  I find, I am often so focused upon my own suffering I don’t see someone else standing right next to me is suffering too or that what I’m going through effects them too.

When I was going through my cancer treatment, dealing with the pain and discomfort of the surgeries and the chemo treatments, my daughter was right there beside me. I knew she felt helpless and didn’t know what to do for me but what I didn’t know until much later was how afraid she was to go to sleep at night. That something might happen. That I might need her at night and she not know it. She felt safe to sleep in the day when I was awake. She suffered through this time with me but in such a different way and so silently on her own. When I look at it now, though I was the one diagnosed with cancer and felt this was happening to me, it might have happened to me in order for my daughter to learn something she needed to learn. Yes, we both had something to learn from the situation but maybe my suffering was required in order for her to learn.

When you find yourself in a difficult situation, look around, see who is standing next to you. Maybe your suffering is what the other person needs in order to learn something God needs for them to learn. Maybe it will lead to their salvation.

 

Digital Journal + Bible Study

As I work more and more in my digital journal, the question arises, “How can I utilize this in my daily Bible studies?” For the past couple of months, I have been doing some research. This means I’m learning quite a bit and I thought I would share it here.

I remember hearing somewhere (I don’t remember where), that Bibles have a copyright, which means they cannot be copied, or distributed without permission from the copyright owner. I discovered in my research that each translation has its own copyright. All translations are not under the same copyright so it takes a bit of research to discover who owns the copyright for a certain translation. This was a surprise because I have seen scriptures quoted all the time without any reference to translation or copyright source. There is some leeway for quoting the Bible without express permission from the copyright owners, if you are interested there is some information and guidelines here. It is not all-inclusive so a lot of research is required if you plan to quote the Bible on a regular basis or more than a few verses. Some sources say less than 500 verses but don’t quote me on that and don’t take my word for it. DO YOUR OWN DUE DILIGENCE and research it.

One of the reasons I started researching copyright was because of coming across a couple free PDF formatted files of a couple different translations of the Bible. One source claimed the PDF they were distributing was copyright free without mentioning the source of the copyright or that they were given written permission to distribute. Discovery of the PDF file made it easy to insert the scripture I was studying into my digital journal I am using for my Bible study each morning.  Using a digital journal makes it easy to locate my notes and what scripture it is associated with. Much easier than trying to search through my Bible for any handwritten notes I have made. I still use my journaling Bible for notes and artwork but now I don’t have to rely on it or deal with the frustration of trying to find a particular topic when I can’t remember what Book, chapter and verse.

This is where digital journaling/planners have now stepped up to the plate, so to speak. For my own personal use, I can copy scripture and put it into my digital journal and write my thoughts to my heart’s content but I can’t distribute any of what I have done for others to use if it contains scripture. That is the sad part of my tale today. But the good part of the tale is it doesn’t stop individuals from including scripture in their own journals during their bible studies. It just can’t be distributed or used publicly. The digital planners (in PDF format) can then be searched to find any reference to a topic or word or name, etc. to quickly locate what was written or what is in scripture. Now, I just need to find a study method that works best for me.

During my research concerning bible study methods, I was introduced to Ann Graham Lotz. She is the daughter of Billy Graham. He is the only Evangelist which did not lose credit with me over the years. Discovering his daughter and her ministry was like hearing the hallelujah chorus go off in my head. Learning she was just diagnosed with a rather invasive breast cancer was disturbing, especially in light of my own personal experience with breast cancer.

Ann has a website supporting her ministry. On that website she provides information (both written and video) on the Bible study method she refers to as the 3-Question Bible Study Method. I haven’t incorporated it into my studies yet. I held off because in her videos she speaks of taking each verse and breaking it down with this method. My focus right now isn’t to study each verse but to focus on each book at the chapter level since I wanted to read completely through the Bible first before narrowing my focus to individual verses. Then it dawned on me I could use this method at the chapter level instead, so I started working on a page layout for the study method to use in my digital journal. I came up with two layouts:

The first layout provides an area to write the scripture being studied. This would be great for when I get down to studying at the verse level. Since I’m at the chapter level, I decided to use the second layout. You will notice there is an additional question at the bottom of the second layout.

I may alter the first one or create a third, so it includes this last question, as well, since it is included in the printable blank worksheet provided on Ann’s Ministry website. I’m just not sure if I have enough room, since I haven’t technically used either of these layouts yet. I am notorious for wanting to journal all my thoughts (A LOT) so it might be that the last question ends up on my journaling page which I will no doubt have on the opposite page from the layout when I’m studying at the verse level. I probably could have inserted a copy of the blank worksheet provided from AnGel Ministries’ website (Ann Graham Lotz’s ministry) but I wasn’t fond of the layout.

You might be wondering, “what about the scripture” on the 2nd layout but since I’ll be basing it on the whole chapter, I’ll be inserting a copy of the chapter on the opposite page where I can annotate/highlight the scripture if I so desire.

This is what my journal spread will look like before I insert the scripture on the left side of the spread:journaling bible 3-question bible study method 2 page

There is another Bible study method, called SOAP. I haven’t tried it yet even though I have seen many using it. I’m pulled more towards the 3-Question method than I am the SOAP method so I haven’t done any layouts for the SOAP method. I have seen layouts on Pinterest for the SOAP method so if you are interested in it there are layouts to be found online. You can learn about the SOAP method here.

I have no affiliation with any of the websites mentioned here. They are sites I came across in my research and bookmarked for further reference.

In case you were wondering where I am in my reading through the Bible, I started reading Psalms this morning. Job was a very interesting book to read and study. It brought up many mixed emotions for me.  I don’t compare myself to Job at all but since I have been going through a very difficult period in my life these past three years I can relate to many of the feelings expressed in Job. Where Job had friends who didn’t believe him. I have a rather short list of friends who do not live close by and do not have the means to help in my situation. My faith is the only thing sustaining me and in that I can relate rather well to Job.

 

Realization strikes…

I realized something the other day and today I decided it was time to write about it. I’m an artist, writer, mother, housekeeper, cashier, and so many other things I couldn’t begin to list them all. Anyone following my blog will know I recently started a new job. This was after a hiatus of no work for about a year and a half after being laid off of my previous job which I had for over 33 years. Being laid off was hard. It was very hard. The shock took a long time to wear off. Getting assistance from a financial advisor helped tremendously in helping me to understand where I was and what I could do. Even so, it was still very difficult to come to terms with the changes this had invoked in my life.

The first change of having so much free time to devote to getting back into touch with my inner artist has been priceless. It has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. I didn’t have to convince myself of this. Doing my art was my inner sanctuary. It kept me sane.

Searching for a new job was stressful and beyond my comfort zone. After 33 years of not having to do interviews, write cover letters, and resumes, I was completely out of my element. On top of that I strongly disliked the idea of losing any of the free time I had to delve into my art which also helped me to delve into all those various inner chambers I liked to keep hidden away. And not to mention the time it will take from my time together with my daughter. I worked out of my home so I had unlimited time with her.

I have had people tell me if I change the way I look at things then this change in my life can be exciting and rewarding. I agreed with them. However, this was easier said than done. I tried to tell myself this change would be far better than what I had previously. I tried to tell myself, I can do anything that is placed in front of me. I tried to tell myself many things that were positive and uplifting, but all to no avail.

I often wondered why this was an issue for me. Why couldn’t I just switch my mind from thinking horrible debilitating things to uplifting and a positive outlook? I persevered. Even though I had an emotional breakdown at the first job I tried. I took three months off as my doctor suggested to just recover from all the life changing events which had occurred since 2014 with the diagnosis of breast cancer and recovery, to being laid off in 2016. By this time it was Mid-2016. After the three months I returned to trying to find a job and found I was not getting any responses to my applications. After many months I sought help and now a little over a year and a half later I am now back to work.

Returning to work though was stressful. It was nothing at all like the work I used to do, so I felt like a teenager trying to learn a new job and evaluating whether it would work for me or not. Every day I felt stressed before going into work and sometimes I felt that stress hit the night before when I reminded myself of the time I needed to go into work the next day. I wanted this stress to go away. I needed the stress to go away. I kept reminding myself it would get better each day as I became more comfortable with my job. Each day after work I would come home, tired, feet hurting, sometimes legs hurting if it was an 8 hour shift, and I would put my feet up, pull out my journal and doodle or draw mandalas or both. This is a work in progress of one I’m working on now:

IMG_0917 copy

I have it a bit further along than it shows right now and I’ll show it when it is finished in a later post. Right now though, when I look at this, I realize it bears a bit of resemblance to the stress I feel in its chaotic nature.

Let me get back to that idea of changing how I look at things so that I might change the way I feel. I have often wondered why I had difficulty doing this. That is until recently. I thought about my work and how I feel once I’m there doing the job. I actually enjoy doing the job. After I’m there and I start my shift, all the stress leaves me. All I think about is being as accurate as possible as I scan the products through and learning what I need to do if a customer asks a question or something doesn’t ring up appropriately. Rarely does anything else come into my thoughts. And the activity is soothing. Even though I realized this about my job, I was still having stress before going into work, until one day I thought more about it and realized that work was now a sort of sanctuary for me where my brain can take a break from all the worries and concerns that plague me.

So now, instead of one sanctuary in my art, I now have two sanctuaries, one in my art and one in my work. The very next day when I went to work, I had no more anxiety or stress as I prepared myself to go to work. I no longer feel anxiety or stress when I think about going into work after a couple days off.

Here is the thing. For me, changing my mindset takes more than logically thinking I can do something. It takes more than my mind believing I can do something. In this case it took my whole being, mind, body and soul to find a way to embrace the work I was doing. It took more than just knowing I could do something, it took the realization of what it provides me in return. There had to be a balance. Not just doing something to get paid enough to pay my bills but to do something that brought more into my life and benefited me in ways I wasn’t expecting.

This job is no longer just about earning the money we need. It is about creating it into a sanctuary which provides my core needs/desires. I first took the job in order to help fulfill one of those core desires of needing to feel safe and secure, especially financially. Now, I realize the job helps fulfill other core desires like the need for peace and harmony. When I’m at work, I’m at peace, my mind finds harmony in the repetitive tasks of scanning and talking with the customers. It fulfills other core desires like the need to continually learn about myself and my environment and it has helped with something else which has been sorely tried throughout my life.

I have often been confronted with some of the worst in people and in some cases I found myself slowly being lowered into an abyss of darkness and believing there were more bad, hateful people in this life than good, descent people. This job is helping me to see how wrong I was. Out of the possibly hundred or more people I deal with every day, there may only be one person who would fall into that first category and I have interacted with some marvelous people who have reached out to help a stranger when they needed help without asking anything in return.

I wanted to write about this because I wanted anyone struggling with attempting to change their mindset or outlook, to know, first, it isn’t easy and second it takes making a soul connection with whatever change you are trying to make in order for you to be able to embrace it. For some, that might be easy, for others, like me, not so much. Learning this however may make it easier the next time. I also wanted others to know who may be concerned about my last couple of posts to know, life is improving. I’m finding my way. My body is getting better at handling the increased activity. And mentally I’m feeling much happier about life and about my job. I will find ways to incorporate working on more involved pieces of art but right now, my doodling, my mandalas, my doodling mandala abstract drawings are enough and accomplishing what I need my creativity to do for me.

Survivors

I worked on this piece for a few days, layering and layering acrylic paint. After each layer I gave it a day or so for me to come back to it so I could look at it with fresh eyes. I’m glad I did. I had no forethought for what I wanted this piece to be. Intellectually, I understood the concept of how a sculptor would say, all they did was bring out of the marble or the wood what was already there.

In a way, this is what happened with this painting, but not until the next to last layer. It took a day or two for me to see it. Once, I did, all it took was black and white oil pastels to bring it out.

Survivors

If you like this painting, you can get prints here.

Hope

Below is my latest art journal page.  I came across Journal52 which is a challenge run by Effy Wild. Once a week a prompt is given. When I came across Journal52 they were in week 3. At this writing they are still in week 3. Their week 1 prompt fit my previous art journal page to a tee so I counted it as week 1. Week 2’s prompt is HOPE. I wanted a fitting affirmation statement so I went on the search for one. As soon as I found “I look towards my future with hope and happiness.” I knew it was the right one. Coming across a photo to use as reference for my focal figure of the woman with a shaved head was also perfect for the message I wanted to relay.

prompt-hope

I’ll talk about the message in a moment. First, I’ll describe how I created the art journal spread.

I did a rough sketch of the layout with graphite, some of it changed as I went but mostly it is as I intended it to be. I painted the girl, starting with an Art Crayon in flesh tone, then laying with acrylic paint until I had her the way I wanted her. I then used some prisma colored pencils for finer details and to adjust some shading.

Once the girl was done, I collaged in tissue paper in green, yellow and blue using watered down glue. I used watered down white glue to reduce costs. If this was a commission item I would use collage medium or gel medium. I crumpled the tissue paper to give more texture to the page. I also used red and green for the center of the large flower.

Once the page was dry, I used a brayer to apply acrylic paint over the tissue paper to give it more visual texture, then I used my homemade stamps to stamp in the flowers. The rabbit is a commercial stamp. I added Faber-Castell PITT pens for color and details on the flowers and rabbits. On the large flower I used Prisma Colored Pencils.

After stamping in the flowers I realized the original position for the dove was going to be all wrong. This is the only alteration to the original sketch. Placing the bird much higher has given the spread a more balanced appearance. If the bird had been where I had originally intended it to be, the painting would have been bottom heavy. I then added in the lettering using my black Painters permanent marker.

There are a lot of things I love about this art journal spread. First and foremost it is completely my own. I wasn’t following a video, or in a class, I only used the prompt to help inspire an idea. It isn’t whimsical and it is about my life.

This is where we come to the message. The affirmation statement is how I need to look at my life and future right now.  Since 2014, it has been a long and difficult road. The woman with the shaved head represents me two years ago when in 2014 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and yes I eventually shaved my head when my hair started falling out. In 2016, I was laid off of work after 33 years of devoting my time and expertise. Finding another job has been difficult and I’m still looking.

So this is very much about me surviving cancer and the blow of losing a good job I had devoted my life to and trying to maintain hope and happiness in the midst of it all.

I am doing what I love…. being creative… taking care of my daughter. These are things to be happy about. I see this in my painting.

~Patti