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Shake, Rattle, and Roll

This is not my usual post today and I have been MIA for a couple of weeks. Usually our identity is based on our culture, location, social class, family, friends, and the list can go on. I’ve taken some hard hits this year and the biggest in the last two weeks. One of my best friends, my “sister from another mister” decided she no longer wanted me in her life. I was also diagnosed with Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), also known as cervical dysplasia. This means that I have abnormal growth of cells on the surface of the cervix.

Let’s start with the first hit. My friend was a big part of my life, my neighbor, and we did business together as well. When you lose someone whose a big part of your life, a part of you goes with them. This loss was very unexpected and ended badly to a point of no return. So yes, my identity has and will continue to change. I feel myself being more cautious with social interactions, more skeptical, and less empathetic.

Right after this…BAM…abnormal cells are back! Five years ago I had a procedure done where all cells and damaged areas were removed and given the clean bill of health. So last week after being checked, it appears that the cells have come back more aggressively and my condition is progressively worse. I have many doctor visits ahead of me in the next six weeks. Once you’ve heard the big C you can never unring that bell, and it is now a part of your life from now on. No matter if it’s removed, reduced, or treated you will always need to be tested for it’s return. If you are lucky it will never return, but it’s always in the back of your mind.

I was very optimistic five years ago when the doctors said that my cells were pretty common and all was removed. My follow up was good and I could go back to a normal yearly check-up. This news came out of nowhere because I haven’t had what I would call warning signs and went in for my yearly check-up. I will have some sort of procedure to remove and treat my condition. Once again my identity will and is changing. I’m a bit more anxious and scattered brained. I’m hoping this is will dissipate quickly.

So I kinda feel like I’ve had my own personal earthquake on the inside and now I must rebuild. I’m simply not the same person that I was two weeks ago. I will keep everyone updated on my new journey, and please don’t worry. I feel very optimistic that my doctors caught this in the early stages. Thanks for taking the time to read.

What is Journal Junkies?

What is Journal Junkies is a question I get asked frequently, so I’ve decided to share a video of what we do in class and the topics we discuss. Art Journaling has been around for a long time and a friend of mine, Anastasia Boswell introduced me to this wonderful expression of art and love.

Art Journaling was the first class offered in my art gallery because the practice was so important to me. If anything, my JJ group is on my top ten lists of things I’m proud of and created. My group is consisted of some strong, courageous, beautiful, kind, generous, and lovely souls. I’m so glad they trust me as their creative guide every month and share their time with me.

 

Weaknesses and Strengths

One of the journal prompts I will give my students this fall is to discover weaknesses they may have. This will lead to another prompt; How can a manipulator use my weaknesses against me? Surprisingly, I found this to be challenging personally. Sure, all the immediate weaknesses came to mind, smoking, eating, and a bunch more but how could someone hurt or manipulate me with those? I had to dig deeper and I found a simple quiz on strengths and weaknesses.

The goal of this assignment isn’t to find our weaknesses to change them or feel badly about ourselves. Weaknesses can be strengths and strengths can be weaknesses. It’s all about balance and all of our beautiful flaws are accompanied by our greatest strengths, usually. For example, I know that I’m a one way communicator and poor listener due to many reasons. One of the main reasons is my ADD and I have to really work hard on some of these challenges.

I’ve had some manipulating people see my weakness of poor listening and use it against me.  They swore they told me or didn’t tell me something. Once or twice after this happened;  I made sure to really listen to these individuals in the future. Yes, a few times my poor listening was a weakness which lead to some confusion in my life and happened infrequently. However, the people who I’ve had repeated misunderstandings, confusion, or issues more times than I can count ended up being manipulative people.

I’m not saying being a poor listener is great and wonderful but it’s a weakness in me I’ve struggled with all my life. Honestly, I probably will continue to struggle but I’m aware and will get better at listening. I’m not going to beat myself up over it or punish myself. On the flip side this weakness is also my Wonder Woman strength. I can tune out the most annoying people in the world, filter through BS, stay calm in ridiculously long meetings, and work at the same time. I can turn my listening on or off. 

Pictured is the quiz I took, Which of the four animals are you? I got a lion and I listed all the strengths and weaknesses of the lion. I hope you enjoy.Lion

Disclaimer: I don’t want to debate or argue that people can change and turn bad behavior into a positive behavior. We can’t take every flaw and fix it realistically in my opinion; we are NOT robots. Unless your behavior is harming you or others; make a change. But I’m talking about weaknesses that you may not notice, causes no harm, or quirks.

 

Natural Weaknesses

Hello Thursday! I’m still working on the subject of manipulators in my art journal. according to an article in Psychology Today (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/communication-success/201406/how-spot-and-stop-manipulators), manipulators can use your weaknesses against you.

I really pondered this idea and asked myself what are my weaknesses? The last time someone asked me about my weaknesses was during a job interview. I don’t think I did a great job answering the question that day either. After a couple of days I couldn’t make a clear choice so I found this really cool personality quiz that narrows down strengths/weaknesses. Here’s the quiz I took: http://www.peterursbender.com/quiz/swtable.html

This helped me focus or narrow my list down to concrete weaknesses that a manipulator could use to hurt me if they saw fit to do so. This brought me to my next question, how do I correct my weaknesses so they could never be used against me? I mean I could just stop being weak or not act weak in any area, couldn’t I? After many minutes of reflection I decided that was unrealistic. I can’t be perfect…heck, I don’t know what perfect even looks like.

blog 3There’s a balance to the universe, yin and yang, circle of life, etc. We all have strengths but some of them will be followed by a weakness. For example I am very unrealistic with myself and others when it comes to goals, expectations, behaviors, and emotions. It took a long time to discover this about myself but when I did I realized that it came from a very loving place in my soul. I’m very loyal and a big ideas kinda girl, so those strengths leave with me that pesky weakness of unrealistic expectations.

However, I look at it as a cool weakness. It definitely helps me get things done, things I never dreamed I could accomplish and has helped me see the ones who love me. I’m not perfect and have flaws but they are a part of me. This page is titled: “Let it Bees, Natural Weaknesses”.

I used water soluble crayons, Dina Wakley stencil MDS44239 (Stenciled Queenie), bee stamps, gouache,  sharpie and washi tape.

 

Red Flags

A red flag is a symbolic warning sign that can be seen flying around when meeting someone new or in a new situation. There are some universal red flags like lying, cheating, or disagreeable behaviors. Red flags could also be made by you for you to help avoid making the same mistakes twice. For example I had a friend who I think literally hated everyone. She was generally in a bad mood 90% of the time, had very little friends, never got any of the promotions at work she’d put in for, and was very jealous. That’s just a few red flags; these might not be a warning for you personally, but for me are now deal breakers. After the friendship ended I felt sad because I did care for her, but after a period of time I felt better and happier. So now those behaviors are my red flags to move on quickly or avoid them as much as possible.

Sometimes it’s hard to see warning signs when you instantly connect with someone. My journal page is to remind myself not to ignore warning signs from others and to persue relationships that enrich my life.

Red FlagsI normally don’t use bold imagery in my pages but I wanted to try a different approach. I really like Teesha Moore’s work and how she uses bold images, doodles, words, and wild designs. So I gave it a shot and will have to say that I enjoyed my first attempt. I will later add in my personal red flags in her hair.

I did discover a new technique. I used gesso over the hair to hide the edge of the paper which didn’t quite to the trick…eh. After it dried I took a crayola marker and colored it in with violet. It stayed wet which allowed me to use my fingers to smear the rest onto unpainted areas leaving no marker streaks.

I also think I want to try smaller images. Her face covered up too much of my page but this was good for practice. Thanks for reading and create something amazing!

Know Your Fundamental Rights

I host an art journaling group called G27 Journal Junkies. I read this online article about manipulators and thought it would be a great theme to explore in our art journaling group. I’ll list the article below if you would like to read it as well.

Disclaimer: I am not a therapist or trying to be in our art group. The act of creating art is jj human rightstherapy and that is the purpose of our group.

After reading the article I wanted to remember your, mine…our fundamental rights, as listed in Psychology Today magazine:

  • You have the right to be treated with respect.
  • You have the right to express your feelings, opinions and wants.
  • You have the right to set your own priorities.
  • You have the right to say “no” without feeling guilty.
  • You have the right to get what you pay for.
  • You have the right to have opinions different than others.
  • You have the right to take care of and protect yourself from being threatened physically, mentally or emotionally.
  • You have the right to create your own happy and healthy life.

After dealing with manipulators in my life it took me a long time to realize and make these boundaries. So I made a journal page pictured above to remind myself of my rights. Thanks for taking a look.

Inspired by this article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/communication-success/201406/how-spot-and-stop-manipulators