Artistic Self-Discovery: Am I Even an Artist? #AtoZChallenge

Hi and welcome to day one in the #AtoZChallenge. I have been uncertain as to what topic to choose for my first post. Last year, I chose to use my letter A post as an opportunity to introduce my topic. Today, I’m doing something similar. My topic this year is creative self-discovery and self-expression. A question that’s always been on my mind though, is: “Am I even an artist?”

When I joined some groups for creatives and artists on Facebook, I initially wasn’t sure whether they would be for just visual artists like those using paint or drawing as their primary medium. I mean, even “mixed-media” art usually includes some aspect of visual art. Thankfully, the members of most groups have been able to reassure me that, as a polymer clay hobbyist, I am more than welcome.

Then comes the question of quality. I mean, does my work have to meet certain standards to be considered art. I am still in many ways a beginner and, in all of the creative pursuits I have made, never got beyond that level, if I even got beyond the level of a 3-year-old.
Then I am reminded of Julia Cameron’s words in The Artist’s Way that you need to be a bad artist before you can be a good artist. In other words, no-one really is naturally good at art. She in fact seems to go as far as to say everyone has the ability to be creative within them.

The thing is, I am both rather impatient and perfectionistic. This combination means I feel easily discouraged by negative feedback on my first attempts at something creative. I really want to skip the “bad artist” phase and, especially when I know other people move on from that stage more quickly than I do, I feel disappointed in myself.

That being said, I realize now there is a reason Julia Cameron says you shouldn’t show your Morning Pages to anyone and shouldn’t even reread them yourself until week eight of the program. Wanting to share your creativity too soon, may lead to negative feedback and this in turn may lead, as it has with me, to discouragement.

I am learning this as I start to explore macrame, first learning the knots quite well before I’ll even think of showing anything online. That way, I am still trying, might still fail, but the chances are less that I’ll make a fool out of myself on Facebook.

To get back to the question that sparked this post: yes, I am am artist, just like I am indeed a writer even though it’s been nearly seven years since that one little piece I got published in an anthology. And even if I had nothing published in print, I’d still be a writer. Similarly, just because I don’t sell my artistic creations, doesn’t mean I’m not an artist.

Where I Think I’ll Be in a Year’s Time Based on My Current Daily Actions #Write28Days

Hi everyone. Welcome to day four in #Write28Days. Today’s optional word prompt, “nesting”, didn’t quite speak to me. I also wasn’t really inspired to write any sort of in-depth personal growth article. Rather, I picked up a collection of journaling prompts called The Self Exploration Journal and chose a prompt I hadn’t used on this blog before. It asks us to reflect on where, based on our current daily actions, we can expect to be in a year’s time.

Now I know that my future is in God’s hands, not mine. I have no way of knowing where I will be one year from now. That however doesn’t mean that I can’t take daily actions to hopefully live a healthier and more enriched life. Today, let me share some things I’m doing to take care of myself and some things in which I could still improve on and what I think these will mean for my future.

First, last month, I started on a healthier diet. It’s been a rocky road and I’m still struggling to find my balance on it. During the first week, I felt like I was just eating lettuce and carrots and was disappointed that I’d lost only 0.5kg. Now, I think I’ve found a better balance, but I might’ve swung slightly too far to the other side again. After all, this week, I had a sausage roll for lunch on Wednesday and a cheese roll today. I still am losing weight (or at least, I had a maintain this week). Based on my overall daily actions, I can expect to probably have lost a few kilograms next year, but I can’t expect to be anywhere close to a healthy BMI. Then again, that isn’t my goal.

Given that I hardly walk or exercise in other ways lately, I can’t expect my physical fitness level to improve. It’ll probably have declined by next year.

Mental health-wise, I can expect to still be in treatment and take my medication as prescribed, but I can also expect to still be quite vulnerable. Of course, I am always hoping that the next med tweak or change of treatment will be the thing that’s going to help me stabilize forever, but I have to be realistic: that’s not going to happen.

In the creative department, I can expect to experience ebbs and flows. I will probably have improved my polymer clay craft, having explored mixed media. I will likely still be a blogger, publishing several posts a week at least.

Given that, even though I look at other living places almost daily but haven’t actively decided I want to move, next year, I’ll likely still live in my current care facility. I’ll likely still be married to my husband too.

In summary, I can’t expect anything major to change for the better in the coming year but I am hopeful that I won’t make a turn for the worse either. I am hoping for slight improvements in the healthy eating and crafty departments. And, of course, I do really need to get my behind off the chair, but we’re talking current daily actions and that’s not happening right now.

#IWSG: Reasons for Writing

IWSG

It’s the first Wednesday of the month again and this means it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) to meet. I did pretty well in the writing department over the past month, although not as well as I’d hoped. I mean, I didn’t write a blog post for #Blogtober20, or at all for that matter, everyday. Particularly towards the end of the month, I was less and less motivated to write. Let’s hope for a good writing month for November then.

This month’s optional question is why you write what you write. Albert Camus is quoted as saying that the purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself. Such a fitting quote on the day after the fiasco that is U.S. election day. I don’t usually share my political views on here, but let me be very clear that I don’t support Trump. Now I must say that Biden is pretty far from my ideal president too, but at least he isn’t as much of an idiot as Trump. But I digress.

Flannery O’Conner, an author I’ve never heard of, is quoted as saying: “I write to discover what I know.” This resonates more with me than Camus’s reason. I mean, like I said, I don’t share my political views on here much. In case Camus means that the written word is everlasting, I doubt mine is. Though I’ve been able to conserve most of my writings from the early days of my online journal and before, I’m not sure they’ll last forever or even close to it. The Internet evolves faster than we know, after all. WordPress may not be here for the rest of my life, or even the rest of this decade. With its stupid decision to enforce the block editor, who knows how long it will be able to survive?

I can, in a way, relate to O’Conner’s idea of writing for discovery. Or self-discovery, in my case.

However, I don’t just write for myself. In fact, I cannot keep myself from writing with an audience in mind, even when I write in my own private diary. It’s been this way even years before I knew about the Internet. In a sense, I write to discover what I know, but also to share what I know. Maybe that’s a bit snobbish, but oh well.

Know Yourself: Self-Discovery for Self-Care #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to my letter K post in the #AtoZChallenge. This was a hard letter, but I managed to come up with something, though today’s post is brief. Today I will talk about how self-discovery can help you care better for yourself.

It may be hard to actually know who you are or what you need, but figuring this out is vital to actually meeting your own unique needs. I mean, there are lots of ways to take care of yourself – many more than I will discuss during this challenge -, but most of them are not suitable to everyone. So take time to observe yourself.

I find journaling is a great way of getting to know yourself. There are a lot of guided self-exploration journals out there. There are also tons of journals that claim to be about self-exploration but are really just random lists of prompts. The self-discovery journal I like best is the 23 Days Self-Discovery Journaling Challenge by Mari L. McCarthy. Her other journaling challenges are fab too!

Mindfulness can also help you discover who you are. So can going to therapy or counseling. Regardless of what approach you use, try to be non-judgmental. Like I once read on a website of a personality disorders treatment clinic, the best person you can become is yourself.

Years From Now

As regular readers of this blog know, I’m a fan of journal writing prompts. Today, I found a self-exploration journal on Amazon and, since it’s free, I didn’t hesitate to download it. It’s called The Self-Exploration Journal: 90 Days of Writing, Discovery and Reflection. The first prompt is to write down why you want to embark on this journey of self-discovery. I’m not even sure. I mean, I just write for the sake of writing. I don’t even commonly reread my blog entries, though I did often reread my diary entries when I still faithfully kept an offline diary in the first three years of secondary school. I loved that. Maybe I should make a habit out of rereading some of my blog entries too. But since I currently don’t, I don’t even know that blogging is going to help me discover myself.

I mean, who am I, myself? I see myself in so many fragmented aspects that I’m not even sure who “Astrid” is. All these aspects, parts or identities usually listen to that name, but even as I write this, I don’t feel “whole”. I’m just a part among parts that somehow, in an abstract kind of reality, make up the mind belonging to one body. We have just two hands, both of which we currently use for typing up this journal/blog entry. Which, I might say, is going nowhere.

The second question in the 90-day series asks me to write about how I want to look back on my life ten years from now. Well, I honestly have no idea. Four years ago, I wrote a lettr to my 38-year-old self. I think I may reread it today. Already nearly half of those ten years have passed, but I have no clue at the time what I dreamed about. I mean, three years ago, I did a post as if I was 79 already and looking back at the past fifty years. The only thing I remember that would-be-flashback including was that we’d still live in our current house. Now we’re not even three years on and my husband and I are already thinking of moving.

What does it say of me that I don’t envision that much progress even in fifty years? Does this lack of a truly progressive vision of the future impair my actual progress? Or is it the other way around? That I’ve learned not to expect positive change because the past taught me I’d always fail anyway?

The first time I did a “___ years from now” post was in September of 2006. A psychologist my staff were consulting had asked me where I saw myself in three years. There were, or so I thought, two possible scenarios: one in which I lived successfully fully independently or with just a person reading my mail once a week and was at university and the other in which I needed substantial support. I explicitly wrote that this “black” scenario didn’t have to mean I needed 24-hour care, but that I needed support beyond that which is normal for a blind person.

Three years later, in September of 2009, I had almost two years in a psychiatric hospital behind my belt, of which I’d spent sixteen months on a locked ward. I wrote a flashback then and remarked kind of cynically that stuff couldn’t get much worse than they were now in three more years, or I’d have to be in a homeless shelter or prison. Then, I reasoned, I wouldn’t have Internet access so the whole wide world wouldn’t know. As it turned out, in September of 2012, I was still on the same ward I was on in 2009.

I finally left the hospital in 2017 and live fairly independently with my husband. I guess at this point, I’m pretty content with my life. That doesn’t mean I have absolutley no dreams, but I must admit I don’t generally see these as realistic indeed.