Self Care Series

My brother got me Posca Pens for my birthday and I got straight to work with them.

The first little sketch I completed was an idea to be embroidered and eventually wind up as a t shirt design. I may still do this, but with Valentine's Day coming up, I began to think of other ways that you can show yourself a little love (I fully intend to buy myself some roses and eat something heart-shaped on Valentine's Day, by the way).

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It's so easy to be a workaholic or put all your time, energy and love into relationships with others. It's so easy to not extend that care to yourself. This series is a little riposte to that. I might make a slightly personal collage/illustrative/stitched zine featuring the series called "Quiet Enjoyment" after a covenant of tenancy which tickled my fancy... I'm collecting unusual phrases and intriguing etymologies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pantone 4545

Apologies for the radio silence. I'm in a bit of a slump; too worn out to write. Too worn out to do much of anything; I have lots of ideas but no energy to put them into practice.

Luckily it's only thirteen days until I'm off to Scandinavia for what feels like a very necessary holiday (the number of days to count down feels most portentous!)

I have been able to do a little cutting and sticking in my visual diary, however; the cheat's route to creativity. There are some old drawings of mine (the first two pages) and some new ones by my friend Kat which she illustrated my birthday present wrappings with (the last two pages).

"Broken but happy" was the result I was given from one of those silly Facebook analyser/fortune teller apps which supposedly compromise your online security. It feels apt; I am a relentlessly optimistic depressive, at least, if an exhausted one. The Pantone postcard which is its neighbour, with its fetching shade of vomit blancmange, encapsulates depression for me; all is acrid and beige, the tumble weeds roll past your window, we're in Kansas forever more Toto, and there will never be any colour.

That being said, as an optimist, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am seeing a very kind and incisive CBT therapist and trying to get on with things as best I can. I think I need a big yet reachable goal to work towards to give me a sense of purpose/calling. My big goal for 2016 was to have a solo exhibition, but that feels almost unimaginable at present. Perhaps a few months down the line things will be looking a bit brighter. Here's hoping!





To All A Good Night

It's the end of the 52nd week of the year. This means two things; this week heralds the final #secretsofselfpreservation potion this year (and indeed, ever, unless I do some more #secretsofselfpreservation workshops) and getting a large chunk of my Sunday back each week to make a wide variety of art or to do whatever I fancy, really. I have a new project brewing which leads on from #secretsofselfpreservation but goes off on much more tangents.

I feel like I have been floating around on a cloud of Christmas spirit the past few days. It could be having more than one day off work for the first time since April (ten whole days, I'm ecstatic!), it could be that I've spent time with all my favourite people, or it could be that, looking back on 2015, I am certain that it was one of my best yet. It may be something of a cliché to think that, but I feel I have much to be happy about; my first "proper job", taking commissions, workshops and talks, moving into a bigger room and furnishing it with fine frippery and feeling cosy and content there, four years with my sweetheart, even managing my mental health well so it doesn't interfere with my life too much. It's not been a half bad year, really, but I am also very much looking forward to all 2016 has to bring.

In this (Christmas) spirit, the final #secretsofselfpreservation potion reads "Be grateful and be proud". I have been offered so many breaks this year, and been surrounded by the most wonderful people. I am also beginning to like myself a little more, and acknowledge my achievements, and yes, I am proud of one or two of them. Which is awfully self congratulatory, but for someone who has as poor self esteem as I do it's kind of a big deal.

Pip's handwritten message on the wrapping paper of one of my Christmas presents accompanies the embroidery in the potion bottle. My year has been better for having him in it, and long may that continue.

Next stop is to get my Dad, talented amateur photographer, to shoot all the potions, and create collaged illustrative labels for each one. And then I think I may just try to exhibit them somewhere...



 Remember you can get (still!) involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.


Wrapping It Up Potion

With this week's potion complete, the Apotheké/#secretsofselfpreservation project has only one more week before its conclusion. That is one of the reasons why I have named this week's creation "Wrapping It Up" potion. The other is that this week has been marked by frantic gift buying and the dispersal of my work Secret Santa. So the ingredient to accompany the embroidered text is a message from a Christmas card, and the label the card's front. This week's text reads "Giving gifts is good for the soul." I love giving presents, and the only reason Christmas shopping this week has been rather frantic was because I was yet to give the perfect gift for several people, and I still haven't, so fingers crossed for the next few days!







Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.

Anticipotion

Last week's potion is belated, an all too common occurrence lately as the project approaches its conclusion.

On Friday, Pip and I booked our first holiday abroad since 2013. In February we are travelling to Gothenburg, Malmo and Copenhagen, hopefully in the snow! With that and the New Year in mind, for last week's potion I stitched, simply, "Look forward" on to the ribbon.



To accompany the words is a small coil of grey thread, which I am using in another, new project.


The other day Pip found some of this thread in his room and couldn't resist sending me this photograph, hence this potion is a combination of our plans together and my vocation.


Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.

Pining Potion


I must admit, with the end of 2015 rapidly approaching, I am looking forward to having my Sundays back. Not because I have better things to do with them than create #secretsofselfpreservation potions, but because I'm itching to get started with a new project (or projects). More on that later, but in that spirit (sort of), this week's potion is named Pining Potion; that is, if you can pine for something which will occur in the future?

The diary element this week is a sprig of needles from our obliging Christmas tree which has not yet been brought in from the garden; I helped decorate Pip's yesterday whilst we listened to Carols from King's. 

Different types of strength have come up in conversation a few times this week; in the context of brains Vs brawn, stereotypical gender roles, youthful machismo Vs mature responsibility. So this week's #secretsofselfpreservation potion reads "Strength and softness are not mutually exclusive." Something I think very much applies to me, and all of us.


Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.


Grasshopper Potion


Last week's #secretsofselfpreservation potion is not one but two days late to be posted, despite being finished in time. I'm feeling less and less inclined to blog lately; I don't know if it's wanting to hunker down and hibernate at this time of year, work becoming busier, or winding down with #secretsofselfpreservation as the end of the year draws nigh. I'm eagerly anticipating my next big project, but as last week's potion advocates, I must have "Patience." I've always been one to want to run before I can walk, but I'm learning to accept my limitations and take my time, and, crucially, wait.

To accompany the text is what can only be described as fluff. I spent a good part of Saturday evening picking bobbles out of a new (old) angora jumper I had picked up for two quid, so that I could wear it the following day. In addition to that small example of patience, I had found a number of similar jumpers in Brick Lane for around thirty pounds a piece, but had decided to forgo them, so my patience really paid off!





Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.





Powerful Concoctions Potion

Last week was a bit of a boozy one. The weekend brought my little cousins to stay, the eldest of whom is obsessed with giraffes, and so it only seemed right to combine the two themes of the week in the diaristic element of its #secretsofselfpreservation potion with a giraffe shaped cocktail glass accessory. I named the potion Powerful Concoctions Potion, due to the alcohol consumption and the fact that I do believe these potions constitute powerful talismans and  the process of making them plays a significant part in keeping me well each week.

The words embroidered on the ribbon read "You are good enough." I am gradually beginning to believe that more and more.







Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.

Owning Your Okness Potion

Perhaps my biggest flaw is my lack of willingness to compromise. I like things the way I like them, and I have a tendency to be all or nothing; if things are almost perfect, but not quite, I'm prone to pack it all in. At my worst I remind myself of the titular character from Kissing Jessica Stein; so terrified of things not being Perfect that she misses out on things being Quite Good.

I have particularly been feeling this way lately, but if I think about it I must concede that things actually are Quite Good. "Perfection is unattainable", as I embroidered on to ribbon for this week's #secretsofselfpreservation potion. I really want to remember that, and not judge myself so harshly, or at all, for not reaching the impossible.

As the ingredients to go alongside this mantra, I have included 25p, simply because after our date yesterday my lovely boyfriend treated me to a rabbit themed mug for that price when we wandered into the local Sally Army. I'm nuts for bunnies, my favourite mug he got me some years ago tragically broke, and it was the kind of tiny gesture which makes me very happy.

Our date was a trip to the Bob and Roberta Smith exhibition at the William Morris Gallery followed by coffee and cake. I have borrowed from Bob and Roberta's visual vocabulary, using a colour combination and font for the mantra which he frequently uses in his signs and placards.

The potion's title is Owning Your Okness Potion, a reference to a Simpsons episode in which Homer reads a pamphlet by that name.






 Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.





O.K. O.J. Potion


I'm not very good at living in the moment. I have a very noisy and often unhelpful mind that, when I am trying to concentrate on doing the task at hand to the best of my ability, has a tendency to say "Remember when you were doing [completely unrelated thing] and failed utterly at it?" or agonise over whether I will be up to doing the task at hand next week, or fixate on the seeming improbability of ever moving out of my parents' house. Welcome, my friends, to pervasive anxiety.

So, I would like to live in the moment a little more, and in the rare instances when I am able to, it is sheer bliss. It was that way during the two sessions of paper-making I led with young people at work over the past couple of weeks. I was completely invested and engrossed in introducing the young people to a new and creative experience, and buoyed up by their enthusiasm. Fingers crossed there will be similar results next time I lead a creative activity with them!

That's why this week's #secretsofselfpreservation potion reads "Be present." Not letting it all pass me by in a tangle of worry.


Some of the paper I made is included too, embedded with sequins and sparkling thread.





The potion's title is "O.K. O.J. Potion" as the bottle is a relic from the Sixties when orange drink was delivered in glass bottles direct to door alongside pints of milk. From the way it is described, I would guess this "orange drink" was full of E numbers rather than being a more wholesome orange juice, but it still has a perkiness about it that speaks of hope and fresh beginnings. The drink was marketed under the name SuKie SunKap, with a little cartoon orange lady, which is about as perky as you can get. It reminds me to savour the moment and the little things, such as simply really enjoying a glass of juice first thing in the morning.





Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.

Graft Draught Potion

I am beginning to feel more hopeful about my future. It seems that whenever I'm beginning to feel a lull in my freelance arts work, I get contacted about a fantastic opportunity, and that's without seeking them out myself, which I am beginning to do more of. My "night job" may not be paying the bills yet, but I feel immensely privileged to be able to earn some money doing what I love.

The lull also allowed me some time to work on personal projects, which has been great fun. However industrious the week has been, though, I always round it off with a #secretsofselfpreservation potion. Last week, prompted by fortune cookies handed out at the end of my aunt's 50th birthday celebrations on Sunday, I was reminded of my favourite cookie fortune; "The harder you work, the luckier you will get".

So Week Forty Four's #secretsofselfpreservation potion reads "Spit, polish and elbow grease gets things done." A reminder to work hard, accompanied by a feather from my Halloween costume (I was Tippi Hedren in The Birds) as a reminder to also let my hair down from time to time.




Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.

Drawing Strength Potion

 This week's #secretsofselfpreservation potion follows on from thoughts last week. I am still drawing, sketching every other day, and finding I am not as hopeless at it as I thought (although perhaps still slightly hopeless... practise makes better!)

I am doubting myself ever so slightly less than I have done of late. So, the stitching this week reads "Have more faith in your abilities". This applies to every area of life; work; friendships; juggling swords. My dyspraxia aside, I feel more comfortable in my own skin, more sure of myself, and more ready to try doing the things I feel trepidatious about, but I know either must be done or I desperately want to do. The peachy pencil represents conquering my fears and proving myself to the only person I need to prove myself to; me.





Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.

Sweet Kernel Potion



This time of year heralds some of my favourite things; Twin Peaks watching season, warming bowls of food,  woollens, the colour orange in plentiful supply, hunting for mushrooms in the forest, and yes, leaf-peeping. I realise all this makes me sound like a Pumpkin Spice Latte acolyte (I've never touched a drop I swear), but I still think Autumn is somewhat magical.

As yesterday was spent fungi foraging, it seemed apt to include sketches of mushrooms I made last week along with photographs from our family walk in Epping Forest as the diaristic element of last week's #secretsofselfpreservation potion.

I finally bit the bullet and started drawing, and the results do not appear to be utterly catastrophic. It reminds me of a page from this visual diary entry and this #secretsofselfpreservation potion from back in March, which was about feeling the fear (of drawing terribly) and doing it anyway.

I drew inspiration from one Ms Hermione Granger and embroidered "Fear of a thing is worse than the thing itself" on to autumnal ribbon. Because it so often is.

The potion's label is from the first page of my altered book What To Look For In Winter. The potion's title is Sweet Kernel Potion, a reference to Keats's To Autumn, and to hope in the face of fear.







Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.

Agency Potion


For the first time in over a month, I'm feeling (somewhat) in control of my life and (somewhat) positive about the future. I am moving towards accepting that I am an artist and a millenial and that consequently it's never going to be easy.

This meant that last week's #secretsofselfpreservation potion was a no-brainer. A tutor of mine once described me as being "a bit of a free spirit", which, as a person for whom the phrase "highly strung" would be a polite way of putting it, I found hilarious. But I must concede that going with the flow a bit more would be good for me, and so last week's potion reads "Being mistress of your own destiny is nothing to fear."



Inside the potion bottle is a smaller potion bottle filled with coffee, for reasons best left to myself and my future therapist.

The potion's name, Agency Potion (as in self-determination) is written on the back of my business card, which I like to think of as a metaphorical passport to my future.





 Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.

Fortitude Potion

One of my favourite young artists, Caitlin Hazell, once scribbled an illustration which read "I'm sad because I'm not Kate Bush". I'm sad at the moment, but I thought that Kate Bush might help rather than making me sadder still.

Therefore, this week's #secretsofselfpreservation potion borrows (or do "great" artists steal?) a line from one of her most beautiful songs, This Woman's Work; "I know you've got a lot of strength left." Because I do, despite what even I may believe. I have been in this place before, and I have come out the other side. I will be happy and healthy again, and I will work at it until I am.

Accompanying the words is a tiny LED light, which I thought made a good metaphor for a kernel of hope. It was gifted to me by a lovely lady at a workshop I was involved in at the weekend. More on that later, possibly. 

The concoction is named Fortitude Potion. Fortitude, I am told, is defined as strength of mind that enables a person to encounter danger or bear pain or adversity with courage. It might seem a little contradictory to be talking about strength of mind when in fact my mind is so vulnerable. But buried deep inside me is a stubbornness that won't let me give in. That wills me to keep going, like Sylvia Plath's "I am, I am, I am." A little lightbulb, if you will.








 Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.





Bedding In Potion




Properly moving into my brother's old room last week brightened my mood of the previous couple of weeks significantly. I spent far too many hours scouring eBay for precisely the soft furnishings and knick knacks (including this crochet blanket) I wanted and now I am very happily installed in there.

Because colour is so important to me (I could never be a minimalist) and I am determined that I will not feel gloomy because of my environment in this room, this week's #secretsofselfpreservation potion reads "Build a bowerbird nest". Male bowerbirds build structures decorated with brightly coloured flotsam and jetsam to attract a mate. I doubt kitsch mid century paraphernalia will attract my mate, but he was kind enough to provide the potion's name: "Bedding In Potion". I truly think it is so important to be happy where you sleep. 

Rather wonderfully, the label paper is embossed with little birds, although my camera couldn't capture those.

The embroidery above is a sample I am working on for a two day workshop next weekend. Very serendipitous colour coordination! The off cuts of thread I collected as I worked on the embroidery over the course of the week, and I thought they represented a bowerbird nest rather well.

Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.



Keep The Faith Potion

 Still struggling, but still here. Sometimes you have to blindly go forward, hoping and believing that things will get better.

That's why this week's potion reads "It can and it will get better", and that's why it's named "Keep The Faith Potion" (as well as that being a reference to my predilection for Northern Soul).

This week's diaristic element is some electrically conductive fabric, a small amount of which I have been given to play with ahead of an event in which it will play a part next week.






Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.

I Get By Potion

I've been struggling lately. And what is the most important thing to do when you're struggling (other than admit it)? Ask for help. Call in the cavalry, get all the help you can get to get back on the ball.

That is what I have been trying to do, and that is why last week's #secretsofselfpreservation potion reads "It's ok to ask for help."

I didn't want to include any of the help-getting paperwork in the bottle as I'm feeling so wobbly, so, as last week was eating-out heavy, I included the business card for a lovely local restaurant, Orford Saloon.

"I Get By" is a Beatles reference of course, but also an allusion to the fact that sometimes simply getting by is the best we can hope for.










Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.

Lock Outs and Lock Ins Potion

Last week was a rather wobbly one. After a long day at work on Wednesday I came straight home only to find that my key wouldn't open the front door. After fretting for some time, finally my lovely neighbour let me in round the back. I thought all was well as I could unlock the front door with a different key from the inside, but when I came to lock up in the morning I found I couldn't. Not what you want when you've been home alone for two and a half weeks!

Perhaps because of how stressed I'd been feeling last week, I took every opportunity to let my hair down. So, in addition to the lock out on Wednesday evening, I had my first lock-in at my favourite gin palace on Saturday night, with a free cocktail and the hangover to go with it in the morning.

I've been thinking lately that maybe it's time to grow up, accept responsibility and stop having so much fun. But I feel like in the years when I was "supposed" to have fun, I didn't have very much, and I'm still relatively young; not even up to a quarter of a century yet! Growing up will come with time.

That's why last week's potion reads "Take it one step and one day at a time." I don't have to "sort my life out" all at once, and, with the way I'm feeling at the moment, simply putting one foot in front of the other is fine.





Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.

No Blueprint Potion

 This #secretsofselfpreservation potion brought to you in collaboration with the city of Glasgow.


In a fairly run of the mill week last week, the most remarkable thing that happened was mine and Pip's stay in Glasgow for the long weekend. We spent four gloriously sunny days in the city, consisting of rose lemonade, real roses and other flora, cocktails, vegetarian junk food, classic films, scouring Glasgow's charity shops, potato scones, running, walking, contemporary art, ancient culture, old clothes, and orange subways. I think it's safe to say that we'll be back!


So the diaristic objects of this week's potion are all artefacts of our holiday, from a leaf which matched our friend's dress to Saturday's subway ticket which matches the national drink of Irn Bru. The embroidered text of the potion reads "You don't have to have it all figured out yet." 

I seem to be having alternate #secretsofselfpreservation weeks of "Try harder"/"It's ok to flail a bit in your twenties"; my indecisiveness even comes out in the potions! But I am hoping a bit of both attitudes at work will keep me sane and well.




 Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.