Send to Kindle

Last week I had a spell of feeling sorry for myself. I wanted the early spring days that had visited us with temperatures around 70 degrees to return. Instead it was cold and rainy. I drew frowny faces with my left hand. I hated the sling. Wanted to do jumping jacks. And was generally a pain in the butt to be around. I’d had enough winter, slings, and being stuck in the house.

Wandering around in my studio I came across one of the visual journals I had started well before we moved here to Out Of Bounds, which is what this development we live in is called. The cover read, “Let’s Dance.” I said to myself, “Self, how can I dance with this stupid sling holding my arm too close to my body, making me feel clumsy and off-balance?” Self didn’t respond.

I flipped through the first few pages of the journal, noticed the warm, bright colors. I was inspired. There were two pages that I had painted with a background wash well over a year ago, all ready for me to play with when inspiration struck. I was very attracted to the yellow page. It’s the color I favor most in Spring … as in pansies, forsythia, and daffodils. I decided right then and there to decorate the page with whatever I could find.

I found the box marked Stencils and Collage. Tucked in the top were three plastic bags, each one filled with images and words I had cut out from old magazines and books ages ago. I spilled the contents of bag #1 onto my work table and found a few images that caught my attention. There was a little wiener dog on a skateboard. A blue scaredy cat with all of its hair standing on end. 

In bag #2 I found the title of what this page would be about and immediately glued it in place. As I rummaged through the rest of the cutouts, words kept appearing that Self urged me to use. After arranging them and then gluing them on the page, I used markers to fill in blank spaces with stars, a few flowers, and wiggly lines. 

What you see below is what magically happened. That old Self of mine surely knew what she was doing. From now on when she doesn’t respond to my questions, I’ll remember to let myself open up and invite her in, knowing that she’ll show me the way to the answers I seek.


  1. Joan,
    I was definitely uplifted after reading your post and examining the collage you created as well as the cover “Let’s Dance”! It inspired me with the notion to create a journal like yours. Especially when I’m in a funk.
    Moreover, a group activity like this with my poetry writers group would surely be a memorable HIT!

    I bet you felt a whole lot better when you became immersed in the act of creating. Such a magical feeling comes over us when we open ourselves to “playing” with paint, paper, color and words!!!
    Keep on exploring,

    • Thanks for your visit, Kas. I think a group activity with your poetry group would be really fun. And yes, a visual journal really helps when I’m feeling down or even very high. It seems that expressing how I feel without actually writing it down frees up rusty gears and becomes a surprisingly magical way to lubricate our creativity. It becomes a celebration of life. I hope you’re come back and visit again soon.

  2. patricia stark says:

    Amazing how we pull ourselves up by the bootstraps/slings! Love to you and Bill –

  3. Thanks for your visit, Patti! Love right back to you from both of us! Hope all is well.

  4. Richard Daschbach says:

    Hello Joan and Bill: It is great to be able to chat with you even though from a distance. We are experiencing a spell of winter of life as I had several TIA’s 13 months ago and am still fighting the emotional shock. Nonetheless, I keep playing Lara’s theme in my head. So far, we have all of limbs intact.
    All of our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren are well and living here in New Hampshire.
    Just finished listening to Tom Brooks, A Lucky Life Interrupted on OVERDRIVE.
    Get it now!
    Peace, health, and love,

  5. Hi Richard, it is great to see you here and I will be passing this along to Bill, who sends his very best. We are experiencing a taste of winter here today with a bit of snow and a forecast of Freezing rain. Tomorrow I’m told we will experience temperatures in the mid 60s.

    Sorry to hear of your TIAs. Aging is certainly a shocker and getting body parts replaced or simply fixed can’t be a Long and painful process. Bill has had both knees replaced as well as one shoulder. I will be out of my sling in week and a half and begin using my right hand again. We will certainly look for A LUCKY LIFE. Despite these problems I do Believe that we’ve had A wonderful life.

  6. This is wonderful. I’m glad you have your art to turn to in gloomy days. Even now, you’re dancing with colors!

    You probably have enough books to keep you comfortable and inspired these days. Right now I’m reading Julia Cameron’s Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance. I’ve known her as a non-fiction writer, but didn’t realize she is also a fine artist. She recommends keeping Artist Dates. 🙂

    • Joan Rough says:

      Thank you, Marian. I didn’t know that Julia Cameron had a new book out. I will check it out today. You can never have enough books! 🙂

  7. Michael Anne Lynn says:

    That yellow reminds me of doing natural dyes at your house, south of Lexington, about a million years ago. A great color! My self appreciates it!

    • Joan Rough says:

      Oh my goodness, what a wonderful memory! That was at least two or three centuries ago. What fun we had. Yes that yellow is a great color and I’m glad you’re your Self likes it.

      It’s so nice to have you visit and I hope you come again. Even better if you’re going to be in Charlottesville area let me know and we can have a real visit.

  8. Sharon Martinelli says:

    I sure related to this one and realized that because I haven’t in the move made it easy to access my art supplies and words, I don’t use the tools that would help in an easy and doable way.
    Thanks as always for inspiring.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Sharon. Moving is hard especially when we don’t unpack the tools that are so important in our lives. I’m still looking for and finding supplies that I packed away in unmarked boxes. It is fun to rediscover our treasurers and plan new projects with them.

      I hope all is well with you in that you’ll be back making art in no time!

  9. Joan, I love how you keep going despite your current challenges and restrictions. You remind me that we all have a creative well to tap into when we decide to stop and listen. Your art and journaling are perfect ways to object with your creativity. I hope you are continuing to heal. Just imagine what you will accomplish when you can get rid of that sling!

    • Thanks Kathy. I will be out my sling on March 1, except for wearing it when I go out. I’m looking forward to be able to use my right hand though I will still have to be careful. My visual journals and writing are the things that make me very happy. Knowing that I can do those things even when I’m limited physically keeps the light bright in my life.

  10. That would be “get in touch with your creativity” not object!

  11. Marsha Ellen says:

    Hello Joan and all! This popped up on my newsfeed page and was really meant for me as my activities that I loved are very limited due to health issues and living in an assisted living! I too loved to Dance but that’s gone! I am a jazz lover and since I can’t get out and about to hear my love jazz I now depends on my CDs but there is always music on in my leather 300 square-foot apartment outside of Philadelphia. I am excited because today is the first day of spring training And baseball is another love so go Phillies. Nice to be able to connect with interesting people. Joan I have no artistic ability but I have been using a Mandela adult coloring book! Agin there had to be a reason that Joan’s post popped up on my newsfeed page

    • Marsha Ellen says:

      Sorry for the typos. I should have checked first!

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Marsha Ellen. I think everyone has artistic ability, especially people who Love music, dance, and the good things in life, like baseball. As we get older and more limited it’s important to keep those things in our life and to do things, like you’re coloring, even when we are limited. Those things keep the sun shining in our hearts.