I become obsessed. Which I will explain as I go on.
But first, a trip to New Zealand. My family went there for a year a while back, and one of the things that really really struck to the core of me was the Maori cultural interpretation of the idea (which I am about to try to explain but will do very very badly) that there are things that take us out - they spiritually lift us to another plane, and then there are things that bring us back, and ground us. So a speech or a song or an event (a wedding or funeral) that connects us to that transcending element of life (and death) and then a shared meal or feast afterwards to return to the everyday. Going out, and returning. Both necessary, and in balance.
I think all my crafting fulfills that need for me. Connecting to a tradition (if only poorly) of craft, expressing oneself in an elemental or visceral way. There is something deeply (which is a word I seem to keep returning to) spiritual in doing something that expresses yourself - a core element of yourself.
And then there is the sheer texture of it. Grounding yourself back in the mundane everyday.
I love textiles. Fabric. I love color. I don't understand it, or study it, or commune with it on an intellectual plane. I just jump in feet first and shut off all that racing brain analytic thinking that goes through me head most of the rest of the time. I just shut up and enjoy.
Roz Stendahl has a fantastic blog about visual journaling (and life). You should stop everything and go there and explore it. Really. I mean it. If you want to really get the skinny on how to think about paper or watercolor or ink or journaling practices, she has a clear articulate perspective. I begin each day checking on what she's posted. She recently alerted us stalkers that she's going to cut back. So she might not post EVERY day. But she has so much experience and insight and helpful advice (plus she's a bossy pants) that even my thick fuzzy headed brain has absorbed some of what she's talking about.
Part of what she talks about is being present in your own life. How journaling, visual journaling, can help you NOTICE and be aware and focus and attend to your own life. All the supplies are just fun. (And she knows LOTS about supplies.) But the point is waking up and paying attention. It's not a unique perspective, but her voice is so authentic and how she writes about journaling is so clear and articulate - it's worth reading.
She binds her own books and they are works of wonder and well beyond anything I'm about to do so, after I inquired, she suggested that I check out Mary Ann Mosses blog and mentioned that she had what looked like a really great on-line class.
I've worked my way through Ms Moss's classes and had to take the stencilry class, although I had absolutely NO intention of doing any spray painting WHATSOEVER!!! but her videos make me chuckle and once you've bought the class (which is CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP for what you get) you can replay them any time, which I do, at all hours of the day and night (which I really do) and have forced my semi-little people to watch sections of and, okay, as I said, I get obsessed, so suddenly I needed to get some spray paint.
And do you SEE what happens??? She said wear gloves, or maybe it was a ventilator, but NO I didn't listen (but I did wear goggles), and eventually the paint cleaned off. Eventually.
But I am NOT NOT NOT loading up on spray paint. NOPE!
Except it has this texture that when I put my hand on it, it brings me back to the here and now, while at the same time my eyes are swept away to some other place. Away and back again. All at the same time.
I didn't know spray paint and stencils would do that.
Why visual journal? It helps me both transcend what I'm going through, and brings me back to myself. All at the same time.