Monday, December 31, 2012

Blogging Every Day in 2013

Note that I am not committing to doing this, blogging every day in 2013. I may decide to give the idea of trying a go, though, and see what that is like. It may turn into a wonderful and much beloved habit rather than just another daily task, who knows?

I just read a post by Elizabeth Esther, where she contemplates but doesn't commit to this very idea, and I started to feel all inspired and my fingers began itching to type.

I definitely don't have time to create an art journal blog post every day, mostly because the way I like to art journal, at least currently, is a bit on the intense and time consuming side, with tons of layers (many of which don't make it to being seen on the finished product) and lots of journaling, even if most of it is covered up by paint. That's my process, yo. And I love it, but it's not something I have the time or creative energy for more than 2-3 times a week.

So, if I blogged every day I'd have to embrace more variety in my posts, or perhaps develop more of a spontaneous, off the top of my head, here is what I'm thinking about today style. That is somewhat appealing. In my real life, especially lately, I can be a bit reserved and withdrawn believe it or not. Blogging authentically is in part an attempt at changing this side of my personality, so I can connect with people better. I am hoping for a trickle down effect.

So if I forced myself to blog every day. . . hmm. It bears thinking about. It's doable. A blog post does not have to take more than ten minutes or so to write (although I have spent much longer on some of the more soul searching ones).

Stay tuned. Incidentally, I do have some art journal pages to share that I've done but have not photographed or written up posts for yet. Maybe that will be tomorrow's offering.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Books Read 2012

1. Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson
2. Back On Murder, J. Mark Betram
2. A Whistling Woman, A.S. Byatt
3. Scripture and the Authority of God, N.T. Wright
4. The Orthodox Way, Kallistos Ware
5. What Good is God?, Phillip Yancey
6. The Challenge of Jesus, N.T. Wright
7. Finding God in The Questions, G. Timothy Johnson
8. My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey, Jill Bolte Taylor
9. Pagan Christianity, Frank Viola and George Barna
10. The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist's Case for the Existence of the Soul, Mario Beuregard
11. Surprised By Hope, N.T. Wright
12. Thinking in Tongues: Pentacostal Contributions to Christian Philosophy, James K.A. Smith
13. Justified in the Spirit, Frank D. Macchia
14. Healing the Soul After Religious Abuse: The Dark Heaven of Recovery, Mikele Rauch
15. Who's Afraid of Postmodernism? Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church, James K.A. Smith
16. Solomon Among the Postmoderns, Peter Leithart
17. Postmodern Philosophy and Christian Thought, Merold Westphal
18. Love Wins, Rob Bell
19. Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God, Jonathan Edwards
20. Crazy for God, Frank Schaeffer
21. The Gurus, the Young Man, and Elder Paisios, Dionysios Farasiotis
22. Ragnarok, A.S. Byatt
23. Pobby and Dingan, Ben Rice
24. Momma and the Meaning of Life, Irwin Yalom
25. The Gift of Therapy, Irwin Yalom
26. The Abyss of Madness, George E. Atwood
27. Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller

I have highlighted my top five of the year. It's been a good year of reading, I will say. Not a lot of fiction, as you can see, which is unusual for me, but sometimes the variety is refreshing. I've enjoyed my forays into philosophical theology and all the rest.

I expect my reading will take off in some slightly different directions in the coming year-- more memoir, more poetry, more personal growth type stuff (including whatever I can find on art journaling and art therapy).  I'd also like to find some good books on how to read the Bible, especially the Old Testament, especially the Prophets. Maybe throw in some more good novels as well.

Here's to the future!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Blue Christmas Art Journal Page

Merry Christmas.

I created this page in my art journal last night, but little did I know then how fitting my color choice would be. This is a blue Christmas. Within the last 48 hours about a third of my relatives have fallen ill with the flu, some from every household. Up until the last, the healthiest ones were still intending on a small get together, but as of this morning even more people are sick and so Christmas has been cancelled. :(

H, the kids, and I are all well and would just as soon keep it that way, so. . . guess we'll be spending a quiet day at home. Might go out to eat somewhere for lunch; haven't decided yet.

Maybe we'll see the family at New Years. I sure hope everyone gets well soon.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Goth Girl Mixed Media Collage Art Journal Page

No wordy post for today. I guess this art journal page and the little goth girl that materialized for it speak for themselves. It was fun to work on. It's one of my favorite art journal pages that I've done so far--  I have some affection for the inner goth kid, it seems. Mixed media used include: watersoluble pastels, acrylic paint, a white paint pen, black sharpie, glue, and fabric.

Entering Forever Night's challenge (just for fun, I realize this page is not all that dark).

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

How I Use Art Journaling as Art Therapy

I'm finding that art journaling really is a therapeutic process, especially the more so as I let go of consciously controlling the evolution of a page and just follow the flow. These days I often find myself reaching for my journal when I'm a bit frustrated or stressed, and it usually happens that by the time I've finished a page I'm feeling lighter and a measure of tranquility has re-established itself. I don't think it's just a distraction from negative emotions-- the journaling seems actually to help work them out as the frustration and negative energy gets channeled into the page via squiggles, sharp lines, energetic scribbling, or what have you. Catharsis. I like to notice how I'm feeling as I work. . . thus simply making for a very inexpensive and self directed art therapy. A win all round, in my book. :)

When I began this particular page I was regrettably a bit edgy and irritable. I picked up my journal and started writing in pencil, in different directions and handwriting fonts all across the page. After this was done I went over it again with more writing. I did this a few times. I just wrote whatever I was thinking. It was very free flowing, unfiltered, and spontaneous. (Venting, you might say. :P) Then I colored over all of it with a blue neocolor water soluble pastel. By the time I finished that layer of coloring, I was already much calmer. Swirling water over the page with a wet brush was an additionally soothing enterprise.

Once the page was dry, I was intending to doodle over it with a black sharpie and be done. However. . . my sharpie was not in my art supply box! I spent some time in futile searching all over my house, any place I thought I might have been likely to leave a black sharpie. All to no avail. This was disappointing. Somewhat grumpily, I sat down at the page again and grabbed the nearest supplies to hand, which happened to be my daughter's box of sidewalk chalk and a tube of glue.

I drew frustrated marks in chalk on the page and then rubbed them in vigorously with my fingertips. Then I dotted glue all over the page and smeared it over the chalk, again using my fingers. Now this. . . was actually looking rather good. I wish I had taken pictures at this stage. Pencilled journaling was showing through the blue, which was now mottled and softened by chalky colors, and made a bit shiny by the coat of glue.

I stared at it trying to think what to do next. Taking a cue from projects I've seen on Judy Balzer and Carolyn Dube's blogs, I began hunting for "people in the paint". Lo and behold, it did seem as though a shadowy shaped couple was trying to emerge from the depths. They were even holding hands! This was better than I had hoped for. I outlined them with paint pens, highlighting them here and there with neocolors to bring out their shape a bit more. Then I fingerpainted with some acrylics paint around them, did some more journaling over this, added my words, "If you trust the process you will see life emerging from the depths", and  layered more chalk, coloring, and smeared glue to the page until I was happy with it.
I also gave the woman, "life", a glued on fabric face.

I can't really describe how satisfying it felt to work on this and what a surprise the final page turned out to be. I am so glad to have discovered art journaling! This was the best thing to have come out of the hyperemesis. The fly in the ointment is I spelled "emerging" wrong, but meh. We embrace imperfection around here! :)

Until next time,

Monday, December 17, 2012

Homemade Christmas Tree With Paperback Books

  This is my Christmas tree this year, which I finally set up today.  It's a tapering stack of paperbacks wrapped with lights, surrounded by sheets of book paper recycled from a discarded book and mini Christmas trees. The star was cut from cardboard salvaged from a box, layered with some quilting fabric scraps, and decorated with a white paint pen. Very economical as it was all made from stuff I had lying about the house, and fairly time efficient as it took less than an hour all told. I wish I had set it up weeks ago as there is now not much of the season left to enjoy it, but I will be leaving it up through New Year's at least. I haven't been terribly organized with my holiday preparations this year, so a lot is being crammed into this week.

So today I also painted a clay pot snowman to join the clay pot toy soldiers I made for the front porch a few weeks ago (may post pics later), aaaand I took my two year old daughter shopping for a Christmas dress and new shoes. At the mall, during rush hour, the week before Christmas. This is what happens to people who do not plan ahead. But we found a dress she loved, which was cute. I wasn't expecting her to have much of an opinion at her age, but when we tried this one little dress on and she saw herself in the mirror, her face lit up like a baby angel's. Then she looked up at me, eyes all hopeful, "What do you think, Mom?" 

Awww. . . that made the whole trip worth it. Of course then we had to buy shoes, and as H and Little Guy were with us and we were all getting tired, dragging through half the mall on this errand was not exactly anyone's ideal way to spend an evening. But at least she'll be suitably shod and I. . . between crafting my homemade tree, painting clay pot decorations, dress and shoe shopping for an indulged toddler on top of my usual days' events. . . am feeling fairly drained. 

But it is so nice, now everyone's asleep, to be sitting here in my living room with my lit "tree", laptop, and a hot mug of Lady Grey Tea with a slice of floating lemon. I may break out Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol in a minute. "Marley was dead, to begin with. . ." 

*breathes a contented sigh, snuggles more deeply into sofa, and takes another sip of tea* 

Happy Holidays, everyone. 


also Collage Obsession's Shades of White Challenge

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Fire Behind The Questions

When I first saw the prompts for the Fall Fearless and Fly challenge 6, I knew that creating something for it would be an interesting experience for me at any rate, provided I could manage to do so. At first I was thinking I might pass on this one. . . too complicated, but yesterday I felt I was getting a glimmering of an idea, or a least of a starting point, for it so I sat down with my open art journal to see what would materialize. After all, I've inadvertently picked up the habit of religious art journaling by participating in Rebecca's  meme, so may as well go with the flow.

Here, btw, are the Fall Fearless and Fly prompts for challenge 6:

Headline Prompt: 
Divided by God:  What does "God" mean to you?  How do you access"God" or the divine or the sacred in your life?
Color Prompt:
Metallics - gold, silver, copper, bronze, or all of them!
Quote Prompt:
"This is my simple religion.  There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy.  Our own brain, our own heart, is our temple; the philosophy is kindness."  The Dalai Lama

"What does 'God' mean to me?" Rather a big question, that. But I've always been particularly captivated by the fire images in the Bible-- the pillar of fire that led the wandering Israelites by night, the burning bush in the desert, the tongues of fire that appeared above the believers on the day of Pentecost. So I began preparing a background with fiery colors-- oranges, reds, and yellows. Using a gold paint pen (that's the metallic prompt, there) I drew a dotted line spiraling out from the center and over that outlined some "tongues of fire" over the page. I drew a spiraling line with a silver gel pen as well but it only shows up faintly in the picture.The background still didn't seem full enough somehow, so in between my dotted lines I began writing words from Acts chapter 2 (which contains the story concerning the day of Pentecost and the tongues of fire mentioned above) with a white paint pen. The words spiral outward from the center and here and there I got thrown off course, so it's almost impossible to read, but that's okay.

I was liking the way this looked but felt it needed a focal point and some human interest, so began flipping through old magazines looking for some inspiration. The image I chose is from 2001 Benjamin Moore ad, in case anyone cares. Something about the woman's facial expression and posture resonated with my current mood, so she was pasted in. I think of the resulting page as a kind of abstract religious self portrait. Let me explain, if I can manage it in a paragraph or two. Those who are not interested in personal autobiography may stop reading here.

My parents were enthusiastic converts of the Jesus Movement era in the 1970's-- "born again, Spirit filled, fire baptized believers". They spent the next several years, including those of my earliest childhood, as followers of the Pentecostal/charismatic Christianity of their day. I was still very young, but old enough to remember, when they began to be disillusioned by some of the scandal, fraud, showmanship, and extremism that the movement regrettably spawned. They left the church we belonged to and began exploring other avenues of belief and practice, over a somewhat zany and occasionally bizarre couple decades of spiritual searching that would indelibly shape my own life and formative years especially. The good news is I made it out alive and mostly sane. :)

So, partly in an effort to puzzle out the import of our life stories, largely in an attempt to figure out my own beliefs, and partly out of genuine interest in the subjects, I've immersed myself in reading over the past couple years on the history of Christianity (especially in America), theology, and the philosophy of religion. It's really only recently that I feel I've emerged from the rubble of books, with a more or less intact faith and nuanced views that have now predictably become something of a hodge podge. Looking back, I have to say I'm appreciative of H's tolerance and patience during those times I was preoccupied with existential wrestling and probably not the easiest to live with! We were also visiting a variety of churches at the time, both together and separately, uncertain of quite where to place our growing family (it was important to both of us to find a church home somewhere.)

I suppose detailing the process could fill a book (and maybe not a terribly fascinating one) of it's own, but in a somewhat surprising twist of fate, we've ended up back in a church the pastor of which is a member of one of the Pentecostal denominations. It's milder and more reasonable than some of what I've witnessed in the past, but familiar enough that it gives me a not unpleasant feeling of having come full circle, at least for the time being. I think of it affectionately as "charismatic-lite", a little evangelical church in the country not more than twenty minutes from where we live. It's unpretentious, not too thinky, has good music, and the worship, prayer, and preaching style remind me of the positive aspects of my roots and earliest religious memories from childhood. The congregation is laid back, friendly and they were extremely kind and helpful to my family during my recent bout with hyperemesis. It's not where I expected we'd end up, but somehow being there for now feels natural for us, like a simple clicking into place. A relief given my historical tendencies to over complicate things. Most importantly, and perhaps partly because of these other things, I do feel a sense of spiritual connection there-- a reminder that what matters most is not the answers or the questions or even the journey itself, but being in touch with the fire glowing everlastingly behind these things.

Thanks FFF for the amazing inspiration and prompt!

Also linking to Paint Party Friday.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Virgin a Day-- Reflections on the Twelve Days of Mary Event

These 12 days of Mary have meant more to me than I could have imagined starting out. I have been inspired and strengthened by the writings of all the participating bloggers and immeasurably enriched by the dazzling array of Marys presented along with their stories, appearing in different guises across all different times and cultures. Truly, "from henceforward all generations will call me blessed." I will miss the "mornings with Mary," the time spent reading and learning, and the interactions we've had around a common subject, but look forward to continuing to follow the blogs of many of the new artists and writers I've been blessed to discover through this very special meme.

Also wanted to record a couple minor serendipitous occurrences I've experienced during these twelve days. One of them was going to visit an old and dear friend over the weekend, who gifted me with a stack of books from her collection that she thought I would be interested in. One of the books is called, "Love and the World: A Guide to Conscious Soul Practice" by Robert Sardello. 

I began reading the introduction and first chapter on the trip home. These few sentences jumped out at me, they seemed so in tune with the spirit of the Mary project:

"The soul, like the spirit, is a deed we humans do. And it is a capacity, the capacity for life to be meaning, both felt and known. This capacity is realized when we have a conscious sense for images that flows through all modes of experience-- from sensing to memory to dreaming to thinking."

It just feels like the right book at the right time. I'm looking forward to delving more deeply into it.

My other serendipitous occurrence was much more hum-drum and quotidian, to move out of the heady realm of abstracting about images for a bit. ;-) It happened just this morning. I was loading the kids into the car for a play date at a friend's house, and I was feeling a bit nervous about the drive. I think I must be anemic or something (will have my iron levels checked at my next OB/GYN appointment) because I've been getting randomly weak and dizzy at times, and although I felt well enough at the time, I was scared of that happening on the road. It would be okay, I'd just pull over if I needed to, but I didn't like the idea of having to deal with that. I said a prayer to God for strength and safety, and then, very hesitantly, tossed in a Protestant's version of a petition to Mary-- "Dear Mary, could you please ask your Son to grant us a smooth journey?" I'm still not sure how I feel personally about praying to Mary, but thought it couldn't hurt to at least ask her to pray for me. If she didn't "hear" me, no harm done.

The drive was fine and once at my friend's house with the kids happily crawling about the floor, we began making cheerfully boring housewifely conversation about meal plans. I mentioned that I'd have to stop with the kids at the grocery on the way home to get split peas, if I wanted  to make split pea soup which I had been intending on. Honestly, I felt weary just thinking about it.

"Split peas," my friend said musingly, "Those would be green, I suppose?"

I agreed that this was indeed the case and she said, "I've got some that we're not going to use. Do you want them so you don't have to stop at the store? The lady who lived here before us left them in the pantry."

It's the little things, you know? That really made my morning. Perhaps it's stretching fancy a bit far, but I couldn't help but remember my request to Mary earlier. I wondered if she was smiling.

Linking to A Virgin A Day.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Virgin a Day: Great With Child

I colored and splashed water over this while chattering with my two year old yesterday, supervising her coloring (which mostly consists of preventing her from eating crayons or decorating the carpet and walls with her art), and daydreaming. My, how we multitask. :) The result is a sort of melding of Mary as Mary, and as wood nymph, Tree of Life, pregnant tree, life giver umbilically connected to a source of life, and I don't know what else. Fancifully imagined and childishly executed. It's also a celebration of pregnancy-- I love the phrase "great with child", it's so much more vibrant, strong, and Mother Earthy than referring to women in late pregnancy as huge-- which I heard a number of times with both of my last two pregnancies. Haven't quite reached that stage yet with this one. I don't think of myself as a particularly temperamental pregnant mommy, but will say I'd prefer "great with child" to huge any day! For aesthetic reasons, naturally. I care about the poetry of  things.

It might be fairly observed that my tree girl is hardly identifiable as Mary, but I hope that the quoted phrases  snatched from biblical stories about her make up for that. (Well, "in the fullness of time" is actually from a verse in Galations: "But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman. . . " ) And I was thinking of Mary, at least partially, when I colored her, so maybe that means she counts. :)

Linking to a A Virgin A Day

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Virgin A Day-- heart ponderings

I love how in the biblical narrative, sandwiched right between the shepherds visited by angels and the prophecy of Simeon, there is this very human line, "But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart." It makes Mary seem more relateable somehow, more like every woman. Because in spite of the celestial visitations, the miracles, the words of prophecy swirling around her-- she was mulling over the import of her life events like we all do, watching her story unfold. There were things to ponder, interpret, and later be shaped into a narrative.

It's a task we all have, deriving meaning from the collection of experiences we acquire as we make our way, often haphazardly enough, through life. Certain things strike us as significant and are stored as memories, woven into the changing tales we will tell and retell ourselves and each other.

I filled this journal page with ponderings of my own-- "dear diary" style ramblings on some things that have been on my mind lately, which I then painted over. Some of the writing is still faintly visible but not legible. I like that effect. Then I added an image cut from a magazine and the Mary quote. Sorry about the glare obscuring the bottom right corner of the picture and the word "heart." This was the best photo I took before my camera batteries suddenly died on me. The magazine image, btw, does not represent Mary for me-- just a generic woman, tying in with the theme. Although she is probably somebody famous I'm not recognizing, because I cut her from a page advertising Nashville tourism. If someone knows, feel free to enlighten me. :)

And speaking of my heart ponderings, I want to say thank you to all of those who commented on my post yesterday. Your words-- of such warmth and feeling-- meant more  than I can say.

Linking today to A Virgin A Day and Balzer Designs.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Virgin A Day-- A Sword Shall Pierce Your Own Heart

 It seems the conditions of life are such that being open to love means being open not only to pain as well, but to the possibility of agony. I look at my babies and think of the littlest one growing in my womb feel such a surge of protective love for them all. And then I think of Mary, holding that baby that she would live to see crucified. There really are no words for these kinds of contemplations, but I have been meditating a little on the depth of the love and pain that must coexist in the heart of the Madonna, and of God himself.

Constructing yesterday's art journal page was a straightforward process. I had an image and quote I wanted to use and prepared a simple background for them. I feel that this Mary's long black robes and austere expression are a suitable match for the biblical quote, which indeed was one of the first things that came to mind when I saw her.

This is my third journal page done in participation with the twelve days of Mary at the Recuerda Mi Corazon blog.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Virgin a Day-- Magnificat and 12 stars

The Holy Virgin is taking over my art journal. In a way, this is so funny. I was not even intending on participating in "A Virgin a Day" more than that one time. I am not even Catholic! lol. But when I sat down at my art journal yesterday, this is what happened.

I think it is because I have been so captivated by all the inspiring tributes I'm finding on blogs participating in A Virgin a Day. As a result, the Magnificat has been kicking around in my head for the last 24 hours, and when presented with a blank white page in my journal, that is what demanded to be written. And that's what art journaling is all about, right? Go with the flow, go with the flow. In a way, it can be like a spiritual practice of it's own. So I scribbled down the ESV rendition of the Magnificat with a red gel pen, which forms the text you see behind the painting, writing the words "blessed" ("all generations will call me blessed") and "forever" ("to Abraham and to his offspring forever") large. Then I did some doodling with a led pencil, just for a change, and painted/colored the rest with neocolor pastels over that. (It's a little bit greener in real life than it is in the picture. My photographer is at his day job this morning so I had to take the picture myself.)

There are twelve penciled stars in the upper left hand corner. I was thinking of the twelve stars from the stunning passage in Revelation:

"And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his head seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished 1,260 days." 

Revelation 12:1-6

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Virgin A Day-- mixed media Annunciation collage

In my cruisings through blogland the earlier this morning, I came across a truly fascinating event being hosted at the blog Recuerda Mi Corazon. It's called "A Virgin a Day" and it's an invitation to all for an artistic celebration of the Virgin Mary (idea, symbol, or reality it seems, I'm loving the variety I'm finding on participating blogs) for the first 12 days of December. The blog's author describes the meaning and intention of the event in terms much more eloquent and graced than I ever could, so I would urge you all to make your way over there and visit. You will likely return feeling as intrigued and enchanted as I am. It's not about religion; it's about inspiration and sharing. This may end up being my only contribution, but I know I will enthusiastically continue reading along and following the links from the project.

Anyway, when I came across this this morning my mind almost immediately began suggesting an idea for a mixed media collage of the Annunciation, which predictably took off on it's own once I started working on it. I enjoyed doing this. I mixed together more elements and media than I have before, including book paper, fabric, tissue paper, an image from an old art book, caran d'ache neocolor pastels, acrylic paint, and an assortment of paint pens.

Some may look at this and say, "But Leah, it can't be an Annunciation, because your Mary is holding baby Jesus and that doesn't happen until after."

Well, I am a postmodernist (er, somewhat), and today that means it is the elements of the story that matter, not getting the order right.

But enough chatter, here are some pics. I took a lot this time.

First I pasted in some pieces of book paper and doodled over the page with swirls in red and orange neocolors.

Then I added some coloring with yellow and ochre neocolors and painted with water.

Added collage elements, angel wings drawn with a brown paint pen, and black acrylic paint.

And, finally, here it is with a lot more "stuff" added-- lots more drawing and outlining with paint pens, more neocolors, more water, and some relevant words from Scripture in gold, "You have found favor with God," "Behold the handmaid of the Lord," "Do not fear, Mary," "Rejoice," and "All will call me blessed," (I coudn't fit "generations" in, this was a regret).

A close up of the angel:

A close up of Mary (unfortunately I got some white paint on the Christ Child's face).

I'm entering this one in a few challenges, just for the heck of it.

Artists in Blogland's Fall Fearless and Fly Challenge has the following prompts to choose from:

Headline Prompt:  Lifelong Fan:  What or who have you consistently valued or looked up to in your life?  What lessons have you learned from people you admire?
Color Prompt:  Your favorite color now or from childhood or both!
Quote Prompt: "Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator; but among those whom I love, I can:  all of them make me laugh."  W.H.Auden

This fits the first two prompts. I think it's fair to say I value and look up to Mary :) and have since I was a child, so I suppose that makes me a "lifelong fan"! Additionally, I find value in mulling on the Nativity and surrounding events during this time of year, and paintings of the Annunciation have always been among my favorites-- this could be considered a very humble tribute. 
My favorite color-- orange-- also plays a star role here, and fitting two out of three prompts is not bad! But next time around I may try for all three. I can be obsessive like that and it would feel more complete. :) 

I'm also entering in Frilly and Funkie's A Light in Darkness Challenge. I think this collage fits that theme both symbolically and literally, and I hope my image of Mary counts a vintage element, in keeping with the spirit of their blog. 

Also using this as as second entry in Simon Says Stamp and Show's Project With Heart Challenge. 
 My angel, you may have noticed, is sporting a turquoise heart, and there is a tissue paper heart pasted behind Mary as well, forming her "wings".

Random Crazy Pregnancy Dream

I had the cutest, silliest, most fun and most evocative dream about the baby the other night. I liked the dream so much that I wanted to record it on my blog, so this is going to be a slight break from my normal blogging-about-my-art-journal routine. Apologies in advance to those who dislike reading long winded accounts of other people's dreams and interpretive reflections thereon. Now would be a great time to stop reading if you number among that dreary camp. ;-)

To begin. . .

At the start of the dream, I was hugely pregnant and knew the birth had to be near. I wasn't exactly in a hospital-- my location in the dream felt rather nebulous, but there was an attending nurse of sorts who kept flitting in and out to check on me.

The next thing I knew I was holding this tiny (it must have been only two or three pounds) but perfectly formed, healthy, and beautiful baby. It was still connected to me by an umbilical cord, but it had seemingly simply appeared. I had no memory of labor or giving birth. I stared down at it in awe and it blinked these shining, dark blue eyes back at me. *cue maternal heart flutters*

The nurse appeared and I looked at her in puzzlement, seeking explanation, "Oh!" she exclaimed, "You already had the baby! What an easy birth! Well, you won't be needing me any more."

"But I feel fine," I said wonderingly, "I guess this means I won't need much recovery time."

"You won't need to recover at all!" she said cheerfully.

* * * * 

Now this is where the dream gets kind of silly. I decided that since I was feeling fine I might as well go shopping, and I took the baby along with me. (It was a little girl, btw.) Once in the store, it dawned on me that she must be a Cabbage Patch baby (I suppose because she materialized the way she did, lol), and I thought the least I could do was shop for some Cabbage Patch dolls for her so she would have something to play with. I toted her through the store, but couldn't find any. There were all these Cabbage Patch knock off sort of baby dolls, but we couldn't find the real thing.

By this time we ended up at the grocery section of the store and I thought rather frantically that since this was a Cabbage Patch baby, I had better find some cabbages to buy so I could juice them and mix the cabbage juice with her formula! But I was rooted in place by this point, and friends and relatives that I hadn't seen in ages kept appearing out of nowhere to talk to me and inquire after the baby. I felt so proud of her and happy that she had been born, but there was this sense of guilt that I was standing around talking when I ought to have been finding cabbages for her.

* * * *

Interpretive reflections:

This is the second time this pregnancy I have had a dream about a painless, unassisted childbirth. I would like to hope this is a sign of good things to come for when I do go into labor, but from a psychological point of view, it is probably more indicative of me being about to give birth to some new aspect of myself. The fact that in the dream this is an easy and joyful experience and that I am very proud of and affectionate towards the resulting "baby" feels awesome! However, there is a darker, more anxious side to the dream in that the baby is seemingly born into  a world where it is unable to find the things it needs, and I am either unable or unwilling to provide it the food it requires for nurturing. I stand rooted to the spot in the grocery store, hemmed in by a sense of politeness and obligation to the expectations of others,  mindlessly chatting while I should be finding food for my hungry infant.

All in all, an interesting dream and one worth remembering, I think. I don't really have an idea as to what it could be about specifically, but I believe in the value of paying attention to these things and taking note. It was also just so cute with all the Cabbage Patch themes. I've always loved Cabbage Patch dolls. I think I could do some fun journaling pages based on themes from this dream. That might be my next jumping off point for inspiration when I actually get another chance to sit down and doodle. Not sure exactly when that might be as I have been having a busy weekend and also-- it's time to decorate for the holidays! Some postings on porch decorations and other Christmas-y crafts may be soon to come.

Thanks for reading! :)