I have struggled with sleep for years– falling asleep, staying asleep, needing mid-day naps to compensate for the lack of sleep. Having experienced chronic, debilitating bouts of insomnia over the last decade, I am nearly giddy when I actually zonk out for more than 5 hours at a time. No longer accepting early morning teaching gigs has helped somewhat with my sleep issues and has resulted in a more natural sleep cycle whereby I go to bed later and wake up later. Because I teach most nights until at least 8, sometimes 9pm, it takes a few hours to wind down after 5 or 6 hours of back-to-back students and parents. And not until the last few months did I notice what a difference my elimination of morning teaching (at 6:45 or 7:30 am 2x-3x/week for the last few years) really has made to my health. I have come to the realization that I am a shift-sleeper, and if I can get two 3-4 hour cycles in each night, I feel good and rested the following day. According to sleep doctors, this kind of sleep is actually quite normal, and I am thankful to have a job where I can manipulate my schedule somewhat to accommodate my natural physical cycle.
However, when the mind is heavy or hormones are creating havoc, I typically find myself up around 2-3am, and unable to return to sleep for possibly hours. I often chide myself to get up and do something since just lying there never helps (chiding yourself doesn’t do much good either!) and since I can’t seem to squeeze enough time out of my days to accomplish what I want, nor lately what I need, it seems even more futile to lay wide-eyed in the dark with an unrelenting mind.
So here I am, up since 1:30 (it’s now 4am in the windy PNW), having roused myself (after significant chiding) to catch up with some creative work. I’ve taken a couple days off for the mid-winter break to relax (maybe) and organize my physical and mental spaces! When you work for yourself, there really never is “downtime” and frankly, after a conversation tonight with my partner, I have come to the realization that I really don’t think I know how to relax, truly–or maybe I don’t believe in it, or rather what is typically considered “relaxation”? Don’t get me wrong, I do attempt this state through massage, acupuncture, and the occasional pedicure, but even then I can find it hard to tune out and turn off. How can one relax when there is just so much to be done in this life– so much to create, and read, and experience, and think about? Sometimes I think that is what some diseases, like migraine, are meant to teach us–to let go, relinquish control, truly rest (other times I doubt there is any greater meaning within them–they are simply chemical or biological alterations in our bodies beyond our control)–but either way it’s a paradox; my migraines FORCE me to slow down, shut off completely for awhile and reboot– but then on the other side I am often left further behind, with more catch-up! Without rest (and frankly, better time management), though, we cannot manifest fully in any capacity– and so whatever we choose to call it– relaxation, rest, meditation, downtime– I guess it’s something I need to consider and uncover what will work for me, without guilt, in 2016 to bring many aspects of my life back into balance.
At any rate, catching up is what this post is all about and after being asked to participate in 7 days of sharing your favorite creations from 2015 on Facebook, I figured it was time to empty the folder on my desktop labeled “To Blog” (just like it’s time to empty the real folder on my physical desktop that contains all the belated cards and letters and gifts I’ve slated to send for months)!
This was one card that actually made it into the mail and into the hands of a student who graduated in June 2015, and it is one of my absolute favorites from last year, partly because of my technique, but also because I think it shows some growth in my design knowledge and style.
For this card, I cut the MFT Stamps world die from acetate to make a stencil and then adhered that to some Ranger watercolor paper. From there, I proceeded to use a variety of Distress inks to watercolor my world. This was actually my first attempt, and I was pretty excited with how it turned out!
I also used a MFT Stamps sentiment from their graduation set, a must-have for teachers! I love the bold fonts of MFT’s collections.
I adhered some washi, and echoed the black and white outlined letters with the b/w striped paper. The colorful paper layered below is some OLD stock (possibly My Mind’s Eye) that also echoed the colors of the world and the water-coloring perfectly.
Please check out my portfolio pages for the rest of my new/old creations; I have some fun cards and mini-albums there (I entered the world of layouts and scrapping in 2015!).
May this be the start of an inspired, fruitful week with plenty of rest!