Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Autumn Impressions: What is a Soul Journal, Anyway?

 "Listen! the wind is rising,
and the air is wild with leaves.
We have had our summer evenings,
now for October eves!" ~Humbert Wolfe~

This great quote (thanks Jamie!) reminded me of
journal pages from a couple years ago.
Looking at the pages this morning I can see
echoes of my soul at the time.

I thought that describing the process of making those pages
might be a good way to give you a glimpse into a Soul Journal.

It started one afternoon while I was reading
a Smithsonian Magazine that my husband was finished with.
(Being last to read, I can play with the wonderful images!)
I remember noticing the dark colors in
Beautiful Rain, a painting by Renoir.

Carefully tearing out the picture I thought about
other paintings by Renoir with their bright colors,
children playing, and sunny gardens. Those were the
type of Impressionist paintings that usually appeal to me.
It really surprised me to be moved by these dark autumnal colors.

I pulled out a stash of paints, ink-pads and stamps,
and "stuff" torn from envelopes, magazines,
restaurant napkins, and the like.
(Some of my favorite things to use in my Soul Journal 
pages are bits and pieces of life around me.)

Randomly opening the book I was altering, I took
colored ink-pads and watercolors and began to rub, paint, and
daub on colors that reminded me of fall sunsets.

To create a casual messy softness I rip around images and
then rub a combination of neutral inks over the white edges.
I also crumpled up the red flowers
and brushed sepia over the wrinkles to add depth and interest.

I continued to play around, adding a dried stalk from
my sister's garden and postage stamps that brightened the pages.
Pausing to take a look, they all seemed to want a cozy interior space.
so, looking out the window at the fall leaves in olive green,
dark ochre yellow, and sepia brown, I smudged and layered
those colors until they created warm and safe edges.
(Can you hear echoes of my soul at that time?)

Dark purple and brown inks were used to stamp the
randomly selected clocks, fern, and butterflies
on top of the autumn-sunset colors.
(Again, can you see intuitive symbolism in the selected images?)

Looking back, the way those dark beautiful colors
in the magazine spoke to me now makes some sense.
Recovering from cancer treatments
and working through accompanying depression
it had become increasingly difficult to talk about my feelings.
I had searched around me and scrounged through the
cancer magazines scattered in oncology waiting rooms
but could find no evidence of others struggling with
such depression after treatments.

Everywhere I looked other cancer survivors were
full of sunshine, optimism, and hope.
They were ready to jump back into life,
eager to re-embrace every single day.
And so I had grown deeply ashamed of my depression
and tried to hide it even more than usual.
(I know, while many commented on how good I was doing,
I didn't hide much of anything from those of you
familiar with depression.)

As I flipped through the magazine that day
something about those dark colors resonated with my soul.
And while I noticed how powerful they were to me, I
didn't really try to understand. Instead, I simply
allowed them to be a springboard for
creative play and nonverbal expression.

Soul Journals can be helpful
when words are inadequate, unavailable.
And ... isn't it delightfully ironic how often we
return to words to explain those nonverbal expressions?

Click below or email me and let me know how you Soul-Journal or
how you'd like to begin.  Remember, I'm always glad to
answer questions if you're unsure how to begin.
I love all your comments and emails for those who prefer!


Sonya said...

Thanks for sharing, momma. I *can* hear echos of your soul as you share your creative expressions. What a powerful experience.

As I read about your soul journal, I'm reminded of the "bits and pieces" of life that surround you. I'm reminded of your awareness of their presence. I'm reminded of those moments when I have observed you pick up the bottle cap on the streets of New York City, or the washer on the streets of Denver. I love how you find meaning in these things. I love how you use them to connect with your creative, empowering, and healing energies.

This also reminds me...I love how daddy says, with that adorable chuckle and grin, how much he enjoys taking walks with you and observing you stare so intently at the ground for "things" to add to your collection. And I love how Trevor will think of you when he sees something or touches something and say, "We should save this and send it to your mom to play with!" I love you!

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