New Look…Same Creative Soul

ArtJunkie4

“art junkie”

I was getting a bit tired of the format and background on my blog so I decided something fresh and new was in order! Spring is kind of the time for that, after all.

It isn’t easy to find an image of my own work that will work in the slim space at the top of the page, but I did find one that works pretty well. I present to you “art junkie” from my personal art journal. I created this page as a way to continue to work on my mixed media skills as well as drawing and painting faces. Pushing myself to use colors I don’t normally turn to…here the oranges to go along with my favorite, blue.

For the artists or others who are interested….I first covered the journal pages with vintage text pages using gel medium. Then, I used acrylic paints applied with a make-up sponge for my first step. Then I used stencils, various bottle caps and a paintbrush to add many different circles to the page (using acrylics). A royal blue paint pen for the scallops on the right side and black marker for the ones on the left. I used markers and ink pens to write the words in different styles and a white gelli roller pen for the leaves and such.

I had great fun creating this….which is part of why art is so therapeutic for me. When I look at it now it brings the happiness back to me, and I hope to others. What brings you happiness? Please share…..

Peace to your heart, Sara

Posted in Art, Art Journals, Mental Health, Mixed Media Art, Therapeutic Art | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sharing the Joy

Just FYI, today is my husband and my 17th wedding anniversary! I am so grateful for him and for our incredible relationship that I wanted to share a bit of our joy. The photo below is an art piece I created on canvas board a couple of years back on marriage:

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“Marriage” is a very simple piece created on canvas board. It was created at a time when I was just starting to make mixed media art using paint with other materials (here just fabric and vintage lace). I’ve advance quite a bit since then, but I love the message here for it’s truth.

Peace to your heart, Sara

 

Posted in Art, Inspiration & Quotes, Mixed Media Art | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Relapse and Resurrection: The Fall and Rise of the Addicted and Mentally Ill

Relapse and Resurrection: The Fall and Rise of the Addicted and Mentally Ill.

To my followers,

The above post by ‘takingthemaskoff’ is excellent and I hope you will take the time to read it. It describes very well (and in an  sometimes interesting story form) how differently medical problems are treated and viewed versus mental illness and addiction.

I feel we must take some action to reduce the stigma if we want to see change and sharing this is one way we can take action.

Thank you so much for your support. Hope everyone is having a happy weekend. Peace to your hearts, Sara

 

 

Posted in Mental Health, Mental Illness | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Creating Art that is Encouraging to Myself and Others

No, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth ;) I know it’s a long time between my posts, but that’s just how it goes with me. I have a goal to post more often, but I obviously still have a lot of work to achieve it!

That said, I want to share a bit today about using art to encourage. My last post focused on expressing depression through art and how it can help others to understand themselves and/or others better. It’s good for me to get out difficult emotions and challenging times through art. On the other hand, it’s important to me to also be encouraging to myself and others during difficult times. I didn’t necessarily start out these journal pages to be encouraging….I actually started out with an art challenge for myself (more in a minute). But, about halfway through I made the decision that that is what I wanted it to be.

About the art challenge: I save many of the paper towels that sit under my water jar and get all paint-filled and inky by wiping my brush on them. Some of them are just so cool and colorful that I couldn’t throw them away. At first I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them, but later I was very glad I had saved them because I learned about incorporating “under papers” (the papers we use under what we are creating to save things from the overflow of paint and to practice on before adding to the pages) into mixed media art. I learned this through my participating in the Documented Life Project from Art to the 5th Academy. It’s a combination planner/art journal/journal with monthly themes, weekly art challenges and journal prompts….in case I haven’t shared about it before. Moving on, I had some paper towels that I had cleaned my liquid watercolor paint filled brush on. I unfurled the wadded up paper towels and right away I thought part of it looked like flowers (or almost flowers).

The paint filled paper towels torn to size and attached to journal pages with gel medium.

The paint filled paper towels torn to size and attached to journal pages with gel medium.

I also added a few strips of paper towel to the bottom of the adjoining page so that both sides would have some texture.

BloomAtNight4Backing up a bit, for you artsy people and those who might be interested, I started the pages by writing sloppily in art pencil all over the pages at a diagonal, covered the pages unevenly with gesso, then added watered down purple acrylic paint. Using the gesso unevenly means that the page will absorb the paint differently depending on whether it’s on the page (deeper color) or the gesso (lighter color with brushstrokes)…this is a look I really love and stumbled upon by accident. The final page preparation was to use a script stamp with deep purple ink in several places. I love this layered look for my background. After all, we humans are full of layers.

Next step was to enhance the paper towel flowers to bring out the “flower-ness” in them. I used a bit more paint for the purple ones, black charcoal pencil, black very fine point marker, white gelli roller pen, and painted and outlined the stems and leaves.

 

Pages with handwriting, gesso, acrylic paint and ink stamping

Pages with handwriting, gesso, acrylic paint and ink stamping

 

Beginning the bloom

Beginning the bloom

The paint-y paper towels have blossomed into flowers

The paint-y paper towels have blossomed into flowers

 

The next thing I thought about was what to do with the rest of the left page. Since my background was dark purple I decided that it would be night time or dark so I decided to show this with a moon and stars. The moon was cut from some of my personal under papers that I had embellished with white charcoal pencil and I outlined it in black charcoal pencil. I painted the stars with a light yellow acrylic paint, outlined in charcoal pencil. At this point I’m getting an inkling of the meaning of the pages having something to do with darkness…the darkness we feel inside us, whether from depression, other mental health issues or from very difficult things life throws at us.

The moon and stars...no outline yet

The moon and stars…no outline yet

On to the right page….I knew I wanted to include a “girl” since I’m working on bettering myself at drawing and painting faces. Somehow using a face or person in my art gives it a more personal feel, or at least more relatable. I had my mixed media under paper out and the partial flower doodle I had done in the white charcoal spoke to me as a perfect addition to the pages/theme. This is where I made the decision to make this all about encouragement. The flower doodle would be her hat…she would be blooming just like the flowers, in spite of the fact that it was dark. I drew her face on practice paper and was very happy with it so I drew it on the journal page. Time to paint with acrylics. This is where it went a bit awry. I am still learning, after all. Her eyebrows ended up way too thick, one eye larger than the other (which seems  to be a repeated issue for me?) and the shading a bit questionable. But you know what? I decided it was okay…we are all a work in progress. I added some strips of the under paper for visual interest, did my outlining and called her good.

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Just to show the difference between the original drawing and the finished product…..

 

I love the way she started out!

I love the way she started out!

Final touches were to complete my outlining and add my quote “She knew she could bloom even in the darkness” done in white gelli roller pen. It’s not easy to bloom in the darkness, and we aren’t always able to do this. But this does encourage us to try, to find growth in our difficult times. It also speaks the strength we have to make it through the darkness…for many of us, repeatedly. And tying into all of this is the paper towel flowers, that took some work and some time but they blossomed as well. While not perfect, they are beautiful…like me, like you, like all of us.

Peace to your heart, Sara

BloomAtNight7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Art, Art Journals, Depression, Inspiration & Quotes, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Mixed Media Art, Therapeutic Art | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Artful Expression of Depression

"Some days she didn't know how to be happy. So she let herself be sad. "

“Some days she didn’t know how to be happy. So she let herself be sad. “

 Many people who have never dealt with depression personally have a misunderstanding that it is simply ongoing sadness. It’s part of what adds to the stigma of depression because they think “I can snap out of my sadness, why can’t s/he?” But, depression is so much different than feeling sad. It is like a cloak that covers your entire being and alters your world. It is hopelessness and helplessness to do anything to stop it. And so much more. And, yes, it’s hard to understand when you’ve never experienced it.

I have long used art in various forms to express my emotions and thoughts. Sometimes I just need to get them out of me. Sometimes I use the process of art to figure things out for myself, to define it, to get to know it and myself better. It is a huge part of what Art Therapy is about. And you don’t have to be an artist to have art be a form of therapy or personal growth for you. I’ve scribbled with crayons, drawn abstractly with color pencils, made word collages from magazine cut-outs and made mixed media art. The possibilities are endless. I have a board on my Pinterest page called Art Therapy/Play Therapy which has many art therapy activities. If you are interested you can visit it at https://www.pinterest.com/artsychicksw/art-therapyplay-therapy/

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Recently I created the above mixed media art journal page. I had been teaching myself to draw faces so that I could include them in my art. This particular face spoke to me, but I wasn’t sure why at the time. I just started by drawing her on the page, then adding vintage papers around her, adding acrylic paint to the background and painting the face (something I still need a great deal of practice at!). I used some stencils and a white gelli roller pen. Then I sat back and spent some time with it. Something was a bit off. But what? I realized that the reason the face spoke to me was because she looks so sad and depressed. It reflected my own feelings of late…not a huge, severe depression….an underlying and a bit more than mild depression and true sadness. And it relates a lot to my dear husband and soul mate. He’s had a chronic and eventually terminal disease for nearly 20 years now.  We are told that 20 years is pretty much the outside of life expectancy. I know it’s not hard and fast and no one but God knows exactly when he will die. At first it didn’t impact his life, or ours. But over the past two years he has been so very ill. His body is gradually shutting down and it’s very uncomfortable and painful for him. That doesn’t even begin to describe what he’s going through, but I will leave it at that.

It affects me deeply. I feel his pain. It is truly heart-wrenching to watch him suffer so much. And the doctors won’t do anything to alleviate his pain, but that’s another issue. I cannot imagine life without him, but I am being forced to do so. At times I feel so incredibly sad.  But, I also feel the depression underlying that sadness. It’s got a lot to do with the hopelessness and helplessness I feel. So, I decided that what I had expressed in my art was both the sadness and the depression. And the best way to help others understand that was through the words I included. “Sometimes she just didn’t know how to feel happy. So she let herself be sad.” I think they show the difference between the two. Depression isn’t just feeling sad. It is feeling lost in darkness and not knowing how to feel any different. That is a huge part of it for me, anyway.

So, how does this help me? First it helped me to identify what was really going on with me….the sadness and the depression. This helps me to take care of myself better and watch for signs of deepening depression so I can take action if needed. It helped me to get out my feelings. and with the combination of getting them out and the goodness that creating in general does for my soul I’m in a much better place in my head and my heart than I was before.

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I would love to hear your thoughts about any of the above, especially if and how you see a difference between sadness and depression. I would also happily answer your questions should you have any.

As always, Peace to your hearts

Posted in Art, Art Journals, Depression, Inspiration & Quotes, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Mixed Media Art, Therapeutic Art | Tagged , , , , , | 32 Comments

Such an honor…

Those of you that follow my blog know that I haven’t kept up with it very well at all. Yes, there are a lot of valid reasons for this but I won’t go into all them because we all have reasons for things we don’t get done. I would honestly like to make blogging a bit more of a priority because I love sharing and communicating with all kinds of people. Well, I have just received a wonderful push in that direction….an online friend (who writes an amazing and personal blog) just awarded to me the Warrior Child Award.

the Warrior Child Award

This award originates with the Mental Health Writer’s Guild and you can read more about the award here: https://mentalhealthwritersguild.wordpress.com/the-warrior-child-award/

I was quite touched, to say the least. I really didn’t think I’d written anything that would lead to this award, but here is what was said in response to my post about Antique Storage: “What an awesome post, Sara! You’ve given us a look inside your heart and soul. It’s a very intimate thing, to share the things that occupy one’s shelves, drawers, desks…very courageous. And therefore, even though I had planned to do this before I stopped by, I hereby bestow upon you the Warrior Child Award.”  You see, I follow Laura’s (my nominator) blog and talk with her off/on through her own posts. So, she knows me more than just from my own blog or that one post. And that helps me to understand it better. I am still very honored.

And, as I said above, I feel a bit of a push to do more blogging here. And including more of myself in what I share. I started this blog to share about my art and jewelry making. But I don’t think I’ve shared as much about what creating means to me, how it affects me, etc. I’m not sure if I’ve shared here that I was trained and worked as a psychotherapist for years. I mostly worked with kids and their families, but also did some general therapy with adults, play therapy, art therapy and some addiction/recovery work with those who wanted it. I am a strong believer in getting therapy and other forms of help for mental health issues. I became even more so after I went through a couple of years of therapy myself. I was diagnosed with major depression for the first time about 20 years ago. And I have lived with it at various levels for all these years, always taking some kind of medication for it. And what does this have to do with creating? Well, I started keeping a very simple art journal during my therapy and during very low points. It helped me to get my feelings out, even when I couldn’t really put a name to them. I was able to figure out a few things about myself from interpreting what I had drawn and/or written. I made word collages to get to know myself better.

*Being creative speaks to my soul and allows my soul to speak*

So, I will be sharing about this connection from now on. I do it for a few reasons. If my words and my art can in any way help another person, inspire them, bring a new idea or perspective to some part of their life, then I am grateful to be able to continue to help people in some away (I had to stop working outside the home about 16 years ago due to chronic pain and health issues). Also, I am very bothered by the way the stigma of having a mental health diagnosis remains so strong in today’s world. So many of millions of people live with mental illness and yet it is still looked upon as something horrific and is misunderstood. I think that if those of us with a mental illness share about our diagnoses, our experiences, our growth that it will be huge step towards stopping the stigma. I can do my small part in this. Lastly, I’m thinking that by thinking through and sharing my experiences and thoughts and feelings that I will receive the benefits of further self-growth…and I am all about that!

I hope that if you choose to follow me on this journey that you benefit from it. I am also hoping that readers will share their own thoughts, experiences, etc. in response. Often times it is through sharing with others that we are sparked to grow the most. All comments are welcome here as long as they are not of a hostile approach. I always appreciate constructive input even if it’s not of the same belief as my own.

Peace to your hearts, Sara

Yes, it is.

Yes, it is.

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Antique storage options for creative supplies

When an artisan has a plethora of items from which to choose from to create all the goodness it can be a real challenge to find ways to organize and store such items. And I’m the kind of person who needs lots of things to choose from when creating. My process is one of starting out with a key vintage or antique piece and then trying all kinds of different beads and other supplies to go with it. I play around and figure out what looks right to me. As I’ve said, it comes from my soul and this means listening to it as I try various combinations.

As a lover of vintage and antique I most prefer to display and store items in something old. When my parents moved to a care facility they weren’t able to take much of their furniture with them, leaving many treasured pieces for us kids. The favorite pieces I wanted I would have to wait for, because my mom was able to use them when she moved to an assisted living apartment after my dad died. I will come back to those later. So, my oldest sister lives in a small home that was already quite full, and she lives three plus hours away so her choice of an antique dental cabinet was appropriate, but she had to take time to make room for it, then to rent a truck to haul it to her home. In the meantime I got to enjoy using it for creative supplies! I don’t have a photo of “our” actual dental cabinet, but amazingly was able to find one just like it through Google Images. Without further ado, here it is:

antiquedentalcabinet

The top portion of ours has an old, black-spotted mirror, which also adorns the front of the lift-up lid on the right side. So many drawers to hold and organize a variety of things. I stacked fabric pieces in the lower, tall area with the door…so easy to see what I had that way. Each drawer held different categories of items….the larger bottom ones were just right for decorative papers, one of the small drawers for sewing supplies, etc. I was sad to have it go, but I did finally get my replacement pieces. I would have much rather had my mom keep them in her apartment in assisted living, but she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and when it had progressed to a certain point it was necessary to move her to the care facility portion in a private room. She still has a few pieces of her furniture and a couple of shelves with much loved items that she collected with my dad over the years along with some books and such of her father’s. We are grateful for this because she loves to sit and look at her collection, rearrange pieces her and there and it makes her happy.

So, what did I lovingly receive? Two beautiful pieces of antique Irish pine furniture….a long cabinet with drawers and bins that was likely in a general store of some kind at one point and charming shelves to hang above it. Right now it’s all very cluttered and so incredibly dusty and I hesitate to show photos of them, but I’ve decided that it’s just the way they are right now so I won’t worry about it. Over the next few weeks I will be removing *everything*, dusting it all and lemon oiling the furniture. Perhaps I’ll post “after” pictures ~wink~

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Charming antique Irish pine shelving

And, some close-ups….

The things on my shelves are a combination of things I collect and make me smile along with supplies for creating.

The things on my shelves are a combination of things I collect and make me smile along with supplies for creating.

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My small collection of finials and a few of my rabbits. I actually have a lot of rabbits….I was born on Easter and my mother started my collection when I was a young adult. More about them in a future post.

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I also adore vintage bottles of all kinds. Some are functional, like the one holding push pins and the unique one with the yellow top that holds wire wrapped beads. Others are purely for decoration and some are even supplies for creative adventures.

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I love the tiny shelf at the very bottom….just right for tiny things.

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Vintage and antique books are such a treasure!

Here is a look at the other piece with the drawers and bins. These photos really do not do it justice. And of course, it looks so much better when freshly lemon-oiled!

Here is a look at the other piece with the drawers and bins. These photos really do not do it justice. And of course, it looks so much better when freshly lemon-oiled!

Cabinet with a cool handle that turns to open

Cabinet with a cool handle that turns to open

Wonderful bin handles...and on top of the drawers here there is a piece of wood that pulls out to use as a little desk area. It sure comes in handy sometimes!

Wonderful bin handles…and on top of the drawers here there is a piece of wood that pulls out to use as a little desk area. It sure comes in handy sometimes!

I use a variety of containers to organize and store small items. Here are a few (and once again, very dusty)

The top box is a vintage cigar box that was my grandfather's, so it's very special. It holds small plastic bags used for shipping items.

The top box is a vintage cigar box that was my grandfather’s, so it’s very special. It holds small plastic bags used for shipping items. The bottom box is tin…I found it at a yard sale for 25 cents and I love the art on it. It holds glues, resin, etc.

I have three medium to large printers trays (one is faux but works nonetheless) to keep all kinds of treasures such as old watches and parts, bits of old jewelry and other found objects. I also like to use old teacups, china bowls and pitchers to organize items.

I have three medium to large printers trays (one is faux but works nonetheless) to keep all kinds of treasures such as old watches and parts, bits of old jewelry and other found objects. I also like to use old teacups, china bowls and pitchers to organize items.

Oh, the dust! Vintage muffin tins are perfect for organizing vintage and antique beads and charms and such!

Oh, the dust! Vintage muffin tins are perfect for organizing vintage and antique beads and charms and such!

Bead organization! I covered this plastic organizer with vintage map paper and added some great containers on top.

Bead organization! I covered this plastic organizer with vintage map paper and added some great containers on top.

And now for a little “just for fun and inspiration”. I like to surround myself with items and words and pictures that inspire me and make me feel good. Here are a couple of examples:

An inspiration board filled with quotes I've found, things people have sent to me/given me and pictures I like from magazines and such. Included are a little love note from my husband, a postcard from my mom and  a newspaper article in which I was interviewed at an arts festival.

An inspiration board filled with quotes I’ve found, things people have sent to me/given me and pictures I like from magazines and such. Included are a little love note from my husband, a postcard from my mom and a newspaper article in which I was interviewed at an arts festival (my photo is the small one to the left of the article)

A corner area where I hung a little vintage chair that was my parent's, then topped it with vintage books and bird and rabbit items. A mixed media piece by another artist hangs off the corner and a muslin banner I made with "peace' and decorative stamps hangs over one of the rungs. I've stretched a wire across the corner and hung items from it that I love (including a handmade card from my sister, a photo I took when we lived in WA state and some vintage items etc)

A corner area where I hung a little vintage chair that was my parent’s, then topped it with vintage books and bird and rabbit items. A mixed media piece by another artist hangs off the corner and a muslin banner I made with “peace’ and decorative stamps hangs over one of the rungs. I’ve stretched a wire across the corner and hung items from it that I love (including a handmade card from my sister, a photo I took when we lived in WA state and some vintage items etc)

I will leave you with a few pieces of jewelry that were sitting out on the counter….

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What do you use to organize your creative supplies?  I’d love to hear about it. Peace to your hearts, Sara

Posted in Art, Handmade Jewelry, Jewelry, Mixed Media Art, Vintage and Antique | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

I haven’t forgotten about you and our trees!

Hello, all,

Just a quick message to let you know that I haven’t forgotten about those of you who are participating in the “draw a tree” prompt/exercise. I have had a flair up of my chronic pain/fibromyalgia due to preparing for and attending my 30th high school reunion recently. I was on the committee for the reunion and in the last couple of weeks before the reunion I put together all the memorabilia, made huge decorative photo boards, made individual glass hurricane containers for each classmate who has died and more.

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It was a huge tax on my body, then I spent two nights out with my classmates for about 6-7 hours each (something I never do!) plus setting up for the main event with centerpieces etc the second morning.

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My best friend and I…best friends since 8th grade and we lived together in college for 3 years. Old friends can be some of the best friends you’ll ever have…it was like we’d never been apart.

It was great fun preparing and even more seeing old friends and catching up. Definitely worth the pain and exhaustion that followed!

So, I will be drawing my own tree today, I promise, and post in the next couple of days how to interpret our trees. Thanks for hanging in there with me!

Peace to your hearts, Sara

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Is anyone participating?

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Hello all,

I’ve given you all a few days to draw your tree if you’d like to take part. I’d like to know if anyone is doing this and if people need more time before talking about it in a new post. Please respond with feedback in the comments on this post if you have or are going to do this so I know when people are ready…thanks!

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Journal Prompt…and a little bit about art therapy

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For all you folks out there who keep art journals (or who just like to be creative or like to work on you personal growth):

When I worked as a psychotherapist I used art therapy with a lot of my clients. It’s a pretty non-threatening approach and not only can people learn a lot from what they create, I was able learn a some things about them and begin a dialogue through the piece of art.

I may have mentioned previously, I myself used art therapy when I was going through a couple of years of significant depression. Nothing like what my art journals of today are…I used mostly crayons, and later colored pencils, to draw with as well as making collages from magazine cut-outs. An interesting art therapy note about my choice of drawing utensils: in depression things can be very out of focus, very fuzzy and hard to grasp on to. My choice of crayons really reflected the way I felt because they do not provide sharpness or clarity like other things do. Then, as I grew personally and my depression improved, I made the move to colored pencils (very unconsciously at the time). Here I was able to express more detail and clarity, things were sharper in my drawings as well as in my mind and soul.

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Now for a little fun and self exploration with an art journal prompt: Draw a Tree

Okay, I know it sounds strange, but there are some things to be learned about yourself through this. And it’s a good introduction to art therapy since it is a basic and common exercise. I don’t want to explain here the questions you will ask yourself after you finish because it can alter what you will draw. But, if you would like to participate please take some time to create your tree in whatever medium or mediums you choose (except using another image of a tree from a magazine, book etc) then in several days I will post some questions, some thoughts about how to interpret your tree. *there is no right or wrong way to do this!* It’s all about self exploration. If you like you can then post a link to your tree, and of course any comments about what you learned or what the experience was like for you, but it’s not necessary.

Have fun with this!
Peace to your hearts, Sara

Posted in Art, Art Journals, Inspiration & Quotes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments